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Title: Early Western Travels, 1748-1846 (Volume XXVI) - Part I of Flagg's The Far West, 1836-1837
Author: Various
Language: English
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Early Western Travels

1748-1846


Volume XXVI



  Early Western Travels

  1748-1846


  A Series of Annotated Reprints of some of the best and
  rarest contemporary volumes of travel, descriptive of
  the Aborigines and Social and Economic Conditions in
  the Middle and Far West, during the Period of Early
  American Settlement


  Edited with Notes, Introductions, Index, etc., by

  Reuben Gold Thwaites, LL.D.

  Editor of "The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents,"
  "Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition,"
  "Hennepin's New Discovery," etc.


  Volume XXVI

  Part I of Flagg's The Far West, 1836-1837


  [Illustration]


  Cleveland, Ohio
  The Arthur H. Clark Company
  1906



  COPYRIGHT 1906, BY
  THE ARTHUR H. CLARK COMPANY

  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

  The Lakeside Press
  R. R. DONNELLEY & SONS COMPANY
  CHICAGO



CONTENTS OF VOLUME XXVI


  PREFACE TO VOLUMES XXVI AND XXVII. _The Editor_                    9

  THE FAR WEST: OR, A TOUR BEYOND THE MOUNTAINS. Embracing
    Outlines of Western Life and Scenery; Sketches of the
    Prairies, Rivers, Ancient Mounds, Early Settlements
    of the French, etc. etc. (The first thirty-two chapters,
    being all of Vol. I of original, and pp. 1-126 of Vol. II.)
    _Edmund Flagg._

  Copyright Notice                                                  26

  Author's Dedication                                               27

  Author's Preface                                                  29

  Author's Table of Contents                                        33

  Text (chapters i-xxxii; the remainder appearing in
    our volume xxvii)                                               43



ILLUSTRATIONS TO VOLUME XXVI


  Map of Oregon; drawn by H. J. Kelley, 1830                        24

  Facsimile of title-page to Vol. I of Flagg's _The Far West_       25



PREFACE TO VOLUMES XXVI-XXVII


These two volumes are devoted to reprints of Edmund Flagg's _The Far
West_ (New York, 1838), and Father Pierre Jean de Smet's _Letters and
Sketches, with a Narrative of a Year's Residence among the Indian
Tribes of the Rocky Mountains_ (Philadelphia, 1843). Flagg's
two-volume work occupies all of our volume xxvi and the first part of
volume xxvii, the remaining portion of the latter being given to De
Smet's book.

Edmund Flagg was prominent among early American prose writers, and
also ranked high among our minor poets. A descendant of the Thomas
Flagg who came to Boston from England, in 1637, Edmund was born
November 24, 1815, at Wescasset, Maine. Being graduated with
distinction from Bowdoin College in 1835, in the same year he went
with his mother and sister Lucy to Louisville, Kentucky. Here, in a
private school, he taught the classics to a group of boys, and
contributed articles to the Louisville _Journal_, a paper with which
he was intermittently connected, either as editorial writer or
correspondent, until 1861.

The summer and autumn of 1836 found Flagg travelling in Missouri and
Illinois, and writing for the _Journal_ the letters which were later
revised and enlarged to form _The Far West_, herein reprinted.
Tarrying at St. Louis in the autumn of 1836, our author began the
study of law, and the following year was admitted to the bar; but in
1838 he returned to newspaper life, taking charge for a time of the
St. Louis _Commercial Bulletin_. During the winter of 1838-39 he
assisted George D. Prentice, founder of the Louisville _Journal_, in
the work of editing the Louisville _Literary News Letter_. Finding,
however, that newspaper work overtaxed his health, Flagg next accepted
an invitation to enter the law office of Sergeant S. Prentiss at
Vicksburg, Mississippi, where in addition to his legal duties he found
time to edit the Vicksburg _Whig_. Having been wounded in a duel with
James Hagan of the _Sentinel_ in that city, Flagg returned to the less
excitable North and undertook editorial duties upon the _Gazette_ at
Marietta, Ohio (1842-43), and later (1844-45) upon the St. Louis
_Evening Gazette_. He also served as official reporter of the Missouri
state constitutional convention the following year, and published a
volume of its debates; subsequently (until 1849) acting as a court
reporter in St. Louis.

The three succeeding years were spent abroad; first as secretary to
Edward A. Hannegan, United States minister to Berlin, and later as
consul at Venice. In February, 1852, he returned to America, and
during the presidential campaign of that year edited a Democratic
journal at St. Louis, known as the _Daily Times_. Later, as a reward
for political service, he was made superintendent of statistics in the
department of state, at Washington--a bureau having special charge of
commercial relations. Here he was especially concerned with the
compilation of reports on immigration and the cotton and tobacco
trade, and published a _Report on Commercial Relations of the United
States with all Foreign Nations_ (4 vols., Washington, 1858). Through
these reports, particularly the last named, Flagg's name became
familiar to merchants in both the United States and Europe. From 1857
to 1860 he was Washington correspondent for several Western
newspapers, and from 1861 to 1870 served as librarian of copyrights in
the department of the interior. Having in 1862 married Kate Adeline,
daughter of Sidney S. Gallaher, of Virginia, he moved to Highland
View in that state (1870), and died there November 1, 1890.

In addition to his labors in the public service and as a newspaper
man, Flagg found time for higher literary work, and won considerable
distinction in that field. His first book, _The Far West_, although
somewhat stilted in style, possesses considerable literary merit.
Encouraged by the success of his initial endeavor, he wrote the
following year (1839) the _Duchess of Ferrara_ and _Beatrice of
Padua_, two novels, each of which passed through at least two
editions. The _Howard Queen_ (1848) and _Blanche of Artois_ (1850)
were prize productions. _De Molai_ (1888), says the New York _Sun_ of
the period, is "a powerful, dramatic tale which seems to catch the
very spirit of the age of Philip of France. It is rare to find a story
in which fact and invention are so evenly and adroitly balanced." Our
author also wrote several dramas, which were staged in Louisville,
Cincinnati, St. Louis, and New York; he also composed numerous poems
for newspapers and magazines. His masterpiece, however, was a history
dedicated to his lifelong friend and colleague, George D. Prentice,
entitled _The City of the Sea_ (2 vols., New York, 1853). This work
was declared by the _Knickerbocker_ to be "a carefully compiled,
poetically-written digest of the history of the glorious old Venice--a
passionate, thrilling, yet accurate and sympathetic account of the
last struggle for independence." At the time of his death Flagg had in
preparation a volume of reminiscences, developed from a diary kept
during forty years, but this has never been published.[1]

  [1] For a list of Flagg's prose and poetical writings, contributions
      to periodicals, and editorial works, see "Annual Report of the
      Librarian of Bowdoin College for the year ending June 1, 1891,"
      in Bowdoin College _Library Bulletin_ (Brunswick, Maine, 1895).

"In hope of renovating the energies of a shattered constitution," we
are told, Flagg started in the early part of June, 1836, on a journey
to what was then known as the Far West. Taking a steamboat at
Louisville, he went to St. Louis by way of the Ohio and the
Mississippi, and after a brief delay ascended the latter to the mouth
of the Illinois, and thence on to Peoria. Prevented by low water from
proceeding farther, he returned by the same route to St. Louis, whence
after three weeks' stay, spent either in the sick chamber or in making
short trips about the city and its environs, the traveller crossed the
Mississippi and struck out on horseback across the Illinois prairies,
visiting Edwardsville, Alton, Carlinsville, Hillsborough, Carlisle,
Lebanon, Belleville, and the American Bottoms. In July, after
recrossing the Mississippi, he visited in like manner St. Charles,
Missouri, by way of Bellefontaine and Florissant; crossed the
Mississippi near Portage des Sioux, and passed through the Illinois
towns of Grafton, Carrollton, Manchester, Jacksonville, Springfield,
across Grand Prairie to Shelbyville, Mount Vernon, Pinkneyville, and
Chester, and returned to St. Louis by way of the old French
settlements of Kaskaskia, Prairie du Rocher, and Cahokia.

During this journey Flagg wrote for the Louisville _Journal_, as
already stated, a series of letters describing the country through
which he travelled. Hastily thrown together from the pages of his note
book, this correspondence appeared anonymously under the title,
"Sketches of a Traveller." They were, however, soon attributed to
Flagg, and two years later were collected by the author and published
in two small volumes by Harper and Brothers (New York, 1838), as _The
Far West_. These volumes are in many respects the best description of
the Middle West that had appeared up to the time they were written.
Roughly following the journals of Michaux, Harris, and Cuming by
forty, thirty, and twenty years respectively, Flagg skillfully shows
the remarkable growth and development of the Western country. His
descriptions of the Ohio, Mississippi, and Illinois rivers are still
among the best in print, particularly from the artistic standpoint.
His account of the steamboat traffic is valuable for the history of
navigation on the Western rivers, and shows vividly the obstacles
which still confronted merchants of that time. Chapters xi, xii, and
xiii, dealing with St. Louis and its immediate vicinity, are the most
detailed in our series, while the descriptions of St. Charles and the
Illinois towns through which Flagg passed, are excellent.

The modern reader cannot but wish that Flagg had devoted less space to
his youthful philosophizing, but the atmosphere is at least wholesome.
Unlike Harris, whose criticism of Western society was keen and acrid,
Flagg was a man of broad sympathies, possessing an insight into human
nature remarkable for so youthful a writer--for he was but twenty
years of age at the time of his travels, and twenty-two when the book
was published. Although mildly reproving the old French settlers for
their lack of enterprise, he fully appreciates their domestic virtues,
and gives a faithful picture of these pleasure-loving, contented,
unprogressive people. His description of the once thriving villages of
Kaskaskia, Prairie du Rocher, and Cahokia, are valuable historically,
as showing the decay settling upon the French civilization after a few
years of American occupation. Our author's interview with the Mormon
convert, his conversations with early French and American settlers,
his accounts of political meetings, his anecdotes illustrating Western
curiosity, and particularly his carefully-recounted local traditions,
throw much light on the beliefs, manners, and customs of the Western
people of his time. _The Far West_ is thus not only a graphic and
often forceful description of the interesting region through which the
author travelled, but a sympathetic synopsis of its local annals,
affording much varied information not otherwise obtainable. The
present reprint, with annotations that seek to correct its errors,
will, we think, prove welcome in our series.

In the _Letters and Sketches_ of Father de Smet, we reprint another
Western classic, related to the volumes of Flagg by their common
terminus of travel at St. Louis.

No more interesting or picturesque episode has occurred in the history
of Christian missions in the New World, than the famous visit made in
the autumn of 1831 to General William Clark at St. Louis by the
Flathead chiefs seeking religious instruction for their people.
Vigorously exploited in the denominational papers of the East, this
delegation aroused a sentiment that led to the founding of Protestant
missions in Oregon and western Idaho, and incidentally to the solution
of the Oregon question. But in point of fact, the Flathead deputation
was sent to secure a Catholic missionary; and not merely one but four
such embassies embarked for St. Louis before the great desideratum, a
"black robe" priest, could be secured for ministration to this
far-distant tribe. Employed in the Columbian fur-trade were a number
of Christian Iroquois from Canada, who had been carefully trained at
St. Regis and Caughnawaga in all the observances of the Roman Catholic
church. Upon the Pacific waterways and in the fastnesses of the
Rockies, these Iroquois taught their fellow Indians the ordinances of
the church and the commands of the white man's Great Spirit. John
Wyeth (see our volume xxi) testifies to the honesty and humanity of
the Flathead tribe: "they do not lie, steal, nor rob any one, unless
when driven too near to starvation." He also testifies that they
"appear to keep the Sabbath;" and that their word is "as good as the
Bible." These were the neophytes who craved instruction, and to whom
was assigned that remarkable Jesuit missionary, Father Jean Pierre de
Smet.

Born in Belgium in 1801, young De Smet was educated in a religious
school at Malines. When twenty years of age he responded to an appeal
to cross the Atlantic and carry the gospel to the red men of the
Western continent. Arrived in Philadelphia (1821), the young Belgian
was astonished to see a well-built town, travelled roads, cultivated
farms, and other appurtenances of civilization; he had expected only a
wilderness and savages. Two years were spent in the Jesuit novitiate
in Maryland, before the zealous youth saw any traces of frontier life.
Then the youthful novice was removed to Florissant, Missouri, not far
from St. Louis, where the making of a log-cabin and the breaking of
fresh soil furnished a mild foretaste of his future career. Still more
years elapsed before the cherished project of missionary labor could
be realized. In 1829 St. Louis University was founded, and herein the
young priest, who had been ordained in 1827, was employed upon the
instructional force. Later years (1833-37) were spent in Europe, while
recruiting his health and securing supplies for the infant university.
It was not until 1838 that the first missionary enterprise was
undertaken by Father de Smet, when a chapel for the Potawatomi was
built on the site of the modern Council Bluffs. There, in 1839, the
fourth Flathead deputation rested after the long journey from their
Rocky Mountain home; and at the earnest solicitation of the young
missioner, he was in the spring of 1840, detailed by his superior to
ascertain and report upon the prospects of a mission to the mountain
Indians.

Of the two tribesmen who had come down to St. Louis, Pierre the
Left-handed (Gaucher) was sent back to his people with news of the
success of the embassy, while his colleague Ignace was detained to
serve as guide to the adventurous Jesuit who in April, 1840, set forth
for the Flathead country with the annual fur-trade caravan. The route
traversed was the well-known Oregon Trail as far as the Green River
rendezvous; there the father was rejoiced to meet a deputation of ten
Flatheads, sent to escort him to their habitat, and at Prairie de la
Messe was celebrated for them the first mass in the Western mountains.
The trail led them on through Jackson's and Pierre's Holes; and in the
latter valley the waiting tribesmen to the number of sixteen hundred
had collected, and received the "black robe" as a messenger from
Heaven. Chants and prayers were heard on every side; "in a fortnight,"
reports the delighted missionary, "all knew their prayers." After two
months spent among his "dear Flatheads," wandering with them across
the divide, and encamping for some time at the Three Forks of the
Missouri--where nearly forty years before Lewis and Clark first
encountered the Western Indians--De Smet took leave of his neophytes.
Protected by a strong guard through the hostile Blackfeet country, he
arrived at last at the fur-trade post of Fort Union at the junction of
the Missouri and the Yellowstone. Descending thence to St. Louis he
arrived there on the last day of December, 1840.

The remainder of the winter was occupied in preparations for a new
journey, and in securing men and supplies for the equipment of the
far-away mission begun under such favorable auspices. Once more the
father departed from Westport--this time in May, 1841. The little
company consisted, besides himself, of two other priests and three lay
brothers, all of the latter being skilled mechanics. Among the members
of the caravan were a number of California pioneers, one of whom has
thus related his impressions of the young missionary: "He was genial,
of fine presence, and one of the saintliest men I have ever known, and
I cannot wonder that the Indians were made to believe him divinely
protected. He was a man of great kindness and great affability under
all circumstances; nothing seemed to disturb his temper."[2]

  [2] John Bidwell, "First Emigrant Train to California," in
      _Century Magazine_, new series, xix, pp. 113, 114.

Father de Smet's letters describe in detail the scenery and incidents
of the route from the eastern border of Kansas to Fort Hall, in Idaho,
where the British factor received the travellers with abounding
hospitality. Here some of the Flatheads were in waiting to convey the
missionaries to the tribe, the chiefs of which met them in Beaver Head
Valley, Montana, and testified their welcome with dignified
simplicity. Passing over to the waters of the Columbia, they founded
the mission of St. Mary upon the first Sunday in October, in the
beautiful Bitter Root valley at the site of the later Fort Owen.
Thence Father de Smet made a rapid journey in search of provisions to
Fort Colville, on the upper Columbia, but was again at his mission
stockade before the close of the year. In April a longer journey was
projected, as far as Fort Vancouver, on the lower Columbia, where Dr.
McLoughlin, the British factor, received the good priest with that
cordial greeting for which he was already famous. During this journey
the father narrowly escaped drowning in the turbulent rapids of the
Columbia, where five of his boatmen perished. Returned to St. Mary's,
the prospects for a harvest of souls both among the Flatheads and the
neighboring tribes appeared so promising that the missionary
determined to seek re-enforcement and further aid in Europe. Thereupon
he left his companions in charge of the "new Paraguay" of his hopes,
and once more undertook the long and adventurous journey to the
settlements, this time by way of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers,
arriving at St. Louis the last of October, 1842. At this point the
journeys detailed in the volume here reprinted come to an end. The
later career of Father de Smet and his subsequent journeyings will be
detailed in the preface to volumes xxviii and xxix, in the latter of
which will appear his _Oregon Missions_.

Father de Smet's writings on missionary subjects ended only with his
death, and were increasingly voluminous and detailed. The _Letters and
Sketches_ were his first published work, with the exception of a
portion of a compilation that appeared in 1841, on the Jesuit missions
of Missouri. We find therefore, in the present reprint, the vitality
and enthusiasm of the young traveller relating new scenes, and the
abounding joy of the successful missionary uplifting a barbaric race.
The book was written with the avowed purpose of creating interest in
his newly-organized work, and securing contributions therefor. The
freshness of description, the wholesome simplicity of the narrative,
the frank presentation of wilderness life, charm the reader, and make
this book a classic of early Western exploration. Cast in the form of
letters, wherein there is more or less repetition of statement, it is
nevertheless evident that these have been subjected to a certain
editorial revision, and that literary quality has been considered.
Aside from the interest evoked by the personality of the writer, and
the events of his narrative, the work throws much light upon
wilderness travel, the topography and scenery of the Rocky Mountain
region, and above all upon the habits and customs, modes of thought,
social standards, and religious conceptions of the important tribes of
the interior.

After the present series of reprints had been planned for, and
announced in a detailed prospectus, there was issued from the press of
Francis P. Harper of New York the important volumes edited by Major H.
M. Chittenden and Alfred Talbot Richardson, entitled _Life, Letters,
and Travels of Father Pierre Jean de Smet, S. J., 1801-73_. This
publication contains much new material, derived from manuscript
sources, which has been interwoven in chronological order with the
missionary's several books; and to it all have been added an adequate
biography and bibliography of De Smet. This scholarly work has been of
great service to us in preparing for accurate reprint the original
editions of the only two of Father de Smet's publications that fall
within the chronological field of our series.

In the preparation for the press of Flagg's _The Far West_, the Editor
has had the assistance of Clarence Cory Crawford, A. M.; in editing
Father de Smet's _Letters and Sketches_, his assistant has been Louise
Phelps Kellogg, Ph.D.

                                                            R. G. T.
  MADISON, WIS., April, 1906.



  PART I OF FLAGG'S THE FAR WEST, 1836-1837

  Reprint of Volume I, and chapters xxiii-xxxii of Volume II, of
  original edition: New York, 1838



  [Illustration: MAP OF OREGON.]



  THE FAR WEST:
  OR,
  A TOUR BEYOND THE MOUNTAINS.

  EMBRACING

  OUTLINES OF WESTERN LIFE AND SCENERY; SKETCHES
  OF THE PRAIRIES, RIVERS, ANCIENT MOUNDS, EARLY
  SETTLEMENTS OF THE FRENCH, ETC., ETC.


    "If thou be a severe, sour-complexioned man, then I here
    disallow thee to be a competent judge."--IZAAK WALTON.

    "I pity the man who can travel from Dan to Beersheba, and
    cry, ''Tis all barren.'"--STERNE.

    "Chacun a son stile; le mien, comme vous voyez, n'est pas
    laconique."--ME. DE SEVIGNE.


  IN TWO VOLUMES.

  VOL. I.


  NEW-YORK:
  PUBLISHED BY HARPER & BROTHERS
  NO. 82 CLIFF-STREET.
  1838.



  [Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1838, by
  HARPER & BROTHERS,
  in the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New-York.]



  TO ONE--

    AT WHOSE SOLICITATION THESE VOLUMES WERE COMMENCED, AND
    WITH WHOSE ENCOURAGEMENT THEY HAVE BEEN COMPLETED--


  TO MY SISTER LUCY

    ARE THEY AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED.



TO THE READER

                        "He that writes
  Or makes a feast, more certainly invites
  His judges than his friends; there's not a guest
  But will find something wanting or ill dress'd."


In laying before the majesty of the public a couple of volumes like
the present, it has become customary for the author to disclaim in his
preface all original design of _perpetrating a book_, as if there were
even more than the admitted _quantum_ of sinfulness in the act.
Whether or not such disavowals now-a-day receive all the credence they
merit, is not for the writer to say; and whether, were the prefatory
asseveration, as in the present case, diametrically opposed to what it
often is, the reception would be different, is even more difficult to
predict. The articles imbodied in the following volumes were, a
portion of them, in their original, hasty production, _designed_ for
the press; yet the author unites in the disavowal of his predecessors
of all intention at that time of perpetrating _a book_.

In the early summer of '36, when about starting upon a ramble over the
prairies of the "Far West," in hope of renovating the energies of a
shattered constitution, a request was made of the writer, by the
distinguished editor of the Louisville Journal, to contribute {vi} to
the columns of that periodical whatever, in the course of his
pilgrimage, might be deemed of sufficient interest.[1] A series of
articles soon after made their appearance in that paper under the
title, "_Sketches of a Traveller_." They were, as their name purports,
mere sketches from a traveller's _portfeuille_, hastily thrown upon
paper whenever time, place, or opportunity rendered convenient; in the
steamboat saloon, the inn bar-room, the log-cabin of the wilderness,
or upon the venerable mound of the Western prairie. With such favour
were these hasty productions received, and so extensively were they
circulated, that the writer, on returning from his pilgrimage to "the
shrine of health," was induced, by the solicitations of partial
friends, to enter at his leisure upon the preparation for the press of
a mass of MSS. of a similar character, written at the time, which had
never been published; a thorough revision and enlargement of that
which had appeared, united with _this_, it was thought, would furnish
a passable volume or two upon the "Far West." Two years of residence
in the West have since passed away; and the arrangement for the press
of the fugitive sheets of a wanderer's sketch-book would not yet,
perhaps, have been deemed of sufficient importance to warrant the
necessary labour, had he not been daily reminded that his productions,
whatever their merit, were already public property so far as could be
the case, and at the mercy of every one who thought proper to assume
paternity. "Forbearance ceased to be longer a virtue," and the result
is now before the {vii} reader. But, while alluding to that aid which
his labours may have rendered to others, the author would not fail
fully to acknowledge his own indebtedness to those distinguished
writers upon the West who have preceded him. To Peck, Hall, Flint,
Wetmore, and to others, his acknowledgments are due and are
respectfully tendered.[2]

In extenuation of the circumstance that some portions of these
volumes have already appeared, though in a crude state, before the
public, the author has but to suggest that many works, with which the
present will not presume to compare, have made their debut on the
unimposing pages of a periodical. Not to dwell upon the writings of
Addison and Johnson, and other classics of British literature, several
of Bulwer's most polished productions, the elaborate Essays of Elia,
Wirt's British Spy, Hazlitt's Philosophical Reviews, Coleridge's
Friend, most of the novels of Captain Marryatt and Theodore Hook, and
many of the most elegant works of the day, have been prepared for the
pages of a magazine.

And now, with no slight misgiving, does the author commit his
firstborn bantling to the tender mercies of an impartial public.
Criticism he does not deprecate, still less does he brave it; and
farther than either is he from soliciting undue favour. Yet to the
_reader_, as he grasps him by the hand in parting, would he commit his
book, with the quaint injunction of a distinguished but eccentric old
English writer upon an occasion somewhat similar:

"I exhort all people, gentle and simple, men, {viii} women, and
children, to buy, to read, to extol these labours of mine. Let them
not fear to defend every article; for I will bear them harmless. I
have arguments good store, and can easily confute, either logically,
theologically, or metaphysically, all those who oppose me."

                                                               E. F.
  New-York, Oct., 1838.



CONTENTS


I

  The Western Steamboat-landing--Western Punctuality--An
  Accident--Human Suffering--Desolation of Bereavement--
  A Contrast--Sublimity--An Ohio Freshet--View of Louisville--
  Early History--The Ohio Falls--Corn Island--The Last Conflict     43


II

  The Early Morn--"Sleep no more!"--The Ohio--"_La Belle
  Rivière!_"--Ohio Islands--A Cluster at Sunset--"Ohio Hills"--
  The Emigrant's Clearing--Moonlight on the Ohio--A Sunset-scene--
  The Peaceful Ohio--The Gigantic Forest-trees--The Bottom-lands--
  Obstructions to Navigation--Classification--Removal--Dimensions
  of Snags--Peculiar difficulties on the Ohio--Leaning Trees--
  Stone Dams--A Full Survey--The Result                             52


III

  An Arrest--Drift-wood--Ohio Scenery--Primitive River-craft--
  Early Scenes on the Western Waters--The Boatmen--Life and
  Character--_Annus Mirabilis_--The Steam-engine in the West--
  The Freshet--The Comet--The Earthquakes--The first Steamboat--
  The _Pinelore_--The Steam-engine--Prophecy of Darwin--Results--
  Sublimity--Villages--A new Geology--Rivers--Islands--Forests--
  The Wabash and its Banks--New Harmony--Site--Settlement--
  Edifices--Gardens--Owen and the "Social System"--Theory and
  Practice--Mental Independence--Dissension--Abandonment--
  Shawneetown--Early History--Settlement--Advancement--Site--
  United States' Salines--Ancient Pottery                           59


IV

  Geology of the Mississippi Valley--Ohio Cliffs--The Iron
  Coffin--"Battery Rock"--"Rock-Inn-Cave"--Origin of Name--{x}
  A Visit--Outlines and Dimensions--The Indian _Manito_--Island
  opposite--The Freebooters--"The Outlaw"--The Counterfeiters--
  Their Fate--Ford and his Gang--Retributive Justice--"Tower
  Rock"--The Tradition--The Cave of Hieroglyphics--Islands--
  Golconda--The Cumberland--Aaron Burr's Island--Paducah--Name--
  Ruins of Fort Massac--The Legend--Wilkinsonville--The "Grand
  Chain"--Caledonia--A Storm--Sunset--"The Meeting of the
  Waters"--Characteristics of the Rivers--"Willow Point"--The
  place of Meeting--Disappointment--A Utopian City--America         70


V

  Darkness Visible--The "Father of Waters"--The Power of Steam--
  The Current--"English Island"--The Sabbath--A Blessed
  Appointment--Its Quietude--The New-England Emigrant--His
  Privations--Sorrows--Loneliness--"The Light of Home"--Cape
  Girardeau--Site--Settlement--Effects of the Earthquakes--
  A severer Shock--Staples of Trade--The Spiral Water-wheels--
  Their Utility--"Tyowapity Bottom"--Potter's Clay--
  A Manufactory--_Rivière au Vase_--Salines--Coal-beds--
  "Fountain Bluff"--The "Grand Tower"--Parapet of Limestone--
  Ancient Cataract--The Cliffs--Divinity of the Boatmen--
  The "Devil's Oven"--The "Tea-table"--Volcanic and Diluvial
  Action--The Torrent overcome--A Race--Breathless Interest--
  The Engineer--The Fireman--Last of the "Horse and Alligator"
  species--"Charon"--A Triumph--A Defeat                            82


VI

  Navigation of the Mississippi--The First Appropriation--
  Improvements of Capt. Shreve--Mississippi and Ohio Scenery
  contrasted--Alluvial Deposites--Ste. Genevieve--Origin--Site--
  The _Haunted_ Ruin--The old "Common Field"--Inundation of
  '85--Minerals--Quarries--Sand-caves--Fountains--Salines--
  Indians--Ancient Remains--View of Ste. Genevieve--Landing--
  Outrage of a Steamer--Indignation--The Remedy--A Snag and a
  Scene--An Interview with "Charon"--Fort Chartres                  93


{xi} VII

  The Hills! the Hills!--Trosachs of Loch Katrine--Alluvial
  Action--Bluffs of Selma and Herculaneum--Shot-towers--Natural
  Curiosities--The "Cornice Cliffs"--The Merrimac--Its
  Riches--Ancient Lilliputian Graves--Mammoth Remains--Jefferson
  Barracks--Carondelet--Cahokia--U. S. Arsenal--St. Louis in the
  Distance--Fine View--Uproar of the Landing--The Eternal
  River--Character--Features--Sublimity--Statistics--The Lower
  Mississippi--"Bends"--"Cut-offs"--Land-slips--The Pioneer Cabin  102


VIII

  "Once more upon the Waters!"--"Uncle Sam's Tooth-pullers"--Mode
  of eradicating a Snag--River Suburbs of North St. Louis--Spanish
  Fortifications--The Waterworks--The Ancient Mounds--Country
  Seats--The Confluence--Charlevoix's Description--A Variance--
  A View--The Upper Mississippi--Alton in distant View--The
  Penitentiary and Churches--"Pomp and Circumstance"--The City
  of Alton--Advantages--Objections--Improvements--Prospects--
  Liberality--Railroads--Alton Bluffs--"Departing Day"--The
  Piasa Cliffs--Moonlight Scene                                    113


IX

  The _Coleur de Rose_--The Piasa--The Indian Legend--Caverns--
  Human Remains--The Illinois--Characteristic Features--The
  Canal--The Banks and Bottoms--Poisonous Exhalations--Scenes on
  the Illinois--The "Military Bounty Tract"--_Cape au Gris_--Old
  French Village--River Villages--Pekin--"An Unco Sight"--Genius
  of the Bacchanal--A "Monkey Show"--Nomenclature of Towns--The
  Indian Names                                                     122


X

  An Emigrant Farmer--An Enthusiast--Peoria--The Old Village and
  the New--Early History--Exile of the French--Fort Clarke--Indian
  Hostilities--The Modern Village--Site--Advantages--Prospects--
  Lake _Pinatahwee_--Fish--The Bluffs and Prairie--A Military
  Spectacle--The "Helen Mar"--Horrors of Steam!--A Bivouac--The
  Dragoon Corps--Military {xii} Courtesy--"Starved Rock"--The
  Legend--Remains--Shells--Intrenchments--Music--The Moonlight
  Serenade--A Reminiscence                                         132


XI

  Delay--"A Horse!"--Early French Immigration in the West--The
  Villages of the Wilderness--St. Louis--Venerable Aspect--Site
  of the City--A French Village City--South St. Louis--The Old
  Chateaux--The Founding of the City--The Footprints in the Rock--
  The First House--Name of City--Decease of the Founders--Early
  Annals--Administration of St. Ange--The Common Field--Cession
  and Recession--"_L'Annee du Grand Coup_"--"_L'Annee des Grandes
  Eaux_"--Keel-boat Commerce--The Robbers Culbert and Magilbray--
  "_L'Annee des Bateaux_"--The First Steamboat at St. Louis--
  Wonder of the Indians--Opposition to Improvement--Plan of St.
  Louis--A View--Spanish Fortifications--The Ancient Mounds--
  Position--Number--Magnitude--Outlines--Arrangement--Character--
  Neglect--Moral Interest--Origin--The Argument of Analogy         142


XII

  View from the "Big Mound" at St. Louis--The Sand-bar--The
  Remedy--The "Floating Dry-dock"--The Western Suburbs--Country
  Seats--Game--Lakes--Public Edifices--Catholic Religion--
  "Cathedral of St. Luke"--Site--Dimensions--Peal of Bells--
  Porch--The Interior--Columns--Window Transparencies--The
  Effect--The Sanctuary--Galleries--Altar-piece--Altar and
  Tabernacle--Chapels--Paintings--Lower Chapel--St. Louis
  University--Medical School--The Chapel--Paintings--Library--
  Ponderous Volumes--Philosophical Apparatus--The Pupils           160


XIII

  An Excursion of Pleasure--A fine Afternoon--Our Party--The
  Bridal Pair--South St. Louis--Advantages for Manufactures--
  Quarries--Farmhouses--The "Eagle Powder-works"--Explosion--
  The Bride--A Steeple-chase--A Descent--The Arsenal--Grounds--
  Structures--Esplanade--Ordnance--Warlike Aspect--Carondelet--
  Sleepy-Hollow--River-reach {xiii}--Time Departed--Inhabitants--
  Structures--Gardens--Orchards--_Cabarets_--The Catholic
  Church--Altar-piece--Paintings--Missal--Crucifix--Evergreens--
  Deaf and Dumb Asylum--Distrust of Villagers--Jefferson
  Barracks--Site--Extent--Buildings--View from the Terrace--The
  Burial Grounds--The Cholera--Design of the Barracks--_Corps
  de Reserve_--A remarkable Cavern--Our Guide--Situation of
  Cave--Entrance--Exploration--Grotesque Shapes--A Foot--Boat--
  Coffin in Stone--The Bats--_Rivière des Pères_--An Ancient
  Cemetery--Antiquities--The Jesuit Settlers--Sulphur Spring--
  A Cavern--A Ruin                                                 170


XIV

  City and Country at Midsummer--Cosmorama of St. Louis--The American
  Bottom--Cahokia Creek--A Pecan Grove--The Ancient Mounds--First
  Group--Number--Resemblance--Magnitude--Outline--Railroad to the
  Bluffs--Pittsburg--The Prairie--Landscape--The "Cantine
  Mounds"--"Monk Hill"--First Impressions--Origin--The
  Argument--Workmanship of Man--Reflections suggested--Our
  Memory--The Craving of the Heart--The Pyramid-builders--The
  Mound-builders--A hopeless Aspiration--"Keep the Soul embalmed"  180


XV

  The Antiquity of Monk Mound--Primitive Magnitude--Fortifications
  of the Revolution--The Ancient Population--Two Cities--Design
  of the Mounds--The "Cantine Mounds"--Number--Size--Position--
  Outline--Features of Monk Mound--View from the Summit--Prairie--
  Lakes--Groves--Bluffs--Cantine Creek--St. Louis in distance--
  Neighbouring Earth-heaps--The Well--Interior of the Mound--
  The Monastery of La Trappe--Abbé Armand Rance--The Vows--A
  Quotation--Reign of Terror--Immigration of the Trappists--
  Their Buildings--Their Discipline--Diet--Health--Skill--Asylum
  Seminary--Worldly Charity--Palliation--A strange Spectacle       187


{xiv} XVI

  Edwardsville--Site and Buildings--Land Mania--A "Down-east"
  Incident--Human Nature--The first Land Speculator--Castor-oil
  Manufacture--Outlines of Edwardsville--Collinsville--Route to
  Alton--Sultriness--The Alton Bluffs--A Panorama--Earth-heaps--
  Indian Graves--Upper Alton--Shurtliff College--_Baptized_
  Intelligence--Knowledge not Conservative--Greece--Rome--
  France--England--The Remedy                                      197


XVII

  The Traveller's Whereabout--The Prairie in a Mist--Sense of
  Loneliness--The Backwoods Farmhouse--Structure--Outline--
  Western Roads--A New-England Emigrant--The "Barrens"--Origin
  of Name--Soil--The "Sink-holes"--The Springs--Similar in
  Missouri and Florida--"Fount of Rejuvenescence"--Ponce de
  Leon--"Sappho's Fount"--The Prairies--First View--The Grass--
  Flowers--Island-groves--A Contrast--Prairie-farms--A Buck
  and Doe--A Kentucky Pioneer--Events of Fifty Years--The
  "Order Tramontane"--Expedition of Gov. Spotswood--The Change--
  A Thunderstorm on the Prairies--"A Sharer in the Tempest"--
  Discretionary Valour                                             207


XVIII

  Morning after the Storm--The Landscape--The sprinkled Groves--
  Nature in unison with the Heart--The Impress of Design--
  Contemplation of grand Objects elevates--Nature and the Savage--
  Nature and Nature's God--Earth praises God--Indifference and
  Ingratitude of Man--"All is very Good"--Influence of Scenery
  upon Character--The Swiss Mountaineer--Bold Scenery most
  Impressive--Freedom among the Alps--Caucasus--Himmalaya--
  _Something_ to Love--Carlinville--"Grand Menagerie"--A Scene--
  The Soil--The Inn--Macoupin Creek--Origin of Name--A Vegetable--
  An Indian Luxury--Carlinville--Its Advantages and Prospects--A
  "Fourth-of-July" Oration--The thronging Multitudes--The huge
  Cart--A Thunder-storm--A Log-cabin--Women and Children--Outlines
  of the Cabin--The Roof and Floor--The Furniture and Dinner-pot--
  A Choice of Evils--The _Pathless_ Prairie                        219


{xv} XIX

  Ponce de Leon--The Fount of Youth--The "Land of Flowers"--
  Ferdinand de Soto--"_El Padre de los Aguas_"--The Canadian
  Voyageurs--"_La Belle Rivière_"--Sieur La Salle--"A Terrestrial
  Paradise"--Daniel Boone--"Old Kentucke"--"The Pilgrim from the
  North"--Sabbath Morning--The Landscape--The Grass and
  Prairie-flower--Nature at Rest--Sabbath on the Prairie--Alluvial
  Aspect of the Prairies--The Soil--Lakes--Fish--The Annual
  Fires--Origin--A Mode of Hunting--Captain Smith--Mungo Park--
  Hillsborough--Major-domo of the Hostelrie--His Garb and
  Proportions--The Presbyterian Church--_Picturesqueness_--The
  "_Luteran_ Church"--Practical Utility--The Dark Minister--
  A Mistake--The Patriotic Dutchman--A Veritable Publican--
  Prospects of Hillsborough--A Theological Seminary--Route to
  Vandalia--The Political Sabbath                                  230


XX

  The Race of Vagabonds--"Yankee Enterprise"--The Virginia
  Emigrant--The Western Creeks and Bridges--An Adventure in
  Botany--Unnatural Rebellion--Christian Retaliation--Vandalia--
  "First Impressions"--The Patriotic Bacchanal--The High-priest--
  A Distinction Unmerited--The Cause--Vandalia--Situation--
  Public Edifices--Square--Church--Bank--Land-office--"Illinois
  Magazine"--Tardy Growth--Removal of Government--Adventures of
  the First Legislators--The Northern Frontier--Magic of Sixteen
  Years--Route to Carlisle--A Buck and Doe--An old Hunter--
  "Hurricane Bottom"--Night on the Prairies--The Emigrant's
  Bivouac--The Prairie-grass--Carlisle--Site--Advantages--
  Growth--"Mound Farm"                                             238


XXI

  The Love of Nature--Its Delights--The Wanderer's Reflections--
  The Magic Hour--A Sunset on the Prairies--"The Sunny Italy"--
  The Prairie Sunset--Route to Lebanon--Silver Creek--Origin of
  Name--The "Looking-glass Prairie"--The Methodist Village--
  Farms--Country Seats--Maize-fields--Herds--M'Kendreean College--
  "The Seminary!"--Route to Belleville--The Force of Circumstance--
  A Contrast--Public {xvi} Buildings--A lingering Look--Route to
  St. Louis--The French Village--The Coal Bluffs--Discovery of
  Coal--St. Clair County--Home of Clouds--Realm of Thunder--San
  Louis                                                            248


XXII

  Single Blessedness--Text and Comment--_En Route_--North St.
  Louis--A Delightful Drive--A Delightful Farm-cottage--The
  Catholic University--A Stately Villa--Belle Fontaine--A Town
  plat--A View of the Confluence--The _Human Tooth_--The Hamlet
  of Florissant--Former Name--Site--Buildings--Church--Seminary--
  _Tonish_--_Owen's Station_--Scenery upon the Route--
  _La Charbonnière_--The Missouri Bottom--The Forest-Colonnade--
  The Missouri--Its Sublimity--Indian Names--Its Turbid
  Character--Cause--An Inexplicable Phenomenon--Theories--
  Navigation Dangerous--Floods of the Missouri--Alluvions--
  Sources of the Missouri and Columbia--Their Destinies--Human
  Life--The Ocean of Eternity--Gates of the Rocky Mountains--
  Sublimity--A Cataract--The Main Stream--Claims stated            257


{iii} XXIII

  View of St. Charles and the Missouri--The Bluffs--"A stern round
  Tower"--Its Origin--The Windmill--A sunset Stroll--Rural Sights
  and Sounds--The River and Forest--The Duellist's Grave--The Hour
  and Scene--_Requiescat_--Reflections--Duelling--A sad Event--
  Young B----.--His Request--His Monument--"Blood Island"--Its
  Scenes and Annals--A visit to "_Les Mamelles_"--The Forest-path--
  Its Obscurity--Outlines of the Bluffs--Derivation of Name--
  Position--Resemblance--The Missouri Bluffs--View from The
  Mamelle--The Missouri Bottom--The Mamelle Prairie--The distant
  Cliffs and Confluences--Extent of Plain--Alluvial Origin--
  Lakes--Bed of the Rivers--An ancient Deposite                    268


XXIV

  St. Charles--Its Origin--Peculiarities--Early Name--Spanish
  Rule--Heterogeneous Population--Germans--The Wizard Spell--
  American Enterprise--Site of the Village--Prospects--The
  Baltimore Settlement--Catholic Religion and Institutions--
  "St. Charles College"--The Race of Hunters--A Specimen--The
  Buffalo--Indian Atrocities--The "Rangers"--Daniel Boone--
  "Too Crowded!"--The "Regulators"--Boone's Lick--His Decease--
  His Memory--The Missouri Indians--The Stoccade Fort--Adventure
  of a Naturalist--Route from St. Charles--A Prairie without a
  Path--Enormous Vegetation--The Cliffs--The Column of Smoke--
  Perplexity--A delightful Scene--A rare Flower--The Prairie
  Flora in Spring--In Summer--In Autumn--The Traveller loiters     276


{iv} XXV

  Novel Feature of the Mamelle Prairie--A Footpath--An old French
  Village--Bewilderment--Mystery--A Guide--_Portage des Sioux_--
  Secluded Site--Advantages--"Common Field"--Garden-plats--A brick
  Edifice--A _courteous_ Welcome--An _amiable_ Personage--History
  of the Village--Origin--Earthquakes--Name--An Indian Legend--
  Teatable Talk--_Patois_ of the French Villages--An Incident!--
  A Scene!--A civil Hint--A Night of Beauty--The Flush of Dawn--
  The weltering Prairie--The Forest--The river Scene--The
  Ferry-horn--Delay--Locale of Grafton--Advantages and Prospects   288


XXVI

  Cave in the Grafton Cliffs--Outlines--Human Remains--_Desecration_
  of the Coopers--View from the Cave's Mouth--The Bluffs--Inclined
  Planes--The Railroad--A Stone-heap--A beautiful Custom--Veneration
  for the Dead--The Widow of Florida--The Canadian Mother--The
  Orientals--An extensive View--The River--The Prairie--The Emigrant
  Farm--The Illinois--A _tortuous_ Route--Macoupin Settlement--
  Carrolton--Outlines of a Western Village--Religious Diversity--An
  agricultural Village--Whitehall--The Emigrant Family _en route_--
  A Western Village--Its rapid Growth--Fit Parallels--Manchester--
  The Scarcity of Timber not an insurmountable Obstacle--
  Substitutes--Morgan County--Prospects--Soil of the Prairies--
  Adaptation to _coarse_ Grains--Rapid Population--New-England
  Immigrants--The Changes of a few Years--Environs of
  Jacksonville--Buildings of "Illinois College"--The Public Square 295


XXVII

  Remark of Horace Walpole--A Word from the Author--Jacksonville--
  Its rapid Advancement--Its Site--Suburbs--Public Square--
  Radiating Streets--The Congregational Church--The Pulpit--A
  pleasant Incident--The "New-England of the West"--Immigrant
  Colonies--"Illinois College"--The Site--Buildings--"Manual
  Labour System"--The Founders--Their Success--Their Fame--
  Jacksonville--Attractions for the Northern Emigrant--New England
  Character--A faithful {v} Transcript--"The Pilgrim Fathers"--
  The "Stump"--Mr. W. and his Speech--Curious Surmisings--Internal
  Improvements--Route to Springfield--A "Baptist Circuit-rider"--
  An Evening Prairie-rider                                         305


XXVIII

  The Nature of Man--Facilities for its Study--A Pilgrimage of
  Observation--Dissection of Character, Physical and Moral--The
  young Student--The brighter Features of Humanity--An unwitting
  Episode--Our World a _Ruin_--Sunrise on the Prairies--
  Springfield--Its Location--Advantages--Structures--Society--
  Prospects--The Sangamon River--Its Navigation--Bottom-lands--
  Aged Forests--Cathedral Pomp--A splendid Phenomenon--Civic
  Honours--"_Sic itur ad astra!_"--A Morning Ride--"Demands of
  Appetite"--"Old Jim"--A tipsy Host--A revolting Exhibition--
  Jacob's Cattle and the Prairie-wolves--An Illinois Table--
  The Staples--A Tea Story--Poultry and Bacon--_Chicken Fixens_
  and _Common Doins_--An Object of Commiseration                   315


XXIX

  The Burial-ground--A _holy_ Spot--Our culpable Indifference--
  Cemeteries in our Land--A sad Reflection--The last Petition--
  Reverence for the Departed--Civilized and Savage Nations--The
  last Resting-place--Worthy of Thought--A touching Expression
  of the Heart--FRANKLIN--The Object of Admiration and _Love_--
  The Burial-ground of Decatur--The dying Emigrant--The Spirit's
  Sympathy--A soothing Reflection to Friends--The "Grand Prairie"--
  The "Lost Rocks"--Decatur--Site and Prospects--A sunset Scene--
  The Prairie by Moonlight--The Log-cabin--The Exotic of the
  Prairie--The Heart--The Thank-offering--The Pre-emption Right--
  The Mormonites--Their Customs--Millennial Anticipations--The
  Angelic Visitant--The _dénouément_--The Miracle!--The System
  of "New Light"--Its Rise and Fall--Aberrations of the Mind--
  A melancholy Reflection--Absurdity of Mormonism                  325


XXX

  A wild Night--An Illusion--Sleeplessness--Loneliness--A
  Storm-wind on the Prairies--A magnificent Scene--Beauty of
  {vi} the lesser Prairies--Nature's _chef d'oeuvre_--Loveliness
  lost in Grandeur--Waves of the Prairie--Ravines--Light and
  Shade--"Alone, alone, all, all alone!"--Origin of the Prairie--
  Argument for _Natural_ Origin--Similar Plains--Derivation of
  "_Prairie_"--Absence of Trees accounted for--The _Diluvial_
  Origin--Prairie Phenomena explained--The Autumnal Fires--An
  Exception--The Prairie _sui generis_--No Identity with other
  Plains--A Bed of the Ocean--A new Hypothesis--Extent of
  Prairie-surface--Characteristic Carelessness--Hunger and
  Thirst--A tedious Jaunt--Horrible Suggestions!--Land ho!--
  A Log-cabin--Hog and Honey                                       338


XXXI

  Cis-atlantic Character--Avarice--Curiosity--A grand Propellant--
  A Concomitant and Element of Mental Vigour--An Anglo-American
  Characteristic--Inspection and Supervision--"Uncle Bill"--The
  Quintessence of Inquisitiveness--A Fault "on Virtue's Side"--
  The People of Illinois--A Hunting Ramble--A Shot--_Tempis
  fugit_--Shelbyville--Dame Justice _in Terrorem_--A Sulphur
  Spring--The Inn Register--Chill Atmosphere of the Forest--
  Contrast on the Prairie--The "Green-head" Prairie-fly--Effect
  upon a Horse--Numerous in '35--The "Horse-guard"--The _Modus
  Bellandi_--_Cold Spring_--A _presuming_ Host--Musty Politics--
  The Robin Redbreast--Ornithology of the West--The Turtle-dove--
  Pathos of her Note--Paley's Remark--Eloquence of the
  Forest-bird--A Mormonite, _Zion_ward--A forensic Confabulation--
  Mormonism Developed--The seduced Pedagogue--_Mount Zion_ Stock--
  The Grand Tabernacle--Smith and Rigdom--The Bank--The Temple--
  The School--Appearance of Smith--Of Rigdom--Their Disciples--
  The National Road--Its Progress--Structure--_Terminus_--Its
  enormous Character--A Contrast--"Shooting a Beeve"--The
  Regulations--Salem--A New-England Seaport--The Location--The
  Village Singing-school--_The Major_                              348


XXXII

  Rest after Exertion--A Purpose--"Mine Ease in mine Inn"--
  The "Thread of Discourse"--A Thunder-gust--Its Approach and
  Departure--A Bolt--A rifted Elm--An impressive {vii} Scene--
  Gray's _Bard_--Mount Vernon--Courthouse--Site--Medicinal
  Water--A misty Morning--A _blind_ Route--"Muddy Prairie"--
  Wild Turkeys--Something Diabolical!--The _direct_ Route--
  A vexatious Incident--The unerring Guide--A _Tug_ for a
  _Fixen_--An evening Ride--Pinkneyville--Outlines and
  Requisites--The blood-red Jail--The _Traveller's Inn_--
  "'Tis true, and Pity 'tis"--A "Soul in Purgatory"--An
  _unutterable_ Ill--_Incomparable_--An unpitied and
  unenviable Situation--A laughable Bewilderment--Host and
  Hostess--The Mischief of a Smile--A Retaliation                  362



THE FAR WEST



[PART I]



I

  "I do remember me, that, in my youth,
  When I was wandering--"
                                          MANFRED.


It was a bright morning in the early days of "leafy June." Many a
month had seen me a wanderer from distant New-England; and now I found
myself "once more upon the waters," embarked for a pilgrimage over the
broad prairie-plains of the sunset West. A drizzly, miserable rain had
for some days been hovering, with proverbial pertinacity, over the
devoted "City of the Falls," and still, at intervals, came lazily
pattering down from the sunlighted clouds, reminding one of a hoiden
girl smiling through a shower of April tear-drops, while the quay
continued to exhibit all that wild uproar and tumult, "confusion worse
confounded," which characterizes the steamboat commerce of the Western
Valley. The landing at the time was thronged with steamers, and yet
the incessant "boom, boom, boom," of the high-pressure engines, the
shrill hiss of scalding steam, and the fitful port-song of the negro
firemen rising ever and anon upon the breeze, gave notice of a
constant {14} augmentation to the number. Some, too, were getting
under way, and their lower _guards_ were thronged by emigrants with
their household and agricultural utensils. Drays were rattling hither
and thither over the rough pavement; Irish porters were cracking their
whips and roaring forth alternate staves of blasphemy and song; clerks
hurrying to and fro, with fluttering note-books, in all the fancied
dignity of "brief authority;" hackney-coaches dashing down to the
water's edge, apparently with no motive to the nervous man but noise;
while at intervals, as if to fill up the pauses of the Babel, some
incontinent steamer would hurl forth from the valves of her
overcharged boilers one of those deafening, terrible blasts, echoing
and re-echoing along the river-banks, and streets, and among the lofty
buildings, till the very welkin rang again.

To one who has never visited the public wharves of the great cities of
the West, it is no trivial task to convey an adequate idea of the
spectacle they present. The commerce of the Eastern seaports and that
of the Western Valley are utterly dissimilar; not more in the staples
of intercourse than in the mode in which it is conducted; and, were
one desirous of exhibiting to a friend from the Atlantic shore a
picture of the prominent features which characterize commercial
proceedings upon the Western waters, or, indeed, of Western character
in its general outline, at a _coup d'oeil_, he could do no better
than to place him in the wild uproar of the steamboat quay. Amid the
"crowd, the hum, {15} the shock" of such a scene stands out Western
peculiarity in all its stern proportion.

Steamers on the great waters of the West are well known to indulge no
violently conscientious scruples upon the subject of punctuality, and
a solitary exception at our behest, or in our humble behalf, was, to
be sure, not an event to be counted on. "There's dignity in being
waited for;" hour after hour, therefore, still found us and left us
amid the untold scenes and sounds of the public landing. It is true,
and to the unending honour of all concerned be it recorded, very true
it is our doughty steamer ever and anon would puff and blow like a
porpoise or a narwhal; and then would she swelter from every pore and
quiver in every limb with the ponderous labouring of her huge
enginery, and the steam would shrilly whistle and shriek like a spirit
in its confinement, till at length she united her whirlwind voice to
the general roar around; and all this indicated, indubitably, an
intention to be off and away; but a knowing one was he who could
determine the _when_.

Among the causes of our wearisome detention was one of a nature too
melancholy, too painfully interesting lightly to be alluded to.
Endeavouring to while away the tedium of delay, I was pacing leisurely
back and forth upon the _guard_, surveying the lovely scenery of the
opposite shore, and the neat little houses of the village sprinkled
upon the plain beyond, when a wild, piercing shriek struck upon my
ear. I was hurrying immediately forward to the spot whence it seemed
to proceed, {16} when I was intercepted by some of our boat's crew
bearing a mangled body. It was that of our second engineer, a fine,
laughing young fellow, who had been terribly injured by becoming
entangled with the flywheel of the machinery while in motion. He was
laid upon the passage floor. I stood at his head; and never, I think,
shall I forget those convulsed and agonized features. His countenance
was ghastly and livid; beaded globules of cold sweat started out
incessantly upon his pale brow; and, in the paroxysms of pain, his
dark eye would flash, his nostril dilate, and his lips quiver so as to
expose the teeth gnashing in a fearful manner; while a muttered
execration, dying away from exhaustion, caused us all to shudder. And
then that wild despairing roll of the eyeball in its socket as the
miserable man would glance hurriedly around upon the countenances of
the bystanders, imploring them, in utter helplessness, to lend him
relief. Ah! it is a fearful thing to look upon these strivings of
humanity in the iron grasp of a power it may in vain resist! From the
quantity of blood thrown off, the oppressive fulness of the chest, and
the difficult respiration, some serious pulmonary injury had evidently
been sustained; while a splintered clavicle and limbs shockingly
shattered racked the poor sufferer with anguish inexpressible. It was
evident he believed himself seriously injured, for at times he would
fling out his arms, beseeching those around him to "hold him back," as
if even then he perceived the icy grasp of the death angel creeping
over his frame.

{17} Perhaps I have devoted more words to the detail of this
melancholy incident than would otherwise have been the case, on
account of the interest which some circumstances in the sufferer's
history, subsequently received from the captain of our steamer,
inspired.

"Frank, poor fellow," said the captain, "was a native of Ohio, the son
of a lone woman, a widow. He was all her hope, and to his exertions
she was indebted for a humble support."

Here, then, were circumstances to touch the sympathies of any heart
possessed of but a tithe of the nobleness of our nature; and I could
not but reflect, as they were recounted, how like the breath of
desolation the first intelligence of her son's fearful end must sweep
over the spirit of this lonely widow; for, like the wretched
Constance, she can "never, never behold him more."[3]

  "Her life, her joy, her food, her all the world!
  Her widow-comfort, and her sorrow's cure!"

While indulging in these sad reflections a gay burst of music arrested
my attention; and, looking up, I perceived the packet-boat "Lady
Marshall" dropping from her mooring at the quay, her decks swarming
with passengers, and under high press of steam, holding her bold
course against the current, while the merry dashing of the wheels,
mingling with the wild clang of martial music, imparted an air almost
of romance to the scene. How strangely did this contrast with that
misery from which my eye had just turned!

There are few objects more truly grand--I had {18} almost said
sublime--than a powerful steamer struggling triumphantly with the
rapids of the Western waters. The scene has in it a something of that
power which we feel upon us in viewing a ship under full sail; and, in
some respects, there is more of the sublime in the humbler triumph of
man over the elements than in that more vast. Sublimity is a result,
not merely of massive, extended, unmeasured greatness, but oftener,
and far more impressively, does the sentiment arise from a
_combination_ of vast and powerful objects. The mighty stream rolling
its volumed floods through half a continent, and hurrying onward to
mingle its full tide with the "Father of Waters," is truly sublime;
its resistless power is sublime; the memory of its by-gone scenes, and
the venerable moss-grown forests on its banks, are sublime; and,
lastly, the noble fabric of man's workmanship struggling and groaning
in convulsed, triumphant effort to overcome the resistance offered,
completes a picture which demands not the heaving ocean-waste and the
"oak leviathan" to embellish.

It was not until the afternoon was far advanced that we found
ourselves fairly embarked. A rapid freshet had within a few hours
swollen the tranquil Ohio far beyond its ordinary volume and velocity,
and its turbid waters were rolling onward between the green banks,
bearing on their bosom all the varied spoils of their mountain-home,
and of the rich region through which they had been flowing. The finest
site from which to view the city we found to be the channel of the
Falls upon the Indiana side of the stream, called the _Indian_ {19}
chute, to distinguish it from two others, called the _Middle_ chute
and the _Kentucky_ chute. The prospect from this point is noble,
though the uniformity of the structures, the fewness of the spires,
the unimposing character of the public edifices, and the depression of
the site upon which the city stands, give to it a monotonous, perhaps
a lifeless aspect to the stranger.

It was in the year 1778 that a settlement was first commenced upon the
spot on which the fair city of Louisville now stands.[4] In the early
spring of that year, General George Rodgers Clarke, under authority of
the State of Virginia, descended the Ohio with several hundred men,
with the design of reducing the military posts of Kaskaskia, Cahokia,
and Fort Vincent, then held by British troops. Disembarking upon Corn
Island at the Falls of the Ohio, opposite the present city, land
sufficient for the support of six families, which were left, was
cleared and planted with _corn_. From this circumstance the island
received a name which it yet retains. General Clarke proceeded upon
his expedition, and, in the autumn returning successful, the emigrants
were removed to the main land, and a settlement was commenced where
Louisville now stands. During the few succeeding years, other families
from Virginia settled upon the spot, and in the spring of 1780 seven
stations were formed upon Beargrass Creek,[5] which here empties into
the Mississippi, and Louisville commenced its march to its present
importance.

The view of the city from the Falls, as I have remarked, is not at all
imposing; the view of the {20} Falls from the city, on the contrary,
is one of beauty and romance. They are occasioned by a parapet of
limestone extending quite across the stream, which is here about one
mile in width; and when the water is low the whole chain sparkles with
bubbling foam-bells. When the stream is full the descent is hardly
perceptible but for the increased rapidity of the current, which
varies from ten to fourteen miles an hour.[6] Owing to the height of
the freshet, this was the case at the time when we descended them, and
there was a wild air of romance about the dark rushing waters: and the
green woodlands upon either shore, overshadowed as they were by the
shifting light and shade of the flitting clouds, cast over the scene
a bewitching fascination. "_Corn Island_," with its legendary
associations, rearing its dense clump of foliage as from the depths of
the stream, was not the least beautiful object of the panorama; while
the receding city, with its smoky roofs, its bustling quay, and the
glitter and animation of an extended line of steamers, was alone
necessary to fill up a scene for a limner.[7] And our steamer swept
onward {21} over the rapids, and threaded their maze of beautiful
islands, and passed along the little villages at their foot and the
splendid steamers along their shore, till twilight had faded, and the
dusky mantle of departed day was flung over forest and stream.

_Ohio River._



II

  "How beautiful is this visible world!
  How glorious in its action and itself!"
                                          MANFRED.

  "The woods--oh! solemn are the boundless woods
  Of the great Western World when day declines,
  And louder sounds the roll of distant floods."
                                           HEMANS.


Long before the dawn on the morning succeeding our departure we were
roused from our rest by the hissing of steam and the rattling of
machinery as our boat moved slowly out from beneath the high banks and
lofty sycamores of the river-side, where she had in safety been moored
for the night, to resume her course. Withdrawing the curtain from the
little rectangular window of my stateroom, the dark shadow of the
forest was slumbering in calm magnificence upon the waters; and
glancing upward my eye, the stars were beaming out in silvery
brightness; while all along the eastern horizon, where

            "The gray coursers of the morn
  Beat up the light with their bright silver hoofs
  And drive it through the sky,"

{22} rested a broad, low zone of clear heaven, proclaiming the coming
of a glorious dawn. The hated clang of the bell-boy was soon after
heard resounding far and wide in querulous and deafening clamour
throughout the cabins, vexing the dull ear of every drowsy man in the
terrible language of Macbeth's evil conscience, "sleep no more!" In a
very desperation of self-defence I arose. The mists of night had not
yet wholly dispersed, and the rack and fog floated quietly upon the
placid bosom of the stream, or ascended in ragged masses from the
dense foliage upon its banks. All this melted gently away like "the
baseless fabric of a vision," and "the beauteous eye of day" burst
forth in splendour, lighting up a scene of unrivalled loveliness.

Much, very much has been written of "the beautiful Ohio;" the pens of
an hundred tourists have sketched its quiet waters and its venerable
groves; but there is in its noble scenery an ever salient freshness,
which no description, however varied, can exhaust; new beauties leap
forth to the eye of the man of sensibility, and even an humble pen may
not fail to array them in the drapery of their own loveliness. There
are in this beautiful stream features peculiar to itself, which
distinguish it from every other that we have seen or of which we have
read; features which render it truly and emphatically _sui generis_.
It is not "the blue-rushing of the arrowy Rhone," with castled crags
and frowning battlements; it is not the dark-rolling Danube, shadowy
with the legend of departed time, upon whose banks armies have met and
battled; it is not {23} the lordly Hudson, roaming in beauty through
the ever-varying romance of the Catskill Highlands; nor is it the
gentle wave of the soft-flowing Connecticut, seeming almost to sleep
as it glides through the calm, "happy valley" of New-England: but it
is that noble stream, bounding forth, like a young warrior of the
wilderness, in all the joyance of early vigour, from the wild
twin-torrents of the hills; rolling onward through a section of
country the glory of a new world, and over the wooded heights of whose
banks has rushed full many a crimson tide of Indian massacre. Ohio,[8]
"_The River of Blood_," was its fearfully significant name from the
aboriginal native; _La Belle Rivière_ was its euphonious distinction
from the simple Canadian voyageur, whose light pirogue first glided on
its blue bosom. "The Beautiful River!"--it is no misnomer--from its
earliest commencement to the broad _embouchure_ into the turbid
floods of the Mississippi, it unites every combination of scenic
loveliness which even the poet's sublimated fancy could demand.[9] Now
it sweeps along beneath its lofty bluffs in the conscious grandeur of
resistless might; and then its clear, transparent waters glide in
undulating ripples over the shelly bottoms and among the pebbly heaps
of the white-drifted sand-bars, or in the calm magnificence of their
eternal wandering,

  "To the gentle woods all night
  Sing they a sleepy tune."

From either shore streams of singular beauty and euphonious names come
pouring in their tribute {24} through the deep foliage of the fertile
bottoms; while the swelling, volumed outlines of the banks, piled up
with ponderous verdure rolling and heaving in the river-breeze like
life, recur in such grandeur and softness, and such ever-varying
combinations of beauty, as to destroy every approach to monotonous
effect. From the source of the Ohio to its outlet its waters imbosom
more than an hundred islands, some of such matchless loveliness that
it is worthy of remark that such slight allusion has been made to them
in the numerous pencillings of Ohio scenery. In the fresh, early
summertime, when the deep green of vegetation is in its luxuriance,
they surely constitute the most striking feature of the river. Most of
them are densely wooded to the water's edge; and the wild vines and
underbrush suspended lightly over the waters are mirrored in their
bosom or swept by the current into attitudes most graceful and
picturesque. In some of those stretched-out, endless reaches which are
constantly recurring, they seem bursting up like beautiful _bouquets_
of sprinkled evergreens from the placid stream; rounded and swelling,
as if by the teachings of art, on the blue bosom of the waters. A
cluster of these "isles of light" I well remember, which opened upon
us the eve of the second day of our passage. Two of the group were
exceedingly small, mere points of a deeper shade in the reflecting
azure; while the third, lying between the former, stretched itself far
away in a narrow, well-defined strip of foliage, like a curving gash
in the surface, parallel to the {25} shore; and over the lengthened
vista of the waters gliding between, the giant branches bowed
themselves, and wove their mingled verdure into an immense Gothic
arch, seemingly of interminable extent, but closed at last by a single
speck of crimson skylight beyond. Throughout its whole course the Ohio
is fringed with wooded bluffs; now towering in sublime majesty
hundreds of feet from the bed of the rolling stream, and anon sweeping
inland for miles, and rearing up those eminences so singularly
beautiful, appropriately termed "Ohio hills," while their broad
alluvial plains in the interval betray, by their enormous vegetation,
a fertility exhaustless and unrivalled. Here and there along the green
bluffs is caught a glimpse of the emigrant's low log cabin peeping out
to the eye from the dark foliage, sometimes when miles in the
distance; while the rich maize-fields of the bottoms, the girdled
forest-trees and the lowing kine betray the advance of civilized
existence. But if the scenes of the Ohio are beautiful beneath the
broad glare of the morning sunlight, what shall sketch their
lineaments when the coarser etchings of the picture are mellowed down
by the balmy effulgence of the midnight moon of summer! When her
floods of light are streaming far and wide along the magnificent
forest-tops! When all is still--still! and sky, and earth, and wood,
and stream are hushed as a spirit's breathing! When thought is almost
audible, and memory is busy with the past! When the distant bluffs,
bathed in molten silver, gleam like beacon-lights, and the far-off
vistas of the {26} meandering waters are flashing with the sheen of
their ripples! When you glide through the endless maze, and the bright
islets shift, and vary, and pass away in succession like pictures of
the kaleidoscope before your eye! When imagination is awake and
flinging forth her airy fictions, bodies things unseen, and clothes
reality in loveliness not of earth! When a scene like this is
developed, what shall adequately depict it? Not the pen.

Such, such is the beautiful Ohio in the soft days of early summer; and
though hackneyed may be the theme of its loveliness, yet, as the dying
glories of a Western sunset flung over the landscape the mellow
tenderness of its parting smile, "fading, still fading, as the day was
declining," till night's dusky mantle had wrapped the "woods on shore"
and the quiet stream from the eye, I could not, even at the hazard of
triteness, resist an inclination to fling upon the sheet a few hurried
lineaments of Nature's beautiful creations.

There is not a stream upon the continent which, for the same distance,
rolls onward so calmly, and smoothly, and peacefully as the Ohio.
Danger rarely visits its tranquil bosom, except from the storms of
heaven or the reckless folly of man, and hardly a river in the world
can vie with it in safety, utility, or beauty. Though subject to rapid
and great elevations and depressions, its current is generally
uniform, never furious. The forest-trees which skirt its banks are the
largest in North America, while the variety is endless; several
sycamores were pointed out to us upon the shores from thirty to fifty
feet in circumference. Its alluvial {27} bottoms are broad, deep, and
exhaustlessly fertile; its bluffs are often from three to four hundred
feet in height; its breadth varies from one mile to three, and its
navigation, since the improvements commenced, under the authority of
Congress, by the enterprising Shreve, has become safe and easy.[10]
The classification of obstructions is the following: _snags_, trees
anchored by their roots; fragments of trees of various forms and
magnitude; _wreck-heaps_, consisting of several of these stumps, and
logs, and branches of trees lodged in one place; _rocks_, which have
rolled from the cliffs, and varying from ten to one hundred cubic feet
in size; and _sunken boats_, principally flat-boats laden with coal.
The last remains one of the most serious obstacles to the navigation
of the Ohio. Many steamers have been damaged by striking the wrecks of
the _Baltimore_, the _Roanoke_, the _William Hulburt_,[11] and other
craft, which were themselves snagged; while keel and flat-boats
without number have been lost from the same cause.[12] Several
thousands of the obstacles mentioned have been removed since
improvements were commenced, and accidents from this cause are now
less frequent. Some of the snags torn up from the bed of the stream,
where they have probably for ages been buried, are said to have
exceeded a diameter of six feet at the root, and were upward of an
hundred feet in length. The removal of these obstructions on the Ohio
presents a difficulty and expense not encountered upon the
Mississippi. In the latter stream, the root of the snag, when
eradicated, is deposited in some deep {28} pool or bayou along the
banks, and immediately imbeds itself in alluvial deposite; but on the
Ohio, owing to the nature of its banks in most of its course, there is
no opportunity for such a disposal, and the boatmen are forced to
blast the logs with gunpowder to prevent them from again forming
obstructions. The cutting down and clearing away of all leaning and
falling trees from the banks constitutes an essential feature in the
scheme of improvement; since the facts are well ascertained that trees
seldom plant themselves far from the spot where they fall; and that,
when once under the power of the current, they seldom anchor
themselves and form snags. The policy of removing the leaning and
fallen trees is, therefore, palpable, since, when this is once
thoroughly accomplished, no material for subsequent formation can
exist. The construction of stone dams, by which to concentrate into a
single channel all the waters of the river, where they are divided by
islands, or from other causes are spread over a broad extent, is
another operation now in execution. The dams at "Brown's Island,"[13]
the shoalest point on the Ohio, have been so eminently successful as
fully to establish the efficiency of the plan. Several other works of
a similar character are proposed; a full survey of the stream,
hydrographical and topographical, is recommended; and, when all
improvements are completed, it is believed that the navigation of the
"beautiful Ohio" will answer every purpose of commerce and the
traveller, from its source to its mouth, at the lowest stages of the
water.

_Ohio River._



III

                        "The sure traveller,
  Though he alight sometimes, still goeth on."
                                                HERBERT.

                                  "A RACE--
  Now like autumnal leaves before the blast
  Wide scattered."
                                                SPRAGUE.


Thump, thump, crash! One hour longer, and I was at length completely
roused from a troublous slumber by our boat coming to a dead stop.
Casting a glance from the window, the bright flashing of moonlight
showed the whole surface of the stream covered with drift-wood, and,
on inquiry, I learned that the branches of an enormous oak, some sixty
feet in length, had become entangled with one of the paddle-wheels of
our steamer, and forbade all advance.

We were soon once more in motion; the morning mists were dispersing,
the sun rose up behind the forests, and his bright beams danced
lightly over the gliding waters. We passed many pleasant little
villages along the banks, and it was delightful to remove from the
noise, and heat, and confusion below to the lofty _hurricane deck_,
and lounge away hour after hour in gazing upon the varied and
beautiful scenes which presented themselves in constant succession to
the eye. Now we were gliding quietly on through the long island {30}
chutes, where the daylight was dim, and the enormous forest-trees
bowed themselves over us, and echoed from their still recesses the
roar of our steam-pipe; then we were sweeping rapidly over the broad
reaches of the stream, miles in extent; again we were winding through
the mazy labyrinth of islets which fleckered the placid surface of the
stream, and from time to time we passed the lonely cabin of the
emigrant beneath the venerable and aged sycamores. Here and there, as
we glided on, we met some relic of those ancient and primitive species
of river-craft which once assumed ascendency over the waters of the
West, but which are now superseded by steam, and are of too infrequent
occurrence not to be objects of peculiar interest. In the early era of
the navigation of the Ohio, the species of craft in use were
numberless, and many of them of a most whimsical and amusing
description. The first was the barge, sometimes of an hundred tons'
burden, which required twenty men to force it up against the current a
distance of six or seven miles a day; next the keel-boat, of smaller
size and lighter structure, yet in use for the purposes of inland
commerce; then the Kentucky flat, or broad-horn of the emigrant; the
enormous ark, in magnitude and proportion approximating to that of the
patriarch; the fairy pirogue of the French voyageur; the birch caïque
of the Indian, and log skiffs, gondolas, and dug-outs of the pioneer
without name or number.[14] But since the introduction of steam upon
the Western waters, most of these unique and primitive contrivances
{31} have disappeared; and with them, too, has gone that singular race
of men who were their navigators. Most of the younger of the settlers,
at this early period of the country, devoted themselves to this
profession. Nor is there any wonder that the mode of life pursued by
these boatmen should have presented irresistible seductions to the
young people along the banks. Fancy one of these huge boats dropping
lazily along with the current past their cabins on a balmy morning in
June. Picture to your imagination the gorgeous foliage; the soft,
delicious temperature of the atmosphere; the deep azure of the sky;
the fertile alluvion, with its stupendous forests and rivers; the
romantic bluffs sleeping mistily in blue distance; the clear waters
rolling calmly adown, with the woodlands outlined in shadow on the
surface; the boat floating leisurely onward, its heterogeneous crew of
all ages dancing to the violin upon the deck, flinging out their merry
salutations among the settlers, who come down to the water's edge to
see the pageant pass, until, at length, it disappears behind a point
of wood, and the boatman's bugle strikes up its note, dying in
distance over the waters; fancy a scene like this, and the wild
bugle-notes echoing and re-echoing along the bluffs and forest shades
of the beautiful Ohio, and decide whether it must not have possessed a
charm of fascination resistless to the youthful mind in these lonely
solitudes. No wonder that the severe toils of agricultural life, in
view of such scenes, should have become tasteless and irksome.[15] The
lives of these {32} boatmen were lawless and dissolute to a proverb.
They frequently stopped at the villages along their course, and passed
the night in scenes of wild revelry and merriment. Their occupation,
more than any other, subjected them to toil, and exposure, and
privation; and, more than any other, it indulged them, for days in
succession, with leisure, and ease, and indolent gratification.
Descending the stream, they floated quietly along without an effort,
but in ascending against the powerful current their life was an
uninterrupted series of toil. The boat, we are told, was propelled by
poles, against which the shoulder was placed and the whole strength
applied; their bodies were naked to the waist, for enjoying the
river-breeze and for moving with facility; and, after the labour of
the day, they swallowed their whiskey and supper, and throwing
themselves upon the deck of the boat, with no other canopy than the
heavens, slumbered soundly on till the morning. Their slang was
peculiar to the race, their humour and power of retort was remarkable,
and in their frequent battles with the squatters or with their
fellows, their nerve and courage were unflinching.

It was in the year 1811 that the steam-engine commenced its giant
labours in the Valley of the West, and the first vessel propelled by
its agency glided along the soft-flowing wave of the beautiful
river.[16] Many events, we are told, united to render this year a most
remarkable era in the annals of Western history.[17] The
spring-freshet of the rivers buried the whole valley from Pittsburgh
to New-Orleans {33} in a flood; and when the waters subsided
unparalleled sickness and mortality ensued. A mysterious spirit of
restlessness possessed the denizens of the Northern forests, and in
myriads they migrated towards the South and West. The magnificent
comet of the year, seeming, indeed, to verify the terrors of
superstition, and to "shake from its horrid hair pestilence and war,"
all that summer was beheld blazing along the midnight sky, and
shedding its lurid twilight over forest and stream; and when the
leaves of autumn began to rustle to the ground, the whole vast Valley
of the Mississippi rocked and vibrated in earthquake-convulsion!
forests bowed their heads; islands disappeared from their sites, and
new one's rose; immense lakes and hills were formed; the graveyard
gave up its sheeted and ghastly tenants; huge relics of the mastodon
and megalonyx, which for ages had slumbered in the bosom of earth,
were heaved up to the sunlight; the blue lightning streamed and the
thunder muttered along the leaden sky, and, amid all the elemental
war, the mighty current of the "Father of Waters" for hours rolled
back its heaped-up floods towards its source! All this was the
prologue to that mighty drama of _Change_ which, from that period to
the present, has been sweeping over the Western Valley; it was the
fearful welcome-home to that all-powerful agent which has
revolutionized the character of half a continent; for at that epoch
of wonders, and amid them all, the first steamboat was seen descending
the great rivers, and the awe-struck Indian {34} on the banks beheld
the _Pinelore_ flying through the troubled waters.[18] The rise and
progress of the steam-engine is without a parallel in the history of
modern improvement. Fifty years ago, and the prophetic declaration of
Darwin was pardoned only as the enthusiasm of poetry; it is now little
more than the detail of reality:

  "Soon shall thy arm, unconquer'd steam, afar
  Drag the slow barge or drive the rapid car;
  Or on wide-waving wings expanded bear
  The flying chariot through the fields of air;
  Fair crews triumphant, leaning from above,
  Shall wave their fluttering kerchiefs as they move,
  Or warrior bands alarm the gaping crowd,
  And armies shrink beneath the shadowy cloud."[19]

The steam-engine, second only to the press in power, has in a few
years anticipated results throughout the New World which centuries, in
the ordinary course of cause and event, would have failed to produce.
The dullest forester, even the cold, phlegmatic native of the
wilderness, gazes upon its display of beautiful mechanism, its
majestic march upon its element, and its sublimity of power, with
astonishment and admiration.

Return we to the incidents of our passage. During the morning of our
third day upon the Ohio we {35} passed, among others, the villages of
_Rome_, _Troy_, and Rockport.[20] The latter is the most considerable
place of the three, notwithstanding _imposing_ titles. It is situated
upon a green romantic spot, the summit of a precipitous pile of rocks
some hundred feet in height, from which sweeps off a level region of
country in the rear. Here terminates that series of beautiful bluffs
commencing at the confluence of the mountain-streams, and of which so
much has been said. A new geological formation commences of a bolder
character than any before; and the face of the country gradually
assumes those features which are found near the mouth of the river.
Passing Green River with its emerald waters,[21] its "Diamond
Island,"[22] the largest in the Ohio, and said to be _haunted_, and
very many thriving villages, among which was Hendersonville,[23] for
some time the residence of Audubon,[24] the ornithologist, we found
ourselves near midday at the mouth of the smiling Wabash, its high
bluffs crowned with groves of the walnut and pecan, the _carya
olivoeformis_ of Nuttal, and its deep-died surface reflecting the
yet deeper tints of its verdure-clad banks, as the far-winding stream
gradually opened upon the eye, and then retreated in the distance. The
confluence of the streams is at a beautiful angle; and, on observing
the scene, the traveller will remark that the forests upon one bank
are superior in magnitude to those on the other, though of the same
species. The appearance is somewhat singular, and the fact is to be
accounted for only from the reason that the soil {36} differs in
alluvial character. It has been thought that no stream in the world,
for its length and magnitude, drains a more fertile and beautiful
country than the Wabash and its tributaries.[25] Emigrants are rapidly
settling its banks, and a route has been projected for uniting by
canal its waters with those of Lake Erie; surveys by authority of the
State of Indiana have been made, and incipient measures taken
preparatory to carrying the work into execution.[26]

About one hundred miles from the mouth of the Wabash is situated the
village of New-Harmony, far famed for the singular events of which it
has been the scene.[27] It is said to be situated on a broad and
beautiful plateau overlooking the stream, surrounded by a fertile and
heavily-timbered country, and blessed with an atmosphere of health.
It was first settled in 1814 by a religious sect of Germans called
Harmonites, resembling the Moravians in their tenets, and under the
control of George Rapp, in whose name the land was purchased and held.
They were about eight hundred in number, and soon erected a number of
substantial edifices, among which was a huge House of Assemblage an
hundred feet square. They laid out their grounds with beautiful
regularity, and established a botanic garden and an extensive
greenhouse. For ten years the Harmonites continued to live and labour
in love, in the land of their adoption, when the celebrated Robert
Dale Owen,[28] of Scotland, came among them, and, at the sum of one
hundred and ninety thousand dollars, purchased the establishment
entire. His design was of rearing up a community {37} upon a plan
styled by him the "Social System." The peculiar doctrines he
inculcated were a perfect equality, moral, social, political, and
religious. He held that the promise of never-ending love upon marriage
was an absurdity; that children should become no impediment to
separation, as they were to be considered members of the community
from their second year; that the society should have no professed
religion, each individual being indulged in his own faith, and that
all temporal possessions should be held in common. On one night of
every week the whole community met and danced; and on another they
united in a concert of music, while the Sabbath was devoted to
philosophical lectures. Many distinguished individuals are said to
have written to the society inquiring respecting its principles and
prospects, and expressing the wish at a future day to unite with it
their destinies. Mr. Owen was sanguine of success. On the 4th of
July, 1826, he promulgated his celebrated declaration of mental
independence;[29] a document which, for absurdity, has never, perhaps,
been paralleled. But all was in vain. Dissension insinuated itself
among the members; one after another dropped off from the community,
until at length Mr. Owen retired in disgust, and, at a vast sacrifice,
disposed of the establishment to a wealthy Scotch gentleman by the
name of M'Clure, a former coadjutor.[30] Thus was abandoned the
far-famed _social system_, which for a time was an object of interest
and topic of remark all over the United States and even in Europe. The
Duke of Saxe Weimar passed here a {38} week in the spring of 1826, and
has given a detailed and amusing description of his visit.

About ten miles below the mouth of the Wabash is situated the village
of Shawneetown, once a favourite dwelling-spot of the turbulent
Shawnee Indian, the tribe of Tecumseh.[31] Quite a village once stood
here; but, for some cause unknown, it was forsaken previous to its
settlement by the French, and two small mounds are the only vestige of
its existence which are now to be seen. A trading-post was established
by the early Canadian voyageurs; but, on account of the sickliness of
the site, was abandoned, and the spot was soon once more a wilderness.
In the early part of 1812 a land-office was here located, and two
years subsequent a town was laid off by authority of Congress, and
the lots sold as other public lands. Since then it has been gradually
becoming the commercial emporium of southern Illinois.

The buildings, among which are a very conspicuous bank, courthouse,
and a land-office for the southern district of Illinois, are scattered
along upon a gently elevated bottom, swelling up from the river to the
bluffs in the rear, but sometimes submerged. From this latter cause it
has formerly been subject to disease; it is now considered healthy; is
the chief commercial port in this section of the state, and is the
principal point of debarkation for emigrants for the distant West.
Twelve miles in its rear are situated the Gallatin Salines, from which
the United States obtains some hundred thousands of bushels of salt
annually.[32] It is manufactured by {39} the evaporation of salt
water. This is said to abound over the whole extent of this region,
yielding from one eighth to one twelfth of its weight in pure muriate
of soda. In many places it bursts forth in perennial springs; but most
frequently is obtained by penetrating with the augur a depth of from
three to six hundred feet through the solid limestone substratum, when
a copper tube is introduced, and the strongly-impregnated fluid gushes
violently to the surface. In the vicinity of these salines huge
fragments of earthenware, apparently of vessels used in obtaining
salt, and bearing the impress of wickerwork, have been thrown up from
a considerable depth below the surface. Appearances of the same
character exist near Portsmouth, in the State of Ohio, and other
places. Their origin is a mystery! the race which formed them is
departed![33]

_Ohio River._



IV

                    "Who can paint
  Like Nature? Can imagination boast,
  Amid its gay creations, hues like hers?
  Or can it mix them with that matchless skill,
  And lose them in each other, as appears
  In every bud that blooms?"
                                            THOMSON.

            "Precipitous, black, jagged rocks,
  For ever shattered, and the same forever."
                                          COLERIDGE.


It was near noon of the third day of our passage that we found
ourselves in the vicinity of that singular series of massive rock
formations, stretching along for miles upon the eastern bank of the
stream. The whole vast plain, extending from the Northern Lakes to the
mouth of the Ohio, and from the Alleghany slope to the boundless
prairies of the far West, is said by geologists to be supported by a
bed of horizontal limestone rock, whose deep strata have never been
completely pierced, though penetrated many hundred feet by the augur.
This limestone is hard, stratified, imbedding innumerable shells of
the terebratulæ, encrinites, orthocerites, trilobites, productus, and
other species. Throughout most of its whole extent it supports a
stratum of bituminous coal, various metals, and saline impregnations:
its constant decomposition has fertilized the soil, and its absorbent
and cavernous nature has prevented swamps from accumulating upon the
surface. Such, in general outline, is this vast limerock substratum
{41} of the Western Valley. It generally commences but a few feet
below the vegetable deposite; at other places its range is deeper,
while at intervals it rises from the surface, and frowns in
castellated grandeur over objects beneath. These huge masses of
limestone sometimes exhibit the most picturesque and remarkable forms
along the banks of the western rivers, and are penetrated in many
places by vast caverns. The region we were now approaching was a
locality of these singular formations, and for miles before reaching
it, as has been remarked, a change in scenery upon the eastern bank is
observed. Instead of the rounded wooded summits of the "Ohio hills"
sweeping beautifully away in the distance, huge, ponderous rocks,
heaped up in ragged masses, "Pelion upon Ossa," are beheld rearing
themselves abruptly from the stream, and expanding their Briarean arms
in every direction. Some of these cliffs present a uniform, jointed
surface, as if of masonry, resembling ancient edifices, and reminding
the traveller of the giant ruins of man's creations in another
hemisphere, while others appear just on the point of toppling into the
river. Among this range of crags is said to hang an _iron coffin_,
suspended, like Mohammed's, between heaven and earth. It contains the
remains of a man of singular eccentricity, who, previous to his
decease, gave orders that they should be deposited thus; and the
gloomy object at the close of the year, when the trees are stripped of
their foliage, may be perceived, it is said, high up among the rocks
from the deck of the passing {42} steamer. This story probably owes
its origin to an event of actual occurrence somewhat similar, at a
cliff called by the river-pilots "Hanging Rock."[34] It is situated in
the vicinity of "Blennerhasset's Island."[35] The first of these
singular cliffs, called "Battery Rock," stretches along the river-bank
for half a mile, presenting a uniform and perpendicular façade upward
of eighty feet in height. The appearance is striking, standing, as it
does, distinct from anything of a kindred character for miles above
and for some distance below. Passing several fine farms, which sweep
down to the water's edge, a second range of cliffs are discovered,
similar to those described in altitude and aspect; but near the base,
through the dark cypresses skirting the water, is perceived the ragged
entrance to a large cavernous fissure, penetrating the bluff, and
designated by the name of "Rock-Inn-Cave."[36] It is said to have
received this significant appellation from emigrants, who were
accustomed to tarry with their families for weeks at the place when
detained by stress of weather, stage of the river, or any other
circumstance unfavourable to their progress.

It was near noon of a beautiful day when the necessary orders for
landing were issued to the pilot, and our boat rounded up to the low
sand-beach just below this celebrated cavern. As we strolled along the
shore beneath "the precipitous, black, jagged rocks" overhanging the
winding and broken pathway towards the entrance, we could not but
consider its situation wild and rugged enough to please the rifest
fancy. The entrance, {43} at first view, is exceedingly imposing; its
broad massive forehead beetling over the visiter for some yards before
he finds himself within. The mouth of the cavern looks out upon the
stream rushing along at the base of the cliff, and is delightfully
shaded by a cluster of cypresses, rearing aloft their huge shafts,
almost concealed in the luxuriant ivy-leaves clinging to their bark.
The entrance is formed into a semi-elliptical arch, springing boldly
to the height of forty feet from a heavy bench of rock on either side,
and eighty feet in width at the base, throwing over the whole a
massive roof of uniform concavity, verging to a point near the centre
of the cave. Here may be seen another opening of some size, through
which trickles a limpid stream, and forming an entrance to a second
chamber, said to be more extensive than that below. The extreme length
of this cavern is given by Schoolcraft[37] as one hundred and sixty
feet, the floor, the roof, and the walls gradually tapering to a
point. The rock is a secondary limestone, abounding with testacea and
petrifactions, a fine specimen of which I struck from the ledge while
the rest of our party were recording their names among the thousand
dates and inscriptions with which the walls are defaced.

Like all other curiosities of Nature, this cavern was, by the Indian
tribes, deemed the residence of a _Manito_[38] or spirit, evil or
propitious, concerning {44} whom many a wild legend yet lives among
their simple-hearted posterity. They never pass this dwelling-place of
the divinity without discharging their guns (an ordinary mark of
respect), or making some other offering propitiatory of his favour.
These tributary acknowledgments, however, are never of much value. The
view of the stream from the left bench at the cave's mouth is most
beautiful. Immediately in front extends a large and densely-wooded
island, known by the name of the Cave, while the soft-gliding waters
flow between, furnishing a scene of natural beauty worthy an Inman's
pencil; and, if I mistake not, an engraving of the spot has been
published, a ferocious-looking personage, pistol in hand, crouched at
the entrance, eagerly watching an ascending boat. This design
originated, doubtless, in the tradition yet extant, that in the latter
part of the last century this cavern was the rendezvous of a notorious
band of freebooters which then infested the region, headed by the
celebrated Mason,[39] plundering the boats ascending from New-Orleans
and murdering their crews. From these circumstances this cave has
become the scene of a poem of much merit, called the "Outlaw," and has
suggested a spirited tale from a popular writer. Many other spots in
the vicinity were notorious, in the early part of the present century,
for the murder and robbery of travellers, whose fate long remained
enveloped in mystery. On the summit of a lofty bluff, not far from the
"Battery Rock," was pointed out to us a solitary house, with a single
chimney rising from its roof. Its {45} white walls may be viewed for
miles before reaching the place on descending the river. It was here
that the family of Sturdevant carried on their extensive operations as
counterfeiters for many years unsuspected; and on this spot, in 1821,
they expiated their crimes with their lives. A few miles below is a
place called "Ford's Ferry,"[40] where murder, robbery, forgery, and
almost every crime in the calendar were for years committed, while not
a suspicion of the truth was awakened. Ford not only escaped
unsuspected, but was esteemed a most exemplary man. Associated with
him were his son and two other individuals, named Simpson and Shouse.
They are all now gone to their account. The old man was mysteriously
shot by some person who was never discovered, but was supposed to have
been Simpson, between whom and himself a misunderstanding had arisen.
If it were so, the murderer was met by fitting retribution, for _he_
fell in a similar manner. Shouse and the son of Ford atoned upon the
gallows their crimes in 1833. Before reaching this spot the traveller
passes a remarkable mass of limestone called "Tower Rock." It is
perpendicular, isolated, and somewhat cylindrical in outline. It is
many feet in altitude, and upon its summit tradition avers to exist
the ruins of an antique tumulus; an altar, mayhap, of the ancient
forest-sons, where

  "Garlands, ears of maize, and skins of wolf
  And shaggy bear, the offerings of the tribe
  Were made to the Great Spirit."

In the vicinity of the cliff called "Tower Rock," and not far from
Hurricane Island, is said to exist a {46} remarkable cavern of
considerable extent. The cave is entered by an orifice nine feet in
width and twelve feet high; a bench of rock is then ascended a few
feet, and an aperture of the size of an ordinary door admits the
visiter into a spacious hall. In the mouth of the cavern, on the
façade of the cliff, at the altitude of twenty-five feet, are engraved
figures resembling a variety of animals, as the bear, the buffalo, and
even the lion and lioness. All this I saw nothing of, and am, of
course, no voucher for its existence; but a writer in the Port Folio,
so long since as 1816, states the fact, and, moreover, adds that the
engraving upon the rock was executed in "a masterly style."[41]

From this spot the river stretches away in a long delightful reach,
studded with beautiful islands, among which "Hurricane Island," a
very large one, is chief.[42] Passing the compact little village of
Golconda with its neat courthouse, and the mouth of the Cumberland
River with its green island, once the rendezvous of Aaron Burr and his
chivalrous band, we next reached the town of Paducah, at the outlet of
the Tennessee.[43] This is a place of importance,[44] though deemed
unhealthy: it is said to have derived its name from a captive Indian
woman, who was here sacrificed by a band of the Pawnees after having
been assured of safety. About eight miles below Paducah are situated
the ruins of Fort Massac, once a French military post of
importance.[45] There is a singular legend respecting this fort still
popular among the inhabitants of the neighbouring region, the outlines
of which {47} are the following: The fortress was erected by the
French while securing possession of the Western Valley, and, soon
after, hostilities arising between them and the natives, the latter
contrived a stratagem, in every respect worthy the craft and subtlety
of the race, to obtain command of this stronghold. Early one morning a
body of Indians, enveloped each in a bearskin, appeared upon the
opposite bank of the Ohio. Supposing them the animal so faithfully
represented, the whole French garrison in a mass sallied incontinently
forth, anticipating rare sport, while the remnant left behind as a
guard gathered themselves upon the glacis as spectators of the scene.
Meanwhile, a large body of Indians, concealed in rear of the fort,
slipped silently from their ambush, and few were there of the French
who escaped to tell the tale of the scene that ensued. They were
_massacred_ almost to a man, and hence the name of _Massac_ to the
post. During the war of the revolution a garrison was stationed upon
the spot for some years, but the structures are now in ruins. A few
miles below is a small place consisting of a few farmhouses, called
Wilkinsonville,[46] on the site where Fort Wilkinson once stood; just
opposite, along the shore, commences the "Grand Chain" of rocks so
famous to the Ohio pilot, extending four miles. The little village of
Caledonia is here laid off among the bluffs. It has a good landing,
and is the proposed site of a marine hospital.

It was sunset when we arrived at the confluence of the rivers. In
course of the afternoon we had been visited by a violent thunder-gust,
accompanied {48} by hail. But sunset came, and the glorious "bow of
the covenant" was hung out upon the dark bosom of the clouds, spanning
woodland and waters with its beautiful hues. And yet, though the hour
was a delightful one, the scene did not present that aspect of
vastness and sublimity which was anticipated from the celebrity of the
streams. For some miles before uniting its waters with the
Mississippi, the Ohio presents a dull and uninteresting appearance. It
is no longer the clear, sparkling stream, with bluffs and woodland
painted on its surface; the volume of its channel is greatly increased
by its union with two of its principal tributaries, and its waters are
turbid; its banks are low, inundated, and clothed with dark groves of
deciduous forest-trees, and the only sounds which issue from their
depths to greet the traveller's ear are the hoarse croakings of frogs,
or the dull monotony of countless choirs of moschetoes. Thus rolls on
the river through the dullest, dreariest, most uninviting region
imaginable, until it sweeps away in a direction nearly southeast, and
meets the venerable Father of the West advancing to its embrace. The
volume of water in each seems nearly the same; the Ohio exceeds a
little in breadth, their currents oppose to each other an equal
resistance, and the resultant of the forces is a vast lake more than
two miles in breadth, where the united waters slumber quietly and
magnificently onward for leagues in a common bed. On the right come
rolling in the turbid floods of the Mississippi; and on looking upon
it for the first time with preconceived ideas of the magnitude of the
mightiest {49} river on the globe, the spectator is always
disappointed. He considers only its breadth when compared with the
Ohio, without adverting to its vast depth. The Ohio sweeps in
majestically from the north, and its clear waters flow on for miles
without an intimate union with its turbid conqueror. The
characteristics of the two streams are distinctly marked at their
junction and long after. The banks of both are low and swampy, totally
unfit for culture or habitation. "Willow Point," which projects itself
into the confluence, presents an elevation of twenty feet; yet, in
unusual inundations, it is completely buried six feet below the
surface, and the agitated waters, rolling together their masses, form
an enormous lake. How strange it seemed, while gazing upon the view I
have attempted to delineate, now fading away beneath the summer
twilight--how very strange was the reflection that these two noble
streams, deriving their sources in the pellucid lakes and the clear
icy fountains of their highland-homes, meandering majestically through
scenes of nature and of art unsurpassed in beauty, and draining, and
irrigating, and fertilizing the loveliest valley on the globe--how
strange, that the confluence of the waters of such streams, in their
onward rolling to the deep, should take place at almost the only stage
in their course devoid entirely of interest to the eye or the fancy;
in the heart of a dreary and extended swamp, waving with the gloomy
boughs of the cypress, and enlivened by not a sound but the croaking
of bullfrogs, and the deep, surly misery note of {50} moschetoes!
Willow Point is the property of a company of individuals, who announce
it their intention to elevate the delta above the power of
inundations, and here to locate a city.[47] There are as yet, however,
but a few storehouses on the spot; and when we consider the
incalculable expense the only plan for rendering it habitable
involves, we can only deem the idea of a city here as the chimera of a
Utopian fancy. For more than twelve miles above the confluence, the
whole alluvion is annually inundated, and forbids all improvement; but
were this site an elevated one, a city might here be founded which
should command the immense commerce of these great rivers, and become
the grand central emporium of the Western Valley.

Upon the first elevated land above the confluence stands the little
town called America. This is the proposed _terminus_ to the grand
central railroad of the Internal Improvement scheme of Illinois,
projected to pass directly through the state,[48] uniting its northern
extremity with the southern. The town is said to have been much
retarded in its advancement by the circumstance of a sand-bar
obstructing the landing. It has been contemplated to cut a basin,
extending from the Ohio to a stream called "Humphrey's Creek," which
passes through the place, and thus secure a harbour. Could this plan
be carried into execution, America would soon become a town of
importance.

_Ohio River._



V

  "The groves were God's first temples."
                                                 BRYANT.

  "Oh! it's hame, and it's hame, it's hame wad I be,
  Hame, hame, hame, to my ain countrie."
                                             CUNNINGHAM.

  "Those Sabbath bells, those Sabbath bells,
  I hear them wake the hour of prime."
                                                   LAMB.

  "She walks the waters like a thing of life."
                                                  BYRON.


It was late before we had passed the confluence of the Ohio with the
dark-rolling tide of the "endless river," and the mellow gorgeousness
of summer sunset had gently yielded to the duskiness of twilight, and
that to the inky pall of night. The moon had not risen, and the
darkness became gradually so dense that doubts were entertained as to
the prudence of attempting to stem the mighty current of the
Mississippi on such a night. These, however, were overruled; and,
sweeping around the low peninsula of Cairo, our steamer met the
torrent and quivered in every limb. A convulsed, motionless struggle
ensued, in which the heavy labouring of the engine, the shrill whistle
of the safety-valve, the quick, querulous crackling of the furnaces,
the tumultuous rushing of the wheels, and the stern roar of the
scape-pipe, gave evidence of the fearful power summoned up to overcome
the flood. At length we began very slowly to ascend the stream. {52}
Our speed was about five miles an hour, and the force of the current
nearly the same, which so impedes advancement that it requires as long
to ascend from the confluence to St. Louis as to descend to the same
point from the Falls, though the distance is less than half. All night
our steamer urged herself slowly onward against the current, and the
morning found us threading a narrow channel amid a cluster of
islands, from whose dense foliage the night-mists were rising and
settling in dim confusion. Near the middle of the stream, above this
collection, lays a very large island, comprising eight or ten thousand
acres. It is called English Island;[49] is heavily timbered; huge
vines of the wild grape are leaping like living things from branch to
branch, and the wild pea flourishes all over the surface of the soil
in most luxuriant profusion. The stream here expands itself to the
breadth of four miles, and abounds with islands.

As the morning advanced the sun burst gloriously forth from the mists;
and as I gazed with tranquillized delight upon the beautiful scenery
it unrolled, I remembered that it was the morning of the Sabbath--the
peaceful Sabbath. It is a sweet thing to pass the hours of holy time
amid the eloquent teachings of inanimate nature. It is pleasant to
yield up for a season the sober workings of reason to the warm
gushings of the heart, and to suffer the homage of the soul to go up
before the Author of its being unfettered by the chill formalities,
the bustling parade, the soulless dissembling of the unbending
courtesies of ordinary life. Amid the {53} crowded assemblage, there
is but little of that humbleness of spirit and that simple-hearted
fervour of worship which it is in man to feel when communing within
the shadowy solitudes of Nature with his God. There are moments, too,
when the soul of man is called back from the heartlessness of life,
and pours forth its emotions, gush upon gush, in all the hallowed
luxuriance of its nature; when, from the fevered turmoil of daily
existence, it retires to well up its sympathies alone beneath the
covert of a lulled and peaceful bosom; and surely such a season is the
calm, waveless hour of Sabbath sacredness. And it is a blessed
appointment that, in a world whose quietude too often is disturbed by
the untamed heavings of unholy feeling, there should yet be moments
when the agitated events of the past are forgotten, when the
apprehensions of the future are unthought of, and the generous
emotions of the heart are no more repressed. Such moments are the
crystal fount of the _oasis_, girt, indeed, by the sands and
barrenness of the desert; yet laughing forth in tinkling melody amid
its sprinkled evergreens, in all the sparkling freshness of mimic
life, to bathe the languid lip of the weary one. Such moments are the
mellow radiance of the departing sun when the trials of the day are
over; and tenderly and softly do their influences descend upon the
heart. Like the pure splendour of the star of even, how calmly does
the sacred Sabbath-time beam out from the dark, unquiet firmament of
life! 'Tis the blessed rainbow of promise and of consolation amid the
rough storms of our pilgrimage, {54} and its holy influences elicit
all the untold richness of the heart. It is a season soft as the
memorial of buried affection, mild as the melody of departed years,
pure as the prayer of feebleness from the lip of childhood, beautiful
as yon floating islet sleeping in sunset radiance on the blue evening
wave. "Gone, gone for ever!" Another Sabbath is over, and from its
gathering shades it is good to cast back a glance of reflection.

A company of emigrants, in course of the morning, were landed from our
boat at a desolate-looking spot upon the Missouri shore; men, women,
and little ones, with slaves, household stuff, pots, kettles, dogs,
implements of husbandry, and all the paraphernalia of the backwood's
farm heaped up promiscuously in a heterogeneous mass among the
undergrowth beneath the lofty trees. A similar party from the State of
Vermont were, during our passage, landed near the mouth of the Wabash,
one of whom was a pretty, delicate female, with an infant boy in her
arms. They had been _deck-passengers_, and we had seen none of them
before; yet their situation could not but excite interest in their
welfare. Poor woman! thought I, as our boat left them gazing anxiously
after us from the inhospitable bank, little do you dream of the trials
and the privations to which your destiny conducts, and the hours of
bitter retrospection which are to come over your spirit like a blight,
as, from these cheerless solitudes, you cast back many a lingering
thought to your dear, distant home in New-England; whose very
mountain-crags and fierce storms {55} of winter, harsh and unwelcome
though they might seem to the stranger, were yet pleasant to you:

  "My native land! my native land!
    Though bare and bleak thou be,
  And scant and cold thy summer smile,
    Thou'rt all the world to me."

A few years, and all this will have passed away. A new home and new
ties will have sprung up in the wilderness to soothe the remembrance
of the old. This broad valley will swarm with population; the warm
breath of man will be felt upon the cheek, and his tread will be heard
at the side; the glare of civilization and the confused hum of
business will have violated these solitudes and broken in upon their
gloom, and here empire shall have planted her throne; and then,
perchance, that playful boy upon the bosom may rise to wield the
destinies of his fellows. But many a year of toil and privation must
first have passed away; and who shall record their annals? A thousand
circumstances, all unlooked for, will seize upon the feelings of the
emigrant; the harshness of strangers, the cold regard of recent
acquaintance, the absence of relatives and of friends long cherished,
the distance which separates him from his native home, and the dreary
time which must elapse between all communications of the pen. And then
the sweet chime of the Sabbath-bell of New-England, pealing out in
"angels' music"[50] on the clear mountain-air, to usher in the hours
of holy time, and to summon the soul of man to communion with its
Maker; will this be heard amid the forest solitude? and all that quiet
{56} intermingling of heart with heart which divests grief of half its
bitterness by taking from it all its loneliness? And the hour of
sickness, and of death, and of gushing tears, as they come to all, may
not be absent here; and where are the soothing consolations of
religious solemnity, and the sympathies of kindred souls, and the
unobtrusive condolence of those who alone may enter the inner temple
of the breast, where the stranger intermeddleth not? Yes, it must
be--notwithstanding the golden anticipations indulged by every humble
emigrant to this El Dorado of promise--it must be that there will
arise in his bosom, when he finds himself for the first time amid
these vast forest solitudes, attended only by his wife and children, a
feeling of unutterable loneliness and desertion. Until this moment he
has been sustained by the buoyancy of anticipated success, the
excitement of change, the enlivening influences of new and beautiful
scenes; and the effect of strange faces and strange customs has been
to divert the attention, while the farewell pressure of affection yet
has warmly lingered. All this is over now, and his spirit, left to its
own resources, sinks within him. The sacred spot of his nativity is
far, far away towards the morning sun; and there is the village church
and the village graveyard, hallowed by many a holy remembrance; there,
too, are the playmates and the scenes of his boyhood-days; the
trysting-place of youthful love and of youthful friendship, spots
around which are twined full many a tendril of his heart; and he has
turned from them all _for ever_. Henceforth he is a wanderer, and a
distant soil must {57} claim his ashes. He who, with such
reflections, yearns not for the home of his fathers, is an alien, and
no true son of New-England.

It was yet early in the morning of our first day upon the Mississippi
that we found ourselves beneath the stately bluff upon which stands
the old village of Cape Girardeau.[51] Its site is a bold bank of the
stream, gently sloping to the water's edge, upon a substratum of
limerock. A settlement was commenced on this spot in the latter part
of the last century. Its founders were of French and German
extraction, though its structures do not betray their origin. The
great earthquakes of 1811, which vibrated through the whole length of
the Western Valley, agitated the site of this village severely; many
brick houses were shattered, chimneys thrown down, and other damage
effected, traces of the repairs of which are yet to be viewed. The
place received a shock far more severe, however, in the removal of the
seat of justice to another town in the county: but the landing is an
excellent one; iron ore and other minerals are its staples of trade,
and it is again beginning to assume a commercial character. The most
remarkable objects which struck our attention in passing this place
were several of those peculiarly novel mills put in motion by a spiral
water-wheel, acted on by the current of the river. These screw-wheels
float upon the surface parallel to the shore, rising or falling with
the water, and are connected with the gearing in the millhouse upon
the bank by a long shaft. The action of the current upon {58} the
spiral thread of the wheel within its external casing keeps it in
constant motion, which is communicated by the shaft to the machinery
of the mills. The contrivance betrays much ingenuity, and for purposes
where a _motive_ of inconsiderable power is required, may be useful;
but for driving heavy millstones or a saw, the utility is more than
problematical.

In the vicinity of Cape Girardeau commences what is termed the
"Tyowapity Bottom," a celebrated section of country extending along
the Missouri side of the stream some thirty miles, and abounding with
a peculiar species of potter's clay, unctuous in its nature,
exceedingly pure and white, and plastic under the wheel.[52] This
stratum of clay is said to vary from one foot to ten in depth, resting
upon sandstone, and covered by limestone abounding in petrifactions. A
manufactory is in operation at Cape Girardeau, in which this substance
is the material employed. Near the northern extremity of this bottom
the waters of the Muddy River enter the Mississippi from Illinois.[53]
This stream was discovered by the early French voyageurs, and from
them received the name of _Rivière au Vase_, or _Vaseux_. It is
distinguished for the salines upon its banks, for its exhaustless beds
of bituminous coal, for the fertility of the soil, and for a
singularly-formed eminence among the bluffs of the Mississippi, a few
miles from its mouth. Its name is "_Fountain Bluff_," derived from the
circumstance that from its base gush out a number of limpid
springs.[54] It is said to measure eight miles {59} in circumference,
and to have an altitude of several hundred feet. Its western declivity
looks down upon the river, and its northern side is a precipitous
crag, while that upon the south slopes away to a fertile plain,
sprinkled with farms.

A few miles above the Big Muddy stands out from the Missouri shore a
huge perpendicular column of limestone, of cylindrical formation,
about one hundred feet in circumference at the base, and in height one
hundred and fifty feet, called the "Grand Tower."[55] Upon its summit
rests a thin stratum of vegetable mould, supporting a shaggy crown of
rifted cedars, rocking in every blast that sweeps the stream, whose
turbid current boils, and chafes, and rages at the obstruction below.
This is the first of that celebrated range of heights upon the
Mississippi usually pointed out to the tourist, springing in isolated
masses from the river's brink upon either side, and presenting to the
eye a succession of objects singularly grotesque. There are said to
exist, at this point upon the Mississippi, indications of a huge
parapet of limestone having once extended across the stream, which
must have formed a tremendous cataract, and effectually inundated all
the alluvion above. At low stages of the water ragged shelves, which
render the navigation dangerous, are still to be seen. Among the other
cliffs along this precipitous range which have received names from the
boatmen are the "Devil's Oven," "Teatable," "Backbone," &c., which,
with the "Devil's Anvil," "Devil's Island," &c., indicate pretty
plainly the divinity most religiously propitiated {60} in these
dangerous passes.[56] The "Oven" consists of an enormous promontory
of rock, about one hundred feet from the surface of the river, with a
hemispherical orifice scooped out of its face, probably by the action,
in ages past, of the whirling waters now hurrying on below. It is
situated upon the left bank of the stream, about one mile above the
"Tower," and is visible from the river. In front rests a huge fragment
of the same rock, and in the interval stands a dwelling and a garden
spot. The "Teatable" is situated at some distance below, and the other
spots named are yet lower upon the stream. This whole region bears
palpable evidence of having been subjected, ages since, to powerful
volcanic and diluvial action; and neither the Neptunian or Vulcanian
theory can advance a superior claim.

For a long time after entering the dangerous defile in the vicinity of
the _Grand Tower_, through which the current rushes like a racehorse,
our steamer writhed and groaned against the torrent, hardly advancing
a foot. At length, as if by a single tremendous effort, which caused
her to quiver and vibrate to her centre, an onward impetus was gained,
the boat shot forward, the rapids were overcome, and then, by chance,
commenced one of those perilous feats of rivalry, formerly, more than
at present, frequent upon the Western waters, A RACE. Directly before
us, a steamer of a large class, deeply laden, was roaring and
struggling against the torrent under her highest pressure. During our
passage we had several times passed and repassed each other, as either
boat was delayed {61} at the various woodyards along the route; but
now, as the evening came on, and we found ourselves gaining upon our
antagonist, the excitement of emulation flushed every cheek. The
passengers and crew hung clustering, in breathless interest, upon the
galleries and the boiler deck, wherever a post for advantageous view
presented; while the hissing valves, the quick, heavy stroke of the
piston, the sharp clatter of the _eccentric_, and the cool
determination of the pale engineer, as he glided like a spectre among
the fearful elements of destruction, gave evidence that the challenge
was accepted. But there was one humble individual, above all others,
whose whole soul seemed concentrated in the contest, as from time to
time, in the intervals of toil, his begrimed and working features were
caught, glaring through the lurid light of the furnaces he was
feeding. This was no less a personage than the doughty fireman of our
steamer; a long, lanky individual, with a cute cast of the eye, a
knowing tweak of the nose, and an interminable longitude of phiz. His
checkered shirt was drenched with perspiration; a huge pair of
breeches, begirdling his loins by means of a leathern belt, covered
his nether extremities, and two sinewy arms of "whipcord and bone"
held in suspension a spadelike brace of hands. During our passage,
more than once did I avail myself of an opportunity of studying the
grotesque, good-humoured visage of this _unique_ individual; and it
required no effort of fancy to imagine I viewed before me some
lingering remnant of that "horse and alligator race," now, like {62}
the poor Indian, fast fading from the West before the march of
steamboats and civilization, _videlicet_, "the Mississippi boatman."
And, on the occasion of which I speak, methought I could catch no
slight resemblance in my interesting fireman, as he flourished his
ponderous limbs, to that faithful portraiture of his majesty of the
Styx in Tooke's Pantheon! though, as touching this latter, I must
confess me of much dubiety in boyhood days, with the worthy
"gravedigger" Young, having entertained shrewd suspicions whether the
"tyrant ever sat."

But in my zeal for the honest Charon I am forgetting the exciting
subject of the race. During my digression, the ambitious steamers have
been puffing, and sweating, and glowing in laudable effort, to say
nothing of stifled sobs said to have issued from their labouring
bosoms, until at length a grim smile of satisfaction lighting up the
rugged features of the worthy Charon, gave evidence that not in vain
he had wielded his mace or heaved his wood. A dense mist soon after
came on, and the exhausted steamers were hauled up at midnight beneath
the venerable trees upon the banks of the stream. On the first
breakings of dawn all was again in motion. But, alas! alas! in spite
of all the strivings of our valorous steamer, it soon became but too
evident that her mighty rival must prevail, as with distended jaws,
like to some huge fish, she came rushing up in our wake, as if our
annihilation were sure. But our apprehensions proved groundless; like
a civil, well-behaved rival, she speeded on, hurling forth a triple
bob-major of {63} curses at us as she passed, doubtless by way of
salvo, and disappeared behind a point. When to this circumstance is
added that a long-winded racer of a mail-boat soon after swept past us
in her onward course, and left us far in the rear, I shall be believed
when it is stated that the steamer on which we were embarked was
distinguished for anything but speed; a circumstance by none regretted
_less_ than by myself.

_Mississippi River._



VI

  "I linger yet with Nature."
                                                MANFRED.

                  "Onward still I press,
  Follow thy windings still, yet sigh for more."
                                                 GOETHE.

  "God's my life, did you ever hear the like!
  What a strange man is this!"
                                             BEN JONSON.


But a very few years have passed away since the navigation of the
Mississippi was that of one of the most dangerous streams on the
globe; but, thanks to the enterprising genius of the scientific
Shreve, this may no longer with truth be said. In 1824 the first
appropriation[57] was voted by Congress for improving the navigation
of the Western rivers; and since that period thousands of snags,
sawyers, {64} planters, sand-bars, sunken rocks, and fallen trees have
been removed, until all that now remains is to prevent new obstacles
from accumulating where the old have been eradicated. For much of its
course in its lower sections, the Mississippi is now quite safe; and
as the progress of settlements advances upon its banks, the navigation
of this noble stream will doubtless become unobstructed in its whole
magnificent journey from the falls of the "Laughing Water" to the
Mexican Gulf. The indefatigable industry, the tireless perseverance,
the indomitable enterprise, and the enlarged and scientific policy of
Captain Shreve, the projector and accomplisher of the grand national
operations upon the Western rivers, can never be estimated beyond
their merit. The execution of that gigantic undertaking, the removal
of the Red River Raft, has identified his history with that of the
empire West;[58] his fame will endure so long as those magnificent
streams, with which his name is associated, shall continue to roll on
their volumed waters to the deep.

These remarks have been suggested by scenes of constant recurrence to
the traveller on the Mississippi. The banks, the forests, the islands
all differ as much as the stream itself from those of the soft-gliding
Ohio. Instead of those dense emerald masses of billowy foliage
swelling gracefully up from the banks of "the beautiful river," those
of the Mississippi throw back a rough, ragged outline; their sands
piled with logs and uprooted trees, while heaps of wreck and
drift-wood betray the wild ravages of the stream. In the midst of {65}
the mass a single enormous sycamore often rears its ghastly limbs,
while at its foot springs gracefully up a light fringe of the pensile
willow. Sometimes, too, a huge sawyer, clinging upon the verge of the
channel, heaves up its black mass above the surface, then falls, and
again rises with the rush of the current. Against one of these sawyers
is sometimes lodged a mass of drift-wood, pressing it firmly upon the
bottom, till, by a constant accumulation, a foundation is gradually
laid and a new island is formed: this again, by throwing the water
from its course, causes a new channel, which, infringing with violence
upon the opposite bank, undermines it with its colonnade of enormous
trees, and thus new material in endless succession is afforded for
obstructions to the navigation. The deposites of alluvion along the
banks betray a similar origin of gradual accumulation by the annual
floods. In some sections of the American Bottom,[59] commencing at its
southern extremity with the Kaskaskia River, the mould, upward of
thirty feet in depth, is made up of numerous strata of earth, which
may be readily distinguished and counted by the colours.

About twenty miles above the mouth of the Kaskaskia is situated Ste.
Genevieve, grand deposite of the lead of the celebrated ancient mines
_La Motte_, and _A'Burton_, and others, some thirty miles in the
interior, and the market which supplies all the mining district of the
vicinity.[60] It was first commenced about the year 1774 by the
original settlers of Upper Louisiana; and the Canadian {66} French,
with their descendants, constitute a large portion of its present
inhabitants. The population does not now exceed eight hundred, though
it is once said to have numbered two thousand inhabitants. Some of the
villagers are advanced in years, and among them is M. Valle, one of
the chief proprietors of _Mine la Motte_, who, though now some ninety
years of age, is almost as active as when fifty.[61] Ste. Genevieve
is situated about one mile from the Mississippi, upon a broad alluvial
plain lying between the branches of a small stream called _Gabourie_.
Beyond the first bottom rises a second steppe, and behind this yet a
third, attaining an elevation of more than a hundred feet from the
water's edge. Upon this elevated site was erected, some twenty years
since, a handsome structure of stone, commanding a noble prospect of
the river, the broad American Bottom on the opposite side, and the
bluffs beyond the Kaskaskia. It was intended for a literary
institution; but, owing to unfavourable reports with regard to the
health of its situation, the design was abandoned, and the edifice was
never completed. It is now in a state of "ruinous perfection," and
enjoys the reputation, moreover, of being _haunted_. In very sooth,
its aspect, viewed from the river at twilight, with its broken windows
outlined against the western sky, is wild enough to warrant such an
idea or any other. A courthouse and Catholic chapel constitute the
public buildings. To the south of the village, and lying upon the
river, is situated the common field, originally comprising {67} two
thousand _arpens_; but it is now much less in extent, and is yearly
diminishing from the action of the current upon the alluvial banks.
These common fields were granted by the Spanish government, as well as
by the French, to every village settled under their domination. A
single enclosure at the expense of the villagers was erected and kept
in repair, and the lot of every individual was separated from his
neighbour's by a double furrow. Near this field the village was
formerly located; but in the inundation of 1785, called by the old
_habitans_ "_L'annee des grandes eaux_," so much of the bank was
washed away that the settlers were forced to select a more elevated
site. The Mississippi was at this time swelled to thirty feet above
the highest water-mark before known; and the town of Kaskaskia and the
whole American Bottom were inundated.

Almost every description of minerals are to be found in the county, of
which Ste. Genevieve is the seat of justice. But of all other species,
iron ore is the most abundant. The celebrated _Iron Mountain_ and the
_Pilot Knob_ are but forty miles distant.[62] Abundance of coal is
found in the opposite bluffs in Illinois. About twelve miles from the
village has been opened a quarry of beautiful white marble, in some
respects thought not inferior to that of Carrara. There are also said
to be immense caves of pure white sand, of dazzling lustre, quantities
of which are transported to Pittsburg for the manufacture of flint
glass. There are a number of beautiful fountains in the neighbourhood,
one of which is said to be of surpassing loveliness. It is several
{68} yards square, and rushes up from a depth of fifteen or twenty
feet, enclosed upon three sides by masses of living rock, over which,
in pensile gracefulness, repose the long glossy branches of the forest
trees.

The early French settlers manufactured salt a few miles from the
village, at a saline formerly occupied by the aborigines, the remains
of whose earthen kettles are yet found on the spot. About thirty years
since a village of the Peoria Indians was situated where the French
common field now stands;[63] and from the ancient mounds found in the
vicinity, and the vast quantities of animal and human remains, and
utensils of pottery exhumed from the soil, the spot seems to have been
a favourite location of a race whose destiny, and origin, and history
are alike veiled in oblivion. The view of Ste. Genevieve from the
water is picturesque and beautiful, and its landing is said to be
superior to any between the mouth of the Ohio and the city of St.
Louis. The village has that decayed and venerable aspect
characteristic of all these early French settlements.

As we were passing Ste. Genevieve an accident occurred which had
nearly proved fatal to our boat, if not to the lives of all on board
of her. A race which took place between another steamer and our own
has been noticed. In some unaccountable manner, this boat, which then
passed us, fell again in the rear, and now, for the last hour, had
been coming up in our wake under high steam. On overtaking us, she
attempted, contrary to all rules and regulations {69} for the
navigation of the river provided, to pass between our boat and the
bank beneath which we were moving; an outrage which, had it been
persisted in a moment longer than was fortunately the case, would have
sent us to the bottom. For a single instant, as she came rushing on,
contact seemed inevitable; and, as her force was far superior to our
own, and the recklessness of many who have the guidance of Western
steamers was well known to us all, the passengers stood clustering
around upon the decks, some pale with apprehension, and others with
firearms in their hands, flushed with excitement, and prepared to
render back prompt retribution on the first aggression. The pilot of
the hostile boat, from his exposed situation and the virulent feelings
against him, would have met with certain death; and he, consequently,
contrary to the express injunctions of the master, reversed the motion
of the wheels just at the instant to avoid the fatal encounter. The
sole cause for this outrage, we subsequently learned, was a private
pique existing between the pilots of the respective steamers. One
cannot restrain an expression of indignant feeling at such an
exhibition of foolhardy recklessness. It is strange, after all the
fearful accidents of this description upon the Western waters, and
that terrible prodigality of human life which for years past has been
constantly exhibited, there should yet be found individuals so utterly
regardless of the safety of their fellow-men, and so destitute of
every emotion of generous feeling, as to force their way heedlessly
onward into {70} danger, careless of any issue save the paltry
gratification of private vengeance. It is a question daily becoming of
more startling import, How may these fatal occurrences be successfully
opposed? Where lies the fault? Is it in public sentiment? Is it in
legal enactment? Is it in individual villany? However this may be, our
passage seemed fraught with adventure, of which this is but an
incident. After the event mentioned, having composed the agitation
consequent, we had retired to our berths, and were just buried in
profound sleep, when crash--our boat's bow struck heavily against a
snag, which, glancing along the bottom, threw her at once upon her
beams, and all the passengers on the elevated side from their berths.
No serious injury was sustained, though alarm and confusion enough
were excited by such an unceremonious turn-out. The dismay and
tribulation of some of our worthy company were entirely too ludicrous
for the risibles of the others, and a hearty roar of cachinnation was
heard even above the ejaculations of distress; a very improper thing,
no doubt, and not at all to be recommended on such occasions, as one
would hardly wish to make a grave "unknell'd and uncoffin'd" in the
Mississippi, with a broad grin upon his phiz.

In alluding to the race which took place during our passage,
honourable mention was made of a certain worthy individual whose
vocation was to feed the furnaces; and one bright morning, when all
the others of our company had bestowed themselves in their berths
because of the intolerable {71} heat, I took occasion to visit the
sooty Charon in the purgatorial realms over which he wielded the
sceptre. "Grievous work this building fires under a sun like that,"
was the salutation, as my friend the fireman had just completed the
toilsome operation once more of stuffing the furnace, while floods of
perspiration were coursing down a chest hairy as Esau's in the
Scripture, and as brawny. Hereupon honest Charon lifted up his face,
and drawing a dingy shirt sleeve with emphasis athwart his eyes,
bleared with smut, responded, "Ay, ay, sir; it's a sin to Moses, such
a trade;" and seizing incontinently upon a fragment of tin, fashioned
by dint of thumping into a polygonal dipper of unearthly dimensions,
he scooped up a quantity of the turbid fluid through which we were
moving, and deep, deep was the potation which, like a succession of
rapids, went gurgling down his throat. Marvellously refreshed, the
worthy genius dilated, much to my edification, upon the glories of a
fireman's life. "Upon this hint I spake" touching the topic of our
recent race; and then were the strings of the old worthy's tongue let
loose; and vehemently amplified he upon "our smart chance of a gallop"
and "the slight sprinkling of steam he had managed to push up." "Ah,
stranger, I'll allow, and couldn't I have teetotally obfusticated her,
and right mightily used her up, hadn't it been I was sort of bashful
as to keeping path with such a cursed old mud-turtle! But it's all
done gone;" and the droughty Charon seized another swig from the
unearthly dipper; and closing hermetically his lantern jaws, and
resuming his _infernal_ {72} labours, to which those of Alcmena's son
or of Tartarean Sysiphus were trifles, I had the discretion to betake
myself to the upper world.

During the night, after passing Ste. Genevieve, our steamer landed at
a woodyard in the vicinity of that celebrated old fortress, Fort
Chartres, erected by the French while in possession of Illinois; once
the most powerful fortification in North America, but now a pile of
ruins.[64] It is situated about three miles from _Prairie de Rocher_,
a little antiquated French hamlet, the scene of one of Hall's Western
Legends.[65] We could see nothing of the old fort from our situation
on the boat; but its vast ruins, though now a shattered heap, and
shrouded with forest-trees of more than half a century's growth, are
said still to proclaim in their finished and ponderous masonry its
ancient grandeur and strength. In front stretches a large island in
the stream, which has received from the old ruin a name. It is not a
little surprising that there exists no description of this venerable
pile worthy its origin and eventful history.

_Mississippi River._



VII

  "The hills! our mountain-wall, the hills!"
                                              _Alpine Omen._

  "But thou, exulting and abounding river!
  Making thy waves a blessing as they flow
  Through banks whose beauty would endure for ever,
  Could man but leave thy bright creation so--"
                                            _Childe Harold._


There are few objects upon the Mississippi in which the geologist and
natural philosopher may claim a deeper interest than that singular
series of limestone cliffs already alluded to, which, above its
junction with the Ohio, present themselves to the traveller all along
the Missouri shore. The principal ridge commences a few miles above
Ste. Genevieve; and at sunrise one morning we found ourselves beneath
a huge battlement of crags, rising precipitously from the river to the
height of several hundred feet. Seldom have I gazed upon a scene more
eminently imposing than that of these hoary old cliffs, when the
midsummer-sun, rushing upward from the eastern horizon, bathed their
splintered pinnacles and spires and the rifted tree-tops in a flood of
golden effulgence. The scene was not unworthy Walter Scott's graphic
description of the view from the Trosachs of Loch Katrine, in the
"Lady of the Lake:"

  "The _eastern_ waves of _rising_ day
  Roll'd o'er the _stream_ their level way;
  Each purple peak, each flinty spire,
  Was bathed in floods of living fire.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Their rocky summits, split and rent,
  Form'd turret, dome, or battlement,
  Or seem'd fantastically set
  With cupola or minaret,
  Wild crests as pagod ever decked
  Or mosque of eastern architect."

{74} All of these precipices, not less than those on the Ohio, betray
palpable indication of having once been swept by the stream; and the
fantastic excavations and cavernous fissures which their bold
escarpments expose would indicate a current far more furious and
headstrong than that, resistless though it be, which now rolls at
their base. The idea receives confirmation from the circumstance that
opposite extends the broad American Bottom, whose alluvial character
is undisputed. This tract once constituted our western border, whence
the name.

The bluffs of Selma and Herculaneum are distinguished for their beauty
and grandeur, not less than for the practical utility to which they
have been made subservient. Both places are great depositories of lead
from the mines of the interior, and all along their cliffs, for miles,
upon every eligible point, are erected tall towers for the manufacture
of shot. Their appearance in distant view is singularly picturesque,
perched lightly upon the pinnacles of towering cliffs, beetling over
the flood, which rushes along two hundred feet below. Some of these
shot manufactories have been in operation {75} for nearly thirty
years.[66] Herculaneum has long been celebrated for those in her
vicinity. The situation of the town is the mouth of Joachim Creek; and
the singular gap at this point has been aptly compared to an enormous
door, thrown open in the cliffs for the passage of its waters. A few
miles west of this village is said to exist a great natural curiosity,
in shape of a huge rock of limestone, some hundred feet in length,
and about fifty feet high. This rock is completely honeycombed with
perforations, and has the appearance of having been pierced by the
mytilus or some other marine insect.

A few miles above Herculaneum comes in the Platine Creek;[67] and here
commence the "Cornice Rocks," a magnificent escarpment of castellated
cliffs some two or three hundred feet in perpendicular altitude from
the bed of the stream, and extending along the western bank a distance
of eight or ten miles. Through the façade of these bluffs pours in the
tribute of the Merrimac, a bright, sparkling, beautiful stream.[68]
This river is so clear and limpid that it was long supposed to glide
over sands of silver; but the idea has been abandoned, and given place
to the certainty of an abundant store of lead, and iron, and salt upon
its banks, while its source is shaded by extensive forests of the
white pine, a material in this section of country almost, if not
quite, as valuable.[69] Ancient works of various forms are also found
upon the banks of the Merrimac. There is an immense cemetery near the
village of Fenton, containing {76} thousands of graves of a pigmy
size, the largest not exceeding four feet in length. This cemetery is
now enclosed and cultivated, so that the graves are no longer visible;
but, previous to this, it is said that headstones were to be seen
bearing unintelligible hieroglyphical inscriptions.[70] Human remains,
ancient pottery, arrow-heads, and stone axes are daily thrown up by
the ploughshare, while the numerous mounds in the vicinity are
literally composed of the same materials. Mammoth bones, such as those
discovered on the Ohio and in the state of New-York, are said also to
have been found at a salt-lick near this stream.

It was a bright morning, on the fifth day of an exceedingly long
passage, that we found ourselves approaching St. Louis. At about noon
we were gliding beneath the broad ensign floating from the flagstaff
of Jefferson Barracks.[71] The sun was gloriously bright; the soft
summer wind was rippling the waters, and the clear cerulean of the
heavens was imaged in their depths. The site of the quadrangle of the
barracks enclosing the parade is the broad summit of a noble bluff,
swelling up from the water, while the outbuildings are scattered
picturesquely along the interval beneath; the view from the steamer
cannot but strike the traveller as one of much scenic beauty. Passing
the venerable village of Carondelet, with its whitewashed cottages
crumbling with years, and old Cahokia buried in the forests on the
opposite bank, the gray walls of the Arsenal next stood out before us
in the rear of its beautiful esplanade.[72] A fine quay is erected
upon the river in front, and the extensive grounds {77} are enclosed
by a wall of stone. Sweeping onward, the lofty spire and dusky walls
of St. Louis Cathedral, on rounding a river bend, opened upon the eye,
the gilded crucifix gleaming in the sunlight from its lofty summit;
and then the glittering cupolas and church domes, and the fresh aspect
of private residences, mingling with the bright foliage of
forest-trees interspersed, all swelling gently from the water's edge,
recalled vividly the beautiful "Mistress of the North," as my eye has
often lingered upon her from her magnificent bay. A few more spires,
and the illusion would be perfect. For beauty of outline in distant
view, St. Louis is deservedly famed. The extended range of limestone
warehouses circling the shore give to the city a grandeur of aspect,
as approached from the water, not often beheld; while the
dense-rolling forest-tops stretching away in the rear, the sharp
outline of the towers and roofs against the western sky, and the
funereal grove of steamboat-pipes lining the quay, altogether make up
a combination of features novel and picturesque. As we approached the
landing all the uproar and confusion of a steamboat port was before
us, and our own arrival added to the bustle.

And now, perchance, having escaped the manifold perils of sawyer and
snag, planter, wreck-heap, and sand-bar, it may not be unbecoming in
me, like an hundred other tourists, to gather up a votive offering,
and--if classic allusion be permissible on the waters of the
wilderness West--hang it up before the shrine of the "Father of
Floods."

{78} It is surely no misnomer that this giant stream has been styled
the "eternal river," the "terrible Mississippi;"[73] for we may find
none other imbodying so many elements of the fearful and the sublime.
In the wild rice-lakes of the far frozen north, amid a solitude broken
only by the shrill clang of the myriad water-fowls, is its home.
Gushing out from its fountains clear as the air-bell, it sparkles over
the white pebbly sand-beds, and, breaking over the beautiful falls of
the "Laughing Water,"[74] it takes up its majestic march to the
distant deep. Rolling onward through the shades of magnificent
forests, and hoary, castellated cliffs, and beautiful meadows, its
volume is swollen as it advances, until it receives to its bosom a
tributary, a rival, a conqueror, which has roamed three thousand miles
for the meeting, and its original features are lost for ever. Its
beauty is merged in sublimity! Pouring along in its deep bed the
heaped-up waters of streams which drain the broadest valley on the
globe; sweeping onward in a boiling mass, furious, turbid, always
dangerous; tearing away, from time to time, its deep banks, with their
giant colonnades of living verdure, and then, with the stern despotism
of a conqueror, flinging them aside again; governed by no principle
but its own lawless will, the dark majesty of its features summons up
an emotion of the sublime which defies contrast or parallel. And then,
when we think of its far, lonely course, journeying onward in proud,
dread, solitary grandeur, {79} through forests dusk with the lapse of
centuries, pouring out the ice and snows of arctic lands through every
temperature of clime, till at last it heaves free its mighty bosom
beneath the Line, we are forced to yield up ourselves in uncontrolled
admiration of its gloomy magnificence. And its dark, mysterious
history, too; those fearful scenes of which it has alone been the
witness; the venerable tombs of a race departed which shadow its
waters; the savage tribes that yet roam its forests; the germes of
civilization expanding upon its borders; and the deep solitudes,
untrodden by man, through which it rolls, all conspire to throng the
fancy. Ages on ages and cycles upon cycles have rolled away; wave
after wave has swept the broad fields of the Old World; an hundred
generations have arisen from the cradle and flourished in their
freshness, and, like autumn leaflets, have withered in the tomb; and
the Pharaohs and the Ptolemies, the Cæsars and the Caliphs, have
thundered over the nations and passed away; and here, amid these
terrible solitudes, in the stern majesty of loneliness, and power, and
pride, have rolled onward these deep waters to their destiny!

  "Who gave you your invulnerable life,
  Your strength, your speed, your fury, and your joy?
  God! let the torrents, like a shout of nations,
  Answer!"

There is, perhaps, no stream which presents a greater variety of
feature than the Mississippi, or phenomena of deeper interest, whether
we regard the soil, productions, and climate of its valley, its
individual character and that of its tributaries, or {80} the outline
of its scenery and course. The confluents of this vast stream are
numerous, and each one brings a tribute of the soil through which it
has roamed. The Missouri pours out its waters heavily charged with the
marl of the Rocky Mountains, the saffron sands of the Yellow Stone,
and the chalk of the White River; the Ohio holds in its floods the
vegetable mould of the Alleghanies, and the Arkansas and Red Rivers
bring in the deep-died alluvion of their banks. Each tributary mingles
the spoils of its native hills with the general flood. And yet, after
the contributions of so many streams, the remarkable fact is observed
that its breadth and volume seem rather diminished than
increased.[75] Above the embouchure of the Missouri, fifteen hundred
miles from the Mexican gulf, it is broader than at New-Orleans, with
scarce one tenth of its waters; and at the foot of St. Anthony's Falls
its breadth is but one third less. This forms a striking
characteristic of the Western rivers, and owes, perhaps, its origin
partially to the turbid character of their waters: as they approach
their outlet they augment in volume, and depth, and impetuosity of
current, but contract their expanse. None, however, exhibit these
features so strikingly as the grand central stream; and while, for its
body of water, it is the narrowest stream known, it is charged with
heavier solutions and has broader alluvions than any other. The depth
of the stream is constantly varying. At New-Orleans it exceeds one
hundred feet. Its width is from half of one mile to two miles; the
breadth of its valley {81} from six miles to sixty; the rapidity of
its current from two miles to four; its mean descent six inches in a
mile, and its annual floods vary from twelve feet to sixty, commencing
in March and ending in May. Thus much for Statistics.

Below its confluence with its turbid tributary, the Mississippi, as
has been observed, is no longer the clear, pure, limpid stream,
gushing forth from the wreathy snows of the Northwest; but it whirls
along against its ragged banks a resistless volume of heavy, sweeping
floods, and its aspect of placid magnificence is beheld no more. The
turbid torrent heaves onward, wavering from side to side like a living
creature, as if to overleap its bounds; rolling along in a deep-cut
race-path, through a vast expanse of lowland meadow, from whose
exhaustless mould are reared aloft those enormous shafts shrouded in
the fresh emerald of their tasselled parasites, for which its alluvial
bottoms are so famous. And yet the valley of the "endless river"
cannot be deemed heavily timbered when contrasted with the forested
hills of the Ohio. The sycamore, the elm, the linden, the cotton-wood,
the cypress, and other trees of deciduous foliage, may attain a
greater diameter, but the huge trunks are more sparse and more
isolated in recurrence.

But one of the most striking phenomena of the Mississippi, in common
with all the Western rivers, and one which distinguishes them from
those which disembogue their waters into the Atlantic, is the
uniformity of its meanderings. The river, in its onward course, makes
a semicircular sweep almost {82} with the precision of a compass, and
then is precipitated diagonally athwart its channel to a curve of
equal regularity upon the opposite shore. The deepest channel and most
rapid current is said to exist in the bend; and thus the stream
generally infringes upon the _bend-side_, and throws up a sandbar on
the shore opposite. So constantly do these sinuosities recur, that
there are said to be but three _reaches_ of any extent between the
confluence of the Ohio and the Gulf, and so uniform that the boatmen
and Indians have been accustomed to estimate their progress by the
number of bends rather than by the number of miles. One of the sweeps
of the Missouri is said to include a distance of forty miles in its
curve, and a circuit of half that distance is not uncommon. Sometimes
a "_cut-off_," in the parlance of the watermen, is produced at these
bends, where the stream, in its headlong course, has burst through the
narrow neck of the peninsula, around which it once circled. At a point
called the "Grand Cut-off," steamers now pass through an isthmus of
less than one mile, where formerly was required a circuit of twenty.
The current, in its more furious stages, often tears up islands from
the bed of the river, removes sandbars and points, and sweeps off
whole acres of alluvion with their superincumbent forests. In the
season of flood the settlers, in their log-cabins along the banks, are
often startled from their sleep by the deep, sullen crash of a
"land-slip," as such removals are called.

The scenery of the Mississippi, below its confluence {83} with the
Missouri, is, as has been remarked, too sublime for beauty; and yet
there is not a little of the picturesque in the views which meet the
eye along the banks. Towns and settlements of greater or less extent
appear at frequent intervals; and then the lowly log-hut of the
pioneer is not to be passed without notice, standing beneath the tall,
branchless columns of the girdled forest-trees, with its luxuriant
maize-fields sweeping away in the rear. One of these humble
habitations of the wilderness we reached, I remember, one evening near
twilight; and while our boat was delayed at the woodyard, I strolled
up from the shore to the gateway, and entered easily into
confabulation with a pretty, slatternly-looking female, with a brood
of mushroom, flaxen-haired urchins at her apron-string, and an infant
at the breast very quietly receiving his supper. On inquiry I learned
that eighteen years had seen the good woman a denizen of the
wilderness; that all the responsibilities appertained unto herself,
and that her "man" was proprietor of some thousand acres of _bottom_
in the vicinity. Subsequently I was informed that the worthy
woodcutter could be valued at not less than one hundred thousand! yet,
_en verite_, reader mine, I do asseverate that my latent sympathies
were not slightly roused at the first introduction, because of the
seeming poverty of the dirty cabin and its dirtier mistress!

_St. Louis._



VIII

  "Once more upon the waters, yet once more!"
                                                  _Childe Harold._

  "I believe this is the finest confluence in the world."
                                                       CHARLEVOIX.

                  "'Tis twilight now;
  The sovereign sun behind his western hills
  In glory hath declined."
                                           BLACKWOOD'S _Magazine_.


A bright, sunny summer morning as ever smiled from the blue heavens,
and again I found myself upon the waters. Fast fading in the distance
lay the venerable little city of the French, with its ancient edifices
and its narrow streets, while in anticipation was a journeying of some
hundred miles up the Illinois. Sweeping along past the city and the
extended line of steamers at the landing, my attention was arrested by
that series of substantial stone mills situated upon the shore
immediately above, and a group of swarthy little Tritons disporting
themselves in the turbid waters almost beneath our paddle-wheels.
Among other singular objects were divers of those nondescript
inventions of Captain Shreve, yclept by the boatmen "Uncle Sam's
Tooth-pullers;" and, judging from their ferocious physiognomy, and the
miracles they have effected in the navigation of the great waters of
the West, well do they correspond to the _soubriquet_. {85} The craft
consists of two perfect hulls, constructed with a view to great
strength; united by heavy beams, and, in those parts most exposed,
protected by an armature of iron. The apparatus for eradicating the
snags is comprised in a simple wheel and axle, auxiliary to a pair of
powerful steam-engines, with the requisite machinery for locomotion,
and a massive beam uniting the bows of the hulls, sheathed with iron.
The _modus operandi_ in tearing up a snag, or sawyer, or any like
obstruction from the bed of the stream, appears to be this:
Commencing at some distance below, in order to gain an impetus as
powerful as possible, the boat is forced, under a full pressure of
steam, against the snag, the head of which, rearing itself above the
water, meets the strong transverse beam of which I have spoken, and is
immediately elevated a number of feet above the surface. A portion of
the log is then severed, and the roots are torn out by the windlass,
or application of the main strength of the engines; or, if
practicable, the first operation is repeated until the obstacle is
completely eradicated. The efficiency of this instrument has been
tested by the removal of some thousand obstructions, at an average
expense of about twelve or fifteen dollars each.

Along the river-banks in the northern suburbs of the city lie the
scattered ruins of an ancient fortification of the Spanish government,
when it held domination over the territory; and one circular structure
of stone, called "Roy's Tower," now occupied as a dwelling, yet
remains entire. There is also an {86} old castle of stone in tolerable
preservation, surrounded by a wall of the same material.[76] Some of
these venerable relics of former time--alas! for the irreverence of
the age--have been converted into limekilns, and into lime itself, for
aught that is known to the contrary! The waterworks, General Ashley's
beautiful residence, and that series of ancient mounds for which St.
Louis is famous, were next passed in succession, while upon the right
stretched out the long low outline of "Blood Island" in the middle of
the stream.[77] For several miles above the city, as we proceeded up
the river, pleasant villas, with their white walls and cultivated
grounds, were caught from time to time by the eye, glancing through
the green foliage far in the interior. It was a glorious day. Silvery
cloudlets were floating along the upper sky like spiritual creations,
and a fresh breeze was rippling the waters: along the banks stood out
the huge spectral Titans of the forest, heaving aloft their naked
limbs like monuments of "time departed," while beneath reposed the
humble hut and clearing of the settler.

It was nearly midday, after leaving St. Louis, that we reached the
embouchure of the Missouri. Twenty miles before attaining that point,
the confluent streams flow along in two distinct currents upon either
shore, the one white, clayey, and troubled, the other a deep blue. The
river sweeps along, indeed, in two distinct streams past the city of
St. Louis, upon either side of Blood Island, nor does it unite its
heterogeneous floods for many miles below. At intervals, as the huge
mass rolls itself {87} along, vast whirls and swells of turbid water
burst out upon the surface, producing an aspect not unlike the sea in
a gusty day, mottled by the shadows of scudding clouds.
Charlevoix,[78] the chronicler of the early French explorations in
North America, with reference to this giant confluence, more than a
century since thus writes: "I believe this is the finest confluence in
the world. The two rivers are much of the same breadth, each about
half a league, but the Missouri is by far the most rapid, and seems to
enter the Mississippi like a conqueror, through which it carries its
white waves to the opposite shore without mixing them. Afterward it
gives its colour to the Mississippi, which it never loses again, but
carries quite down to the sea." This account, with all due
consideration for the venerable historian, accords not precisely with
the scene of the confluence at the present day, at least not as it has
appeared to myself. The Missouri, indeed, rolls in its heavy volume
with the impetuosity and bearing of a "conqueror" upon the tranquil
surface of its rival; but entering, as it does, at right angles, its
waters are met in their headlong course, and almost rolled back upon
themselves for an instant by the mighty momentum of the flood they
strike. This is manifested by, and accounts for, that well-defined
line of light mud-colour extending from bank to bank across its mouth,
bounded by the dark blue of the Upper Mississippi, and flowing
sluggishly along in a lengthened and dingy stain, like a fringe upon
the western shore. The breadth of the embouchure is about one mile,
and its {88} channel lies nearly in the centre, bounded by vast
sand-bars--sediment of the waters--upon either side. The alluvial
deposites, with which it is heavily charged, accumulate also in
several islands near the confluence, while the rivers united spread
themselves out into an immense lake. As the steamer glides along among
these islands opposite the Missouri, the scene with its associations
is grand beyond description. Far up the extended vista of the stream,
upon a lofty bluff, stands out a structure which marks the site of the
ancient military post of "Belle Fontaine;"[79] while on the opposite
bank, stretching inland from the point heavily wooded, lies the broad
and beautiful prairie of the "Mamelles."[80] Directly fronting the
confluence stand a range of heights upon the Illinois shore, from the
summit of which is spread out, like a painting, one of the most
extraordinary views in the world.

The Mississippi, above its junction with its turbid tributary, is, as
has been remarked, a clear, sparkling, beautiful stream; now flashing
in silvery brilliance over its white sand-bars, then retreating far
into the deep indentations of its shady banks, and again spreading out
its waters into a tranquil, lakelike basin miles in extent, studded
with islets.

The far-famed village of Alton, situated upon the Illinois shore a few
miles above the confluence, soon rose before us in the distance. When
its multiform declivities shall have been smoothed away by the hand of
enterprise and covered with handsome edifices, it will doubtless
present a fine appearance {89} from the water; as it now remains, its
aspect is rugged enough. The Penitentiary, a huge structure of stone,
is rather too prominent a feature in the scene. Indeed, it is the
first object which strikes the attention, and reminds one of a gray
old baronial castle of feudal days more than of anything else. The
churches, of which there are several, and the extensive warehouses
along the shore, have an imposing aspect, and offer more agreeable
associations. As we drew nigh to Alton, the fireman of our steamer
deemed proper, in testimonial of the dignity of our arrival, to let
off a certain rusty old swivel which chanced to be on board; and to
have witnessed the marvellous fashion in which this important
manoeuvre was executed by our worthies, would have pardoned a smile
on the visage of Heraclitus himself. One lanky-limbed genius held a
huge dipper of gunpowder; another, seizing upon the extremity of a
hawser, and severing a generous fragment, made use thereof for
wadding; a third rammed home the charge with that fearful weapon
wherewith he poked the furnaces; while a fourth, honest wight--all
preparation being complete--advanced with a shovel of glowing coals,
which, poured upon the touchhole, the old piece was briefly delivered
of its charge, and the woods, and shores, and welkin rang again to the
roar. If we made not our entrance into Alton with "pomp and
circumstance," it was surely the fault of any one but our worthy
fireman.

The site of Alton, at the confluence of three large and navigable
streams; its extensive back country {90} of great fertility; the vast
bodies of heavy timber on every side; its noble quarries of stone; its
inexhaustible beds of bituminous coal only one mile distant, and its
commodious landing, all seem to indicate the design of Nature that
here should arise a populous and wealthy town. The place has been laid
off by its proprietors in liberal style; five squares have been
reserved for public purposes, with a promenade and landing, and the
corporate bounds extend two miles along the river, and half a mile
into the interior. Yet Alton, with all its local and artificial
advantages, is obnoxious to objections. Its situation, in one section
abrupt and precipitous, while in another depressed and confined, and
the extensive alluvion lying between the two great rivers opposite, it
is believed, will always render it more or less unhealthy; and its
unenviable proximity to St. Louis will never cease to retard its
commercial advancement.

The _city_ of Alton, as it is now styled by its charter, was founded
in the year 1818 by a gentleman who gave the place his name;[81] but,
until within the six years past, it could boast but few houses and
little business. Its population now amounts to several thousands, and
its edifices for business, private residence, or public convenience
are large and elegant structures. Its stone churches present an
imposing aspect to the visiter. The streets are from forty to eighty
feet in width, and extensive operations are in progress to render the
place as uniform as its site will admit. A contract has been recently
entered upon to construct a culvert over the Little Piasa Creek, {91}
which passes through the centre of the town, upon which are to be
extended streets. The expense is estimated at sixty thousand dollars.
The creek issues from a celebrated fountain among the bluffs called
"Cave Spring." Alton is not a little celebrated for its liberal
contribution to the moral improvements of the day. To mention but a
solitary instance, a gentleman of the place recently made a donation
of ten thousand dollars for the endowment of a female seminary at
Monticello,[82] a village five miles to the north; and measures are in
progress to carry the design into immediate execution. Two railroads
are shortly to be constructed from Alton; one to Springfield, seventy
miles distant, and the other to Mount Carmel on the Wabash. The stock
of each has been mostly subscribed, and they cannot fail, when
completed, to add much to the importance of the places. Alton is also
a _proposed_ terminus of two of the state railroads, and of the
Cumberland Road.[83]

At Alton terminates the "American Bottom," and here commences that
singular series of green, grassy mounds, rounding off the steep
summits of the cliffs as they rise from the water, which every
traveller cannot but have noticed and admired. It was a calm,
beautiful evening when we left the village; and, gliding beneath the
magnificent bluffs, held our way up the stream, breaking in upon its
tranquil surface, and rolling its waters upon either side in
tumultuous waves to the shore. The rich purple of departing day was
dying the western heavens; the light gauzy haze of twilight was
unfolding itself like a veil over the forest-tops; "Maro's shepherd
{92} star" was stealing timidly forth upon the brow of night; the
flashing fireflies along the underbrush were beginning their splendid
illuminations, and the mild melody of a flute and a few fine voices
floating over the shadowy waters, lent the last touching to a scene of
beauty. A little French village, with its broad galleries, and steep
roofs, and venerable church, in a few miles appeared among the
underbrush on the left.[84] Upon the opposite shore the bluffs began
to assume a singular aspect, as if the solid mass of limestone high up
had been subjected to the excavation of rushing waters. The cliffs
elevated themselves from the river's edge like a regular succession of
enormous pillars, rendered more striking by their ashy hue. This giant
colonnade--in some places exceeding an altitude of an hundred feet,
and exhibiting in its façade the openings of several caves--extended
along the stream until we reached Grafton,[85] at the mouth of the
Illinois; the calm, beautiful, ever-placid Illinois; beautiful now as
on the day the enthusiast voyageur first deemed it the pathway to a
"paradise upon earth." The moon was up, and her beams were resting
mellowly upon the landscape. Far away, even to the blue horizon, the
mirror-surface of the stream unfolded its vistas to the eye; upon its
bosom slumbered the bright islets, like spirits of the waters, from
whose clear depths stood out the reflection of their forests, while to
the left opened upon the view a glimpse of the "Mamelle Prairie,"
rolling its bright waves of verdure beneath the moonlight like a field
of fairy land. For an hour we gazed upon this magnificent scene, and
the bright {93} waves dashed in sparkles from our bow, retreating in
lengthened wake behind us, until our steamer turned from the
Mississippi, and we were gliding along beneath the deep shadows of the
forested Illinois.

_Illinois River._



IX

  "A tale of the times of old! The deeds of days of other years!"
                                                             OSSIAN.

  "Thou beautiful river! Thy bosom is calm
  And o'er thee soft breezes are shedding their balm;
  And Nature beholds her fair features portray'd,
  In the glass of thy bosom serenely display'd."
                                                  BENGAL ANNUAL.

  "Tam saw an unco sight."
                            BURNS.


It is an idea which has more than once occurred to me, while throwing
together these hasty delineations of the beautiful scenes through
which, for the past few weeks, I have been moving, that, by some, a
disposition might be suspected to tinge every outline indiscriminately
with the "_coleur de rose_." But as well might one talk of an
exaggerated emotion of the sublime on the table-rock of Niagara, or
amid the "snowy scalps" of Alpine scenery, or of a mawkish sensibility
to loveliness amid the purple glories of the "_Campagna di Roma_," as
of either, or of both combined, in the noble "valley beyond the
mountains." Nor is the interest experienced {94} by the traveller for
many of the spots he passes confined to their scenic beauty. The
associations of by-gone times are rife in the mind, and the
traditionary legend of the events these scenes have witnessed yet
lingers among the simple forest-sons. I have mentioned that remarkable
range of cliffs commencing at Alton, and extending, with but little
interruption, along the left shore of the Mississippi to the mouth of
the Illinois. Through a deep, narrow ravine in these bluffs flows a
small stream called the Piasa. The name is of aboriginal derivation,
and, in the idiom of the Illini, denotes "_The bird that devours
men_." Near the mouth of this little stream rises a bold, precipitous
bluff, and upon its smooth face, at an elevation seemingly
unattainable by human art, is graven the figure of an enormous bird
with extended pinions. This bird was by the Indians called the
"_Piasa_;" hence the name of the stream. The tradition of the Piasa is
said to be still extant, among the tribes of the Upper Mississippi,
and is thus related:[86]

"Many thousand moons before the arrival of the pale faces, when the
great megalonyx and mastodon, whose bones are now thrown up, were
still living in the land of the green prairies, there existed a bird
of such dimensions that he could easily carry off in his talons a
full-grown deer. Having obtained a taste of human flesh, from that
time he would prey upon nothing else. He was as artful as he was
powerful; would dart suddenly and unexpectedly upon an Indian, bear
him off to one of the caves in the bluff, and devour him. Hundreds of
warriors attempted for years to destroy him, but without success. {95}
Whole villages were depopulated, and consternation spread throughout
all the tribes of the Illini. At length _Owatoga_, a chief whose fame
as a warrior extended even beyond the great lakes, separating himself
from the rest of his tribe, fasted in solitude for the space of a
whole moon, and prayed to the Great Spirit, the Master of Life, that
he would protect his children from the _Piasa_. On the last night of
his fast the Great Spirit appeared to him in a dream, and directed him
to select twenty of his warriors, each armed with a bow and pointed
arrows, and conceal them in a designated spot. Near the place of their
concealment another warrior was to stand in open view as a victim for
the _Piasa_, which they must shoot the instant he pounced upon his
prey. When the chief awoke in the morning he thanked the Great Spirit,
returned to his tribe, and told them his dream. The warriors were
quickly selected and placed in ambush. _Owatoga_ offered himself as
the victim, willing to die for his tribe; and, placing himself in open
view of the bluff, he soon saw the _Piasa_ perched on the cliff, eying
his prey. _Owatoga_ drew up his manly form to its utmost height; and,
placing his feet firmly upon the earth, began to chant the death-song
of a warrior: a moment after, the _Piasa_ rose in the air, and, swift
as a thunderbolt, darted down upon the chief. Scarcely had he reached
his victim when every bow was sprung and every arrow was sped to the
feather into his body. The _Piasa_ uttered a wild, fearful scream,
that resounded far over the opposite side of the river, and expired.
_Owatoga_ was safe. {96} Not an arrow, not even the talons of the bird
had touched him; for the Master of Life, in admiration of his noble
deed, had held over him an invisible shield. In memory of this event,
this image of the Piasa was engraved in the face of the bluff."

Such is the Indian tradition. True or false, the figure of the bird,
with expanded wings, graven upon the surface of solid rock, is still
to be seen at a height perfectly inaccessible; and to this day no
Indian glides beneath the spot in his canoe without discharging at
this figure his gun. Connected with this tradition, as the spot to
which the Piasa conveyed his human victims, is one of those caves to
which I have alluded. Another, near the mouth of the Illinois,
situated about fifty feet from the water, and exceedingly difficult of
access, is said to be crowded with human remains to the depth of many
feet in the earth of the floor. The roof of the cavern is vaulted. It
is about twenty-five feet in height, thirty in length, and in form is
very irregular. There are several other cavernous fissures among these
cliffs not unworthy description.

The morning's dawn found our steamer gliding quietly along upon the
bright waters of the Illinois. The surface of the stream was tranquil;
not a ripple disturbed its slumbers; it was currentless; the mighty
mass of the Mississippi was swollen, and, acting as a dam across the
mouth of its tributary, caused a _back-water_ of an hundred miles. The
waters of the Illinois were consequently stagnant, tepid, and by no
means agreeable to the taste. There was present, also, a peculiarly
bitter twang, {97} thought to be imparted by the roots of the trees
and plants along its banks, which, when motionless, its waters steep;
under these circumstances, water is always provided from the
Mississippi before entering the mouth of the Illinois. But, whatever
its qualities, this stream, to the eye, is one of the most beautiful
that meanders the earth. As we glided onward upon its calm bosom, a
graceful little fawn, standing upon the margin in the morning
sunlight, was bending her large, lustrous eyes upon the delicate
reflection of her form, mirrored in the stream; and, like the fabled
Narcissus, so enamoured did she appear with the charm of her own
loveliness, that our noisy approach seemed scarce to startle her; or
perchance she was the pet of some neighbouring log-cabin. The Illinois
is by many considered the "_belle rivière_" of the Western waters,
and, in a commercial and agricultural view, is destined, doubtless, to
occupy an important rank. Tonti, the old French chronicler, speaks
thus of it:[87] "The banks of that river are as charming to the eye as
useful to life; the meadows, fruit-trees, and forests affording
everything that is necessary for men and beasts." It traverses the
entire length of one of the most fertile regions in the Union, and
irrigates, by its tributary streams, half the breadth. Its channel is
sufficiently deep for steamers of the larger class; its current is
uniform, and the obstacles to its navigation are few, and may be
easily removed. The chief of these is a narrow bar just below the town
of Beardstown,[88] stretching like a wing-dam quite across to the
western bank; and any boat which may pass this bar {98} can at all
times reach the port of the Rapids. Its length is about three hundred
miles, and its narrowest part, opposite Peru, is about eighty yards in
width. By means of a canal, uniting its waters with those of Lake
Michigan, the internal navigation of the whole country from New-York
to New-Orleans is designed to be completed.[89]

The banks of the Illinois are depressed and monotonous, liable at all
seasons to inundation, and stretch away for miles to the bluffs in
broad prairies, glimpses of whose lively emerald and silvery lakes,
caught at intervals through the dark fringe of cypress skirting the
stream, are very refreshing. The bottom lands upon either side, from
one mile to five, are seldom elevated much above the ordinary surface
of the stream, and are at every higher stage of water submerged to the
depth of many feet, presenting the appearance of a stream rolling its
tide through an ancient and gloomy forest, luxuriant in foliage and
vast in extent. It is not surprising that all these regions should be
subject to the visitations of disease, when we look upon the miserable
cabin of the woodcutter, reared upon the very verge of the water,
surrounded on every side by swamps, and enveloped in their damp dews
and the poisonous exhalations rising from the seething decomposition
of the monstrous vegetation around. The traveller wonders not at the
sallow complexion, the withered features, and the fleshless,
ague-racked limbs, which, as he passes, peep forth upon him from the
luxuriant foliage of this region of sepulchres; his only astonishment
is, that in such an atmosphere the human constitution {99} can
maintain vitality at all. And yet, never did the poet's dream image
scenery more enchanting than is sometimes unfolded upon this beautiful
stream. I loved, on a bright sunny morning, to linger hours away upon
the lofty deck, as our steamer thridded the green islets of the
winding waters, and gaze upon the reflection of the blue sky flecked
with cloudlets in the bluer wave beneath, and watch the startling
splash of the glittering fish, as, in exhilarated joyousness, he flung
himself from its tranquil bosom, and then fell back again into its
cool depths. Along the shore strode the bluebacked wader; the wild
buck bounded to his thicket; the graceful buzzard--vulture of the
West--soared majestically over the tree-tops, while the fitful chant
of the fireman at his toil echoed and re-echoed through the recesses
of the forests.

Upon the left, in ascending the Illinois, lie the lands called the
"_Military Bounty Tract_," reserved by Congress for distribution among
the soldiers of the late war with Great Britain.[90] It is
comprehended within the peninsula of the Illinois and Mississippi
Rivers, about an hundred and seventy miles in length and sixty broad,
embracing twelve of the northwest counties of the state. This tract of
country is said to be exceedingly fertile, abounding in beautiful
prairies and lakes; but the delta or alluvial regions cannot but prove
unhealthy. Its disposition for the purpose of military bounties has
retarded its settlement behind that of any other quarter of the state;
a very inconsiderable portion has been appropriated by the soldiers;
most of the titles have {100} long since departed, and the land has
been disposed of past redemption for taxes. Much is also held by
non-residents, who estimate it at an exorbitant value; but large
tracts can be obtained for a trifling consideration, the purchaser
risking the title, and many flourishing settlements are now springing
up, especially along the Mississippi.

Near the southern extremity of the Military Tract, at a point where
the river sweeps out a deep bend from its western bank, about fifty
years since was situated the little French village of _Cape au Gris_,
or Grindstone Point, so named from the neighbouring rocks. The French
seem to have vied with the natives in rendering the "signification"
conformable to the "thing signified," in bestowing names upon their
explorations in the West. The village of _Cape au Gris_ was situated
upon the bank of the river, and, so late as 1811, consisted of twenty
or thirty families, who cultivated a "common field" of five hundred
acres on the adjacent prairie, stretching across the peninsula towards
the Mississippi. At the commencement of the late war they were driven
away by the savages, and a small garrison from the cantonment of Belle
Fontaine, at the confluence, was subsequently stationed near the spot
by General Wilkinson. A few years after the close of the war American
emigration commenced. This is supposed to have been the site, also, of
one of the forts erected by La Salle on his second visit to the
West.[91]

As we ascended the Illinois, flourishing villages were constantly
meeting the eye upon either bank of the stream. Among these were the
euphonious {101} names of Monroe, Montezuma, Naples, and Havana! At
Beardstown the rolling prairie is looked upon for the first time; it
afterward frequently recurs. As our steamer drew nigh to the renowned
little city of Pekin, we beheld the bluffs lined with people of all
sexes and sizes, watching our approach as we rounded up to the
landing.[92] Some of our passengers, surprised at such a gathering
together in such a decent, well-behaved little settlement as Pekin,
sagely surmised the loss of a day from the calendar, and began to
believe it the first instead of the last of the week, until reflection
and observation induced the belief that other rites than those of
religion had called the multitude together. Landing, streets, tavern,
and groceries--which latter, be it spoken of the renowned Pekin, were
like anything but "angel's visits" in recurrence--all were swarmed by
a motley assemblage, seemingly intent upon _doing nothing_, and that,
too, in the noisiest way. Here a congregation of keen-visaged
worthies were gathered around a loquacious land-speculator, beneath
the shadow of a sign-post, listening to an eloquent holding-forth upon
the merits, relative and distinctive, of prairie land and bluff; there
a cute-looking personage, with a twinkle of the eye and
sanctimoniousness of phiz, was vending his wares by the token of a
flaunting strip of red baize; while lusty viragoes, with infants at
the breast, were battering their passage through the throng, crowing
over a "bargain" on which the "cute" pedler had cleared not _more_
than cent. per cent. And then there were sober men and men not sober;
individuals half seas over and whole seas {102} over, all in as merry
trim as well might be; while, as a sort of presiding genius over the
bacchanal, a worthy wag, tipsy as a satyr, in a long calico gown, was
prancing through the multitude, with infinite importance, on the
skeleton of an unhappy horse, which, between _nicking_ and _docking_,
a spavined limb and a spectral eye, looked the veritable genius of
misery. The cause of all this commotion appeared to be neither more
nor less than a redoubted "monkey show," which had wound its way over
the mountains into the regions of the distant West, and reared its
dingy canvass upon the smooth sward of the prairie. It was a spectacle
by no means to be slighted, and "divers came from afar" to behold its
wonders.

For nothing, perhaps, have foreign tourists in our country ridiculed
us more justly than for that pomposity of nomenclature which we have
delighted to apply to the thousand and one towns and villages
sprinkled over our maps and our land; instance whereof this same
renowned representative of the Celestial Empire concerning which I
have been writing. Its brevity is its sole commendation; for as to the
taste or appropriateness of such a name for such a place, to say
naught of the euphony, there's none. And then, besides Pekin, there
are Romes, and Troys, and Palmyras, and Belgrades, Londons and
Liverpools, Babels and Babylons _without account_, all rampant in the
glories of log huts, with sturdy porkers forth issuing from their
sties, by way, doubtless, of the sturdy knight-errants of yore
caracoling from the sally-ports of their illustrious {103} namesakes.
But why, in the name of all propriety, this everlasting plagiarizing
of the Greek, Gothic, Gallic patronymics of the Old World, so utterly
incongruous as applied to the backwoods settlements of the New! If in
very poverty of invention, or in the meagerness of our "land's
language," we, as a people, feel ourselves unequal to the task--one,
indeed, of no ordinary magnitude--of christening all the newborn
villages of our land with melodious and appropriate appellations,
may it not be advisable either to nominate certain worthy
dictionary-makers for the undertaking, or else to retain the ancient
Indian names? Why discard the smooth-flowing, expressive appellations
bestowed by the injured aborigines upon the gliding streams and
flowery plains of this land of their fathers, only to supersede them
by affixes most foreign and absurd? "Is this proceeding just and
honourable" towards that unfortunate race? Have we visited them with
so _many_ returns of kindness that this would overflow the cup of
recompense? Why tear away the last and only relic of the past yet
lingering in our midst? Have we too many memorials of the olden time?
Why disrobe the venerable antique of that classic drapery which alone
can befit the severe nobility of its mien, only to deck it out in the
starched and tawdry preciseness of a degenerate taste?

_Illinois River._



X

                  "It is a goodly sight to see
  What Heaven hath done for this delicious land!
  What fruits of fragrance blush on every tree!
  What goodly prospects o'er the hills expand!"
                                                _Childe Harold._


"Good-evening, sir; a good-evening to ye, sir; pleased with our
village, sir!" This was the frank and free salutation a genteel,
farmer-looking personage, with a broad face, a broad-brimmed hat, and
a broad-skirted coat, addressed to me as I stood before the inn door
at Peoria, looking out upon her beautiful lake. On learning, in reply
to his inquiry, "Whence do ye come, stranger?" that my birth spot was
north of the Potomac, he hailed me with hearty greeting and warm grasp
as a brother. "I am a Yankee, sir; yes, sir, I am a genuine export of
the old 'Bay State.' Many years have gone since I left her soil; but I
remember well the 'Mistress of the North,' with her green islands and
blue waters. In my young days, sir, I wandered all over the six
states, and I have not forgotten the valley of the Connecticut. I have
seen the 'Emporium' with her Neapolitan bay, and I have looked on the
'city of the monuments and fountains;' but in all my journeyings,
stranger, I have not found a spot so pleasant as this little quiet
Peoria of the Western wilderness!" Whether to smile in admiration
{105} or to smile at the oddity of this singular compound of truth and
exaggeration, propounded, withal, in such grandiloquent style and
language, I was at a loss; and so, just as every prudent man would
have acted under the circumstances, _neither_ was done; and the quiet
remark, "You are an enthusiast, sir," was all that betrayed to the
worthy man the emotions of the sublime and ridiculous of which he had
been the unwitting cause.

But, truly, the little town with this soft Indian name is a beautiful
place, as no one who has ever visited it has failed to remark. The
incidents of its early history are fraught with the wild and romantic.
The old village of Peoria was one of the earliest settlements of the
French in the Mississippi Valley; and, many years before the memory of
the present generation, it had been abandoned by its founders, a new
village having been erected upon the present site, deemed less
unhealthy than the former. The first house is said to have been built
in new Peoria, or _La ville de Maillet_, as was its _nom de nique_,
about the year 1778; and the situation was directly at the outlet of
the lake, one mile and a half below the old settlement.[93] Its
inhabitants consisted chiefly of that wild, semi-savage race of Indian
traders, hunters, trappers, voyageurs, _couriers du bois_, and
half-breeds, which long formed the sole link of union between the
northern lakes and the southwest. After residing nearly half a
century on this pleasant spot, in that happy harmony with their
ferocious neighbours for which the early French were so remarkable,
they were at length, in the {106} autumn of 1812, exiled from their
ancient home by the militia of Illinois, on charge of conniving at
Indian atrocities upon our people, a party having been fired on at
night while anchored before the village in their boats. The villagers
fled for refuge to their friends upon the Mississippi. In the autumn
of the succeeding year, General Howard,[94] with 1400 men, ascended
the Illinois; a fortress was constructed at Peoria in twelve days from
timber cut on the opposite side of the lake. It was named Fort Clarke,
and was occupied by a detachment of United States' troops. In course
of a few weeks the whole frontier was swept of hostile Indians. On the
termination of hostilities with Great Britain the fort was abandoned,
and soon after was burned by the Indians, though the ruins are yet to
be seen. The present settlement was commenced by emigrants but a few
years since, and has advanced with a rapidity scarcely paralleled even
in the West. Geographically, it is the centre of the state, and may at
some future day become its seat of government. It is the shire town of
a county of the same name; has a handsome courthouse of freestone; the
neighbouring regions are fertile, and beds of bituminous coal are
found in the vicinity. These circumstances render this spot, than
which few can boast a more eventful history, one of the most eligible
_locales_ in the state for the emigrant.

Its situation is indescribably beautiful, extending along the lake of
the same name, the Indian name of which was _Pinatahwee_, for several
miles from its outlet. This water-sheet, which is little more than an
expansion of the stream of from one to three miles, stretches away for
about twenty, and is divided near its middle by a contraction called
the _Narrows_. Its waters are exceedingly limpid, gliding gently over
a pebbly bottom, and abounding in fish of fifty different species,
from which an attempt for obtaining oil on a large scale was commenced
a few years since, but was abandoned without success. Some of the
varieties of these fish are said to be rare and curious. Several
specimens of a species called the "Alligator Garr" have been taken.
The largest was about seven feet in length, a yard in circumference,
and encased in armour of hornlike scales of quadrilateral form,
impenetrable to a rifle-ball. The weight was several hundred pounds;
the form and the teeth--of which there were several rows--similar to
those of the shark, and, upon the whole, the creature seemed not a
whit less formidable. Another singular variety found is the
"spoonfish," about four feet in length, with a black skin, and an
extension of the superior mandible for two feet, of a thin, flat,
shovel-like form, used probably for digging its food. The more
ordinary species, pike, perch, salmon, trout, buffalo, mullet, and
catfish, abound in the lake, while the surface is covered with geese,
ducks, gulls, a species of water turkey, and, not unfrequently, swans
and pelicans. Its bottom contains curious petrifactions and carnelions
of a rare quality.

From the pebbly shore of the lake, gushing out with fountains of
sparkling water along its whole extent, rises a rolling bank, upon
which now stands most of the village. A short distance and you ascend
a second eminence, and beyond this you reach {108} the bluffs, some of
them an hundred feet in height, gracefully rounded, and corresponding
with the meandering of the stream below. From the summit of these
bluffs the prospect is uncommonly fine. At their base is spread out a
beautiful prairie, its tall grass-tops and bright-died flowerets
nodding to the soft summer wind. Along its eastern border is extended
a range of neat edifices, while lower down sleep the calm, clear
waters of the lake, unruffled by a ripple, and reflecting from its
placid bosom the stupendous vegetation of the wooded alluvion beyond.

It was near the close of a day of withering sultriness that we reached
Peoria. Passing the Kickapoo, or Red Bud Creek,[95] a sweep in the
stream opened before the eye a panorama of that magnificent
water-sheet of which I have spoken, so calm and motionless that its
mirror surface seemed suspended in the golden mistiness of the summer
atmosphere which floated over it. As we were approaching the village a
few sweet notes of a bugle struck the ear; and in a few moments a
lengthened troop of cavalry, with baggage-cars and military
paraphernalia, was beheld winding over a distant roll of the prairie,
their arms glittering gayly in the horizontal beams of the sinking sun
as the ranks appeared, were lost, reappeared, and then, by an
inequality in the route, were concealed from the view. The steamer
"Helen Mar" was lying at the landing as we rounded up, most terribly
shattered by the collapsing of the flue of one of her boilers a few
days before in the vicinity. She had been swept by the death-blast
from one extremity {109} to the other, and everything was remaining
just as when the accident occurred, even to the pallets upon which had
been stretched the mangled bodies, and the remedies applied for their
relief. The disasters of steam have become, till of late, of such
ordinary occurrence upon the waters of the West, that they have been
thought of comparatively but little; yet in no aspect does the angel
of death perform his bidding more fearfully. Misery's own pencil can
delineate no scene of horror more revolting; humanity knows no
visitation more terrible! The atmosphere of hell envelops the victim
and sweeps him from the earth!

Happening casually to fall in with several gentlemen at the inn who
chanced to have some acquaintance with the detachment of dragoons I
have mentioned, I accepted with pleasure an invitation to accompany
them on a visit to the encampment a few miles from the town. The moon
was up, and was flinging her silvery veil over the landscape when we
reached the bivouac. It was a picturesque spot, a low prairie-bottom
on the margin of the lake, beneath a range of wooded bluffs in the
rear; and the little white tents sprinkled about upon the green
shrubbery beneath the trees; the stacks of arms and military
accoutrements piled up beneath or suspended from their branches; the
dragoons around their tents, engaged in the culinary operations of the
camp, or listlessly lolling upon the grass as the laugh and jest went
free; the horses grazing among the thickets, while over the whole was
resting the misty splendour of the moonlight, {110} made up a _tout
ensemble_ not unworthy the crayon of a Weir.[96] The detachment was a
small one, consisting of only one hundred men, under command of
Captain S----, on an excursion from Camp des Moines, at the lower
rapids of the Mississippi, to Fort Howard, on Green Bay, partially
occasioned by a rumour of Indian hostilities threatened in that
vicinity.[97] They were a portion of several companies of the first
regiment of dragoons, levied by Congress a few years since for the
protection of the Western frontier, in place of the "Rangers," so
styled, in whom that trust had previously reposed. They were all
Americans, resolute-looking fellows enough, and originally
rendezvoused at Jefferson Barracks. The design of such a corps is
doubtless an excellent one; but military men tell us that some
unpardonable omissions were made in the provisions of the bill
reported by Congress in which the corps had its origin; for, according
to the present regulations, all approximation to discipline is
precluded. Captain S---- received us leisurely reclining upon a
buffalo-robe in his tent; and, in a brief interview, we found him
possessed of all that gentlemanly _naïveté_ which foreign travellers
would have us believe is, in our country, confined to the profession
of arms. The night-dews of the lowlands had for some hours been
falling when we reached the village drenched with their damps.

Much to our regret, the stage of water in the Illinois would not
permit our boat to ascend the stream, as had been the intention, to
Hennepin, some twenty miles above, and Ottawa, at the foot of the
rapids.[98] Nearly equidistant between these {111} flourishing towns,
upon the eastern bank of the Illinois, is situated that remarkable
crag, termed by the early French "_Le Rocher_," by the Indian
traditions "_Starved Rock_," and by the present dwellers in its
vicinity, as well as by Schoolcraft and the maps, "_Rockfort_." It is
a tall cliff, composed of alternate strata of lime and sandstone,
about two hundred and fifty feet in height by report, and one hundred
and thirty-four by actual measurement. Its base is swept by the
current, and it is perfectly precipitous upon three sides. The fourth
side, by which alone it is accessible, is connected with the
neighbouring range of bluffs by a natural causeway, which can be
ascended only by a difficult and tortuous path. The summit of the crag
is clothed with soil to the depth of several feet, sufficient to
sustain a growth of stunted cedars. It is about one hundred feet in
diameter, and comprises nearly an acre of level land. The name of
"Starved Rock" was obtained by this inaccessible battlement from a
legend of Indian tradition, an outline of which may be found in
Flint's work upon the Western Valley, and an interesting story wrought
from its incidents in Hall's "Border Tales." A band of the Illini
having assassinated Pontiac, the Ottoway chieftain, in 1767, the
tribe of the Pottawattamies made war upon them. The Illini, being
defeated, fled for refuge to this rock, which a little labour soon
rendered inaccessible to all the assaults of their enemy. At this
crisis, after repeated repulse, the besiegers determined to reduce the
hold by _starvation_, as the only method remaining. The tradition of
this siege affords, perhaps, {112} as striking an illustration of
Indian character as is furnished by our annals of the unfortunate
race. Food in some considerable quantity had been provided by the
besieged; but when, parched by thirst, they attempted during the night
to procure water from the cool stream rushing below them by means of
ropes of bark, the enemy detected the design, and their vessels were
cut off by a guard in canoes. The last resource was defeated; every
stratagem discovered; hope was extinguished; the unutterable tortures
of thirst were upon them; a terrific death in anticipation; yet they
yielded not; the speedier torments of the stake and a triumph to their
foes was the alternative. And so they perished--all, with a solitary
exception--a woman, who was adopted by the hostile tribe, and was
living not half a century since. For years the summit of this old
cliff was whitened by the bones of the victims; and quantities of
remains, as well as arrow-heads and domestic utensils, are at the
present day exhumed. Shells are also found, but their _whence_ and
_wherefore_ are not easily determined. At the only accessible point
there is said to be an appearance of an intrenchment and rampart. A
glorious view of the Illinois, which, forming a curve, laves more than
half of the column's base, is obtained from the summit. An ancient
post of the French is believed to have once stood here.[99]

Brightly were the moonbeams streaming over the blue lake Pinatahwee as
our steamer glided from its waters. Near midnight, as we swept past
Pekin, we were roused from our slumbers by the plaintive {113} notes
of the "German Hymn," which mellowly came stealing from distance over
the waters; and we almost pardoned the "Menagerie" its multifold
transgressions because of that touching air. There is a chord in
almost every bosom, however rough and unharmonious its ordinary
emotions, which fails not to vibrate beneath the gentle influences of
"sweet sounds." From this, as from the strings of the wind-harp, a
zephyr may elicit a melody of feeling which the storm could never have
awakened. There are seasons, too, when the nerves and fibres of the
system, reposing in quietness, are most exquisitely attempered to the
mysterious influences and the delicate breathings of harmony; and such
a season is that calm, holy hour, when deep sleep hath descended upon
man, and his unquiet pulsings have for an interval ceased their
fevered beat. To be awakened then by music's cadence has upon us an
effect unearthly! It calls forth from their depths the richest
emotions of the heart. The moonlight serenade! Ah, its wild witchery
has told upon the romance of many a young bosom! If you have a
mistress, and you would woo her _not vainly_, woo her thus! I remember
me, when once a resident of the courtly city of L----, to have been
awakened one morning long before the dawn by a strain of distant
music, which, swelling and rising upon the still night-air, came
floating like a spirit through the open windows and long galleries of
the building. I arose; all was calm, and silent, and deserted through
the dim, lengthened streets of the city. Not a light gleamed from a
casement; not a {114} footfall echoed from the pavement; not a breath
broke the stillness save the crowing of the far-off cock proclaiming
the morn, and the low rumble of the marketman's wagon; and then,
swelling upon the night-wind, fitfully came up that beautiful gush of
melody, wave upon wave, surge after surge, billow upon billow, winding
itself into the innermost cells of the soul!

  "Oh, it came o'er my ear like the sweet South,
  That breathes upon a bank of violets,
  Stealing and giving odour."

_Illinois River._



XI

  "You will excuse me if I do not strictly confine myself to
  narration, but now and then interpose such _reflections_ as
  may offer while I am writing."--NEWTON.

  "Each was a giant heap of mouldering clay;
    There slept the warriors, women, friends, and foes;
  There, side by side, the rival chieftains lay,
    And mighty tribes swept from the face of day."
                                                        FLINT.


More than three weeks ago I found myself, one bright morning at
sunrise, before the city of St. Louis on descending the Illinois; and
in that venerable little city have I ever since been a dweller. A
series of those vexatious delays, ever occurring to balk the designs
of the tourist, have detained me longer than could have been
anticipated. Not the {115} most inconsiderable of these preventives to
locomotion in this bustling, swapping, chaffering little city,
strange as it may seem, has been the difficulty of procuring, at a
conscionable outlay of dollars and cents, a suitable steed for a
protracted jaunt. But, thanks to the civility or _selfism_ of a
friend, this difficulty is at an end, and I have at length succeeded
in securing the reversion of a tough, spirited little bay, which, by
considerate usage and bountiful foddering, may serve to bear me, with
the requisite quantum of speed and safety, over the prairies. A few
days, therefore, when the last touch of _acclimation_ shall have taken
its leave, and "I'm over the border and awa'."

The city of San' Louis, now hoary with a century's years, was one of
those early settlements planted by the Canadian French up and down the
great valley, from the Northern Lakes to the Gulf, while the English
colonists of Plymouth and Jamestown were wringing out a wretched
subsistence along the sterile shores of the Atlantic, wearied out by
constant warfare with the thirty Indian tribes within their borders.
Attracted by the beauty of the country, the fertility of its soil, the
boundless variety of its products, the exhaustless mineral treasures
beneath its surface, and the facility of the trade in the furs of the
Northwest, a flood of Canadian emigration opened southward after the
discoveries of La Salle, and the little villages of Cahokia,
Kaskaskia, Prairie du Po, Prairie du Rocher, St. Phillipe, St.
Ferdinand, Peoria, Fort Chartres, Vuide Poche, Petites Cotes, now St.
Charles, Pain Court, now St. Louis, and others, successively sprang up
in {116} the howling waste. Over nearly all this territory have the
Gaul, the Spaniard, the Briton, and the Anglo-American held rule, and
a dash of the national idiosyncrasy of each may be detected.
Especially true is this of St. Louis. There is an antiquated,
venerable air about its narrow streets and the ungainly edifices of
one portion of it; the steep-roofed stone cottage of the Frenchman,
and the tall stuccoed-dwelling of the Don, not often beheld. A
mellowing touch of time, which few American cities can boast, has
passed over it, rendering it a spot of peculiar interest to one with
the slightest spirit of the antiquary, in a country where all else is
new. The modern section of the city, with its regular streets and
lofty edifices, which, within the past fifteen years, has arisen under
the active hand of the northern emigrant, presents a striking contrast
to the old.

The site of St. Louis is elevated and salubrious, lying for some miles
along the Mississippi upon two broad plateaux or steppes swelling up
gently from the water's edge. Along the first of these, based upon an
exhaustless bed of limestone, which furnishes material for building,
are situated the lower and central portions of the city, while that
above sweeps away in an extensive prairie of stunted black-jack oaks
to the west. The latter section is already laid out into streets and
building-lots; elegant structures are rapidly going up, and, at no
distant day, this is destined to become the most courtly and beautiful
portion of the city. It is at a pleasant remove from the dust and
bustle of the landing, {117} while its elevation affords a fine view
of the harbour and opposite shore. Yet, with all its improvements of
the past few years, St. Louis remains emphatically "a little _French_
city." There is about it a cheerful village air, a certain _rus in
rube_, to which the grenadier preciseness of most of our cities is the
antipodes. There are but few of those endless, rectilinear avenues,
cutting each other into broad squares of lofty granite blocks, so
characteristic of the older cities of the North and East, or of those
cities of tramontane origin so rapidly rising within the boundaries of
the valley. There yet remains much in St. Louis to remind one of its
village days; and a stern _eschewal_ of mathematical, angular
exactitude is everywhere beheld. Until within a few years there was no
such thing as a row of houses; all were disjoined and at a
considerable distance from each other; and every edifice, however
central, could boast its humble _stoop_, its front-door plat, bedecked
with shrubbery and flowers, and protected from the inroads of
intruding man or beast by its own tall stoccade. All this is now
confined to the southern or French section of the city; a right Rip
Van Winkle-looking region, where each little steep-roofed cottage yet
presents its broad piazza, and the cosey settee before the door
beneath the tree shade, with the fleshy old burghers soberly
luxuriating on an evening pipe, their dark-eyed, brunette daughters at
their side. There is a delightful air of "old-fashioned
comfortableness" in all this, that reminds us of nothing we have seen
in our own country, but much of the antiquated villages of which we
have {118} been told in the land beyond the waters. Among those
remnants of a former generation which are yet to be seen in St. Louis
are the venerable mansions of Auguste and Pierre Chouteau, who were
among the founders of the city.[100] These extensive mansions stand
upon the principal street, and originally occupied, with their
grounds, each of them an entire square, enclosed by lofty walls of
heavy masonry, with loopholes and watch-towers for defence. The march
of improvement has encroached upon the premises of these ancient
edifices somewhat; yet they are still inhabited by the posterity of
their builders, and remain, with their massive walls of stone,
monuments of an earlier era.

The site upon which stands St. Louis was selected in 1763 by M.
Laclede, a partner of a mercantile association at New-Orleans, to whom
D'Abbadie, Director-general of the province of Louisiana, had granted
the exclusive privilege of the commerce in furs and peltries with the
Indian tribes of the Upper Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. By the
treaty of that year France had ceded all her possessions east of the
Mississippi to Great Britain, and there was on the western shore only
the small village of Ste. Genevieve. This was subsequently deemed too
distant from the mouth of the Mississippi to be a suitable depôt and
post for the fur-trade; and Laclede, having surveyed all the
neighbouring region, fixed upon the spot where St. Louis now stands as
a more eligible site. Whether this site was selected by the flight of
birds, by consultation of the entrails of beasts, or the voice of an
oracle; whether by accident {119} or design, tradition averreth not.
Yet sure is it, that under the concurrence of all these omens, a more
favourable selection could not have been made than this has proved. It
_is related_, however, that when the founder of the city first planted
foot upon the shore, the imprint of a human foot, naked and of
gigantic dimensions, was found enstamped upon the solid limestone
rock, and continued in regular succession as if of a man advancing
from the water's edge to the plateau above.[101] By a more
superstitious age this circumstance would have been deemed an omen,
and, as such, commemorated in the chronicles of the city. On the 15th
of February, 1764, Colonel Auguste Chouteau, with a number of persons
from Ste. Genevieve, Cahokia, and Fort Chartres, arrived at the spot,
and commenced a settlement by felling a splendid grove of forest-trees
which then reared itself upon the bank, and erecting a building where
the market-house now stands. The town was then laid off, and named in
honour of Louis XV., the reigning monarch of France, though the
settlers were desirous of giving it the name of its founder: to this
Laclede would not consent. He died at the post of Arkansas in 1778;
Colonel Chouteau followed him in the month of February of 1829, just
sixty-four years from the founding of the city. He had been a constant
resident, had seen the spot merge from the wilderness, and had become
one of its most opulent citizens.

For many years St. Louis was called "_Pain_ {120} _Court_," from the
scarcity of provisions, which circumstance at one period almost
induced the settlers to abandon their design. In 1765 Fort Chartres
was delivered to Great Britain, and the commandant, St. Ange, with his
troops, only twenty-two in number, proceeded to St. Louis; and
assuming the government, the place was ever after considered the
capital of the province.[102] Under the administration of St. Ange,
which is said to have been mild and patriarchal, the _common field_
was laid open, and each settler became a cultivator of the soil. This
field comprised several thousand acres, lying upon the second steppe
mentioned, and has recently been divided into lots and sold to the
highest bidder. Three years after the arrival of St. Ange, Spanish
troops under command of Don Rious took possession of the province
agreeable to treaty;[103] but, owing to the dissatisfaction of the
inhabitants, no official authority was exercised until 1770. Thirty
years afterward the province was retroceded to France, and from that
nation to the United States. In the spring of 1778 an attack was made
upon the village by a large body of the northern Indians, at the
instigation of the English. They were repulsed with a loss of about
twenty of the settlers, and the year was commemorated as "_L'annee du
grand coup_."[104] In the spring of 1785, the Mississippi rose thirty
feet above the highest water-mark previously known, and the American
Bottom was inundated. This year was remembered as "_L'annee des
grandes eaux_."

At that period commerce with New-Orleans, for {121} the purpose of
obtaining merchandise for the fur trade, was carried on exclusively by
keel-boats and barges, which in the spring started upon their voyage
of more than a thousand miles, and in the fall of the year slowly
returned against the current. This mode of transportation was
expensive, tedious, and unsafe; and it was rendered yet more hazardous
from the murders and robberies of a large band of free-booters, under
two chiefs, Culburt and Magilbray, who stationed themselves at a place
called Cotton Wood Creek, on the Mississippi, and captured the
ascending boats. This band was dispersed by a little fleet of ten
barges, which, armed with swivels, ascended the river in company. This
year was remembered as "_L'annee des bateaux_."[105] All the
inconvenience of this method of transportation continued to be
experienced until the introduction of steam upon the Western waters;
and the first boat of this kind which made its appearance at the port
of St. Louis was the "General Pike," in 1814. This boat was commanded
by Captain Jacob Reed, and, at the time of its arrival, a large body
of a neighbouring Indian tribe chanced to have an encampment in the
suburbs of the city. Their astonishment, and even _terror_, at first
sight of the evolutions of the steamer, are said to have been
indescribable. They viewed it as nothing less than a living thing; a
monster of tremendous power, commissioned by the "Great Spirit" for
their extermination, and their humiliation was proportional to their
terror. Great opposition was raised against steamers by the boatmen,
some thousands of whom, by their introduction, would {122} be thrown
out of employment; but this feeling gradually passed away, and now
vessels propelled by steam perform in a few days a voyage which
formerly required as many months. A trip to the city, as New-Orleans,
_par excellence_, was styled, then demanded weeks of prior
preparation, and a man put his house and household in order before
setting out: now it is an ordinary jaunt of pleasure. The same dislike
manifested by the old French _habitans_ to the introduction of the
steamer or _smoke-boat_, "bateau à vapeur," as they termed it, has
betrayed itself at every advance of modern improvement. Erected, as
St. Louis was, with no design of a city, its houses were originally
huddled together with a view to nothing but convenience; and its
streets were laid out too narrow and too irregular for the bustle and
throng of mercantile operations. In endeavouring to correct this early
error, by removing a few of the old houses and projecting balconies,
great opposition has been encountered. Some degree of uniformity in
the three principal streets parallel to the river has, however, by
this method been attained. Water-street is well built up with a series
of lofty limestone warehouses; but an irretrievable error has been
committed in arranging them at so short a distance from the water. On
some accounts this proximity to the river may be convenient; but for
the sake of a broad arena for commerce; for the sake of a fresh and
salubrious circulation of air from the water; for the sake of scenic
beauty, or a noble promenade for pleasure, there should have been no
encroachment upon the precincts {123} of the "eternal river." In view
of the miserable _plan_ of St. Louis, if it may claim anything of the
kind, and the irregular manner and singular taste with which it has
been built, the regret has more than once been expressed, that, like
Detroit,[106] a conflagration had not swept it in its earlier days,
and given place to an arrangement at once more consistent with
elegance and convenience.

From the river bank to the elevated ground sweeping off in the rear of
the city to the west is a distance of several hundred yards, and the
height above the level of the water cannot be far from an hundred
feet. The ascent is easy, however, and a noble view is obtained, from
the cupola of the courthouse on its summit, of the Mississippi and
the city below, of the broad American Bottom, with its bluffs in the
distance, and a beautiful extent of natural scenery in the rear. Along
the brow of this eminence once stood a line of military works, erected
for the defence of the old town in 1780 by Don Francois de Cruzat,
lieutenant governor "_de la partie occidentale des Illinois_," as the
ancient chronicles style the region west of the Mississippi.[107]
These fortifications consisted of several circular towers of stone,
forty feet in diameter and half as many in altitude, planted at
intervals in a line of stoccade, besides a small fort, embracing four
demilunes and a parapet of mason-work. For many years these old works
were in a dismantled and deserted state, excepting the fort, in one
building of which was held {124} the court, and another superseded the
necessity of a prison. Almost every vestige is now swept away. The
great earthquakes of 1811 essentially assisted in toppling the old
ruins to the ground. The whole city was powerfully shaken, and has
since been subject to occasional shocks.[108]

It is in the northern suburbs of the city that are to be seen those
singular ancient mounds for which St. Louis is so celebrated; and
which, with others in the vicinity, form, as it were, a connecting
link between those of the north, commencing in the lake counties of
Western New-York, and those of the south, extending deep within the
boundaries of Mexico, forming an unbroken line from one extremity of
the great valley to the other. Their position at St. Louis is, as
usual, a commanding one, upon the second bank, of which I have spoken,
and looking proudly down upon the Mississippi, along which the line is
parallel. They stand isolated, or distinct from each other, in groups;
and the outline is generally that of a rectangular pyramid, truncated
nearly one half. The first collection originally consisted of ten
tumuli, arranged as three sides of a square area of about four acres,
and the open flank to the west was guarded by five other small
circular earth-heaps, isolated, and forming the segment of a circle
around {125} the opening. This group is now almost completely
destroyed by the grading of streets and the erection of edifices, and
the eastern border may alone be traced. North of the first collection
of tumuli is a second, four or five in number, and forming two sides
of a square. Among these is one of a very beautiful form, consisting
of three stages, and called the "Falling Garden." Its elevation above
the level of the second plateau is about four feet, and the area is
ample for a dwelling and yard; from the second it descends to the
first plateau along the river by three regular gradations, the first
with a descent of two feet, the second of ten, and the lower one of
five, each stage presenting a beautiful site for a house. For this
purpose, however, they can never be appropriated, as one of the
principal streets of the city is destined to pass directly through the
spot, the grading for which is already commenced. The third group of
mounds is situated a few hundred yards above the second, and consists
of about a dozen eminences. A series extends along the west side of
the street, through grounds attached to a classic edifice of brick,
which occupies the principal one; while opposite rise several of a
larger size, upon one of which is situated the residence of General
Ashley, and upon another the reservoir which supplies the city with
water, raised from the Mississippi by a steam force-pump upon its
banks. Both are beautiful spots, imbowered in forest-trees; and the
former, from its size and structure, is supposed to have been a
citadel or place of defence. {126} In excavating the earth of this
mound, large quantities of human remains, pottery, half-burned wood,
&c., &c., were thrown up; furnishing conclusive evidence, were any
requisite farther than regularity of outline and relative position, of
the artificial origin of these earth-heaps. About six hundred yards
above this group, and linked with it by several inconsiderable mounds,
is situated one completely isolated, and larger than any yet
described. It is upward of thirty feet in height, about one hundred
and fifty feet long, and upon the summit five feet wide. The form is
oblong, resembling an immense grave; and a broad terrace or apron,
after a descent of a few feet, spreads out itself on the side looking
down upon the river. From the extensive view of the surrounding region
and of the Mississippi commanded by the site of this mound, as well as
its altitude, it is supposed to have been intended as a vidette or
watch-tower by its builders. Upon its summit, not many years ago, was
buried an Indian chief. He was a member of a deputation from a distant
tribe to the agency in St. Louis; but, dying while there, his remains,
agreeable to the custom of his tribe, were deposited on the most
commanding spot that could be found. This custom accounts for the
circumstance urged against the antiquity and artificial origin of
these works, that the relics exhumed are found near the surface, and
were deposited by the present race. But the distinction between the
remains found near the surface and those in the depths of the soil is
too palpable and too {127} notorious to require argument. From the
_Big Mound_, as it is called, a _cordon_ of tumuli stretch away to the
northwest for several miles along the bluffs parallel with the river,
a noble view of which they command. They are most of them ten or
twelve feet high; many clothed with forest-trees, and all of them
supposed to be tombs. In removing two of them upon the grounds of Col.
O'Fallon,[109] immense quantities of bones were exhumed. Similar
mounds are to be found in almost every county in the state, and those
in the vicinity of St. Louis are remarkable only for their magnitude
and the regularity of their relative positions. It is evident, from
these monuments of a former generation, that the natural advantages of
the site upon which St. Louis now stands were not unappreciated long
before it was pressed by the first European footstep.

It is a circumstance which has often elicited remark from those who,
as tourists, have visited St. Louis, that so little interest should be
manifested by its citizens for those mysterious and venerable
monuments of another race by which on every side it is environed. When
we consider the complete absence of everything in the character of a
public square or promenade in the city, one would suppose that
individual taste and municipal authority would not have failed to
avail themselves of the moral interest attached to these mounds and
the beauty of their site, to have formed in their vicinity one of the
most attractive spots in the West. These ancient tumuli could, at no
considerable expense, have been {128} enclosed and ornamented with
shrubbery, and walks, and flowers, and thus preserved for coming
generations. As it is, they are passing rapidly away; man and beast,
as well as the elements, are busy with them, and in a few years they
will quite have disappeared. The practical utility of which they are
available appears the only circumstance which has attracted attention
to them. One has already become a public reservoir, and measures are
in progress for applying the larger mound to a similar use, the first
being insufficient for the growth of the city. It need not be said
that such indifference of feeling to the only relics of a by-gone race
which our land can boast, is not well in the citizens of St. Louis,
and should exist no longer; nor need allusion be made to that
eagerness of interest which the distant traveller, the man of literary
taste and poetic fancy, or the devotee of abstruse science, never
fails to betray for these mysterious monuments of the past, when, in
his tour of the Far West, he visits St. Louis; many a one, too, who
has looked upon the century-mossed ruins of Europe, and to whose eye
the castled crags of the Rhine are not unfamiliar. And surely, to the
imaginative mind, there is an interest which attaches to these
venerable beacons of departed time, enveloped as they are in mystery
inscrutable; and from their origin, pointing, as they do, down the dim
shadowy vista of ages of which the ken of man telleth not, there is an
interest which hallows them even as the hoary piles of old Egypt are
hallowed, and which feudal Europe, with all her {129} time-sustained
battlements, can never boast. It is the mystery, the impenetrable
mystery veiling these aged sepulchres, which gives them an interest
for the traveller's eye. They are landmarks in the lapse of ages,
beneath whose shadows generations have mouldered, and around whose
summits a gone _eternity_ plays! The ruined tower, the moss-grown
abbey, the damp-stained dungeon, the sunken arch, the fairy and
delicate fragments of the shattered peristyle of a classic land, or
the beautiful frescoes of Herculaneum and Pompeii--around _them_ time
has indeed flung the silvery mantle of eld while he has swept them
with decay; but _their_ years may be _enumerated_, and the
circumstances, the authors, and the purposes of their origin, together
with the incidents of their ruin, are chronicled on History's page for
coming generations. But who shall tell the era of the origin of these
venerable earth-heaps, the race of their builders, the purpose of
their erection, the thousand circumstances attending their rise,
history, desertion? Why now so lone and desolate? Where are the
multitudes that once swarmed the prairie at their base, and vainly
busied themselves in rearing piles which should exist the wonder of
the men of other lands, and the sole monument of their own memory long
after they themselves were dust? Has war, or famine, or pestilence
brooded over these beautiful plains? or has the fiat of Omnipotence
gone forth that as a race their inhabitants should exist no longer,
and the death-angel been commissioned to sweep them from off the face
of {130} the earth as if with destruction's besom? We ask: the inquiry
is vain; we are answered not! Their mighty creations and the tombs of
myriads heave up themselves in solemn grandeur before us; but from the
depths of the dusky earth-heap comes forth no voice to tell us its
origin, or object, or story!

  "Ye mouldering relics of a race departed,
    Your names have perished; not a trace remains,
  Save where the grassgrown mound its summit rears
    From the green bosom of your native plains."

Ages since--long ere the first son of the Old World had pressed the
fresh soil of the New; long before the bright region beyond the blue
wave had been the object of the philosopher's revery by day and the
enthusiast's vision by night--in the deep stillness and solitude of an
unpeopled land, these vast mausoleums rose as now they rise, in lonely
grandeur from the plain, and looked down, even as now they look, upon
the giant flood rolling its dark waters at their base, hurrying past
them to the deep. So has it been with the massive tombs of Egypt, amid
the sands and barrenness of the desert. For ages untold have the
gloomy pyramids been reflected by the inundations of the Nile; an
hundred generations, they tell us, have arisen from the cradle and
reposed beneath their shadows, and, like autumn leaves, have dropped
into the grave; but from the deep midnight of by-gone centuries comes
forth no daring spirit to claim these kingly sepulchres as his own!
And shall the dusky piles on the plains of distant Egypt affect so
deeply our reverence for the {131} departed, and these mighty
monuments, reposing in dark sublimity upon our own magnificent
prairies veiled in mystery more inscrutable than they, call forth no
solitary throb? Is there no hallowing interest associated with these
aged relics, these tombs, and temples, and towers of another race, to
elicit emotion? Are they _indeed_ to us no more than the dull clods we
tread upon? Why, then, does the wanderer from the far land gaze upon
them with wonder and veneration? Why linger fondly around them, and
meditate upon the power which reared them and is departed? Why does
the poet, the man of genius and fancy, or the philosopher of mind and
nature, seat himself at their base, and, with strange and undefined
emotions, pause and ponder amid the loneliness which slumbers around?
And surely, if the far traveller, as he wanders through this Western
Valley, may linger around these aged piles and meditate upon a power
departed, a race obliterated, an influence swept from the earth for
ever, and dwell with melancholy emotions upon the destiny of man, is
it not meet that those into whose keeping they seem by Providence
consigned should regard them with interest and emotion? that they
should gather up and preserve every incident relevant to their
origin, design, or history which may be attained, and avail themselves
of every measure which may give to them perpetuity, and hand them
down, undisturbed in form or character, to other generations?

The most plausible, and, indeed, the only plausible argument urged by
those who deny the artificial {132} origin of the ancient mounds, is
_their immense size_. There are, say they, "many mounds in the West
that exactly correspond in _shape_ with these supposed antiquities,
and yet, from their _size_, most evidently were not made by man;" and
they add that "it would be well to calculate upon the ordinary labour
of excavating canals, how many hands, with spades, wheelbarrows, and
other necessary implements, it would take to throw up mounds like the
largest of these within any given time."[110] We are told that in the
territory of Wisconsin and in northern Illinois exist mounds to which
these are molehills. Of those, Mount Joliet, Mount Charles, Sinsinewa,
and the Blue Mounds vary from one to four hundred feet in height;
while west of the Arkansas exists a range of earth-heaps ten or twelve
miles in extent, and two hundred feet high: there also, it might be
added, are the Mamelle Mountains, estimated at one thousand
feet.[111] The adjacent country is prairie; farms exist on the
summits of the mounds, which from their declivity are almost
inaccessible, and _springs gush out from their sides_. With but one
exception I profess to know nothing of these mounds from personal
observation; and, consequently, can hazard no opinion of their
character. The fact of the "gushing springs," it is true, {133}
savours not much of artificialness; and in this respect, at least, do
these mounds differ from those claimed as of artificial origin. The
earth-heaps of which I have been speaking can boast no "springs of
water gushing from their sides;" if they could, the fact would be far
from corroborating the theory maintained. The analogy between these
mounds is admitted to be strong, though there exist diversities; and
were there _none_, even Bishop Butler says that we are not to infer a
thing true upon slight presumption, since "there may be probabilities
on both sides of a question." From what has been advanced relative to
the character of the mounds spoken of, it is believed that the
probabilities strongly preponderate in favour of their artificial
origin, even admitting their _perfect_ analogy to those "from whose
sides gush the springs." But more anon.

_St. Louis._



XII

  "Where, through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault,
  The pealing anthem swells the note of praise."
                                                         GRAY.

                                "Some men have been
  Who loved the church so well, and gave so largely to't,
  They thought it should have canopied their bones
  Till doomsday."


There are few more delightful views in the vicinity of St. Louis of a
fine evening than that commanded by the summit of the "Big Mound," of
which I have spoken, in the northern suburbs of the city. Far away
from the north comes the Mississippi, sweeping on in a broad, smooth
sheet, skirted by woodlands; and the rushing of its waters along the
ragged rocks of the shores below is fancied faintly to reach the ear.
Nearly in the middle of the stream are stretched out the long, low,
sandy shores of "Blood Island," a spot notorious in the annals of
duelling. Upon the Illinois shore beyond it is contemplated erecting a
pier, for the purpose of throwing the full volume of the current upon
the western shore, and thus preserving a channel of deep water along
the landing of the city. Within a few years past an extensive sand-bar
has accumulated opposite the southern section of the city, which
threatens, unless removed, greatly to obstruct, if not to destroy, the
harbour. To remedy this, an appropriation {135} has been made by
Congress, surveys have been taken, measures devised and their
execution commenced.[112] Upon the river-bank opposite the island
stands the "Floating Dry Dock," an ingenious contrivance, the
invention of a gentleman of St. Louis, and owned by a company of
patentees.[113] It consists of an indefinite number of floats, which
may be increased or diminished at pleasure, each of them fourteen feet
in breadth, and about four times that length, connected laterally
together. After being sunk and suspended at the necessary depth in the
water, the boat to be repaired is placed upon them, and they rise till
her hull is completely exposed.

As the spectator, standing upon the Mound, turns his eye to the south,
a green grove lies before him and the smaller earth-heaps, over which
are beheld the towers and roofs of the city rising in the distance;
far beyond is spread out a smooth, rolling carpet of tree-tops, in the
midst of which the gray limestone of the arsenal is dimly perceived.
The extent between the northern suburbs of St. Louis and its southern
extremity along the river curve is about six miles, and the city can
be profitably extended about the same distance into the interior. The
prospect in this direction is boundless for miles around, till the
tree-tops blend with the western horizon. The face of the country is
neither uniform nor broken, but undulates almost imperceptibly away,
clothed in a dense forest of black-jack oak, interspersed with
thickets of the wild-plum, the crab-apple, and the hazel. Thirty years
ago, and this broad plain was a treeless, shrubless waste, {136}
without a solitary farmhouse to break the monotony. But the annual
fires were stopped; a young forest sprang into existence; and
delightful villas and country seats are now gleaming from the dark
foliage in all directions. To some of them are attached extensive
grounds, adorned with groves, orchards, fish-ponds, and all the
elegances of opulence and cultivated taste; while in the distance are
beheld the glittering spires of the city rising above the trees. At
one of these, a retired, beautiful spot, residence of Dr. F----, I
have passed many a pleasant hour. The sportsman may here be indulged
to his heart's desire. The woods abound with game of every species:
the rabbit, quail, prairie-hen, wild-turkey, and the deer; while the
lakes, which flash from every dell and dingle, are swarmed with fish.
Most of these sheets of water are formed by immense springs issuing
from _sink-holes_; and are supposed, like those in Florida, which
suggested the wild idea of the _fountain of rejuvenescence_, to owe
their origin to the subsidence of the bed of porous limestone upon
which the Western Valley is based. Many of these springs intersect the
region with rills and rivulets, and assist in forming a beautiful
sheet of water in the southern suburbs of the city, which eventually
pours out its waters into the Mississippi. Many years ago a dam and
massive mill of stone was erected here by one of the founders of the
city; it is yet standing, surrounded by aged sycamores, and is more
valuable and venerable than ever. The neighbouring region is abrupt
and broken, varied by a delightful vicissitude of hill and dale. The
borders {137} of the lake are fringed with groves, while the steep
bluffs, which rise along the water and are reflected in its placid
bosom, recall the picture of Ben Venue and Loch Katrine:[114]

  "The mountain shadows on her breast
  Were neither broken nor at rest;
  In bright uncertainty they lie,
  Like future joys to Fancy's eye."

This beautiful lake and its vicinity is, indeed, unsurpassed for
scenic loveliness by any spot in the suburbs of St. Louis. At the
calm, holy hour of Sabbath sunset, its quiet borders invite to
meditation and retirement. The spot should be consecrated as the
trysting-place of love and friendship. Some fine structures are rising
upon the margin of the waters, and in a few years it will be rivalled
in beauty by no other section of the city.

St. Louis, like most Western cities, can boast but few public edifices
of any note. Among those which are to be seen, however, are the large
and commodious places of worship of the different religious
denominations; an elegant courthouse, occupying with its enclosed
grounds one of the finest squares in the city; two market-houses, one
of which, standing upon the river-bank, contains on its second floor
the City Hall; a large and splendid theatre, in most particulars
inferior to no other edifice of the kind in the United States; and an
extensive hotel, which is now going up, to be called the "St. Louis
House," contracted for one hundred and twenty thousand dollars. The
Cathedral of St. Luke, the University, Hospital, Orphan Asylum, and
the {138} "Convent of the Sacred Heart," are Catholic Institutions,
and well worthy of remark.[115] For many years after its settlement,
the Roman Catholic faith prevailed exclusively in St. Louis. The
founders of the city and its earliest inhabitants were of this
religious persuasion; and their descendants, many of whom are now
among its most opulent and influential citizens, together with foreign
immigrants of a recent date, form a numerous and respectable body. The
names of Chouteau, Pratte, Sarpy, Cabanné, Menard, Soulard, &c., &c.,
are those of early settlers of the city which yet are often
heard.[116]

The "Cathedral of St. Luke" is a noble structure of stone.[117] It
was consecrated with great pomp in the autumn of '34, having occupied
three years in its erection. The site is unfavourable, but it
possessed an interest for many of the old citizens which no other spot
could claim. Here had stood their ancient sanctuary, with which was
associated the holy feelings of their earliest days; here had been the
baptismal font and the marriage altar; while beneath reposed the
sacred remains of many a being, loved and honoured, but passed away.
The former church was a rude structure of logs. The dimensions of the
present building are a length of about one hundred and forty feet, to
a breadth of eighty and an altitude of forty, with a tower of upward
of an hundred feet, surmounted by a lofty cross. The steeple contains
a peal of six bells, the three larger of which were cast in Normandy,
and chime very pleasantly; upon the four sides of the tower are the
dial-plates of a clock, which strikes the hours upon {139} the bells.
The porch of the edifice consists of four large columns of polished
freestone, of the Doric order, with corresponding entablature,
cornice, pediment, and frieze, the whole surface of the latter being
occupied with the inscription "_In honorem S. Ludovici. Deo Uni et
Trino, Dicatum, A. D. MDCCCXXXIV_," the letters elevated in
_basso-relievo_. Over the entrances, which are three in number, are
inscribed, in French and in English, passages from Scripture, upon
tablets of Italian marble. The porch is protected from the street by
battlements, surmounted by an iron railing, and adorned by lofty
candelabra of stone. The body of the building is divided by two
colonnades, of five pillars each, into three aisles. The columns,
composed of brick, stuccoed to imitate marble, are of the Doric order,
supporting a cornice and entablature, decorated with arabesques and
medallions; and upon them reposes the arch of the elliptic-formed and
panelled ceiling. Between the columns are suspended eight splendid
chandeliers, which, when lighted at night, produce a magnificent
effect. The walls are enriched by frescoes and arabesques, and the
windows are embellished with transparencies, presenting the principal
transactions of the Saviour's mission. This is said to be one of the
first attempts at a substitute for the painted glass of the Middle
Ages, and was executed, together with the other pictorial decorations
of the edifice, by an artist named _Leon_, sent over for the purpose
from France. The effect is grand. Even the garish sunbeams are
mellowed down as they struggle dimly through the richly-coloured {140}
hangings, and the light throughout the sacred pile seems tinged with
rainbow hues. In the chancel of the church, at the bottom of the
centre aisle, elevated by a flight of steps, and enclosed by a
balustrade of the Corinthian order, is situated the sanctuary. Upon
either side stand pilasters to represent marble, decorated with
festoons of wheat-ears and vines, symbolical of the eucharist, and
surmounted with caps of the Doric order. On the right, between the
pilasters, is a gallery for the choir, with the organ in the rear, and
on the left side is a veiled gallery for the "Sisters of Charity"
connected with the convent and the other institutions of the church.
The altar-piece at the bottom of the sanctuary represents the Saviour
upon the cross, with his mother and two of his disciples at his feet;
on either side rise two fluted Corinthian columns, with a broken
pediment and gilded caps, supporting a gorgeous entablature. Above the
whole is an elliptical window, hung with the transparency of a dove,
emblematic of the Holy Ghost, shedding abroad rays of light. The high
altar and the tabernacle stand below, and the decorations on festal
occasions, as well as the vestments of the officiating priests, are
splendid and imposing. Over the bishop's seat, in a side arch of the
sanctuary, hangs a beautiful painting of St. Louis, titular of the
cathedral, presented by the amiable Louis XVI. of France previous to
his exile.[118] At the bottom of each of the side aisles of the church
stand two chapels, at the same elevation with the sanctuary. Between
two fluted columns of the Ionic order is suspended, in each chapel, an
{141} altar-piece, with a valuable painting above. The piece on the
left represents St. Vincent of Gaul engaged in charity on a winter's
day, and the picture above is the marriage of the blessed Virgin. The
altar-piece of the right represents St. Patrick of Ireland in his
pontifical robes, and above is a painting of our Saviour and the
centurion, said to be by Paul Veronese. At the opposite extremity of
the building, near the side entrances, are two valuable pieces; one
said to be by Rubens, of the Virgin and Child, the other the martyrdom
of St. Bartholemew.[119] Above rise extensive galleries in three rows;
to the right is the baptismal font, and a landscape of the Saviour's
immersion in Jordan. Beneath the sanctuary of the church is the lower
chapel, divided into three aisles by as many arches, supported by
pilasters, which, as well as the walls, are painted to imitate marble.
There is here an altar and a marble tabernacle, where mass is
performed during the week, and the chapel is decorated by fourteen
paintings, representing different stages of the Saviour's
passion.[120]

In the western suburbs of the city, upon an eminence, stand the
buildings of the St. Louis University, handsome structures of
brick.[121] The institution is conducted by Jesuits, and most of the
higher branches of learning are taught. The present site has been
offered for sale, and the seminary is to be removed some miles into
the interior. Connected {142} with the college is a medical school of
recent date. The chapel of the institution is a large, airy room, hung
with antique and valuable paintings. Two of these, suspended on each
side of the altar, said to be by Rubens, are master-pieces of the art.
One of them represents Ignatius Loyola, founder of the order of
Jesuits; the other is the full-length picture of the celebrated
Francis Xavier, apostle to the Indies, who died at Goa while engaged
in his benevolent labours. In an oratory above hangs a large painting
by the same master; a powerful, though unfinished production. All the
galleries of the buildings are decorated with paintings, some of which
have but little to commend them to notice but their antiquity. The
library embraces about twelve hundred volumes, mostly in the French
language. The _Universal Geography_ of Braviara, a valuable work of
eleven folios, brilliantly illuminated, and the _Actæ Sanctorum_, an
enormous work of _forty-two_ folio volumes, chiefly attract the
visiter's attention.[122] The philosophical apparatus attached to the
institution is very insufficient. Most of the pupils of the
institution are French, and they are gathered from all quarters of the
South and West; a great number of them are from Louisiana, sons of the
planters.

_St. Louis._



XIII

  "Away! away! and on we dash!
  Torrents less rapid and less rash."
                                                  _Mazeppa._

  "Mark yon old mansion frowning through the trees,
  Whose hollow turret woos the whistling breeze."
                                                     ROGERS.


It was a pleasant afternoon when, in company with a number of friends,
I left the city for an excursion into its southern suburbs, and a
visit to the military works, a few miles distant. The atmosphere had
that mild, mellowy mistiness which subdues the fierce glare of the
sunbeams, and flings over every object a softened shade. A gentle
breeze from the south was astir balmily and blandly among the leaves;
in fine, it was one of those grateful, genial seasons, when the senses
sympathize with the quietude of external creation, and there is no
reason, earthly or unearthly, why the inward man should not sympathize
with the man without; a season when you are at peace with yourself,
and at peace with every object, animate, inanimate, or vegetable,
about you. Our party consisted of eight precious souls, and "all agog
to dash through thick and thin," if essential to a jovial jaunt. And
now fain would I enumerate those worthy individuals, together with
their several peculiarities and dispositions, good and bad, did not a
certain delicacy forbid. {144} Suffice it to say, the excursion was
devised in honour, and for the especial benefit, of a young and
recently-married couple from "the city of monuments and fountains,"
who were enjoying their honey-moon in a trip to the Far West. Passing
through the narrow streets and among the ancient edifices of the _old_
city, we came to that section called South St. Louis. This is destined
to become the district of manufactures; large quantities of bituminous
coal, little inferior to that of the Alleghanies, is here found; and
railroads to the celebrated Iron Mountain, sixty miles distant, and to
the coal-banks of the Illinois bluffs, as well as to the northern
section of the city, are projected. The landing is good, the shore
being composed of limestone and marble, of two different species, both
of which admit a high degree of polish. There is also quarried in this
vicinity a kind of freestone, which, when fresh from the bed, is soft,
but, on exposure to the atmosphere, becomes dense and hard. We passed
a number of commodious farmhouses as we ambled along; and now and
then, at intervals through the trees, was caught a glimpse of the
flashing sheen of the river gliding along upon our left. At a short
distance from the road were to be seen the ruins of the "Eagle
Powder-works," destroyed by fire in the spring of '36. They had been
in operation only three years previous to their explosion, and their
daily manufacture was three hundred pounds of superior powder. The
report and concussion of the explosion was perceived miles around the
country, and the loss sustained by the proprietors was estimated
{145} at forty thousand dollars. The site of these works was a broad
plain, over which, as our horses were briskly galloping, a
circumstance occurred which could boast quite as much of reality as
romance.

To my own especial gallantry--gallant man--had been intrusted the
precious person of the fair bride, and lightly and gracefully pressed
her fairy form upon the back of a bright-eyed, lithe little animal,
with a spirit buoyant as her own. The steed upon which I was myself
mounted was a powerful creature, with a mouth as unyielding as the
steel bit he was constantly champing. The lady prided herself, not
without reason, upon her boldness and grace in horsemanship and her
skill in the _manège_; and, as we rode somewhat in advance of our
cavalcade, the proposal thoughtlessly dropped from her that we should
elope and leave our companions in the lurch. Hardly had the syllables
left her lip, than the reins were flung loose upon the horses' manes;
they bounded on, and away, away, away the next moment were we skirring
over the plain, like the steed of the Muses on a steeple-chase. A
single shout of warning to my fair companion was returned by an
ejaculation of terror, for her horse had become his own master. The
race of John Gilpin or of Alderman Purdy were, either or both of them,
mere circumstances to ours. For more than a mile our excited steeds
swept onward in their furious course to the admiration of beholders;
and how long the race might have been protracted is impossible to say,
had not certain sons of Erin--worthy souls {146}--in the innocence of
their hearts and the ignorance of their heads, and by way of
perpetrating a notable exploit, thought proper to throw themselves
from the roadside directly before us. The suddenness of the movement
brought both our animals nearly upon their haunches, and the next
minute saw the fair bride quietly seated in the dust beneath their
feet. The shock had flung her from her seat, but she arose uninjured.
To leap from my saddle and place the lady again in hers was the work
of a moment; and when the cortége made its appearance, our runaway
steeds were ambling along in a fashion the most discreet and exemplary
imaginable.

The situation of the Arsenal, upon a swelling bank of the river, is
delightful. It is surrounded by a strong wall of stone, embracing
extensive grounds, through which a green, shady avenue leads from the
highway. The structures are composed chiefly of unhewn limestone,
enclosing a rectangular area, and comprise about a dozen large
buildings, while a number of lesser ones are perceived here and there
among the groves. The principal structure is one of four stories,
looking down upon the Mississippi, with a beautiful esplanade, forming
a kind of natural glacis to the whole armory, sweeping away to the
water. Upon the right and left, in the same line with the rectangle,
are situated the dwellings of the officers; noble edifices of hewn
stone, with cultivated garden-plats and fruit-trees. The view of the
stream is here delightful, and the breeze came up from its surface
fresh and free. A pair of pet deer were frolicking along the shore.
Most of the remaining structures are offices and {147} workshops
devoted to the manufacture of arms. Of these there were but few in the
Arsenal, large quantities having been despatched to the South for the
Florida war. It is designed, I am informed, to mount ordnance at these
works--to no great extent, probably; there were several pieces of
artillery already prepared. The slits and loop-holes in the deep
walls, the pyramids of balls and bombshells, and the heavy carronades
piled in tiers, give the place rather a warlike aspect for a peaceable
inland fortress.

A ride of a few miles brought us to the brow of a considerable
elevation, from which we looked down upon the venerable little hamlet
of Carondelet, or _Vuide Poche_, as it is familiarly termed; a _nom de
nique_ truly indicative of the poverty of pocket and the richness of
fancy of its primitive habitans. The village lies in a sleepy-looking
hollow, scooped out between the bluffs and the water; and from the
summit of the hill the eye glances beyond it over the lengthened vista
of the river-reach, at this place miles in extent. Along the shore a
deeply-laden steamer was toiling against the current on her passage to
the city. Descending the elevation, we were soon thridding the narrow,
tortuous, lane-like avenues of the old village. Every object, the very
soil even, seemed mossgrown and hoary with time departed. More than
seventy years have passed away since its settlement commenced; and
now, as then, its inhabitants consist of hunters, and trappers, and
river-boatmen, absent most of the year on their various excursions.
The rude, crumbling tenements {148} of stone or timber, of peculiar
structure, with their whitewashed walls stained by age; the stoccade
enclosures of the gardens; the venerable aspect of the ancient
fruit-trees, mossed with years, and the unique and singular garb,
manner, and appearance of the swarthy villagers, all betoken an
earlier era and a peculiar people. The little dark-eyed, dark-haired
boys were busy with their games in the streets; and, as we paced
leisurely along, we could perceive in the little _cabarets_ the older
portion of the _habitans_, cosily congregated around the table near
the open door or upon the balcony, apparently discussing the gossip of
the day and the qualities of sundry potations before them. Ascending
the hill in the rear of the village, we entered the rude chapel of
stone reared upon its brow: the inhabitants are all Catholics, and to
this faith is the edifice consecrated. The altar-piece, with its
decorations, was characterized by simplicity and taste. Three ancient
paintings, representing scenes in the mission of the Saviour, were
suspended from the walls; the brass-plated missal reposed upon the
tabernacle; the crucifix rose in the centre of the sanctuary, and
candles were planted on either side. Evergreens were neatly festooned
around the sanctuary, and every object betrayed a degree of taste.
Attached to the church is a small burial-ground, crowded with tenants.
The Sisters of Charity have an asylum for the Deaf and Dumb, in a
prosperous condition. Our tarry was but a brief one, as the distrust
with which our movements were regarded by the villagers was evident;
nor is this {149} suspicion at all to be wondered at when we consider
the numberless impostures of which, by immigrants, they have been made
the victims.

A few miles through groves of oaks brought us in view of that
beautiful spot, Jefferson Barracks. The buildings, constructed of
stone, are romantically situated on a bold bluff, the base of which is
swept by the Mississippi, and were intended to garrison an entire
regiment of cavalry for frontier service. Three sides of the
quadrangle of the parade are bounded by the lines of galleried
barracks, with fine buildings at the extremities for the residence of
the officers; while the fourth opens upon a noble terrace overlooking
the river. The commissary's house, the magazines, and extensive
stables, lie without the parallelogram, beneath the lofty trees. From
the terrace is commanded a fine view of the river, with its alluvial
islands, the extensive woodlands upon the opposite side, and the pale
cliffs of the bluffs stretching away beyond the bottom. In the rear of
the garrison rises a grove of forest-trees, consisting of heavy oaks,
with broad-spreading branches, and a green, smooth sward beneath. The
surface is beautifully undulating, and the spot presents a specimen of
park scenery as perfect as the country can boast. A neat burial-ground
is located in this wood, and the number of its white wooden slabs
gave melancholy evidence of the ravages of the cholera among that
corps of fine fellows which, four years before, garrisoned the
Barracks. Many a one has here laid away his bones to rest far from the
home of his nativity. There is another cemetery {150} on the southern
outskirts of the Barracks, where are the tombs of several officers of
the army.

The site of Jefferson Barracks was selected by General Atkinson as the
station of a _corps de reserve_, for defence of the Southern, Western,
and Northern frontiers. For the purpose of its design, experience has
tested its efficiency. The line of frontier, including the advanced
post of Council Bluffs on the Missouri,[123] describes the arch of a
circle, the chord of which passes nearly through this point; and a
reserve post here is consequently available for the entire line of
frontier. From its central position and its proximity to the mouths of
the great rivers leading into the interior, detachments, by means of
steam transports, may be thrown with great rapidity and nearly equal
facility into the garrison upon the Upper Mississippi, the Missouri,
the Arkansas, Red, or Sabine Rivers. This was tested in the Black Hawk
war, and, indeed, in every inroad of the Indian tribes, these troops
have first been summoned to the field. When disengaged, the spot
furnishes a salubrious position for the reserve of the Western army.
By the latest scheme of frontier defence, a garrison of fifteen
hundred troops is deemed necessary for this cantonment.

A few miles below the Barracks, along the river-bank, is situated
quite a remarkable cave.[124] I visited and explored it one fine
afternoon, with a number of friends. With some difficulty, after
repeated inquiry, we succeeded in discovering the object of our
search, and from a neighbouring farmhouse {151} furnished ourselves
with lights and a guide. The latter was a German, who, according to
his own account, had been something of a hero in his way and day; he
was with Napoleon at Moscow, and was subsequently taken prisoner by
Blucher's Prussian Lancers at Waterloo, having been wounded in the
knee by a musket-ball. To our edification he detailed a number of his
"moving accidents by flood and field." A few steps from the farmhouse
brought us to the mouth of the cavern, situated in the face of a
ragged limestone precipice nearly a hundred feet high, and the summit
crowned with trees and shrubbery; it forms the abrupt termination to a
ravine, which, united to another coming in on the right, continues on
to the river, a distance of several hundred yards, through a wood. The
entrance to the cave is exceedingly rough and rugged, piled with huge
fragments of the cliff which have fallen from above, and it can be
approached only with difficulty. It is formed indeed, by the rocky bed
of a stream flowing out from the cave's mouth, inducing the belief
that to this circumstance the ravine owes its origin. The entrance is
formed by a broad arch about twenty feet in altitude, with twice that
breadth between the abutments. As we entered, the damp air of the
cavern swept out around us chill and penetrating. An abrupt angle of
the wall shut out the daylight, and we advanced by the light of our
candles. The floor, and roof, and sides of the cavern became
exceedingly irregular as we proceeded, and, after penetrating to the
depth of several hundred yards, {152} the floor and ceiling approached
each other so nearly that we were forced to pursue our way upon our
hands and knees. In some chambers the roof and walls assumed grotesque
and singular shapes, caused by the water trickling through the porous
limestone. In one apartment was to be seen the exact outline of a
human foot of enormous size; in another, that of an inverted boat;
while the vault in a third assumed the shape of an immense coffin. The
sole proprietors of the cavern seemed the bats, and of these the
number was incredible. In some places the reptiles suspended
themselves like swarms of bees from the roof and walls; and so
compactly one upon the other did they adhere, that scores could have
been crushed at a blow. After a ramble of more than an hour within
these shadowy realms, during which several false passages upon either
side, soon abruptly terminating, were explored, we at length once more
emerged to the light and warmth of the sunbeams, thoroughly drenched
by the dampness of the atmosphere and the water dripping from the
roof.

Ancient Indian tumuli and graves are often found in this
neighbourhood. On the _Rivière des Pères_,[125] which is crossed by
the road leading to the city, and about seven miles distant, there are
a number of graves which, from all appearance, seem not to have been
disturbed for centuries. The cemetery is situated on a high bluff
looking down upon the stream, and is said to have contained skeletons
of a gigantic size. Each grave consisted of a shallow basin, formed by
flat stones {153} planted upon their edges; most of them, however, are
mossed by age, or have sunk beneath the surface, and their tenants
have crumbled to their original dust. Some years since, a Roman coin
of a rare species was found upon the banks of the _Rivière des Pères_
by an Indian. This may, perhaps, be classed among the other
antiquities of European origin which are frequently found. A number of
Roman coins, bearing an early date of the Christian era, are said to
have been discovered in a cave near Nashville, in the State of
Tennessee, which at the time excited no little interest among
antiquaries: they were doubtless deposited by some of the settlers of
the country from Europe. Settlements on the _Rivière des Pères_ are
said to have been commenced at an early period by the Jesuits, and one
of them was drowned near its mouth: from this circumstance it derived
its name. In the bed of this stream, about six miles from the city, is
a sulphur spring, which is powerfully sudorific; and, when taken in
any quantity, throws out an eruption over the whole body. A remarkable
cavern is said to be situated on this river, by some considered
superior to that below the Barracks. A short distance from _Vuide
Poche_ are to be seen the remains of a pile of ruins, said to be those
of a fort erected by La Salle when, on his second visit, he took
possession of the country in the name of the King of France, and in
honour of him called it Louisiana.[126]

_St. Louis_.



XIV

  "Here I have 'scaped the city's stifling heat,
    Its horrid sounds and its polluted air;
  And, where the season's milder fervours beat,
    And gales, that sweep the forest borders, bear
  The song of bird and sound of running stream,
  Have come a while to wander and to dream."
                                                     BRYANT.

  "I lingered, by some soft enchantment bound,
    And gazed, enraptured, on the lovely scene;
  From the dark summit of an Indian mound
    I saw the plain outspread in living green;
    Its fringe of cliffs was in the distance seen,
  And the dark line of forests sweeping round."
                                                      FLINT.


There are few things more delightfully refreshing, amid the fierce
fervour of midsummer, than to forsake the stifled, polluted atmosphere
of the city for the cool breezes of its forest suburbs. A freshened
elasticity seems gliding through the languid system, bracing up the
prostrated fibres of the frame; the nerves thrill with renewed
tensity, and the vital flood courses in fuller gush, and leaps onward
with more bounding buoyancy in its fevered channels. Every one has
experienced this; and it was under circumstances like these that I
found myself one bright day, after a delay at St. Louis which began at
length to be intolerably tedious, forsaking the sultry, sun-scorched
streets of {155} the city, and crossing the turbid flood for a tour
upon the prairies of Illinois. How delightful to a frame just freed
from the feverish confinement of a sick-chamber, brief though it had
been, was the fresh breeze which came careering over the water,
rippling along the polished surface, and gayly riding the miniature
waves of its own creation! The finest point from which to view the
little "City of the French" is from beneath the enormous sycamores
upon the opposite bank of the Mississippi. It is from this spot alone
that anything approaching to a cosmorama can be commanded. The city,
retreating as it does from the river's brink--its buildings of every
diversity of form, material, and structure, promiscuously heaped the
one upon the other, and the whole intermingled with the fresh green of
forest-trees, may boast of much scenic beauty. The range of white
limestone warehouses, circling like a crescent the shore, form the
most prominent feature of the foreground, while the forest of
shrub-oaks sweeps away in the rear. For some time I gazed upon this
imposing view, and then, slowly turning my horse's head, was upon the
dusty thoroughfare to Edwardsville. For the first time I found myself
upon the celebrated "American Bottom," a tract of country which, for
fertility and depth of soil, is perhaps unsurpassed in the world. A
fine road of baked loam extended along my route. Crossing Cahokia
Creek, which cuts its deep bed diagonally through the bottom from the
bluffs some six miles distant, and threading a grove of the beautiful
_pecan_, with its long trailing boughs and {156} delicate leaves, my
path was soon winding gracefully away among those venerable monuments
of a race now passed from the earth. The eye is struck at first by the
number of these eminences, as well as by their symmetry of form and
regularity of outline; and the most familiar resemblance suggested is
that of gigantic hay-ricks sprinkled over the uniform surface of the
prairie on every side. As you advance, however, into the plain,
leaving the range of mounds upon the left, something of arrangement is
detected in their relative position; and a design too palpable is
betrayed to mistake them for the handiwork of Nature. Upward of one
hundred of these mounds, it is stated, may be enumerated within seven
miles of St. Louis, their altitude varying from ten to sixty feet,
with a circumference at the base of about as many yards. One of these,
nearly in the centre of the first collection, is remarked as
considerably larger than those around, and from its summit is
commanded an extensive view of the scene. The group embraces, perhaps,
fifty tumuli, sweeping off from opposite the city to the northeast, in
form of a crescent, parallel to the river, and at a distance from it
of about one mile: they extend about the same distance, and a belt of
forest alone obstructs their view from the city. When this is removed,
and the prairie is under cultivation, the scene laid open must be
beautiful. The outline of the mounds is ordinarily that of a
gracefully-rounded cone of varying declivity, though often the form is
oblong, approaching the rectangle or ellipse. In some instances {157}
they are perfectly square, with a level area upon the summit
sufficient for a dwelling and the necessary purlieus. Most of them are
clothed with dense thickets and the coarse grass of the bottom; while
here and there stands out an aged oak, rooted in the mould, tossing
its green head proudly to the breeze, its rough bark shaggy with moss,
and the pensile parasite flaunting from its branches. Some few of the
tumuli, however, are quite naked, and present a rounded, beautiful
surface from the surrounding plain. At this point, about half a mile
from the river-bank, commencing with the first group of mounds,
extends the railroad across the bottom to the bluffs. The expense of
this work was considerable. It crosses a lake, into the bed of which
piles were forced a depth of ninety feet before a foundation for the
tracks sufficiently firm could be obtained. Coal is transported to St.
Louis upon this railway direct from the mines; and the beneficial
effects to be anticipated from it in other respects are very great. A
town called _Pittsburg_ has been laid out at the foot of the coal
bluffs.[127]

Leaving the first collection of tumuli, the road wound away smooth and
uniform through the level prairie, with here and there upon the left a
slight elevation from its low surface, seeming a continuation of the
group behind, or a link of union to those yet before. It was a sweet
afternoon; the atmosphere was still and calm, and summer's golden haze
was sleeping magnificently on the far-off bluffs. At intervals the
soft breath of the "sweet South" {158} came dancing over the tall,
glossy herbage, and the many-hued prairie-flowers flashed gayly in the
sunlight. There was the _heliotrope_, in all its gaudy but magnificent
forms; there the deep cerulean of the fringed _gentiana_, delicate as
an iris; there the mellow gorgeousness of the _solidago_, in some
spots along the pathway, spreading out itself, as it were, into a
perfect "field of the cloth of gold;" and the balmy fragrance of the
aromatic wild thyme or the burgamot, scattered in rich profusion over
the plain, floated over all. Small coveys of the prairie-fowl, _tetrao
pratensis_, a fine species of grouse, the ungainly form of the
partridge, or that of the timid little hare, would appear for a moment
in the dusty road, and, on my nearer approach, away they hurriedly
scudded beneath the friendly covert of the bright-leaved sumach or the
thickets of the rosebush. Extensive groves of the wild plum and the
crab-apple, bending beneath the profusion of clustering fruitage,
succeeded each other for miles along the path as I rode onward; now
extending in continuous thickets, and then swelling up like green
islets from the surface of the plain, their cool recesses affording a
refreshing shade for the numerous herds. The rude farmhouse, too, with
its ruder outbuildings, half buried in the dark luxuriance of its
maize-fields, from time to time was seen along the route.

After a delightful drive of half an hour the second group of
eminences, known as the "Cantine Mounds," appeared upon the prairie
at a distance of three or four miles, the celebrated "Monk Hill,"
largest monument of the kind yet discovered in North America, heaving
up its giant, forest-clothed {159} form in the midst.[128] What are
the reflections to which this stupendous earth-heap gives birth? What
the associations which throng the excited fancy? What a field for
conjecture! What a boundless range for the workings of imagination!
What eye can view this venerable monument of the past, this mighty
landmark in the lapse of ages, this gray chronicler of hoary
centuries, and turn away uninterested?

As it is first beheld, surrounded by the lesser heaps, it is mistaken
by the traveller for an elevation of natural origin: as he draws nigh,
and at length stands at the base, its stupendous magnitude, its lofty
summit, towering above his head and throwing its broad shadow far
across the meadow; its slopes ploughed with yawning ravines by the
torrents of centuries descending to the plain; its surface and
declivities perforated by the habitations of burrowing animals, and
carpeted with tangled thickets; the vast size of the aged oaks rearing
themselves from its soil; and, finally, the farmhouse, with its
various structures, its garden, and orchard, and _well_ rising upon
the broad area of the summit, and the carriage pathway winding up from
the base, all confirm his impression that no hand but that of the
Mightiest could have reared the enormous mass. At that moment, should
he be assured that this vast earth-heap was of origin demonstrably
artificial, he would smile; but credulity the most sanguine would fail
to credit the assertion. But when, with jealous eye, slowly and
cautiously, and with measured footsteps, he has circled its base; when
he has surveyed its slopes and declivities from every position, and
has {160} remarked the peculiar uniformity of its structure and the
mathematical exactitude of its outline; when he has ascended to its
summit, and looked round upon the piles of a similar character by
which it is surrounded; when he has taken into consideration its
situation upon a river-bottom of nature decidedly diluvial, and, of
consequence, utterly incompatible with the _natural_ origin of such
elevations; when he has examined the soil of which it is composed, and
has discovered it to be uniformly, throughout the entire mass, of the
same mellow and friable species as that of the prairie at its base;
and when he has listened with scrutiny to the facts which an
examination of its depths has thrown to light of its nature and its
contents, he is compelled, however reluctantly, yet without a doubt,
to declare that the gigantic pile is incontestibly the WORKMANSHIP OF
MAN'S HAND. But, with such an admission, what is the crowd of
reflections which throng and startle the mind? What a series of
unanswerable inquiries succeed! When was this stupendous earth-heap
reared up from the plain? By what race of beings was the vast
undertaking accomplished? What was its purpose? What changes in its
form and magnitude have taken place? What vicissitudes and revolutions
have, in the lapse of centuries, rolled like successive waves over the
plains at its base? As we reflect, we anxiously look around us for
some tradition, some time-stained chronicle, some age-worn record,
even the faintest and most unsatisfactory legend, upon which to repose
our credulity, and relieve the inquiring solicitude of the mind. But
{161} our research is hopeless. The present race of aborigines can
tell nothing of these tumuli. To them, as to us, they are veiled in
mystery. Ages since, long ere the white-face came, while this fair
land was yet the home of his fathers, the simple Indian stood before
this venerable earth-heap, and gazed, and wondered, and turned away.

But there is another reflection which, as we gaze upon these venerable
tombs, addresses itself directly to our feelings, and bows them in
humbleness. It is, that soon _our_ memory and that of our _own_
generation will, like that of other times and other men, have passed
away; that when these frail tenements shall have been laid aside to
moulder, the remembrance will soon follow them to the land of
forgetfulness. Ah, if there be an object in all the wide universe of
human desires for which the heart of man yearns with an intensity of
craving more agonizing and deathless than for any other, it is that
the memory should live after the poor body is dust. It was this
eternal principle of our nature which reared the lonely tombs of Egypt
amid the sands and barrenness of the desert. For ages untold have the
massive and gloomy pyramids looked down upon the floods of the Nile,
and generation after generation has passed away; yet their very
existence still remains a mystery, and their origin points down our
inquiry far beyond the grasp of human ken, into the boiling mists, the
"wide involving shades" of centuries past. And yet how fondly did they
who, with the toil, and blood, and sweat, and misery of ages, upreared
these stupendous piles, anticipate {162} an immortality for their name
which, like the effulgence of a golden eternity, should for ever
linger around their summits! So was it with the ancient tomb-builders
of this New World; so has it been with man in every stage of his
existence, from the hour that the giant Babel first reared its dusky
walls from the plains of Shinar down to the era of the present
generation. And yet how hopeless, desperately, eternally hopeless are
such aspirations of the children of men! As nations or as individuals,
our memory we can never embalm! A few, indeed, may retain the forlorn
relic within the sanctuary of hearts which loved us while with them,
and that with a tenderness stronger than death; but, with the great
mass of mankind, our absence can be noticed only for a day; and then
the ranks close up, and a gravestone tells the passing stranger that
we lived and died: a few years--the finger of time has been busy with
the inscription, and we are _as if we had never been_. If, then, it
must be even so,

  "Oh, let keep the soul embalm'd, and pure
  In living virtue; that, when both must sever,
  Although corruption may our frame consume,
  Th' immortal spirit in the skies may bloom."

_St. Clair Co., Illinois._



XV

                          "Are they here,
  The dead of other days? And did the dust
  Of these fair solitudes once stir with life
  And burn with passion? All is gone;
  All, save the piles of earth that hold their bones,
  The platforms where they worship'd unknown gods,
  The barriers which they builded from the soil
  To keep the foe at bay."
                                                 _The Prairies._


The antiquity of "Monk Mound" is a circumstance which fails not to
arrest the attention of every visiter. That centuries have elapsed
since this vast pile of earth was heaped up from the plain, no one can
doubt: every circumstance, even the most minute and inconsiderable,
confirms an idea which the venerable oaks upon its soil conclusively
demonstrate. With this premise admitted, consider for a moment the
destructive effects of the elements even for a limited period upon the
works of our race. Little more than half a century has elapsed since
the war of our revolution; but where are the fortifications, and
parapets, and military defences then thrown up? The earthy ramparts of
Bunker Hill were nearly obliterated long ago by the levelling finger
of time, and scarce a vestige now remains to assist in tracing out the
line of defence. The same is true with these works all over the
country; and even those of the last war--those at Baltimore, for
example {164}--are vanishing as fast as the elements can melt them
away. Reflect, then, that this vast earth-heap of which I am writing
is composed of a soil far more yielding in its nature than they; that
its superfices are by no means compact; and then conceive, if you
_can_, its stupendous character before it had bided the rains, and
snows, and storm-winds of centuries, and before the sweeping floods of
the "Father of Waters" had ever circled its base. Our thoughts are
carried back by the reflection to the era of classic fiction, and we
almost fancy another war of the Titans against the heavens--

  "Conati imponere Pelio Ossam--
  --atque Ossæ frondosum involvere Olympum,"

if a quotation from the sweet bard of Mantua, upon a topic like the
present, may be pardoned. How large an army of labourers, without the
use of iron utensils, as we have every reason to suppose was the case,
would be required for scraping up from the prairie's surface this huge
pile; and how many years would suffice for its completion? No one can
doubt that the broad surface of the American Bottom, in its whole
length and breadth, together with all the neighbouring region on
either bank of the Mississippi, once swarmed with living men and
animals, even as does now the depths of its soil with their remains.
The collection of mounds which I have been attempting to describe
would seem to indicate two extensive cities within the extent of five
miles; and other groups of the same character may be seen upon a lower
section of the bottom, to say nothing of those within the more
immediate vicinity of St. {165} Louis. The design of these mounds, as
has been before stated, was various, undoubtedly; many were
sepulchres, some fortifications, some watch-towers or videttes, and
some of the larger class, among which we would place Monk Hill, were
probably devoted to the ceremonies of religion.

The number of the earth-heaps known as the Cantine Mounds is about
fifty, small and great. They lie very irregularly along the southern
and eastern bank of Cahokia Creek, occupying an area of some miles in
circuit. They are of every form and every size, from the mere
molehill, perceptible only by a deeper shade in the herbage, to the
gigantic Monk Mound, of which I have already said so much. This vast
heap stands about one hundred yards from the creek, and the slope
which faces it is very precipitous, and clothed with aged timber. The
area of the base is about six hundred yards in circumference, and the
perpendicular altitude has been estimated at from ninety to upward of
a hundred feet. The form is that of a rectangle, lying north and
south; and upon the latter extremity, which commands a view down the
bottom, is spread out a broad terrace, or rather a steppe to the main
body, about twenty feet lower than the summit, extending the whole
length of the side, and is one hundred and fifty feet in breadth. At
the left extremity of this terrace winds up the sloping pathway from
the prairie to the summit of the mound. Formerly this road sloped up
an inclined plane, projecting from the middle of the terrace, ten feet
in breadth and twenty in extent, and seemed graded for that purpose at
{166} the erection of the mound. This declivity yet remains, but now
forms part of a corn-field.

The view from the southern extremity of the mound, which is free from
trees and underbrush, is extremely beautiful. Away to the south sweeps
off the broad river-bottom, at this place about seven miles in width,
its waving surface variegated by all the magnificent hues of the
summer Flora of the prairies. At intervals, from the deep herbage is
flung back the flashing sheen of a silvery lake to the oblique
sunlight; while dense groves of the crab-apple and other indigenous
wild fruits are sprinkled about like islets in the verdant sea. To the
left, at a distance of three or four miles, stretches away the long
line of bluffs, now presenting a surface naked and rounded by groups
of mounds, and now wooded to their summits, while a glimpse at times
may be caught of the humble farmhouses at their base. On the right
meanders the Cantine Creek, which gives the name to the group of
mounds, betraying at intervals its bright surface through the belt of
forest by which it is margined. In this direction, far away in the
blue distance, rising through the mist and forest, may be caught a
glimpse of the spires and cupolas of the city, glancing gayly in the
rich summer sun. The base of the mound is circled upon every side by
lesser elevations of every form and at various distances. Of these,
some lie in the heart of the extensive maize-fields, which constitute
the farm of the proprietor of the principal mound, presenting a
beautiful exhibition of light and shade, shrouded as they are in the
dark, twinkling leaves. The most {167} remarkable are two standing
directly opposite the southern extremity of the principal one, at a
distance of some hundred yards, in close proximity to each other, and
which never fail to arrest the eye. There are also several large
square mounds covered with forest along the margin of the creek to the
right, and groups are caught rising from the declivities of the
distant bluffs.

Upon the western side of Monk Mound, at a distance of several yards
from the summit, is a well some eighty or ninety feet in depth; the
water of which would be agreeable enough were not the presence of
sulphur, in some of its modifications, so palpable. This well
penetrates the heart of the mound, yet, from its depth, cannot reach
lower than the level of the surrounding plain. I learned, upon
inquiry, that when this well was excavated, several fragments of
pottery, of decayed ears of corn, and other articles, were thrown up
from a depth of sixty-five feet; proof incontestible of the artificial
structure of the mound. The associations, when drinking the water of
this well, united with its peculiar flavour, are not of the most
exquisite character, when we reflect that the precious fluid has
probably filtrated, part of it, at least, through the contents of a
sepulchre. The present proprietor is about making a transfer, I was
informed, of the whole tract to a gentleman of St. Louis, who intends
establishing here a house of entertainment. If this design is carried
into effect, the drive to this place will be the most delightful in
the vicinity of the city.

Monk Mound has derived its name and much of {168} its notoriety from
the circumstance that, in the early part of the present century, for a
number of years, it was the residence of a society of ecclesiastics,
of the order _La Trappe_, the most ascetic of all the monastic
denominations. The monastery of La Trappe was originally situated in
the old province of Perche, in the territory of Orleannois, in France,
which now, with a section of Normandy, constitutes the department of
Orne. Its site is said to have been the loneliest and most desolate
spot that could be selected in the kingdom. The order was founded in
1140 by Rotrou, count of Perche; but having fallen into decay, and its
discipline having become much relaxed, it was reformed in 1664, five
centuries subsequent, by the Abbé Armand Rance. This celebrated
ecclesiastic, history informs us, was in early life a man of fashion
and accomplishments; of splendid abilities, distinguished as a
classical scholar and translator of Anacreon's Odes. At length, the
sudden death of his mistress Montbazon, to whom he was extremely
attached, so affected him that he forsook at once his libertine life,
banished himself from society, and introduced into the monastery of La
Trappe an austerity of discipline hitherto unknown.[129] The vows were
chastity, poverty, obedience, and perpetual silence. The couch was a
slab of stone, the diet water and bread once in twenty-four hours, and
each member removed a spadeful of earth every day from the spot of his
intended grave. The following passage relative to this monastery I
find quoted from an old French author; and as the {169} language and
sentiments are forcible, I need hardly apologize for introducing it
entire.

"_C'est la que se retirent, ceux qui out commis quelque crime secret,
dont les remords les poursuivent; ceux qui sont tourmentes de vapeurs
mélancoliques et religieuse; ceux qui ont oublie que Dieu est le plus
miséricordieux des pères, et qui ne voient en lui, que le plus cruel
des tyrans; ceux qui reduisent à vieu, les souffrances, la mort et la
passion de Jesu Crist, et qui ne voient la religion que du cote
effrayent et terrible: c'est la que sont pratique des austerite qui
abregent la vie, et sont injure à la divinité._"

During the era of the Reign of Terror in France, the monks of La
Trappe, as well as all the other orders of priesthood, were dispersed
over Europe. They increased greatly, however, notwithstanding
persecution, and societies established themselves in England and
Germany. From the latter country emigrated the society which planted
themselves upon the American Bottom. They first settled in the State
of Kentucky; subsequently they established themselves at the little
French hamlet of Florisant, and in 1809 they crossed the Mississippi,
and, strangely enough, selected for their residence the spot I have
been describing.[130] Here they made a purchase of about four hundred
acres, and petitioned Congress for a pre-emption right to some
thousands adjoining. The buildings which they occupied were never of a
very durable character, but consisted of about half a dozen large
structures of logs, on the summit of the mound about fifty yards to
the right {170} of the largest. This is twenty feet in height, and
upward of a hundred and fifty feet square; a well dug by the Trappists
is yet to be seen, though the whole mound is now buried in thickets.
Their outbuildings, stables, granaries, &c., which were numerous, lay
scattered about on the plain below. Subsequently they erected an
extensive structure upon the terrace of the principal mound, and
cultivated its soil for a kitchen-garden, while the area of the summit
was sown with wheat. Their territory under cultivation consisted of
about one hundred acres, divided into three fields, and embracing
several of the mounds.

The society of the Trappists consisted of about eighty monks, chiefly
Germans and French, with a few of our own countrymen, under
governance of one of their number called Father Urbain.[131] Had they
remained, they anticipated an accession to their number of about two
hundred monks from Europe. Their discipline was equally severe with
that of the order in ancient times. Their diet was confined to
vegetables, and of these they partook sparingly but once in
twenty-four hours: the stern vow of perpetual silence was upon them;
no female was permitted to violate their retreat, and they dug their
own graves. Their location, however, they found by no means favourable
to health, notwithstanding the severe simplicity of their habits.
During the summer months fevers prevailed among them to an alarming
extent; few escaped, and many died. Among the latter was Louis Antoine
Langlois, a native of Quebec, more familiarly known as François {171}
Marie Bernard, the name he assumed upon entering the monastery. He
often officiated in the former Catholic church of St. Louis, and is
still remembered by the older French inhabitants with warm emotions,
as he was greatly beloved.

The Trappists are said to have been extremely industrious, and some of
them skilful workmen at various arts, particularly that of
watchmaking; insomuch that they far excelled the same craft in the
city, and were patronised by all the unruly timepieces in the region.
They had also a laboratory of some extent, and a library; but the
latter, we are informed, was of no marvellous repute, embracing
chiefly the day-dreams of the Middle Ages, and the wondrous doings of
the legion of saints, together with a few obsolete works on medicine.
Connected with the monastery was a seminary for the instruction of
boys; or, rather, it was a sort of asylum for the orphan, the
desolate, the friendless, the halt, the blind, the deaf, and the dumb,
and also for the aged and destitute of the male sex. They subjected
their pupils to the same severe discipline which they imposed upon
themselves. They were permitted to use their tongues but two hours a
day, and then very _judiciously_: instead of exercising that "unruly
member," they were taught by the good fathers to gesticulate with
their fingers at each other in marvellous fashion, and thus to
communicate their ideas. As to juvenile sports and the frolics of
boyhood, it was a sin to dream of such things. They all received an
apprenticeship to some useful trade, however, and were no doubt
trained {172} up most innocently and ignorantly in the way they should
go. The pupils were chiefly sons of the settlers in the vicinity; but
whether they were fashioned by the worthy fathers into good American
citizens or the contrary, tradition telleth not. Tradition doth
present, however, sundry allegations prejudicial to the honest monks,
which we are bold to say is all slander, and unworthy of credence.
Some old gossips of the day hesitated not to affirm that the monks
were marvellously filthy in their habits; others, that they were
prodigiously keen in their bargains; a third class, that the younger
members were not so obdurate towards the gentler part of creation as
they _might have been_; while the whole community round about, _una
voce_, chimed in, and solemnly declared that men who neither might,
could, would, or should speak, were a little worse than dumb brutes,
and ought to be treated accordingly. However this may have been, it is
pretty certain, as is usually the case with our dear fellow-creatures
where they are permitted to know nothing at all about a particular
matter, the good people, in the overflowings of worldly charity,
imagined all manner of evil against the poor Trappist, and seemed to
think they had a perfect right to violate his property and insult his
person whenever they, in their wisdom and kind feeling, thought proper
to do so. But this was soon at an end. In 1813 the monks disposed of
their personal property, and leaving fever and ague to their
persecutors, and the old mounds to their primitive solitude, forsook
the country and sailed for France.

{173} Though it is not easy to palliate the unceremonious welcome with
which the unfortunate Trappist was favoured at the hand of our people,
yet we can readily appreciate the feelings which prompted their
ungenerous conduct. How strange, how exceedingly strange must it have
seemed to behold these men, in the garb and guise of a distant land,
uttering, when their lips broke the silence in which they were locked,
the unknown syllables of a foreign tongue; professing an austere, an
ancient, and remarkable faith; denying themselves, with the sternest
severity, the simplest of Nature's bounties; how strange must it have
seemed to behold these men establishing themselves in the depths of
this Western wilderness, and, by a fortuitous concurrence of events,
planting their altars and hearths upon the very tombs of a race whose
fate is veiled in mystery, and practising their austerities at the
forsaken temple of a forgotten worship! How strange to behold the
devotees of a faith, the most artificial in its ceremonies among men,
bowing themselves upon the high places reared up by the hands of those
who worshipped the Great Spirit after the simplest form of Nature's
adoration! For centuries this singular order of men had figured upon
the iron page of history; their legends had shadowed with mystery the
bright leaf of poetry and romance, and with them were associated many
a wild vision of fancy. And here they were, mysterious as ever, with
cowl, and crucifix, and shaven head, and the hairy "crown of thorns"
encircling; ecclesiastics the most severe of all the orders of
monarchism. How strange must it all {174} have seemed! and it is
hardly to be wondered at, unpopular as such institutions undoubtedly
were and ever have been in this blessed land of ours, that a feeling
of intolerance, and suspicion, and prejudice should have existed. It
is not a maxim of _recent_ date in the minds of men, that "whatever is
peculiar is false."

_Madison County, Ill._



XVI

  "Let none our author rudely blame,
    Who from the story has thus long digress'd."
                                                   DAVENANT.

  "Nay, tell me not of lordly halls!
    My minstrels are the trees;
  The moss and the rock are my tapestried walls,
    Earth sounds my symphonies."
                                          BLACKWOOD'S _Mag._

  "Sorrow is knowledge; they who know the most
    Must mourn the deepest o'er the fatal truth;
  The Tree of Knowledge is not that of Life."
                                                    MANFRED.


There are few lovelier villages in the Valley of the West than the
little town of Edwardsville, in whose quiet inn many of the preceding
observations have been sketched.[132] It was early one bright morning
that I entered Edwardsville, after passing a sleepless night at a
neighbouring farmhouse. The situation of the village is a narrow ridge
of {175} land swelling abruptly from the midst of deep and tangled
woods. Along this elevation extends the principal street of the place,
more than a mile in length, and upon either side runs a range of neat
edifices, most of them shaded by forest-trees in their front yards.
The public buildings are a courthouse and jail of brick, neither of
them worthy of farther mention, and two plain, towerless churches,
imbosomed in a grove somewhat in the suburbs of the village. There is
something singularly picturesque in the situation of these churches,
and the structures themselves are not devoid of beauty and symmetrical
proportion. At this place, also, is located the land-office for the
district. On the morning of my arrival at the village, early as was
the hour, the place was thronged with disappointed applicants for
land; a lean and hungry-looking race, by-the-by, as it has ever been
my lot to look upon. Unfortunately, the office had the evening before,
from some cause, been closed, and the unhappy speculators were forced
to trudge away many a weary mile, through dust and sun, with their
heavy specie dollars, to their homes again. I remember once to have
been in the city of Bangor, "away down East in the State of Maine,"
when the public lands on the Penobscot River were first placed in the
market. The land mania had for some months been running high, but
could hardly be said yet to have reached a crisis. From all quarters
of the Union speculators had been hurrying to the place; and day and
night, for the week past, the steamers had been disgorging upon the
city their ravenous freights. The important {176} day arrived. At an
early hour every hotel, and street, and avenue was swarming with
strangers; and, mingling with the current of living bodies, which now
set steadily onward to the place of sale, I was carried resistlessly
on by its force till it ceased. A confused murmur of voices ran
through the assembled thousands; and amid the tumult, the ominous
words "_land--lumber--title-deed_," and the like, could alone be
distinguished. At length, near noon, the clear tones of the auctioneer
were heard rising above the hum of the multitude: all was instantly
hushed and still; and gaining an elevated site, before me was spread
out a scene worthy a Hogarth's genius and pencil. Such a mass of
working, agitated features, glaring with the fierce passion of
avarice and the basest propensities of humanity, one seldom is fated
to witness. During that public land-sale, indeed, I beheld so much of
the selfishness, the petty meanness, the detestable heartlessness of
man's nature, that I turned away disgusted, sick at heart for the race
of which I was a member. We are reproached as a nation by Europeans
for the contemptible vice of avarice; is the censure unjust? Parson
Taylor tells us that Satan was the first speculator in land, for on a
certain occasion he took Jesus up into an exceedingly high mountain,
and showed him all the kingdoms of the earth and the glory thereof,
and said to him, "All these things will I give to thee if thou wilt
fall down and worship me," when, in fact, the devil did not own one
inch of land to give!

  "Think of the devil's brazen phiz,
  When not an inch of land was his!"

{177} Yet it is to be apprehended that not a few in our midst would
not hesitate to barter soul and body, and fall down in worship, were a
sufficient number of _acres_ spread out before them as the recompense.

Among other objects worthy the traveller's notice in passing through
Edwardsville is a press for the manufacture of that well-known,
agreeable liquid, _castor oil_: it is situated within the precincts of
what is termed, for distinction, the "Upper Village." The apparatus,
by means of which the oil is expressed from the bean and clarified, is
extremely simple, consisting merely of the ordinary jack-screw. One
bushel of the castor beans--_palma Christi_--yields nearly two gallons
of the liquid. The only previous preparation to pressing is to dry the
beans in an oven. This establishment[133] has been in operation upward
of ten years, and has rendered its proprietor, Mr. Adams, a wealthy
man.[134] He has a delightful villa, with grounds laid out with
taste; and though many years have passed away since he left his native
New-England, yet the generosity of his heart and the benevolence of
his character tell truly that he has not yet ceased the remembrance of
early principles and habits. The village of Edwardsville and its
vicinity are said to be remarkably healthy; and the location in the
heart of a fertile, well-watered, heavily-timbered section of country,
tilled by a race of enterprising yeomanry, gives promise of rapid
advancement. The town plat was first laid off in 1815; but the place
advanced but little in importance until five years afterward, when a
new {178} town was united to the old. About twelve miles southeast
from Edwardsville is situated the delightful little hamlet of
Collinsville, named from its founder, to which I paid a hasty visit
during my ramble on the prairies.[135] It was settled many years ago,
but till very recently had not assumed the dignity of a town. Its site
is the broad, uniform surface of an elevated ridge, ascending gently
from the American Bottom, beautifully shaded by forest-trees, and
extending into the interior for several miles. It is almost entirely
settled by northern emigrants, whose peculiarities are nowhere more
strikingly exhibited. Much attention is bestowed upon religion and
education; not a grocery exists in the place, nor, by the charter of
the town, can one be established for several years. This little
village presents a delightful summer-retreat to the citizens of St.
Louis, only ten miles distant.

The sun had not yet risen when I left Edwardsville, after a pleasant
visit, and, descending into the Bottom, pursued my route over the
plain to Alton. The face of the country, for a portion of the way, is
broken, and covered with forests of noble trees, until the traveller
finds himself on the deep sand-plains, stretching away for some miles,
and giving support to a stunted, scragged growth of shrub-oaks. The
region bears palpable evidence of having been, at no distant period,
submerged; and the idea is confirmed by the existence, at the present
time, of a lake of considerable extent on the southern border, which,
from the character of the surface, a slight addition of water would
spread for miles. I shall not {179} soon forget, I think, the day I
entered Alton for the second time during my ramble in the West. It was
near the noon after an exceedingly sultry morning; and the earth
beneath my horse's hoofs was reduced by protracted drought to an
impalpable powder to the depth of several inches. The blazing
sunbeams, veiled by not a solitary cloud, reflected from the glassy
surface of the Mississippi as from the face of an immense steely
mirror and again thrown back by the range of beetling bluffs above,
seemed converged into an intense burning focus along the scorched-up
streets and glowing roofs of the village. I have endured heat, but
none more intolerable in the course of my life than that of which I
speak.

In the evening, when the sultriness of the day was over, passing
through the principal street of the town, I ascended that singular
range of bluffs which, commencing at this point, extend along the
river, and to which, on a former occasion, I have briefly alluded. The
ascent is arduous, but the glorious view from the summit richly repays
the visiter for his toil. The withering atmosphere of the depressed,
sunburnt village at my feet was delightfully exchanged for the
invigorating breezes of the hills, as the fresh evening wind came
wandering up from the waters. It was the sunset hour. The golden,
slanting beams of departing day were reflected from the undulating
bosom of the river, as its bright waters stretched away among the
western forests, as if from a sea of molten, gliding silver. On the
left, directly at your feet, reposes the village of Alton, overhung by
hills, with the gloomy, castellated {180} walls of the Penitentiary
lifting up their dusky outline upon its skirts, presenting to the eye
a perfect panorama as you look down upon the tortuous streets, the
extensive warehouses of stone, and the range of steamers, alive with
bustle, along the landing. Beyond the village extends a deep forest;
while a little to the south sweep off the waters of the river,
bespangled with green islands, until, gracefully expanding itself, a
noble bend withdraws it from the view. It is at this point that the
Missouri disgorges its turbid, heavy mass of waters into the clear
floods of the Upper Mississippi, hitherto uncheckered by a stain. At
the base of the bluffs, upon which you stand, at an elevation of a
hundred and fifty feet, rushes with violence along the crags the
current of the stream; while beyond, upon the opposite plain, is
beheld the log hut of the emigrant couched beneath the enormous
sycamores, and sending up its undulating thread of blue, curling smoke
through the lofty branches. A lumber steam-mill is also here to be
seen. Beyond these objects the eye wanders over an interminable carpet
of forest-tops, stretching away till they form a wavy line of dense
foliage circling the western horizon. By the aid of a glass, a range
of hills, blue in the distance, is perceived outlined against the sky:
they are the bluffs skirting the beautiful valley of the Missouri. The
heights from which this view is commanded are composed principally of
earth heaped upon a massive ledge of limerock, which elevates itself
from the very bed of the waters. As the spectator gazes and reflects,
he cannot but be amazed that the {181} rains, and snows, and torrents
of centuries have not, with all their washings, yet swept these
earth-heaps away, though the deep ravines between the mounds, which
probably originated their present peculiar form, give proof conclusive
that such diluvial action to some extent has long been going on. As is
usually found to be the case, the present race of Indians have availed
themselves of these elevated summits for the burial-spots of their
chiefs. I myself scraped up a few decaying fragments of bones, which
lay just beneath the surface.

At sunrise of the morning succeeding my visit to the bluffs I was in
the saddle, and clambering up those intolerably steep hills on the
road leading to the village of Upper Alton, a few miles distant. The
place is well situated upon an elevated prairie; and, to my own taste,
is preferable far for private residence to any spot within the
precincts of its rival namesake. The society is polished, and a
fine-toned morality is said to characterize the inhabitants. The town
was originally incorporated many years ago, and was then a place of
more note than it has ever since been; but, owing to intestine broils
and conflicting claims to its site, it gradually and steadily dwindled
away, until, a dozen years since, it numbered only _seven_ families. A
suit in chancery has happily settled these difficulties, and the
village is now thriving well. A seminary of some note, under
jurisdiction of the Baptist persuasion, has within a few years been
established here, and now comprises a very respectable body of
students.[136] It originated in a seminary {182} formerly established
at Rock Spring in this state. About five years since a company of
gentlemen, seven in number, purchased here a tract of several hundred
acres, and erected upon it an academical edifice of brick;
subsequently a stone building was erected, and a preparatory school
instituted. In the year 1835, funds to a considerable amount were
obtained at the East; and a donation of $10,000 from Dr. Benjamin
Shurtliff, of Boston, induced the trustees to give to the institution
his name. Half of this sum is appropriated to a college building, and
the other half is to endow a professorship of belles lettres. The
present buildings are situated upon a broad plain, beneath a walnut
grove, on the eastern skirt of the village; and the library,
apparatus, and professorships are worthy to form the foundation of a
_college_, as is the ultimate design, albeit a Western college and a
Northern college are terms quite different in signification. I visited
this seminary, however, and was much pleased with its faculty,
buildings, and design. All is as it should be. What reflecting mind
does not hail with joy these temples of science elevating themselves
upon every green hill and broad plain of the West, side by side with
the sanctuaries of our holy religion! It is intelligence, _baptized
intelligence_, which alone can save this beautiful valley, if indeed
it is to be saved from the inroads of arbitrary rule and false
religion; which is to hand down to another generation our civil and
religious immunities unimpaired. In most of the efforts for the
advancement of education in {183} the West, it is gratifying to
perceive that this principle has not been overlooked. Nearly all those
seminaries of learning which have been established profess for their
design the culture of the _moral_ powers as well as those of the
_intellect_. That _intelligence_ is an essential requisite, a prime
constituent of civil and religious freedom, all will admit; that it
is the _only_ requisite, the _sole_ constituent, may be questioned.
"Knowledge," in the celebrated language of Francis Bacon, "is power;"
ay! POWER; an engine of tremendous, incalculable energy, but blind in
its operations. Applied to the cause of wisdom and virtue, the richest
of blessings; to that of infidelity and vice, the greatest of curses.
A lever to move the world, its influence cannot be over-estimated; as
the bulwark of liberty and human happiness, its effect has been
fearfully miscalculated. Were man inclined as fully to good as to
evil, then might knowledge become the sovereign panacea of every civil
and moral ill; as man by nature unhappily _is_, "the fruit of the
tree" is oftener the stimulant to evil than to good. Unfold the sacred
record of the past. Why did not intelligence save Greece? Greece! the
land of intellect and of thought; the birthspot of eloquence,
philosophy, and song! whose very populace were critics and bards!
Greece, in her early day of pastoral ignorance, was free; but from the
loftiest pinnacle of intellectual glory she fell; and science, genius,
intelligence, all could not save her. The buoyant bark bounded
beautifully over the blue-breasted billows; but the helm, the helm of
{184} _moral_ culture was not there, and her broad-spread pinions
hurried her away only to a speedier and more terrible destruction.

Ancient Rome: in the day of her rough simplicity, _she_ was free; but
from her proudest point of _intellectual_ development--the era of
Augustus--we date her decline.

France: who will aver that it was popular _ignorance_ that rolled over
revolutionary France the ocean-wave of blood? When have the French,
_as a people_, exhibited a prouder era of mind than that of their
sixteenth Louis? The encyclopedists, the most powerful men of the age,
concentrated all their vast energies to the diffusion of science among
the people. Then, as now, the press groaned in constant parturition;
and essays, magazines, tracts, treatises, libraries, were thrown
abroad as if by the arm of Omnipotent power. Then, as now, the
supremacy of human reason and of human society flitted in "unreal
mockery" before the intoxicated fancy; and wildly was anticipated a
career of upward and onward advancement during the days of all coming
time. France was a nation of philosophers, and the great deep of mind
began to heave; the convulsed labouring went on, and, from time to
time, it burst out upon the surface. Then came the tornado, and
France, refined, intelligent, scientific, etherealized France, was
swept, as by Ruin's besom, of every green thing. Her own children
planted the dagger in her bosom, and France was a nation of
scientific, philosophic parricides! But "France was poisoned {185} by
infidelity." Yes! so she was: but why was not the subtle element
neutralized in the cup of _knowledge_ in which it was administered? Is
not "knowledge omnipotent to preserve; the salt to purify the
nations?"

England: view the experiment there. It is a matter of parliamentary
record, that within the last twenty years, during the philanthropic
efforts of Lord Henry Brougham and his whig coadjutors, crime in
England has more than tripled. If knowledge, pure, defecated
knowledge, be a conservative principle, why do we witness these
appalling results?

What, then, shall be done? Shall the book of knowledge be taken from
the hands of the people, and again be locked up in the libraries of
the few? Shall the dusky pall of ignorance and superstition again be
flung around the world, and a long starless midnight of a thousand
years once more come down to brood over mankind? By no means. _Let_
the sweet streams of knowledge go forth, copious, free, to enrich and
irrigate the garden of mind; but mingle with them the pure waters of
that "fount which flows fast by the oracles of God," or the effect
now will be, as it ever has been, only to intoxicate and madden the
human race. There is nothing in cold, dephlegmated intellect to warm
up and foster the energies of the moral system of man. Intellect, mere
intellect, can never tame the passions or purify the heart.

_Upper Alton, Ill._



XVII

  "The fourth day roll'd along, and with the night
  Came storm and darkness in their mingling might.
  Loud sung the wind above; and doubly loud
  Shook o'er his turret-cell the thunder-cloud."
                                                _The Corsair._

                                "These
  The unshorn fields, boundless and beautiful,
  For which the speech of England has no name--
  The prairies."
                                                       BRYANT.


Whoever will take upon himself the trouble to run his eye over the
"Tourist's Pocket Map of Illinois," will perceive, stretching along
the western border of the state, parallel with the river, a broad
carriage highway, in a direction nearly north, to a little village
called Carlinville; if then he glances to the east, he may trace
a narrow pathway striking off at right angles to that section of
the state. Well, it is here, upon this pathway, just on the margin
of a beautiful prairie, sweeping away towards the town of
Hillsborough,[137] that I find myself at the close of the day, after a
long and fatiguing ride. The afternoon has been one of those dreary,
drizzly, disagreeable seasons which relax the nerves and ride like an
incubus upon the spirits; and my route has conducted me over a
broad-spread, desolate plain; for, lovely as may appear the prairie
when its bright flowerets and its tall grass-tops {187} are nodding in
the sunlight, it is a melancholy place when the sky is beclouded and
the rain is falling. There is a certain indescribable sensation of
loneliness, which steals over the mind of the solitary traveller when
he finds himself alone in the heart of these boundless plains, which
he cannot away with; and the approach to a forest is hailed with
pleasure, as serving to quiet, with the vague idea of _society_, this
sense of dreariness and desertion. Especially is this the case when
rack and mist are hovering along the border, veiling from the view
those picturesque woodland-points and promontories, and those green
island-groves which, when the sky is clear, swell out upon every side
into the bosom of the plain. Then all is fresh and joyous to the eye
as a vision: change the scene, and the grand, gloomy, misty
magnificence of old ocean presents itself on every side. The relief to
the picture afforded by the discovery of man's habitation can hardly
be described.

It was near nightfall, when, wearied by the fatigue of riding and
drenched with mist, I reached the log-cabin of an old pioneer from
Virginia, beneath whose lowly roof-tree I am seated at this present
writing; and though hardly the most sumptuous edifice of which it has
been my lot to be an inmate, yet with no unenviable anticipations am I
looking forward to hearty refreshment and to sound slumber upon the
couch by my side. There are few objects to be met with in the
backwoods of the West more unique and picturesque than the dwelling of
the emigrant. After selecting an elevated spot as {188} a site for
building, a cabin or a log-house--which is somewhat of an improvement
upon the first--is erected in the following manner. A sufficient
number of straight trees, of a size convenient for removing, are
felled, slightly hewn upon the opposite sides, and the extremities
notched or mortised with the axe. They are then piled upon each other
so that the extremities lock together; and a single or double edifice
is constructed, agreeable to the taste or ability of the builder.
Ordinarily the cabin consists of two quadrangular apartments,
separated by a broad area between, connected by a common floor, and
covered by a common roof, presenting a parallelogram triple the length
of its width. The better of these apartments is usually appropriated
to the entertainment of the casual guest, and is furnished with
several beds and some articles of rude furniture to correspond. The
open area constitutes the ordinary sitting and eating apartment of the
family in fine weather; and, from its coolness, affords a delightful
retreat. The intervals between the logs are stuffed with fragments of
wood or stone, and plastered with mud or mortar, and the chimney is
constructed much in the same manner. The roof is covered with thin
clapboards of oak or ash, and, in lieu of nails, transverse pieces of
timber retain them in their places. Thousands of cabins are thus
constructed, without a particle of iron or even a common plank. The
rough clapboards give to the roof almost the shaggy aspect of thatch
at a little distance, but they render it impermeable to even the
heaviest and {189} most protracted rain-storms. A rude gallery often
extends along one or both sides of the building, adding much to its
coolness in summer and to its warmth in winter by the protection
afforded from sun and snow. The floor is constructed of short, thick
planks, technically termed "puncheons," which are confined by wooden
pins; and, though hardly smooth enough for a ballroom, yet well answer
every purpose for a dwelling, and effectually resist moisture and
cold. The apertures are usually cut with a view to free ventilation,
and the chimneys stand at the extremities, outside the walls of the
cabin. A few pounds of nails, a few boxes of glass, a few hundred feet
of lumber, and a few days' assistance of a house-carpenter, would, of
course, contribute not a little to the comfort of the _shieling_; but
neither of these are indispensable. In rear of the premises rise the
outbuildings; stables, corn-crib, meat-house, &c., all of them quite
as perfect in structure as the dwelling itself, and quite as
comfortable for residence. If to all this we add a well, walled up
with a section of a hollow cotton-wood, a cellar or cave in the earth
for a pantry, a zigzag rail fence enclosing the whole clearing, a
dozen acres of Indian corn bristling up beyond, a small garden and
orchard, and a host of swine, cattle, poultry, and naked children
about the door, and the _tout ensemble_ of a backwoods farmhouse is
complete. Minor circumstances vary, of course, with the peculiarities
of the country and the origin of the settlers; but the principal
features of the picture everywhere prevail. The present mode of
cultivation {190} sweeps off vast quantities of timber; but it must
soon be superseded. Houses of brick and stone will take the place of
log-cabins; hedge-rows will supply that of rail enclosures, while coal
for fuel will be a substitute for wood.

At Upper Alton my visit was not a protracted one. In a few hours,
having gathered up my _fixens_ and mounted my _creetur_, I was
threading a narrow pathway through the forest. The trees, most of them
lofty elms, in many places for miles locked together their giant
branches over the road, forming a delightful screen from the sunbeams;
but it was found by no means the easiest imaginable task, after once
entering upon the direct route, to continue upon it. This is a
peculiarity of Western roads. The commencement may be uniform enough,
but the traveller soon finds his path diverging all at once in several
different directions, like the radii of a circle, with no assignable
cause therefor, and not the slightest reason presenting itself why he
should select one of them in preference to half a dozen others,
equally good or bad. And the sequel often shows him that there in
reality existed no more cause of preference than was apparent; for,
after a few tortuosities through the forest, for variety's sake, the
paths all terminate in the same route. The obstacle of a tree, a
stump, a decaying log, or a sand-bank often splits the path as if it
were a flowing stream; and then the traveller takes upon him to
exercise the reserved right of radiating to any point of the compass
he {191} may think proper, provided always that he succeeds in
clearing the obstruction.

Passing many log-cabins, such as I have described, with their
extensive maize-fields, the rude dwelling of a sturdy old emigrant
from the far East sheltered me during the heat of noon; and having
luxuriated upon an excellent dinner, prepared and served up in right
New-England fashion, I again betook myself to my solitary route. But I
little anticipated to have met, in the distant prairies of Illinois,
the habitation of one who had passed his life in my own native state,
almost in my own native village. Yet I know not why the occurrence
should be a cause of surprise. Such emigrations are of constant
occurrence. The farmer had been a resident eight years in the West;
his farm was under that high cultivation characteristic of the
Northern emigrant, and peace and plenty seemed smiling around. Yet was
the emigrant satisfied? So far from it, he acknowledged himself a
disappointed man, and sighed for his native northern home, with its
bleak winds and barren hillsides.

The region through which, for most of the day, I journeyed was that,
of very extensive application in the West, styled "Barrens," by no
means implying unproductiveness of soil, but a species of surface of
heterogeneous character, uniting prairie with _timber_ or forest, and
usually a description of land as fertile, healthy, and well-watered as
may be found. The misnomer is said to have derived its origin from
the early settlers of that section of Kentucky south of Green River,
which, presenting {192} only a scanty, dwarfish growth of timber, was
deemed of necessity _barren_, in the true acceptation of the
term.[138] This soil there and elsewhere is now considered better
adapted to every variety of produce and the vicissitudes of climate
than even the deep mould of the prairies and river-bottoms. The
rapidity with which a young forest springs forward, when the annual
fires have once been stopped in this species of land, is said to be
astonishing; and the first appearance of timber upon the prairies
gives it the character, to some extent, of barrens. Beneath the trees
is spread out a mossy turf, free from thickets, but variegated by the
gaudy petals of the heliotrope, and the bright crimson buds of the
dwarf-sumach in the hollows. Indeed, some of the most lovely scenery
of the West is beheld in the landscapes of these barrens or "oak
openings," as they are more appropriately styled. For miles the
traveller wanders on, through a magnificence of park scenery on every
side, with all the diversity of the slope, and swell, and meadow of
human taste and skill. Interminable avenues stretch away farther than
the eye can reach, while at intervals through the foliage flashes out
the unruffled surface of a pellucid lake. There are many of these
circular lakes or "sinkholes," as they are termed in Western dialect,
which, as they possess no inlet, seem supplied by subterraneous
springs or from the clouds. The outline is that of an inverted cone,
as if formed by the action of whirling waters; and, as sinkholes exist
in great numbers in the vicinity of the rivers, and possess an outlet
{193} at the bottom through a substratum of porous limestone, the idea
is abundantly confirmed. In the State of Missouri these peculiar
springs are also observed. Some of them in Greene county burst forth
from the earth and the fissures of the rocks with sufficient force to
whirl a _run_ of heavy buhrstones, and the power of the fountains
seems unaffected by the vicissitudes of rain or drought. These same
sinkholes, circular ponds, and gushing springs are said to constitute
one of the most remarkable and interesting features of the peninsula
of Florida. There, as here, the substratum is porous limestone; and it
is the subsidence of the layers which gives birth to the springs. The
volume of water thrown up by these boiling fountains is said to be
astonishingly great; many large ones, also, are known to exist in the
beds of lakes and rivers. From the circumstance of the existence of
these numerous springs originated, doubtless, the tradition which
Spanish chroniclers aver to have existed among the Indians of Porto
Rico and Cuba, that somewhere among the Lucayo Islands or in the
interior of Florida there existed a fountain whose waters had the
property of imparting _rejuvenescence_ and perpetuating perennial
youth. Only twenty years after the discoveries of Columbus, and more
than three centuries since, did the romantic Juan Ponce de Leon, an
associate of the Genoese and subsequent governor of Porto Rico,
explore the peninsula of Florida in search of this traditionary
fountain; of the success of the enterprise we have no account. Among
the other poetic founts of the "Land of {194} Flowers," we are _told_
of one situated but a few miles from Fort Gaines, called "Sappho's
Fount,"[139] from the idea which prevails that its waters impart the
power of producing sweet sounds to the voices of those who partake of
them.

It was near evening, when, emerging from the shades of the _barrens_,
which, like everything else, however beautiful, had, by continuous
succession, begun to become somewhat monotonous, my path issued rather
unexpectedly upon the margin of a wide, undulating prairie. I was
struck, as is every traveller at first view of these vast plains, with
the grandeur, and novelty, and loveliness of the scene before me. For
some moments I remained stationary, looking out upon the boundless
landscape before me. The tall grass-tops waving in the billowy beauty
in the breeze; the narrow pathway winding off like a serpent over the
rolling surface, disappearing and reappearing till lost in the
luxuriant herbage; the shadowy, cloud-like aspect of the far-off
trees, looming up, here and there, in isolated masses along the
horizon, like the pyramidal canvass of ships at sea; the deep-green
groves besprinkled among the vegetation, like islets in the waters;
the crimson-died prairie-flower flashing in the sun--these features of
inanimate nature seemed strangely beautiful to one born and bred amid
the bold mountain scenery of the North, and who now gazed upon them
"for the first."

  "The prairies! I behold them for the first,
  And my heart swells, while the dilated sight
  Takes in the encircling vastness."

{195} As I rode leisurely along upon the prairie's edge, I passed many
noble farms, with their log-cabins couched in a corner beneath the
forest; and, verily, would a farmer of Yankee-land "stare and gasp" to
behold the prairie cornfield of the Western emigrant; and yet more
would he be amazed to witness the rank, rustling luxuriance of the
vegetable itself. Descending a swell of the prairie near one of these
farms, a buck with his doe leaped out from a thicket beside my path,
and away, away bounded the "happy pair" over the grass-tops, free as
the wind. They are often shot upon the prairies, I was informed by an
old hunter, at whose cabin, in the middle of the plain, I drew up at
twilight, and with whom I passed the night. He was a pioneer from _the
dark and bloody ground_, and many a time had followed the wild buck
through those aged forests, where Boone, and Whitley, and Kenton once
roved.[140] Only fifty years ago, and for the first time were the
beautiful fields of Kentucky turned up by the ploughshare of the
Virginia emigrant; yet their very descendants of the first generation
we behold plunging deeper into the wilderness West. How would the
worthy old Governor Spotswood stand astounded, could he now rear his
venerable bones from their long resting-place, and look forth upon
this lovely land, far away beyond the Blue Ridge of the Alleghany
hills, the very passage of which he had deemed not unworthy "the
horseshoe of gold" and "the order tramontane." "_Sic juvat
transcendere montes._" Twenty years before Daniel Boone, "backwoodsman
of Kentucky," was {196} born, Alexander Spotswood, governor of
Virginia, undertook, with great preparation, a passage of the
Alleghany ridge. For this expedition were provided a large number of
horseshoes, an article not common in some sections of the "Old
Dominion;" and from this circumstance, upon their return, though
without a glimpse of the Western Valley, was instituted the
"_Tramontane Order_, or _Knights of the Golden Horseshoe_," with the
motto above. The badge of distinction for having made a passage of the
Blue Ridge was a golden horseshoe worn upon the breast. Could the
young man of that day have protracted the limits of life but a few
years beyond his threescore and ten, what astonishment would not have
filled him to behold _now_, as "the broad, the bright, the glorious
West," the region _then_ regarded as the unknown and howling
_wilderness beyond the mountains_! Yet even thus it is.[141]

A long ride over a dusty road, beneath a sultry sun, made me not
unwilling to retire to an early rest. But in a few hours my slumbers
were broken in upon by the glare of lightning and the crash of
thunder. For nearly five weeks had the prairies been refreshed by not
a solitary shower; and the withered crops and the parched soil, baked
to the consistency of stone or ground up to powder, betrayed alarming
evidence of the consequence. Day had succeeded day. The scorching sun
had gone up in the firmament, blazed from his meridian throne, and in
lurid sultriness descended to his rest. The subtle fluid had been
gathering and concentrating in the skies; and, early on the night of
{197} which I speak, an inky cloud had been perceived rolling slowly
up from the western horizon, until the whole heavens were enveloped in
blackness. Then the tempest burst forth. Peal upon peal the hoarse
thunder came booming over the prairies; and the red lightning would
glare, and stream, and almost hiss along the midnight sky, like
Ossian's storm-spirit riding on the blast. At length there was a hush
of elements, and all was still--"still as the spirit's silence;" then
came one prolonged, deafening, terrible crash and rattle, as if the
concave of the firmament had been rent asunder, and the splintered
fragments, hurled abroad, were flying through the boundlessness of
space; the next moment, and the torrents came weltering through the
darkness. I have witnessed thunder-storms on the deep, and many a one
among the cliffs of my native hills; but a midnight thunder-gust upon
the broad prairie-plains of the West is more terrible than they. A
more sublimely magnificent spectacle have I never beheld than that,
when one of these broad-sheeted masses of purple light would blaze
along the black bosom of the cloud, quiver for an instant over the
prairie miles in extent, flinging around the scene a garment of flame,
and then go out in darkness.

                                  "Oh night,
  And storm, and darkness, ye are wondrous strong,
  Yet lovely in your strength, as is the light
  Of a dark eye in woman!"

                              "Most glorious night!
  Thou wert not sent for slumber! let me be
  A sharer in thy fierce and far delight,
  A portion of the tempest and of thee!"

{198} And a sharer in the tempest surely was "a certain weary pilgrim,
in an upper chamber" of a certain log-cabin of the prairie. Unhappily
for his repose or quiet, had he desired either, the worthy host, in
laudable zeal for a window when erecting his hut, had thought proper
to neglect or to forget one of the indispensables for such a
convenience in shape of sundry panes of glass. Wherefore, as is easy
to perceive, said aperture commanding the right flank of the pilgrim's
dormitory, the warring elements without found abundant entrance for a
by-skirmish within. Sad to relate, the pilgrim was routed, "horse,
foot, and dragoons;" whereupon, agreeable to Falstaff's
_discretionary_ views of valour, seizing upon personal effects, he
beat a retreat to more hospitable realms.

_Greene County, Ill._



XVIII

  "What earthly feeling unabash'd can dwell
  In Nature's mighty presence? mid the swell
  Of everlasting hills, the roar of floods,
  And frown of rocks and pomp of waving woods?
  These their own grandeur on the soul impress,
  And bid each passion feel its nothingness."
                                                   HEMANS.

  "La grace est toujours unie à la magnificence, dans les
  scenes de la nature."--CHATEAUBRIAND'S "_Atala_."


It was morning. The storm had passed away, and the early sunlight was
streaming gloriously over the fresh landscape. The atmosphere,
discharged of its electric burden, was playing cool and free among the
grass-tops; the lark was carolling in the clouds above its grassy
nest; the deer was rising from his sprinkled lair, and the morning
mists were rolling heavily in masses along the skirts of the prairie
woodlands, as I mounted my horse at the door of the cabin beneath
whose roof I had passed the night. Before me at no great distance,
upon the edge of the plain, rose an open park of lofty oaks, with a
mossy turf beneath; and the whole scene, lighted up by the sunbeams
breaking through the ragged mists, presented a most gorgeous
spectacle. The entire wilderness of green; every bough, spray, leaf;
every blade of grass, wild weed, and floweret, was hung with trembling
{200} drops of liquid light, which, reflecting and refracting the
sun-rays, threw back all the hues of the iris. It was indeed a morning
of beauty after the tempest; and Nature seemed to have arrayed herself
in her bridal robes, glittering in all their own matchless jewellery
to greet its coming.

Constituted as we all naturally are, there exist, bound up within the
secresies of the bosom, certain emotions and sentiments, designed by
our Creator to leap forth in joyousness in view of the magnificence
of his works; certain springs of exquisite delicacy deep hidden in the
chambers of the breast, but which, touched or breathed upon never so
lightly, strike the keys of feeling and fill the heart with harmony.
And I envy not the feelings of that man who, amid all "the glories of
this visible world," can stand a passionless beholder; who feels not
his pulses thrill with quickened vibration, and his heart to heave in
fuller gush as he views the beneficence of his Maker in the
magnificence of his works; who from all can turn calmly away, and in
the chill, withering accents of Atheism, pronounce it the offspring of
blind fatality, the resultant of meaningless chance!

When we look abroad upon the panorama of creation, so palpable is the
impress of an omnipotent hand, and so deeply upon all its features is
planted the demonstration of design, that it would almost seem, in the
absence of reason and revelation, we need but contemplate the scenery
of nature to be satisfied of the existence of an all-wise,
all-powerful Being, whose workmanship it is. The {201} firmament, with
its marshalled and glittering hosts; the earth, spread out in
boundlessness at our feet, now draperied in the verdant freshness of
springtime, anon in the magnificent glories of summer sultriness,
again teeming with the mellow beauty of autumnal harvesting, and then
slumbering in the chill, cheerless desolation of winter, all proclaim
a Deity eternal in existence, boundless in might. The mountain that
rears its bald forehead to the clouds; the booming cataract; the
unfathomed, mysterious sounding ocean; the magnificent sweep of the
Western prairie; the eternal flow of the Western river, proclaim, in
tones extensive as the universe--tones not to be misunderstood, that
their CREATOR lives.

It is a circumstance in the character of the human mind, which not
the most careless or casual observer of its operations can fail to
have remarked, that the contemplation of all grand and immeasurable
objects has a tendency to enlarge and elevate the understanding, lend
a loftier tone to the feelings, and, agreeable to the moral
constitution of man, carry up his thoughts and his emotions directly
to their Author, "from Nature up to Nature's God." The savage son of
the wilderness, as he roams through his grand and gloomy forests,
which for centuries have veiled the soil at their base from the
sunlight, perceives a solemn awe stealing over him as he listens to
the surges of the winds rolling among the heavy branches; and in
Nature's simplicity, untaught but by her untutored promptings, he
believes that "the Great Spirit is whispering in {202} the tree tops."
He stands by the side of Niagara. With subdued emotions he gazes upon
the majestic world of floods as they hurry on. They reach the barrier!
they leap its precipice! they are lost in thunder and in foam! And, as
the raging waters disappear in the black abyss; as the bow of the
covenant, "like hope upon a deathbed," flings its irised arch in
horrible beauty athwart the hell of elements, the bewildered child of
nature feels his soul swell within his bosom; the thought rises
solemnly upon him, "the Great Spirit is here;" and with timid
solicitude he peers through the forest shades around him for some
palpable demonstration of His presence. And such is the effect of all
the grand scenes of nature upon the mind of the savage: they lead it
up to the "Great Spirit." Upon this principle is the fact alone to be
accounted for, that no race of beings has yet been discovered
destitute of _all_ idea of a Supreme Intelligence to whom is due
homage and obedience. It is _His_ voice they hear in the deep hour of
midnight, when the red lightning quivers along the bosom of the cloud,
and the thunder-peal rattles through the firmament. It is _He_ they
recognise in the bright orb of day, as he blazes from the eastern
horizon; or, "like a monarch on a funeral pile," sinks to his rest.
_He_ is beheld in the pale queen of night, as in silvery radiance she
walks the firmament, and in the beautiful star of evening as it sinks
behind his native hills. In the soft breathing of the "summer wind"
and in the terrible sublimity of the autumn tempest; in the gentle dew
of heaven and {203} the summer torrent; in the sparkling rivulet and
the wide, wild river; in the delicate prairie-flower and the gnarled
monarch of the hills; in the glittering minnow and the massive
narwhal; in the fairy humbird and the sweeping eagle; in each and in
all of the creations of universal nature, the mind of the savage sees,
feels, _realizes_ the presence of a Deity.

  "Earth with her thousand voices praises God!"

is the beautiful sentiment of Coleridge's hymn in the Vale of
Chamouni; and its truth will be doubted by no man of refined
sensibility or cultivated taste. In viewing the grand scenery of
nature, the mind of the savage and the poet alike perceive the
features of Deity; on the bright page of creation, in characters
enstamped by his own mighty hand, they read his perfections and his
attributes; the vast volume is spread out to every eye; he who will
may read and be wise. And yet, delightful and instructive as the study
of Nature's creations cannot fail to be, it is a strange thing that,
by many, so little regard is betrayed for them. How often do we gaze
upon the orb of day, as he goes down the western heavens in glory to
his rest; how often do we look away to the far-off star, as it pursues
in beauty its lonely pathway, distinct amid the myriads that surround
it; how often do we glance abroad upon the splendours of earth, and
then, from all this demonstration of Omnipotent goodness turn away
with not _one_ pulsation of gratitude to the Creator of suns and
stars; with not one aspiration of feeling, one acknowledgment of
regard to {204} the Lord of the universe? Yet surely, whatever
repinings may at times imbitter the unsanctified bosom in view of the
moral, the intellectual, or social arrangements of existence, there
should arise but one emotion, and that--_praise_ in view of
_inanimate_ nature. Here is naught but power and goodness; now, as at
the dawn of Creation's morning, "all is very good." But these are
scenes upon which the eye has turned from earliest infancy; and to
this cause alone may we attribute the fact, that though their grandeur
may never weary or their glories pall upon the sense, yet our gaze
upon them is often that of coldness and indifferent regard. Still
their influence upon us, though inappreciable, is sure. If we look
abroad upon the race of man, we cannot but admit the conviction that
natural scenery, hardly less than climate, government, or religion,
lays its impress upon human character. It is where Nature exhibits
herself in her loftiest moods that her influence on man is most
observable. 'Tis there we find the human mind most chainlessly free,
and the attachments of patriotic feeling most tenacious and exalted.
To what influence more than to that of the gigantic features of nature
around him, amid which he first opened his eyes to the light, and with
which from boyhood days he has been conversant, are we to attribute
that indomitable hate to oppression, that enthusiastic passion for
liberty, and that wild idolatry of country which characterizes the
Swiss mountaineer? _He_ would be free as the geyer-eagle of his native
cliffs, whose eyrie hangs in the clouds, whose eye brightens in {205}
the sunlight, whose wild shriek rises on the tempest, and whose fierce
brood is nurtured amid crags untrodden by the footstep of man. To
_his_ ear the sweep of the terrible _lauwine_, the dash of the
mountain cataract, the sullen roar of the mountain forest, is a music
for which, in a foreign land, he pines away and dies. And all these
scenes have but one language--and that is chainless _independence_!

It is a fact well established, and one to be accounted for upon no
principle other than that which we advance, that the dwellers in
mountainous regions, and those whose homes are amid the grandeur of
nature, are found to be more attached to the spot of their nativity
than are other races of men, and that they are ever more forward to
defend their ice-clad precipices from the attack of the invader. For
centuries have the Swiss inhabited the mountains of the Alps. They
inhabit them still, and have never been entirely subdued. But

  "The free Switzer yet bestrides _alone_
  His chainless mountains."

Of what _other_ nation of Europe, if we except the Highlands of
Scotland, may anything like the same assertion with truth be made? We
are told that the mountains of Caucasus and Himmalaya, in Asia, still
retain the race of people which from time immemorial have possessed
them. The same accents echo along their "tuneful cliffs" as centuries
since were listened to by the patriarchs; while at their base, chance,
and change, and conquest, like successive floods, have swept the
delta-plains of {206} the Ganges and Euphrates. These are but isolated
instances from a multitude of similar character, which might be
advanced in support of the position we have assumed. Nor is it strange
that peculiarities like these should be witnessed. There must ever be
_something_ to love, if the emotion is to be permanently called forth;
it matters little whether it be in the features of inanimate nature or
in those of man; and, alike in both cases, do the boldest and most
prominent create the deepest impression. Just so it is with our
admiration of character; there must exist bold and distinctive traits,
good or bad, to arouse for it unusual regard. A monotony of character
or of feeling is as wearisome as a monotony of sound or scenery.

But to return from a digression which has become unconscionably long.
After a brisk gallop of a few hours through the delightful scenery of
the Barrens, I found myself approaching the little town of
Carlinville. As I drew nigh to the village, I found it absolutely
reeling under the excitement of the "Grand Menagerie." From all points
of the compass, men, women, and children, emerging from the forest,
came pouring into the place, some upon horses, some in farm-wagons,
and troops of others on foot, slipping and sliding along in a fashion
most distressing to behold. The soil in this vicinity is a black loam
of surpassing fertility; and, when saturated with moisture, it adheres
to the sole with most pertinacious tenacity, more like to an amalgam
of soot and soap-grease than to any other substance that has ever come
under my cognizance. The inn {207} was thronged by neighbouring
farmers, some canvassing the relative and individual merits of the
_Zebedee_ and the _Portimous_; others sagely dwelling upon the mooted
point of peril to be apprehended from the great _sarpent_--_Boy
Contractor_; while little unwashen wights did run about and
dangerously prophecy on the recent disappearance of the big elephant.

Carlinville is a considerable village, situated on the margin of a
pleasant prairie, on the north side of Macoupin Creek, and is the seat
of justice for the county. The name _Macoupin_ is said to be of
aboriginal derivation, and by the early French chroniclers was spelled
and pronounced _Ma-qua-pin_, until its present uncomely combination of
letters became legalized on the statute-book. The term, we are told
by Charlevoix, the French _voyageur_, is the Indian name of an
esculent with a broad corolla, found in many of the ponds and creeks
of Illinois, especially along the course of the romantic stream
bearing its name. The larger roots, eaten raw, were poisonous, and the
natives were accustomed to dig ovens in the earth, into which, being
walled up with flat stones and heated, was deposited the vegetable.
After remaining for forty-eight hours in this situation, the
deleterious qualities were found extracted, and the root being dried,
was esteemed a luxury by the Indians. The region bordering upon
Carlinville is amazingly fertile, and proportionally divided into
prairie and timber--a circumstance by no means unworthy of notice.
There has been a design of establishing {208} here a Theological
Seminary, but the question of its site has been a point easier to
discuss than to decide.[142] My tarry at the village was a brief one,
though I became acquainted with a number of its worthy citizens; and
in the log-office of a young limb of _legality_, obtained, as a
special distinction, a glance at a forthcoming "Fourth-of-July"
oration, fruitful in those sonorous periods and stereotyped patriotics
indispensable on such occasions, and, at all hazard, made and provided
for them. As I was leaving the village I was met by multitudes,
pouring in from all sections of the surrounding region, literally
thronging the ways; mothers on horseback, with young children in their
arms; fathers with daughters and wives _en croupe_, and at intervals
an individual, in quiet possession of an entire animal, came sliding
along in the mud, in fashion marvellously entertaining to witness. A
huge cart there likewise was, which excited no small degree of
admiration as it rolled on, swarmed with women and children. An aged
patriarch, with hoary locks resting upon his shoulders, enacted the
part of charioteer to this primitive establishment; and now, in
zealous impatience to reach the scene of action, from which the
braying horns came resounding loud and clear through the forest, he
was wretchedly belabouring, by means of an endless whip, six unhappy
oxen to augment their speed.

I had travelled not many miles when a black cloud spread itself
rapidly over the sky, and in a few moments the thunder began to
bellow, the lightnings to flash, and the rain to fall in torrents.
{209} Luckily enough for me, I found myself in the neighbourhood of
man's habitation. Leaping hastily from my steed, and lending him an
impetus with my riding whip which carried him safely beneath a
hospitable shed which stood thereby, I betook myself, without ceremony
or delay, to the mansion house itself, glad enough to find its roof
above me as the first big raindrops came splashing to the ground. The
little edifice was tenanted by three females and divers flaxen-pated,
sun-bleached urchins of all ages and sizes, and, at the moment of my
entrance, all in high dudgeon, because, forsooth, they were not to be
permitted to drench themselves in the anticipated shower. Like Noah's
dove, they were accordingly pulled within the ark, and thereupon
thought proper to set up their several and collective _Ebenezers_.

"Well!" was my exclamation, in true Yankee fashion, as I bowed my head
low in entering the humble postern; "we're going to get pretty
considerable of a sprinkling, I guess." "I reckon," was the
sententious response of the most motherly-seeming of the three women,
at the same time vociferating to the three larger of the children,
"Oh, there, you Bill, Sall, Polly, honeys, get the gentleman a cheer!
Walk in, sir; set down and take a seat!" This evolution of "setting
down and taking a seat" was at length successfully effected, after
sundry manoeuvrings by way of planting the three pedestals of the
uncouth tripod upon the same plane, and avoiding the fearful yawnings
in the _puncheon_ floor. When all was at length quiet, I {210}
improved the opportunity of gazing about me to explore the curious
habitation into which I found myself inserted.

The structure, about twenty feet square, had originally been
constructed of rough logs, the interstices stuffed with fragments of
wood and stone, and daubed with clay; the chimney was built up of
sticks laid crosswise, and plastered with the same material to resist
the fire. Such had been the backwoodsman's cabin in its primitive
prime; but time and the elements had been busy with the little
edifice, and sadly had it suffered. Window or casement was there none,
neither was there need thereof; for the hingeless door stood ever
open, the clay was disappearing from the intervals between the logs,
and the huge fireplace of stone exhibited yawning apertures,
abundantly sufficient for all the purposes of light and ventilation to
the single apartment of the building. The _puncheon_ floor I have
alluded to, and it corresponded well with the roof of the cabin, which
had never, in its best estate, been designed to resist the peltings of
such a pitiless torrent as was now assailing it. The water soon began
trickling in little rivulets upon my shoulders, and my only
alternative was my umbrella for shelter. The furniture of the
apartment consisted of two plank-erections designed for bedsteads,
which, with a tall clothes-press, divers rude boxes, and a
side-saddle, occupied a better moiety of the area; while a rough
table, a shelf against the wall, upon which stood a water-pail, a
gourd, and a few broken trenchers, completed the household
paraphernalia {211} of this most unique of habitations. A
half-consumed flitch of bacon suspended in the chimney, and a huge
iron pot upon the fire, from which issued a savoury indication of the
seething mess within, completes the "still-life" of the picture. Upon
one of the beds reclined one of the females to avoid the rain; a
second was alternating her attentions between her infant and her
needle; while the third, a buxom young baggage, who, by-the-by, was on
a visit to her sister, was busying herself in the culinary occupations
of the household, much the chief portion of which consisted in
watching the huge dinner-pot aforesaid, with its savoury contents.

After remaining nearly two hours in the cabin, in hopes that the storm
would abate, I concluded that, since my umbrella was no sinecure
_within_ doors, it might as well be put in requisition _without_, and
mounted my steed, though the rain was yet falling. I had proceeded but
a few miles upon the muddy pathway when my compass informed me that I
had varied from my route, a circumstance by no means uncommon on the
Western prairies. During the whole afternoon, therefore, I continued
upon my way across a broad pathless prairie, some twelve or eighteen
miles in extent, and dreary enough withal, until nightfall, when I
rejoiced to find myself the inmate of the comfortable farmhouse upon
its edge from which my last was dated.

_Hillsborough, Ill._



XIX

        "Skies softly beautiful, and blue
          As Italy's, with stars as bright;
        Flowers rich as morning's sunrise hue,
          And gorgeous as the gemm'd midnight.
        Land of the West! green Forest Land,
        Thus hath Creation's bounteous hand
        Upon thine ample bosom flung
  Charms such as were her gift when the green world was young!"
                                                          GALLAGHER.

  "Go thou to the house of prayer,
  I to the woodlands will repair."
                                     KIRK WHITE.

  "There is religion in a flower;
  Its still small voice is as the voice of conscience."
                                                           BELL.


More than three centuries ago, when the romantic Ponce de Leon, with
his chivalrous followers, first planted foot upon the southern
extremity of the great Western Valley, the discovery of the far-famed
"Fountain of Youth" was the wild vision which lured him on. Though
disappointed in the object of his enterprise, the adventurous Spaniard
was enraptured with the loveliness of a land which even the golden
realms of "Old Castile" had never realized; and _Florida_,[143] "the
Land of Flowers," was the poetic name it inspired. Twenty years, and
the bold soldier Ferdinand de Soto, of Cuba, {213} the associate of
Pizarro, with a thousand steel-clad warriors at his back, penetrated
the valley to the far-distant post of Arkansas, and "_El padre de las
aguas_" was the expressive name of the mighty stream he discovered,
beneath the eternal flow of whose surges he laid his bones to their
rest.[144] "_La Belle Rivière!_" was the delighted exclamation which
burst from the lips of the Canadian voyageur, as, with wonder hourly
increasing, he glided in his light pirogue between the swelling
bluffs, and wound among the thousand isles of the beautiful Ohio. The
heroic Norman, Sieur La Salle, when for the first time he beheld the
pleasant hunting-grounds of the peaceful Illini, pronounced them a
"Terrestrial Paradise." Daniel Boone, the bold pioneer of the West,
fifty years ago, when standing on the last blue line of the
Alleghanies, and at the close of a day of weary journeying, he looked
down upon the beautiful fields of "Old Kentucke," now gilded by the
evening sun, turned his back for ever upon the green banks of the
Yadkin and the soil of his nativity, hailing the glories of a
new-found home.[145]

                  "Fair wert thou, in the dreams
  Of elder time, thou land of glorious flowers,
  And summer winds, and low-toned silvery streams,
  Dim with the shadows of thy laurel bowers."

And thus has it ever been; and even yet the "pilgrim from the North"
rejoices with untold joy over the golden beauties of the Valley beyond
the Mountains.

{214} It was a fine Sabbath morning when I mounted my steed at the
gate of the log farmhouse where I had passed the night, to pursue my
journey over the prairie, upon the verge of which it stood. The
village of Hillsborough was but a few miles distant, and there I had
resolved to observe the sacredness of the day. The showers of the
preceding evening had refreshed the atmosphere, which danced over the
plain in exhilarating gales, and rustled among the boughs of the green
woodlands I was leaving. Before me was spread out a waving, undulating
landscape, with herds of cattle sprinkled here and there in isolated
masses over the surface; the rabbit and wild-fowl were sporting along
the pathway, and the bright woodpecker, with his splendid plumage and
querulous note, was flitting to and fro among the thickets. Far away
along the eastern horizon stretched the dark line of forest. The
gorgeous prairie-flower flung out its crimson petals upon the breeze,
"blushing like a banner bathed in slaughter," and methought it snapped
more gayly in the morning sunbeams than it was wont; the long grass
rustled musically its wavy masses back and forth, and, amid the
Sabbath stillness around, methought there were there notes of
sweetness not before observed. The whole scene lay calm and quiet, as
if Nature, if not man, recognised the Divine injunction _to rest_; and
the idea suggested itself, that a solitary Sabbath on the wild
prairie, in silent converse with the Almighty, might not be all
unprofitable. {215}

  "Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
    The bridal of the earth and sky,
  Sweet dews shall weep thy fall to-night,
        For thou must die."[146]

From the centre of the prairie the landscape rolled gracefully away
towards the eastern timber, studded along its edge with farms. The
retrospect from beneath the tall oaks of the prairie over which I had
passed was exceedingly fine; the idea strikes the spectator at once,
and with much force, that the whole plain was once a sheet of water.
Indeed, were we to form our opinion from the _appearance_ of many of
the prairies of Illinois, the idea would be irresistible, that this
peculiar species of surface originated in a submersion of the whole
state. There are many circumstances which lead us to the conclusion
that these vast meadows once formed the bed of a body of water similar
to the Northern lakes; and when the lowest point at the _Grand Tower_
on the Mississippi was torn away by some convulsion of nature, a
uniform surface of fine rich mud was left. The ravines were ploughed
in the soft soil by subsequent floods, and hence, while the elevated
lands are fertile, those more depressed are far less so. The soil of
the prairies is of a character decidedly alluvial, being composed of
compact strata of loam piled upon each other, like that at the bottom
of bodies of water long stagnant. The first stratum is a black,
pliable mould, from two feet to five in depth; the second a red clay,
amalgamated with sand, from {216} five to ten feet in thickness; the
third a blue clay, mixed with pebbles, of beautiful appearance,
unctuous to the feeling, and, when exposed to the atmosphere, of a
fetid smell. Lakes are often found in the prairies abounding in fish,
which, when the waters subside, are removed by cartloads. The origin
of these vast prairie-plains is, after all, no easy matter to decide;
but, whatever the cause, they have doubtless been perpetuated by the
autumnal fires which, year after year, from an era which the earliest
chronicles of history or tradition have failed to record, have swept
their surface; for, as soon as the grass is destroyed by the plough,
the winged seeds of the cotton-wood and sycamore take root, and a
young growth of timber sprouts forth. The same is true along the
margin of creeks and streams, or upon steril or wet prairies, where
the vegetation does not become sufficiently heavy or combustible for
conflagration to a great extent. These fires originated either in the
friction of the sear and tinder-like underbrush, agitated by the high
winds, or they were kindled by the Indians for the purpose of
dislodging game. The mode of hunting by circular fires is said to have
prevailed at the time when Captain Smith first visited the shores of
Chesapeake Bay, where extensive prairies then existed. These plains,
by cultivation, have long since disappeared. Mungo Park describes the
annual fires upon the plains of Western Africa for a similar purpose
and with the same result.[147] Tracts of considerable extent in {217}
the older settlements of the country, which many years since were
meadow, are clothed with forest.

"Coot morning, shur! A pleashant tay, shur! Coome in, shur!" was the
hospitable greeting of mine host, or rather of the major domo of the
little brick hostelrie of Hillsborough as I drove up to the bar-room
entrance. He was a comical-looking, bottle-shaped little personage,
with a jolly red nose, all the brighter, doubtless, for certain goodly
potations of his own goodly admixtures; with a brief brace of legs,
inserted into a pair of inexpressibles _à la Turque_, a world too big,
and a white capote a world too little, to complete the Sunday toilet.
He could boast, moreover, that amazing lubricity of speech, and that
oiliness of tongue wherewith sinful publicans have ever been prone to
beguile unwary wayfarers, _taking in travellers_, forsooth! Before I
was fully aware of the change in my circumstances, I found myself
quietly dispossessed of horse and equipments, and placing my foot
across the threshold. The fleshy little Dutchman, though now secure in
his capture, proceeded to redouble his assiduities.

"Anything to trink, shur? Plack your poots, shur? shave your face,
shur?" and a host of farther interrogatories, which I at length
contrived to cut short with, "Show me a chamber, sir!"

The Presbyterian Church, at which I attended worship, is a neat little
edifice of brick, in modern style, but not completed. The walls
remained unconscious of plaster; the orchestra, a naked scaffolding;
the pulpit, a box of rough boards; and, {218} more _picturesque_ than
all, in lieu of pews, slips, or any such thing, a few coarse slabs of
all forms and fashions, supported on remnants of timber and plank,
occupied the open area for seats. And marvellously comfortless are
such seats, to my certain experience. In the evening I attended the
"Luteran Church," as my major domo styled it, at the special instance
of one of its worthy members. This house of worship is designed for a
large one--the largest in the state, I was informed--but, like its
neighbour, was as yet but commenced. The external walls were quite
complete; but the rafters, beams, studs, and braces within presented a
mere skeleton, while a few loose boards, which sprang and creaked
beneath the foot, were spread over the sleepers as an apology for a
floor. There's practical utility for an economist! Because a church is
unfinished is no good and sufficient reason why it should remain
unoccupied!

As we entered the building, my _cicerone_ very unexpectedly favoured
me with an introduction to the minister. He was a dark, solemn-looking
man, with a huge Bible and psalm-book choicely tucked under his left
arm. After sundry glances at my dress and demeanour, and other sundry
whisperings in the ear of my companion, the good man drew nigh, and
delivered himself of the interrogatory, "Are you a clergyman, sir?" At
this sage inquiry, so sagely administered, my rebellious lips
struggled with a smile, which, I misdoubt me much, was not unobserved
by the dark-looking minister; {219} for, upon my reply in the
negative, he turned very unceremoniously away, and betook him to his
pulpit. By-the-by, this had by no means been the first time I had been
called to answer the same inquiry during my ramble in the West.

On returning to our lodgings after service, we found quite a
respectable congregation gathered around the signpost, to whom my pink
of major domos was holding forth in no measured terms upon the
propriety of "letting off the pig guns" at the dawning of the
ever-memorable morrow,[148] "in honour of the tay when our old farders
fought like coot fellows; they tid so, py jingoes; and I'll pe out at
tree o'glock, py jingoes, I will so," raphsodied the little Dutchman,
warming up under the fervour of his own eloquence. This subject was
still the theme of his rejoicing when he marshalled me to my dormitory
and wished me "pleashant treams."

The first faint streak of crimson along the eastern heavens beheld me
mounting at the door of the inn; and by my side was the patriotic
domo, bowing, and ducking, and telling over all manner of kind wishes
till I had evanished from view. A more precious relic of the true
oldfashioned, swaggering, pot-bellied publican is rarely to be met,
than that which I encountered in the person of the odd little genius
whose peculiarities I have recounted: even the worthy old "Caleb of
Ravenswood," that miracle of major domos, would not {220} have
disowned my _Dutchy_ for a brother craftsman. The village of
Hillsborough is a pleasant, healthy, thriving place; and being
intersected by some of the most important state routes, will always
remain a thoroughfare. An attempt has been made by one of its citizens
to obtain for this place the location of the Theological Seminary now
in contemplation in the vicinity rather than at Carlinville, and the
offer he has made is a truly munificent one. The site proposed is a
beautiful mound, rising on the prairie's edge south of the village,
commanding a view for miles in every direction, and is far more
eligible than any spot I ever observed in Carlinville.

After crossing a prairie about a dozen miles in width, and taking
breakfast with a farmer upon its edge, I continued my journey over the
undulating plains until near the middle of the afternoon, when I
reached my present stage. The whole region, as I journeyed through it,
lay still and quiet: every farmhouse and log-cabin was deserted by its
tenants, who had congregated to the nearest villages to celebrate the
day; and, verily, not a little did my heart smite me at my own
heedless desecration of the political Sabbath of our land.

_Vandalia, Ill._



XX

  "There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
  There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
  There is society where none intrudes--"
                                              _Childe Harold._

  "The sun in all his broad career
  Ne'er looked upon a fairer land,
  Or brighter skies or sweeter scenes."


Ever since the days of that king of vagabonds, the mighty Nimrod of
sacred story, and, for aught to the contrary, as long before, there
has existed a certain roving, tameless race of wights, whose chief
delight has consisted in wandering up and down upon the face of the
earth, with no definite object of pursuit, and with no motive of
peregrination save a kind of restless, unsatisfied craving after
change; in its results much like the migratory instinct of
passage-birds, but, unlike that periodical instinct, incessant in
exercise. Now, whether it so be that a tincture of this same vagrant,
Bohemian spirit is coursing my veins under the name of "Yankee
enterprise," or whether, in my wanderings through these wild,
unsettled regions, I have imbibed a portion thereof, is not for me to
decide. Nevertheless, sure it is, not unfrequently are its promptings
detected as I journey through this beautiful land.

It is evening now, and, after the fatigues of a pleasant day's ride, I
am seated beneath the piazza {222} of a neat farmhouse in the edge of
a forest, through which, for the last hour, my path has conducted, and
looking out upon a broad landscape of prairie. My landlord, a
high-minded, haughty Virginia emigrant, bitterly complains because,
forsooth, in the absence of slave-labour, he is forced to cultivate
his own farm; and though, by the aid of a Dutchman, he has made a
pretty place of it, yet he vows by all he loves to lay his bones
within the boundaries of the "Ancient Dominion." My ride since noon
has been delightful; over broad plains, intersected by deep creeks,
with their densely-wooded bottoms. These streams constitute one of the
most romantic features of the country. I have crossed very many during
my tour, and all exhibit the same characteristics: a broad, deep-cut
channel, with precipitous banks loaded with enormous trees, their
trunks interwoven and matted with tangled underbrush and gigantic
vegetation. As the traveller stands upon the arch of the bridge of
logs thrown over these creeks, sometimes with an altitude at the
centre of forty feet, he looks down upon a stream flowing in a deep,
serpentine bed, and winding away into the dusky shades of the
overhanging woods, until a graceful bend withdraws the dark surface of
the waters from his view. In the dry months of summer, these creeks
and ravines are either completely free of water, or contain but a mere
rivulet; and the traveller is amazed at the depth and breadth of a
channel so scantily supplied. But at the season of the spring or
autumnal rains the scene is changed: a deep, turbid torrent rolls
{223} wildly onward through the dark woods, bearing on its surface the
trunks of trees and the ruins of bridges swept from its banks; and the
stream which, a few weeks before, would scarcely have wet the
traveller's sole, is now an obstacle in his route difficult and
dangerous to overcome.

Within a few miles of my present quarters an adventure transpired of
some slight interest to _myself_, at least, as it afforded me a weary
trudge beneath a broiling sun. As I was leisurely pursuing my way
through the forest, I had chanced to spy upon the banks of the
roadside a cluster of wild flowers of hues unusually brilliant; and,
with a spirit worthy of Dr. Bat,[149] I at once resolved they should
enrich my "_hortus siccus_." Alighting, therefore, and leaving my
steed by the roadside, I at length succeeded, after most laudable
scramblings for the advancement of science, in gathering up a bouquet
of surpassing magnificence. Alas! alas! would it had been less so; for
my youthful steed, all unused to such sights and actions, and
possessing, moreover, a most sovereign and shameful indifference to
the glories of botany, had long, with suspicious and sidelong glances,
been eying the vagaries of his truant master; and now, no sooner did
he draw nigh to resume his seat and journey, than the ungracious and
ungrateful quadruped flung aloft his head, and away he careered
through the green branches, mane streaming and saddle-bags flapping.
In vain was the brute addressed in language the most mild and
conciliatory that ever insinuated itself into horse's lug; in vain was
he ordered, {224} in tones of stern mandate, to cease his shameless
and unnatural rebellion, and to surrender himself incontinently and
without delay to his liege: entreaty and command, remonstrance and
menace, were alike unsuccessful; and away he flew, "with flowing tail
and flying mane," in utter contempt of all former or future vassalage.
At one moment he stood the attitude of humbleness and submission,
coolly cropping the herbage of the high banks; and then, the instant
the proximity of his much-abused master became perilous to his
freedom, aloft flew mane and tail, and away, away, the animal was off,
until an interval consistent with his new-gained license lay behind
him. After an hour of vexatious toiling through dust and sun, a
happily-executed manoeuvre once more placed the most undutiful of
creatures in my power. And then, be ye sure, that in true Gilpin
fashion, "whip and spur did make amends" for all arrears of unavenged
misbehaviour.

  "Twas for your pleasure that I _walked_,
  Now you shall RUN for mine,"

was the very Christian spirit of retaliation which animated the few
succeeding miles.

"But something too much of this." Some pages back I was entering the
capital of Illinois. The town is approached from the north, through a
scattered forest, separating it from the prairies; and its unusually
large and isolated buildings, few in number as they are, stationed
here and there upon the eminences of the broken surface, give the
place a singularly novel aspect viewed from the adjacent {225}
heights. There is but little of scenic attraction about the place,
and, to the traveller's eye, still less of the picturesque. Such huge
structures as are here beheld, in a town so inconsiderable in extent,
present an unnatural and forced aspect to one who has just emerged
from the wild waste of the neighbouring prairies, sprinkled with their
humble tenements of logs. The scene is not in keeping; it is not
picturesque. Such, at all events, were my "first impressions" on
entering the village, and _first_ impressions are not necessarily
false. As I drew nigh to the huge white tavern, a host of people were
swarming the doors; and, from certain uncouth noises which from time
to time went up from the midst thereof, not an inconsiderable portion
of the worthy multitude seemed to have succeeded in rendering
themselves gloriously tipsy in honour of the glorious day. There was
one keen, bilious-looking genius in linsey-woolsey, with a face, in
its intoxicated state, like a red-hot tomahawk, whom I regarded with
special admiration as high-priest of the bacchanal; and so fierce and
high were his objurgations, that the idea with some force suggested
itself, whether, in the course of years, he had not screamed his lean
and hungry visage to its present hatchet-like proportions. May he
forgive if I err. But not yet were my adventures over. Having effected
a retreat from the abominations of the bar-room, I had retired to a
chamber in the most quiet corner of the mansion, and had seated myself
to endite an epistle, when a rap at the door announced the presence of
mine host, leading along an old {226} yeoman whom I had noticed among
the revellers; and, having given him a ceremonious introduction,
withdrew. To what circumstance I was indebted for this unexpected
honour, I was puzzling myself to divine, when the old gentleman, after
a preface of clearings of the throat and scratchings of the head, gave
me briefly to understand, much to my admiration, that I was believed
to be neither more nor less than an "Agent for a Western Land
Speculating Company of the North," etc., etc.: and then, in a
confidential tone, before a syllable of negation or affirmation could
be offered, that he "owned a certain tract of land, so many acres
prairie, so many timber, so many cultivated, so many wild," etc.,
etc.: the sequel was anticipated by undeceiving the old farmer
forthwith, though with no little difficulty. The cause of this mistake
I subsequently discovered to be a very slight circumstance. On the
tavern register in the bar-room I had entered as my residence my
native home at the North, more for the novelty of the idea than for
anything else; or because, being a sort of cosmopolitan, I might
presume myself at liberty to appropriate any spot I thought proper as
that of my departure or destination. As a matter of course, and with
laudable desire to augment their sum of useful knowledge, no sooner
had the traveller turned from the register than the sagacious host and
his compeer brandy-bibbers turned towards it; and being unable to
conceive any reasonable excuse for a man to be wandering so far from
his home except for lucre's sake, the conclusion at once and
irresistibly followed that {227} the stranger was a land-speculator,
or something thereunto akin; and it required not many moments for
such a wildfire idea to run through such an inflammable mass of
curiosity.

With the situation and appearance of Vandalia I was not, as I have
expressed myself, much prepossessed; indeed, I was somewhat
disappointed.[150] Though not prepared for anything very striking, yet
in the capital of a state we always anticipate something, if not
superior or equal, at least not inferior to neighbouring towns of less
note. Its site is an elevated, undulating tract upon the west bank of
the Kaskaskia, and was once heavily timbered, as are now its suburbs.
The streets are of liberal breadth--some of them not less than eighty
feet from kerb to kerb--enclosing an elevated public square nearly in
the centre of the village, which a little expenditure of time and
money might render a delightful promenade. The public edifices are
very inconsiderable, consisting of an ordinary structure of brick for
legislative purposes; a similar building originally erected as a
banking establishment, but now occupied by the offices of the state
authorities; a Presbyterian Church, with cupola and bell, besides a
number of lesser buildings for purposes of worship and education. A
handsome structure of stone for a bank is, however, in progress,
which, when completed, with other public buildings in contemplation,
will add much to the aspect of the place. Here also is a land-office
for the district, and the Cumberland Road is permanently located and
partially constructed to the {228} place. An historical and
antiquarian society has here existed for about ten years, and its
published proceedings evince much research and information. "The
Illinois Magazine" was the name of an ably-conducted periodical
commenced at this town some years since, and prosperously carried on
by Judge Hall, but subsequently removed to Cincinnati.[151] Some of
the articles published in this magazine, descriptive of the state,
were of high merit. It is passing strange that a town like Vandalia,
with all the natural and artificial advantages it possesses; located
nearly twenty years ago, by state authority, expressly as the seat of
government; situated upon the banks of a fine stream, which small
expense would render navigable for steamers, and in the heart of a
healthy and fertile region, should have increased and flourished no
more than seems to have been the case. Vandalia will continue the seat
of government until the year 1840; when, agreeable to the late act of
Legislature, it is to be removed to Springfield, where an
appropriation of $50,000 has been made for a state-house now in
progress.

The growth of Vandalia, though tardy, can perhaps be deemed so only in
comparison with the more rapid advancement of neighbouring towns; for
a few years after it was laid off it was unsurpassed in improvement by
any other. We are told that the first legislators who assembled in
session at this place sought their way through the neighbouring
prairies as the mariner steers over the trackless ocean, by his
knowledge of the cardinal points. {229} Judges and lawyers came
pouring in from opposite directions, as wandering tribes assemble to
council; and many were the tales of adventure and mishap related at
their meeting. Some had been lost in the prairies; some had slept in
the woods; some had been almost chilled to death, plunging through
creeks and rivers. A rich growth of majestic oaks then covered the
site of the future metropolis; tangled thickets almost impervious to
human foot surrounded it, and all was wilderness on every side.
Wonderful accounts of the country to the north; of rich lands, and
pure streams, and prairies more beautiful than any yet discovered,
soon began to come in by the hunters.[152] But over that country the
Indian yet roved, and the adventurous pioneer neither owned the soil
he cultivated, nor had the power to retain its possession from the
savage. Only eight years after this, and a change, as if by magic, had
come over the little village of Vandalia; and not only so, but over
the whole state, which was now discovered to be a region more
extensive and far more fertile than the "sacred island of Britain."
The region previously the frontier formed the heart of the fairest
portion of the state, and a dozen new counties were formed within its
extent. Mail-routes and post-roads, diverging in all directions from
the capital, had been established, and canals and railways had been
projected. Eight years more, and the "Northern frontier" is the seat
of power and population; and {230} here is removed the seat of
government, because the older settlements have not kept pace in
advancement.

It was a fine mellow morning when I left Vandalia to pursue my journey
over the prairies to Carlisle. For some miles my route lay through a
dense clump of old woods, relieved at intervals by extended glades of
sparser growth. This road is but little travelled, and so obscure that
for most of the way I could avail myself of no other guide than the
"_blaze_" upon the trees; and this mark in many places, from its
ancient, weather-beaten aspect, seemed placed there by the axe of the
earliest pioneer. Rank grass has obliterated the pathway, and
overhanging boughs brush the cheek. It was in one of those extended
glades I have mentioned that a nobly-antlered buck and his beautiful
doe sprang out upon the path, and stood gazing upon me from the
wayside until I had approached so near that a rifle, even in hands all
unskilled in "gentle woodcraft," had not been harmless. I was even
beginning to meditate upon the probable effect of a pistol-shot at
twenty paces, when the graceful animals, throwing proudly up their
arching necks, bounded off into the thicket. Not many miles from the
spot I shared the rough fare of an old hunter, who related many
interesting facts in the character and habits of this animal, and
detailed some curious anecdotes in the history of his own wild life.
He was just about leaving his lodge on a short hunting excursion, and
the absence of a rifle alone prevented me from accepting a civil
request to bear him company.

{231} Most of the route from Vandalia to Carlisle is very tolerable,
with the exception of one detestable spot, fitly named "Hurricane
Bottom;" a more dreary, desolate, purgatorial region than which, I am
very free to say, exists not in Illinois.[153] It is a densely-wooded
swamp, composed of soft blue clay, exceedingly tenacious to the touch
and fetid in odour, extending nearly two miles. A regular highway over
this mud-hole can scarcely be said to exist, though repeated attempts
to construct one have been made at great expense: and now the
traveller, upon entering this "slough of despond," gives his horse the
reins to slump, and slide, and plunge, and struggle through among the
mud-daubed trees to the best of his skill and ability.

Night overtook me in the very heart of a broad prairie; and, like the
sea, a desolate place is the prairie of a dark night. It demanded no
little exercise of the eye and judgment to continue upon a route
where the path was constantly diverging and varying in all directions.
A bright glare of light at a distance at length arrested my attention.
On approaching, I found it to proceed from an encampment of tired
emigrants, whose ponderous teams were wheeled up around the blazing
fire; while the hungry oxen, released from the yoke, were browsing
upon the tops of the tall prairie-grass on every side. This grass,
though coarse in appearance, in the early stages of its growth
resembles young wheat, and furnishes a rich and succulent food for
cattle. It is even asserted that, when running at large in fields
where the young wheat covers the {232} ground, cattle choose the
prairie-grass in the margin of the field in preference to the wheat
itself. A few scattered, twinkling lights, and the fresh-smelling air
from the Kaskaskia, soon after informed me that I was not far from the
village of Carlisle.[154] This is a pleasant, romantic little town,
upon the west bank of the river, and upon the great stage-route
through the state from St. Louis to Vincennes. This circumstance, and
the intersection of several other state thoroughfares, give it the
animated, business-like aspect of a market town, not often witnessed
in a village so remote from the advantages of general commerce. Its
site is elevated and salubrious, on the border of a fertile prairie:
yet, notwithstanding all these advantages, Carlisle cannot be said to
have increased very rapidly when we consider that twenty years have
elapsed since it was first laid off for a town. It is the seat of
justice for Clinton county, and can boast a wooden courthouse in
"ruinous perfection." In its vicinity are some beautiful
country-seats. One of these, named "Mound Farm," the delightful
residence of Judge B----, imbowered in trees and shrubbery, and about
a mile from the village, I visited during my stay. It commands from
its elevated site a noble view of the neighbouring prairie, the
village and river at its foot, and the adjacent farms. Under the
superintendence of cultivated taste, this spot may become one of the
loveliest retreats in Illinois.

_Clinton County, Ill._



XXI

  "To him who, in the love of Nature, holds
  Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
  A various language."
                                                THANATOPSIS.

  "The sunny Italy may boast
    The beauteous tints that flush her skies,
  And lovely round the Grecian coast
    May thy blue pillars rise:
  I only know how fair they stand
  About my own beloved land."
                                       _The Skies._--BRYANT.


To the man of cultivated imagination and delicate taste, the study of
nature never fails to afford a gratification, refined as it is
exquisite. In the pencilled petals of the flower as it bows to the
evening breeze; in the glittering scales of the fish leaping from the
wave; in the splendid plumage of the forest-bird, and in the
music-tinklings of the wreathed and enamelled sea-shell rocked by the
billow, he recognises an eloquence of beauty which he alone can
appreciate. For him, too, the myriad forms of animate creation unite
with inanimate nature in one mighty hymn of glory to their Maker, from
the hum of the sparkling ephemeroid as he blithely dances away his
little life in the beams of a summer sun, and the rustling music of
the prairie-weed swept by the winds, to the roar of the shaggy woods
upon the mountain-side, and the fierce, wild shriek of the
ocean-eagle. To investigate {234} the more minute and delicate of
Nature's workings is indeed a delightful task; and along this fairy
and flowery pathway the cultivated fancy revels with unmingled
gratification; but, as the mind approaches the vaster exhibitions of
might and majesty, the booming of the troubled ocean, the terrible
sublimity of the midnight storm, the cloudy magnificence of the
mountain height, the venerable grandeur of the aged forest, it expands
itself in unison till lost in the immensity of created things.
Reflections like these are constantly suggesting themselves to the
traveller's thoughts amid the grand scenery of the West; but at no
season do they rise more vividly upon the mind than when the
lengthened shadows of evening are stealing over the landscape, and the
summer sun is sinking to his rest. This is the "magic hour" when

  "Bright clouds are gathering one by one,
  Sweeping in pomp round the dying sun;
  With crimson banner and golden pall,
  Like a host to their chieftain's funeral."

There is not a more magnificent spectacle in nature than summer sunset
on the Western prairie. I have beheld the orb of day, after careering
his course like a giant through the firmament, go down into the fresh
tumbling billows of ocean; and sunset on the prairies, which recalls
that scene, is alone equalled by it.

Near nightfall one evening I found myself in the middle of one of
these vast extended plains, where the eye roves unconfined over the
scene, for miles unrelieved by a stump, or a tree, or a thicket, and
meets only the deep blue of the horizon on {235} every side, blending
with the billowy foliage of the distant woodland. Descending a
graceful slope, even this object is lost, and a boundless landscape
of blue above and green below is unfolded to the traveller's vision;
again, approaching the summit of the succeeding slope, the forest
rises in clear outline in the margin of the vast panorama. For some
hours the heavens had been so enveloped in huge masses of brassy
clouds, that now, when the shadows deepened over sky and earth, one
was at a loss to determine whether the sun had yet gone down, except
for a broad zone of sapphire girding the whole western firmament. Upon
the superior edge of this deep belt now glistened the luminary,
gradually revealing itself to the eye, and blazing forth at length
"like angels' locks unshorn," flinging a halo of golden effulgence far
athwart the dim evening prairie. A metamorphosis so abrupt, so rapid,
so unlooked for, seemed almost to realize the fables of enchantment.
One moment, and the whole vast landscape lay veiled in shadowy
dimness; the next, and every grass blade, and spray, and floweret, and
nodding wild-weed seemed suffused in a flood of liquid effulgence;
while far along, the uniform ridges of the heaving plain gleamed in
the rich light like waves of a moonlit sea, sweeping away, roll upon
roll, till lost in distance to the eye. Slowly the splendid disk went
down behind the sea of waving verdure, until at length a single point
of intense, bewildering brightness flamed out above the mass of green.
An instant, this too was gone--as

  "An angel's wing through an opening cloud,
  Is seen and then withdrawn:"--

{236} and then those deep, lurid funeral fires of departing day
streamed, flaring upward even to the zenith, flinging over the vast
concave a robe of unearthly, terrible magnificence! Then, as the fount
of all this splendour sank deeper and deeper beneath the horizon, the
blood-red flames died gently away into the mellow glories of summer
evening skylight, bathing the brow of heaven in a tender roseate,
which hours after cheered the lonely traveller across the waste.

The pilgrim wanderer in other climes comes back to tell us of sunnier
skies and softer winds! The blue heavens of Italy have tasked the
inspiration of an hundred bards, and the warm brush of her own
Lorraine has swept the canvass with their gorgeous transcript! But
what pencil has wandered over the grander scenes of the North American
prairie? What bard has struck his lyre to the wild melody of
loveliness of the prairie sunset? Yet who shall tell us that there
exists not a glory in the scene, amid the untrod wastes of the
wilderness West, which even the skies of "sunny Italy" might not blush
anew to acknowledge? No wandering Harold has roamed on a pilgrimage of
poetry over the sublime and romantic scenery of our land, to hymn its
praise in breathing thoughts and glowing words; yet here as there,

                                "Parting day
  Dies like the dolphin, whom each pang imbues
  With a new colour as it gasps away:
  The last still loveliest, till--'tis gone--and all is gray!"

I cannot tell of the beauties of climes I have never seen; but I have
gazed upon all the varied loveliness of my own fair, native land, from
the rising {237} sun to its setting, and in vain have tasked my fancy
to image a fairer.

A pleasant day's ride directly west from Carlisle, over extensive and
beautiful prairies, intersected by shady woods, with their romantic
creeks, and the traveller finds himself in the quiet village of
Lebanon. Its site is a commanding, mound-like elevation in the skirts
of a forest, swelling gently up from the prairie on the west bank of
Little Silver Creek.[155] This stream, with the larger branch,
received its name from the circumstance that the early French settlers
of the country, in the zeal of their faith and research for the
precious metals, a long while mistook the brilliant specula of
_horneblende_ which flow in its clear waters for silver, and were
unwilling to be undeceived in their extravagant anticipations until
the absence of the material in their purses aroused them from their
error. In the neighbourhood of Rock Spring a shaft for a mine was
sunk.[156] It was early one beautiful morning that I found myself
approaching the village of Lebanon, though many miles distant in the
adjacent plain; appropriately named for its loveliness the
"Looking-glass Prairie." The rosy sunbeams were playing lightly over
the pleasant country-seats and neat farmhouses, with their white
palings, sprinkled along the declivity before me, imbowered in their
young orchards and waving maize-fields; while flocks and herds, {238}
gathered in isolated masses over the intervening meadow, were cropping
the rich herbage. To the right and left, and in the rear, the prairie
stretches away beyond the view. The body of the village is situated
about one mile from these suburbs, and its character and history may
be summed up in the single sentence, _a pleasant little Methodist
country village_. The peculiarities of the sect are here strikingly
manifested to the traveller in all the ordinary concerns and
occupations of life, even in the every-day garb and conversation of
its sober-browed citizens. It presents the spectacle, rare as it is
cheering, of an entire community characterized by its reverence for
religion. Located in its immediate vicinity is a flourishing seminary,
called McKendreean College.[157] It is under the supervision of the
Methodist Episcopal Church, and has at present two instructers, with
about fifty pupils in the preparatory department. It has a commodious
frame building, presenting from its elevated site an imposing view to
the traveller. As is usually the case with these little
out-of-the-world villages, when any object comes up in the midst
around which the feelings and interests of all may cluster, upon this
institution is centred the heart and soul of every man, to say not a
word of all the women and children, in Lebanon; and everything not
connected, either remotely or immediately, with its welfare, is deemed
of very little, if of any importance. "_The Seminary! The Seminary!_"
I defy a traveller to tarry two hours in the village without hearing
rung all the changes upon that topic for his edification. The
surrounding region is fertile, populous, {239} and highly cultivated;
and for an inland, farming village, it is quite as bustling, I
suppose, as should be expected; though, during my visit, its
streets--which, by-the-by, are of very liberal breadth--maintained a
most Sabbath-like aspect.

The route from Lebanon to Belleville is, in fine weather, very
excellent. Deep woods on either side of the hard, smooth, winding
pathway, throw their boughs over the head, sometimes lengthening away
into an arched vista miles in extent. It was a sultry afternoon when
I was leisurely travelling along this road; and the shadowy coolness
of the atmosphere, the perfume of wild flowers and aromatic herbs
beneath the underbrush, and the profusion of summer fruit along the
roadside, was indescribably delightful. Near sunset, a graceful bend
of the road around a clump of trees placed before me the pretty little
village of Belleville; its neat enclosures and white cottages peeping
through the shrubbery, now gilded by the mellow rays of sunset in
every leaf and spray.[158] Whether it was owing to this agreeable
coincidence, or to the agreeable visit I here enjoyed, that I
conceived such an attachment for the place, I cannot say; but sure it
is, I fell in love with the little town at _first_ sight; and, what is
more marvellous, was not, according to all precedent, cured at second,
when on the following morning I sallied forth to reconnoitre its
beauties "at mine own good leisure." Now it is to be presumed that,
agreeable to the taste of six travellers in a dozen, I have passed
through many a village in Illinois quite as attractive as this same
Belleville: but to convince me of the fact would be no {240} easy
task. "Man is the sport of circumstance," says the fatalist; and
however this may be in the moral world, if any one feels disposed to
doubt upon the matter in the item before us, let him disembark from a
canal-boat at Pittsburgh on a rainy, misty, miserable morning; and
then, unable to secure for his houseless head a shelter from the
pitiless peltings, let him hurry away through the filthy streets,
deluged with inky water, to a crowded Ohio steamer; and if
"_circumstances_" do not force him to dislike Pittsburgh ever after,
then his human nature is vastly more forbearing than my own. Change
the picture. Let him enter the quiet little Illinois village at the
gentle hour of sunset; let him meet warm hospitality, and look upon
fair forms and bright faces, and if he fail to be pleased with that
place, why, "he's not the man I took him for."

The public buildings of Belleville are a handsome courthouse of brick,
a wretched old jail of the same material, a public hall belonging to a
library company, and a small framed Methodist house of worship. It is
situated in the centre of "Turkey-hill Settlement," one of the oldest
and most flourishing in the state, and has a fine timber tract and
several beautiful country-seats in its vicinity.

Leaving Belleville with some reluctance, and not a few "longing,
lingering looks behind," my route continued westward over a broken
region of alternating forest and prairie, sparsely sprinkled with
trees, and yet more sparsely with inhabitants. At length, having
descended a precipitous hill, the rounded summit of which, as well as
the adjoining heights, commanded an immense expanse of level {241}
landscape, stretching off from the base, I stood once more upon the
fertile soil of the "_American Bottom_." The sharp, heavy-roofed
French cottages, with low verandahs running around; the ungainly
outhouses and enclosures; the curiously-fashioned vehicles and
instruments of husbandry in the barnyards and before the doors; the
foreign garb and dialect of the people; and, above all, the amazing
fertility of the soil, over whose exhaustless depths the maize has
rustled half a century, constitute the most striking characteristics
of this interesting tract, in the section over which I was passing.
This settlement, extending from the foot of the bluffs for several
miles over the Bottom, was formed about forty years ago by a colony
from Cahokia, and known by the name of "_Little French Village_;" it
now comprises about twenty houses and a grogshop. In these bluffs
lies an exhaustless bed of bituminous coal: vast quantities have been
transported to St. Louis, and for this purpose principally is the
railway to the river designed. This vein of coal is said to have been
discovered by the rivulet of a spring issuing from the base of the
bluffs. The stratum is about six feet in thickness, increasing in size
as it penetrates the hill horizontally. Though somewhat rotten and
slaty, it is in some particulars not inferior to the coal of the
Alleghanies; and the vein is thought to extend from the mouth of the
Kaskaskia to that of the Illinois. About three miles below the present
shaft, a continuation of the bed was discovered by fire communicated
from the root of a tree; the bank of coal burnt for upward of a {242}
twelvemonth, and the conflagration was then smothered only by the
falling in of the superincumbent soil. St. Clair county, which
embraces a large portion of the American Bottom, is the oldest
settlement in the state. In 1795 the county was formed by the
Legislature of the Northwestern Territory, and then included all
settlements in Illinois east of the Mississippi.

I had just cleverly cleared the outskirts of the little antediluvian
village beneath the bluffs, when a dark, watery-looking cloud came
tumbling up out of the west; the thunder roared across the Bottom and
was reverberated from the cliffs, and in a few moments down came the
big rain-drops dancing in torrents from the clouds, and pattering up
like mist along the plain. Verily, groaned forth the wo-begone
traveller, this is the home of clouds and the realm of thunder! Never
did hapless mortals sustain completer drenchings than did the
traveller and his steed, notwithstanding upon the first onset they had
plunged themselves into the sheltering depths of the wood. A half
hour's gallop over the slippery bottom, and the stern roar of a
steamer's 'scape-pipe informed me that I was not far from the "great
waters." A few yards through the belt of forest, and the city of San
Louis, with towers and roofs, stood before me.

_St. Louis._



XXII

  "I have no wife nor children, good or bad, to provide for;
  a mere spectator of other men's fortunes and adventures,
  and how they play their parts."--_Anat. of Melancholy._

  "Oh ye dread scenes, where Nature dwells alone,
  Serenely glorious on her craggy throne;
  Ye citadels of rock, gigantic forms,
  Veiled by the mists, and girdled by the storms;
  Ravines, and glens, and deep-resounding caves,
  That hold communion with the torrent waves."
                                                     HEMANS.


Ah, the single blessedness of the unmarried state! Such is the
sentiment of an ancient worthy, quietly expressed in the lines which I
have selected for a motto. After dozing away half his days and all his
energies within the dusky walls of a university, tumbling over musty
tomes and shrivelled parchments until his very brain had become
cobwebbed as the alcoves he haunted, and the blood in his veins was
all "adust and thin;" then, forsooth, the shameless old fellow issues
forth with his vainglorious sentiment upon his lips! And yet, now that
we consider, there is marvellous "method" in the old man's "madness!"
In very truth and soberness, there is a blessedness which the bachelor
can boast, _single_ though it be, in which the "man of family," though
_doubly_ blessed, cannot share! To the former, life may be made one
long holyday, and its path a varied and flowery one! while to the poor
{244} victim of matrimonial toils, _wife and children_ are the Alpha
and Omega of a weary existence! Of all travelling companionship,
forfend us from that of a married man! Independence! He knows not of
it! Such is the text and such the commentary: now for the practical
application.

It was a balmy July morning, and the flutelike melody of the
turtle-dove was ringing through the woodlands. Leaving the pleasant
villa of Dr. F. in the environs of North St. Louis, I found myself
once more fairly _en route_, winding along that delightful road which
sweeps the western bottom of the Mississippi. Circumstances not within
my control, Benedict though I am, had recalled me, after a ramble of
but a few weeks over the prairies, again to the city, and compelled me
to relinquish my original design of a tour of the extreme Northwest.
Ah, the despotism of circumstance! My delay, however, proved a brief,
though pleasant one; and with a something of mingled _regret_ and
anticipation it was that I turned from the bright eyes and dark locks
of St. Louis--"forgive my folly"--and once again beheld its imposing
structures fade in distance.

By far the most delightful drive in the vicinity of St. Louis is that
of four or five miles in its northern suburbs, along the river bottom.
The road, emerging from the streets of the city through one of its
finest sections, and leaving the "Big Mound" upon the right, sweeps
off for several miles upon a succession of broad plateaux, rolling up
from the water's edge. To the left lies an extensive range of heights,
surmounted by ancient mounds and crowned with {245} groves of the
shrub-oak, which afford a delightful shade to the road running below.
Along this elevated ridge beautiful country-seats, with graceful
piazzas and green Venitian blinds, are caught from time to time
glancing through the shrubbery; while to the right, smooth meadows
spread themselves away to the heavy belt of forest which margins the
Mississippi. Among these pleasant villas the little white
farm-cottage, formerly the residence of Mr. C., beneath the hills,
surrounded by its handsome grounds, and gardens, and glittering
fishponds, partially shrouded by the broad leaved catalpa, the willow,
the acacia, and other ornamental trees, presents, perhaps, the rarest
instance of natural beauty adorned by refined taste. A visit to this
delightful spot during my stay at St. Louis informed me of the fact
that, within as well as abroad, the hand of education and refinement
had not been idle. Paintings, busts, medallions, Indian curiosities,
&c., &c., tastefully arranged around the walls and shelves of an
elegant library, presented a feast to the visiter as rare in the Far
West as it is agreeable to a cultivated mind. Near this cottage is the
intended site of the building of the St. Louis Catholic University, a
lofty and commanding spot.[159] A considerable tract was here
purchased, at a cost of thirty thousand dollars; but the design of
removal from the city has for the present been relinquished.
Immediately adjoining is situated the stately villa of Colonel
O'Fallon, with its highly-cultivated gardens and its beautiful park
sweeping off in the rear. In a very few years this must become one of
the most delightful spots {246} in the West. For its elegant grounds,
its green and hot houses, and its exotic and indigenous plants, it is,
perhaps, already unequalled west of Cincinnati. No expense, attention,
or taste will be wanting to render it all of which the spot is
capable.

Leaving the Bottom, the road winds gracefully off from the
Mississippi, over the hard soil of the bluffs, through a region broken
up by sink-holes, and covered with a meager growth of oaks, with small
farms at intervals along the route, until at length the traveller
finds himself at that beautiful spot on the Missouri, Belle Fontaine,
fifteen miles from St. Louis. On account of the salubrity and beauty
of the site, an army cantonment was located here by General Wilkinson
in the early part of the present century, and fortifications
consisting of palisade-work existed, and a line of log-barracks
sufficient to quarter half a regiment. Nothing now remains but a pile
of ruins. "The barracks have crumpled into dust, and the ploughshare
has passed over the promenade of the sentinel." Jefferson Barracks, in
the southern environs of the city, have superseded the old fortress,
and the spot has been sold to a company, which has here laid off a
town; and as most of the lots have been disposed of, and a
turnpike-road from St. Louis has been chartered, a succeeding tourist
may, at no distant period, pencil it in his notebook "a flourishing
village." _Cold Water Creek_ is the name of a clear stream which
empties itself into the Missouri just above, upon which are several
mill-privileges; and from the base of the bluff itself gushes a
fountain, on account {247} of which the place received its name from
the French. The site for the new town is a commanding and beautiful
one, being a bold, green promontory, rising from the margin of the
stream about four miles above its confluence with the Mississippi. The
view developed to the eye of the spectator from this spot on a fine
day is one of mingled sublimity and beauty. For some miles these old
giants of the West are beheld roaming along through their deep,
fertile valleys, so different in character and aspect that one can
hardly reconcile with that diversity the fact that their destiny is
soon to become _one_ and unchangeably the same. And then comes the
mighty "meeting of the waters," to which no pen can hope to render
justice.

There is a singular circumstance related of the discovery of a large
_human tooth_ many years since at Belle Fontaine, in excavating a
well, when at the depth of forty feet. This was the more extraordinary
as the spot was not alluvion, and could have undergone no change from
natural causes for centuries. Various strata of clay were passed
through before the _tooth_ was thrown up; and this circumstance,
together with the situation of the place, would almost preclude the
possibility of a vein of subterraneous water having conveyed it to the
spot. This is mysterious enough, certainly; but the fact is authentic.

Returning at an angle of forty-five degrees with the road by which he
approaches, a ride of a dozen miles up the Missouri places the
traveller upon a bold roll of the prairie, from which, in the
beautiful {248} valley below, rising above the forest, appear the
steep roofs and tall chimneys of the little hamlet of Florissant.[160]
Its original name was St. Ferdinand, titular saint of its church; and
though one of the most advanced in years, it is by no means the most
antique-looking of those ancient villages planted by the early French.
Its site is highly romantic, upon the banks of a creek of the same
name, and in the heart of one of the most fertile and luxuriant
valleys ever subjected to cultivation.[161] The village now embraces
about thirty or forty irregular edifices, somewhat modernized in style
and structure, surrounded by extensive corn-fields, wandering flocks
of Indian ponies, and herds of cattle browsing in the plain. Here also
is a Catholic Church, a neat building of brick, with belfry and bell;
connected with which is a convent of nuns, and by these is conducted
a Seminary for young ladies of some note. This institution--if the
Hibernian hostess of the little inn at which I dined is to be credited
in her statements--is the most flourishing establishment in all the
region far and near! and "_heducates_ the young _leddies_ in
everything but religion!" For the redoubtable _Tonish_, who whilom
figured so bravely on the prairies and in print, I made diligent
inquiry. His cottage--the best in the village--and a dirty little
brood of his posterity, were pointed out to me, but the old worthy
himself was, as usual, in the regions of the Rocky Mountains: when
last seen, he could still tell the stoutest lie with the steadiest
muscles of any man in the village, while he and his {249} hopeful son
could cover each other's trail so nicely that a lynx-eye would fail to
detect them. In the vicinity of Florissant is a settlement called
Owen's Station, formerly the site of a stoccade fort for defence
against the Indians, and of a Spanish _station_ on account of a fine
fountain in the vicinity.[162]

The direct route from St. Louis to Florissant is an excellent one,
over a high rolling prairie, and commands a noble sweep of scenery.
From several elevated points, the white cliffs beyond the American
Bottom, more than twenty miles distant, may be seen, while farmhouses
and villas are beheld in all directions gleaming through the groves.
Scenery of the same general character presents itself upon the direct
route to St. Charles, with the exception of steeper hills and broader
plains. Upon this route my path entered nearly at right angles soon
after leaving the French village. Upon the right shore of the
Missouri, not far above Florissant, is situated _La Charbonnière_, a
name given to a celebrated coal-bank in a bluff about two hundred feet
in altitude, and about twice as long.[163] The stratum of coal is
about a dozen feet in thickness, and lies directly upon the margin of
the river: the quantity in the bank is said to be immense, and it
contains an unusual proportion of bitumen. Iron ore has also been
discovered at this spot.

The road over the Missouri Bottom was detestable, as never fails to be
the case after a continued rain-storm, and my horse's leg sank to the
middle in the black, unctuous loam almost at every step. Upon either
side, like colonnades, rose up those {250} enormous shafts of living
verdure which strike the solitary traveller upon these unfrequented
bottoms with such awe and veneration; while the huge whirls of the
writhing wild-vine hung dangling, like gigantic serpents, from the
lofty columns around whose capitals they clung. On descending the
bluffs to the bottom, the traveller crosses a bed of limestone, in
which is said to exist a fissure perfectly fathomless. In a few
moments, the boiling, turbid floods of the Missouri are beheld rolling
majestically along at the feet, and to the stranger's eye, at first
sight, always suggesting the idea of _unusual_ agitation; but so have
they rolled onward century after century, age after age. The wild and
impetuous character of this river, together with the vast quantities
of soil with which its waters are charged, impart to it a natural
sublimity far more striking, at first view, than that of the
Mississippi. This circumstance was not unobserved by the Indian
tribes, who appropriately named it the "_Smoky Water_:" by others it
was styled the "_Mad River_," on account of the impetuosity of its
current; and in all dialects it is called the "_Mother of Floods_,"
indicative of the immense volume of its waters. Various causes have
been assigned for the turbid character of the Missouri: and though,
doubtless, heavily charged by the volumes of sand thrown into its
channel by the Yellow Stone--its longest tributary, equal to the
Ohio--and by the chalky clay of the White River, yet we are told that
it is characterized by the same phenomenon from its very source. At
the gates of the Rocky Mountains, where, having torn {251} for itself
a channel through the everlasting hills, it comes rushing out through
the vast prairie-plains at their base, it is the same dark, wild
torrent as at its turbid embouchure. And, strange to tell, after
roaming thousands of miles, and receiving into its bosom streams equal
to itself, and hundreds of lesser, though powerful tributaries, it
still retains, unaltered, in depth or breadth, that volume which at
last it rolls into its mighty rival! Torrent after torrent, river
after river, pour in their floods, yet the giant stream rolls
majestically onward unchanged! At the village of St. Charles its depth
and breadth is the same as at the Mandan villages, nearly two thousand
miles nearer its source.[164] The same inexplicable phenomenon
characterizes the Mississippi, and, indeed, all the great rivers of
the West; for _inexplicable_ the circumstance yet remains, however
plausible the theories alleged in explanation. With regard to the
Missouri, it is urged that the porous, sandy soil of its broad
alluvions absorbs, on the principle of capillary attraction, much of
its volume, conveying it by subterraneous channels to the Mississippi;
and of this latter stream it is asserted that large quantities of its
waters are taken up by the innumerable bayous, lakes, and lagoons
intersecting the lower region of its course; and thus, unperceived,
they find their way to the gulf.

The navigation of the Missouri is thought to be the most hazardous and
difficult of any of the Western rivers, owing to its mad, impetuous
current, to the innumerable obstructions in its bed, and the incessant
variation of its channel.[165] Insurance and pilotage {252} upon this
river are higher than on others; the season of navigation is briefer,
and steamers never pursue their course after dusk. Its vast length and
numerous tributaries render it liable, also, to frequent floods, of
which three are expected every year. The chief of these takes place in
the month of June, when the heaped-up snows of the Rocky Mountains are
melted, and, having flowed thousands of miles through the prairies,
reach the Mississippi. The ice and snows of the Alleghanies, and the
wild-rice lakes of the far Upper Mississippi, months before have
reached their destination, and thus a general inundation, unavoidable
had the floods been simultaneous, is prevented by Providence. The
alluvions of the Missouri are said to be higher than, and not so broad
as, those of the Mississippi; yet their extent is constantly varying
by the violence of the current, even more than those of the latter
stream. Many years ago the flourishing town of Franklin was completely
torn away from its foundations, and its inhabitants were forced to
flee to the adjacent heights; and the bottom opposite St. Charles and
at numerous other places has, within the few years past, suffered
astonishing changes.[166] Opposite the town now flow the waters of the
river where once stood farms and orchards.

The source of the Missouri and that of the Columbia, we are told, are
in such immediate proximity, that a walk of but a few miles will
enable the traveller to drink from the fountains of each. Yet how
unlike their destiny! One passes off through a region of boundless
prairie equal in extent to a {253} sixth of our globe; and, after a
thousand wanderings, disembogues its troubled waters into the Mexican
Gulf; the other, winding away towards the setting sun, rolls on
through forests untrodden by human footstep till it sleeps in the
Pacific Seas. Their destinies reach their fulfilment at opposite
extremes of a continent! How like, how very like are the destinies of
these far, lonely rivers to the destinies of human life! Those who, in
the beautiful starlight of our boyhood, were our schoolmates and
play-fellows, where are they when our sun of ripened maturity has
reached its meridian? and what, and where are they and we, when
evening's lengthening shadows are gathering over the landscape of
life? Our paths diverged but little at first, but mountains,
continents, half a world of waters may divide our destinies, and
opposite extremes of "the great globe itself" witness their
consummation. Yet, like the floods of the far-winding rivers, the
streams of our existences will meet again, and mingle in the
ocean--that ocean without a shore--_ETERNITY_!

The gates of the Rocky Mountains, through which the waters of the
Missouri rush forth into the prairies of the great Valley, are
described as one of the sublimest spectacles in nature. Conceive the
floods of a powerful mountain-torrent compressed in mid career into a
width of less than one hundred and fifty yards, rushing with the speed
of "the wild horse's wilder sire" through a chasm whose vast walls of
Nature's own masonry rear themselves on either side from the raging
waters to the precipitous {254} height of twelve hundred perpendicular
feet; and then consider if imagination can compass a scene of darker,
more terrible sublimity! And then sweep onward with the current, and
within one hundred miles you behold a cataract, next to Niagara, from
all description grandest in the world. Such are some of the mighty
features of the stream upon which I was now standing.

As to the much disputed question which of the great streams of the
West is entitled to the name of the _Main River_, I shall content
myself with a brief statement of the arguments alleged in support of
the pretensions of either claimant. The volume of the Missouri at the
confluence far exceeds that of its rival; the length of its course and
the number and magnitude of its tributaries are also greater, and it
imparts a character to the united streams. On the other hand, the
Mississippi, geographically and geologically considered, is the grand
Central River of the continent, maintaining an undeviating course from
north to south; the valley which it drains is far more extensive and
fertile than that of the Missouri; and from the circumstance of
having first been explored, it has given a name to the great river of
the Western Valley which it will probably ever retain, whatever the
right. "_Sed non nostrum tantas componere lites._"

_St. Charles, Mo._



XXIII

  "Say, ancient edifice, thyself with years
  Grown gray, how long upon the hill has stood
  Thy weather-braving tower?"
                                                 HURDIS.

  "An _honourable_ murder, if you will;
  For naught he did in hate, but all in honour."

        "The whole broad earth is beautiful
        To minds attuned aright."
                                        ROBT. DALE OWEN.


The view of St. Charles from the opposite bank of the Missouri is a
fine one. The turbid stream rolls along the village nearly parallel
with the interval upon which it is situated. A long line of neat
edifices, chiefly of brick, with a few ruinous old structures of logs
and plastering, relics of French or Spanish taste and domination,
extend along the shore; beyond these, a range of bluffs rear
themselves proudly above the village, crowned with their academic hall
and a neat stone church, its spire surmounted by the cross. Between
these structures, upon a spot somewhat more elevated, appears the
basement section of "a stern round tower of former days," now a ruin;
and, though a very peaceable {10} pile of limestone and mortar,
well-fitted in distant view to conjure up a host of imaginings: like
Shenstone's Ruined Abbey, forsooth,

                "Pride of ancient days;
  Now but of use to grace a rural scene,
  Or bound our vistas."

The history of the tower, if tower it may be styled, is briefly
this.[167] During the era of Spanish rule in this region, before its
cession to France half a century since, this structure was erected as
a watch-tower or magazine. Subsequently it was dismantled, and
partially fell to ruins, when the novel project was started to plant a
_windmill_ upon the foundation. This was done; but either the wind was
too high or too low, too frequent or too rare, or neither; or there
was no corn to grind, or the projector despaired of success, or some
other of the fifty untoward circumstances which suggest themselves
came to pass; the windmill ere long fell to pieces, and left the old
ruin to the tender mercies of time and tempest, a monument of chance
and change.

The evening of my arrival at St. Charles I strolled off at about
sunset, and, ascending the bluffs, approached the old ruin. The walls
of rough limestone are massively deep, and the altitude cannot now be
less than twenty feet. The view from the spot is noble, and peculiarly
impressive at the sunset hour. Directly at your feet lies the village,
from the midst of which come up the rural sounds of evening; the
gladsome laugh of children at their sports; the whistle of the
home-plodding labourer; the quiet hum of gossips around the open
doors; {11} while upon the river's brink a huge steam-mill sends forth
its ceaseless "boom, boom" upon the still air. Beneath the village
ripples the Missouri, with a fine sweep both above and below the town
not unlike the letter S; while beyond the stream extends its
heavily-timbered bottom: one cluster of trees directly opposite are
Titanic in dimensions. Upon the summit of the bluff, in the shadow of
the ruin by your side, lies a sunken grave. It is the grave of a
_duellist_. Over it trail the long, melancholy branches of a weeping
willow. A neat paling once protected the spot from the wanderer's
footstep, but it is gone now; only a rotten relic remains. All is
still. The sun has long since gone down. One after another the evening
sounds have died away in the village at the feet, and one after
another the lights have twinkled forth from the casements. A fresh
breeze is coming up from the water; the rushing wing of the night-hawk
strikes fitfully upon the ear; and yonder sails the beautiful "boat of
light," the pale sweet crescent. On that crescent is gazing many a
distant friend! What a spot--what an hour to meditate upon the varying
destinies of life! I seated myself upon the foot of the grave, which
still retained some little elevation from the surrounding soil, and
the night-wind sighed through the trailing boughs as if a requiem to
him who slumbered beneath. _Requiescat in pace_, in no meaningless
ceremony, might be pronounced over him, for his end was a troubled
one. Unfortunate man! you have gone to your account; and that
tabernacle in which once burned a beautiful flame has long since been
mingling with the dust: {12} but I had rather be even as thou art,
cold in an unhonoured grave, than to live on and wear away a miserable
remnant of existence, that "guilty thing" with crimsoned hand and brow
besprinkled with blood. To drag out a weary length of days and nights;
to feel life a bitterness, and all its verdure scathed; to walk about
among the ranks of men a being

                                "Mark'd,
  And sign'd, and quoted for a deed of shame;"

to feel a stain upon the palm which not all the waters of ocean could
wash away; a smell of blood which not all the perfumes of Arabia
could sweeten; ah! give me death rather than this! That the custom of
duelling, under the present arrangements of society and code of
honour, in some sections of our country, is necessary, is more than
problematical; that its practice will continue to exist is certain;
but, when death ensues, "'tis the surviver dies."

The stranger has never, perhaps, stood upon the bluffs of St. Charles
without casting a glance of anxious interest upon that lone, deserted
grave; and there are associated with its existence circumstances of
melancholy import. Twenty years ago, he who lies there was a young,
accomplished barrister of superior abilities, distinguished rank, and
rapidly rising to eminence in the city of St. Louis. Unhappily, for
words uttered in the warmth of political controversy, offence was
taken; satisfaction demanded; a meeting upon that dark and bloody
ground opposite the city ensued; and poor B---- fell, in the sunshine
of his spring, lamented by all {13} who had known him. Agreeable to
his request in issue of his death, his remains were conveyed to this
spot and interred. Years have since rolled away, and the melancholy
event is now among forgotten things; but the old ruin, beneath whose
shadow he slumbers, will long remain his monument; and the distant
traveller, when he visits St. Charles, will pause and ponder over his
lonely grave.[168]

  "But let no one reproach his memory.
  His life has paid the forfeit of his folly,
  Let that suffice."

Ah! the valuable blood which has steeped the sands of that steril
island in the Mississippi opposite St. Louis! Nearly thirty years ago
a fatal encounter took place between Dr. F. and Dr. G., in which the
latter fell: that between young B. and a Mr. C. I have alluded to,
and several other similar combats transpired on the spot at about the
same time. The bloody affair between Lieutenants Biddle and Pettis,
and that between Lucas and Benton, are of more recent date, and, with
several others, are familiar in the memory of all. The spot has been
fitly named "Murder" or "Blood Island."[169] Lying in the middle of
the stream, it is without the jurisdiction of either of the adjoining
states; and deep is the curse which has descended upon its shores!

{14} The morning star was beaming beautifully forth from the blue
eastern heavens when I mounted my horse for a visit to that celebrated
spot, "_Les Mamelles_." A pleasant ride of three miles through the
forest-path beneath the bluffs brought me at sunrise to the spot.
Every tree was wreathed with the wild rose like a rainbow; and the
breeze was laden with perfume. It is a little singular, the difficulty
with which visiters usually meet in finding this place. The Duke of
Saxe Weimar, among other dignitaries, when on his tour of the West
several years since, tells us that he lost his way in the
neighbouring prairie by pursuing the river road instead of that
beneath the bluffs. The natural eminences which have obtained the
appropriate appellation of Mamelles, from their striking resemblance
to the female breast, are a pair of lofty, conical mounds, from eighty
to one hundred feet altitude, swelling up perfectly naked and smooth
upon the margin of that celebrated prairie which owes to them a name.
So beautifully are they paired and so richly rounded, that it would
hardly require a Frenchman's eye or that of an Indian to detect the
resemblance designated, remarkable though both races have shown
themselves for bestowing upon objects in natural scenery significant
names. Though somewhat resembling those artificial earth-heaps which
form such an interesting feature of the West, these mounds are,
doubtless, but a broken continuation of the Missouri bluffs, which at
this point terminate from the south, while those of the Mississippi,
commencing at the same point, stretch away at right angles to the
west. {15} The mounds are of an oblong, elliptical outline, parallel
to each other, in immediate proximity, and united at the extremities
adjoining the range of highlands by a curved elevation somewhat less
in height. They are composed entirely of earth, and in their formation
are exceedingly uniform and graceful. Numerous springs of water gush
out from their base. But an adequate conception of these interesting
objects can hardly be conveyed by the pen; at all events, without
somewhat more of the quality of patience than chances to be the gift
of my own wayward instrument. In brief, then, imagine a huge _spur_,
in fashion somewhat like to that of a militia major, with the enormous
rowel stretching off to the south, and the heel-bow rounding away to
the northeast and northwest, terminated at each extremity by a vast
excrescence; imagine all this spread out in the margin of an extended
prairie, and a tolerably correct, though inadequate idea of the
outline of the Mamelles is obtained. The semicircular area in the bow
of the spur between the mounds is a deep dingle, choked up with
stunted trees and tangled underbrush of hazels, sumach, and
wild-berry, while the range of highlands crowned with forest goes back
in the rear. This line of heights extends up the Missouri for some
distance, at times rising directly from the water's edge to the height
of two hundred feet, rough and ragged, but generally leaving a
heavily-timbered bottom several miles in breadth in the interval, and
in the rear rolling off into high, undulating prairie. The bluffs of
the Mississippi extend to the westward in a similar {16} manner, but
the prairie interval is broader and more liable to inundation. The
distance from the Mamelles to the confluence of the rivers is, by
their meanderings, about twenty or thirty miles, and is very nearly
divided into prairie and timber. The extremity of the point is liable
to inundation, and its growth of forest is enormous.

The view from the summit of the Mamelles, as the morning sun was
flinging over the landscape his ruddy dyes, was one of eminent,
surpassing loveliness. It is celebrated, indeed, as the most beautiful
prairie-scene in the Western Valley, and one of the most romantic
views in the country. To the right extends the Missouri Bottom,
studded with farms of the French villagers, and the river-bank
margined with trees which conceal the stream from the eye. Its course
is delineated, however, by the blue line of bluffs upon the opposite
side, gracefully curving towards the distant Mississippi until the
trace fades away at the confluence. In front is spread out the lovely
Mamelle Prairie, with its waving ocean of rich flowers of every form,
and scent, and hue, while green groves are beheld swelling out into
its bosom, and hundreds of cattle are cropping the herbage. In one
direction the view is that of a boundless plain of verdure; and at
intervals in the deep emerald is caught the gleam from the glassy
surface of a lake, of which there are many scattered over the
peninsula. All along the northern horizon, curving away in a
magnificent sweep of forty miles to the west, rise the hoary cliffs of
the Mississippi, in the opposite state, like towers and castles; while
{17} the windings of the stream itself are betrayed by the heavy
forest-belt skirting the prairie's edge. It is not many years since
this bank of the river was perfectly naked, with not a fringe of wood.
Tracing along the bold façade of cliffs on the opposite shore,
enveloped in their misty mantle of azure, the eye detects the
embouchure of the Illinois and of several smaller streams by the
deep-cut openings. To the left extends the prairie for seventy miles,
with an average breadth of five from the river, along which, for most
of the distance, it stretches. Here and there in the smooth surface
stands out a solitary sycamore of enormous size, heaving aloft its
gigantic limbs like a monarch of the scene. Upward of fifty thousand
acres are here laid open to the eye at a single glance, with a soil of
exhaustless fertility and of the easiest culture.

The whole plain spread out at the foot of the Mamelles bears abundant
evidence of having once been submerged. The depth of the alluvion is
upward of forty feet; and from that depth we are told that logs,
leaves, coal, and a stratum of sand and pebbles bearing marks of the
attrition of running waters, have been thrown up. Through the middle
of the prairie pass several deep canals, apparently ancient channels
of the rivers, and which now form the bed of a long irregular lake
called _Marais Croche_; there is another lake of considerable extent
called _Marais Temps Clair_.[170] This beautiful prairie once, then,
formed a portion of that immense lake which at a remote period held
possession of the American Bottom; and at the base of the graceful
{18} Mamelles these giant rivers merrily mingled their waters, and
then rolled onward to the gulf. That ages have since elapsed, the
amazing depth of the alluvial and vegetable mould, and the ancient
monuments reposing upon some portions of the surface, leave no room
for doubt.[171] By heavy and continued deposites of alluvion, the vast
peninsula gradually rose up from the waters; the Missouri was forced
back to the bluff La Charbonnière, and the rival stream to the Piasa
cliffs of Illinois.

_St. Charles, Mo._



XXIV

  "Westward the star of empire holds its way."
                                                   BERKELEY.

  "Travellers entering here behold around
    A large and spacious plain, on every side
  Strew'd with beauty, whose fair grassy ground,
    Mantled with green, and goodly beautified
    With all the ornaments of Flora's pride."

      "The flowers, the fair young flowers."

      "Ye are the stars of earth."


Ten years ago, and the pleasant little village of St. Charles was
regarded as quite the frontier-post of civilized life; now it is a
flourishing town, and an early stage in the traveller's route to the
Far West. Its origin, with that of most of the early settlements in
this section of the valley, is French, and {19} some few of the
peculiar characteristics of its founders are yet retained, though
hardly to the extent as in some other villages which date back to the
same era. The ancient style of some of the buildings, the singular
costume, the quick step, the dark complexion, dark eyes and dark hair,
and the merry, fluent flow of a nondescript idiom, are, however, at
once perceived by the stranger, and indicate a peculiar people. St.
Charles was settled in 1769, and for upward of forty years retained
its original name, _Les Petites Cotes_. For some time it was under the
Spanish government with the rest of the territory, and from this
circumstance and a variety of others its population is made up of a
heterogeneous mass of people, from almost every nation under the sun.
Quite a flood of German emigration has, within six or seven years
past, poured into the county. That wizard spell, however, under which
all these early French settlements seem to have been lying for more
than a century, St. Charles has not, until within a few years past,
possessed the energy to throw off, though now the inroads of American
enterprise upon the ancient order of things is too palpable to be
unobserved or mistaken. The site of the town is high and healthy, upon
a bed of limestone extending along the stream, and upon a narrow
_plateau_ one or two miles in extent beneath the overhanging bluffs.
Upon this interval are laid off five streets parallel with the river,
only the first of which is lined with buildings. Below the village the
alluvion stretches along the margin of the stream for three miles,
until, reaching the termination of the {20} highlands at the Mamelles,
it spreads itself out to the north and west into the celebrated
prairie I have described. St. Charles has long been a great
thoroughfare to the vast region west of the Missouri, and must always
continue so to be: a railroad from St. Louis in this direction must
pass through the place, as well as the national road now in progress.
These circumstances, together with its eligible site for commerce; the
exhaustless fertility of the neighbouring region, and the quantities
of coal and iron it is believed to contain, must render St. Charles,
before many years have passed away, a place of considerable mercantile
and manufacturing importance. It has an extensive steam flouring-mill
in constant operation; and to such an extent is the cultivation of
wheat carried on in the surrounding country, for which the soil is
pre-eminently suited, that in this respect alone the place must become
important. About six miles south of St. Charles, upon the Booneslick
road, is situated a considerable settlement, composed chiefly of
gentlemen from the city of Baltimore.[172] The country is exceedingly
beautiful, healthy, and fertile; the farms are under high cultivation,
and the tone of society is distinguished for its refinement and
intelligence.

The citizens of St. Charles are many of them Catholics; and a male and
female seminary under their patronage are in successful operation, to
say nothing of a nunnery, beneath the shade of which such institutions
invariably repose. "St. Charles College," a Protestant institute of
two or three years' standing, is well supported, having four
professors {21} and about a hundred students.[173] Its principal
building is a large and elegant structure of brick, and the seminary
will doubtless, ere long, become an ornament to the place. At no
distant day it may assume the character and standing of its elder
brothers east of the Alleghanies; and the muse that ever delights to
revel in college-hall may strike her lyre even upon the banks of the
far-winding, wilderness Missouri.

Among the heterogeneous population of St. Charles are still numbered a
few of those wild, daring spirits, whose lives and exploits are so
intimately identified with the early history of the country, and most
of whose days are now passed beyond the border, upon the broad
buffalo-plains at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Most of them are
trappers, hunters, _couriers du bois_, traders to the distant post of
Santa Fé, or _engagés_ of the American Fur Company. Into the company
of one of these remarkable men it was my fortune to fall during my
visit at St. Charles; and not a little to my interest and edification
did he recount many of his "hairbreadth 'scapes," his "most disastrous
chances,"

  "His moving accidents by flood and field."

All of this, not to mention sundry sage items on the most approved
method of capturing _deer_, _bar_, _buffalo_, and _painters_, I must
be permitted to waive. I am no tale-teller, "but your mere traveller,
believe me," as Ben Jonson has it. The proper home of the buffalo
seems now to be the vast {22} plains south and west of the Missouri
border, called the Platte country, compared with which the prairies
east of the Mississippi are mere meadows in miniature. The latter
region was, doubtless, once a favourite resort of the animal, and the
banks of the "beautiful river" were long his grazing-grounds; but the
onward march of civilization has driven him, with the Indian, nearer
the setting sun. Upon the plains they now inhabit they rove in herds
of thousands; they regularly migrate with change of season, and, in
crossing rivers, many are squeezed to death. Dead bodies are sometimes
found floating upon the Missouri far down its course.

With the village and county of St. Charles are connected most of the
events attending the early settlement of the region west of the
Mississippi; and during the late war with Great Britain, the
atrocities of the savage tribes were chiefly perpetrated here. Early
in that conflict the Sacs and Foxes, Miamis, Pottawattamies, Iowas,
and Kickapoo Indians commenced a most savage warfare upon the advanced
settlements, and the deeds of daring which distinguished the gallant
"rangers" during the two years in which, unaided by government, they
sustained, single-handed, the conflict against a crafty foe, are
almost unequalled in the history of warfare.[174] St. Charles county
and the adjoining county of Booneslick were the principal scene of a
conflict in which boldness and barbarity, courage and cruelty,
contended long for the mastery. The latter county to which I have
alluded {23} received its name from the celebrated Daniel Boone.[175]
After being deprived, by the chicanery of law, of that spot for which
he had endured so much and contended so boldly in the beautiful land
of his adoption, we find him, at the close of the last century,
journeying onward towards the West, there to pass the evening of his
days and lay away his bones. Being asked "_why_ he had left that dear
Kentucke, which he had discovered and won from the wild Indian, for
the wilderness of Missouri," his memorable reply betrays the leading
feature of his character, the _primum mobile_ of the man: "Too
crowded! too crowded! I want elbow-room!" At the period of Boone's
arrival in 1798, the only form of government which existed in this
distant region was that of the "Regulators," a sort of military or
hunters' republic, the chief of which was styled _commandant_. To this
office the old veteran was at once elected, and continued to exercise
its rather arbitrary prerogatives until, like his former home, the
country had become subject to other laws and other councils. He
continued here to reside, however, until the death of his much-loved
wife, partner of all his toils and adventures, in 1813, when he
removed to the residence of his son, some miles in the interior. Here
he discovered a large and productive salt-lick, long and profitably
worked, and which still continues to bear his name and give celebrity
to the surrounding country. To this lick was the old hunter accustomed
to repair in his aged days, when his sinews were unequal to the chase,
and lie in wait for the deer {24} which frequented the spring. In this
occupation and in that of trapping beavers he lived comfortably on
until 1818, when he calmly yielded up his adventurous spirit to its
God.[176] What an eventful life was that! How varied and wonderful
its incidents! How numerous and pregnant its vicissitudes! How strange
the varieties of natural character it developed! The name of Boone
will never cease to be remembered so long as this Western Valley
remains the pride of a continent, and the beautiful streams of his
discovery roll on their teeming tribute to the ocean!

Of the Indian tribe which formerly inhabited this pleasant region, and
gave a name to the river and state, scarcely a vestige is now to be
seen. The only associations connected with the savages are of
barbarity and perfidy. Upon the settlers of St. Charles county it was
that Black Hawk directed his first efforts;[177] and, until within a
few years, a stoccade fort for refuge in emergency has existed in
every considerable settlement. Among a variety of traditionary matter
related to me relative to the customs of the tribe which formerly
resided near St. Charles, the following anecdote from one of the
oldest settlers may not prove uninteresting.

"Many years ago, while the Indian yet retained a crumbling foothold
upon this pleasant land of his fathers, a certain Cis-atlantic
naturalist--so the story goes--overflowing with laudable zeal for the
advancement of science, had succeeded in penetrating the wilds of
Missouri in pursuit of his favourite study. Early one sunny morning a
man in strange {25} attire was perceived by the simple natives running
about their prairie with uplifted face and outspread palms, eagerly in
pursuit of certain bright flies and insects, which, when secured, were
deposited with manifest satisfaction into a capacious tin box at his
girdle. Surprised at a spectacle so novel and extraordinary, a fleet
runner was despatched over the prairie to catch the curious animal and
conduct him into the village. A council of sober old chiefs was called
to _sit upon_ the matter, who, after listening attentively to all the
phenomena of the case, with a sufficiency of grunting, sagaciously and
decidedly pronounced the pale-face a _fool_. It was in vain the
unhappy man urged upon the assembled wisdom of the nation the
distinction between a _natural_ and a naturalist. The council grunted
to all he had to offer, but to them the distinction was without a
difference; they could comprehend not a syllable he uttered. 'Actions
speak louder than words'--so reasoned the old chiefs; and as the
custom was to _kill_ all their own fools, preparation was forthwith
commenced to administer this summary cure for folly upon the unhappy
naturalist. At this critical juncture a prudent old Indian suggested
the propriety, as the fool belonged to the 'pale faces,' of consulting
their 'Great Father' at St. Louis on the subject, and requesting his
presence at the execution. The sentence was suspended, therefore, for
a few hours, while a deputation was despatched to General Clarke,[178]
detailing all the circumstances of the case, and announcing the
intention of killing the fool as soon as possible. {26} The old
general listened attentively to the matter, and then quietly advised
them, as the _fool_ was a _pale face_, not to kill him, but to conduct
him safely to St. Louis, that he might dispose of him himself. This
proposition was readily acceded to, as the only wish of the Indians
was to rid the world of a _fool_. And thus was the worthy naturalist
relieved from an unpleasant predicament, not, however, without the
loss of his box of bugs; a loss he is said to have bewailed as
bitterly as, in anticipation, he had bewailed the loss of his head."
For the particulars of this anecdote I am no voucher; I give the tale
as told me; but as it doubtless has its origin in fact, it may have
suggested to the author of "The Prairie" that amusing character, "Obed
Battius, M.D.," especially as the scene of that interesting tale lies
in a neighbouring region.[179]

It was a sultry afternoon when I left St. Charles. The road for some
miles along the bottom runs parallel with the river, until, ascending
a slight elevation, the traveller is on the prairie. Upon this road I
had not proceeded many miles before I came fully to the conclusion,
that the route I was then pursuing would never conduct me and my horse
to the town of Grafton, Illinois, the point of my destination. In this
idea I was soon confirmed by a half-breed whom I chanced to meet.
Receiving a few general instructions, therefore, touching my route,
all of which I had quite forgotten ten minutes after, I pushed forth
into the pathless prairie, and was soon in its centre, almost buried,
with my horse beneath me, in the monstrous vegetation. {27} Between
the parallel rolls of the prairie, the size of the weeds and
undergrowth was stupendous; and the vegetation heaved in masses
heavily back and forth in the wind, as if for years it had flourished
on in rank, undisturbed luxuriance. Directly before me, along the
northern horizon, rose the white cliffs of the Mississippi, which, as
they went up to the sheer height, in some places, of several hundred
feet, presented a most mountain-like aspect as viewed over the level
surface of the plain. Towards a dim column of smoke which curled
lazily upward among these cliffs did I now direct my course. The broad
disk of the sun was rapidly wheeling down the western heavens; my
tired horse could advance through the heavy grass no faster than a
walk; the pale bluffs, apparently but a few miles distant, seemed
receding like an _ignis fatuus_ as I approached them; and there lay
the swampy forest to ford, and the "terrible Mississippi" beyond to
ferry, before I could hope for food or a resting-place. In simple
verity, I began to meditate upon the yielding character of
prairie-grass for a couch. And yet, of such surpassing loveliness was
the scene spread out around me, that I seemed hardly to realize a
situation disagreeable enough, but from which my thoughts were
constantly wandering. The grasses and flowering wild-plants of the
Mamelle Prairie are far-famed for their exquisite brilliancy of hue
and gracefulness of form. Among the flowers my eye detected a species
unlike to any I had yet met with, and which seemed indigenous only
here. Its fairy-formed corolla {28} was of a bright enamelled crimson,
which, in the depths of the dark herbage, glowed like a living coal.
How eloquently did this little flower bespeak the being and attributes
of its Maker. Ah!

            "There is religion in a flower;
  Mountains and oceans, planets, suns, and systems,
  Bear not the impress of Almighty power
  In characters more legible than those
  Which he has written on the tiniest flower
  Whose light bell bends beneath the dewdrop's weight."

One who has never looked upon the Western prairie in the pride of its
blushing bloom can hardly conceive the surpassing loveliness of its
summer flora; and, if the idea is not easy to conceive, still less is
it so to convey. The autumn flowers in their richness I have not yet
beheld; and in the early days of June, when I first stood upon the
prairies, the beauteous sisterhood of spring were all in their graves;
and the sweet springtime of the year it is when the gentle race of
flowers dance over the teeming earth in gayest guise and profusion. In
the first soft days of April, when the tender green of vegetation
begins to overspread the soil scathed by the fires of autumn, the
_viola_, primrose of the prairie, in all its rare and delicate forms;
the _anemone_ or wind-flower; the blue dewy harebell; the pale oxlip;
the flowering _arbute_, and all the pretty family of the pinks and
lilies lie sprinkled, as by the enchantment of a summer shower, or by
the tripping footsteps of Titania with her fairies, over the
landscape. The blue and the white then tint the perspective, from the
most {29} limpid cerulean of an _iris_ to the deep purple of the pink;
from the pearly lustre of the cowslip to the golden richness of the
buttercup. In early springtime, too, the island groves of the prairies
are also in flower; and the brilliant crimson of the _cercis
canadensis_, or Judas-tree; the delightful fragrance of the _lonicera_
or honeysuckle, and the light yellow of the _jasimum_, render the
forests as pleasant to the smell as to the eye. But spring-time passes
away, and with her pass away the fair young flowers her soft breath
had warmed into being. Summer comes over the prairies like a giant;
the fiery dog-star rages, and forth leap a host of bright ones to
greet his coming. The _heliotrope_ and _helianthus_, in all their rich
variety; the wild rose, flinging itself around the shrub-oak like a
wreath of rainbows; the _orchis_, the balmy thyme, the burgamot, and
the asters of every tint and proportion, then prevail, throwing forth
their gaudy, sunburnt petals upon the wind, until the whole meadow
seems arrayed in the royal livery of a sunset sky. Scarcely does the
summer begin to decline, and autumn's golden sunlight to stream in
misty magnificence athwart the landscape, than a thousand gorgeous
plants of its own mellow hue are nodding in stately beauty over the
plain. Yellow is the garniture of the autumnal Flora of the prairies;
and the haughty golden-rod, and all the splendid forms of the
_gentiana_, commingling with the white and crimson _eupatorium_, and
the red spire of the _liatris_, everywhere bespangle the scene; while
the trumpet-formed corolla of the _bignonia radicans_ glitters {30} in
the sunbeams, amid the luxuriant wreathing of ivy, from the tall
capitals of the isolated trees. All the _solidago_ species are in
their glory, and every variety of the _lobelia_; and the blood-red
sumach in the hollows and brakes, and the _sagittaria_, or arrow-head,
with its three-leaved calyx and its three white petals darting forth
from the recesses of the dark herbage, and all the splendid forms of
the aquatic plants, with their broad blossoms and their cool
scroll-like leaves, lend a finished richness of hue to the landscape,
which fails not well to harmonize with the rainbow glow of the distant
forest.

  "----Such beauty, varying in the light
  Of gorgeous nature, cannot be portrayed
  By words, nor by the pencil's silent skill;
  But is the property of those alone
  Who have beheld it, noted it with care,
  And, in their minds, recorded it with love."

What wonder, then, that, amid a scene like this, where the summer
reigned, and young autumn was beginning to anticipate its mellow
glories, the traveller should in a measure have forgotten his
vocation, and loitered lazily along his way!

_Portage des Sioux, Mo._



XXV

  "There's music in the forest leaves
    When summer winds are there,
  And in the laugh of forest girls
    That braid their sunny hair."
                                            HALLECK.

  "The forests are around him in their pride,
    The green savannas, and the mighty waves;
  And isles of flowers, bright floating o'er the tide
    That images the fairy world it laves."
                                             HEMANS.


There is one feature of the Mamelle Prairie, besides its eminent
beauty and its profusion of flowering plants, which distinguishes it
from every other with which I have met. I allude to the almost perfect
uniformity of its surface. There is little of that undulating,
wavelike slope and swell which characterizes the peculiar species of
surface called prairie. With the exception of a few lakes, abounding
with aquatic plants and birds, and those broad furrows traversing the
plain, apparently ancient beds of the rivers, the surface appears
smooth as a lawn. This circumstance goes far to corroborate the idea
of alluvial origin. And thus it was that, lost in a mazy labyrinth of
grass and flowers, I wandered on over the smooth soil of the prairie,
quite regardless of the whereabout my steps were conducting me. The
sun was just going down when my horse entered a slight footpath
leading into a point of woodland upon {32} the right. This I pursued
for some time, heedlessly presuming that it would conduct me to the
banks of the river; when, lo! to my surprise, on emerging from the
forest, I found myself in the midst of a French village, with its
heavy roofs and broad piazzas. Never was the lazy hero of Diedrich
Knickerbocker--luckless Rip--more sadly bewildered, after a twenty
years' doze among the Hudson Highlands, than was your loiterer at
this unlooked-for apparition. To find one's self suddenly translated
from the wild, flowery prairie into the heart of an aged, moss-grown
village, of such foreign aspect, withal, was by no means easy to
reconcile with one's notions of reality. Of the name, or even the
existence of the village, I had been quite as ignorant as if it had
never possessed either; and in vain was it that I essayed, in my
perplexity, to make myself familiar with these interesting items of
intelligence by inquiry of the primitive-looking beings whom I chanced
to encounter, as I rode slowly on into the village through the tall
stoccades of the narrow streets. Every one stared as I addressed him;
but, shaking his head and quickening his pace, pointed me on in the
direction I was proceeding, and left me to pursue it in ignorance and
single blessedness. This mystery--for thus to my excited fancy did it
seem--became at length intolerable. Drawing up my horse before the
open door of a cottage, around which, beneath the galleries, were
gathered a number of young people of both sexes, I very peremptorily
made the demand _where I was_. All stared, and some few took it upon
them, graceless youths, to {33} laugh; until, at length, a dark young
fellow, with black eyes and black whiskers, stepped forward, and, in
reply to my inquiry repeated, informed me that the village was called
"_Portage des Sioux_;" that the place of my destination was upon the
opposite bank of the Mississippi, several miles above--too distant to
think of regaining my route at that late hour; and very politely the
dark young man offered to procure for me accommodation for the night,
though the village could boast no inn. Keeping close on the heels of
my _conducteur_, I again began to thrid the narrow lanes of the
hamlet, from the doors and windows of every cottage of which peeped
forth an eager group of dark-eyed women and children, in uncontrolled
curiosity at the apparition of a stranger in their streets at such an
advanced hour of the day. The little village seemed completely cut off
from all the world beside, and as totally unconscious of the
proceedings of the community around as if it were a portion of another
hemisphere. The place lies buried in forest except upon the south,
where it looks out upon the Mamelle Prairie, and to the north is an
opening in the belt of woods along the river-bank, through which,
beyond the stream, rise the white cliffs in points and pinnacles like
the towers and turrets of a castellated town, to the perpendicular
altitude of several hundred feet. The scene was one of romantic
beauty, as the moonbeams silvered the forest-tops and cliffs, flinging
their broad shadows athwart the bosom of the waters, gliding in oily
rippling at their base. The site of Portage des Sioux is about seven
miles above {34} the town of Alton, and five below the embouchure of
the Illinois. Its landing is good; it contains three or four hundred
inhabitants, chiefly French; can boast a few trading establishments,
and, as is invariably the case in the villages of this singular
people, however inconsiderable, has an ancient Catholic church rearing
its gray spire above the low-roofed cottages. Attached to it, also, is
a "common field" of twelve hundred _arpens_--something less than as
many acres--stretching out into the prairie. The soil is, of course,
incomparably fertile. The garden-plats around each door were dark with
vegetation, overtopping the pickets of the enclosures; and away to the
south into the prairie swept the broad maize-fields nodding and
rustling in all the gorgeous garniture of summer.

My _conducteur_ stopped, at length, at the gate of a small brick
tenement, the only one in the village, whose modern air contrasted
strangely enough with the venerable aspect of everything else; and
having made known my necessities through the medium of sundry Babel
gibberings and gesticulations, he left me with the promise to call
early in the morning and see me on my way.

"What's your _name_, any how?" was the courteous salutation of mine
host, as I placed my foot across his threshold, after attending to the
necessities of the faithful animal which had been my companion through
the fatigues of the day. He was a dark-browed, swarthy-looking man,
with exceedingly black hair, and an eye which one might have suspected
of Indian origin but for the genuine cunning {35}--the "lurking
devil"--of its expression. Replying to the unceremonious interrogatory
with a smile, which by no means modified the haughty moroseness of my
landlord's visage, another equally civil query was proposed, to which
I received the hurried reply, "Jean Paul de --." From this _amiable_
personage I learned, by dint of questioning, that the village of
Portage des Sioux had been standing about half a century: that it
was originally settled by a colony from Cahokia: that its importance
now was as considerable as it ever had been: that it was terribly
shaken in the great earthquakes of 1811, many of the old cottages
having been thrown down and his own house rent from "turret to
foundation-stone"--the chasm in the brick wall yet remaining--and,
finally, that the village owed its name to the stratagem of a band of
Sioux Indians, in an expedition against the Missouris. The legend is
as follows: "The Sioux being at war with a tribe of the Missouris, a
party descended the Upper Mississippi on an expedition for pillage.
The Missouris, apprized of their approach, laid in ambush in the woods
at the mouth of the river, intending to take their enemies by surprise
as their canoes doubled the point to ascend. The Sioux, in the depths
of Indian subtlety, apprehending such a manoeuvre, instead of
descending to the confluence, landed at the portage, took their
canoes upon their backs, and crossed the prairie to the Indian village
on the Missouri, several miles above. By this stratagem the design of
their expedition was accomplished, and they had returned to their
canoes in safety with their plunder long {36} before the Missouris,
who were anxiously awaiting them at their ambuscade, were aware of
their first approach."

Supper was soon served up, prepared in the neatest French fashion.
While at table a circumstance transpired which afforded me some little
diversion. Several of the villagers dropped in during the progress of
the meal, who, having seated themselves at the board, a spirited
colloquy ensued in the _patois_ of these old hamlets--a species of
_gumbo-French_, which a genuine native of _La Belle France_ would
probably manage to unravel quite as well as a Northern Yankee. From a
few expressions, however, the meaning of which were obvious, together
with sundry furtive glances to the eye, and divers confused
withdrawals of the gaze, it was not very difficult to detect some
pretty free remarks upon the stranger-guest. All this was suffered to
pass with undisturbed _nonchalance_, until the meal was concluded;
when the hitherto mute traveller, turning to the negro attendant,
demanded in familiar French a glass of water. _Presto!_ the effect was
electric. Such visages of ludicrous distress! such stealthy glancing
of dark eyes! such glowing of sallow cheeks! The swarthy landlord at
length hurriedly ejaculated, "_Parlez vous Français?_" while the
dark-haired hostess could only falter "_Pardonnez moi!_" A hearty
laugh on my own part served rather to increase than diminish the
_empressement_, as it confirmed the suspicion that their guest had
realized to the full extent their hospitable remarks. Rising from the
table to put an end to rather an awkward {37} scene, I took my
_portfeuille_ and seated myself in the gallery to sketch the events of
the day. But the dark landlord looked with no favouring eye upon the
proceeding; and, as he was by no means the man to stand for ceremony,
he presently let drop a civil hint of the propriety of _retiring_; the
propriety of complying with which civil hint was at once perceived,
early as was the hour; and soon the whole house and village was buried
in slumber. And then "the stranger within their gates" rose quietly
from his couch, and in a few moments was luxuriating in the fresh
night-wind, laden with perfumes from the flowerets of the prairie it
swept. And beautifully was the wan moonlight playing over forest, and
prairie, and rustling maize-field, and over the gray church spire, and
the old village in its slumbering. And the giant cliffs rose white and
ghastly beyond the dark waters of the endless river, as it rolled on
in calm magnificence, "for ever flowing and the same for ever." And
associations of the scene with other times and other men thronged
"thick and fast" upon the fancy.

The first vermeil flush of morning was firing the eastern forest-tops,
when a single horseman was to be seen issuing from the narrow lanes of
the ancient village of Portage des Sioux, whose inhabitants had not
yet shaken off the drowsiness of slumber, and winding slowly along
beneath the huge trees skirting the prairie's margin. After an hour of
irregular wandering through the heavy meadow-grass, drenched and
dripping in the dews, and glistening in the morning sunlight, he
plunges into the {38} old woods on his right, and in a few moments
stands beneath the vine-clad sycamores, with the brilliant,
trumpet-formed flower of the _bignonia_ suspended from the branches
upon the margin of a stream. It is the "Father of Waters," and beyond
its bounding bosom lies the little hamlet of Grafton, slumbering in
quiet beauty beneath the cliffs. The scene is a lovely one: the mighty
river rolling calmly and majestically on--the moss-tasselled forest
upon its bank--the isles of brightness around which it ripples--the
craggy precipice, rearing its bald, broad forehead beyond--the smoking
cottages at the base, and the balmy breath of morning, with fragrance
curling the blue waters, are outlines of a portraiture which
imagination alone can fill up.

Blast after blast from the throat of a huge horn suspended from the
limb of an aged cotton-wood, went pealing over the waters; but all the
echoes in the surrounding forest had been awakened, and an hour was
gone by, before a float, propelled by the sturdy sinews of a single
brace of arms, had obeyed the summons. And so the traveller sat
himself quietly down upon the bank beneath the tree-shade, and
luxuriated on the feast of natural scenery spread out before him.

The site of the town of Grafton is an elevated strip of bottom-land,
stretching along beneath the bluffs, and in this respect somewhat
resembling Alton, fifteen or twenty miles below. The _locale_ of the
village is, however, far more delightful than that of its neighbour,
whatever the relative advantages for commerce they may boast, though
those of the {39} former are neither few nor small. Situated at the
_mouth_ of the Illinois as to navigation; possessing an excellent
landing for steamers, an extensive and fertile interior, rapidly
populating, and inexhaustible quarries for the builder, the town,
though recently laid off, is going on in the march of improvement;
and, with an hundred other villages of the West, bids fair to become a
nucleus of wealth and commerce.

_Grafton, Ill._



XXVI

      "When breath and sense have left this clay,
        In yon damp vault, oh lay me not;
      But kindly bear my bones away
        To some lone, green, and sunny spot."

  "Away to the prairie! away!
    Where the sun-gilt flowers are waving,
  When awaked from their couch at the breaking of day,
  O'er the emerald lawn the gay zephyrs play,
    And their pinions in dewdrops are laving."


On the morning of my arrival at Grafton, while my brisk little hostess
was making ready for my necessities, I stepped out to survey the
place, and availed myself of an hour of leisure to visit a somewhat
remarkable cavern among the cliffs, a little below the village, the
entrance of which had caught my attention while awaiting the movements
of the ferryman on the opposite bank of the Mississippi. It is
approached by a rough footpath along the {40} river-margin, piled up
with huge masses of limestone, which have been toppled from the
beetling crags above: these, at this point, as before stated, are some
hundred feet in perpendicular height. The orifice of the cave is
elliptical in outline, and somewhat regular, being an excavation by
the whirling of waters apparently in the surface of the smooth
escarpment; it is about twenty feet in altitude, and as many in width.
Passing the threshold of the entrance, an immediate expansion takes
place into a spacious apartment some forty or fifty feet in depth, and
about the same in extreme height: nearly in the centre a huge
perpendicular column of solid rock rears itself from the floor to the
roof. From this point the cavern lengthens itself away into a series
of apartments to the distance of several hundred feet, with two lesser
entrances in the same line with that in the middle, and at regular
intervals. The walls of the cave, like everything of a geological
character in this region, are composed of a secondary limestone,
abounding in testaceous fossils. The spot exhibits conclusive evidence
of having once been subject to diluvial action; and the cavern itself,
as I have observed, seems little else than an excavation from the
heart of an enormous mass of marine petrifaction. Large quantities of
human bones of all sizes have been found in this cavern, leaving
little doubt that, by the former dwellers in this fair land, the spot
was employed as a catacomb. I myself picked up the _sincipital_
section of a scull, which would have ecstasied a virtuoso beyond
measure; and {41} several of the _lumbar vertebræ_, which, if they
prove nothing else, abundantly demonstrate the aboriginal natives of
North America to have been no pigmy race. The spot is now desecrated
by the presence of a party of sturdy coopers, who could not, however,
have chosen a more delightful apartment for their handicraft; rather
more taste than piety, however, has been betrayed in the selection.
The view of the water and the opposite forest from the elevated mouth
of the cavern is very fine, and three or four broad-leafed sycamores
fling over the whole a delightful shade. The waters of the river flow
onward in a deep current at the base, and the fish throw themselves
into the warm sunlight from the surface. What a charming retreat from
the fiery fervour of a midsummer noon!

The heavy bluffs which overhang the village, and over which winds the
great road to the north, though not a little wearisome to surmount,
command from the summit a vast and beautiful landscape. A series of
inclined planes are talked of by the worthy people of Grafton to
overcome these bluffs, and render their village less difficult of
inland ingress and regress; and though the idea is not a little
amusing, of rail-cars running off at an angle of forty-five degrees,
yet when we consider that this place, if it ever becomes of _any_
importance, must become a grand thoroughfare and dépôt on the route
from St. Louis and the agricultural regions of the Missouri to the
northern counties of Illinois, the design seems less chimerical _than
it might be_. A charter, indeed, for a railroad {42} from Grafton,
through Carrolton to Springfield, has been obtained, a company
organized, and a portion of the stock subscribed;[180] while another
corporation is to erect a splendid hotel. The traveller over the
bluffs, long before he stands upon their summit, heartily covets any
species of locomotion other than the back of a quadruped. But the
scenery, as he ascends, caught at glimpses through the forest, is
increasingly beautiful. Upon one of the loftiest eminences to the
right stand the ruins of a huge stone-heap; the tumulus, perchance, of
some red-browed chieftain of other days. It was a beautiful custom of
these simple-hearted sons of the wilderness to lay away the relics of
their loved and honoured ones even upon the loftiest, greenest spots
of the whole earth; where the freed spirit might often rise to look
abroad over the glories of that pleasant forest-home where once it
roved in the chase or bounded forth upon the path of war. And it is a
circumstance not a little worthy of notice, that veneration for the
dead is a feeling universally betrayed by uncivilized nations. The
Indian widow of Florida annually despoils herself of her luxuriant
tresses to wreathe the headstone beneath which reposes the bones of
her husband. The Canadian mother, when her infant is torn from her
bosom by the chill hand of death, and, with a heart almost breaking,
she has been forced to lay him away beneath the sod, is said, in the
touching intensity of her affection, to bathe the tombstone of her
little one with that genial flood which Nature poured through her
veins for his nourishment {43} while living. The Oriental nations, it
is well known, whether civilized or savage, have ever, from deepest
antiquity, manifested an eloquent solicitude for the sepulchres of
their dead. The expiring Israelite, we are always told, "was gathered
to his fathers;" and the tombs of the Jewish monarchs, some of which
exist even to the present day, were gorgeously magnificent. The
nations of modern Turkey and India wreathe the tombs of their departed
friends with the gayest and most beautiful flowers of the season;
while the very atmosphere around is refreshed by fountains.

From the site of the stone-heap of which I have spoken, and which may
or may _not_ have been erected to the memory of some Indian chieftain,
a glorious cosmorama of the whole adjacent region, miles in
circumference, is unfolded to the eye. At your feet, far below, flow
on the checkered waters of the Mississippi, gliding in ripples among
their emerald islands; while at intervals, as the broad stream comes
winding on from the west, is caught the flashing sheen of its surface
through the dense old woods that fringe its margin. Beyond these, to
the south, lies spread the broad and beautiful Mamelle Prairie, even
to its faint blue blending with the distant horizon laid open to the
eye, rolling and heaving its heavy herbage in the breeze to the
sunlight like the long wave of ocean. And the bright green
island-groves, the cape-like forest-strips swelling out upon its
bosom, the flashing surface of lakes and water-sheets, almost buried
in the luxuriance of vegetation, with thousands of {44} aquatic birds
wheeling their broad flight over them, all contribute to fill up the
lineaments of a scene of beauty which fails not to enrapture the
spectator. Now and then along the smooth meadow, a darker luxuriance
of verdure, with the curling cabin-smoke upon its border, and vast
herds of domestic cattle in its neighbourhood, betray the presence of
man, blending _his_ works with the wild and beautiful creations of
Nature. On the right, at a distance of two miles, come in the placid
waters of the Illinois, from the magnificent bluffs in the back-ground
stealing softly and quietly into the great river through the wooded
islands at its mouth. The day was a sultry one; the atmosphere was
like the breath of a furnace; but over the heights of the bluffs swept
the morning air, fresh and cool from the distant prairie. For some
miles, as is invariably the case upon the banks of the Western rivers,
the road winds along among bluffs and sink-holes; and so constantly
does its course vary and diverge, that a pocket compass is anything
but a needless appendage. Indeed, all his calculations to the contrary
notwithstanding, the traveller throughout the whole of this region
describes with his route a complete Virginia fence. The road is not a
little celebrated for its tortuosity. At length the traveller emerges
upon a prairie. On its edge beneath the forest stands a considerable
settlement, bordering on Macoupin Creek, from which it takes a name.
In the latter part of 1816 this settlement was commenced, and was then
the most northern location of whites in the Territory of
Illinois.[181]

{45} It was evening, at the close of a sultry day, that the village
of Carrolton appeared before me among the trees.[182] I was struck
with the quiet air of simple elegance which seemed to pervade the
place, though its general outlines are those of every other Western
village I have visited. One broad, regular street extends through the
town, upon either side of which stand the stores and better class of
private residences; while in the back-ground, scattered promiscuously
along the transverse avenues, are log-cabins surrounded by cornfields,
much like those in the villages of the French. Three sides of the town
are bounded by forest, while the fourth opens upon the prairie called
"String Prairie." In the centre of the village, upon the principal
street, is reserved a square, in the middle of which stands the
courthouse, with other public structures adjacent, and the stores and
hotels along its sides. One thing in Carrolton which struck me as a
little singular, was the unusual diversity of religious denominations.
Of these there are not less than five or six; three of which have
churches, and a fourth is setting itself in order to build; and all
this in a village of hardly one thousand inhabitants. The courthouse
is a handsome edifice of brick, two stories, with a neat spire. The
neighbouring region is fertile and healthy; well proportioned with
prairie and timber, well watered by the Macoupin and Apple
Creeks,[183] and well populated by a sturdy, thriving race of
yeomanry. This is, indeed, strictly an agricultural village; and, so
far as my own observation {46} extended, little attention is paid or
taste manifested for anything else.

About a dozen miles north of Carrolton is situated the village of
Whitehall, a flourishing settlement in the prairie's edge, from the
centre of which, some miles distant, it may be seen.[184] Three years
ago the spot was an uncultivated waste; the town has now two houses of
worship, a school, an incorporation for a seminary, two taverns, six
hundred inhabitants, and a steam mill to feed them withal. A few miles
from this place, on the outskirts of another small settlement, I was
met by a company of emigrants from Western New-York. The women and
children were piled upon the top of the household stuff with about as
much ceremony as if they constituted a portion thereof, in a huge
lumbering baggage-wagon, around which dangled suspended pots and
kettles, dutch-ovens and tin-kitchens, cheese-roasters and
bread-toasters, all in admired confusion, jangling harsh discord. The
cart-wheels themselves, as they gyrated upon the parched axles, like
the gates of Milton's hell on their hinges, "grated harsh thunder." In
the van of the cavalcade strode soberly on the patriarch of the
family, with his elder sons, axe upon shoulder, rifle in hand, a
veritable Israel Bush. For six weeks had the wanderers been
travelling, and a weary, bedusted-looking race were they, that
emigrant family.

The rapidity with which a Western village goes forward, and begins to
assume importance among the nations, after having once been born and
{47} christened, is amazing. The mushrooms of a summer's night, the
wondrous gourd of Jonah, the astonishing bean of the giant-killer, or
the enchantments of the Arabian Nights, are but fit parallels to the
growth of the prairie-village of the Far West. Of all this I was
forcibly reminded in passing through quite a town upon my route named
Manchester, where I dined, and which, if my worthy landlord was not
incorrect, two years before could hardly boast a log-cabin.[185] It is
now a thriving place, on the northern border of Mark's Prairie, from
which it may be seen four or five miles before entering its streets;
it is surrounded by a body of excellent timber, always the _magnum
desideratum_ in Illinois. This scarcity of timber will not, however,
be deemed such an insurmountable obstacle to a dense and early
population of this state as may have been apprehended, when we
consider the unexampled rapidity with which a young growth pushes
itself forward into the prairies when once protected from the
devastating effects of the autumnal fires; the exhaustless masses of
bituminous coal which may be thrown up from the ravines, and creeks,
and bluffs of nearly every county in the state; the facility of
ditching, by the assistance of blue grass to bind the friable soil,
and the luxuriance of hedge-rows for enclosures, as practised almost
solely in England, France, and the Netherlands; and, finally, the
convenience of manufacturing brick for all the purposes of building.
There is not, probably, any quarter of the state destined to become
more populous and powerful {48} than that section of Morgan county
through which I was now passing. On every side, wherever the traveller
turns his eye, beautiful farms unfold their broad, wavy prairie-fields
of maize and wheat, indicative of affluence and prosperity. The
_worst_ soil of the prairies is best adapted to wheat; it is
_generally_ too fertile; the growth too rapid and luxuriant; the stalk
so tall and the ear so heavy, that it is lodged before matured for the
sickle. Illinois, consequently, can never become a celebrated wheat
region, though for corn and coarser grains it is now unequalled.

The rapidity with which this state has been peopled is wonderful,
especially its northern counties. In the year 1821, that section of
country embraced within the present limits of Morgan county numbered
but twenty families; in 1830 its population was nearly fourteen
thousand, and cannot now be estimated at less than seventeen thousand!
Many of the settlers are natives of the New-England States; and with
them have brought those habits of industrious sobriety for which the
North has ever been distinguished. In all the enterprise of the age,
professing for its object the amelioration of human condition and the
advancement of civilization, religion, and the arts, Morgan county
stands in advance of all others in the state. What a wonderful
revolution have a few fleeting years of active enterprise induced
throughout a region once luxuriating in all the savageness of nature;
while the wild prairie-rose "blushed unseen," and the wilder
forest-son pursued the deer! Fair villages, {49} like spring violets
along the meadow, have leaped forth into being, to bless and to
gladden the land, and to render even this beautiful portion of God's
beautiful world--though for ages a profitless waste--at length the
abode of intelligence, virtue, and peace.

It was near the close of the day that the extent and frequency of the
farms on either side, the more finished structure of the houses, the
regularity of enclosures, the multitude of vehicles of every
description by which I was encountered, and the dusty, hoof-beaten
thoroughfare over which I was travelling, all reminded me that I was
drawing nigh to Jacksonville, the principal town in Illinois. Passing
"Diamond Grove," a beautiful forest-island of nearly a thousand acres,
elevated above the surrounding prairie to which it gives a name,[186]
and environed by flourishing farms, the traveller catches a view of
the distant village stretching away along the northern horizon. He
soon enters an extended avenue, perfectly uniform for several miles,
leading on to the town. Beautiful meadows and harvest-fields on either
side sweep off beyond the reach of the eye, their neat white cottages
and palings peeping through the enamelled foliage. To the left, upon a
swelling upland at the distance of some miles, are beheld the brick
edifices of "Illinois College," relieved by a dark grove of oaks
resting against the western sky.[187] These large buildings, together
with the numerous other public structures, imposingly situated and
strongly relieved, give to the place a dignified, city-like aspect in
distant {50} view. After a ride of more than a mile within the
immediate suburbs of the town, the traveller ascends a slight
elevation, and the next moment finds himself in the public square,
surrounded on every side by stores and dwellings, carts and carriages,
market-people, horses, and hotels.

_Jacksonville, Ill._



XXVII

  "What a large volume of adventures may be grasped in this little
  span of life by him who interests his heart in everything, and
  who, having his eyes to see what time and chance are perpetually
  holding out to him as he journeyeth on his way, misses nothing he
  can _fairly_ lay his hands on."--STERNE'S _Sentimental Journal_.

  "Take this in good part, whosoever thou be,
  And wish me no worse than I wish unto thee."
                                                 TURNER.


It was a remark of that celebrated British statesman, Horace Walpole,
that the vicissitudes of no man's life were too slight to prove
interesting, if detailed in the simple order of their occurrence. The
idea originated with the poet Gray, if an idea which has suggested
itself to the mind of every man may be appropriated by an individual.
Assuming the sentiment as true, the author of these SKETCHES has alone
presumed to lay his observations and adventures as a traveller before
the _majesty of the public_; and upon this principle _solely_ must
they rely for any interest they may {51} claim. A mere glance at those
which have preceded must convince the reader that their object has
been by no means exact geographical and statistical information.
Errors and omissions have, doubtless, often occurred in the hasty view
which has been taken: partially through negligence, sometimes through
lack of knowledge, misinformation, or attempt at brevity, but never
through aforethought or malice prepense. Upon the whole, the writer
admits himself completely laid open to criticism; and, should any
public-spirited worthy deem it his duty to rise up in judgment and
avenge the wrongs of literature and the community, he has undoubted
right so to do: nathless, he is most veritably forewarned that he will
hardly gather up his "labour for his pains!" But _allons_.

It is only ten or twelve years since the town site of Jacksonville,
now, perhaps, the most flourishing inland village in Illinois, was
first _laid off_; and it is but within the past five years that its
present unprecedented advancement can be dated.[188] Its site is a
broad elevated roll in the midst of a beautiful prairie; and, from
whatever point it is approached, few places present a more delightful
prospect. The spot seems marked and noted by Nature for the abode of
man. The neighbouring prairie is undulating, and the soil uncommonly
rich, even in this land of fertility. It is mostly under high
cultivation, and upon its northern and western edge is environed by
pleasant groves, watered by many a "sweet and curious brook." The
public square in the centre of the town is of noble dimensions, {52}
occupied by a handsome courthouse and a market, both of brick, and its
sides filled up with dwelling-houses, stores, law-offices, a church,
bank, and hotel. From this point radiate streets and avenues in all
directions: one through each side of every angle near its vertex, and
one through the middle of every side; so that the town-plat is
completely cut up into rectangles. If I mistake not in my description,
it will be perceived that the public square of Jacksonville may be
entered at no less than twelve distinct avenues. In addition to the
spacious courthouse, the public buildings consist of three or four
churches. One of these, belonging to the Congregational order, betrays
much correct taste; and its pulpit is the most simply elegant I
remember ever to have seen. It consists merely of a broad platform in
the chancel of the building, richly carpeted; a dark mahogany bar
without drapery, highly polished; and a neat sofa of the same material
in a plain back-ground. The outline and proportion are perfect; and,
like the doctrines of the sect which worships here, there is an air
of severe, dignified elegance about the whole structure, pleasing as
it is rare. The number of Congregational churches in the West is
exceedingly small; and as it is always pleasant for the stranger in a
strange land to meet the peculiarities of that worship to which from
childhood-days he has been attached, so it is peculiarly grateful to
the New-England emigrant to recognise in this distant spot the simple
faith and ceremony of the Pilgrims. Jacksonville is largely made up of
emigrants from {53} the North; and they have brought with them many of
their customs and peculiarities. The State of Illinois may, indeed, be
truly considered the New-England of the West. In many respects it is
more congenial than any other to the character and prejudices of the
Northern emigrant. It is not a slave state; internal improvement is
the grand feature of its civil polity; and measures for the universal
diffusion of intellectual, moral, and religious culture are in active
progression. In Henry county, in the northern section of the state,
two town-plats have within the past year been laid off for colonies of
emigrants from Connecticut, which intend removing in the ensuing fall,
accompanied each by their minister, physician, lawyer, and with all
the various artisans of mechanical labour necessary for such
communities. The settlements are to be called Wethersfield and
Andover.[189] Active measures for securing the blessings of
education, religion, temperance, etc., have already been taken.[190]

The edifices of "Illinois College," to which I have before alluded,
are situated upon a beautiful eminence one mile west of the village,
formerly known as "Wilson's Grove." The site is truly delightful. In
the rear lies a dense green clump of oaks, and in front is spread out
the village, with a boundless extent of prairie beyond, covered for
miles with cultivation. Away to the south, the wildflower flashes as
gayly in the sunlight, and {54} waves as gracefully when swept by the
breeze, as centuries ago, when no eye of man looked upon its
loveliness. During my stay at Jacksonville I visited several times
this pleasant spot, and always with renewed delight at the glorious
scenery it presented. Connected with the college buildings are
extensive grounds; and students, at their option, may devote a portion
of each day to manual labour in the workshop or on the farm. Some
individuals have, it is said, in this manner defrayed all the expenses
of their education. This system of instruction cannot be too highly
recommended. Apart from the benefits derived in acquiring a knowledge
of the use of mechanical instruments, and the development of
mechanical genius, there are others of a higher nature which every one
who has been educated at a public institution will appreciate. Who has
not gazed with anguish on the sunken cheek and the emaciated frame of
the young aspirant for literary distinction? Who has not beheld the
funeral fires of intellect while the lamp of life was fading, flaming
yet more beautifully forth, only to be dimmed for ever! The lyre is
soon to be crushed; but, ere its hour is come, it flings forth notes
of melody sweet beyond expression! Who does not know that protracted,
unremitting intellectual labour is _always_ fatal, unaccompanied by
corresponding physical exertion; and who cannot perceive that _any_
inducement, be it what it may, which can draw forth the student from
his retirement, is invaluable. Such an inducement is the lively
interest which the cultivated mind {55} always manifests in the
operations of mechanical art.

Illinois College has been founded but five or six years, yet it is now
one of the most flourishing institutions west of the mountains. The
library consists of nearly two thousand volumes, and its chymical
apparatus is sufficient. The faculty are five in number, and its first
class was graduated two years since. No one can doubt the vast
influence this seminary is destined to exert, not only upon this
beautiful region of country and this state, but over the whole great
Western Valley. It owes its origin to the noble enterprise of seven
young men, graduates of Yale College, whose names another age will
enrol among our Harvards and our Bowdoins, our Holworthys, Elliots,
and Gores, great and venerable as those names are. And, surely, we
cannot but believe that "some divinity has shaped their ends," when we
consider the character of the spot upon which a wise Providence has
been pleased to succeed their design. From the Northern lakes to the
gulf, where may a more eligible site be designated for an institution
whose influence shall be wide, and powerful, and salutary, than that
same beautiful grove, in that pleasant village of Jacksonville.

To the left of the college buildings is situated the lordly residence
of Governor Duncan, surrounded by its extensive grounds.[191] There
are other fine edifices scattered here and there upon the eminence,
among which the beautiful little cottage of Mr. C., brother to the
great orator of the {56} West, holds a conspicuous station.[192]
Society in Jacksonville is said to be superior to any in the state. It
is of a cast decidedly moral, and possesses much literary taste. This
is betrayed in the number of its schools and churches; its lyceum,
circulating library, and periodicals. In fine, there are few spots in
the West, and none in Illinois, which to the _Northern_ emigrant
present stronger attractions than the town of Jacksonville and its
vicinity. Located in the heart of a tract of country the most fertile
and beautiful in the state; swept by the sweet breath of health
throughout the year; tilled by a race of enterprising, intelligent,
hardy yeomen; possessing a moral, refined, and enlightened society,
the tired wanderer may here find his necessities relieved and his
peculiarities respected: he may here find congeniality of feeling and
sympathy of heart. And when his memory wanders, as it sometimes must,
with melancholy musings, mayhap, over the loved scenes of his own
distant New-England, it will be sweet to realize that, though he sees
not, indeed, around him the beautiful romance of his native hills, yet
many a kindly heart is throbbing near, whose emotions, like his own,
were nurtured in their rugged bosom. "_Cælum non animum mutatur._" And
is it indeed true, as they often tell us, that New-England character,
like her own ungenial clime, is cold, penurious, and heartless; while
to her brethren, from whom she is separated only by an imaginary
boundary, may be ascribed all that is lofty, and honourable, and
chivalrous in man! This is an old {57} calumny, the offspring of
prejudice and ignorance, and it were time it were at rest. But it is
not for me to contrast the leading features of Northern character with
those of the South, or to repel the aspersions which have been heaped
upon either. Yet, reader, believe them not; many are false as ever
stained the poisoned lip of slander.

It was Saturday evening when I reached the village of Jacksonville,
and on the following Sabbath I listened to the sage instruction of
that eccentric preacher, but venerable old man, Dr. P. of
Philadelphia, since deceased, but then casually present. "_The Young
Men of the West_" was a subject which had been presented him for
discourse, and worthily was it elaborated. The good people of this
little town, in more features than one, present a faithful transcript
of New-England; but in none do they betray their Pilgrim origin more
decidedly than in their devotedness to the public worship of the
sanctuary. Here the young and the old, the great and small, the rich
and poor, are all as steadily church-goers as were ever the pious
husbandmen of Connecticut--men of the broad breast and giant
stride--in the most "high and palmy day" of blue-laws and tything men.
You smile, reader, yet

  "Noble deeds those iron men have done!"

It was these same church-going, psalm-singing husbandmen who planted
Liberty's fair tree within our borders, the leaves of which are now
for the "healing of the nations," and whose broad branches are
overshadowing the earth; and they watered it--ay, watered it with
their blood! The Pilgrim Fathers!--{58} the elder yeomanry of
New-England!--the Patriots of the American Revolution!--great names!
they shall live enshrined in the heart of Liberty long after those of
many a railer are as if they had never been. And happy, happy would it
be for the fair heritage bequeathed by them, were not the present
generation degenerate sons of noble sires.

At Jacksonville I tarried only a few days; but during that short
period I met with a few things of tramontane origin, strange enough to
my Yankee notions. It was the season approaching the annual election
of representatives for the state and national councils, and on one of
the days to which I have alluded the political candidates of various
creeds _addressed the people_; that is--for the benefit of the
uninitiated be it stated--each one made manifest what great things he
had done for the people in times past, and promised to do greater
things, should the dear people, in the overflowing of their kindness,
be pleased to let their choice fall upon him. This is a custom of
universal prevalence in the Southern and Western states, and much is
urged in its support; yet, sure it is, in no way could a Northern
candidate more utterly defeat his election than by attempting to
pursue the same. The charge of _self-electioneering_ is, indeed, a
powerful engine often employed by political partisans.

The candidates, upon the occasion of which I am speaking, were six or
seven in number: and though I was not permitted to listen to the
_eloquence_ of all, some of these harangues are said to have been
powerful productions, especially that of Mr. S. The day {59} was
exceedingly sultry, and Mr. W., candidate for the state Senate, was on
the _stump_, in shape of a huge meat-block at one corner of the
market-house, when I entered.[193] He was a broadfaced, farmer-like
personage, with features imbrowned by exposure, and hands hardened by
honourable toil; with a huge rent, moreover, athwart his left
shoulder-blade--a badge of democracy, I presume, and either neglected
or produced there for the occasion; much upon the same principle,
doubtless, that Quintilian counselled his disciples to disorder the
hair and tumble the toga before they began to speak. Now mind ye,
reader, I do not accuse the worthy man of having followed the Roman's
instructions, or even of acquaintance therewith, or any such thing;
but, verily, he did, in all charity, seem to have hung on his worst
rigging, and that, too, for no other reason than to demonstrate the
democracy aforesaid, and his affection for the _sans-culottes_. His
speech, though garnished with some little rhodomontade, was, upon the
whole, a sensible production. I could hardly restrain a smile,
however, at one of the worthy man's figures, in which he likened
himself to "the _morning sun_, mounting a stump to scatter the mists
which had been gathering around his fair fame." Close upon the heels
of this _ruse_ followed a beautiful simile--"a people free as the wild
breezes of their own broad prairies!" The candidates alternated
according to their political creeds, and denounced each other in no
very measured terms. The approaching election was found, indeed, to be
the prevailing topic of thought and conversation all over the land;
insomuch {60} that the writer, himself an unassuming wayfarer, was
more than once, strangely enough, mistaken for a _candidate_ as he
rode through the country, and was everywhere _catechumened_ as to the
articles of his political faith. It would be an amusing thing to a
solitary traveller in a country like this, could he always detect the
curious surmisings to which his presence gives rise in the minds of
those among whom he chances to be thrown; especially so when, from any
circumstance, his appearance does not betray his definite rank or
calling in life, and anything of mystery hangs around his movements.
Internal Improvement seems now to be the order of the day in Northern
Illinois. This was the hobby of most of the stump-speakers; and the
projected railway from Jacksonville to the river was under sober
consideration. I became acquainted, while here, with Mr. C., a young
gentleman engaged in laying off the route.

It was late in the afternoon when I at length broke away from the
hustings, and mounted my horse to pursue my journey to Springfield.
The road strikes off from the public square, in a direct line through
the prairie, at right angles with that by which I entered, and, _like_
that, ornamented by fine farms. I had rode but a few miles from the
village, and was leisurely pursuing my way across the dusty plain,
when a quick tramping behind attracted my attention, and in a few
moments a little, portly, red-faced man at my side, in linsey-woolsey
and a broad-brimmed hat, saluted me frankly with the title of
"friend," and forthwith announced himself a "Baptist {61}
circuit-rider!" I became much interested in the worthy man before his
path diverged from my own; and I flatter myself he reciprocated my
regard, for he asked all manner of questions, and related all manner
of anecdotes, questioned or not. Among other edifying matter, he gave
a full-length biography of a "_billards fever_" from which he was just
recovering; even from the premonitory symptoms thereof to the relapse
and final convalescence.

At nightfall I found myself alone in the heart of an extensive
prairie; but the beautiful crescent had now begun to beam forth from
the blue heavens; and the wild, fresh breeze of evening, playing among
the silvered grass-tops, rendered the hour a delightful one to the
traveller. "Spring Island Grove," a thick wood upon an eminence to the
right, looked like a region of fairy-land as its dark foliage
trembled in the moonlight. The silence and solitude of the prairie was
almost startling; and a Herculean figure upon a white horse, as it
drew nigh, passed me "on the other side" with a glance of suspicion at
my closely-buttoned surtout and muffled mouth, as if to say, "this is
too lone a spot to form acquaintance." A few hours--I had crossed the
prairie, and was snugly deposited in a pretty little farmhouse in the
edge of the grove, with a crusty, surly fellow enough for its master.

_Springfield, Ill._



XXVIII

  "Hee is a rite gude creetur, and travels _all_ the ground
  over most faithfully."

  "The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill
  together."--SHAKESPEARE.


It is a trite remark, that few studies are more pleasing to the
inquisitive mind than that of the _nature of man_. But, however this
may be, sure it is, few situations in life present greater facilities
for watching its developments than that of the ordinary _wayfaring_
traveller. Though I fully agree with Edmund Burke, that "the age of
chivalry has passed away," with all its rough virtues and its follies,
yet am I convinced that, even in this degenerate era of sophisters,
economists, and speculators, when a solitary individual, unconnected
with any great movements of the day, throws himself upon his horse,
and sallies fearlessly forth upon the arena of the world, whether in
_quest_ of adventure or not, he will be quite sure to meet, at least,
with some slight "inklings" thereof. A thousand exhibitions of human
character will fling themselves athwart his pathway, inconsiderable
indeed in themselves, yet which, as days of the year and seconds of
the day, go to make up the lineaments of man; and which, from the
observation of the pride, and pomp, and circumstance of wealth and
equipage, would of necessity be veiled. Under the eye of the solitary
{63} wanderer, going forth upon a pilgrimage of observation among the
ranks of men--who is met but for once, and whose opinion, favourable
or otherwise, can be supposed to exert but trifling influence--there
is not that necessity for enveloping those petty weaknesses of our
nature in the mantle of selfishness which would, under more imposing
circumstances, exist. To the mind of delicate sensibility, unschooled
in the ways of man, such exhibitions of human heartlessness might,
perchance, be anything but _interesting_; but to one who, elevated by
independence of character above the ordinary contingencies of
situation and circumstance, can smile at the frailties of his race,
even when exhibited at his own expense, they can but afford a fund of
interest and instruction. The youthful student, when with fresh,
unblunted feeling he for the first time enters the dissecting-room of
medical science, turns with sickened, revolting sensibilities from the
mutilated form stretched out upon the board before him, while the
learned professor, with untrembling nerve, lays bare its secrecies
with the crimsoned knife of science. Just so is it with the
exhibitions of human nature; yet who will say that dissection of the
moral character of man is not as indispensable to an intimate
acquaintance with its phenomena, as that of his physical organization
for a similar purpose.

But, then, there are the brighter features of humanity, which
sometimes hang across the wanderer's pathway like the beautiful tints
of a summer evening bow; and which, as they are oftenest met reposing
beneath the cool, sequestered shades of {64} retirement, where the
roar and tumult of a busy world are as the heavy swing of the distant
wave, so there, oftener than elsewhere, they serve to cheer the
pilgrim traveller's heart. Ah! it is very sweet, from the dull
Rembrandt shades of which human character presents but too much, to
turn away and dwell upon these green, beautiful spots in the wastes of
humanity; these _oases_ in a desert of barrenness; to hope that man,
though indeed a depraved, unholy being, is not that _thing_ of utter
detestation which a troubled bosom had sometimes forced us to believe.
At such moments, worth years of coldness and distrust, how
inexpressibly grateful is it to feel the young tendrils of the heart
springing forth to meet the proffered affection; curling around our
race, and binding it closer and closer to ourselves. But your pardon,
reader: my wayward pen has betrayed me into an episode upon poor human
nature most unwittingly, I do assure thee. I was only endeavouring to
present a few ideas circumstances had casually suggested, which I was
sure would commend themselves to every thinking mind, and which some
incidents of my wayfaring may serve to illustrate, when lo! forth
comes an essay on human nature. It reminds one of Sir Hudibras, who
_told the clock by algebra_, or of Dr. Young's satirised gentlewoman,
who _drank tea by stratagem_.

"How little do men realize the loveliness of this visible world!" is
an exclamation which has oftentimes involuntarily left my lips while
gazing upon the surpassing splendour of a prairie-sunrise. This is at
all times a glorious hour, but to a lonely traveller {65} on these
beautiful plains of the departed Illini, it comes on with a charm
which words are powerless to express. We call our world a RUIN. Ah! it
_is_ one in all its moral and physical relations; but, like the elder
cities of the Nile, how vast, how magnificent in its desolation! The
astronomer, as he wanders with scientific eye along the sparkling
galaxy of a summer's night, tells us that among those clustering orbs,
far, far away in the clear realms of upper sky, he catches at times a
glimpse of _another_ world! a region of untold, unutterable
brightness! the high empyrean, veiled in mystery! And so is it with
our own humbler sphere; the glittering fragment of a world _we_ have
never known ofttimes glances before us, and then is gone for ever.

Before the dawn I had left the farmhouse where I had passed the night,
and was thridding the dark old forest on my route to Springfield. The
dusky twilight of morning had been slowly stealing over the landscape;
and, just as I emerged once more upon my winding prairie-path, the
flaming sunlight was streaming wide and far over the opposite heavens.
Along the whole line of eastern horizon reposed the purple dies of
morning, shooting rapidly upward into broad pyramidal shafts to the
zenith, till at last the dazzling orb came rushing above the plain,
bathing the scene in an effulgence of light. The day which succeeded
was a fine one, and I journeyed leisurely onward, admiring the mellow
glories of woodland and prairie, until near noon, when a flashing
cupola above the trees reminded me I was approaching {66}
Springfield.[194] Owing to its unfavourable situation and the fewness
of its public structures, this town, though one of the most important
in the state, presents not that imposing aspect to the stranger's eye
which some more inconsiderable villages can boast. Its location is the
border of an extensive prairie, adorned with excellent farms, and
stretching away on every side to the blue line of distant forest. This
town, like Jacksonville, was laid out ten or twelve years since, but
for a long while contained only a few scattered log cabins: all its
present wealth or importance dates from the last six years. Though
inferior in many respects to its neighbour and rival, yet such is its
location by nature that it can hardly fail of becoming a place of
extensive business and crowded population; while its geographically
central situation seems to designate it as the capital of the state.
An elegant state-house is now erecting, and the seat of government is
to be located here in 1840. The public square, a green, pleasant lawn,
enclosed by a railing, contains the courthouse and a market, both fine
structures of brick: the sides are lined with handsome edifices. Most
of the buildings are small, however, and the humble log cabin not
unfrequently meets the eye. Among the public structures are a jail,
and several houses of worship. Society is said to be excellent, and
the place can boast much literary taste. The plan of Internal
Improvement projected for the state, when carried out, cannot fail to
render Springfield an important place.

It was a cool, beautiful evening when I left Springfield and held my
way over the prairie, rolling its {67} waving verdure on either side
of my path. Long after the village had sunk in the horizon, the bright
cupola continued to flame in the oblique rays of the setting sun. I
passed many extensive farms on my route, and in a few hours had
entered the forest and forded Sangamon _River_--so styled out of pure
courtesy, I presume, for at the spot I crossed it seemed little more
than a respectable creek, with waters clear as crystal, flowing over
clean white sand.[195] At periods of higher stages, however, this
stream has been navigated nearly to the confluence of its forks, a
distance of some hundred miles; and in the spring of 1832 a boat of
some size arrived within five miles of Springfield. An inconsiderable
expense in removing logs and overhanging trees, it is said, would
render this river navigable for keelboats half the year. The
advantages of such a communication, through one of the richest
agricultural regions on the globe, can hardly be estimated. The
Sangamon bottom has a soil of amazing fertility, and rears from its
deep, black mould a forest of enormous sycamores; huge, overgrown,
unshapely masses, their venerable limbs streaming with moss. When the
traveller enters the depths of these dark old woods, a cold chill runs
over his frame, and he feels as if he were entering the sepulchre. A
cheerless twilight reigns for ever through them: the atmosphere he
inhales has an earthly smell, and is filled with floating greenish
exhalations; the moist, black mould beneath his horse's hoofs, piled
with vegetable decay for many feet, and upon whose festering bosom the
cheering light of day has not smiled for {68} centuries, is rank and
yielding: the enormous shafts leaning in all attitudes, their naked
old roots enveloped in a green moss of velvet luxuriance, tower a
hundred feet above his head, and shut out the heavens from his view:
the huge wild-vine leaps forth at their foot and clasps them in its
deadly embrace; or the tender ivy and pensile woodbine cluster around
the aged giants, and strive to veil with their mantling tapestry the
ravages of time. There is much cathedral pomp, much of Gothic
magnificence about all this; and one can hardly fling off from his
mind the awe and solemnity which gathers over it amid the chill,
silent, and mysterious solitude of the scene.

Emerging from the river-bottom, my pathway lay along a tract of
elevated land, among beautiful forest-glades of stately oaks, through
whose long dim aisles the yellow beams of summer sunset were now
richly streaming. Once more upon the broad prairie, and the fragment
of an iris was glittering in the eastern heavens: turning back, my eye
caught a view of that singular but splendid phenomenon, seldom
witnessed--a heavy, distant rain-shower between the spectator and the
departing sun.

Nightfall found me at the residence of Mr. D., an intelligent,
gentlemanly farmer, with whom I passed an agreeable evening. I was not
long in discovering that my host was a candidate for civic honours;
and that he, with his friend Mr. L., whose speech I had subsequently
the pleasure of perusing, had just returned from Mechanicsburg,[196] a
small village in the vicinity, where they had been exerting themselves
upon the stump to win the _aura popularis_ for the coming election.
"_Sic itur ad astra!_"

{69} Before sunrise I had crossed the threshold of my hospitable
entertainer; and having wound my solitary way, partially by twilight,
over a prairie fifteen miles in extent,

  "Began to feel, as well I might,
  The keen demands of appetite."

Reining up my tired steed at the door of a log cabin in the middle of
the plain, the nature and extent of my necessities were soon made
known to an aged matron, who had come forth on my approach.

"Some victuals you shall get, _stran-ger_; but you'll just take your
_creetur_ to the crib and _gin_ him his feed; _bekase_, d'ye see, the
old man is kind o' _drinkin_ to-day; yester' was 'lection, ye know."
From the depths of my sympathetic emotions was I moved for the poor
old body, who with most dolorous aspect had delivered herself of this
message; and I had proceeded forthwith, agreeable to instructions, to
satisfy the cravings of my patient animal, when who should appear but
my tipsified host, _in propria persona_, at the door. The little old
gentleman came tottering towards the spot where I stood, and, warmly
squeezing my hand, whispered to me, with a most irresistible
serio-comic air, "_that he was drunk_;" and "that he was four hours
last night getting home from _'lection_," as he called it. "Now,
stran-ger, you won't think hard on me," he continued, in his maudlin
manner: "I'm a poor, drunken old fellow! but old Jim wan't al'ays so;
old Jim wan't al'ays so!" he exclaimed, with bitterness, burying his
face in his toilworn hands, as, having now regained the house, he
seated himself with difficulty upon the {70} doorstep. "Once, my son,
old Jim could knock down, drag out, whip, lift, or throw any man in
all Sangamon, if he _was_ a _leetle_ fellow: but _now_--there's the
receipt of his disgrace--there," he exclaimed, with vehemence,
thrusting forth before my eyes two brawny, gladiator arms, in which
the volumed muscles were heaving and contracting with excitement;
ironed by labour, but shockingly mutilated. Expressing astonishment at
the spectacle, he assured me that these wounds had been torn in the
flesh by the teeth of infuriated antagonists in drunken quarrels,
though the relation seemed almost too horrible to be true.
Endeavouring to divert his mind from this disgusting topic, on which
it seemed disposed to linger with ferocious delight, I made some
inquiries relative to his farm--which was, indeed, a beautiful one,
under high culture--and respecting the habits of the prairie-wolf, a
large animal of the species having crossed my path in the prairie in
the gray light of dawn. Upon the latter inquiry the old man sat silent
a moment with his chin leaning on his hands. Looking up at length with
an arch expression, he said, "Stran-ger, I _haint_ no _larnin_; I
_can't_ read; but don't the Book say somewhere about old Jacob and the
ring-streaked cattle?" "Yes." "Well, and how old Jake's ring-streaked
and round-spotted _creeturs_, after a _leetle_, got the better of all
the stock, and overrun the _univarsal_ herd; don't the Book say so?"
"Something so." "Well, now for the wolves: they're all colours but
ring-streaked and round-spotted; and if the sucker-farmers don't look
to it, the prairie-wolves will get {71} the better of all the geese,
turkeys, and _hins_ in the barnyard, speckled or no!"

My breakfast was now on the table; a substantial fare of corn-bread,
butter, honey, fresh eggs, _fowl_, and _coffee_, which latter are as
invariably visitants at an Illinois table as is bacon at a Kentucky
one, and that is saying no little. The exhilarating herb tea is rarely
seen. An anecdote will illustrate this matter. A young man, journeying
in Illinois, stopped one evening at a log cabin with a violent
headache, and requested that never-failing antidote, _a cup of tea_.
There was none in the house; and, having despatched a boy to a distant
grocery to procure a pound, he threw himself upon the bed. In a few
hours a beverage was handed him, the first swallow of which nearly
excoriated his mouth and throat. In the agony of the moment he dashed
down the bowl, and rushed half blinded to the fireplace. Over the
blaze was suspended a huge iron kettle, half filled with an inky
fluid, seething, and boiling, and bubbling, like the witches' caldron
of unutterable things in Macbeth. The good old lady, in her anxiety to
give her sick guest a _strong_ dish of tea, having never seen the like
herself or drank thereof, and supposing it something of the nature of
soup, very innocently and ignorantly poured the whole pound into her
largest kettle, and set it a boiling. Poultry is the other standing
dish of Illinois; and the poor birds seem to realize that their
destiny is at hand whenever a traveller draws nigh, for they
invariably hide their heads beneath the nearest covert. Indeed, so
invariably are poultry and bacon visitants at an Illinois table, that
{72} the story _may_ be true, that the first inquiry made of the guest
by the village landlord is the following: "Well, stran-ger, what'll ye
take: wheat-bread and _chicken fixens_, or corn-bread and _common
doins_?" by the latter expressive and elegant soubriquet being
signified bacon.

Breakfast being over, my foot was once more in the stirrup. The old
man accompanied me to the gateway, and shaking my hand in a boisterous
agony of good-nature, pressed me to visit him again when he was _not
drunk_. I had proceeded but a few steps on my way when I heard his
voice calling after me, and turned my head: "Stran-ger! I say,
stran-ger! what do you reckon of sending this young Jack Stewart to
Congress?" "Oh, he'll answer." "Well, and that's what I'm a going to
vote; and there's a heap o' people always thinks like old Jim does;
and that's what made 'em get me groggy last night."

I could not but commiserate this old man as I pursued my journey,
reflecting on what had passed. He was evidently no common toper; for
some of his remarks evinced a keenness of observation, and a depth and
shrewdness of thought, which even the withering blight of drunkenness
had not completely deadened; and which, with other habits and other
circumstances, might have placed him far above the beck and nod of
every demagogue.

_Decatur, Ill._



XXIX

  "Ay, but to die, and go we know not where!"
                                              _Measure for Measure._

  "Plains immense, interminable meads,
  And vast savannas, where the wand'ring eye,
  Unfix'd, is in a verdant ocean lost."
                                                THOMSON.

  "Ye shall have miracles; ay, sound ones too,
  Seen, heard, attested, everything but true."
                                                  MOORE.

  "Call in the barber! If the tale be long,
  He'll cut it short, I trust."
                                              MIDDLETON.


There are few sentiments of that great man Benjamin Franklin for which
he is more to be revered than for those respecting the burial-place of
the departed.[197] The grave-yard is, and should ever be deemed, a
_holy_ spot; consecrated, not by the cold formalities of unmeaning
ceremony, but by the solemn sacredness of the heart. Who that has
committed to earth's cold bosom the relics of one dearer, perchance,
than existence, can ever after pass the burial-ground with a careless
heart. There is nothing which more painfully jars upon my own
feelings--if I may except that wanton desecration of God's sanctuary
in some sections of our land {74} for a public commitia--than to see
the grave-yard slighted and abused. It is like wounding the memory of
a buried friend. And yet it is an assertion which cannot be refuted,
that, notwithstanding the reverence which, as a people, we have failed
not to manifest for the memory of our dead, the same delicate regard
and obsequy is not with us observed in the sacred rites as among the
inhabitants of the Eastern hemisphere. If, indeed, we may be permitted
to gather up an opinion from circumstances of daily notoriety, it
would seem that the plat of ground appropriated as a cemetery in many
of the villages of our land was devoted to this most holy of purposes
solely because useless for every other; as if, after seizing upon
every spot for the benefit of the living, this last poor _remnant_ was
reluctantly yielded as a resting-place for the departed. And thus has
it happened that most of the burial-grounds of our land have either
been located in a region so lone and solitary,

  "You scarce would start to meet a spirit there,"

or they have been thrust out into the very midst of business, strife,
and contention; amid the glare of sunshine, noise, and dust; "the
gaudy, babbling, and remorseless day," with hardly a wall of stones to
protect them from the inroads of unruly brutes or brutish men. It is
as if the rites of sepulture were refused, and the poor boon of a
resting-place in the bosom of our common mother denied to her
offspring; as if, in our avarice of soul, we grudged even the last
narrow house destined for all; and {75} fain would resume the last,
the only gift our departed ones may retain. Who would not dread "_to
die_" and have his lifeless clay deposited thus! Who would not, ere
the last fleeting particle of existence had "ebbed to its finish," and
the feeble breathing had forsaken its tenement for ever, pour forth
the anguish of his spirit in the melancholy prayer,

  "When breath and sense have left this clay,
    In yon damp vault, oh lay me not!
  But kindly bear my bones away
    To some lone, green, and sunny spot."

Reverence for the departed is ever a beautiful feature of humanity,
and has struck us with admiration for nations of our race who could
boast but few redeeming traits beside. It is, moreover, a circumstance
not a little remarkable in the history of funeral obsequy, that
veneration for the departed has prevailed in a ratio almost inverse to
the degree of civilization. Without attempting to account for this
circumstance, or to instance the multitude of examples which recur to
every mind in its illustration, I would only refer to that deep
religion of the soul which Nature has implanted in the heart of her
simple child of the Western forests, teaching him to preserve and to
honour the bones of his fathers! And those mysterious mausoleums of a
former race! do they convey no meaning as they rise in lonely grandeur
from our beautiful prairies, and look down upon the noble streams
which for ages have dashed their dark floods along their base!

{76} But a few years have passed away since this empire valley of the
West was first pressed by the footstep of civilized man; and, if we
except those aged sepulchres of the past, the cities of the dead
hardly yet range side by side with the cities of the living. But this
cannot _always_ be; even in this distant, beautiful land, death _must_
come; and here it doubtless has come, as many an anguished bosom can
witness. Is it not, then, meet, while the busy tide of worldly
enterprise is rolling heavily forth over this fair land, and the
costly structures of art and opulence are rising on every side, as by
the enchantment of Arabian fiction--is it _not_ meet that, amid the
pauses of excitement, a solitary thought would linger around that
spot, which must surely, reader, become the last resting-place of us
all!

I have often, in my wanderings through this pleasant land, experienced
a thrill of delight which I can hardly describe, to behold, on
entering a little Western hamlet, a neat white paling rising up
beneath the groves in some green, sequestered spot, whose object none
could mistake. Upon some of these, simple as they were, seemed to have
been bestowed more than ordinary care; for they betrayed an
elaborateness of workmanship and a delicacy of design sought for in
vain among the ruder habitations of the living. This is, _surely_, as
it should be; and I pity the man whose feelings cannot appreciate such
a touching, beautiful expression of the heart. I have alluded to
Franklin, and how pleasant it is to detect the kindly, household
emotions of our nature throbbing beneath the {77} starred, dignified
breast of philosophy and science. FRANKLIN, the statesman, the sage;
he who turned the red lightnings from their wild pathway through the
skies, and rocked the iron cradle of the mightiest democracy on the
globe! we gaze upon him with awe and astonishment; involuntarily we
yield the lofty motto presented by the illustrious Frenchman,[198]
"_Eripuit fulmen coelo, mox sceptra tyrannis_." But when we behold
that towering intellect descending from its throne, and intermingling
its emotions even with those of the lowliest mind, admiration and
reverence are lost in _love_.

The preceding remarks, which have lengthened out themselves far beyond
my design, were suggested by the loveliness of the site of the
graveyard of the little village of Decatur. I was struck with its
beauty on entering the place. It was near sunset; in the distance
slept the quiet hamlet; upon my right, beneath the grove, peeped out
the white paling through the glossy foliage; and as the broad, deep
shadows of summer evening streamed lengthening through the trees wide
over the landscape, that little spot seemed to my mind the sweetest
one in the scene. And should not the burial-ground be ever thus! for
who shall tell the emotions which may swell the bosom of many a dying
emigrant who here shall find his long, last rest? In that chill hour,
how will the thought of home, kindred, friendships, childhood-scenes,
come rushing over the memory! and to lay his bones in the {78} quiet
graveyard of his own native village, perchance may draw forth many a
sorrowing sigh. But this now may never be; yet it will be consoling to
the pilgrim-heart to realize that, though the resurrection morn shall
find his relics far from the graves of his fathers, he shall yet sleep
the long slumber, and at last come forth with those who were kind and
near to him in a stranger-land; who laid away his cold clay in no
"Potter's Field," but gathered it to their own household sepulchre.
The human mind, whatever its philosophy, can never utterly divest
itself of the idea that the spirit retains a consciousness of the
lifeless body, sympathizing with its honour or neglect, and affected
by all that variety of circumstance which may attend its existence:
and who shall say how far this belief--superstition though it be--may
smooth or trouble the dying pillow! How soothing, too, the reflection
to the sorrow of distant friends, that their departed one peacefully
and decently was gathered to his rest; that his dust is sleeping
quietly in some sweet, lonely spot beneath the dark groves of the
far-land; that his turf is often dewed by the teardrop of sympathy,
and around his lowly headstone waves the wild-grass ever green and
free! The son, the brother, the loved wanderer from his father's home,

                        "Is in his grave!
  After life's fitful fever, he sleeps well."

The route leading to Decatur from the west lies chiefly through a
broad branch of the "Grand Prairie," an immense plain, sweeping
diagonally, with {79} little interruption, through the whole State of
Illinois, from the Mississippi to the Wabash. For the first time, in
any considerable number, I here met with those singular granite
masses, termed familiarly by the settlers "_lost rocks_"; in geology,
_boulders_. They are usually of a mammillated, globular figure, the
surface perfectly smooth, sometimes six hundred tons in weight, and
always lying completely isolated, frequently some hundred miles from a
quarry. They rest upon the surface or are slightly imbedded in the
soil; and, so far as my own observation extends, are of distinct
granitic formation, of various density and composition. Several
specimens I obtained are as heavy as metal, and doubtless contain
iron. Many of them, however, like those round masses dug from the
ancient works in Ohio, are pyritous in character. There is a mystery
about these "lost rocks" not easily solved, for no granite quarry has
ever yet been discovered in Illinois. Their appearance, in the midst
of a vast prairie, is dreary and lonely enough.

The site of the town of Decatur is somewhat depressed, and in the
heart of a grove of noble oaks.[199] Long before the traveller reaches
it, the whole village is placed before his eye from the rounded summit
of the hill, over which winds the road. The neighbouring region is
well settled; the prairie high and rolling, and timber abundant. It is
not a large place, however; and perhaps there are few circumstances
which will render it otherwise for some years. It contains,
nevertheless, a few handsome buildings; several trading
establishments; a good tavern; is said to be healthy; and, upon the
whole, is a far {80} prettier, neater little village than many others
of loftier pretensions through which I have passed in Illinois. The
village will be intersected by two of the principal railroads of the
state, now projected, which circumstance cannot fail to place it in
the first rank as an inland trading town.

My visit at Decatur was a short one; and, after tea, just as the moon
was beginning to silver the tops of the eastern oaks, I left the
village and rode leisurely through the forest, in order to enter upon
the prairie at dawn the following day. A short distance from Decatur I
again forded the Sangamon; the same insignificant stream as ever; and,
by dint of scrambling, succeeded in attaining the lofty summit of its
opposite bank, from which the surrounding scenery of rolling
forest-tops was magnificent and sublime. From this elevation the
pathway plunged into a thick grove, dark as Erebus, save where lighted
up by a few pale moonbeams struggling through a break in the
tree-tops, or the deep-red gleamings of the evening sky streaming at
intervals along the undergrowth. The hour was a calm and impressive
one: its very loneliness made it sweeter; and that beautiful hymn of
the Tyrolean peasantry at sunset, as versified by Mrs. Hemans, was
forcibly recalled by the scene:

  "Come to the sunset tree!
    The day is past and gone;
  The woodman's axe lies free,
    And the reaper's work is done.
  Sweet is the hour of rest!
    Pleasant the wood's low sigh,
  And the gleaming of the west,
    And the turf whereon we lie."

{81} After a ride of a few miles my path suddenly emerged from the
forest upon the edge of a boundless prairie, from whose dark-rolling
herbage, here and there along the distant swells, was thrown back the
glorious moonlight, as if from the restless, heaving bosom of the
deep. An extensive prairie, beneath a full burst of summer moonlight,
is, indeed, a magnificent spectacle. One can hardly persuade himself
that he is not upon the ocean-shore. And now a wild, fresh breeze,
which all the day had been out playing among the perfumed flowers and
riding the green-crested waves, came rolling in from the prairie,
producing an undulation of its surface and a murmuring in the heavy
forest-boughs perfect in the illusion. All along the low, distant
horizon hung a thin mist of silvery gauze, which, as it rose and fell
upon the dark herbage, gave an idea of mysterious boundlessness to the
scene. Here and there stood out a lonely, weather-beaten tree upon the
plain, its trunk shrouded in obscurity, but its leafy top sighing in
the night-breeze, and gleaming like a beacon-light in the beams of the
cloudless moon. There was a dash of fascinating romance about the
scene, which held me involuntarily upon the spot until reminded by the
chill dews of night that I had, as yet, no shelter. On casting around
my eye, I perceived a low log cabin, half buried in vegetation,
standing alone in the skirt of the wood. Although a miserable
tenement, necessity compelled me to accept its hospitality, and I
entered. It consisted of a single apartment, in which two beds, two
stools, a cross-legged deal table, {82} and a rough clothes-press,
were the only household furniture. A few indispensable iron utensils
sat near the fire; the water-pail and gourd stood upon the shelf, and
a half-consumed flitch of bacon hung suspended in the chimney; but the
superlatives of andirons, shovel and tongs, etc., etc., were all
unknown in this primitive abode. A pair of "lost rocks"--_lost_,
indeed--supplied the first, and the gnarled branch of an oak was
substituted for the latter. The huge old chimney and fireplace were,
as usual, fashioned of sticks and bedaubed with clay; yet everything
looked neat, yea, _comfortable_, in very despite of poverty itself. A
young female with her child, an infant boy, in her arms, was
superintending the preparation of the evening meal. Her language and
demeanour were superior to the miserable circumstances by which she
was surrounded; and though she moved about her narrow demesne with a
quiet, satisfied air, I was not long in learning that _affection_
alone had transplanted this exotic of the prairie from a more
congenial soil. What woman does not love to tell over those passages
of her history in which the _heart_ has ruled lord of the ascendant?
and how very different in this respect is our sex from hers! Man,
proud man, "the creature of interest and ambition," often blushes to
be reminded that he has a heart, while woman's cheek mantles with the
very intensity of its pulsation! The husband in a few minutes came in
from attending to my horse; the rough table was spread; a humble fare
was produced; all were seated; and then, beneath that miserable roof,
{83} around that meager board, before a morsel of the food, poor as it
was, passed the lip of an individual, the iron hand of toil was
reverently raised, and a grateful heart called down a blessing from
the Mightiest! Ah! thought I, as I beheld the peaceful, satisfied air
of that poor man, as he partook of his humble evening meal with
gratefulness, little does the son of luxury know the calm contentment
which fills his breast! And the great God, as he looks down upon his
children and reads their hearts, does he not listen to many a warmer,
purer thank-offering from beneath the lowly roof-tree of the
wilderness, than from all the palaces of opulence and pride? So it has
ever been--so it has _ever_ been--and so can it never cease to be
while the heart of man remains attempered as it is.

The humble repast was soon over; and, without difficulty, I entered
into conversation with the father of the family. He informed me that
he had been but a few years a resident of Illinois; that he had been
unfortunate; and that, recently, his circumstances had become more
than usually circumscribed, from his endeavours to save from
speculators a pre-emption right of the small farm he was cultivating.
This farm was his _all_; and, in his solicitude to retain its
possession, he had disposed of every article of the household which
would in any way produce money, even of a part of his own and his
wife's wardrobe. I found him a man of considerable intelligence, and
he imparted to me some facts respecting that singular sect styling
themselves Mormonites of which I was previously hardly aware. Immense
{84} crowds of these people had passed his door on the great road from
Terre Haute, all with families and household effects stowed away in
little one-horse wagons of peculiar construction, and on their journey
to Mount Zion, the New Jerusalem, situated near Independence, Jackson
county, Missouri! Their observance of the Sabbath was almost
pharisaically severe, never permitting themselves to travel upon that
day; the men devoting it to hunting, and the females to washing
clothes, and other operations of the camp! It was their custom,
likewise, to hold a preachment in every village or settlement, whether
men would hear or forbear: the latter must have been the case with
something of a majority, I think, since no one with whom I have ever
met could, for the life of him, give a subsequent expose of
_Mormonism_, "though often requested."

              "I never heard or could engage
  A person yet by prayers, or bribes, or tears,
    To name, define by speech, or write on page,
  The _doctrines_ meant precisely by that word,
  Which surely is exceedingly absurd."

They assert that an angelic messenger has appeared to Joe Smith,
announcing the millennial dawn at hand; that a glorious city of the
faithful--the New Jerusalem, with streets of gold and gates of
pearl--is about to be reared upon Mount Zion, Mo., where the Saviour
will descend and establish a kingdom to which there shall be no end;
ergo, argue these everlasting livers, it befits all good citizens to
get to Independence, Jackson county, aforesaid, as fast as one-horse
wagons will convey them![200] Large quantities of arms and ammunition
have, moreover, been {85} forwarded, so that the item of "the sword
being beaten into a ploughshare, and spear into pruning-hook," seems
not of probable fulfilment according to these worthies. The truth of
the case is, they anticipated a brush with the long-haired
"pukes"[201] before securing a "demise, release, and for ever
quitclaim" to Zion Hill, said _pukes_ having already at sundry times
manifested a refractory spirit, and, from the following anecdote of my
good man of the hut, in "rather a ridic'lous manner." I am no voucher
for the story: I give it as related; "and," as Ben Jonson says, "what
he has possessed me withal, I'll discharge it amply."

"One Sabbath evening, when the services of the congregation of the
Mormonites were over, the Rev. Joe Smith, priest and prophet,
announced to his expectant tribe that, on the succeeding Sabbath, the
baptismal sacrament would take place, when an angel would appear on
the opposite bank of the stream. Next Sabbath came, and 'great was the
company of the people' to witness the miraculous visitation. The
baptism commenced, and was now wellnigh concluded: 'Do our eyes
deceive us! can such things _be_! The prophecy! the angel!' were
exclamations which ran through the multitude, as a fair form, veiled
in a loose white garment, with flowing locks and long bright pinions,
stood suddenly before the assembled multitude upon the opposite shore,
and then disappeared! All was amazement, consternation, awe! But where
is Joe Smith? In a few moments Joe Smith was with them, and their
faith was confirmed.

{86} "Again was a baptism appointed--again was the angel announced--a
larger congregation assembled--and yet again did the angel appear. At
that moment two powerful men sprang from a thicket, rushed upon the
angelic visitant, and, amid mingling exclamations of horror and
_execrations_ of piety from the spectators, tore away his long white
wings, his hair and robe, and plunged him into the stream! By some
unaccountable metamorphosis, the angel emerged from the river honest
Joe Smith, priest of Mormon, finder of the golden plates, etc., etc.,
and the magi of the enchantment were revealed in the persons of two
brawny _pukes_." Since then, the story concludes, not an angel has
been seen all about Mount Zion! The miracle of walking upon water was
afterward essayed, but failed by the removal, by some impious wags, of
the _benches_ prepared for the occasion. It is truly astonishing to
what lengths superstition has run in some sections of this same
Illinois. Not long since, a knowing farmer in the county of Macon
conceived himself ordained of heaven a promulgator to the world of a
system of "New Light," so styled, upon "a plan entirely new." No
sooner did the idea strike his fancy, than, leaving the plough in the
middle of the furrow, away sallies he to the nearest village, and
admonishes every one, everywhere, forthwith to be baptized by his
heaven-appointed hands, and become a regenerate man on the spot. Many
believed--was there ever faith too preposterous to obtain proselytes?
the doctrine, in popular phrase, "took mightily;" and, it must be
confessed, the whole world, men, women, and children, were {87} in a
fair way for regeneration. Unfortunately for that desirable
consummation, at this crisis certain simple-hearted people
thereabouts, by some freak of fancy or other, took it into their
heads that the priest himself manifested hardly that _quantum_ of the
regenerated spirit that beseemed so considerable a functionary. Among
other peccadilloes, he had unhappily fallen into a habit every Sabbath
morning, when he rode in from his farmhouse--a neat little edifice
which the good people had erected for his benefit in the outskirts of
the village--of trotting solemnly up before the grocery-door upon his
horse, receiving a glass of some dark-coloured liquid, character
unknown, drinking it off with considerable gusto, dropping a
_picayune_ into the tumbler, then proceeding to the pulpit, and, on
the inspiration of the mysterious potation, holding vehemently forth.
Sundry other misdeeds of the reverend man near about the same time
came to light, so that at length the old women pronounced that
terrible fiat, "the preacher was no _better_ than he should be;" which
means, as everybody knows, that he was a good deal _worse_. And so the
men, old and young, chimed in, and the priest was politely advised to
decamp before the doctrine should get unsavoury. Thus ended the
glorious discovery of New-lightism!

It is a humiliating thing to review the aberrations of the human mind:
and, believe me, reader, my intention in reviewing these instances of
religious fanaticism has been not to excite a smile of transient
merriment, nor for a moment to call in question the {88} reality of
true devotion. My intention has been to show to what extremes of
preposterous folly man may be hurried when he once resigns himself to
the vagaries of fancy upon a subject which demands the severest
deductions of reason. It is, indeed, a _melancholy_ consideration,
that, in a country like our own, which we fondly look upon as the hope
of the world, and amid the full-orbed effulgence of the nineteenth
century, there should exist a body of men, more than twelve thousand
in number, as is estimated, professing belief in a faith so
unutterably absurd as that styled Mormonism; a faith which would have
disgraced the darkest hour of the darkest era of our race.[202] But it
is not for me to read the human _heart_.

_Shelbyville, Ill._



XXX

  "The day is lowering; stilly black
  Sleeps the grim waste, while heaven's rack,
  Dispersed and wild, 'tween earth and sky
  Hangs like a shatter'd canopy!"
                                           _Fire-worshippers._

  "Rent is the fleecy mantle of the sky;
  The clouds fly different; and the sudden sun
  By fits effulgent gilds the illumined fields,
  And black by fits the shadows sweep along."
                                                      THOMSON.

                    "The bleak winds
  Do sorely ruffle; for many miles about
  There's scarce a bush."
                                                _Lear, Act 2._

  "These are the Gardens of the Desert."
                                                       BRYANT.


Merrily, merrily did the wild night-wind howl, and whistle, and rave
around the little low cabin beneath whose humble roof-tree the
traveller had lain himself to rest. Now it would roar and rumble down
the huge wooden chimney, and anon sigh along the tall grass-tops and
through the crannies like the wail of some lost one of the waste. The
moonbeams, at intervals darkened by the drifting clouds and again
pouring gloriously forth, streamed in long threads of silver through
the shattered walls; while the shaggy forest in the back-ground,
tossing its heavy branches against the troubled sky, {90} roared forth
a deep chorus to the storm. It was a wild night, and so complete was
the illusion that, in the fitful lullings of the tempest, one almost
imagined himself on the ocean-beach, listening to the confused
weltering of the surge. There was much of high sublimity in all this;
and hours passed away before the traveller, weary as he was, could
quiet his mind to slumber. There are seasons when every chord, and
nerve, and sinew of the system seems wound up to its severest tension;
and a morbid, unnatural excitement broods over the mind, forbidding
all approach to quietude. Every one has _experienced_ this under
peculiar circumstances; few can _describe_ it.

The night wore tediously away, and at the dawn the traveller was again
in the saddle, pushing forth like a "pilgrim-bark" upon the swelling
ocean-waste, sweeping even to the broad curve of undulating horizon
beyond. There is always something singularly unpleasant in the idea of
going out upon one of these vast prairies _alone_; and such the sense
of utter loneliness, that the solitary traveller never fails to cast
back a lingering gaze upon the last low tenement he is leaving. The
winds were still up, and the rack and clouds were scudding in wild
confusion along the darkened sky;

  "Here, flying loosely as the mane
  Of a young war-horse in the blast;
  There, roll'd in masses dark and swelling,
  As proud to be the thunder's dwelling!"

From time to time a heavy blast would come careering {91} with
resistless fury along the heaving plain, almost tearing the rider from
his horse. The celebrated "Grand Prairie," upon which I was now
entering, stretched itself away to the south thirty miles, a vast,
unbroken meadow; and one may conceive, not describe, the terrible
fury of a storm-wind sweeping over a surface like this.[203] As the
morning advanced, the violence of the tempest lulled into fitful
gusts; and, as the centre of the vast amphitheatre was attained, a
scene of grandeur and magnificence opened to my eye such as it never
before had looked upon. Elevated upon a full roll of the prairie, the
glance ranged over a scene of seemingly limitless extent; for upon
every side, for the first time in my ramble, the deep blue line of the
horizon and the darker hue of the waving verdure blended into one.

The touching, delicate loveliness of the lesser prairies, so
resplendent in brilliancy of hue and beauty of outline, I have often
dwelt upon with delight. The graceful undulation of slope and swell;
the exquisite richness and freshness of the verdure flashing in native
magnificence; the gorgeous dies of the matchless and many-coloured
flowers dallying with the winds; the beautiful woodland points and
promontories shooting forth into the mimic sea; the far-retreating,
shadowy _coves_, going back in long vistas into the green wood; the
curved outline of the dim, distant horizon, caught at intervals
through the openings of the forest; and the whole gloriously lighted
up by the early radiance of morning, as with rosy footsteps she came
dancing {92} over the dew-gemmed landscape; all these constituted a
scene in which beauty unrivalled was the sole ingredient. And then
those bright enamelled clumps of living emerald, sleeping upon the
wavy surface like the golden Hesperides of classic fiction, or, like
another cluster of Fortunate Isles in the dark-blue waters, breathing
a fragrance as from oriental bowers; the wild-deer bounding in
startled beauty from his bed, and the merry note of the skylark,
whistling, with speckled vest and dew-wet wing, upon the resin-weed,
lent the last touchings to Nature's _chef d'oeuvre_.

  "Oh, beautiful, still beautiful,
  Though long and lone the way."

But the scene amid which I was now standing could boast an aspect
little like this. Here, indeed, were the rare and delicate flowers;
and life, in all its fresh and beautiful forms, was leaping forth in
wild and sportive luxuriance at my feet. But all was vast,
measureless, Titanic; and the loveliness of the picture was lost in
its grandeur. Here was no magnificence of _beauty_, no _gorgeousness_
of vegetation, no _splendour_ of the wilderness;

  "Green isles and circling shores _ne'er_ blended here
  In wild reality!"

All was bold and impressive, reposing in the stern, majestic solitude
of Nature. On every side the earth heaved and rolled like the swell of
troubled waters; now sweeping away in the long heavy wave of ocean,
and now rocking and curling like the abrupt, broken bay-billow
tumbling around the {93} crag. Between the lengthened parallel ridges
stretch the ravines by which the prairie is drained; and, owing to the
depth and tenacity of the soil, they are sometimes almost impassable.
Ascending from these, the elevation swells so gradually as to be
almost imperceptible to the traveller, until he finds himself upon the
summit, and the immense landscape is spread out around him.

                              "The clouds
  Sweep over with their shadows, and beneath,
  The surface rolls and fluctuates to the eye;
  Dark hollows seem to glide along and chase
  The sunny ridges."

The diversity of light and shade upon the swells and depressions at
the hour of sunrise, or when at midday clouds are drifting along the
sky, is endless. A few points here and there are thrown into prominent
relief; while others, deeply retreating, constitute an imaginary
back-ground perfect in its kind. And then the sunlight, constantly
changing its position, is received upon such a variety of angles, and
these, too, so rapidly vary as the breeze rolls over the surface, that
it gives the scene a wild and shifting aspect to the eye at times,
barely reconcilable with the idea of reality.

As the sun reached the meridian the winds went down, and then the
stillness of death hung over the prairie. The utter desolateness of
such a scene is indescribable. Not a solitary tree to intercept the
vision or to break the monotony; not a sound to cheer the ear or
relieve the desolation; not a living {94} thing in all that vast wild
plain to tell the traveller that he was not

  "Alone, alone, all, all alone,
    Alone on a wide, wide sea!"

It is at such a season that the question presents itself with more
than ordinary vehemence to the mind, _To what circumstance do these
vast prairies owe their origin_? Amid what terrible convulsion of the
elements did these great ocean-plains heave themselves into being?
What mighty voice has rolled this heaped-up surface into tumult, and
then, amid the storm and the tempest, bid the curling billows stand,
and fixed them there?

  "The hand that built the firmament hath heaved
  And smooth'd these verdant swells."

The origin of the prairie has given rise to much speculation. Some
contend that we are to regard these vast plains in the same light as
mountains, valleys, forests, and other grand features of Nature's
workmanship. And, it is very true, plains of a character not
dissimilar are to be met with all over our earth; at every degree of
elevation of every extent, and of every stage of fertility, from the
exhaustless fecundity of the delta of the Nile to the barren sterility
of the sands of the desert. Northern Asia has her boundless _pastures_
and _steppes_, where the wild Tartar feeds his flock; Africa may boast
her Bedouin _sands_, her _tablelands_, and her _karroos_; South
America her grassy _llanos_ and _pampas_; Europe her purple _heather_;
India her _jungles_; the southern sections of our own land their
beautiful _savannas_; and wherefore not the {95} vast regions of the
"Far West" their broad-rolling _prairies_? The word is of French
derivation, signifying _meadow_; and is applied to every description
of surface destitute of timber and clothed with grass. It was, then,
upon their own fair prairies of Judea and Mesopotamia that the ancient
patriarchs pitched their tents. The tough sward of the prairie, when
firmly formed, it is well known, refuses to receive the forest; but,
once broken into by the ploughshare or by any other cause, and
protected from the autumnal flames, and all is soon rolling with
green; and the sumach, the hazel, and the wild-cherry are succeeded by
the oak. Such is the argument for the _natural_ origin of the prairie,
and its cogency none will deny. But, assuming for a moment a
_diluvial_ origin to these vast plains, as a thousand circumstances
concur to indicate, and the phenomena are far more satisfactorily and
philosophically resolved. In a soil so exhaustlessly fertile, the
grasses and herbs would first secure possession of the surface. Even
now, whenever the earth is thrown up, from whatever depth, it is
immediately mossed with verdure by the countless embryos buried in
its teeming bosom; a proof incontestable of secondary origin. After
the grasses succeeded flowering shrubs; then the larger weeds;
eventually, thickets were formed; the surface was baked and hardened
by the direct rays of the sun, and the bosom of the soil, bound up as
if by bands of brass and iron, utterly refused to receive or nourish
the seeds of the forest now strewn over it. This is the unavoidable
conclusion wherever natural {96} causes have held their sway. Upon the
borders of rivers, creeks, and overflowing streams, or wherever the
soil has become broken, this series of causes was interrupted, and the
result we see in the numerous island-groves, and in the forests which
invariably fringe the water-courses, great and small. The autumnal
fires, too, aboriginal tradition informs us, have annually swept these
vast plains from an era which the memory of man faileth to record,
scathing and consuming every bush, shrub, or thicket which in the
lapse of ages might have aspired to the dignity of a tree; a nucleus
around which other trees might have clustered. Here and there, indeed,
amid the heaving waste, a desolate, wind-shaken, flame-blackened oak
rears its naked branches in the distance; but it is a stricken thing,
and only confirms the position assumed. From a concurrence of
fortuitous circumstances easily conceived, the solitary seed was
received into a genial soil; the tender shrub and the sapling were
protected from destruction, and at length it had struggled into the
upper air, and defied alike the flames and blasts of the prairie.

The argument of _analogy_ for the _natural origin_ of the prairie may
also be fairly questioned, since careful examination of the subject
must convince any unprejudiced mind that the similarity of feature
between these plains and others with which we are acquainted is not
sufficiently striking to warrant comparison. The _pampas_, the
_steppes_, and the _sand-plains_, though not unlike in the more
prominent characteristics, are yet widely different {97} in
configuration, extent, and soil. The prairie combines characteristics
of each, exhibiting features of all in _common_, of no one in
_particular_. Who would institute comparison between the dark-rolling
luxuriance of the North American prairie, and the gloomy moor of
Northern Europe, with its heavy, funereal mantle of heather and
_ling_. Could the rifest fancy conjure up the _weird sisters_, all "so
withered and so wild in their attire," upon these beautiful plains of
the departed Illini! Nor do we meet in the thyme-breathing downs of
"merry England," the broad rich levels of France, the grape-clad
highlands of Spain, or in the golden mellowness of the Italian
_Campagna_, with a similitude of feature sufficiently striking to
identify our own glorious prairies with them. Europe can boast,
indeed, no peculiarity of surface assuming like configuration or
exhibiting like phenomena.

When, then, we reflect, that of all those plains which spread out
themselves upon our globe, the North American prairie possesses
characteristics peculiar to itself, and to be met with nowhere beside;
when we consider the demonstrations of a soil of origin incontestably
diluvial; when we wander over the heaving, billowy surface, and behold
it strewed with the rocky offspring of another region, and, at
intervals, encased in the saline crust of the ocean-sediment; when we
dive into its fathomless bosom, and bring forth the crumbling relics
of man and animal from sepulchres into which, for untold cycles, they
have been entombed; and when we linger along those rolling streams by
which they {98} are intersected, and behold upon their banks the
mighty indications of whirling, subsiding floods, and behold buried in
the heart of the everlasting rock productions only of the sea, the
conviction is forced upon us, almost resistlessly, that here the broad
ocean once heaved and roared. To what circumstance, indeed, but a
revolution of nature like this, are we to refer that uniform
deposition of earthy strata upon the alluvial bottom-land of every
stream? to what those deep-cut race-paths which the great streams
have, in the lapse of centuries, worn for themselves through the
everlasting rock, hundreds of feet? to what those vast salt-plains of
Arkansas? those rocky heaps of the same mineral on the Missouri, or
those huge isolated masses of limestone, rearing themselves amid the
lonely grandeur, a wonder to the savage? Or to what else shall we
refer those collections of enormous seashells, heaped upon the soil,
or thrown up to its surface from a depth of fifty feet?

Many phenomena in the Valley of the Mississippi concur to confirm the
idea that its vast delta-plains, when first forsaken by the waters of
the ocean, were possessed by extensive canebrakes, covering, indeed,
its entire surface. If, then, we suppose the Indians, who passed from
Asia to America in the early centuries of the Christian era, to have
commenced the fires in autumn when the reed was like tinder, and the
conflagration would sweep over boundless regions, we at once have an
hypothesis which accounts for the origin of the prairies. It is at
least as plausible as some others. The occasions of the autumnal fires
may have been {99} various. The cane-forests must have presented an
insurmountable obstacle in travelling, hunting, agriculture, or even
residence; while the friction caused by the tempestuous winds of
autumn may have kindled numerous fires among the dry reeds.

The surface peculiar to the prairie is first perceived in the State of
Ohio. As we proceed north and west it increases in extent, until, a
few hundred miles beyond the Mississippi, it rolls on towards the
setting sun, in all the majesty and magnificence of boundlessness, to
the base of the Rocky Mountains. Such are the beautiful prairies of
the fair Far West; and if, gentle reader, my pen, all rapid though it
be, has lingered tediously to thee along their fairy borders, it may
yet prove no small consolation to thy weariness to reflect that its
errings upon the subject are wellnigh ended.

It was yet early in the day, as I have intimated, when I reached the
centre of that broad branch of the Grand Prairie over which I was
passing; and, mile after mile, the narrow pathway, almost obliterated
here and there by the waving vegetation, continued to wind itself
along. With that unreflecting carelessness which characterizes the
inexperienced wayfarer, I had left behind me the last human habitation
I was for hours to look upon, without the slightest refreshment; and
now the demands of unappeased nature, sharpened by exercise, by the
keen atmosphere of the prairies, and, probably, by the force of fancy,
which never fails to aggravate privations which we know to be
remediless, had become absolutely painful. The faithful animal beneath
{100} me, also, from the total absence of water along our path, was
nearly exhausted; and there, before and around, and on every side, not
an object met the view but the broad-rolling, limitless prairie, and
the dim, misty horizon in the distance. Above, the heavens were calm
and blue, and the bright sun was careering on in his giant course as
gloriously as if the storm-cloud had never swept his path. League
after league the prairie lay behind me, and still swell upon swell,
wave after wave, heaved up itself in endless succession before the
wearied eye. There _is_ a point, reader, in physical, not less than in
moral affairs, where forbearance ceases to be a virtue; and,
veritably, suggestions bordering on the horrible were beginning to
flit athwart the fancy, when, happily, a long, low, wavering
cloud-like line was caught stretching itself upon the extremest verge
of the misty horizon. My jaded animal was urged onward; and slowly,
_very_ slowly, the dim outline undulated upward, and the green forest
rose gradually before the gladdened vision! A few miles, the path
plunged into the green, fresh woods; crossed a deep creek, which
betrayed its meandering by the grove along its banks, and the hungry
traveller threw himself from his horse before a log cabin imbowered in
the trees. The spot was one of those luxuriant copses in the heart of
the prairie, comprising several hundred acres, so common in the
northern sections of Illinois. "_Victuals and drink!_" were, of
course, the first demand from a female who showed herself at the door;
and, "_I judge_" was the laconic but cheering {101} reply. She stared
with uncontrolled curiosity at her stranger-guest. At the moment he
must have looked a perfect incarnation of ferocity; a very genius of
famine and starvation; but, all in good time, he was luxuriating over
a huge fragment of swine's flesh, a bowl of honey, and a loaf of
bread; and soon were his _miseries_ over. What! honey and hog's flesh
not a luxury! Say ye so, reader! Verily, then, were ye never half
starved in the heart of a Western prairie!

_Salem, Ill._



XXXI

      "No leave take I, for I will ride
    As far as land will let me."

  "The long sunny lapse of a summer's daylight."

        "What fool is this!"
                                               _As You Like It._


Among that novel variety of feature which the perspicacity of European
tourists in America has enabled them to detect of Cis-atlantic
character, two traits seem ever to stand forth in striking relief, and
are dwelt upon with very evident satisfaction: I allude to Avarice and
Curiosity. Upon the former of these characteristics it is not my
purpose to comment; though one can hardly have been a traveller, in
any acceptation of the term, or in almost any section of our land,
without having arrived at a pretty decided opinion upon the subject.
Curiosity, {102} however, it will not, I am persuaded, be denied,
_does_ constitute a feature, and no inconsiderable one, in our
national character; nor would it, perhaps, prove a difficult task to
lay the finger upon those precise circumstances in our origin and
history as a people which have tended to superinduce a trait of this
kind--a trait so disgusting in its ultra development; and yet, in its
ultimate nature, so indispensably the mainspring of everything
efficient in mind. "_Low vice_," as the author of Childe Harold has
been pleased to stigmatize it; yet upon this single propellant may, in
retrospect, be predicated the cause of more that contributes to man's
happiness than perhaps upon any other. _Frailty of a little mind_, as
it _may_ be, and is often deemed; yet not the less true is it that the
omnipotent workings of this passion have ever been, and must, until
the nature of the human mind is radically changed, continue to remain,
at once the necessary concomitant and the essential element of a
vigorous understanding. If it be, then, indeed true, as writers and
critics beyond the waters would fain have us believe, that American
national character is thus compounded, so far from blushing at the
discovery, we would hail it as a leading cause of our unparalleled
advancement as a people in the time past, and as an unerring omen of
progression in future.

My pen has been insensibly betrayed into these remarks in view of a
series of incidents which, during my few months rambling, have from
time to time transpired; and which, while they illustrate forcibly to
my mind the position I have assumed, {103} have also demonstrated
conclusively the minor consideration, that the passion, in all its
_phenomena_, is by no means, as some would have us believe, restricted
to any one portion of our land; that it _is_, in verity, a
characteristic of the entire Anglo-American race! Thus much for _sage
forensic_ upon "that low vice, curiosity."

My last number left me luxuriating, with all the gusto of an amateur
prairie-wolf fresh from his starving lair, upon the _fat_ and _honey_
of Illinois. During these blessed moments of trencher devotion,
several inmates of the little cabin whose hospitality I was enjoying,
who had been labouring in the field, successively made their
appearance; and to each individual in turn was the traveller handed
over, like a bale of suspected contraband merchandise, for
supervision. The interrogatories of each were quite the same,
embracing name and nativity, occupation, location, and destination,
administered with all the formal exactitude of a county-court lawyer.
With the inquiries of none, however, was I more amused than with those
of a little corpulent old fellow ycleped "Uncle Bill," with a
proboscis of exceeding rubicundity, and eyes red as a weasel's, to say
nothing of a voice melodious in note as an asthmatic clarionet. The
curiosity of the Northern Yankee is, in all conscience, unconscionable
enough when aroused; but, for the genuine quintessence of
inquisitiveness, commend your enemy, if you have one, to an army of
starving gallinippers, or to a backwoods' family of the Far West, who
see a traveller twice a year, and don't take the newspaper! Now {104}
mark me, reader! I mention this not as a _fault_ of the worthy
"Suckers:"[204] it is rather a misfortune; or, if otherwise, it
surely "leans to virtue's side." A _peculiarity_, nevertheless, it
certainly is; and a striking one to the stranger. Inquiries are
constantly made with most unblushing effrontery, which, under ordinary
circumstances, would be deemed but a single remove from insult, but at
which, under those to which I refer, a man of sense would not for a
moment take exception. It is _true_, as some one somewhere has said,
that a degree of inquisitiveness which in the more crowded walks of
life would be called impertinent, is perfectly allowable in the
wilderness; and nothing is more conceivable than desire for its
gratification. As to the people of Illinois, gathered as they are from
every "kindred, and nation, and tribe, and language under heaven,"
there are traits of character among them which one could wish
universally possessed. Kind, hospitable, open-hearted, and confiding
have I ever found them, whether in the lonely log cabin of the prairie
or in the overflowing settlement; and some noble spirits _I_ have met
whose presence would honour any community or people.

After my humble but delicious meal was concluded, mine host, a tall,
well-proportioned, sinewy young fellow, taking down his rifle from the
_beckets_ in which it was reposing over the rude mantel, very civilly
requested me to accompany him on a hunting ramble of a few hours in
the vicinity for deer. Having but a short evening ride before me, I
readily consented; and, leaving the cabin, we strolled {105} leisurely
through the shady woods, along the banks of the creek I have
mentioned, for several miles; but, though indications of deer were
abundant, without success. We were again returning to the hut, which
was now in sight on the prairie's edge, when, in the middle of a
remark upon the propriety of "_disposing of a part of his extensive
farm_," the rifle of my companion was suddenly brought to his eye; a
sharp crack, and a beautiful doe, which the moment before was
bounding over the nodding wild-weeds like the summer wind, lay gasping
at our feet.

So agreeable did I find my youthful hunter, that I was wellnigh
complying with his request to "tarry with him yet a few days," and try
my own hand and eye, all unskilled though they be, in _gentle
venerie_; or, at the least, to taste a steak from the fine fat doe.
_Sed fugit, interea fugit, irreparabile tempus_; and when the shades
of evening were beginning to gather over the landscape, I had passed
over a prairie some eight miles in breadth; and, chilled and
uncomfortable from the drenching of a heavy shower, was entering the
village of Shelbyville through the trees.[205]

This is a pleasant little town enough, situated on the west bank of
the Kaskaskia River, in a high and heavily-timbered tract. It is the
seat of justice for the county from which it takes its name, which
circumstance is fearfully portended by a ragged, bleak-looking
structure called a courthouse. Its shattered windows, and flapping
doors, and weather-stained bricks, when associated with the object to
which it is appropriated, perched up as it is in the {106} centre of
the village, reminds one of a cornfield scarecrow, performing its duty
by looking as hideous as possible. _In terrorem_, in sooth. Dame
Justice seems indeed to have met with most shameful treatment all over
the West, through her legitimate representative the courthouse. The
most interesting object in the vicinity of Shelbyville is a huge
sulphur-spring, which I did not tarry long enough to visit.

"Will you be pleased, sir, to register your name?" was the modest
request of mine host, as, having _settled the bill_, with foot in
stirrup, I was about mounting my steed at the door of the little
hostlerie of Shelbyville the morning after my arrival. Tortured by
the pangs of a curiosity which it was quite evident must now or never
be gratified, he had pursued his guest _beyond the threshold_ with
this _dernier resort_ to elicit _a_ name and residence. "Register my
name, sir!" was the reply. "And pray, let me ask, where do you intend
that desirable operation to be performed?" The discomfited publican,
with an expression of ludicrous dismay, hastily retreating to the
bar-room, soon reappeared gallanting a mysterious-looking little
blue-book, with "Register" in ominous characters portrayed upon the
back thereof. _A_ name was accordingly soon despatched with a pencil,
beneath about a dozen others, which the honest man had probably
managed to _save_ in as many years; and, applying the spur, the last
glance of the traveller caught the eager features of his host poring
over this new accession to his treasure.

{107} The early air of morning was intensely chilling as I left the
village and pursued my solitary way through the old woods; but, as the
sun went up the heavens, and the path emerged upon the open prairie,
the transition was astonishing. The effect of emerging from the dusky
shades of a thick wood upon a prairie on a summer day is delightful
and peculiar. I have often remarked it. It impresses one like passing
from the damp, gloomy closeness of a cavern into the genial sunshine
of a flower-garden. For the first time during my tour in Illinois was
my horse now severely troubled by that terrible insect, so notorious
all over the West, the large green-bottle prairie-fly, called the
"green-head." My attention was first attracted to it by observing
several gouts of fresh blood upon the rein; and, glancing at my
horse's neck, my surprise was great at beholding an orifice quite as
large as that produced by the _fleam_ from which the dark fluid was
freely streaming. The instant one of these fearful insects plants
itself upon a horse's body, the rider is made aware of the
circumstance by a peculiar restlessness of the animal in every limb,
which soon becomes a perfect agony, while the sweat flows forth at
every pore. The last year[206] was a remarkable one for countless
swarms of these flies; many animals were _killed_ by them; and at one
season it was even dangerous to venture across the broader prairies
except before sunrise or after nightfall. In the early settlement of
the county, these insects were so troublesome as in {108} a great
measure to retard the cultivation of the prairies; but, within a few
years, a yellow insect larger than the "green-head" has made its
appearance wherever the latter was found, and, from its sweeping
destruction of the annoying fly, has been called the "horse-guard."
These form burrows by penetrating the earth to some depth, and there
depositing the slaughtered "green-heads." It is stated that animals
become so well aware of the relief afforded by these insects and of
their presence, that the traveller recognises their arrival at once by
the quiet tranquillity which succeeds the former agitation. Ploughing
upon the prairies was formerly much delayed by these insects, and
heavy netting was requisite for the protection of the oxen.

At an inconsiderable settlement called _Cold Spring_, after a ride of
a dozen miles, I drew up my horse for refreshment.[207] My host, a
venerable old gentleman, with brows silvered over by the frosts of
sixty winters, from some circumstance unaccountable, presumed his
guest a political circuit-rider, and arranged his remarks accordingly.
The old man's politics were, however, not a little musty. Henry Clay
was spoken of rather as a young aspirant for distinction, just
stepping upon the arena of public life, than as the aged statesman
about resigning "the seals of office," and, hoary with honour,
withdrawing from the world. Nathless, much pleased was I with my host.
He was a native of Connecticut, and twenty years had seen him a
resident in "the Valley."

Resuming my route, the path conducted through {109} a high wood, and
for the first time since my departure from New-England was my ear
charmed by the sweet, melancholy note of the robin, beautiful songster
of my own native North. A wanderer can hardly describe his emotions on
an occurrence like this. The ornithology of the West, so far as a
limited acquaintance will warrant assertion, embraces many of the most
magnificent of the feathered creation. Here is found the jay, in gold
and azure, most splendid bird of the forest; here the woodpecker, with
flaming crest and snowy capote; the redbird; the cardinal grosbeak,
with his mellow whistle, gorgeous in crimson dies; the bluebird,
delicate as an iris; the mockbird, unrivalled chorister of our land;
the thrush; the wishton-wish; the plaintive whippoorwill; and last,
yet not the least, the turtle-dove, with her flutelike moaning. How
often, on my solitary path, when all was still through the grove, and
heaven's own breathings for a season seemed hushed, have I reined up
my horse, and, with feelings not to be described, listened to the
redundant pathos of that beautiful woodnote swelling on the air! Paley
has somewhere[208] told us, that by nothing has he been so touchingly
reminded of the benevolence of Deity as by the quiet happiness of the
infant on its mother's breast. To myself there is naught in all
Nature's beautiful circle which speaks a richer eloquence of praise
to the goodness of our God than the gushing joyousness of the
forest-bird!

All day I continued my journey over hill and {110} dale, creek and
ravine, woodland and prairie, until, near sunset, I reined up my weary
animal to rest a while beneath the shade of a broad-boughed oak by the
wayside, of whose refreshing hospitality an emigrant, with wagon and
family, had already availed himself. The leader of the caravan, rather
a young man, was reclining upon the bank, and, according to his own
account, none the better for an extra dram. From a few remarks which
were elicited from him, I soon discovered--what I had suspected, but
which he at first had seemed doggedly intent upon concealing--that he
belonged to that singular sect to which I have before alluded, styling
themselves Mormonites, and that he was even then on his way to Mount
Zion, Jackson county, Mo.! By contriving to throw into my observations
a few of those tenets of the sect which, during my wanderings, I had
gathered up, the worthy Mormonite was soon persuaded--pardon my
insincerity, reader--that he had stumbled upon a veritable brother;
and, without reserve or mental reservation, laid open to my
cognizance, as we journeyed along, "the reasons of the faith that was
in him," and the ultimate, proximate, and intermediate designs of the
_party_. And such a chaotic fanfaronade of nonsense, absurdity, nay,
madness, was an idle curiosity never before punished with. The most
which could be gathered of any possible "_account_" from this
confused, disconnected mass of rubbish, was the following: That Joe
Smith, or Joe Smith's father, or the devil, or some other great
personage, had somewhere dug up the golden {111} plates upon which
were graven the "Book of Mormon:" that this all-mysterious and
much-to-be-admired book embraced the chronicles of the lost kings of
Israel: that it derived its cognomen from one Mormon, its principal
hero, son of Lot's daughter, king of the Moabites: that Christ was
crucified on the spot where Adam was interred: that the descendants of
Cain were all now under the curse, and no one could possibly designate
who they were: that the Saviour was about to descend in Jackson
county, Missouri; the millennium was dawning, and that all who were
not baptized by Joe Smith or his compeers, and forthwith repaired to
Mount Zion, Missouri, aforesaid, would assuredly be cut off, and that
without remedy. These may, perhaps, serve as a specimen of a host of
wild absurdities which fell from the lips of my Mormonite; but, the
instant argument upon any point was pressed, away was he a thousand
miles into the fields of mysticism; or he laid an immediate embargo on
farther proceedings by a barefaced _petitio principii_ on the faith of
the golden plates; or by asserting that the stranger knew more upon
the matter than he! At length the stranger, coming to the conclusion
that he could at least boast as _much_ of Mormonism, he spurred up,
and left the man still jogging onward, to Mount Zion. And yet, reader,
with all his nonsense, my Mormonite was by no means an ignorant
fanatic. He was a native of Virginia, and for fifteen years had been a
pedagogue west of the Blue Ridge, from which edifying profession he
had at length been {112} enticed by the eloquence of sundry preachers
who had held forth in his schoolhouse. Thereupon taking to himself a
brace of wives and two or three braces of children by way of stock in
trade for the community at Mount Zion, and having likewise taken to
himself a one-horse wagon, into which were bestowed the moveables, not
forgetting a certain big-bellied stone bottle which hung ominously
dangling in the rear; I say, having done this, and having, moreover,
pressed into service a certain raw-boned, unhappy-looking horse, and a
certain fat, happy-looking cow, which was driven along beside the
wagon, away started he all agog for the promised land.

The grand tabernacle of these fanatics is said to be at a place they
call _Kirtland_, upon the shores of Lake Erie, some twenty miles from
Cleveland, and numbers no less than four thousand persons. Their
leader is Joe Smith, and associated with him is a certain shrewd
genius named Sydney Rigdom, a quondam preacher of the doctrine of
Campbell.[209] Under the control of these worthies as president and
cashier, a banking-house was established, which issued about $150,000,
and then deceased. The private residences are small, but the temple
is said to be an elegant structure of stone, three stories in height,
and nearly square in form. Each of its principal apartments is
calculated to contain twelve hundred persons, and has six pulpits
arranged gradatim, three at each extremity of the "Aaronic
priesthood," and in the same manner with the "priesthood of
Melchisedek." The {113} slips are so constructed as to permit the
audience to face either pulpit at pleasure. In the highest seat of the
"Aaronic priesthood" sits the venerable sire of the prophet, and below
sit his hopeful Joe and Joe's prime minister, Sydney Rigdom. The attic
of the temple is occupied for schoolrooms, five in number, where a
large number of students are taught the various branches of the
English, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew languages. The estimated cost of
this building is $60,000.[210] Smith is represented as a quiet,
placid-seeming knave, with passionless features, perfectly composed in
the midst of his heterogeneous multitude of dupes. Rigdom, on the
contrary, has a face full of fire, a fine tenour voice, and a mild and
persuasive eloquence of speech. Many of their followers are said to be
excellent men. The circumstances of the origin, rise, and progress of
this singular sect have been given to the public by the pen of an
eccentric but polished writer, and there is nothing material to add.

The close of the day found me once more upon the banks of the
Kaskaskia; and early on the succeeding morning, fording the stream, I
pursued my route along the great national road towards Terre Haute.
This road is projected eighty feet in breadth, with a central
carriage-path of thirty feet, elevated above all standing water, and
in no instance to exceed three degrees from a perfect level. The work
has been commenced along the whole {114} line, and is under various
stages of advancement; for most of the way it is perfectly _direct_.
The bridges are to be of limestone, and of massive structure, the base
of the abutments being equal in depth to one third their altitude. The
work was for a while suspended, for the purpose of investigating
former operations, and subsequently through failure of an
appropriation from Congress; but a grant has since been voted
sufficient to complete the undertaking so far as it is now
projected.[211] West of Vandalia the route is not yet located, though
repeated surveys with reference to this object have been made. St.
Louis, Alton, Beardstown, and divers other places upon the Mississippi
and its branches present claims to become the favoured point of its
destination. Upon this road I journeyed some miles; and, even in its
present unfinished condition, it gives evidence of its enormous
character. Compare this grand national work with the crumbling relics
of the mound-builders scattered over the land, and remark the
contrast: yet how, think you, reader, would an hundred thousand men
regard an undertaking like this?

My route at length, to my regret, struck off at right angles from the
road, and for many a mile wound away among woods and creeks. As I rode
along through the country I was somewhat surprised at meeting people
from various quarters, who seemed to be gathering to some rendezvous,
all armed with rifles, and with the paraphernalia of hunting suspended
from their shoulders. At length, near noon, I passed a log-cabin,
around which {115} were assembled about a hundred men: and, upon
inquiry, learned that they had come together for the purpose of
"shooting a beeve,"[212] as the marksmen have it. The regulations I
found to be chiefly these: A bull's-eye, with a centre nail, stands
at a distance variously of from forty to seventy yards; and those five
who, at the close of the contest, have most frequently _driven the
nail_, are entitled to a fat ox divided into five portions. Many of
the marksmen in the vicinity, I was informed, could drive the nail
twice out of every three trials. Reluctantly I was forced to decline a
civil invitation to join the party, and to leave before the sport
commenced; but, jogging leisurely along through a beautiful region of
prairie and woodland interspersed, I reached near nightfall the
village of Salem.[213] This place, with its dark, weather-beaten
edifices, forcibly recalled to my mind one of those gloomy little
seaports sprinkled along the iron-bound coast of New-England, over
some of which the ocean-storm has roared and the ocean-eagle shrieked
for more than two centuries. The town is situated on the eastern
border of the Grand Prairie, upon the stage-route from St. Louis to
Vincennes; and, as approached from one quarter, is completely
concealed by a bold promontory of timber springing into the plain. It
is a quiet, innocent, gossiping little place as ever was, no doubt;
never did any harm in all its life, and probably never will do any.
This sage conclusion is predicated upon certain items gathered at the
village singing-school; at which, ever-notable place, the traveller,
agreeable to invitation {116} attended, and carolled away most
vehemently with about a dozen others of either sex, under the
cognizance of a certain worthy personage styled _the Major_, whose
vocation seemed to be to wander over these parts for the purpose of
"_building up_" the good people in psalmody. To say that I was not
more surprised than delighted with the fruits of the honest songster's
efforts in Salem, and that I was, moreover, marvellously edified by
the brisk airs of the "Missouri Harmony," from whose cheerful pages
operations were performed, surely need not be done; therefore, prithee
reader, question me not.

_Mt. Vernon, Ill._



XXXII

  "After we are exhausted by a long course of application to
  business, how delightful are the first moments of indolence
  and repose! _O che bella coza di far niente!_"--STEWART.

  "Shall I not take mine ease in mine inn!"
                                             _Falstaff._


That distinguished metaphysician Dugald Stewart, in his treatise upon
the "Active and Moral Powers," has, in the language of my motto,
somewhere[214] observed, that leisure after continued exertion is a
source of happiness perfect in its kind; and {117} surely, at the
moment I am now writing, my own feelings abundantly testify to the
force of the remark. For more than one month past have I been urging
myself onward from village to village and from hamlet to hamlet,
through woodland, and over prairie, river, and rivulet, with almost
the celerity of an _avant courier_, and hardly with closer regard to
passing scenes and events. My purpose, reader, for I may as well tell
you, has been to accomplish, within a portion of time to some degree
limited, a "tour over the prairies" previously laid out. This, within
the prescribed period, I am now quite certain of fulfilling; and here
am I, at length "taking mine ease in mine inn" at the ancient and
venerable French village Kaskaskia.

It is evening now. The long summer sunset is dying away in beauty from
the heavens; and alone in my chamber am I gathering up the fragments
of events scattered along the pathway of the week that is gone. Last
evening at this hour I was entering the town of Pinkneyville, and my
last number left me soberly regaling myself upon the harmonious
_vocalities_ of the sombre little village of Salem. Here, then, may I
well enough resume "the thread of my discourse."

During my wanderings in Illinois I have more than once referred to the
frequency and violence of the thunder-gusts by which it is visited. I
had travelled not many miles the morning after leaving Salem when I
was assailed by one of the most terrific storms I remember to have yet
encountered. All the morning the atmosphere had been most oppressive,
{118} the sultriness completely prostrating, and the livid exhalations
quivered along the parched-up soil of the prairies, as if over the
mouth of an enormous furnace. A gauzy mist of silvery whiteness at
length diffused itself over the landscape; an inky cloud came heaving
up in the northern horizon, and soon the thunder-peal began to bellow
and reverberate along the darkened prairie, and the great raindrops
came tumbling to the ground. Fortunately, a shelter was at hand; but
hardly had the traveller availed himself of its liberal hospitality,
when the heavens were again lighted up by the sunbeams; the sable
cloud rolled off to the east, and all was beautiful and calm, as if
the angel of desolation in his hurried flight had but for a moment
stooped the shade of his dusky wing, and had then swept onward to
accomplish elsewhere his terrible bidding. With a reflection like this
I was about remounting to pursue my way, when a prolonged, deafening,
terrible crash--as if the wild idea of heathen mythology was indeed
about to be realized, and the thunder-car of Olympian Jove was dashing
through the concave above--caused me to falter with foot in stirrup,
and almost involuntarily to turn my eye in the direction from which
the bolt seemed to have burst. A few hundred yards from the spot on
which I stood a huge elm had been blasted by the lightning; and its
enormous shaft towering aloft, torn, mangled, shattered from the very
summit to its base, was streaming its long ghastly fragments on the
blast. The scene was one startlingly impressive; one of those few
scenes in a man's life the remembrance {119} of which years cannot
wholly efface; which he never _forgets_. As I gazed upon this giant
forest-son, which the lapse of centuries had perhaps hardly sufficed
to rear to perfection, now, even though a ruin, noble, that celebrated
passage of the poet Gray, when describing his _bard_, recurred with
some force to my mind: in this description Gray is supposed to have
had the painting of Raphael at Florence, representing Deity in the
vision of Ezekiel, before him:

  "Loose his beard and hoary hair
  Stream'd, like a meteor, to the troubled air," &c.

A ride of a few hours, after the storm had died away, brought me to
the pleasant little town of Mt. Vernon.[215] This place is the seat of
justice for Jefferson county, and has a courthouse of brick, decent
enough to the eye, to be sure, but said to have been so miserably
constructed that it is a perilous feat for his honour here to poise
the scales. The town itself is an inconsiderable place, but pleasantly
situated, in the edge of a prairie, if I forget not, and in every
other respect is exactly what every traveller has seen a dozen times
elsewhere in Illinois. Like Shelbyville, it is chiefly noted for a
remarkable spring in its vicinity, said to be highly medicinal. How
this latter item may stand I know not, but I am quite sure that all of
the _pure element_ it was my own disagreeable necessity to partake of
during my brief tarry savoured mightily of medicine or of something
akin. Epsom salts and alum seemed the chief substances in solution;
and with these minerals all the water in the region appeared heavily
charged.

{120} It was a misty, miserable morning when I left Mt. Vernon; and as
my route lay chiefly through a dense timbered tract, the dank, heavy
atmosphere exhaling from the soil, from the luxuriant vegetation, and
from the dense foliage of the over-hanging boughs, was anything but
agreeable. To endure the pitiless drenching of a summer-shower with
equanimity demands but a brief exercise of stoicism: but it is not in
the nature of man amiably to withstand the equally pitiless
_drenching_ of a drizzling, penetrating, everlasting fog, be it of sea
origin or of land. At length a thunder-gust--the usual remedy for
these desperate cases in Illinois--dissipated the vapour, and the
glorious sunlight streamed far and wide athwart a broad prairie, in
the edge of which I stood. The route was, in the language of my
director, indeed a _blind_ one; but, having received special
instructions thereupon, I hesitated not to press onward over the
swelling, pathless plain towards the _east_. After a few miles, having
crossed an arm of the prairie, directions were again sought and
received, by which the route became due _south_, pathless as before,
and through a tract of woodland rearing itself from a bog perfectly
Serbonian. "Muddy Prairie" indeed. On every side rose the enormous
shafts of the cypress, the water-oak, and the maple, flinging from
their giant branches that gray, pensile, parasitical moss, which,
weaving its long funereal fibres into a dusky mantle, almost entangles
in the meshes the thin threads of sunlight struggling down from above.
It was here for the first time that I met in any considerable numbers
{121} with that long-necked, long-legged, long-toed, long-tailed
gentry called wild-turkeys: and, verily, here was a host ample to
atone for all former deficiency, parading in ungainly magnificence
through the forest upon every side, or peeping curiously down, with
outstretched necks and querulous piping, from their lofty perches on
the traveller below. It is by a skilful imitation of this same piping,
to say nothing of the melodious gobble that always succeeds it, that
the sportsman decoys these sentimental bipeds within his reach. The
same method is sometimes employed in hunting the deer--an imitated
bleating of the fawn when in distress--thus taking away the gentle
mother's life through the medium of her most generous impulses; a most
diabolical _modus operandi_, reader, permit me to say.

Emerging at length, by a circuitous path, once more upon the prairie,
instructions were again sought for the _direct_ route to Pinkneyville,
and a course nearly _north_ was now pointed out. Think of that;
_east_, _south_, _north_, in regular succession too, over a tract of
country perfectly uniform, in order to run a _right_ line between two
given points! This was past all endurance. To a moral certainty with
me, the place of my destination lay away just southwest from the spot
on which I was then standing. Producing, therefore, my pocket-map and
pocket-compass, by means of a little calculation I had soon laid down
the prescribed course, determined to pursue none other, the
remonstrances, and protestations, and objurgations of men, women, and
children to the contrary notwithstanding. Pushing {122} boldly forth
into the prairie, I had not travelled many miles when I struck a path
leading off in the direction I had chosen, and which _proved_ the
direct route to Pinkneyville! Thus had I been forced to cross,
recross, and cross again, a prairie miles in breadth, and to flounder
through a swamp other miles in extent, to say nothing of the _depth_,
and all because of the utter ignorance of the worthy souls who took
upon them _to direct_. I have given this instance in detail for the
special edification and benefit of all future wayfarers in Illinois.
The only unerring guide on the prairies is the map and the compass.
Half famished, and somewhat more than half vexed at the adventures of
the morning, I found myself, near noon, at the cabin-door of an honest
old Virginian, and was ere long placed in a fair way to relieve my
craving appetite. With the little compass which hung at the
safety-riband of my watch, and which had done me such rare service
during my wanderings, the worthy old gentleman seemed heart-stricken
at first sight, and warmly protested that he and the "_stranger_" must
have "_a small bit of a tug_" for that _fixen_, a proposition which
said stranger by no means as warmly relished. Laying, therefore,
before the old farmer a slight outline of my morning's ramble, he
readily perceived that with me the "_pretty leetle fixen_" was
anything but a superlative. My evening ride was a delightful one along
the edge of an extended prairie; but, though repeatedly assured by the
worthy settlers upon the route that I could "_catch no diffick_ulty on
my way no how," my compass was {123} my only safe guide. At length,
crossing "Mud River" upon a lofty bridge of logs, the town of
Pinkneyville was before me just at sunset.[216]

Pinkneyville has but little to commend it to the passing traveller,
whether we regard beauty of location, regularity of structure,
elegance, size, or proportion of edifices, or the cultivation of the
farms in its vicinage. It would, perhaps, be a pleasant town enough
were its site more elevated, its buildings larger, and disposed with a
little more of mathematical exactness, or its streets less lanelike
and less filthy. As it is, it will require some years to give it a
standing among its fellows. It is laid out on the roll of a small
prairie of moderate fertility, but has quite an extensive settlement
of enterprising farmers, a circumstance which will conduce far more to
the ultimate prosperity of the place. The most prominent structure is
a blood-red jail of brick, standing near the centre of the village;
rather a savage-looking concern, and, doubtless, so designed by its
sagacious architect for the purpose of frightening evil doers.

Having taken these _observations_ from the tavern door during
twilight, the traveller retired to his chamber, nothing loath, after a
ride of nearly fifty miles, to bestow his tired frame to rest. But,
alas! that verity compels him to declare it--

  "'Tis true, and pity 'tis 'tis true,"

the "_Traveller's Inn_" was anything, nay, _every_thing but the
comfort-giving spot the hospitable cognomen swinging from its signpost
seemed to imply. Ah! the fond visions of quietude and repose, {124} of
plentiful feeding and hearty sleeping, which those magic words,
"_Traveller's Inn_," had conjured up in the weary traveller's fancy
when they first delightfully swung before his eye.

  "But human pleasure, what art thou, in sooth!
  The torrent's smoothness ere it dash below!!"

Well--exhausted, worn down, tired out, the traveller yet found it as
utterly impossible quietly to rest, as does, doubtless, "a
half-assoilzed soul in purgatory;" and, hours before the day had begun
to break, he arose and ordered out his horse. Kind reader, hast ever,
in the varyings of thy pilgrimage through this troublous world of
ours, when faint, and languid, and weary with exertion, by any
untoward circumstance, been forced to resist the gentle promptings of
"quiet nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep," and to count away the
tedious hours of the livelong night till thy very existence became a
burden to thee; till thy brain whirled and thy nerves twanged like the
tense harp-string? And didst thou not, then--didst thou not, from the
very depths of thy soul, assever this ill, of all ills mortality is
heir to, that one most utterly and unutterably intolerable patiently
to endure? 'Tis no very pitiful thing, sure, to consume the midnight
taper, "sickly" though it be: we commiserate the sacrifice, but we
fail not to appreciate the reward. Around the couch of suffering
humanity, who could not outwatch the stars? the recompense is not of
_this_ world.

                "When youth and pleasure meet,
  To chase the glowing hours with flying feet,"

_who_ asks for "sleep till morn!" But when in weariness {125} of the
flesh and in languidness of spirit, the overspent wayfarer has laid
down his wearied frame to rest for the toils of the morrow, it is
indeed a _bitter_ thing rudely to have that rest broken up! "The sleep
of the _wayfaring_ man is sweet," and to have that slumber obtruded
upon by causes too contemptible for a thought, is not in nature with
equanimity to bear! Besides, the luckless sufferer meets with no
_commiseration_: it is a matter all too ludicrous for pity; and as for
fortitude, and firmness, and the like, what warrior ever achieved a
laurel in such a war? what glory is to be gained over a host of
starving--but I forbear. You are pretty well aware, kind reader, or
ought to be, that the situation of your traveller just then was
anything but an enviable one. Not so, however, deemed the worthy
landlord on this interesting occasion. His blank bewilderment of
visage may be better imagined than described, as, aroused from sleep,
his eye met the vision of his stranger guest; while the comic
amalgamation of distress and pique in the marvellously elongated
features of the fair hostess was so truly laughable, that a smile
flitted along the traveller's rebellious muscles, serving completely
to disturb the serenity of her breast! The good lady was evidently not
a little nettled at the _apparent_ mirthfulness of her guest under his
manifold miseries--I do assure thee, reader, the mirthfulness was only
_apparent_--and did not neglect occasion thereupon to let slip a sly
remark impugning his "gentle breeding," because, forsooth, dame
Nature, in throwing together her "cunning workmanship," had gifted it
with a {126} nervous system not quite of steel. Meanwhile, the honest
publican, agreeable to orders, having brought forth the horse, with
folded hands all meekly listened to the eloquence of his spouse; but
the good man was meditating the while a retaliation in shape of a most
unconscionable bill of cost, which was soon presented and was as soon
discharged. Then, leaving the interesting pair to their own
cogitations, with the very _top_ of the morning the traveller flung
himself upon his horse and was soon out of sight.

_Kaskaskia, Ill._



FOOTNOTES:


[1] George D. Prentice (1802-70), founder of the Louisville _Journal_,
was graduated from Brown University in 1823. Two years later he became
editor of the Connecticut _Mirror_ and in 1828-30 had charge of the
_New England Weekly Review_. In the spring of 1830, at the earnest
solicitation of several influential Connecticut Whigs, he went West to
gather data for a life of Henry Clay. Once in Kentucky he threw all
the force of his political genius in support of Clay's policy. On
November 24, 1830, he issued the first number of the Louisville
_Journal_, which through his able management was soon recognized as
the chief Whig organ in the West. Wholly devoted to Clay's cause,
its own reputation rose and declined with that of its champion.
The _Journal_ maintained an existence till 1868, when Henry
Watterson consolidated it with the Courier, under the title of
_Courier-Journal_. Prentice is reputed to have been the originator of
the short, pointed paragraph in journalism. His _Life of Henry Clay_
(Hartford, 1831) is well known. In 1859 he published a collection
of poems under the name _Prenticeana_ (New York). It was reprinted
in 1870 with a biography of the author by G. W. Griffin
(Philadelphia).--ED.

[2] John M. Peck, a Baptist minister, went as a missionary to St.
Louis in 1817. After nine years of preaching in Missouri and Illinois,
he founded (1826) the Rocky Spring Seminary for training teachers and
ministers. It is said that he travelled more than six thousand miles
collecting money for endowing this school. In 1828 Peck began
publishing the _Western Pioneer_, the first official organ of the
Baptist church in the West, and served as the corresponding secretary
and financial agent of the American Baptist Publication Society from
1843 to 1845. He died at Rocky Springs, Illinois, in 1858. Peck made
important contributions to the publications of the early historical
societies in the Northwest. His chief independent works are: _A Guide
for Emigrants_ (Boston, 1831), republished as _A New Guide for
Emigrants_ (Boston, 1836); _Gazetteer of Illinois_ (Jacksonville, 1834
and 1837); _Father Clark or the Pioneer Preacher_ (New York, 1855);
and "Life of Daniel Boone," in Jared Sparks, _American Biography_.

Judge James Hall was born in Philadelphia (1793), and died near
Cincinnati in 1868. He was a member of the Washington Guards during
the War of 1812-15, was promoted to the 2nd United States artillery,
and accompanied Decatur on his expedition to Algiers (1815). Resigning
in 1818, he practiced law at Shawneetown, Illinois (1820-27), and
filled the office of public prosecutor and judge of the circuit court.
He moved to Vandalia (1827) and began editing the _Illinois
Intelligencer_ and the _Illinois Monthly Magazine_. From 1836 to 1853
he was president of the commercial bank at Cincinnati, and acted as
state treasurer. He published: _Letters from the West_ (London, 1828);
_Legends of the West_ (1832); _Memoirs of the Public Services of
General William Henry Harrison_ (Philadelphia, 1836); _Sketches of
History, Life and Manners of the West_ (Philadelphia, 1835);
_Statistics of the West at the Close of 1836_ (Cincinnati, 1836);
_Notes on the Western States_ (Philadelphia, 1838); _History and
Biography of the Indians of North America_ (3 volumes, 1838-44); _The
West, its Soil, Surface, etc._ (Cincinnati, 1848); _The West, its
Commerce and Navigation_ (Cincinnati, 1848); besides a few historical
novels. For a contemporary estimate of the value of Hall's writings
see _American Monthly Magazine_ (New York, 1835), v, pp. 9-15.

For Timothy Flint, see Pattie's _Narrative_, in our volume xviii, p.
25, note 1.

Major Alphonso Wetmore (1793-1849) was of much less importance as a
writer on Western history than those above mentioned. He entered the
23rd infantry in 1812, and subsequently was transferred to the 6th. He
served as paymaster for his regiment from 1815 to 1821, and was
promoted to a captaincy (1819). In 1816 he moved with his family to
Franklinton, Missouri, and later practiced law in St. Louis. His chief
contribution to Western travel is a _Gazetteer of Missouri_ (St.
Louis, 1837).--ED.

[3] The reference is to Shakespeare's _King John_, III, iv.--ED.

[4] For a brief sketch of the history of Louisville, see Croghan's
_Journals_, in our volume i, p.136, note 106.--ED.

[5] The seven stations formed on Beargrass Creek in the fall of 1779
and spring of 1780 were: Falls of the Ohio, Linnis, Sullivan's Old,
Hoagland's, Floyd's, Spring, and Middle stations. Beargrass Creek, a
small stream less than ten miles in length, flows in a northwestern
trend and uniting with two smaller creeks, South and Muddy forks,
enters the Ohio (not the Mississippi) immediately above the Falls of
the Ohio (Louisville).--ED.

[6] It is only at high stages of the river that boats even of a
smaller class can pass over the Falls. At other times they go through
the "Louisville and Portland Canal." In 1804 the Legislature of
Kentucky incorporated a company to cut a canal around the falls.
Nothing effectual, however, beyond surveys, was done until 1825, when
on the 12th of January of that year the Louisville and Portland Canal
Company was incorporated by an act of the legislature, with a capital
of $600,000, in shares of $100 each, with perpetual succession. 3665
of the shares of the company are in the hands of individuals, about
seventy in number, residing in the following states: New-Hampshire,
Massachusetts, New-York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Kentucky, and
Missouri, and 2335 shares belong to the government of the United
States.

In December, 1825, contracts were entered into to complete the work of
this canal within two years, for about $375,000, and under these
contracts the work was commenced in March, 1826. Many unforeseen
difficulties retarded the work until the close of the year 1828. At
this time the contractors failed; new contracts were made at advanced
prices, and the canal was finally opened for navigation December 5th,
1830. When completed it cost about $750,000. Owing to the advanced
season at which it was opened, the deposites of alluvial earth at the
lower extremity of the canal, or debouchure, could not be removed; and
also from the action of the floods during the succeeding severe winter
on the stones that had been temporarily deposited on the sides of the
canal, causing them to be precipitated into the canal, it was not used
to the extent that it otherwise would have been. During the year 1831,
406 steamboats, 46 keelboats, and 357 flatboats, measuring 76,323
tons, passed through the locks, which are about one fourth the number
that would have passed if all the obstructions had been removed.

The Louisville and Portland Canal is about two miles in length; is
intended for steamboats of the largest class, and to overcome a fall
of 24 feet, occasioned by an irregular ledge of limerock, through
which the entire bed of the canal is excavated, a part of it, to the
depth of 12 feet, is overlaid with earth. There is one guard and three
lift locks combined, all of which have their foundation on the rock.
One bridge of stone 240 feet long, with an elevation of 68 feet to top
of the parapet wall, and three arches, the centre one of which is
semi-elliptical, with a transverse diameter of 66, and a
semi-conjugate diameter of 22 feet. The two side arches are segments
of 40 feet span. The guard lock is 190 feet long in the clear, with
semicircular heads of 26 feet in diameter, 50 feet wide, and 42 feet
high, and contains 21,775 perches of mason-work. The solid contents of
this lock are equal to 15 common locks, such as are built on the Ohio
and New-York canals. The lift locks are of the same width with the
guard lock, 20 feet high, and 183 feet long in the clear, and contain
12,300 perches of mason-work. The entire length of the walls, from the
head of the guard lock to the end of the outlet lock, is 921 feet. In
addition to the amount of mason-work above, there are three culverts
to drain off the water from the adjacent lands, the mason-work of
which, when added to the locks and bridge, give the whole amount of
mason-work 41,989 perches, equal to about 30 common canal locks. The
cross section of the canal is 200 feet at top of banks, 50 feet at
bottom, and 42 feet high, having a capacity equal to that of 25 common
canals; and if we keep in view the unequal quantity of mason-work
compared to the length of the canal, the great difficulties of
excavating earth and rock from so great a depth and width, together
with the contingencies attending its construction from the
fluctuations of the Ohio River, it may not be considered as
extravagant in drawing the comparison between the work in this and in
that of 70 or 75 miles of common canalling.

In the upper sections of the canal, the alluvial earth to the average
depth of twenty feet being removed, trunks of trees were found more or
less decayed, and so imbedded as to indicate a powerful current
towards the present shore, some of which were cedar, which is not now
found in this region. Several _fireplaces_ of a rude construction,
with partially burnt wood, were discovered near the rock, as well as
the bones of a variety of small animals and several human skeletons;
rude implements formed of bone and stone were frequently seen, as also
several well-wrought specimens of hematite of iron, in the shape of
plummets or sinkers, displaying a knowledge in the arts far in advance
of the present race of Indians.

The first stratum of rock was a light, friable slate, in close contact
with the limestone, and difficult to disengage from it; this slate did
not, however, extend over the whole surface of the rock, and was of
various thicknesses, from three inches to four feet.

The stratum next to the slate was a close, compact limestone, in which
petrified seashells and an infinite variety of coralline formations
were imbedded, and frequent cavities of crystalline incrustations were
seen, many of which still contained petroleum of a highly fetid smell,
which gives the name to this description of limestone. This
description of rock is on an average of five feet, covering a
substratum of a species of cias limestone of a bluish colour,
imbedding nodules of hornstone and organic remains. The fracture of
this stone has in all instances been found to be irregularly
conchoidal, and on exposure to the atmosphere and subjection to fire,
it crumbles to pieces. When burnt and ground, and mixed with a due
proportion of silicious sand, it has been found to make a most
superior kind of hydraulic cement or water-lime.

The discovery of this valuable limestone has enabled the canal company
to construct their masonry more solidly than any other known in the
United States.

A manufactory of this hydraulic cement or water-lime is now
established on the bank of the canal, on a scale capable of supplying
the United States with this much-valued material for all works in
contact with water or exposed to moisture; the nature of this cement
being to harden in the water; the grout used on the locks of the canal
is already _harder_ than the _stone_ used in their construction.

After passing through the stratum which was commonly called the
water-lime, about ten feet in thickness, the workmen came to a more
compact mass of primitive gray limestone, which, however, was not
penetrated to any great depth. In many parts of the excavation masses
of a bluish white flint and hornstone were found enclosed in or
incrusting the fetid limestone. And from the large quantities of
arrow-heads and other rude formations of this flint stone, it is
evident that it was made much use of by the Indians in forming their
weapons for war and hunting; in one place a magazine of arrow-heads
was discovered, containing many hundreds of these rude implements,
carefully packed together and buried below the surface of the ground.

The existence of iron ore in considerable quantities was exhibited in
the progress of the excavation of the canal, by numerous
highly-charged chalybeate springs that gushed out, and continued to
flow during the time that the rock was exposed, chiefly in the upper
strata of limestone.--_Louisville Directory for 1835._--FLAGG.

[7] A circumstance, too, which adds not a little of interest to the
spot, is the old Indian tradition that here was fought the last battle
between their race and the former dwellers in Kentucky--the _white
mound-builders_--in which the latter were exterminated to a man. True
or false, vast quantities of human remains have, at low stages of
the Ohio, been found upon the shores of Sandy Island, one mile
below, and an extensive graveyard once existed in the vicinity of
Shipping-port.--FLAGG.

[8] _Kentucke_ is said to have a similar meaning.--FLAGG.

[9] Ohio is thought by some philologists to be a corruption of the
Iroquois word, "Ohionhiio," meaning "beautiful river," which the
French rendered as La Belle Rivière; see also Cuming's _Tour_, in our
volume iv, p. 92, note 49.--ED.

[10] At the age of twenty-five, Henry M. Shreve (1785-1854) was
captain of a freight boat operating on the Ohio. In 1814 he ran the
gauntlet of the British batteries at New Orleans, and carried supplies
to Fort St. Phillip. The following year, in charge of the "Enterprise"
he made the first successful steamboat trip from New Orleans to
Louisville. Later he constructed the "Washington," making many
improvements on the Fulton model. Fulton and Livingstone brought suit
against him but lost in the action. May 24, 1824, at the instigation
of J. C. Calhoun, then secretary of war, Congress appropriated
seventy-five thousand dollars (not $105,000, as Flagg says) for the
purpose of removing obstructions from the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
As early as 1821, Shreve had invented a device for removing snags and
sawyers from river beds. But it was not until after two years'
fruitless trials with a scheme devised by John Bruce of Kentucky, that
Barbour, at Calhoun's suggestion, appointed Shreve superintendent of
improvements on Western rivers (December 10, 1826). This position he
held until September 11, 1841, when he was dismissed for political
reasons. In the face of discouraging opposition Shreve constructed
(1829) with government aid the snagboat "Heleopolis" with which he
later wrought a marvellous improvement in navigation on the Ohio and
Mississippi. From 1833 to 1838 he was engaged in removing the Red
River "raft" for a distance of a hundred and sixty miles, thus opening
that important river for navigation. For a good biography of Shreve,
see the _Democratic Review_, xxii (New York, 1848), pp. 159-171,
241-251. A fair estimate of the importance of his work can be gained
from the following statistics; from 1822-27 the loss from snags alone,
of property on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, including steam and
flat-boats and their cargoes, amounted to $1,362,500; the like loss
from 1827-32 was reduced to $381,000, although the volume of business
had greatly increased.--ED.

[11] The "Baltimore" (73 tons) was built at Pittsburg in 1828; the
"Roanoke" (100 tons), at Wheeling in 1835. It is reported that from
1831 to 1833, of the sixty-six steamboats which went out of service,
twenty-four were snagged, fifteen burned, and five destroyed by
collision with other boats. See James Hall, _Notes on the Western
States_ (Philadelphia, 1838), p. 239.--ED.

[12] The keel-boat Hindoo, with merchandise to the amount of $50,000,
is a late instance.--FLAGG.

[13] Brown's Island, two miles and a half long by half a mile at its
greatest width, is located six or seven miles above Steubenville,
Ohio, following the course of the river.--ED.

[14] The keel-boat was usually from sixty to seventy feet long, and
fifteen to eighteen broad at beam, with a keel extending from bow to
stern, and had a draft of twenty to thirty inches. When descending the
stream, the force of the current, with occasional aid from the pole,
was the usual mode of locomotion. In ascending the stream, however,
sails, poles, and almost every known device were used; not
infrequently the vessel was towed by from twenty to forty men, with a
rope several hundred feet in length attached to the mast. These boats
were built in Pittsburg at a cost of two to three thousand dollars
each.

The barge was constructed for narrow, shallow water. As a rule it was
larger than the keel-boat; but of less draft, and afforded greater
accommodations for passengers.

Broad-horn was a term generally applied to the Mississippi and Ohio
flat-boat, which made its advent on the Western waters later than the
barge or the keel-boat. It was a large, unwieldy structure, with a
perfectly flat bottom, perpendicular sides, and usually covered its
entire length. It was used only for descending the stream.

"The earliest improvement upon the canoe was the pirogue, an invention
of the whites. Like the canoe, this is hewed out of the solid log; the
difference is, that the pirogue has greater width and capacity, and is
composed of several pieces of timbers--as if the canoe was sawed
lengthwise into two equal sections, and a broad flat piece of timber
inserted in the middle, so as to give greater breadth of beam to the
vessel." Hall, _Notes on the Western States_, p. 218.--ED.

[15] Flint.--FLAGG.

[16] For an account of the first steamboat on the Ohio, see Flint's
_Letters_, in our volume ix, p. 154, note 76.--ED.

[17] Latrobe.--FLAGG.

_Comment by Ed._ Charles J. Latrobe (1801-75) visited the United
States in 1832-33. His _Rambles in North America in 1832-3_ (New York,
1835) and _Rambles in Mexico_ (New York and London, 1836) have much
value in the history of Western travel.

[18] The first steamer upon the waters of the Red River was of a
peculiar construction: her steam scape-pipe, instead of ascending
perpendicularly from the hurricane deck, projected from the bow, and
terminated in the form of a serpent's head. As this monster ascended
the wilds of the stream, with her furnaces blazing, pouring forth
steam with a roar, the wondering Choctaws upon the banks gave her the
poetic and appropriate name of _Pinelore_, "the Fire-Canoe."--FLAGG.

[19] This quotation is from _Botanic Gardens_, book i, chapter i, by
Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802).--ED.

[20] For Rome, see Maximilian's _Travels_, in our volume xxii, p. 160,
note 77.--ED.

[21] Green River, rising in central Kentucky, flows west through the
coal fields to its junction with the Big Barren; thence it turns
north, and empties into the Ohio nine miles above Evansville, Indiana.
Beginning with 1808 the state legislature expended large sums of money
for improving navigation on Green River. As a consequence small
steamboats may ascend it to a distance of more than a hundred and
fifty miles. The length of the stream is estimated at three hundred
and fifty miles.--ED.

[22] Diamond Island, densely wooded, is located thirty-six miles below
the mouth of Green River, and seven miles above Mount Vernon. Its name
is perhaps derived from its shape, being five miles long and one and a
half wide.--ED.

[23] For note on Hendersonville, see Cuming's _Tour_, in our volume
iv, p. 267, note 175.--ED.

[24] John J. Audubon, born in Louisiana (1780), was a son of a wealthy
French naval officer; his mother was a Spanish Creole. Educated in
France, he returned to America (1798) and settled near Philadelphia,
devoting his time to the study of birds. In 1808 he went west and
until 1824 made fruitless attempts to establish himself in business in
Kentucky and Louisiana. He issued in London (1827-38) his noted
publication on the _Birds of America_, which was completed in
eighty-seven parts. During 1832-39 he published five volumes entitled
_Ornithological Biographies_. Audubon died in 1851. See M. R. Audubon,
_Audubon and his Journals_ (New York, 1897).--ED.

[25] For the historical importance of the Wabash River, see Croghan's
_Journals_, in our volume i, p. 137, note 107.--ED.

[26] The Wabash and Erie Canal, which connects the waters of Lake Erie
with the Ohio River by way of the Maumee and Wabash rivers, has played
an active rôle in the development of Indiana, her most important
cities being located upon its route. The Ohio section was constructed
during the years 1837-43, and the Indiana section as far as Lafayette
in 1832-40; the canal being later continued to Terre Haute and the
Ohio River near Evansville. Although the federal government granted
Indiana 1,505,114 acres for constructing the canal, the state was by
this work plunged heavily in debt. After the War of Secession the
canal lost much of its relative importance for commerce. June 14,
1880, Congress authorized the secretary of war to order a survey and
estimate of cost and practicability of making a ship canal out of the
old Wabash and Erie Canal. The survey and estimate were made, but the
matter was allowed to drop. See _Senate Docs._, 46 Cong., 3 sess.,
iii, 55.--ED.

[27] For an account of New Harmony and its founder, George Rapp, see
Hulme's _Journal_, in our volume x, p. 50, note 22, and p. 54, note
25.--ED.

[28] Flagg is evidently referring to Robert Owen, the active promoter
of the scheme. A brief history of his activities is given in Hulme's
_Journal_, in our volume x, p. 50, note 22.

For Robert Dale Owen see Maximilian's _Travels_, in our volume xxiv,
p. 133, note 128.--ED.

[29] "Declaration of Mental Independence" delivered by Robert Owen
(not Robert Dale Owen) on July 4, 1826, was printed in the New Harmony
_Gazette_ for July 12, 1826. An extended quotation is given in George
B. Lockwood, _The New Harmony Communities_ (Marion, Indiana, 1902), p.
163.--ED.

[30] For an account of William Maclure, see Maximilian's _Travels_, in
our volume xxii, p. 163, note 81.

In reference to the Duke of Saxe Weimar, see Wyeth's _Oregon_, in our
volume xxi, p. 71, note 47.--ED.

[31] On Shawneetown and the Shawnee Indians see our volume i, p. 23,
note 13, and p. 138, note 108.--ED.

[32] For a brief statement on the salines, see James's _Long's
Expedition_, in our volume xiv, p. 58, note 11.--ED.

[33] An excellent account of the Mound Builders is given by Lucien
Carr in Smithsonian Institution _Report_, 1891 (Washington, 1893), pp.
503-599; see also Cyrus Thomas, "Report on Mound Explorations" in
United States Bureau of Ethnology _Report_ (1890-91).--ED.

[34] Hanging Rock is the name given to a high sandstone escarpment on
the right bank of the river, three miles below Ironton, Ohio.--ED.

[35] Blennerhasset's Island is two miles below Parkersburg, West
Virginia. For its history, see Cuming's _Tour_, in our volume iv, p.
129, note 89.--ED.

[36] A brief description of Rock Inn Cave (or Cave-in-Rock) may be
found in Cuming's _Tour_, in our volume iv, p. 273, note 180.--ED.

[37] For Schoolcraft, see Gregg's _Commerce of the Prairies_, in our
volume xx, p. 286, note 178.--ED.

[38] It is a remarkable circumstance, that this term is employed to
signify the _same_ thing by all the tribes from the Arkansas to the
sources of the Mississippi; and, according to Mackenzie, throughout
the Arctic Regions.--FLAGG.

[39] See Cuming's _Tour_, in our volume iv, p. 268.--ED.

[40] Ford's Ferry is today a small hamlet in Crittenden County,
Kentucky, twenty-five miles below Shawneetown. Flagg is referring
probably to the Wilson family. Consult Lewis Collins, _History of
Kentucky_ (Covington, 1874), i. p. 147.--ED.

[41] Since the remarks relative to "the remarkable cavern in the
vicinity of _Tower Rock_, and not far from Hurricane Island," were in
type, the subjoined notice of a similar cave, probably the same
referred to, has casually fallen under my observation. The reader will
recognise in this description the outlines of _Rock-Inn-Cave_,
previously noticed. It is not a little singular that none of our
party, which was a numerous one, observed the "hieroglyphics" here
alluded to. The passage is from Priest's "American Antiquities."

"_A Cavern of the West, in which are found many interesting
Hieroglyphics, supposed to have been made by the Ancient Inhabitants._

"On the Ohio, twenty miles below the mouth of the Wabash, is a cavern
in which are found many hieroglyphics and representations of such
delineations as would induce the belief that their authors were indeed
comparatively refined and civilized. It is a cave in a rock, or ledge
of the mountain, which presents itself to view a little above the
water of the river when in flood, and is situated close to the bank.
In the early settlement of Ohio this cave became possessed by a party
of Kentuckians called 'Wilson's Gang.' Wilson, in the first place,
brought his family to this cave, and fitted it up as a spacious
dwelling; erected a _signpost_ on the water side, on which were these
words: 'Wilson's Liquor Vault and House of Entertainment.' The novelty
of such a tavern induced almost all the boats descending the river to
call for refreshments and amusement. Attracted by these circumstances,
several idle characters took up their abode at the cave, after which
it continually resounded with the shouts of the licentious, the
clamour of the riotous, and the blasphemy of gamblers. Out of such
customers Wilson found no difficulty in forming a band of robbers,
with whom he formed the plan of murdering the crews of every boat that
stopped at his tavern, and of sending the boats, manned by some of his
party, to New-Orleans, and there sell their loading for cash, which
was to be conveyed to the cave by land through the States of Tennessee
and Kentucky; the party returning with it being instructed to murder
and rob on all good occasions on the road.

"After a lapse of time the merchants of the upper country began to be
alarmed on finding their property make no returns, and their people
never coming back. Several families and respectable men who had gone
down the river were never heard of, and the losses became so frequent
that it raised, at length, a cry of individual distress and general
dismay. This naturally led to an inquiry, and large rewards were
offered for the discovery of the perpetrators of such unparalleled
crimes. It soon came out that Wilson, with an organized party of
forty-five men, was the cause of such waste of blood and treasure;
that he had a station at Hurricane Island to arrest every boat that
passed by the mouth of the cavern, and that he had agents at Natchez
and New-Orleans, of presumed respectability, who converted his
assignments into cash, though they knew the goods to be stolen or
obtained by the commission of murder.

"The publicity of Wilson's transactions soon broke up his party; some
dispersed, others were taken prisoners, and he himself was killed by
one of his associates, who was tempted by the reward offered for the
head of the captain of the gang.

"This cavern measures about twelve rods in length and five in width;
its entrance presents a width of eighty feet at its base and
twenty-five feet high. The interior walls are smooth rock. The floor
is very remarkable, being level through the whole length of its
centre, the sides rising in stony grades, in the manner of seats in
the pit of a theatre. On a diligent scrutiny of the walls, it is
plainly discerned that the ancient inhabitants at a very remote period
had made use of the cave as a house of deliberation and council. The
walls bear many hieroglyphics well executed, and some of them
represent animals which have no resemblance to any now known to
natural history.

"This cavern is a great natural curiosity, as it is connected with
another still more gloomy, which is situated exactly above, united by
an aperture of about fourteen feet, which, to ascend, is like passing
up a chimney, while the mountain is yet far above. Not long after the
dispersion and arrest of the robbers who had infested it, in the upper
vault were found the skeletons of about sixty persons, who had been
murdered by the gang of Wilson, as was supposed.

"But the tokens of antiquity are still more curious and important than
a description of the mere cave, which are found engraved on the sides
within, an account of which we proceed to give:

"The sun in different stages of rise and declension; the moon under
various phases; a snake biting its tail, and representing an orb or
circle; a viper; a vulture; buzzards tearing out the heart of a
prostrate man; a panther held by the ears by a child; a crocodile;
several trees and shrubs; a fox; a curious kind of hydra serpent; two
doves; several bears; two scorpions; an eagle; an owl; some quails;
_eight_ representations of animals which are now unknown. Three out of
the eight are like the elephant in all respects except the tusk and
the tail. Two more resemble the tiger; one a wild boar; another a
sloth; and the last appears a creature of fancy, being a quadruman
instead of a quadruped; the claws being alike before and behind, and
in the act of conveying something to the mouth, which lay in the
centre of the monster. Besides these were several fine representations
of men and women, _not naked_, but clothed; not as the Indians, but
much in the costume of Greece and Rome."--FLAGG.

_Comment by Ed._ This same account is given by Collins (_op. cit._, in
note 40), and is probably true.

[42] Hurricane Island, four miles below Cave-in-Rock, is more than
five miles in length. The "Wilson gang" for some time used this island
for a seat of operation.--ED.

[43] Golconda is the seat of Pope County, Illinois. See Woods's
_English Prairie_, in our volume x, p. 327, note 77.

On or just before Christmas, 1806, Aaron Burr came down the Cumberland
River from Nashville and joined Blennerhasset, Davis Floyd, and others
who were waiting for him at the mouth of the river, and together they
started on Burr's ill-fated expedition (December 28, 1806). Their
united forces numbered only nine batteaux and sixty men. See W. F.
McCaleb, _Aaron Burr's Conspiracy_ (New York, 1903), p. 254 ff.

For a short account of Paducah, see Maximilian's _Travels_, in our
volume xxii, p. 203, note 110.--ED.

[44] It has since been nearly destroyed by fire.--FLAGG.

[45] On Fort Massac, see A. Michaux's _Travels_, in our volume iii, p.
73, note 139.--ED.

[46] Wilkinsonville, named for General James Wilkinson, was a small
hamlet located on the site of the Fort Wilkinson of 1812, twenty-two
miles above Cairo. Two or three farm houses are today the sole relics
of this place; see Thwaites, _On the Storied Ohio_, p. 291.

Caledonia is still a small village in Pulaski County, Illinois. Its
post-office is Olmstead.--ED.

[47] For account of the attempt at settlements at the confluence of
the Ohio and Mississippi, see Maximilian's _Travels_, in our volume
xxii, p. 204, note 111.--ED.

[48] For America see Ogden's _Letters_, our volume xix, p. 44, note
30, and Woods's _English Prairie_, our volume x, p. 327, note 77.

The scheme known as the "Internal Improvement Policy" was authorized
over the governor's veto by the Illinois general assembly on February
27, 1837, in response to the popular clamor for its adoption. The
object was to open the country for immigration and hasten its natural
development by constructing railroads and canals as yet not needed
commercially. Ten million two hundred thousand dollars were
appropriated by the act, including two hundred thousand dollars to be
given directly to the counties not favored. Surveys were made, and
speculation was rife. Then followed a collapse, and six million five
hundred thousand dollars were added to the state debt. The scheme was
later referred to as the General Insanity Bill.--ED.

[49] The English Island of 1836 is probably the Power's Island of
today. It is three miles long, and forms a part of Scott County,
Missouri, more than twenty miles above Cairo.--ED.

[50] Herbert.--FLAGG.

[51] For a sketch of Cape Girardeau, see A. Michaux's _Travels_, in
our volume iii, p. 80, note 154.--ED.

[52] A superior quality of kaolin, or china clay, is mined in large
quantities in Cape Girardeau County. Marble ninety-nine per cent pure,
is procured in abundance.--ED.

[53] "Muddy River," usually called "Big Muddy," is the English
translation of the French _Rivière au Vase_, or _Vaseux_. Formed by
the union of two branches rising in Jefferson County, Illinois, it
flows in a southwesterly direction and empties into the Mississippi
about twenty-five miles above Cape Girardeau. It is one hundred and
forty miles long.--ED.

[54] Fountain Bluff is six miles above the mouth of the Big Muddy.
Flagg's descriptions are in the main accurate.--ED.

[55] Grand Tower, seventy-five feet high, and frequently mentioned by
early writers, is a mile above the island of the same name, at the
mouth of the Big Muddy, and stands out some distance from the Missouri
side. Grand Tower Island was an object of much dread to boatmen during
the days of early navigation on the Mississippi. A powerful current
sweeping around Devil's Oven, frequently seized frail or unwieldy
craft to dash it against this rock. Usually the boatmen landed, and by
means of long ropes towed their vessels along the Illinois side, past
this perilous rock.--ED.

[56] The Mississippi between the mouth of the Kaskaskia River and Cape
Girardeau offered many obstructions to early navigation. As at Grand
Tower, the boatmen frequently found it necessary to land and tow their
boats past the dangerous points, and here the Indians would lie in
ambush to fall upon the unfortunate whites. The peril of these places
doubtless lent color to their nomenclature. Flagg's descriptions are
fairly accurate except in the matter of dimensions, wherein he tends
to exaggeration.--ED.

[57] $105,000.--FLAGG.

[58] For Red River raft, see James's Long's _Expedition_, in our
volume xvii, p. 70, note 64.--ED.

[59] In reference to the American Bottom, see Ogden's _Letters_, in
our volume xix, p. 62, note 48.--ED.

[60] For an account of Ste. Genevieve, see Cuming's _Tour_, in our
volume iv, p. 266, note 174.

According to Austin, cited below, La Motte (or La Mothe) Cadillac,
governor of Louisiana, went on an expedition (1715) to the Illinois in
search of silver, and found lead ore in a mine which had been shown
him fifteen miles west of the Mississippi. It is believed by some
authorities that this was the famous "Mine la Mothe," at the head of
the St. Francis River. Schoolcraft, however, says that Philip Francis
Renault, having received mining grants from the French government,
left France in 1719, ascended the Mississippi, established himself the
following year near Kaskaskia, and sent out small companies in search
of precious metals; and that La Mothe, who had charge of one of these
companies, soon discovered the mine that still bears his name. It was
operated only at intervals, until after the American occupation, when
its resources were developed. Under the Spanish domination
(1762-1800), little was done to develop the mine. In 1763, however,
Francis Burton discovered the "Mine à Burton," on a branch of Mineral
Fork. Like the "Mine la Mothe," it was known to the Indians before the
discovery by the whites, and both are still operated. Burton was said
to have been alive in 1818, at the age of a hundred and six; see
Colonel Thomas Benton's account of him in St. Louis _Enquirer_,
October 16, 1818.

For an account of primitive mining operations, see Thwaites,
_Wisconsin Historical Collections_, xiii, pp. 271-292; Moses Austin,
"Lead Mines of Ste. Geneviève and St. Louis Counties," _American State
Papers_ (_Public Lands_), iii, pp. 609-613; and H. R. Schoolcraft,
_Lead Mines of Missouri_ (New York, 1819).--ED.

[61] From 1738 to 1744, the mines were considered as public property:
but in the year last mentioned François Vallé received from the French
government a grant of two thousand arpents of land (1,666 acres)
including "Mine la Mothe," and eighteen years later twenty-eight
thousand arpents (23,333 acres) additional. At Vallé's death the land
passed to his sons, François and John, and Joseph Pratt, a transfer
confirmed by Congress in 1827. The next year it was sold to C. C.
Vallé, L. E. Linn, and Everett Pratt. In 1830 it was sold in part and
the remainder leased. In 1868 the estate passed from the hands of the
Vallés.--ED.

[62] Pilot Knob is a conical-shaped hill, a mile in diameter, in Iron
County, Missouri, seventy-five miles southwest of St. Louis, and is
rich in iron ore. In the War of Secession it was the scene of a battle
between General Sterling Price and General Hugh B. Ewing (September
26, 27, 1864).

Iron Mountain is an isolated knob of the St. François Mountains in St.
François County, eighty miles south of St. Louis. One of the richest
and purest iron mines in the United States is found there.--ED.

[63] The Peoria were one of the five principal tribes of the Illinois
Confederation. They resided around the lake in the central portion of
Illinois, which bears their name. In 1832 they were removed to Kansas,
and in 1854 to Indian Territory, where, united with other tribes, they
still reside.--ED.

[64] For a short account of Fort Chartres, see A. Michaux's _Travels_,
in our volume iii, p. 71, note 136.--ED.

[65] For Prairie du Rocher see A. Michaux's _Travels_, in our volume
iii, p. 70, note 133. The legend referred to is, "Michel de Couce" by
James Hall, in his _Legends of the West_.

Contrary to Flagg's statement that there exists no description of Fort
Chartres worthy of its history, Philip Pittman, who visited the place
in 1766, gives a good detailed description of the fort in his _Present
State of the European Settlements on the Missisippi_ (London, 1770),
pp. 45, 46.--ED.

[66] For location and date of settlement of Herculaneum, see
Maximilian's _Travels_, in our volume xxii, p. 212, note 122.

On a perpendicular bluff, more than a hundred feet in height, in the
vicinity of Herculaneum, J. Macklot erected (1809) what was probably
the first shot-tower this side of the Atlantic. The next year one
Austin built another tower at the same point. According to H. R.
Schoolcraft in his _View of the Lead Mines of Missouri_ (New York,
1819), pp. 138, 139, there were in 1817 three shot-towers near
Herculaneum, producing in the eighteen months ending June 1 of that
year, 668,350 pounds of shot. From the top of small wooden towers
erected on the edge of the bluff, the melted lead was poured through
holes in copper pans or sieves.--ED.

[67] For the location of the Platine (usually spelled Plattin), see
Maximilian's _Travels_, in our volume xxii, p. 212, note 123. Lead
mining has been carried on in this district, intermittently, since
1824.--ED.

[68] See Maximilian's _Travels_, in our volume xxii, p. 212, note
123.--ED.

[69] The following extract from the Journal of Charlevoix, one of the
earliest historians of the West, with reference to the Mines upon the
Merrimac, may prove not uninteresting. The work is a rare one.

"On the 17th (Oct., 1721), after sailing five leagues farther, I left,
on my right, the river Marameg, where they are at present employed in
searching for a silver mine. Perhaps your grace may not be displeased
if I inform you what success may be expected from this undertaking.
Here follows what I have been able to collect about this affair, from
a person who is well acquainted with it, and who has resided for
several years on the spot.

"In the year 1719, the Sieur de Lochon, being sent by the West India
Company, in quality of founder, and having dug in a place which had
been marked out to him, drew up a pretty large quantity of ore, a
pound whereof, which took up four days in smelting, produced, as they
say, two drachms of silver; but some have suspected him of putting in
this quantity himself. A few months afterward he returned thither,
and, without thinking any more of the silver, he extracted from two or
three thousand weight of ore fourteen pounds of very bad lead, which
stood him in fourteen hundred francs. Disgusted with a labour which
was so unprofitable, he returned to France.

"The company, persuaded of the truth of the indications which had been
given them, and that the incapacity of the founder had been the sole
cause of their bad success, sent, in his room, a Spaniard called
Antonio, who had been taken at the siege of Pensacola; had afterward
been a galley-slave, and boasted much of his having wrought in a mine
at Mexico. They gave him very considerable appointments, but he
succeeded no better than had done the Sieur de Lochon. He was not
discouraged himself, and others inclined to believe that he had failed
from his not being versed in the construction of furnaces. He gave
over the search after lead, and undertook to make silver; he dug down
to the rock, which was found to be eight or ten feet in thickness;
several pieces of it were blown up and put into a crucible, from
whence it was given out that he extracted three or four drachms of
silver; but many are still doubtful of the truth of this fact.

"About this time arrived a company of the King's miners, under the
direction of one _La Renaudiere_, who, resolving to begin with the
lead mines, was able to do nothing; because neither he himself nor any
of his company were in the least acquainted with the construction of
furnaces. Nothing can be more surprising than the facility with which
the company at that time exposed themselves to great expenses, and the
little precaution they took to be satisfied of the capacity of those
they employed. La Renaudiere and his miners not being able to procure
any lead, a private company undertook the mines of the Marameg, and
Sieur Renault, one of the directors, superintended them with care. In
the month of June last he found a bed of lead ore two feet in
thickness, running to a great length over a chain of mountains, where
he has now set his people to work. He flatters himself that there is
silver below the lead. Everybody is not of his opinion, but will
discover the truth."--FLAGG.

[70] Flagg's account agrees with a much longer treatment by Lewis C.
Beck, in his _Gazetteer of the States of Illinois and Missouri_
(Albany, 1823), with the exception that the latter says there were no
inscriptions to be found on the gravestones. Beck himself makes
extended quotations from the _Missouri Gazette_, November 6, 1818, and
subsequent numbers. Though no doubt exaggerated, these accounts were
probably based on facts, for a large number of prehistoric remains
have been found in St. Louis County and preserved in the Peabody
Museum at New Haven, Connecticut, and elsewhere.--ED.

[71] For an account of Jefferson Barracks, see Townsend's _Narrative_,
in our volume xxi, p. 122, note 2.--ED.

[72] For the history of Carondelet, see Maximilian's _Travels_, in our
volume xxii, p. 215, note 124.

For reference to Cahokia, see A. Michaux's _Travels_, in our volume
iii, p. 70, note 135.

On May 20, 1826, Congress made an appropriation of fifteen thousand
dollars to the secretary of war, for the purpose of purchasing the
site for the erection of an arsenal in the vicinity of St. Louis.
Lands now far within the southeastern limits of the city were
purchased, and the buildings erected which were used for arsenals
until January 16, 1871, when they were occupied as a depot for the
general mounted recruiting service.--ED.

[73] A name of Algonquin origin--_Missi_ signifying great, and _sepe_
a river.--FLAGG.

[74] Indian name for the "Falls of St. Anthony."--FLAGG.

[75] That the Mississippi, the Missouri, and, indeed, most of the
great rivers of the West, are annually enlarging, as progress is made
in clearing and cultivating the regions drained by them, scarcely
admits a doubt. Within the past thirty years, the width of the
Mississippi has sensibly increased; its overflows are more frequent,
while, by the diminution of obstructions, it would seem not to have
become proportionally shallow. In 1750, the French settlements began
upon the river above New-Orleans, and for twenty years the banks were
cultivated without a _levee_. Inundation was then a rare occurrence:
ever since, from year to year, the river has continued to rise, and
require higher and stronger embankments. A century hence, if this
phenomenon continues, what a magnificent spectacle will not this river
present! How terrific its freshets! The immense forest of timber which
lies concealed beneath its depths, as evinced by the great earthquakes
of 1811, demonstrates that, for centuries, the Mississippi has
occupied its present bed.--FLAGG.

[76] In 1764 Auguste Chouteau made tentative plans for the
fortification of St. Louis. In obedience to an order by Don Francisco
Cruzat, the lieutenant-governor, he made a survey in 1781 for the
purpose of perfecting these earlier plans. In the same year the
stockade was begun immediately south of the present site of the
courthouse. In 1797 the round stone tower which Flagg mentions was
constructed and preparations made for building four additional towers;
the latter were never completed. From 1804 to 1806 these
fortifications were used by the United States troops, and then
abandoned for military purposes. The commandant's house served as a
courthouse from 1806 to 1816; and the tower as a jail until 1819. For
a detailed description of the plans, see J. F. Scharf, _St. Louis City
and County_ (Philadelphia, 1883), p. 136 ff.--ED.

[77] For a brief sketch of William H. Ashley see Maximilian's
_Travels_, in our volume xxii, p. 250, note 198. He purchased (1826 or
1827) eight acres on the present site of Broadway, between Biddle and
Bates streets, St. Louis, where he built a handsome residence.

Bloody Island, now the Third Ward of East St. Louis, was formed about
1800 by the current cutting its way through the neck in a bend of the
river. For a long time it was not determined to what state it
belonged, and being considered neutral ground many duels were fought
there, notably those between Thomas H. Benton and Charles Lucas
(1817), United States District Attorney Thomas Rector and Joshua
Barton (1823), and Thomas Biddle and Spencer Pettis (1830). The name
was derived from these bloody associations.--ED.

[78] For a sketch of Charlevoix, see Nuttall's _Journal_, in our
volume xiii, p. 116, note 81.--ED.

[79] D'Ulloa, the first Spanish governor of Louisiana, sent a
detachment of soldiers to St. Louis in 1767. Later, these troops were
transferred to the south bank of the Missouri, a few miles above its
mouth, where "Old Fort St. Charles the Prince" was erected. General
Wilkinson built Fort Bellefontaine on this site in 1805. From 1809 to
1815 this was the headquarters of the military department of Louisiana
(including Forts Madison, Massac, Osage, and Vincennes). It was the
starting point of the Pike, Long, and Atkinson expeditions. On July
10, 1826, it was abandoned for Jefferson Barracks, but a small arsenal
of deposits was maintained here until 1834. The land was eventually
sold by the government (1836). See Walter B. Douglas's note in
Thwaites, _Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition_ (New
York, 1905), v, pp. 392, 393.--ED.

[80] North of Missouri River, twenty miles above its confluence with
the Mississippi, where the bluffs of the two streams unite, two
smooth, treeless, grass-covered mounds stand out from the main bluffs.
These mounds, a hundred and fifty feet in height, were called by the
early French "mamelles" from their fancied resemblance to the human
breast.--ED.

[81] Alton, twenty-five miles above St. Louis, is the principal city
of Madison County, Illinois. In 1807 the French erected here a small
trading post. Rufus Easton laid out the town (1818), and named it for
his son. The state penitentiary was first built at Alton (1827), but
the last prisoner was transferred (1860) to the new penitentiary at
Joliet, begun in 1857. Alton was the scene of the famous
anti-Abolitionist riot of November 7, 1837, when Elijah P. Lovejoy was
killed.--ED.

[82] Captain Benjamin Godfrey donated fifteen acres of land and
thirty-five thousand dollars for the erection of a female seminary at
Godfrey, Madison County, Illinois. The school was opened April 11,
1838, under the title of the Monticello Female Seminary, with Rev.
Theron Baldwin for its first principal.--ED.

[83] The plans mentioned here were probably being agitated when Flagg
visited Alton in 1836. The act incorporating the first railroad in
Illinois was approved January 17, 1835; it provided for the
construction of a road from Chicago to a point opposite Vincennes. By
the internal improvement act of February 27, 1837, a road was
authorized to be constructed from Alton to Terre Haute, by way of
Shelbyville, and another from Alton to Mount Carmel, by way of Salem,
Marion County; but the act was repealed before the roads were
completed. The Cumberland road was constructed only to Vandalia,
Fayette County, though the internal improvement act contemplated its
extension to St. Louis.--ED.

[84] The French village is no doubt Portage des Sioux. In 1799 Francis
Leseuer, a resident of St. Charles, visited the place, which was then
an Indian settlement. Pleased with the location he returned to St.
Charles, and secured a grant of the land from Don Carlos Dehault
Delassus, lieutenant-governor of Upper Louisiana, organized a colony
from among the French inhabitants of St. Charles and St. Louis, and
occupied the place the same autumn.--ED.

[85] Grafton, Jersey County, Illinois, was settled in 1832 by James
Mason, and named by him in honor of his native place. It was laid out
(1836) by Paris and Sarah Mason.--ED.

[86] The Illinois Indians (from "Illini," meaning "men") were of
Algonquian stock, and formerly occupied the state to which they gave
the name. They were loyal to the French during their early wars, later
aided the English, and were with great difficulty subdued by the
United States government. Separate tribes of the Illinois Indians were
the Cahokia, Kaskaskia, Michigami, Moingewena, Peoria, and Tamaroa.

On a high bluff just above Alton there was formerly to be seen a huge
painted image known among the Indians as the Piasa Bird. To the
natives it was an object of much veneration, and in time many
superstitions became connected therewith. First described in the
_Journal_ of Father Jacques Marquette (1673) its origin was long a
subject of speculation among early writers. Traces of this strange
painting could be seen until 1840 or 1845, when they were entirely
obliterated through quarrying. See P. A. Armstrong, _The Piasa or the
Devil among the Indians_ (Morris, Illinois, 1887).

The version of the tradition given by Flagg was probably from the pen
of John Russell, who in 1837 began editing at Grafton, Illinois, the
_Backwoodsman_, a local newspaper. Russell had in 1819 or 1820
published in the _Missourian_ an article entitled "Venomous Worm,"
which won for him considerable reputation. Russell admitted that the
version was largely imaginative; nevertheless it had a wide
circulation.--ED.

[87] For a sketch of Tonty, see Nuttall's _Journal_, in our volume
xiii, p. 117, note 85.--ED.

[88] Beardstone, Cass County, Illinois, was laid out by Thomas Beard
and Enoch Marsh (1827). During the Black Hawk War (1832), it was the
principal supply base for the Illinois volunteers.--ED.

[89] For an account of the Illinois Canal, see Flint's _Letters_, in
our volume ix, p. 186, note 93.--ED.

[90] By act of Congress approved May 6, 1812, three tracts of land,
not exceeding on the whole six million acres, were authorized to be
surveyed and used as a bounty for the soldiers engaged in the war
begun with Great Britain in that year. The tract surveyed in Illinois
Territory comprehended the land lying between the Mississippi and
Illinois rivers, extending seven miles north of Quincy, on the former
stream, and to the present village of De Pue, in southeastern Bureau
County, on the latter; it embraced the present counties of Calhoun,
Pike, Adams, Brown, Schuyler, Hancock, McDonough, Fulton, Peoria,
Stark, Knox, Warren, Henderson, and Mercer, and parts of Henry,
Bureau, Putnam, and Marshall.--ED.

[91] Cap au Gris was a point of land on the Mississippi, in Calhoun
County, Illinois, just above the mouth of the Illinois. J. M. Peck, in
his _Gazetteer of Illinois_ (1837), from which Flagg derives his
account of this place, says that a settlement had been formed there
about forty years earlier. The town of this name is now in Lincoln
County, Missouri. There is no foundation for the belief that La Salle
had erected a fort here.--ED.

[92] Montgomery, on the right bank of Illinois River, in Pike County,
was laid out by an Alton Company, for a new landing. Naples is a small
village in Scott County. Havana, founded in 1827, is the seat of
justice for Mason County. Pekin is in Tazewell County.--ED.

[93] Peoria, now the second largest city in Illinois, is situated a
hundred and sixty miles southwest of Chicago, on the west bank and
near the outlet of Lake Peoria, an expansion of the Illinois River.
Its site was visited in 1680 by La Salle. Early in the eighteenth
century a French settlement was made a mile and a half farther up, and
named Peoria for the local Indian tribe. French missionaries were in
this neighborhood as early as 1673-74. In 1788 or 1789 the first house
was built on the present site of Peoria and by the close of the
century the inhabitants of the old town, because of its more healthful
location, moved to the new village of Peoria, which at first was
called La Ville de Maillet, in honor of a French Canadian who
commanded a company of volunteers in the War of the Revolution. Later
the name was changed to its present form. At the opening of the War of
1812-15, the French inhabitants were charged with having aroused the
Indians against the Americans in Illinois. Governor Ninian Edwards
ordered Thomas E. Craig, captain of a company of Illinois militia, to
proceed up the Illinois River and build a fort at Peoria. Under the
pretense that his men had been fired upon by the inhabitants, when the
former were peaceably passing in their boats, Craig burned half the
town of Peoria in November, 1812, and transferred the majority of the
population to below Alton. In the following year, Fort Clark--named in
honor of General George Rogers Clark--was erected by General Benjamin
Howard on this site; but after the close of the war the fort was
burned by the Indians. After the affair of 1812, Peoria was not
occupied, save occasionally, until 1819, when it was rebuilt by the
Americans. The American Fur Company established a post there in 1824.
See C. Ballance, _History of Peoria_ (Peoria, 1870).--ED.

[94] Benjamin Howard (1760-1814) was elected to the state legislature
of Kentucky (1800), to Congress (1807-10); appointed governor of Upper
Louisiana Territory (1810), and in March, 1813, brigadier-general of
the United States army in command of the 8th military department. He
died at St. Louis, September, 1814.--ED.

[95] Kickapoo Creek rises in Peoria County, flows southeasterly and
enters Illinois River two miles below Peoria.--ED.

[96] Robert Walter Weir (1803-89), after studying and painting in New
York, Florence (1824-25), and Rome (1825-27), opened a studio in New
York, and became an associate and later academician of the National
Academy of Design. He was professor of drawing in the United States
Military Academy at West Point from 1832 to 1874. Weir is best known
for his historical paintings, prominent among which are "The Bourbons'
Last March," "Landing of Hendric Hudson," "Indian Captives," and
"Embarkation of the Pilgrims." He built and beautified the Church of
Holy Innocents at Highland Falls, West Point. His two sons, John
Ferguson and Julian Alden, became noted artists.--ED.

[97] By order of the war department (May 19, 1834), Lieutenant-Colonel
S. W. Kearny was sent with companies B, H, and I of the 1st United
States dragoons to establish a fort near the mouth of Des Moines
River. The present site of Montrose, Lee County, Iowa, at the head of
the lower rapids of the Mississippi, was chosen. The barracks being
completed by November, 1834, they were occupied until the spring of
1837, when the troops were transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

As early as 1721 a French fort (La Baye) had been erected at Green
Bay, on the left bank of Fox River, a half league from its mouth.
After suffering many vicissitudes during the Fox wars it was later
strengthened, and when occupied by English troops in 1761, was
re-named Fort Edward Augustus. After the close of the War of 1812-15,
the United States government determined to exercise a real authority
over the forts on the upper Great Lakes, where, in spite of the
provision of Jay's Treaty (1794), its power had been merely nominal.
In 1815 John Bowyer, the first United States Indian agent for the
Green Bay district, established a government trading post at Green
Bay, and made an ineffectual attempt to control the fur trade of the
region. The following year, Fort Howard, named in honor of General
Benjamin Howard, was built on the site of the old French fort. With
the exception of 1820-22, when the troops were transferred to Camp
Smith, on the east shore, Fort Howard was continuously occupied until
1841, when its garrison was ordered to Florida and Mexico. Later, from
1849 to 1851, it was occupied by Colonel Francis Lee and
Lieutenant-Colonel B. L. E. Bonneville, and then permanently abandoned
as a garrison, although a volunteer company was stationed there for a
short time during the War of Secession. Almost every trace of the old
fort has been obliterated. Consult _Wisconsin Historical Collections_,
xvi, xvii; also William L. Evans, "Military History of Green Bay," in
Wisconsin Historical Society _Proceedings_, 1899, pp. 128-146.--ED.

[98] Hennepin, on the east bank of the Illinois River, was laid out in
1831 and made the seat of justice for Putnam County.

Ottawa, the county seat of La Salle, was laid off by the canal
commissioners (1830) at the junction of the Fox and Illinois
rivers.--ED.

[99] Flagg's description of this noted bluff is accurate. After
careful investigations, Francis Parkman, the historian, was convinced
that _Le Rocher_ or Starved Rock is the site of Fort St. Louis,
erected by La Salle in December, 1682. On his departure in the autumn
of 1683, La Salle left the post in command of his lieutenant, Henri de
Tonty, who was soon succeeded by De Baugis. In 1690 Tonty and La
Forest were granted the proprietorship of the stronghold, but in 1702
it was abandoned by royal order. By 1718 it was again occupied by the
French, although when Father Charlevoix passed three years later, it
was once more deserted. The tradition which gave rise to the name
Starved Rock was well known; see _Tales of the Border_ (Philadelphia,
1834); Osman Eaton, _Starved Rock, a Historical Sketch_ (Ottawa,
Illinois, 1895); and Francis Parkman, _La Salle and the Discovery of
the Great West_ (Boston, 1869).

Pontiac was assassinated in 1769 instead of 1767. For accounts of the
Ottawa and Potawotami, see Croghan's _Journals_, in our volume i, p.
76, note 37, and p. 115, note 84, respectively.--ED.

[100] For a biographical sketch of Pierre and Auguste Chouteau, the
elders, see James's _Long's Expedition_, in our volume xvi, p. 275,
note 127.--ED.

[101] The imprint of a human foot is yet to be seen in the limestone
of the shore not far from the landing at St. Louis.

With reference to the _human footprints in the rock at St. Louis_, I
have given the local tradition. Schoolcraft's detailed description,
which I subjoin, varies from this somewhat. The print of a human foot
is said to have been discovered also in the limestone at Herculaneum.
Morse, in his _Universal Geography_, tells us of the tracks of an army
of men and horses on a certain mountain in the State of Tennessee,
fitly named the Enchanted Mountain.

"Before leaving Harmony, our attention was particularly directed to a
tabular mass of limestone, containing two apparent prints or
impressions of the naked human foot. This stone was carefully
preserved in an open area, upon the premises of Mr. Rappe, by whom it
had previously been conveyed from the banks of the Mississippi, at St.
Louis. The impressions are, to all appearance, those of a man standing
in an erect posture, with the left foot a little advanced and the
heels drawn in. The distance between the heels, by accurate
measurement, is six and a quarter inches, and between the extremities
of the toes thirteen and a half. But, by a close inspection, it will
be perceived that these are not the impressions of feet accustomed to
the European shoe; the toes being much spread, and the foot flattened
in the manner that is observed in persons unaccustomed to the close
shoe. The probability, therefore, of their having been imparted by
some individual of a race of men who were strangers to the art of
tanning skins, and at a period much anterior to that to which any
traditions of the present race of Indians reaches, derives additional
weight from this peculiar shape of the feet.

"In other respects, the impressions are strikingly natural, exhibiting
the muscular marks of the foot with great precision and faithfulness
to nature. This circumstance weakens very much the supposition that
they may, _possibly_, be specimens of antique sculpture, executed by
any former race of men inhabiting this continent. Neither history nor
tradition has preserved the slightest traces of such a people. For it
must be recollected that, as yet, we have no evidence that the people
who erected our stupendous Western tumuli possessed any knowledge of
masonry, far less of sculpture, or that they had even invented a
chisel, a knife, or an axe, other than those of porphyry, hornstone,
or obsidian.

"The average length of the human foot in the male subject may,
perhaps, be assumed at ten inches. The length of each foot, in our
subject, is ten and a quarter inches: the breadth, taken across the
toes, at right angles to the former line, four inches; but the
greatest spread of the toes is four and a half inches, which
diminishes to two and a half at the heel. Directly before the prints,
and approaching within a few inches of the left foot, is a
well-impressed and deep mark, having some resemblance to a scroll,
whose greatest length is two feet seven inches, and greatest breadth
twelve and a half inches.

"The rock containing these interesting impressions is a compact
limestone of a grayish-blue colour. It was originally quarried on the
left bank of the Mississippi at St. Louis, and is a part of the
extensive range of calcareous rocks upon which that town is built. It
contains very perfect remains of the encrinite, echinite, and some
other fossil species. The rock is firm and well consolidated, as much
so as any part of the stratum. A specimen of this rock, now before us,
has a decidedly sparry texture, and embraces a mass of black blende.
This rock is extensively used as a building material at St. Louis. On
parting with its carbonic acid and water, it becomes beautifully
white, yielding an excellent quick-lime. Foundations of private
dwellings at St. Louis, and the military works erected by the French
and Spaniards from this material sixty years ago, are still as solid
and unbroken as when first laid. We cite these facts as evincing the
compactness and durability of the stone--points which must essentially
affect any conclusions, to be drawn from the prints we have mentioned,
and upon which, therefore, we are solicitous to express our decided
opinion."--FLAGG.

[102] For the history of Fort Chartres, see A. Michaux's _Travels_, in
our volume iii, p. 71, note 136.

For a biographical sketch of St. Ange, see Croghan's _Journals_, in
our volume i, p. 138, note 109.--ED.

[103] At the close of 1767 Captain Francisco Rios arrived at St. Louis
in pursuance of an order of D'Ulloa, governor of Louisiana. The
following year he built Fort Prince Charles, and although at first
coldly received, won the respect of the inhabitants by his tact and
good judgment. After the expulsion of D'Ulloa in the revolution of
1768, Rios returned with his soldiers to New Orleans.--ED.

[104] Spain retroceded Louisiana to France by the treaty of San
Ildefonso (October 1, 1800). The latter transferred the territory to
the United States by the treaty signed at Paris, April 30, 1803.

The attack on St. Louis mentioned by Flagg, occurred May 26, 1780. The
expedition, composed of Chippewa, Winnebago, Sioux, and other Indian
tribes, with a Canadian contingent numbering about seven hundred and
fifty, started from Mackinac. See R. G. Thwaites, _France in America_
(New York and London, 1905), p. 290; and "Papers from Canadian
Archives," _Wisconsin Historical Collections_, xi, pp. 152-157.--ED.

[105] Dangerous passes on the Mississippi were rendered doubly
perilous to early navigators by the presence of bands of robbers. An
incident occurred early in 1787, which led to a virtual extermination
of these marauders. While ascending the river, Beausoliel, a wealthy
merchant of New Orleans, was attacked near Cotton Wood Creek by the
Culbert and Magilhay freebooters. After being captured, the merchants
made good their escape through the strategy of a negro, killed many of
their captors, and returned to New Orleans to report the state of
affairs. The following year (1788) the governor issued a proclamation
forbidding boats to proceed singly to St. Louis. Accordingly a fleet
of ten boats ascended and destroyed the lair at Cotton Wood Creek, the
remaining robbers having fled at their approach. This bloodless
victory marks the close of the freebooting period. The year was
afterwards known in local annals as _L'Annee des dix Bateaux_. See L.
U. Reaves, _Saint Louis_ (St. Louis, 1875), pp. 21, 22; and Scharf,
_St. Louis_, ii, p. 1092.--ED.

[106] In 1805.--FLAGG.

_Comment by Ed._ Every house save one was destroyed by fire on June
11, 1805. The memory of the disaster is preserved in the motto of the
present seal of the city: _Resurget Cineribus_ (she arises from the
ashes).

[107] Lieutenant-Colonel Francisco Cruzat, who succeeded (May, 1775)
Captain Don Pedro Piernas, the first lieutenant-governor of Upper
Louisiana, followed the liberal policy of his predecessor and was
highly esteemed by his people. He was followed in 1778 by Captain
Fernando de Leyba, who was sadly lacking in tact and political
ability; he was displaced for incompetency after the Indian attack of
May 26, 1780. Cruzat was reappointed in September and served until
November, 1787. One of the first acts of his second administration was
to direct Auguste Chouteau to make plans for the fortification of St.
Louis; see note 76, _ante_.--ED.

[108] One, which occurred during the summer of the present year, was
extensively felt. In the vicinity of this fortification, to the south,
was an extensive burial-ground; and many of its slumbering tenants, in
the grading of streets and excavating of cellars, have been thrown up
to the light after a century's sleep.--FLAGG.

[109] Colonel John O'Fallon (1791-1865), a nephew of George Rogers
Clark, born near Louisville, served his military apprenticeship under
General William Henry Harrison during the War of 1812-15. Resigning
his position in the army (1818), he removed to St. Louis where he
turned his attention to trade and accumulated a large fortune. He
endowed the O'Fallon Polytechnic Institution, which was later made the
scientific department of St. Louis University, contributed liberally
to Washington University, and built a dispensary and medical college.
It is estimated that he gave a million dollars for benevolent
purposes.--ED.

[110] This quotation is from the pen of an exceedingly accurate writer
upon the West, and a worthy man; so far its sentiment is deserving of
regard. I have canvassed the topic personally with this gentleman, and
upon other subjects have frequently availed myself of a superior
information, which more than twenty years of residence in the Far West
has enabled him to obtain. I refer to the Rev. J. M. Peck, author of
"Guide for Emigrants," &c.--FLAGG.

[111] For recent scientific conclusions respecting the mounds and
their builders, see citations in note 33, _ante_, p. 69.

Mount Joliet, on the west bank of the Des Plaines River, in the
southwestern portion of Cook County, Illinois; Mount St. Charles, in
Jo Daviess County, Illinois; Sinsinawa, in Grant County, Wisconsin,
and Blue Mounds, in Dane County, Wisconsin, are unquestionably of
natural formation. For descriptions of the artificial mounds of
Wisconsin, see I. A. Lapham, "Antiquities of Wisconsin," Smithsonian
Institution _Contributions_, volume vii; Alfred Brunson, "Antiquities
of Crawford County," and Stephen D. Peet, "Emblematic Mounds in
Wisconsin," in _Wisconsin Historical Collections_, iii and ix,
respectively.--ED.

[112] About 1817, when the first steamboat arrived at St. Louis a
sand-bar began forming at the lower end of the city; by 1837, this had
extended as far north as Market street, forming an island more than
two hundred acres in extent. Another sand-bar was formed at the upper
end of the city, west of Blood Island. In 1833 the city authorities
undertook the work of removal, and John Goodfellow was employed to
plow up the bars with ox teams, in order that high waters might carry
away the sand. After three thousand dollars had been expended without
avail, the board of aldermen petitioned Congress (1835) for relief.
Through the efforts of Congressman William H. Ashley, the federal
government appropriated (July 4, 1836) fifteen thousand dollars--later
(March 3, 1837) increased to fifty thousand dollars--for the purpose
of erecting a pier to deflect the current of the river. The work was
supervised by Lieutenant Robert E. Lee and his assistant, Henry
Kayser. Begun in 1837, it was continued for two years, the result
being that the current was turned back to the Missouri side and the
sand washed out; but dikes were necessary to preserve the work that
had been accomplished.--ED.

[113] The dry floating dock was patented by J. Thomas, of St. Louis,
March 26, 1834.--ED.

[114] Three miles from the Mississippi, near the end of Laclede
Avenue, St. Louis, is a powerful spring marking the source of Mill
Creek (French, _La Petite Rivière_). Joseph Miguel Taillon went to St.
Louis (1765), constructed a dam across this creek, and erected a mill
near the intersection of Ninth and Poplar streets. Pierre Laclede
Liguest bought the property in 1767, but at his death (1778), Auguste
Chouteau purchased it at public auction and retained the estate until
his own death in 1829. The latter built a large stone mill to take the
place of Taillon's wooden structure, and later replaced it by a still
larger stone mill. The mill to which Flagg probably refers was not
demolished until 1863. Chouteau enlarged the pond formed by Taillon's
dam and beautified it. This artificial lake, a half mile in length and
three hundred yards in width, was long known as Chouteau's Pond, and a
noted pleasure-resort. In 1853 it was sold to the Missouri Pacific
Railroad, drained, and made the site of the union railway station and
several manufacturing establishments.--ED.

[115] N. M. Ludlow, assisted by Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark and
Colonel Charles Keemle, in 1835 secured subscriptions to the amount of
thirty thousand dollars, later increased to sixty-five thousand, for
the purpose of erecting a theatre on the southeast corner of Third and
Olin streets. The first play was presented on July 3, 1837. Designed
by George I. Barnett, the building was of Ionic architecture
externally and internally Corinthian. It was used until July 10, 1851,
when it was closed, the property having been purchased by the federal
government as the site for a custom house; see Scharf, _St. Louis_, i,
p. 970.

The Planter's Hotel was probably the one Flagg referred to, instead of
the St. Louis House. It was located between Chestnut and Vine streets,
fronting Fourth street. The company was organized in 1836, the ground
broken for construction in March, 1837, and the hotel opened for
guests in 1841.

Joseph Rosati (1789-1843) went to St. Louis in 1817 and was appointed
bishop of the Roman Catholic diocese of St. Louis, created two years
earlier. Active in benevolent work, he founded two colleges for men
and three academies for young women, aided in establishing the order
of Ladies of the Sacred Heart, and was the chief promoter in the
organization of the Sisters' Hospital and the first orphan asylum. He
was called to Rome in 1840, and at the Feast of St. Andrew, 1841,
appointed Peter R. Kenrick as his coadjutor. Bishop Rosati died at
Rome, in 1843.--ED.

[116] John B. Sarpy and his two younger brothers, Gregoire B. and
Silvestre D. came to America from France about the middle of the
eighteenth century. After engaging in the mercantile business in New
Orleans, John B. went to St. Louis (1766) and was one of its earliest
merchants. After twenty years' residence there, he returned to New
Orleans. His nephew of the same name, at the age of nineteen (1817)
was a partner with Auguste Chouteau and was later a member of the firm
of P. Chouteau Jr. and Company, one of the largest fur companies then
in America.

Pierre Menard (1766-1844) was in Vincennes as early as 1788. He later
made his home at Kaskaskia, and held many positions of public trust in
Illinois Territory. He was made major of the first regiment of the
Randolph County militia (1795), was appointed judge of common pleas in
the same county (1801), and United States sub-agent of Indian affairs
(1813). He was also a member of several important commissions, notably
of that appointed to make treaties with the Indians of the Northwest.
His brothers, Hippolyte and Jean François, settled at Kaskaskia. The
former was his brother's partner; the latter a well-known navigator on
the Mississippi River. Michel Menard, nephew of Pierre, had much
influence among the Indians and was chosen chief of the Shawnee. He
founded the city of Galveston, Texas. Pierre Menard left ten children.

Henry Gustavus Soulard, the second son of Antoine Pierre Soulard, was
born in St. Louis (1801). Frederic Louis Billon, in his _Annals of St.
Louis_ (1889), mentions him as the last survivor of all those who were
born in St. Louis prior to the transfer of Louisiana to the United
States (1803).

For short sketches of the Chouteaus, see James's _Long's Expedition_,
in our volume xvi, p. 275, note 127, and Maximilian's _Travels_,
in our volume xxii, p. 235, note 168; for Pratte and Cabanné, see
our volume xxii, p. 282, note 239, and p. 271, note 226,
respectively.--ED.

[117] Within six years after the founding of St. Louis, the first
Catholic church was built. This log structure falling into ruins, was
replaced in 1818 by a brick building. The corner-stone of the St.
Louis cathedral (incorrectly written in Flagg as cathedral of St.
Luke) was laid August 1, 1831, and consecrated October 26, 1834.--ED.

[118] The painting of St. Louis was presented by Louis XVIII to Bishop
Louis Guillaume Valentin Du Bourg, while the latter was in Europe
(1815-17).--ED.

[119] For the early appreciation of fine arts in St. Louis, see the
chapter entitled "Art and Artists," written by H. H. Morgan and W. M.
Bryant in Scharf, _St. Louis_, ii, pp. 1617-1627. Scharf, in speaking
of the paintings in the St. Louis cathedral says, "of course the
paintings of the old masters are copies, not originals."--ED.

[120] In this outline of the Cathedral the author is indebted largely
to a minute description by the Rev. Mr. Lutz, the officiating priest,
published in the Missouri Gazetteer.--FLAGG.

[121] In 1823, at the solicitation of the federal government, a band
of Jesuit missionaries left Maryland and built a log school-house at
Florissant, Missouri (1824) for educating the Indians. See sketch of
Father de Smet in preface to this volume. The building was abandoned
in 1828 and the white students transferred to the Jesuit college
recently constructed at St. Louis. On December 28, 1832, the state
legislature passed "an act to incorporate the St. Louis University."
The faculty was organized on April 4, 1833.--ED.

[122] We are informed by Rev. J. C. Burke, S.J., librarian of the St.
Louis University, that the work referred to by Flagg is, _Atlas Major,
sive, Cosmographia Blaviana, qua Solum, Salum, Coelum accuratissime
describuntur_ (Amsterdami, Labore et Sumpibus Joannis Blaeu MDCLXXII),
in 11 folio volumes.

The _Acta Sanctorum_ (Lives of the Saints) were begun at the opening
of the seventeenth century by P. Heribert Rosweyde, professor in the
Jesuit college of Douai. The work was continued by P. Jean Bolland by
instruction from his order, and later by a Jesuit commission known as
Bollandists. Work was suspended at the time of the French invasion of
Holland (1796) but resumed in 1836 under the auspices of Leopold I of
Belgium. Volume lxvi was issued in 1902.--ED.

[123] For accounts of General Henry Atkinson and of Council Bluffs,
see Maximilian's _Travels_, in our volume xxii, p. 229, note 152, and
p. 275, note 231, respectively.--ED.

[124] The cave described here is Cliff or Indian Cave, more than two
miles below Jefferson Barracks on the Missouri side.--ED.

[125] River des Pères is a small stream rising in the central
portion of St. Louis County, flowing southeast, and entering the
Mississippi at the southern extremity of South St. Louis, formerly
Carondelet.--ED.

[126] This is an historical error. La Salle did not build a fort at
this place, nor did he here take possession of Louisiana.--ED.

[127] Pittsburg, laid out in 1836, is a hamlet in Cahokia Precinct,
St. Clair County. A railroad six miles in length was constructed
(1837) between Pittsburg and a point opposite St. Louis.--ED.

[128] This group of Indian mounds, probably the most remarkable in
America, is on the American Bottom, along the course of Canteen Creek,
which rises in the southern portion of Madison County, Illinois, flows
west, and enters Cahokia Creek. Monk, or Cahokia, Mound, about eight
miles from St. Louis, is the most important of the group. William
McAdams, who made a careful survey of this mound, wrote a good
description of it in his _Records of Ancient Races in the Mississippi
Valley_ (St. Louis, 1887); also E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis, "Ancient
Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, comprising the Result of
extensive original Surveys and Explorations," in Smithsonian
_Contributions_, i.--ED.

[129] The monastery of La Trappe was founded in 1122 (sometimes
incorrectly given as 1140). Originally affiliated with the order of
Fontrevault, it was made a branch of the Cistercian order (1148).
Contrary to Flagg's account, La Trappe did not have a separate
existence until the time of Rançe, who was made abbot in 1664. The
account of Rançe's conversion given here by Flagg, is recognized by
historians as merely popular tradition. See Gaillardin, _Les
Trappistes_ (Paris, 1844), and Pfaunenschmidt, _Geschichte der
Trappisten_ (Paderborn, 1873).--ED.

[130] The Trappists went to Gethsemane, Nelson County, Kentucky, in
1805. Three or four years later they moved to Missouri, but almost
immediately recrossed the Mississippi and built the temporary
monastery of Notre Dame de Bon Secours on Cahokia Mound, given to them
by Major Nicholas Jarrot. For a description of this establishment by
an eye witness, see H. M. Brackenridge, _Views of Louisiana_
(Pittsburg, 1814), appendix 5. New Melleray, a Trappist monastery
twelve miles southwest of Dubuque, Iowa, was commenced in 1849 and
completed in 1875. For its history, together with a short account of
the Trappists' activity, see William Rufus Perkins, _History of the
Trappist Abbey of New Melleray_ (Iowa City, 1892).--ED.

[131] Father Urbain Guillet is recorded as having officiated several
times in the Catholic church at St. Louis.--ED.

[132] Thomas Kirkpatrick, of South Carolina, made the first settlement
on the site of Edwardsville (1805). During the Indian troubles
preceding the War of 1812-15, he built a block-house, known as Thomas
Kirkpatrick's Fort. When Madison County was organized (1812),
Kirkpatrick's farm was chosen as its seat. He made the survey for the
town plat in 1816, and named the place in honor of Ninian Edwards. See
W. R. Brink and Company, _History of Madison County, Illinois_
(Edwardsville, 1882).--ED.

[133] In May, 1838, it was entirely consumed by fire.--FLAGG.

[134] John Adams later retired from business, and was elected sheriff
on the Whig ticket. Flagg's account seems to be considerably
overdrawn.--ED.

[135] Collinsville was platted May 12, 1837. Augustus, Anson, and
Michael Collins, three brothers from Litchfield, Connecticut, had
settled here a few years earlier and built an ox-mill for grinding and
sawing, a distillery, tanning yards, and cooper and blacksmith shops.
The town was first named Unionville, and John A. Cook made the first
settlement about 1816.--ED.

[136] Upper Alton, two and a half miles from Alton, was laid out in
1817 by Joseph Meacham, of Vermont, who came to Illinois in 1811; see
_History of Madison County_, p. 396.

The origin of Shurtleff College was the "Theological and High School"
commonly known as the Rock Spring Seminary, established (1827) by John
M. Peck, D. D. The latter was closed in 1831, and opened again the
following year at Alton, under the name of Alton Seminary. In March,
1832, the state legislature incorporated the institution as "Alton
College of Illinois." For religious reasons the charter was not
accepted until 1835, when the terms of incorporation had been made
more favorable. In January, 1836, the charter was amended, changing
its title to Shurtleff College, in honor of Benjamin Shurtleff, M. D.,
who had donated ten thousand dollars to the institution. Although from
the first emphasizing religious instruction, a theological department
was not organized until 1863. The school is still under Baptist
influence.--ED.

[137] Hillsboro, the seat of Montgomery County, twenty-eight miles
from Vandalia, was platted in 1823.--ED.

[138] In his description of the barrens, Flagg follows quite closely
J. M. Peck, _Gazetteer of Illinois_ (Jacksonville, 1837), pp. 11, 12.
The term barrens, according to the _Century Dictionary_, is "a tract
or region of more or less unproductive land partly or entirely
treeless. The term is best known in the United States as the name of a
district in Kentucky, 'The Barrens,' underlaid by the subcarboniferous
limestone, but possessing a fertile soil, which was nearly or quite
treeless when that state began to be settled by the whites, but which
at present where not cultivated, is partly covered with trees." See a
good description in our volume iii, pp. 217-224.--ED.

[139] According to the War Department's _List of Military Forts, etc.,
established in the United States from its Earliest settlement to the
present time_ (Washington, 1902), a Fort Gaines was at one time
located at Gainesville, Alachua County, Florida. The town is now the
seat of East Florida Seminary, a military school. Among the numerous
lakes in the vicinity, Alachua, the largest, occupies what was
formerly Payne's Prairie. Through this prairie a stream issuing from
Newman's Lake flowed to a point near the middle of the district, where
it suddenly fell into an unfathomed abyss named by the Indians Alachua
(the bottomless pit). The whites gave this name to the county, and
called the abyss "Big Sink." This place became a favorite pleasure
resort until 1875, when the sink refused longer to receive the water,
and Payne's Prairie, formerly a rich grazing land, was turned into a
lake. Numerous tales connected with Big Sink were circulated, and it
seems probable that Flagg is referring to this locality.--ED.

[140] For a sketch of Daniel Boone, see Bradbury's _Travels_, in our
volume v, p. 43, note 16; and for a more complete account consult
Thwaites, _Daniel Boone_ (New York, 1902).

Simon Kenton (1755-1836) having, as he supposed, killed a neighbor in
a fight, fled from his home in Virginia to the headwaters of the Ohio
River. He served as a scout in Dunmore's War (1774) and in 1775 with
Boone, explored the interior of Kentucky. Captured by the Indians
(1778), he was condemned to death and taken to the native village at
Lower Sandusky, whence he made his escape. Later he served with
distinction in campaigns under George Rogers Clark, and was second
only to Daniel Boone as a frontier hero. In 1784, Kenton founded a
settlement near Limestone (Maysville), Kentucky. He took part in
Wayne's Campaign (1793-94), and was present at the Battle of the
Thames (1813). In 1820 he moved to Logan County, Ohio, and sixteen
years later died there in poverty, although before going to Ohio in
1802 he was reputed as one of the wealthiest men in Kentucky. See R.
W. McFarland, "Simon Kenton," in Ohio State Archæological and
Historical Society _Publications_ (1904), xiii, pp. 1-39; also Edward
S. Ellis, _Life and Times of Col. Daniel Boone ... with sketches of
Simon Kenton, Lewis Wetzel, and other Leaders in the Settlement of the
West_ (Philadelphia, 1884).

Colonel William Whitley (1749-1813), born in Virginia, set out for
Kentucky about 1775, and built in 1786 or 1787 one of the first brick
houses in the state, near Crab Orchard, in Lincoln County. A noted
Indian fighter, he participated in the siege of Logan's fort (1777),
and Clark's campaigns of 1782, and 1786. He also led several parties
to recover white captives--his best known feat of this character being
the rescue of Mrs. Samuel McClure (1784). In 1794 he was the active
leader of the successful Nickajack expedition, directed against the
Indians south of Tennessee River. He fell at the Battle of the Thames
(1813), whereat it was maintained by some of his admirers, he killed
the Indian chief Tecumseh. See Collins, _Kentucky_, ii, pp. 403-410;
but this doubtful honor was also claimed by others.--ED.

[141] Alexander Spotswood (1676-1740) was appointed governor of
Virginia (1710). Taking a lively interest in the welfare of the
colonists, he attained among them high popularity. Quite early, he
conceived the idea of extending the Virginia settlement beyond the
mountains, to intercept the French communications between Canada and
the Gulf of Mexico; but he failed to secure the aid either of his
province or of the mother country. In the summer of 1716 he organized
and led an expedition for exploring the Appalachian Mountains, named
two peaks George and Spotswood, and took possession of the Valley of
Virginia in the name of George I. On his return, he established the
order of "Tramontane," for carrying on further explorations, whose
members were called "Knights of the Golden Horseshoe," for the reason
which Flagg gives. For a contemporary account of this expedition, see
"Journal of John Fontaine" in Anna Maury, _Memoirs of a Huguenot
Family_ (New York, 1853). Spotswood was displaced as governor in 1722,
but was later (1730) appointed deputy postmaster of the colonies.--ED.

[142] Macoupin Creek flows southwesterly through the county of the
same name, westerly through Greene County, and empties into Illinois
River at the southwestern extremity of the latter county. It is now
believed that Macoupin is derived from the Indian word for white
potatoes, which were said to have been found growing in abundance
along the course of this stream.

Carlinville, named for Thomas Carlin, governor of the state in
1834-42, was settled about 1833.

Gideon Blackburn, a Presbyterian minister, laid a plan in 1835 for
founding a college to educate young men for the ministry. He entered
land from the government at the price of one dollar and twenty-five
cents an acre, and disposed of it to the friends of his cause at two
dollars, reserving twenty-five cents for his expenses and turning over
the remaining fifty cents to the proposed college. By May, 1837, he
had entered over 16,656 acres. The people of Carlinville purchased
eighty acres from him for the site of the school. The enterprise lay
dormant until 1857, when the state chartered the school under the
title of Blackburn University, which was opened in 1859.--ED.

[143] Others say the peninsula was discovered on Easter-day; _Pasqua
florida_, feast of flowers; whence the name.--FLAGG.

[144] "In the year 1538, _Ferdinand de Soto_, with a commission from
the Emperor _Charles V._, sailed with a considerable fleet for
America. He was a Portuguese gentleman, and had been with _Pizarro_ in
the conquest (as it is called) of Peru. His commission constituted him
governor of Cuba and general of Florida. Although he sailed from St.
Lucar in 1538, he did not land in Florida[A] until May 1539. With
about 1000 men, 213 of whom were provided with horses, he undertook
the conquest of Florida and countries adjacent. After cutting their
way in various directions through numerous tribes of Indians,
traversing nearly 1000 miles of country, losing a great part of their
army, their general died upon the banks of the Mississippi, and the
survivors were obliged to build vessels in which to descend the river;
which, when they had done, they sailed for Mexico. This expedition was
five years in coming to nothing, and bringing ruin upon its
performers. A populous Indian town at this time stood at or near the
mouth of the Mobile, of which _Soto's_ army had possessed themselves.
Their intercourse with the Indians was at first friendly, but at
length a chief was insulted, which brought on hostilities. A battle
was fought, in which, it is said, 2000 Indians were killed and 83
Spaniards."--_Drake's Book of the Indians_, b. iv., c. 3.--FLAGG.

_Comment by Ed._ Consult Edward G. Bourne (Ed.), _Career of Hernando
de Soto_ (New York, 1904).

  [A] "So called because it was first discovered by the Spaniards on
      Palm Sunday, or, as the most interpret, Easter-day, which they
      called _Pasqua-Florida_, and not, as Thenet writeth, for the
      flourishing verdure thereof."--_Purchas_, p. 769.

[145] "After a long and fatiguing journey through a mountainous
wilderness, in a westward direction, I at last, from the top of an
eminence, saw with pleasure the beautiful land of Kentucky. * * * It
was in June; and at the close of day the gentle gales retired, and
left the place to the disposal of a profound calm. Not a breeze shook
the most tremulous leaf. I had gained the summit of a commanding
ridge, and, looking round with astonishing delight, beheld the ample
plains, the beauteous tracts below. * * * Nature was here a series of
wonders and a fund of delight. Here she displayed her ingenuity and
industry in a variety of flowers and fruits, beautifully coloured,
elegantly shaped, and charmingly flavoured; and I was diverted with
innumerable animals presenting themselves continually before my view.
* * * The buffaloes were more frequent than I have seen cattle in the
settlements, browsing on the leaves of the cane, or cropping the
herbage on these extensive plains, fearless because ignorant of
man."--[Narrative of Colonel Daniel Boone, from his first arrival in
Kentucky in 1769, to the year 1782.]--FLAGG.

_Comment by Ed._ Boone's Narrative was actually written by John
Filson, from interviews with the pioneer. The stilted style is of
course far from being Boone's product.

[146] George Herbert.--FLAGG.

[147] Mungo Park, born in Scotland (1771), was engaged by the African
Society (1795) to explore the course of the Niger, which he reached
July 20, the following year. While on a subsequent tour he was drowned
in that river (1805). See his _Travels in the interior district of
Africa_ (London, 1816).--ED.

[148] July 4.--FLAGG.

[149] The Prairie.--FLAGG.

[150] For an account of Vandalia, see Woods's _English Prairie_, in
our volume x, p. 326, note 75.--ED.

[151] The first number of the _Illinois Monthly Magazine_ was issued
in October, 1830. Late in 1832 Hall removed to Cincinnati, when he
soon began issuing the _Western Monthly Magazine_, or continuation of
the former publication, whose subject matter was largely historical,
dealing with the early settlement of the West. For an account of Judge
James Hall see _ante_, p. 31, note 2.--ED.

[152] Hall.--FLAGG.

[153] Hurricane Creek rises near the line of Montgomery and Shelby
counties, flows southerly through the western portion of Fayette
County, and enters Kaskaskia River twelve miles below Vandalia. The
banks of this creek were formerly heavily timbered, and the low
bottoms were occasionally inundated. Flagg considerably exaggerated
the actual condition of this region.--ED.

[154] Carlyle, the seat of Clinton County, forty-eight miles east of
St. Louis, was laid out in 1818.

The Vincennes and St. Louis stage route passed through Lebanon,
Carlyle, and Salem. At the last place, the road divided, one branch
running south to Fairfield, the other passing through Maysville and
both again uniting at Lawrenceville. Augustus Mitchell, in his
_Illinois in 1837_ (Philadelphia, 1837), p. 66, says: "From
Louisville, by the way of Vincennes to St. Louis, by stage, every
alternate day, 273 miles through in three days and a half. Fare,
seventeen dollars."--ED.

[155] Lebanon was laid out by Governor William Kinney and Thomas Ray
in July, 1825.

Little Silver Creek rises in the northeastern portion of St. Clair
County and flowing southwesterly joins Silver Creek two miles below
Lebanon. The latter stream is about fifty miles in length, rises in
the northern part of Madison County, runs south into St. Clair County,
and enters Kaskaskia River.--ED.

[156] _Tradition_ telleth of vast treasures here exhumed; and, on
strength of this, ten years ago a company of fortune-seekers dug away
for several months with an enthusiasm worthy of better success than
awaited them.--FLAGG.

_Comment by Ed._ Rock Spring was a mere settlement in St. Clair
County, eighteen miles from St. Louis, on the Vincennes stage road,
and about three miles southwest of Lebanon. Its name was derived from
a series of springs issuing from a rocky ledge in the vicinity. John
M. Peck selected this site (1820) for his permanent residence, and
established the Rock Spring Theological Seminary and High School
(1827), which four years later was transferred to Alton and made the
foundation of Shurtleff College. In 1834 Rock Spring consisted of
fourteen families.

[157] Peter Cartwright is said to have suggested the idea of founding
a Methodist college at Lebanon. After the citizens of the town had
contributed $1,385, buildings were erected and instruction commenced
in 1828. The college was named in honor of Bishop William McKendree,
who made a liberal donation to the school (1830).--ED.

[158] In March, 1814, a commission appointed by the state legislature
the preceding year, selected the site of Belleville for the seat of
St. Clair County. George Blair, whose farm was chosen as the site,
platted and named the county seat. The town was incorporated in 1819.
See _History of St. Clair County, Illinois_ (1881), pp. 183, 185.--ED.

[159] For a brief history of the inception of St. Louis University,
see _ante_, p. 169, note 121. At a meeting of the trustees on May 3,
1836, a commission was appointed to select a new site for the
university. A farm of three hundred acres recently purchased, on the
Bellefontaine road, three and a half miles from St. Louis, was chosen;
plans were formulated, contracts made, and the foundations dug. On the
death of the contractors, the enterprise was abandoned; but the land,
sold a few years later, proved a valuable investment. See Scharf, _St.
Louis_, i, pp. 860, 861.--ED.

[160] For a note on Florissant, see Townsend's _Narrative_, in our
volume xxi, p. 125, note 4.--ED.

[161] This valley appears to have been the bed of an ancient
lake.--FLAGG.

[162] Bridgeton, still a village, about fifteen miles northwest of the
St. Louis courthouse, was incorporated February 27, 1843. It was
settled by French and Spanish families, about the time that St. Louis
was established. A fort was built as a protection against the Indians,
and William Owens was placed in command. In consequence the place was
until the time of its incorporation generally known to the Americans
as Owen's Station.--ED.

[163] Until after the middle of the nineteenth century, St. Louis
County ranked among the coal-producing districts of Missouri. Today no
coal is mined there save for the fire-clay industry or other immediate
local use. Dr. B. F. Shumard in his "Description of a Geological
Section on the Mississippi River from St. Louis to Commerce," in
Geological Survey of Missouri, _First and Second Annual Reports_
(Jefferson City, 1855), p. 176, describes _La Charbonnière_ mine;
which appears to have been operated at that time. He reports the coal
vein as being only about eighteen inches in thickness. On page 184 of
the above report, an interesting map is given, showing the location of
coal mines in St. Louis County.--ED.

[164] For an account of St. Charles, see Bradbury's _Travels_, in our
volume v, p. 39, note 9.

For the Mandan villages, see Maximilian's _Travels_, in our volume
xxii, p. 344, and note 316, and volume xxiii, p. 234, note 192.--ED.

[165] The following extract from a letter dated September, 1819,
addressed by Mr. Austin to Mr. Schoolcraft, respecting the navigation
of the Missouri, well portrays the impetuous character of that river.
It shows, too, the great improvements in the steam-engine during the
past twenty years.

"I regret to state that the expedition up the Missouri to the Yellow
Stone has in part failed. The steamboats destined for the Upper
Missouri, after labouring against the current for a number of weeks,
were obliged to give up the enterprise. Every exertion has been made
to overcome the difficulty of navigating the Missouri with the power
of steam; but all will not do. The current of that river, from the
immense quantity of sand moving down with the water, is too powerful
for any boat yet constructed. The loss either to the government or to
the contractor will be very great. Small steamboats of fifty tons
burden, with proper engines, would, I think, have done much better.
Boats like those employed, of twenty to thirty feet beam, and six to
eight feet draught of water, must have _uncommon_ power to be
propelled up a river, every pint of whose water is equal in weight to
a quart of Ohio water, and moves with a velocity hardly credible. The
barges fixed to move with wheels, worked by men, have answered every
expectation; but they will only do when troops are on board, and the
men can be changed every hour."--FLAGG.

[166] For a sketch of Franklin, Missouri, see Gregg's _Commerce of the
Prairies_ in our volume xix, p. 188, note 33.--ED.

[167] The first settlement was made at St. Charles in 1769. La
Chasseur Blanchette located the site, and established here a military
post. The first mill in St. Charles County is said to have been built
by Jonathan Bryan on a small branch emptying into Femme Osage Creek
(1801). Francis Duquette (1774-1816), a French Canadian who came to
St. Charles just before the close of the century, erected a mill on
the site of the old round fort.--ED.

[168] One year after the above was written, the author, on a visit to
St. Charles, walked out to this spot. The willow was blasted; the
relics of the paling were gone; the grave was levelled with the soil,
but the old ruin was there still.--FLAGG.

[169] For a description of Bloody Island, see _ante_, p. 115, note 77.

The duel mentioned by Flagg is probably the one that occurred between
Joshua Barton, United States district attorney, and Thomas Rector, on
June 30, 1823. Barton had published in the _Missouri Republican_ a
letter charging William Rector, surveyor general of Missouri,
Illinois, and Arkansas, with corruption in office. The latter being
absent, his brother Thomas issued the challenge. Barton's body was
buried at St. Charles near the old round tower ruins.

In the summer of 1817, Charles Lucas challenged Thomas H. Benton's
vote at the polls. On the latter calling him an insolent puppy, Lucas
challenged him to a duel. The affair took place August 12, 1817, and
both parties were wounded. On September 27 of the same year, a second
duel was fought, in which Lucas was mortally wounded. Joshua Barton
was the latter's second. In the _Missouri Republican_ (St. Louis,
March 15, 1882) there was printed an address by Thomas T. Gantt,
delivered in Memorial Hall at St. Louis, on the celebration of the
centennial birthday of Thomas H. Benton, in which the details of this
deed were carefully reviewed.

During the political canvass of 1830, a heated discussion was carried
on in the newspaper press between Thomas Biddle and Spencer Pettis.
Pettis challenged Biddle to a duel. Both fell mortally wounded, August
29, 1830.--ED.

[170] Marais Croche (Crooked swamp) is located a few miles northeast
of St. Charles, and Marais Temps-Clair (Clear-weather swamp), just
southwest of Portage des Sioux. The former is often mentioned for its
beauty.--ED.

[171] "I cultivated a small farm on that beautiful prairie below St.
Charles called 'The Mamelle,' or 'Point prairie.' In my enclosure, and
directly back of my house, were two conical mounds of considerable
elevation. A hundred paces in front of them was a high bench, making
the shore of the 'Marais Croche,' an extensive marsh, and evidently
the former bed of the Missouri. In digging a ditch on the margin of
this bench, at the depth of four feet, we discovered great quantities
of broken pottery, belonging to vessels of all sizes and characters.
Some must have been of a size to contain four gallons. This must have
been a very populous place. The soil is admirable, the prospect
boundless; but, from the scanty number of inhabitants in view,
rather lonely. It will one day contain an immense population
again."--_Flint's Recollections_, p. 166.--FLAGG.

[172] At the time Flagg wrote, St. Charles, like many other Western
towns, entertained the hope that the Cumberland Road would eventually
be extended thereto, thus placing them upon the great artery of
Western travel. See Woods's _English Prairie_, in our volume x, p.
327, note 76. Also consult T. B. Searight, _The Old Pike_ (Uniontown,
1894), and A. B. Hulbert "Cumberland Road," in _Historic Highways of
America_ (Cleveland, 1904).

Boone's Lick Road, commencing at St. Charles, runs westward across
Dardenne Creek to Cottleville, thence to Dalhoff post-office and
Pauldingville, on the western boundary of the county. Its total length
is twenty-six miles.--ED.

[173] St. Charles College, founded by Mrs. Catherine Collier and her
son George, was opened in 1836 under the presidency of Reverend John
H. Fielding. The Methodist Episcopal church has directed the
institution.

Madame Duchesne, a companion of Mother Madeline Barral, founder of the
Society of the Sacred Heart, started a mission at St. Charles in 1819;
but the colony was soon removed to St. Louis. In 1828, however, she
succeeded in establishing permanently at St. Charles the Academy of
the Sacred Heart, with Madame Lucile as superior.--ED.

[174] For sketches of the Potawotami, Miami, and Kickapoo, see
Croghan's _Journals_, in our volume i, pp. 115, 122, 139, notes 84,
87, 111; for the Sauk and Fox, see J. Long's _Voyages_, in our volume
ii, p. 185, note 85; for the Iowa, Brackenridge's _Journal_, in our
volume vi, p. 51, note 13.--ED.

[175] Flagg makes an error in speaking of Boone's Lick County, since
there was none known by that name. He evidently had in mind Warren
County, organized in 1833 from the western part of St. Charles County.
Boone County created in November, 1820, with its present limits, named
in honor of Daniel Boone, is in the fifth tier of counties west from
Missouri River.--ED.

[176] For an account of Daniel Boone and Boone's Lick, see Bradbury's
_Travels_, in our volume v, pp. 43, 52, notes 16, 24, respectively.
Daniel Boone arrived at the Femme Osage district in western St.
Charles County, in 1798. He died September 26, 1820 (not 1818).--ED.

[177] There seems to be little or no foundation for this statement.
Consult J. B. Patterson, _Life of Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak or Black
Hawk_ (Boston, 1834), and R. G. Thwaites, "The Story of the Black Hawk
War," in _Wisconsin Historical Collections_, xii, pp. 217-265.--ED.

[178] For biographical sketch of General William Clark, see Bradbury's
_Travels_, in our volume v, p. 254, note 143.--ED.

[179] Obed Battius, M.D., is a character in James Fenimore Cooper's
novel, _The Prairie_ (1826).--ED.

[180] An Illinois legislative act approved January 16, 1836, granted
to Paris Mason, Alfred Caverly, John Wyatt, and William Craig a
charter to construct a railroad from Grafton, in Greene County, to
Springfield, by way of Carrollton, Point Pleasant, and Millville,
under the title of Mississippi and Springfield Railroad Company. The
road was, however, not built.--ED.

[181] For a description of Macoupin Creek, see _ante_, p. 226, note
142. Flagg draws his information concerning Macoupin Settlement from
Peck, _Gazetteer of Illinois_. According to the latter the settlement
was started by Daniel Allen, and John and Paul Harriford, in December,
1816. As regards Peck's statement that Macoupin Settlement was at the
time of its inception the most northern white community in the
Territory of Illinois, there is much doubt. Fort Dearborn (Chicago),
built in 1804, and evacuated on August 15,1812, was rebuilt by Captain
Hezekiah Bradley, who arrived with two companies on July 4, 1816, and
a settlement sprang up here at once.--ED.

[182] The first settler in Carrollton was Thomas Carlin, who arrived
in the spring of 1819. In 1821 the place was chosen as the seat of
Greene County, and surveyed the same year, although the records were
not filed until July 30, 1825. See _History of Greene and Jersey
Counties, Illinois_ (Springfield, 1885).--ED.

[183] Apple Creek, a tributary of Illinois River, flows in a western
trend through Greene County.--ED.

[184] Whitehall, in Greene County, forty-five miles north of Alton,
was laid out by David Barrow in 1832. Pottery was first made there in
1835, and has since become an important industry, contributing largely
to the rapid progress of which Flagg speaks.--ED.

[185] Manchester is in Scott County, midway between Carrollton and
Jacksonville, being about fifteen miles from each. It was settled as
early as 1828.--ED.

[186] Diamond Grove Prairie, five miles in extent, is a fertile
district in Morgan County, just south of Jacksonville. Diamond Grove
was formerly a beautifully timbered tract situated in the middle of
this prairie, two miles south of Jacksonville. It was some 700 or 800
acres in extent.--ED.

[187] Illinois College was founded in 1829 through the effort of a
group of Jacksonville citizens directed by the Reverend John M. Ellis
and the Yale Band--the latter composed of seven men from that college
who had pledged themselves to the cause of Christian education in the
home missions of the West. The latter secured from the friends of the
enterprise in the East a fund of $10,000. Late in 1829 the
organization was completed and in December, 1830, Reverend Edward
Beecher, elder brother of Henry Ward Beecher, was persuaded to leave
his large church in Boston and accept the presidency of this
institution. In 1903 the Jacksonville Female Academy, started in 1830,
was merged with the Illinois College, which had from the first been
dominated by the Presbyterian Church.--ED.

[188] Jacksonville, the seat of Morgan County, was laid out in 1825 on
land given to the county for that purpose by Thomas Armitt and James
Dial. The town was largely settled by people from New England, who
gave a characteristic tone to its society. Jacksonville is today the
seat of several important state institutions.--ED.

[189] In June, 1835, Ithamar Pillsbury, with two associates, sent out
under the auspices of the New York Association, entered a large tract
of land and selected a site for a town to be styled Andover, which was
eventually platted in 1841, in the western portion of Henry County,
fifty miles north and northwest of Peoria. The first settlers were
principally from Connecticut, but soon several Swedish families
migrated thither, and in time the settlement was composed primarily of
that nationality. On returning East in the autumn of 1835, after
planting the Andover colony, Pillsbury had an interview with Dr. Caleb
J. Tenny, of Wethersfield, Connecticut. At the latter's instigation a
meeting of Congregationalists was held, and a group of influential New
Englanders organized themselves into the Connecticut Association.
Shares were sold at $250 each, which entitled the holder to one
hundred and sixty acres of prairie land, twenty acres of timber land,
and a town lot in a proposed colony to be founded in Illinois. On May
7, 1836, the first entry was made by the committee of purchase. After
the latter's return a new committee was sent out and the town of
Wethersfield, in the southeastern corner of Henry County, was laid out
in the spring of 1837. For an account of the founding of Andover and
Wethersfield, and the names of persons serving on the various
prospecting committees, see _History of Henry County, Illinois_
(Chicago, 1877), pp. 137-141, 524-526.--ED.

[190] Since the above was written, the emigrants have removed.--FLAGG.

[191] Joseph Duncan, born in Kentucky, was presented with a sword by
Congress for his gallant defense of Fort Stephenson in the War of
1812-15. In 1818 he moved to Kaskaskia, was appointed major-general of
the Illinois militia (1823), and elected state senator (1824). In 1827
he was sent to Congress by the Jacksonian Democrats. He resigned in
1834 to accept the governorship of Illinois, which he occupied until
1838. He is said to have erected the first frame building in
Jacksonville. He moved to this place in 1829, dying there January 15,
1844.--ED.

[192] Porter Clay (1779-1850), a brother of Henry Clay, was for many
years a Baptist minister at Jacksonville.--ED.

[193] Flagg is probably referring to William Weatherford, who served
in the state senate (1834-38) from Morgan County.--ED.

[194] The first settlement on the present site of Springfield was made
by John Kelly (1819). In 1822 the lots were laid off, but not recorded
until the following year, when the town was named. Soon after its
incorporation in 1832, Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas, and Edward
Baker began agitating the question of moving the state capital to
Springfield from Vandalia. After a severe struggle, complicated with
the internal improvement policy, their efforts succeeded in 1837. The
legislative act of that year went into effect July 4, 1839, and the
general assembly commenced its first session at Springfield in the
following December.--ED.

[195] Sangamon River is formed by the union, six miles east of
Springfield, of its north and south forks. The former, rising in
Champaign County, flows through Macon and a part of Sangamon counties;
the latter intersects Christian County. The main stream runs in an
easterly direction, forms the boundary of Cass County, and joins the
Illinois River nine miles above Beardstown. The river is nearly two
hundred and forty miles in length, including the north fork, and was
named in honor of a local Indian chief.--ED.

[196] Mechanicsburg, fifteen miles east of Springfield, was laid out
and platted in November, 1832, by William S. Pickrell.--ED.

[197] "I will never, if possible, pass a night in any place where the
graveyard is neglected." Franklin has no monument!--FLAGG.

[198] Turgot.--FLAGG.

[199] Decatur, surveyed in 1829, is the seat of Macon County,
thirty-nine miles from Springfield. It was named for Commodore Stephen
Decatur.--ED.

[200] For a later description of the Mormon settlement in Missouri,
and an account of their stay at Nauvoo, Illinois, see Gregg's
_Commerce of the Prairies_, in our volume xx, pp. 94-99 and
accompanying notes. For a psychological treatment of Joseph Smith and
bibliography of Mormonism, see Isaac W. Riley, _Founder of Mormonism_
(New York, 1902).--ED.

[201] Missourians.--FLAGG.

[202] For a year after the above was written, the cause of Mormonism
seemed to have received a salutary check. It has since revived, and
thousands during the past summer have been flocking to their Mount
Zion on the outskirts of Missouri. The late Mormon difficulties in
Missouri have been made too notorious by the public prints of the day
to require notice.--FLAGG.

[203] Grand Prairie, as described by Peck in his _Gazetteer of
Illinois_, was a general term applied to the prairie country between
the rivers which flow into the Mississippi and those which empty into
the Wabash. "It is made up of continuous tracts, with long arms of
prairie extending between the creeks and smaller streams. The southern
points of the Grand prairie are formed in the northeastern parts of
Jackson county and extend in a northeastern course between the streams
of various widths, from one to ten or twelve miles, through Perry,
Washington, Jefferson, Marion, the eastern part of Fayette, Effingham,
through the western portion of Coles, into Champaign and Iroquois
counties, where it becomes connected with the prairies that project
eastward from the Illinois River and its tributaries. Much of the
longest part of the Grand prairie is gently undulatory, but of the
southern portion considerable tracts are flat and of rather inferior
soil."--ED.

[204] Illinoisians.--FLAGG.

[205] Shelbyville, selected as the seat of Shelby County (1827), was
named in honor of Isaac Shelby, early governor of Kentucky. It is
located about thirty-two miles southeast of Decatur, and was
incorporated in May, 1839.--ED.

[206] 1835.--FLAGG.

[207] Eight families from St. Clair County settled (1818) in the
vicinity of certain noted perennial springs in the southwestern corner
of what was later organized into Shelby County. For some time the
colony was known as Wakefield's Settlement, for Charles Wakefield, who
had made the first land entry in the county in 1821. John O. Prentis
erected the first store there in 1828, and shortly afterwards secured
a post-office under the name of Cold Springs.--ED.

[208] Philosophy, vol. i.--FLAGG.

[209] Sidney Rigdon (1793-1876), after having been a Baptist pastor at
Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and later associated with the Disciples in
Ohio, established a branch of the Mormon church with one hundred
members at Kirtland, Ohio. Joseph Smith, who had founded the
last-named church at Fayette, New York (April 6, 1830), went to
Kirtland in February of the following year. Aided by Rigdon, Smith
attempted to establish a mixed communistic and hierarchical organized
community. Mormon tanneries, stores, and other enterprises were built,
and the corner-stone of a $40,000 temple laid July 23, 1833. Through
improvident financial management, the leaders soon plunged the
community deeply in debt. The Kirtland Society Bank, reorganized as
the Kirtland Anti-Bankers Company, after issuing notes to the amount
of $200,000, failed, and Smith and Rigdon further embarrassed by an
accumulation of troubles fled to Jackson County, Missouri, where
Oliver Cowdery by the former's order had established the Far West
settlement. Joseph Smith was assassinated by a mob (June 27, 1844) at
Carthage, Illinois, and Brigham Young succeeded him. Sidney Rigdon,
long one of Smith's chief advisers, and one of the three presidents of
the Mormon church at Nauvoo, combated the doctrine of plurality of
wives. He refused to recognize the authority of Young as Smith's
successor, and returned to Pennsylvania, but held to the Mormon faith
until his death in 1876. In 1848 the charter granted to the city of
Nauvoo by the Illinois state legislature, was repealed. The Mormons
thereupon selected Utah as the field of their future activity, save
that a few members were left in Missouri for proselyting purposes.

Alexander Campbell (1788-1866), educated at the University of Glasgow,
came to the United States (1809) and joined the Presbyterian church.
Refusing to recognize any teachings save those of the Bible, as he
understood them, he and his father, Thomas Campbell, were dismissed
(1812) and with a few followers formed a temporary union with the
Baptist church. Disfellowshiped in 1827, they organized the Disciples
of Christ, popularly known as the Campbellites. The son published the
_Christian Baptist_, a monthly magazine, its name being changed (1830)
to the _Millennial Harbinger_. He held several public offices in the
state of Virginia, and in 1840 founded Bethany (Virginia)
College.--ED.

[210] Kirtland is now deserted, and the church is occupied for a
school.--FLAGG.

[211] See Woods's _English Prairie_, in our volume x, p. 327, note
76.--ED.

[212] Or "_beef_."--FLAGG.

[213] Salem, the seat of Marion County, was settled about 1823, when
the county was organized.--ED.

[214] Philosophy, b. i., chap. 1.--FLAGG.

[215] Mount Vernon, a village seventy-seven miles southeast of St.
Louis, was chosen as the seat of justice for Jefferson County, when
the latter was organized in 1818.--ED.

[216] Mud Creek rises in the northwestern part of Perry County, flows
through the southwestern part of Washington and the southeastern part
of St. Clair counties, and enters the Kaskaskia two miles below
Fayetteville.

In January, 1827, the state legislature in organizing Perry County
appointed a commission to select a seat of justice to be known as
Pinckneyville (Pinkneyville), its town site being located and platted
in January, 1828.--ED.





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