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Title: American Notes
Author: Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "American Notes" ***

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CIRCULATION***


Transcribed from the 1913 Chapman & Hall, Ltd. edition by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org

                           [Picture: Emigrants]



                              AMERICAN NOTES
                                   FOR
                           GENERAL CIRCULATION
                                   AND
                         PICTURES FROM ITALY {1}


                                    BY
                             CHARLES DICKENS

                                * * * * *

                         WITH 8 ILLUSTRATIONS BY
                            MARCUS STONE, R.A.

                                * * * * *

                                  LONDON
                           CHAPMAN & HALL, LTD.
                                   1913

                                * * * * *

                           I DEDICATE THIS BOOK
                                    TO
                          THOSE FRIENDS OF MINE
                                IN AMERICA
                   WHO, GIVING ME A WELCOME I MUST EVER
                     GRATEFULLY AND PROUDLY REMEMBER,
                            LEFT MY JUDGEMENT
                                  FREE;
                 AND WHO, LOVING THEIR COUNTRY, CAN BEAR
                     THE TRUTH, WHEN IT IS TOLD GOOD
                           HUMOUREDLY, AND IN A
                               KIND SPIRIT.

                                * * * * *



PREFACE TO THE FIRST CHEAP EDITION OF “AMERICAN NOTES”


IT is nearly eight years since this book was first published.  I present
it, unaltered, in the Cheap Edition; and such of my opinions as it
expresses, are quite unaltered too.

My readers have opportunities of judging for themselves whether the
influences and tendencies which I distrust in America, have any existence
not in my imagination.  They can examine for themselves whether there has
been anything in the public career of that country during these past
eight years, or whether there is anything in its present position, at
home or abroad, which suggests that those influences and tendencies
really do exist.  As they find the fact, they will judge me.  If they
discern any evidences of wrong-going in any direction that I have
indicated, they will acknowledge that I had reason in what I wrote.  If
they discern no such thing, they will consider me altogether mistaken.

Prejudiced, I never have been otherwise than in favour of the United
States.  No visitor can ever have set foot on those shores, with a
stronger faith in the Republic than I had, when I landed in America.

I purposely abstain from extending these observations to any length.  I
have nothing to defend, or to explain away.  The truth is the truth; and
neither childish absurdities, nor unscrupulous contradictions, can make
it otherwise.  The earth would still move round the sun, though the whole
Catholic Church said No.

I have many friends in America, and feel a grateful interest in the
country.  To represent me as viewing it with ill-nature, animosity, or
partisanship, is merely to do a very foolish thing, which is always a
very easy one; and which I have disregarded for eight years, and could
disregard for eighty more.

LONDON, _June_ 22, 1850.



PREFACE TO THE “CHARLES DICKENS” EDITION OF “AMERICAN NOTES”


MY readers have opportunities of judging for themselves whether the
influences and tendencies which I distrusted in America, had, at that
time, any existence but in my imagination.  They can examine for
themselves whether there has been anything in the public career of that
country since, at home or abroad, which suggests that those influences
and tendencies really did exist.  As they find the fact, they will judge
me.  If they discern any evidences of wrong-going, in any direction that
I have indicated, they will acknowledge that I had reason in what I
wrote.  If they discern no such indications, they will consider me
altogether mistaken—but not wilfully.

Prejudiced, I am not, and never have been, otherwise than in favour of
the United States.  I have many friends in America, I feel a grateful
interest in the country, I hope and believe it will successfully work out
a problem of the highest importance to the whole human race.  To
represent me as viewing AMERICA with ill-nature, coldness, or animosity,
is merely to do a very foolish thing: which is always a very easy one.



CONTENTS

DEDICATION OF “AMERICAN NOTES”                                       v
PREFACE TO THE FIRST CHEAP EDITION OF “AMERICAN NOTES”             vii
PREFACE TO THE “CHARLES DICKENS” EDITION OF “AMERICAN NOTES”        ix
                AMERICAN NOTES FOR GENERAL CIRCULATION
                              CHAPTER I
Going Away                                                           3
                              CHAPTER II
The Passage out                                                     10
                             CHAPTER III
Boston                                                              22
                              CHAPTER IV
An American Railroad.  Lowell and its Factory System                52
                              CHAPTER V
Worcester.  The Connecticut River.  Hartford.  New Haven.  To       60
New York
                              CHAPTER VI
New York                                                            67
                             CHAPTER VII
Philadelphia, and its Solitary Prison                               81
                             CHAPTER VIII
Washington.  The Legislature.  And the President’s House            94
                              CHAPTER IX
A Night Steamer on the Potomac River.  Virginia Road, and a        107
Black Driver.  Richmond.  Baltimore.  The Harrisburg Mail,
and a Glimpse of the City.  A Canal Boat
                              CHAPTER X
Some further Account of the Canal Boat, its Domestic Economy,      121
and its Passengers.  Journey to Pittsburg across the
Alleghany Mountains.  Pittsburg
                              CHAPTER XI
From Pittsburg to Cincinnati in a Western Steamboat.               130
Cincinnati
                             CHAPTER XII
From Cincinnati to Louisville in another Western Steamboat;        137
and from Louisville to St. Louis in another.  St. Louis
                             CHAPTER XIII
A Jaunt to the Looking-glass Prairie and back                      147
                             CHAPTER XIV
Return to Cincinnati.  A Stage-coach Ride from that City to        153
Columbus, and thence to Sandusky.  So, by Lake Erie, to the
Falls of Niagara
                              CHAPTER XV
In Canada; Toronto; Kingston; Montreal; Quebec; St. John’s.        167
In the United States again; Lebanon; The Shaker Village; West
Point
                             CHAPTER XVI
The Passage Home                                                   182
                             CHAPTER XVII
Slavery                                                            189
                            CHAPTER XVIII
Concluding Remarks                                              202
Postscript                                                         210

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                                  PAGE
EMIGRANTS                   _Marcus Stone_, _R.A._      _Frontispiece_
THE SOLITARY PRISONER                                               90
BLACK AND WHITE                                                    112
THE LITTLE WIFE                                                    144



CHAPTER I
GOING AWAY


I SHALL never forget the one-fourth serious and three-fourths comical
astonishment, with which, on the morning of the third of January
eighteen-hundred-and-forty-two, I opened the door of, and put my head
into, a ‘state-room’ on board the Britannia steam-packet, twelve hundred
tons burthen per register, bound for Halifax and Boston, and carrying Her
Majesty’s mails.

That this state-room had been specially engaged for ‘Charles Dickens,
Esquire, and Lady,’ was rendered sufficiently clear even to my scared
intellect by a very small manuscript, announcing the fact, which was
pinned on a very flat quilt, covering a very thin mattress, spread like a
surgical plaster on a most inaccessible shelf.  But that this was the
state-room concerning which Charles Dickens, Esquire, and Lady, had held
daily and nightly conferences for at least four months preceding: that
this could by any possibility be that small snug chamber of the
imagination, which Charles Dickens, Esquire, with the spirit of prophecy
strong upon him, had always foretold would contain at least one little
sofa, and which his lady, with a modest yet most magnificent sense of its
limited dimensions, had from the first opined would not hold more than
two enormous portmanteaus in some odd corner out of sight (portmanteaus
which could now no more be got in at the door, not to say stowed away,
than a giraffe could be persuaded or forced into a flower-pot): that this
utterly impracticable, thoroughly hopeless, and profoundly preposterous
box, had the remotest reference to, or connection with, those chaste and
pretty, not to say gorgeous little bowers, sketched by a masterly hand,
in the highly varnished lithographic plan hanging up in the agent’s
counting-house in the city of London: that this room of state, in short,
could be anything but a pleasant fiction and cheerful jest of the
captain’s, invented and put in practice for the better relish and
enjoyment of the real state-room presently to be disclosed:—these were
truths which I really could not, for the moment, bring my mind at all to
bear upon or comprehend.  And I sat down upon a kind of horsehair slab,
or perch, of which there were two within; and looked, without any
expression of countenance whatever, at some friends who had come on board
with us, and who were crushing their faces into all manner of shapes by
endeavouring to squeeze them through the small doorway.

We had experienced a pretty smart shock before coming below, which, but
that we were the most sanguine people living, might have prepared us for
the worst.  The imaginative artist to whom I have already made allusion,
has depicted in the same great work, a chamber of almost interminable
perspective, furnished, as Mr. Robins would say, in a style of more than
Eastern splendour, and filled (but not inconveniently so) with groups of
ladies and gentlemen, in the very highest state of enjoyment and
vivacity.  Before descending into the bowels of the ship, we had passed
from the deck into a long narrow apartment, not unlike a gigantic hearse
with windows in the sides; having at the upper end a melancholy stove, at
which three or four chilly stewards were warming their hands; while on
either side, extending down its whole dreary length, was a long, long
table, over each of which a rack, fixed to the low roof, and stuck full
of drinking-glasses and cruet-stands, hinted dismally at rolling seas and
heavy weather.  I had not at that time seen the ideal presentment of this
chamber which has since gratified me so much, but I observed that one of
our friends who had made the arrangements for our voyage, turned pale on
entering, retreated on the friend behind him, smote his forehead
involuntarily, and said below his breath, ‘Impossible! it cannot be!’ or
words to that effect.  He recovered himself however by a great effort,
and after a preparatory cough or two, cried, with a ghastly smile which
is still before me, looking at the same time round the walls, ‘Ha! the
breakfast-room, steward—eh?’  We all foresaw what the answer must be: we
knew the agony he suffered.  He had often spoken of _the saloon_; had
taken in and lived upon the pictorial idea; had usually given us to
understand, at home, that to form a just conception of it, it would be
necessary to multiply the size and furniture of an ordinary drawing-room
by seven, and then fall short of the reality.  When the man in reply
avowed the truth; the blunt, remorseless, naked truth; ‘This is the
saloon, sir’—he actually reeled beneath the blow.

In persons who were so soon to part, and interpose between their else
daily communication the formidable barrier of many thousand miles of
stormy space, and who were for that reason anxious to cast no other
cloud, not even the passing shadow of a moment’s disappointment or
discomfiture, upon the short interval of happy companionship that yet
remained to them—in persons so situated, the natural transition from
these first surprises was obviously into peals of hearty laughter, and I
can report that I, for one, being still seated upon the slab or perch
before mentioned, roared outright until the vessel rang again.  Thus, in
less than two minutes after coming upon it for the first time, we all by
common consent agreed that this state-room was the pleasantest and most
facetious and capital contrivance possible; and that to have had it one
inch larger, would have been quite a disagreeable and deplorable state of
things.  And with this; and with showing how,—by very nearly closing the
door, and twining in and out like serpents, and by counting the little
washing slab as standing-room,—we could manage to insinuate four people
into it, all at one time; and entreating each other to observe how very
airy it was (in dock), and how there was a beautiful port-hole which
could be kept open all day (weather permitting), and how there was quite
a large bull’s-eye just over the looking-glass which would render shaving
a perfectly easy and delightful process (when the ship didn’t roll too
much); we arrived, at last, at the unanimous conclusion that it was
rather spacious than otherwise: though I do verily believe that,
deducting the two berths, one above the other, than which nothing smaller
for sleeping in was ever made except coffins, it was no bigger than one
of those hackney cabriolets which have the door behind, and shoot their
fares out, like sacks of coals, upon the pavement.

Having settled this point to the perfect satisfaction of all parties,
concerned and unconcerned, we sat down round the fire in the ladies’
cabin—just to try the effect.  It was rather dark, certainly; but
somebody said, ‘of course it would be light, at sea,’ a proposition to
which we all assented; echoing ‘of course, of course;’ though it would be
exceedingly difficult to say why we thought so.  I remember, too, when we
had discovered and exhausted another topic of consolation in the
circumstance of this ladies’ cabin adjoining our state-room, and the
consequently immense feasibility of sitting there at all times and
seasons, and had fallen into a momentary silence, leaning our faces on
our hands and looking at the fire, one of our party said, with the solemn
air of a man who had made a discovery, ‘What a relish mulled claret will
have down here!’ which appeared to strike us all most forcibly; as though
there were something spicy and high-flavoured in cabins, which
essentially improved that composition, and rendered it quite incapable of
perfection anywhere else.

There was a stewardess, too, actively engaged in producing clean sheets
and table-cloths from the very entrails of the sofas, and from unexpected
lockers, of such artful mechanism, that it made one’s head ache to see
them opened one after another, and rendered it quite a distracting
circumstance to follow her proceedings, and to find that every nook and
corner and individual piece of furniture was something else besides what
it pretended to be, and was a mere trap and deception and place of secret
stowage, whose ostensible purpose was its least useful one.

God bless that stewardess for her piously fraudulent account of January
voyages!  God bless her for her clear recollection of the companion
passage of last year, when nobody was ill, and everybody dancing from
morning to night, and it was ‘a run’ of twelve days, and a piece of the
purest frolic, and delight, and jollity!  All happiness be with her for
her bright face and her pleasant Scotch tongue, which had sounds of old
Home in it for my fellow-traveller; and for her predictions of fair winds
and fine weather (all wrong, or I shouldn’t be half so fond of her); and
for the ten thousand small fragments of genuine womanly tact, by which,
without piecing them elaborately together, and patching them up into
shape and form and case and pointed application, she nevertheless did
plainly show that all young mothers on one side of the Atlantic were near
and close at hand to their little children left upon the other; and that
what seemed to the uninitiated a serious journey, was, to those who were
in the secret, a mere frolic, to be sung about and whistled at!  Light be
her heart, and gay her merry eyes, for years!

The state-room had grown pretty fast; but by this time it had expanded
into something quite bulky, and almost boasted a bay-window to view the
sea from.  So we went upon deck again in high spirits; and there,
everything was in such a state of bustle and active preparation, that the
blood quickened its pace, and whirled through one’s veins on that clear
frosty morning with involuntary mirthfulness.  For every gallant ship was
riding slowly up and down, and every little boat was splashing noisily in
the water; and knots of people stood upon the wharf, gazing with a kind
of ‘dread delight’ on the far-famed fast American steamer; and one party
of men were ‘taking in the milk,’ or, in other words, getting the cow on
board; and another were filling the icehouses to the very throat with
fresh provisions; with butchers’-meat and garden-stuff, pale
sucking-pigs, calves’ heads in scores, beef, veal, and pork, and poultry
out of all proportion; and others were coiling ropes and busy with oakum
yarns; and others were lowering heavy packages into the hold; and the
purser’s head was barely visible as it loomed in a state, of exquisite
perplexity from the midst of a vast pile of passengers’ luggage; and
there seemed to be nothing going on anywhere, or uppermost in the mind of
anybody, but preparations for this mighty voyage.  This, with the bright
cold sun, the bracing air, the crisply-curling water, the thin white
crust of morning ice upon the decks which crackled with a sharp and
cheerful sound beneath the lightest tread, was irresistible.  And when,
again upon the shore, we turned and saw from the vessel’s mast her name
signalled in flags of joyous colours, and fluttering by their side the
beautiful American banner with its stars and stripes,—the long three
thousand miles and more, and, longer still, the six whole months of
absence, so dwindled and faded, that the ship had gone out and come home
again, and it was broad spring already in the Coburg Dock at Liverpool.

I have not inquired among my medical acquaintance, whether Turtle, and
cold Punch, with Hock, Champagne, and Claret, and all the slight et
cetera usually included in an unlimited order for a good
dinner—especially when it is left to the liberal construction of my
faultless friend, Mr. Radley, of the Adelphi Hotel—are peculiarly
calculated to suffer a sea-change; or whether a plain mutton-chop, and a
glass or two of sherry, would be less likely of conversion into foreign
and disconcerting material.  My own opinion is, that whether one is
discreet or indiscreet in these particulars, on the eve of a sea-voyage,
is a matter of little consequence; and that, to use a common phrase, ‘it
comes to very much the same thing in the end.’   Be this as it may, I
know that the dinner of that day was undeniably perfect; that it
comprehended all these items, and a great many more; and that we all did
ample justice to it.  And I know too, that, bating a certain tacit
avoidance of any allusion to to-morrow; such as may be supposed to
prevail between delicate-minded turnkeys, and a sensitive prisoner who is
to be hanged next morning; we got on very well, and, all things
considered, were merry enough.

When the morning—_the_ morning—came, and we met at breakfast, it was
curious to see how eager we all were to prevent a moment’s pause in the
conversation, and how astoundingly gay everybody was: the forced spirits
of each member of the little party having as much likeness to his natural
mirth, as hot-house peas at five guineas the quart, resemble in flavour
the growth of the dews, and air, and rain of Heaven.  But as one o’clock,
the hour for going aboard, drew near, this volubility dwindled away by
little and little, despite the most persevering efforts to the contrary,
until at last, the matter being now quite desperate, we threw off all
disguise; openly speculated upon where we should be this time to-morrow,
this time next day, and so forth; and entrusted a vast number of messages
to those who intended returning to town that night, which were to be
delivered at home and elsewhere without fail, within the very shortest
possible space of time after the arrival of the railway train at Euston
Square.  And commissions and remembrances do so crowd upon one at such a
time, that we were still busied with this employment when we found
ourselves fused, as it were, into a dense conglomeration of passengers
and passengers’ friends and passengers’ luggage, all jumbled together on
the deck of a small steamboat, and panting and snorting off to the
packet, which had worked out of dock yesterday afternoon and was now
lying at her moorings in the river.

And there she is! all eyes are turned to where she lies, dimly
discernible through the gathering fog of the early winter afternoon;
every finger is pointed in the same direction; and murmurs of interest
and admiration—as ‘How beautiful she looks!’ ‘How trim she is!’—are heard
on every side.  Even the lazy gentleman with his hat on one side and his
hands in his pockets, who has dispensed so much consolation by inquiring
with a yawn of another gentleman whether he is ‘going across’—as if it
were a ferry—even he condescends to look that way, and nod his head, as
who should say, ‘No mistake about _that_:’ and not even the sage Lord
Burleigh in his nod, included half so much as this lazy gentleman of
might who has made the passage (as everybody on board has found out
already; it’s impossible to say how) thirteen times without a single
accident!  There is another passenger very much wrapped-up, who has been
frowned down by the rest, and morally trampled upon and crushed, for
presuming to inquire with a timid interest how long it is since the poor
President went down.  He is standing close to the lazy gentleman, and
says with a faint smile that he believes She is a very strong Ship; to
which the lazy gentleman, looking first in his questioner’s eye and then
very hard in the wind’s, answers unexpectedly and ominously, that She
need be.  Upon this the lazy gentleman instantly falls very low in the
popular estimation, and the passengers, with looks of defiance, whisper
to each other that he is an ass, and an impostor, and clearly don’t know
anything at all about it.

But we are made fast alongside the packet, whose huge red funnel is
smoking bravely, giving rich promise of serious intentions.
Packing-cases, portmanteaus, carpet-bags, and boxes, are already passed
from hand to hand, and hauled on board with breathless rapidity.  The
officers, smartly dressed, are at the gangway handing the passengers up
the side, and hurrying the men.  In five minutes’ time, the little
steamer is utterly deserted, and the packet is beset and over-run by its
late freight, who instantly pervade the whole ship, and are to be met
with by the dozen in every nook and corner: swarming down below with
their own baggage, and stumbling over other people’s; disposing
themselves comfortably in wrong cabins, and creating a most horrible
confusion by having to turn out again; madly bent upon opening locked
doors, and on forcing a passage into all kinds of out-of-the-way places
where there is no thoroughfare; sending wild stewards, with elfin hair,
to and fro upon the breezy decks on unintelligible errands, impossible of
execution: and in short, creating the most extraordinary and bewildering
tumult.  In the midst of all this, the lazy gentleman, who seems to have
no luggage of any kind—not so much as a friend, even—lounges up and down
the hurricane deck, coolly puffing a cigar; and, as this unconcerned
demeanour again exalts him in the opinion of those who have leisure to
observe his proceedings, every time he looks up at the masts, or down at
the decks, or over the side, they look there too, as wondering whether he
sees anything wrong anywhere, and hoping that, in case he should, he will
have the goodness to mention it.

What have we here?  The captain’s boat! and yonder the captain himself.
Now, by all our hopes and wishes, the very man he ought to be!  A
well-made, tight-built, dapper little fellow; with a ruddy face, which is
a letter of invitation to shake him by both hands at once; and with a
clear, blue honest eye, that it does one good to see one’s sparkling
image in.  ‘Ring the bell!’  ‘Ding, ding, ding!’ the very bell is in a
hurry.  ‘Now for the shore—who’s for the shore?’—‘These gentlemen, I am
sorry to say.’   They are away, and never said, Good b’ye.  Ah now they
wave it from the little boat.  ‘Good b’ye! Good b’ye!’  Three cheers from
them; three more from us; three more from them: and they are gone.

To and fro, to and fro, to and fro again a hundred times!  This waiting
for the latest mail-bags is worse than all.  If we could have gone off in
the midst of that last burst, we should have started triumphantly: but to
lie here, two hours and more in the damp fog, neither staying at home nor
going abroad, is letting one gradually down into the very depths of
dulness and low spirits.  A speck in the mist, at last!  That’s
something.  It is the boat we wait for!  That’s more to the purpose.  The
captain appears on the paddle-box with his speaking trumpet; the officers
take their stations; all hands are on the alert; the flagging hopes of
the passengers revive; the cooks pause in their savoury work, and look
out with faces full of interest.  The boat comes alongside; the bags are
dragged in anyhow, and flung down for the moment anywhere.  Three cheers
more: and as the first one rings upon our ears, the vessel throbs like a
strong giant that has just received the breath of life; the two great
wheels turn fiercely round for the first time; and the noble ship, with
wind and tide astern, breaks proudly through the lashed and roaming
water.



CHAPTER II
THE PASSAGE OUT


WE all dined together that day; and a rather formidable party we were: no
fewer than eighty-six strong.  The vessel being pretty deep in the water,
with all her coals on board and so many passengers, and the weather being
calm and quiet, there was but little motion; so that before the dinner
was half over, even those passengers who were most distrustful of
themselves plucked up amazingly; and those who in the morning had
returned to the universal question, ‘Are you a good sailor?’ a very
decided negative, now either parried the inquiry with the evasive reply,
‘Oh! I suppose I’m no worse than anybody else;’ or, reckless of all moral
obligations, answered boldly ‘Yes:’ and with some irritation too, as
though they would add, ‘I should like to know what you see in _me_, sir,
particularly, to justify suspicion!’

Notwithstanding this high tone of courage and confidence, I could not but
observe that very few remained long over their wine; and that everybody
had an unusual love of the open air; and that the favourite and most
coveted seats were invariably those nearest to the door.  The tea-table,
too, was by no means as well attended as the dinner-table; and there was
less whist-playing than might have been expected.  Still, with the
exception of one lady, who had retired with some precipitation at
dinner-time, immediately after being assisted to the finest cut of a very
yellow boiled leg of mutton with very green capers, there were no
invalids as yet; and walking, and smoking, and drinking of
brandy-and-water (but always in the open air), went on with unabated
spirit, until eleven o’clock or thereabouts, when ‘turning in’—no sailor
of seven hours’ experience talks of going to bed—became the order of the
night.  The perpetual tramp of boot-heels on the decks gave place to a
heavy silence, and the whole human freight was stowed away below,
excepting a very few stragglers, like myself, who were probably, like me,
afraid to go there.

To one unaccustomed to such scenes, this is a very striking time on
shipboard.  Afterwards, and when its novelty had long worn off, it never
ceased to have a peculiar interest and charm for me.  The gloom through
which the great black mass holds its direct and certain course; the
rushing water, plainly heard, but dimly seen; the broad, white,
glistening track, that follows in the vessel’s wake; the men on the
look-out forward, who would be scarcely visible against the dark sky, but
for their blotting out some score of glistening stars; the helmsman at
the wheel, with the illuminated card before him, shining, a speck of
light amidst the darkness, like something sentient and of Divine
intelligence; the melancholy sighing of the wind through block, and rope,
and chain; the gleaming forth of light from every crevice, nook, and tiny
piece of glass about the decks, as though the ship were filled with fire
in hiding, ready to burst through any outlet, wild with its resistless
power of death and ruin.  At first, too, and even when the hour, and all
the objects it exalts, have come to be familiar, it is difficult, alone
and thoughtful, to hold them to their proper shapes and forms.  They
change with the wandering fancy; assume the semblance of things left far
away; put on the well-remembered aspect of favourite places dearly loved;
and even people them with shadows.  Streets, houses, rooms; figures so
like their usual occupants, that they have startled me by their reality,
which far exceeded, as it seemed to me, all power of mine to conjure up
the absent; have, many and many a time, at such an hour, grown suddenly
out of objects with whose real look, and use, and purpose, I was as well
acquainted as with my own two hands.

My own two hands, and feet likewise, being very cold, however, on this
particular occasion, I crept below at midnight.  It was not exactly
comfortable below.  It was decidedly close; and it was impossible to be
unconscious of the presence of that extraordinary compound of strange
smells, which is to be found nowhere but on board ship, and which is such
a subtle perfume that it seems to enter at every pore of the skin, and
whisper of the hold.  Two passengers’ wives (one of them my own) lay
already in silent agonies on the sofa; and one lady’s maid (_my_ lady’s)
was a mere bundle on the floor, execrating her destiny, and pounding her
curl-papers among the stray boxes.  Everything sloped the wrong way:
which in itself was an aggravation scarcely to be borne.  I had left the
door open, a moment before, in the bosom of a gentle declivity, and, when
I turned to shut it, it was on the summit of a lofty eminence.  Now every
plank and timber creaked, as if the ship were made of wicker-work; and
now crackled, like an enormous fire of the driest possible twigs.  There
was nothing for it but bed; so I went to bed.

It was pretty much the same for the next two days, with a tolerably fair
wind and dry weather.  I read in bed (but to this hour I don’t know what)
a good deal; and reeled on deck a little; drank cold brandy-and-water
with an unspeakable disgust, and ate hard biscuit perseveringly: not ill,
but going to be.

It is the third morning.  I am awakened out of my sleep by a dismal
shriek from my wife, who demands to know whether there’s any danger.  I
rouse myself, and look out of bed.  The water-jug is plunging and leaping
like a lively dolphin; all the smaller articles are afloat, except my
shoes, which are stranded on a carpet-bag, high and dry, like a couple of
coal-barges.  Suddenly I see them spring into the air, and behold the
looking-glass, which is nailed to the wall, sticking fast upon the
ceiling.  At the same time the door entirely disappears, and a new one is
opened in the floor.  Then I begin to comprehend that the state-room is
standing on its head.

Before it is possible to make any arrangement at all compatible with this
novel state of things, the ship rights.  Before one can say ‘Thank
Heaven!’ she wrongs again.  Before one can cry she _is_ wrong, she seems
to have started forward, and to be a creature actually running of its own
accord, with broken knees and failing legs, through every variety of hole
and pitfall, and stumbling constantly.  Before one can so much as wonder,
she takes a high leap into the air.  Before she has well done that, she
takes a deep dive into the water.  Before she has gained the surface, she
throws a summerset.  The instant she is on her legs, she rushes backward.
And so she goes on staggering, heaving, wrestling, leaping, diving,
jumping, pitching, throbbing, rolling, and rocking: and going through all
these movements, sometimes by turns, and sometimes altogether: until one
feels disposed to roar for mercy.

A steward passes.  ‘Steward!’  ‘Sir?’  ‘What _is_ the matter? what _do_
you call this?’  ‘Rather a heavy sea on, sir, and a head-wind.’

A head-wind!  Imagine a human face upon the vessel’s prow, with fifteen
thousand Samsons in one bent upon driving her back, and hitting her
exactly between the eyes whenever she attempts to advance an inch.
Imagine the ship herself, with every pulse and artery of her huge body
swollen and bursting under this maltreatment, sworn to go on or die.
Imagine the wind howling, the sea roaring, the rain beating: all in
furious array against her.  Picture the sky both dark and wild, and the
clouds, in fearful sympathy with the waves, making another ocean in the
air.  Add to all this, the clattering on deck and down below; the tread
of hurried feet; the loud hoarse shouts of seamen; the gurgling in and
out of water through the scuppers; with, every now and then, the striking
of a heavy sea upon the planks above, with the deep, dead, heavy sound of
thunder heard within a vault;—and there is the head-wind of that January
morning.

I say nothing of what may be called the domestic noises of the ship: such
as the breaking of glass and crockery, the tumbling down of stewards, the
gambols, overhead, of loose casks and truant dozens of bottled porter,
and the very remarkable and far from exhilarating sounds raised in their
various state-rooms by the seventy passengers who were too ill to get up
to breakfast.  I say nothing of them: for although I lay listening to
this concert for three or four days, I don’t think I heard it for more
than a quarter of a minute, at the expiration of which term, I lay down
again, excessively sea-sick.

Not sea-sick, be it understood, in the ordinary acceptation of the term:
I wish I had been: but in a form which I have never seen or heard
described, though I have no doubt it is very common.  I lay there, all
the day long, quite coolly and contentedly; with no sense of weariness,
with no desire to get up, or get better, or take the air; with no
curiosity, or care, or regret, of any sort or degree, saving that I think
I can remember, in this universal indifference, having a kind of lazy
joy—of fiendish delight, if anything so lethargic can be dignified with
the title—in the fact of my wife being too ill to talk to me.  If I may
be allowed to illustrate my state of mind by such an example, I should
say that I was exactly in the condition of the elder Mr. Willet, after
the incursion of the rioters into his bar at Chigwell.  Nothing would
have surprised me.  If, in the momentary illumination of any ray of
intelligence that may have come upon me in the way of thoughts of Home, a
goblin postman, with a scarlet coat and bell, had come into that little
kennel before me, broad awake in broad day, and, apologising for being
damp through walking in the sea, had handed me a letter directed to
myself, in familiar characters, I am certain I should not have felt one
atom of astonishment: I should have been perfectly satisfied.  If Neptune
himself had walked in, with a toasted shark on his trident, I should have
looked upon the event as one of the very commonest everyday occurrences.

Once—once—I found myself on deck.  I don’t know how I got there, or what
possessed me to go there, but there I was; and completely dressed too,
with a huge pea-coat on, and a pair of boots such as no weak man in his
senses could ever have got into.  I found myself standing, when a gleam
of consciousness came upon me, holding on to something.  I don’t know
what.  I think it was the boatswain: or it may have been the pump: or
possibly the cow.  I can’t say how long I had been there; whether a day
or a minute.  I recollect trying to think about something (about anything
in the whole wide world, I was not particular) without the smallest
effect.  I could not even make out which was the sea, and which the sky,
for the horizon seemed drunk, and was flying wildly about in all
directions.  Even in that incapable state, however, I recognised the lazy
gentleman standing before me: nautically clad in a suit of shaggy blue,
with an oilskin hat.  But I was too imbecile, although I knew it to be
he, to separate him from his dress; and tried to call him, I remember,
_Pilot_.  After another interval of total unconsciousness, I found he had
gone, and recognised another figure in its place.  It seemed to wave and
fluctuate before me as though I saw it reflected in an unsteady
looking-glass; but I knew it for the captain; and such was the cheerful
influence of his face, that I tried to smile: yes, even then I tried to
smile.  I saw by his gestures that he addressed me; but it was a long
time before I could make out that he remonstrated against my standing up
to my knees in water—as I was; of course I don’t know why.  I tried to
thank him, but couldn’t.  I could only point to my boots—or wherever I
supposed my boots to be—and say in a plaintive voice, ‘Cork soles:’ at
the same time endeavouring, I am told, to sit down in the pool.  Finding
that I was quite insensible, and for the time a maniac, he humanely
conducted me below.

There I remained until I got better: suffering, whenever I was
recommended to eat anything, an amount of anguish only second to that
which is said to be endured by the apparently drowned, in the process of
restoration to life.  One gentleman on board had a letter of introduction
to me from a mutual friend in London.  He sent it below with his card, on
the morning of the head-wind; and I was long troubled with the idea that
he might be up, and well, and a hundred times a day expecting me to call
upon him in the saloon.  I imagined him one of those cast-iron images—I
will not call them men—who ask, with red faces, and lusty voices, what
sea-sickness means, and whether it really is as bad as it is represented
to be.  This was very torturing indeed; and I don’t think I ever felt
such perfect gratification and gratitude of heart, as I did when I heard
from the ship’s doctor that he had been obliged to put a large mustard
poultice on this very gentleman’s stomach.  I date my recovery from the
receipt of that intelligence.

It was materially assisted though, I have no doubt, by a heavy gale of
wind, which came slowly up at sunset, when we were about ten days out,
and raged with gradually increasing fury until morning, saving that it
lulled for an hour a little before midnight.  There was something in the
unnatural repose of that hour, and in the after gathering of the storm,
so inconceivably awful and tremendous, that its bursting into full
violence was almost a relief.

The labouring of the ship in the troubled sea on this night I shall never
forget.  ‘Will it ever be worse than this?’ was a question I had often
heard asked, when everything was sliding and bumping about, and when it
certainly did seem difficult to comprehend the possibility of anything
afloat being more disturbed, without toppling over and going down.  But
what the agitation of a steam-vessel is, on a bad winter’s night in the
wild Atlantic, it is impossible for the most vivid imagination to
conceive.  To say that she is flung down on her side in the waves, with
her masts dipping into them, and that, springing up again, she rolls over
on the other side, until a heavy sea strikes her with the noise of a
hundred great guns, and hurls her back—that she stops, and staggers, and
shivers, as though stunned, and then, with a violent throbbing at her
heart, darts onward like a monster goaded into madness, to be beaten
down, and battered, and crushed, and leaped on by the angry sea—that
thunder, lightning, hail, and rain, and wind, are all in fierce
contention for the mastery—that every plank has its groan, every nail its
shriek, and every drop of water in the great ocean its howling voice—is
nothing.  To say that all is grand, and all appalling and horrible in the
last degree, is nothing.  Words cannot express it.  Thoughts cannot
convey it.  Only a dream can call it up again, in all its fury, rage, and
passion.

And yet, in the very midst of these terrors, I was placed in a situation
so exquisitely ridiculous, that even then I had as strong a sense of its
absurdity as I have now, and could no more help laughing than I can at
any other comical incident, happening under circumstances the most
favourable to its enjoyment.  About midnight we shipped a sea, which
forced its way through the skylights, burst open the doors above, and
came raging and roaring down into the ladies’ cabin, to the unspeakable
consternation of my wife and a little Scotch lady—who, by the way, had
previously sent a message to the captain by the stewardess, requesting
him, with her compliments, to have a steel conductor immediately attached
to the top of every mast, and to the chimney, in order that the ship
might not be struck by lightning.  They and the handmaid before
mentioned, being in such ecstasies of fear that I scarcely knew what to
do with them, I naturally bethought myself of some restorative or
comfortable cordial; and nothing better occurring to me, at the moment,
than hot brandy-and-water, I procured a tumbler full without delay.  It
being impossible to stand or sit without holding on, they were all heaped
together in one corner of a long sofa—a fixture extending entirely across
the cabin—where they clung to each other in momentary expectation of
being drowned.  When I approached this place with my specific, and was
about to administer it with many consolatory expressions to the nearest
sufferer, what was my dismay to see them all roll slowly down to the
other end!  And when I staggered to that end, and held out the glass once
more, how immensely baffled were my good intentions by the ship giving
another lurch, and their all rolling back again!  I suppose I dodged them
up and down this sofa for at least a quarter of an hour, without reaching
them once; and by the time I did catch them, the brandy-and-water was
diminished, by constant spilling, to a teaspoonful.  To complete the
group, it is necessary to recognise in this disconcerted dodger, an
individual very pale from sea-sickness, who had shaved his beard and
brushed his hair, last, at Liverpool: and whose only article of dress
(linen not included) were a pair of dreadnought trousers; a blue jacket,
formerly admired upon the Thames at Richmond; no stockings; and one
slipper.

Of the outrageous antics performed by that ship next morning; which made
bed a practical joke, and getting up, by any process short of falling
out, an impossibility; I say nothing.  But anything like the utter
dreariness and desolation that met my eyes when I literally ‘tumbled up’
on deck at noon, I never saw.  Ocean and sky were all of one dull, heavy,
uniform, lead colour.  There was no extent of prospect even over the
dreary waste that lay around us, for the sea ran high, and the horizon
encompassed us like a large black hoop.  Viewed from the air, or some
tall bluff on shore, it would have been imposing and stupendous, no
doubt; but seen from the wet and rolling decks, it only impressed one
giddily and painfully.  In the gale of last night the life-boat had been
crushed by one blow of the sea like a walnut-shell; and there it hung
dangling in the air: a mere faggot of crazy boards.  The planking of the
paddle-boxes had been torn sheer away.  The wheels were exposed and bare;
and they whirled and dashed their spray about the decks at random.
Chimney, white with crusted salt; topmasts struck; storm-sails set;
rigging all knotted, tangled, wet, and drooping: a gloomier picture it
would be hard to look upon.

I was now comfortably established by courtesy in the ladies’ cabin,
where, besides ourselves, there were only four other passengers.  First,
the little Scotch lady before mentioned, on her way to join her husband
at New York, who had settled there three years before.  Secondly and
thirdly, an honest young Yorkshireman, connected with some American
house; domiciled in that same city, and carrying thither his beautiful
young wife to whom he had been married but a fortnight, and who was the
fairest specimen of a comely English country girl I have ever seen.
Fourthly, fifthly, and lastly, another couple: newly married too, if one
might judge from the endearments they frequently interchanged: of whom I
know no more than that they were rather a mysterious, run-away kind of
couple; that the lady had great personal attractions also; and that the
gentleman carried more guns with him than Robinson Crusoe, wore a
shooting-coat, and had two great dogs on board.  On further
consideration, I remember that he tried hot roast pig and bottled ale as
a cure for sea-sickness; and that he took these remedies (usually in bed)
day after day, with astonishing perseverance.  I may add, for the
information of the curious, that they decidedly failed.

The weather continuing obstinately and almost unprecedentedly bad, we
usually straggled into this cabin, more or less faint and miserable,
about an hour before noon, and lay down on the sofas to recover; during
which interval, the captain would look in to communicate the state of the
wind, the moral certainty of its changing to-morrow (the weather is
always going to improve to-morrow, at sea), the vessel’s rate of sailing,
and so forth.  Observations there were none to tell us of, for there was
no sun to take them by.  But a description of one day will serve for all
the rest.  Here it is.

The captain being gone, we compose ourselves to read, if the place be
light enough; and if not, we doze and talk alternately.  At one, a bell
rings, and the stewardess comes down with a steaming dish of baked
potatoes, and another of roasted apples; and plates of pig’s face, cold
ham, salt beef; or perhaps a smoking mess of rare hot collops.  We fall
to upon these dainties; eat as much as we can (we have great appetites
now); and are as long as possible about it.  If the fire will burn (it
_will_ sometimes) we are pretty cheerful.  If it won’t, we all remark to
each other that it’s very cold, rub our hands, cover ourselves with coats
and cloaks, and lie down again to doze, talk, and read (provided as
aforesaid), until dinner-time.  At five, another bell rings, and the
stewardess reappears with another dish of potatoes—boiled this time—and
store of hot meat of various kinds: not forgetting the roast pig, to be
taken medicinally.  We sit down at table again (rather more cheerfully
than before); prolong the meal with a rather mouldy dessert of apples,
grapes, and oranges; and drink our wine and brandy-and-water.  The
bottles and glasses are still upon the table, and the oranges and so
forth are rolling about according to their fancy and the ship’s way, when
the doctor comes down, by special nightly invitation, to join our evening
rubber: immediately on whose arrival we make a party at whist, and as it
is a rough night and the cards will not lie on the cloth, we put the
tricks in our pockets as we take them.  At whist we remain with exemplary
gravity (deducting a short time for tea and toast) until eleven o’clock,
or thereabouts; when the captain comes down again, in a sou’-wester hat
tied under his chin, and a pilot-coat: making the ground wet where he
stands.  By this time the card-playing is over, and the bottles and
glasses are again upon the table; and after an hour’s pleasant
conversation about the ship, the passengers, and things in general, the
captain (who never goes to bed, and is never out of humour) turns up his
coat collar for the deck again; shakes hands all round; and goes laughing
out into the weather as merrily as to a birthday party.

As to daily news, there is no dearth of that commodity.  This passenger
is reported to have lost fourteen pounds at Vingt-et-un in the saloon
yesterday; and that passenger drinks his bottle of champagne every day,
and how he does it (being only a clerk), nobody knows.  The head engineer
has distinctly said that there never was such times—meaning weather—and
four good hands are ill, and have given in, dead beat.  Several berths
are full of water, and all the cabins are leaky.  The ship’s cook,
secretly swigging damaged whiskey, has been found drunk; and has been
played upon by the fire-engine until quite sober.  All the stewards have
fallen down-stairs at various dinner-times, and go about with plasters in
various places.  The baker is ill, and so is the pastry-cook.  A new man,
horribly indisposed, has been required to fill the place of the latter
officer; and has been propped and jammed up with empty casks in a little
house upon deck, and commanded to roll out pie-crust, which he protests
(being highly bilious) it is death to him to look at.  News!  A dozen
murders on shore would lack the interest of these slight incidents at
sea.

Divided between our rubber and such topics as these, we were running (as
we thought) into Halifax Harbour, on the fifteenth night, with little
wind and a bright moon—indeed, we had made the Light at its outer
entrance, and put the pilot in charge—when suddenly the ship struck upon
a bank of mud.  An immediate rush on deck took place of course; the sides
were crowded in an instant; and for a few minutes we were in as lively a
state of confusion as the greatest lover of disorder would desire to see.
The passengers, and guns, and water-casks, and other heavy matters, being
all huddled together aft, however, to lighten her in the head, she was
soon got off; and after some driving on towards an uncomfortable line of
objects (whose vicinity had been announced very early in the disaster by
a loud cry of ‘Breakers a-head!’) and much backing of paddles, and
heaving of the lead into a constantly decreasing depth of water, we
dropped anchor in a strange outlandish-looking nook which nobody on board
could recognise, although there was land all about us, and so close that
we could plainly see the waving branches of the trees.

It was strange enough, in the silence of midnight, and the dead stillness
that seemed to be created by the sudden and unexpected stoppage of the
engine which had been clanking and blasting in our ears incessantly for
so many days, to watch the look of blank astonishment expressed in every
face: beginning with the officers, tracing it through all the passengers,
and descending to the very stokers and furnacemen, who emerged from
below, one by one, and clustered together in a smoky group about the
hatchway of the engine-room, comparing notes in whispers.  After throwing
up a few rockets and firing signal guns in the hope of being hailed from
the land, or at least of seeing a light—but without any other sight or
sound presenting itself—it was determined to send a boat on shore.  It
was amusing to observe how very kind some of the passengers were, in
volunteering to go ashore in this same boat: for the general good, of
course: not by any means because they thought the ship in an unsafe
position, or contemplated the possibility of her heeling over in case the
tide were running out.  Nor was it less amusing to remark how desperately
unpopular the poor pilot became in one short minute.  He had had his
passage out from Liverpool, and during the whole voyage had been quite a
notorious character, as a teller of anecdotes and cracker of jokes.  Yet
here were the very men who had laughed the loudest at his jests, now
flourishing their fists in his face, loading him with imprecations, and
defying him to his teeth as a villain!

The boat soon shoved off, with a lantern and sundry blue lights on board;
and in less than an hour returned; the officer in command bringing with
him a tolerably tall young tree, which he had plucked up by the roots, to
satisfy certain distrustful passengers whose minds misgave them that they
were to be imposed upon and shipwrecked, and who would on no other terms
believe that he had been ashore, or had done anything but fraudulently
row a little way into the mist, specially to deceive them and compass
their deaths.  Our captain had foreseen from the first that we must be in
a place called the Eastern passage; and so we were.  It was about the
last place in the world in which we had any business or reason to be, but
a sudden fog, and some error on the pilot’s part, were the cause.  We
were surrounded by banks, and rocks, and shoals of all kinds, but had
happily drifted, it seemed, upon the only safe speck that was to be found
thereabouts.  Eased by this report, and by the assurance that the tide
was past the ebb, we turned in at three o’clock in the morning.

I was dressing about half-past nine next day, when the noise above
hurried me on deck.  When I had left it overnight, it was dark, foggy,
and damp, and there were bleak hills all round us.  Now, we were gliding
down a smooth, broad stream, at the rate of eleven miles an hour: our
colours flying gaily; our crew rigged out in their smartest clothes; our
officers in uniform again; the sun shining as on a brilliant April day in
England; the land stretched out on either side, streaked with light
patches of snow; white wooden houses; people at their doors; telegraphs
working; flags hoisted; wharfs appearing; ships; quays crowded with
people; distant noises; shouts; men and boys running down steep places
towards the pier: all more bright and gay and fresh to our unused eyes
than words can paint them.  We came to a wharf, paved with uplifted
faces; got alongside, and were made fast, after some shouting and
straining of cables; darted, a score of us along the gangway, almost as
soon as it was thrust out to meet us, and before it had reached the
ship—and leaped upon the firm glad earth again!

I suppose this Halifax would have appeared an Elysium, though it had been
a curiosity of ugly dulness.  But I carried away with me a most pleasant
impression of the town and its inhabitants, and have preserved it to this
hour.  Nor was it without regret that I came home, without having found
an opportunity of returning thither, and once more shaking hands with the
friends I made that day.

It happened to be the opening of the Legislative Council and General
Assembly, at which ceremonial the forms observed on the commencement of a
new Session of Parliament in England were so closely copied, and so
gravely presented on a small scale, that it was like looking at
Westminster through the wrong end of a telescope.  The governor, as her
Majesty’s representative, delivered what may be called the Speech from
the Throne.  He said what he had to say manfully and well.  The military
band outside the building struck up “God save the Queen” with great
vigour before his Excellency had quite finished; the people shouted; the
in’s rubbed their hands; the out’s shook their heads; the Government
party said there never was such a good speech; the Opposition declared
there never was such a bad one; the Speaker and members of the House of
Assembly withdrew from the bar to say a great deal among themselves and
do a little: and, in short, everything went on, and promised to go on,
just as it does at home upon the like occasions.

The town is built on the side of a hill, the highest point being
commanded by a strong fortress, not yet quite finished.  Several streets
of good breadth and appearance extend from its summit to the water-side,
and are intersected by cross streets running parallel with the river.
The houses are chiefly of wood.  The market is abundantly supplied; and
provisions are exceedingly cheap.  The weather being unusually mild at
that time for the season of the year, there was no sleighing: but there
were plenty of those vehicles in yards and by-places, and some of them,
from the gorgeous quality of their decorations, might have ‘gone on’
without alteration as triumphal cars in a melodrama at Astley’s.  The day
was uncommonly fine; the air bracing and healthful; the whole aspect of
the town cheerful, thriving, and industrious.

We lay there seven hours, to deliver and exchange the mails.  At length,
having collected all our bags and all our passengers (including two or
three choice spirits, who, having indulged too freely in oysters and
champagne, were found lying insensible on their backs in unfrequented
streets), the engines were again put in motion, and we stood off for
Boston.

Encountering squally weather again in the Bay of Fundy, we tumbled and
rolled about as usual all that night and all next day.  On the next
afternoon, that is to say, on Saturday, the twenty-second of January, an
American pilot-boat came alongside, and soon afterwards the Britannia
steam-packet, from Liverpool, eighteen days out, was telegraphed at
Boston.

The indescribable interest with which I strained my eyes, as the first
patches of American soil peeped like molehills from the green sea, and
followed them, as they swelled, by slow and almost imperceptible degrees,
into a continuous line of coast, can hardly be exaggerated.  A sharp keen
wind blew dead against us; a hard frost prevailed on shore; and the cold
was most severe.  Yet the air was so intensely clear, and dry, and
bright, that the temperature was not only endurable, but delicious.

How I remained on deck, staring about me, until we came alongside the
dock, and how, though I had had as many eyes as Argus, I should have had
them all wide open, and all employed on new objects—are topics which I
will not prolong this chapter to discuss.  Neither will I more than hint
at my foreigner-like mistake in supposing that a party of most active
persons, who scrambled on board at the peril of their lives as we
approached the wharf, were newsmen, answering to that industrious class
at home; whereas, despite the leathern wallets of news slung about the
necks of some, and the broad sheets in the hands of all, they were
Editors, who boarded ships in person (as one gentleman in a worsted
comforter informed me), ‘because they liked the excitement of it.’
Suffice it in this place to say, that one of these invaders, with a ready
courtesy for which I thank him here most gratefully, went on before to
order rooms at the hotel; and that when I followed, as I soon did, I
found myself rolling through the long passages with an involuntary
imitation of the gait of Mr. T. P. Cooke, in a new nautical melodrama.

‘Dinner, if you please,’ said I to the waiter.

‘When?’ said the waiter.

‘As quick as possible,’ said I.

‘Right away?’ said the waiter.

After a moment’s hesitation, I answered ‘No,’ at hazard.

‘_Not_ right away?’ cried the waiter, with an amount of surprise that
made me start.

I looked at him doubtfully, and returned, ‘No; I would rather have it in
this private room.  I like it very much.’

At this, I really thought the waiter must have gone out of his mind: as I
believe he would have done, but for the interposition of another man, who
whispered in his ear, ‘Directly.’

‘Well! and that’s a fact!’ said the waiter, looking helplessly at me:
‘Right away.’

I saw now that ‘Right away’ and ‘Directly’ were one and the same thing.
So I reversed my previous answer, and sat down to dinner in ten minutes
afterwards; and a capital dinner it was.

The hotel (a very excellent one) is called the Tremont House.  It has
more galleries, colonnades, piazzas, and passages than I can remember, or
the reader would believe.



CHAPTER III
BOSTON


_In_ all the public establishments of America, the utmost courtesy
prevails.  Most of our Departments are susceptible of considerable
improvement in this respect, but the Custom-house above all others would
do well to take example from the United States and render itself somewhat
less odious and offensive to foreigners.  The servile rapacity of the
French officials is sufficiently contemptible; but there is a surly
boorish incivility about our men, alike disgusting to all persons who
fall into their hands, and discreditable to the nation that keeps such
ill-conditioned curs snarling about its gates.

When I landed in America, I could not help being strongly impressed with
the contrast their Custom-house presented, and the attention, politeness
and good humour with which its officers discharged their duty.

As we did not land at Boston, in consequence of some detention at the
wharf, until after dark, I received my first impressions of the city in
walking down to the Custom-house on the morning after our arrival, which
was Sunday.  I am afraid to say, by the way, how many offers of pews and
seats in church for that morning were made to us, by formal note of
invitation, before we had half finished our first dinner in America, but
if I may be allowed to make a moderate guess, without going into nicer
calculation, I should say that at least as many sittings were proffered
us, as would have accommodated a score or two of grown-up families.  The
number of creeds and forms of religion to which the pleasure of our
company was requested, was in very fair proportion.

Not being able, in the absence of any change of clothes, to go to church
that day, we were compelled to decline these kindnesses, one and all; and
I was reluctantly obliged to forego the delight of hearing Dr. Channing,
who happened to preach that morning for the first time in a very long
interval.  I mention the name of this distinguished and accomplished man
(with whom I soon afterwards had the pleasure of becoming personally
acquainted), that I may have the gratification of recording my humble
tribute of admiration and respect for his high abilities and character;
and for the bold philanthropy with which he has ever opposed himself to
that most hideous blot and foul disgrace—Slavery.

To return to Boston.  When I got into the streets upon this Sunday
morning, the air was so clear, the houses were so bright and gay: the
signboards were painted in such gaudy colours; the gilded letters were so
very golden; the bricks were so very red, the stone was so very white,
the blinds and area railings were so very green, the knobs and plates
upon the street doors so marvellously bright and twinkling; and all so
slight and unsubstantial in appearance—that every thoroughfare in the
city looked exactly like a scene in a pantomime.  It rarely happens in
the business streets that a tradesman, if I may venture to call anybody a
tradesman, where everybody is a merchant, resides above his store; so
that many occupations are often carried on in one house, and the whole
front is covered with boards and inscriptions.  As I walked along, I kept
glancing up at these boards, confidently expecting to see a few of them
change into something; and I never turned a corner suddenly without
looking out for the clown and pantaloon, who, I had no doubt, were hiding
in a doorway or behind some pillar close at hand.  As to Harlequin and
Columbine, I discovered immediately that they lodged (they are always
looking after lodgings in a pantomime) at a very small clockmaker’s one
story high, near the hotel; which, in addition to various symbols and
devices, almost covering the whole front, had a great dial hanging out—to
be jumped through, of course.

The suburbs are, if possible, even more unsubstantial-looking than the
city.  The white wooden houses (so white that it makes one wink to look
at them), with their green jalousie blinds, are so sprinkled and dropped
about in all directions, without seeming to have any root at all in the
ground; and the small churches and chapels are so prim, and bright, and
highly varnished; that I almost believed the whole affair could be taken
up piecemeal like a child’s toy, and crammed into a little box.

The city is a beautiful one, and cannot fail, I should imagine, to
impress all strangers very favourably.  The private dwelling-houses are,
for the most part, large and elegant; the shops extremely good; and the
public buildings handsome.  The State House is built upon the summit of a
hill, which rises gradually at first, and afterwards by a steep ascent,
almost from the water’s edge.  In front is a green enclosure, called the
Common.  The site is beautiful: and from the top there is a charming
panoramic view of the whole town and neighbourhood.  In addition to a
variety of commodious offices, it contains two handsome chambers; in one
the House of Representatives of the State hold their meetings: in the
other, the Senate.  Such proceedings as I saw here, were conducted with
perfect gravity and decorum; and were certainly calculated to inspire
attention and respect.

There is no doubt that much of the intellectual refinement and
superiority of Boston, is referable to the quiet influence of the
University of Cambridge, which is within three or four miles of the city.
The resident professors at that university are gentlemen of learning and
varied attainments; and are, without one exception that I can call to
mind, men who would shed a grace upon, and do honour to, any society in
the civilised world.  Many of the resident gentry in Boston and its
neighbourhood, and I think I am not mistaken in adding, a large majority
of those who are attached to the liberal professions there, have been
educated at this same school.  Whatever the defects of American
universities may be, they disseminate no prejudices; rear no bigots; dig
up the buried ashes of no old superstitions; never interpose between the
people and their improvement; exclude no man because of his religious
opinions; above all, in their whole course of study and instruction,
recognise a world, and a broad one too, lying beyond the college walls.

It was a source of inexpressible pleasure to me to observe the almost
imperceptible, but not less certain effect, wrought by this institution
among the small community of Boston; and to note at every turn the
humanising tastes and desires it has engendered; the affectionate
friendships to which it has given rise; the amount of vanity and
prejudice it has dispelled.  The golden calf they worship at Boston is a
pigmy compared with the giant effigies set up in other parts of that vast
counting-house which lies beyond the Atlantic; and the almighty dollar
sinks into something comparatively insignificant, amidst a whole Pantheon
of better gods.

Above all, I sincerely believe that the public institutions and charities
of this capital of Massachusetts are as nearly perfect, as the most
considerate wisdom, benevolence, and humanity, can make them.  I never in
my life was more affected by the contemplation of happiness, under
circumstances of privation and bereavement, than in my visits to these
establishments.

It is a great and pleasant feature of all such institutions in America,
that they are either supported by the State or assisted by the State; or
(in the event of their not needing its helping hand) that they act in
concert with it, and are emphatically the people’s.  I cannot but think,
with a view to the principle and its tendency to elevate or depress the
character of the industrious classes, that a Public Charity is
immeasurably better than a Private Foundation, no matter how munificently
the latter may be endowed.  In our own country, where it has not, until
within these later days, been a very popular fashion with governments to
display any extraordinary regard for the great mass of the people or to
recognise their existence as improvable creatures, private charities,
unexampled in the history of the earth, have arisen, to do an
incalculable amount of good among the destitute and afflicted.  But the
government of the country, having neither act nor part in them, is not in
the receipt of any portion of the gratitude they inspire; and, offering
very little shelter or relief beyond that which is to be found in the
workhouse and the jail, has come, not unnaturally, to be looked upon by
the poor rather as a stern master, quick to correct and punish, than a
kind protector, merciful and vigilant in their hour of need.

The maxim that out of evil cometh good, is strongly illustrated by these
establishments at home; as the records of the Prerogative Office in
Doctors’ Commons can abundantly prove.  Some immensely rich old gentleman
or lady, surrounded by needy relatives, makes, upon a low average, a will
a-week.  The old gentleman or lady, never very remarkable in the best of
times for good temper, is full of aches and pains from head to foot; full
of fancies and caprices; full of spleen, distrust, suspicion, and
dislike.  To cancel old wills, and invent new ones, is at last the sole
business of such a testator’s existence; and relations and friends (some
of whom have been bred up distinctly to inherit a large share of the
property, and have been, from their cradles, specially disqualified from
devoting themselves to any useful pursuit, on that account) are so often
and so unexpectedly and summarily cut off, and reinstated, and cut off
again, that the whole family, down to the remotest cousin, is kept in a
perpetual fever.  At length it becomes plain that the old lady or
gentleman has not long to live; and the plainer this becomes, the more
clearly the old lady or gentleman perceives that everybody is in a
conspiracy against their poor old dying relative; wherefore the old lady
or gentleman makes another last will—positively the last this
time—conceals the same in a china teapot, and expires next day.  Then it
turns out, that the whole of the real and personal estate is divided
between half-a-dozen charities; and that the dead and gone testator has
in pure spite helped to do a great deal of good, at the cost of an
immense amount of evil passion and misery.

The Perkins Institution and Massachusetts Asylum for the Blind, at
Boston, is superintended by a body of trustees who make an annual report
to the corporation.  The indigent blind of that state are admitted
gratuitously.  Those from the adjoining state of Connecticut, or from the
states of Maine, Vermont, or New Hampshire, are admitted by a warrant
from the state to which they respectively belong; or, failing that, must
find security among their friends, for the payment of about twenty pounds
English for their first year’s board and instruction, and ten for the
second.  ‘After the first year,’ say the trustees, ‘an account current
will be opened with each pupil; he will be charged with the actual cost
of his board, which will not exceed two dollars per week;’ a trifle more
than eight shillings English; ‘and he will be credited with the amount
paid for him by the state, or by his friends; also with his earnings over
and above the cost of the stock which he uses; so that all his earnings
over one dollar per week will be his own.  By the third year it will be
known whether his earnings will more than pay the actual cost of his
board; if they should, he will have it at his option to remain and
receive his earnings, or not.  Those who prove unable to earn their own
livelihood will not be retained; as it is not desirable to convert the
establishment into an alms-house, or to retain any but working bees in
the hive.  Those who by physical or mental imbecility are disqualified
from work, are thereby disqualified from being members of an industrious
community; and they can be better provided for in establishments fitted
for the infirm.’

I went to see this place one very fine winter morning: an Italian sky
above, and the air so clear and bright on every side, that even my eyes,
which are none of the best, could follow the minute lines and scraps of
tracery in distant buildings.  Like most other public institutions in
America, of the same class, it stands a mile or two without the town, in
a cheerful healthy spot; and is an airy, spacious, handsome edifice.  It
is built upon a height, commanding the harbour.  When I paused for a
moment at the door, and marked how fresh and free the whole scene
was—what sparkling bubbles glanced upon the waves, and welled up every
moment to the surface, as though the world below, like that above, were
radiant with the bright day, and gushing over in its fulness of light:
when I gazed from sail to sail away upon a ship at sea, a tiny speck of
shining white, the only cloud upon the still, deep, distant blue—and,
turning, saw a blind boy with his sightless face addressed that way, as
though he too had some sense within him of the glorious distance: I felt
a kind of sorrow that the place should be so very light, and a strange
wish that for his sake it were darker.  It was but momentary, of course,
and a mere fancy, but I felt it keenly for all that.

The children were at their daily tasks in different rooms, except a few
who were already dismissed, and were at play.  Here, as in many
institutions, no uniform is worn; and I was very glad of it, for two
reasons.  Firstly, because I am sure that nothing but senseless custom
and want of thought would reconcile us to the liveries and badges we are
so fond of at home.  Secondly, because the absence of these things
presents each child to the visitor in his or her own proper character,
with its individuality unimpaired; not lost in a dull, ugly, monotonous
repetition of the same unmeaning garb: which is really an important
consideration.  The wisdom of encouraging a little harmless pride in
personal appearance even among the blind, or the whimsical absurdity of
considering charity and leather breeches inseparable companions, as we
do, requires no comment.

Good order, cleanliness, and comfort, pervaded every corner of the
building.  The various classes, who were gathered round their teachers,
answered the questions put to them with readiness and intelligence, and
in a spirit of cheerful contest for precedence which pleased me very
much.  Those who were at play, were gleesome and noisy as other children.
More spiritual and affectionate friendships appeared to exist among them,
than would be found among other young persons suffering under no
deprivation; but this I expected and was prepared to find.  It is a part
of the great scheme of Heaven’s merciful consideration for the afflicted.

In a portion of the building, set apart for that purpose, are work-shops
for blind persons whose education is finished, and who have acquired a
trade, but who cannot pursue it in an ordinary manufactory because of
their deprivation.  Several people were at work here; making brushes,
mattresses, and so forth; and the cheerfulness, industry, and good order
discernible in every other part of the building, extended to this
department also.

On the ringing of a bell, the pupils all repaired, without any guide or
leader, to a spacious music-hall, where they took their seats in an
orchestra erected for that purpose, and listened with manifest delight to
a voluntary on the organ, played by one of themselves.  At its
conclusion, the performer, a boy of nineteen or twenty, gave place to a
girl; and to her accompaniment they all sang a hymn, and afterwards a
sort of chorus.  It was very sad to look upon and hear them, happy though
their condition unquestionably was; and I saw that one blind girl, who
(being for the time deprived of the use of her limbs, by illness) sat
close beside me with her face towards them, wept silently the while she
listened.

It is strange to watch the faces of the blind, and see how free they are
from all concealment of what is passing in their thoughts; observing
which, a man with eyes may blush to contemplate the mask he wears.
Allowing for one shade of anxious expression which is never absent from
their countenances, and the like of which we may readily detect in our
own faces if we try to feel our way in the dark, every idea, as it rises
within them, is expressed with the lightning’s speed and nature’s truth.
If the company at a rout, or drawing-room at court, could only for one
time be as unconscious of the eyes upon them as blind men and women are,
what secrets would come out, and what a worker of hypocrisy this sight,
the loss of which we so much pity, would appear to be!

The thought occurred to me as I sat down in another room, before a girl,
blind, deaf, and dumb; destitute of smell; and nearly so of taste: before
a fair young creature with every human faculty, and hope, and power of
goodness and affection, inclosed within her delicate frame, and but one
outward sense—the sense of touch.  There she was, before me; built up, as
it were, in a marble cell, impervious to any ray of light, or particle of
sound; with her poor white hand peeping through a chink in the wall,
beckoning to some good man for help, that an Immortal soul might be
awakened.

Long before I looked upon her, the help had come.  Her face was radiant
with intelligence and pleasure.  Her hair, braided by her own hands, was
bound about a head, whose intellectual capacity and development were
beautifully expressed in its graceful outline, and its broad open brow;
her dress, arranged by herself, was a pattern of neatness and simplicity;
the work she had knitted, lay beside her; her writing-book was on the
desk she leaned upon.—From the mournful ruin of such bereavement, there
had slowly risen up this gentle, tender, guileless, grateful-hearted
being.

Like other inmates of that house, she had a green ribbon bound round her
eyelids.  A doll she had dressed lay near upon the ground.  I took it up,
and saw that she had made a green fillet such as she wore herself, and
fastened it about its mimic eyes.

She was seated in a little enclosure, made by school-desks and forms,
writing her daily journal.  But soon finishing this pursuit, she engaged
in an animated conversation with a teacher who sat beside her.  This was
a favourite mistress with the poor pupil.  If she could see the face of
her fair instructress, she would not love her less, I am sure.

I have extracted a few disjointed fragments of her history, from an
account, written by that one man who has made her what she is.  It is a
very beautiful and touching narrative; and I wish I could present it
entire.

Her name is Laura Bridgman.  ‘She was born in Hanover, New Hampshire, on
the twenty-first of December, 1829.  She is described as having been a
very sprightly and pretty infant, with bright blue eyes.  She was,
however, so puny and feeble until she was a year and a half old, that her
parents hardly hoped to rear her.  She was subject to severe fits, which
seemed to rack her frame almost beyond her power of endurance: and life
was held by the feeblest tenure: but when a year and a half old, she
seemed to rally; the dangerous symptoms subsided; and at twenty months
old, she was perfectly well.

‘Then her mental powers, hitherto stinted in their growth, rapidly
developed themselves; and during the four months of health which she
enjoyed, she appears (making due allowance for a fond mother’s account)
to have displayed a considerable degree of intelligence.

‘But suddenly she sickened again; her disease raged with great violence
during five weeks, when her eyes and ears were inflamed, suppurated, and
their contents were discharged.  But though sight and hearing were gone
for ever, the poor child’s sufferings were not ended.  The fever raged
during seven weeks; for five months she was kept in bed in a darkened
room; it was a year before she could walk unsupported, and two years
before she could sit up all day.  It was now observed that her sense of
smell was almost entirely destroyed; and, consequently, that her taste
was much blunted.

‘It was not until four years of age that the poor child’s bodily health
seemed restored, and she was able to enter upon her apprenticeship of
life and the world.

‘But what a situation was hers!  The darkness and the silence of the tomb
were around her: no mother’s smile called forth her answering smile, no
father’s voice taught her to imitate his sounds:—they, brothers and
sisters, were but forms of matter which resisted her touch, but which
differed not from the furniture of the house, save in warmth, and in the
power of locomotion; and not even in these respects from the dog and the
cat.

‘But the immortal spirit which had been implanted within her could not
die, nor be maimed nor mutilated; and though most of its avenues of
communication with the world were cut off, it began to manifest itself
through the others.  As soon as she could walk, she began to explore the
room, and then the house; she became familiar with the form, density,
weight, and heat, of every article she could lay her hands upon.  She
followed her mother, and felt her hands and arms, as she was occupied
about the house; and her disposition to imitate, led her to repeat
everything herself.  She even learned to sew a little, and to knit.’

The reader will scarcely need to be told, however, that the opportunities
of communicating with her, were very, very limited; and that the moral
effects of her wretched state soon began to appear.  Those who cannot be
enlightened by reason, can only be controlled by force; and this, coupled
with her great privations, must soon have reduced her to a worse
condition than that of the beasts that perish, but for timely and
unhoped-for aid.

‘At this time, I was so fortunate as to hear of the child, and
immediately hastened to Hanover to see her.  I found her with a
well-formed figure; a strongly-marked, nervous-sanguine temperament; a
large and beautifully-shaped head; and the whole system in healthy
action.  The parents were easily induced to consent to her coming to
Boston, and on the 4th of October, 1837, they brought her to the
Institution.

‘For a while, she was much bewildered; and after waiting about two weeks,
until she became acquainted with her new locality, and somewhat familiar
with the inmates, the attempt was made to give her knowledge of arbitrary
signs, by which she could interchange thoughts with others.

‘There was one of two ways to be adopted: either to go on to build up a
language of signs on the basis of the natural language which she had
already commenced herself, or to teach her the purely arbitrary language
in common use: that is, to give her a sign for every individual thing, or
to give her a knowledge of letters by combination of which she might
express her idea of the existence, and the mode and condition of
existence, of any thing.  The former would have been easy, but very
ineffectual; the latter seemed very difficult, but, if accomplished, very
effectual.  I determined therefore to try the latter.

‘The first experiments were made by taking articles in common use, such
as knives, forks, spoons, keys, &c., and pasting upon them labels with
their names printed in raised letters.  These she felt very carefully,
and soon, of course, distinguished that the crooked lines _spoon_,
differed as much from the crooked lines _key_, as the spoon differed from
the key in form.

‘Then small detached labels, with the same words printed upon them, were
put into her hands; and she soon observed that they were similar to the
ones pasted on the articles.’   She showed her perception of this
similarity by laying the label _key_ upon the key, and the label _spoon_
upon the spoon.  She was encouraged here by the natural sign of
approbation, patting on the head.

‘The same process was then repeated with all the articles which she could
handle; and she very easily learned to place the proper labels upon them.
It was evident, however, that the only intellectual exercise was that of
imitation and memory.  She recollected that the label _book_ was placed
upon a book, and she repeated the process first from imitation, next from
memory, with only the motive of love of approbation, but apparently
without the intellectual perception of any relation between the things.

‘After a while, instead of labels, the individual letters were given to
her on detached bits of paper: they were arranged side by side so as to
spell _book_, _key_, &c.; then they were mixed up in a heap and a sign
was made for her to arrange them herself so as to express the words
_book_, _key_, &c.; and she did so.

‘Hitherto, the process had been mechanical, and the success about as
great as teaching a very knowing dog a variety of tricks.  The poor child
had sat in mute amazement, and patiently imitated everything her teacher
did; but now the truth began to flash upon her: her intellect began to
work: she perceived that here was a way by which she could herself make
up a sign of anything that was in her own mind, and show it to another
mind; and at once her countenance lighted up with a human expression: it
was no longer a dog, or parrot: it was an immortal spirit, eagerly
seizing upon a new link of union with other spirits!  I could almost fix
upon the moment when this truth dawned upon her mind, and spread its
light to her countenance; I saw that the great obstacle was overcome; and
that henceforward nothing but patient and persevering, but plain and
straightforward, efforts were to be used.

‘The result thus far, is quickly related, and easily conceived; but not
so was the process; for many weeks of apparently unprofitable labour were
passed before it was effected.

‘When it was said above that a sign was made, it was intended to say,
that the action was performed by her teacher, she feeling his hands, and
then imitating the motion.

‘The next step was to procure a set of metal types, with the different
letters of the alphabet cast upon their ends; also a board, in which were
square holes, into which holes she could set the types; so that the
letters on their ends could alone be felt above the surface.

‘Then, on any article being handed to her, for instance, a pencil, or a
watch, she would select the component letters, and arrange them on her
board, and read them with apparent pleasure.

‘She was exercised for several weeks in this way, until her vocabulary
became extensive; and then the important step was taken of teaching her
how to represent the different letters by the position of her fingers,
instead of the cumbrous apparatus of the board and types.  She
accomplished this speedily and easily, for her intellect had begun to
work in aid of her teacher, and her progress was rapid.

‘This was the period, about three months after she had commenced, that
the first report of her case was made, in which it was stated that “she
has just learned the manual alphabet, as used by the deaf mutes, and it
is a subject of delight and wonder to see how rapidly, correctly, and
eagerly, she goes on with her labours.  Her teacher gives her a new
object, for instance, a pencil, first lets her examine it, and get an
idea of its use, then teaches her how to spell it by making the signs for
the letters with her own fingers: the child grasps her hand, and feels
her fingers, as the different letters are formed; she turns her head a
little on one side like a person listening closely; her lips are apart;
she seems scarcely to breathe; and her countenance, at first anxious,
gradually changes to a smile, as she comprehends the lesson.  She then
holds up her tiny fingers, and spells the word in the manual alphabet;
next, she takes her types and arranges her letters; and last, to make
sure that she is right, she takes the whole of the types composing the
word, and places them upon or in contact with the pencil, or whatever the
object may be.”

‘The whole of the succeeding year was passed in gratifying her eager
inquiries for the names of every object which she could possibly handle;
in exercising her in the use of the manual alphabet; in extending in
every possible way her knowledge of the physical relations of things; and
in proper care of her health.

‘At the end of the year a report of her case was made, from which the
following is an extract.

‘“It has been ascertained beyond the possibility of doubt, that she
cannot see a ray of light, cannot hear the least sound, and never
exercises her sense of smell, if she have any.  Thus her mind dwells in
darkness and stillness, as profound as that of a closed tomb at midnight.
Of beautiful sights, and sweet sounds, and pleasant odours, she has no
conception; nevertheless, she seems as happy and playful as a bird or a
lamb; and the employment of her intellectual faculties, or the
acquirement of a new idea, gives her a vivid pleasure, which is plainly
marked in her expressive features.  She never seems to repine, but has
all the buoyancy and gaiety of childhood.  She is fond of fun and frolic,
and when playing with the rest of the children, her shrill laugh sounds
loudest of the group.

‘“When left alone, she seems very happy if she have her knitting or
sewing, and will busy herself for hours; if she have no occupation, she
evidently amuses herself by imaginary dialogues, or by recalling past
impressions; she counts with her fingers, or spells out names of things
which she has recently learned, in the manual alphabet of the deaf mutes.
In this lonely self-communion she seems to reason, reflect, and argue; if
she spell a word wrong with the fingers of her right hand, she instantly
strikes it with her left, as her teacher does, in sign of disapprobation;
if right, then she pats herself upon the head, and looks pleased.  She
sometimes purposely spells a word wrong with the left hand, looks roguish
for a moment and laughs, and then with the right hand strikes the left,
as if to correct it.

‘“During the year she has attained great dexterity in the use of the
manual alphabet of the deaf mutes; and she spells out the words and
sentences which she knows, so fast and so deftly, that only those
accustomed to this language can follow with the eye the rapid motions of
her fingers.

‘“But wonderful as is the rapidity with which she writes her thoughts
upon the air, still more so is the ease and accuracy with which she reads
the words thus written by another; grasping their hands in hers, and
following every movement of their fingers, as letter after letter conveys
their meaning to her mind.  It is in this way that she converses with her
blind playmates, and nothing can more forcibly show the power of mind in
forcing matter to its purpose than a meeting between them.  For if great
talent and skill are necessary for two pantomimes to paint their thoughts
and feelings by the movements of the body, and the expression of the
countenance, how much greater the difficulty when darkness shrouds them
both, and the one can hear no sound.

‘“When Laura is walking through a passage-way, with her hands spread
before her, she knows instantly every one she meets, and passes them with
a sign of recognition: but if it be a girl of her own age, and especially
if it be one of her favourites, there is instantly a bright smile of
recognition, a twining of arms, a grasping of hands, and a swift
telegraphing upon the tiny fingers; whose rapid evolutions convey the
thoughts and feelings from the outposts of one mind to those of the
other.  There are questions and answers, exchanges of joy or sorrow,
there are kissings and partings, just as between little children with all
their senses.”

‘During this year, and six months after she had left home, her mother
came to visit her, and the scene of their meeting was an interesting one.

‘The mother stood some time, gazing with overflowing eyes upon her
unfortunate child, who, all unconscious of her presence, was playing
about the room.  Presently Laura ran against her, and at once began
feeling her hands, examining her dress, and trying to find out if she
knew her; but not succeeding in this, she turned away as from a stranger,
and the poor woman could not conceal the pang she felt, at finding that
her beloved child did not know her.

‘She then gave Laura a string of beads which she used to wear at home,
which were recognised by the child at once, who, with much joy, put them
around her neck, and sought me eagerly to say she understood the string
was from her home.

‘The mother now sought to caress her, but poor Laura repelled her,
preferring to be with her acquaintances.

‘Another article from home was now given her, and she began to look much
interested; she examined the stranger much closer, and gave me to
understand that she knew she came from Hanover; she even endured her
caresses, but would leave her with indifference at the slightest signal.
The distress of the mother was now painful to behold; for, although she
had feared that she should not be recognised, the painful reality of
being treated with cold indifference by a darling child, was too much for
woman’s nature to bear.

‘After a while, on the mother taking hold of her again, a vague idea
seemed to flit across Laura’s mind, that this could not be a stranger;
she therefore felt her hands very eagerly, while her countenance assumed
an expression of intense interest; she became very pale; and then
suddenly red; hope seemed struggling with doubt and anxiety, and never
were contending emotions more strongly painted upon the human face: at
this moment of painful uncertainty, the mother drew her close to her
side, and kissed her fondly, when at once the truth flashed upon the
child, and all mistrust and anxiety disappeared from her face, as with an
expression of exceeding joy she eagerly nestled to the bosom of her
parent, and yielded herself to her fond embraces.

‘After this, the beads were all unheeded; the playthings which were
offered to her were utterly disregarded; her playmates, for whom but a
moment before she gladly left the stranger, now vainly strove to pull her
from her mother; and though she yielded her usual instantaneous obedience
to my signal to follow me, it was evidently with painful reluctance.  She
clung close to me, as if bewildered and fearful; and when, after a
moment, I took her to her mother, she sprang to her arms, and clung to
her with eager joy.

‘The subsequent parting between them, showed alike the affection, the
intelligence, and the resolution of the child.

‘Laura accompanied her mother to the door, clinging close to her all the
way, until they arrived at the threshold, where she paused, and felt
around, to ascertain who was near her.  Perceiving the matron, of whom
she is very fond, she grasped her with one hand, holding on convulsively
to her mother with the other; and thus she stood for a moment: then she
dropped her mother’s hand; put her handkerchief to her eyes; and turning
round, clung sobbing to the matron; while her mother departed, with
emotions as deep as those of her child.

                               * * * * * *

‘It has been remarked in former reports, that she can distinguish
different degrees of intellect in others, and that she soon regarded,
almost with contempt, a new-comer, when, after a few days, she discovered
her weakness of mind.  This unamiable part of her character has been more
strongly developed during the past year.

‘She chooses for her friends and companions, those children who are
intelligent, and can talk best with her; and she evidently dislikes to be
with those who are deficient in intellect, unless, indeed, she can make
them serve her purposes, which she is evidently inclined to do.  She
takes advantage of them, and makes them wait upon her, in a manner that
she knows she could not exact of others; and in various ways shows her
Saxon blood.

‘She is fond of having other children noticed and caressed by the
teachers, and those whom she respects; but this must not be carried too
far, or she becomes jealous.  She wants to have her share, which, if not
the lion’s, is the greater part; and if she does not get it, she says,
“_My mother will love me_.”

‘Her tendency to imitation is so strong, that it leads her to actions
which must be entirely incomprehensible to her, and which can give her no
other pleasure than the gratification of an internal faculty.  She has
been known to sit for half an hour, holding a book before her sightless
eyes, and moving her lips, as she has observed seeing people do when
reading.

‘She one day pretended that her doll was sick; and went through all the
motions of tending it, and giving it medicine; she then put it carefully
to bed, and placed a bottle of hot water to its feet, laughing all the
time most heartily.  When I came home, she insisted upon my going to see
it, and feel its pulse; and when I told her to put a blister on its back,
she seemed to enjoy it amazingly, and almost screamed with delight.

‘Her social feelings, and her affections, are very strong; and when she
is sitting at work, or at her studies, by the side of one of her little
friends, she will break off from her task every few moments, to hug and
kiss them with an earnestness and warmth that is touching to behold.

‘When left alone, she occupies and apparently amuses herself, and seems
quite contented; and so strong seems to be the natural tendency of
thought to put on the garb of language, that she often soliloquizes in
the _finger language_, slow and tedious as it is.  But it is only when
alone, that she is quiet: for if she becomes sensible of the presence of
any one near her, she is restless until she can sit close beside them,
hold their hand, and converse with them by signs.

‘In her intellectual character it is pleasing to observe an insatiable
thirst for knowledge, and a quick perception of the relations of things.
In her moral character, it is beautiful to behold her continual gladness,
her keen enjoyment of existence, her expansive love, her unhesitating
confidence, her sympathy with suffering, her conscientiousness,
truthfulness, and hopefulness.’

Such are a few fragments from the simple but most interesting and
instructive history of Laura Bridgman.  The name of her great benefactor
and friend, who writes it, is Dr. Howe.  There are not many persons, I
hope and believe, who, after reading these passages, can ever hear that
name with indifference.

A further account has been published by Dr. Howe, since the report from
which I have just quoted.  It describes her rapid mental growth and
improvement during twelve months more, and brings her little history down
to the end of last year.  It is very remarkable, that as we dream in
words, and carry on imaginary conversations, in which we speak both for
ourselves and for the shadows who appear to us in those visions of the
night, so she, having no words, uses her finger alphabet in her sleep.
And it has been ascertained that when her slumber is broken, and is much
disturbed by dreams, she expresses her thoughts in an irregular and
confused manner on her fingers: just as we should murmur and mutter them
indistinctly, in the like circumstances.

I turned over the leaves of her Diary, and found it written in a fair
legible square hand, and expressed in terms which were quite intelligible
without any explanation.  On my saying that I should like to see her
write again, the teacher who sat beside her, bade her, in their language,
sign her name upon a slip of paper, twice or thrice.  In doing so, I
observed that she kept her left hand always touching, and following up,
her right, in which, of course, she held the pen.  No line was indicated
by any contrivance, but she wrote straight and freely.

She had, until now, been quite unconscious of the presence of visitors;
but, having her hand placed in that of the gentleman who accompanied me,
she immediately expressed his name upon her teacher’s palm.  Indeed her
sense of touch is now so exquisite, that having been acquainted with a
person once, she can recognise him or her after almost any interval.
This gentleman had been in her company, I believe, but very seldom, and
certainly had not seen her for many months.  My hand she rejected at
once, as she does that of any man who is a stranger to her.  But she
retained my wife’s with evident pleasure, kissed her, and examined her
dress with a girl’s curiosity and interest.

She was merry and cheerful, and showed much innocent playfulness in her
intercourse with her teacher.  Her delight on recognising a favourite
playfellow and companion—herself a blind girl—who silently, and with an
equal enjoyment of the coming surprise, took a seat beside her, was
beautiful to witness.  It elicited from her at first, as other slight
circumstances did twice or thrice during my visit, an uncouth noise which
was rather painful to hear.  But of her teacher touching her lips, she
immediately desisted, and embraced her laughingly and affectionately.

I had previously been into another chamber, where a number of blind boys
were swinging, and climbing, and engaged in various sports.  They all
clamoured, as we entered, to the assistant-master, who accompanied us,
‘Look at me, Mr. Hart!  Please, Mr. Hart, look at me!’ evincing, I
thought, even in this, an anxiety peculiar to their condition, that their
little feats of agility should be _seen_.  Among them was a small
laughing fellow, who stood aloof, entertaining himself with a gymnastic
exercise for bringing the arms and chest into play; which he enjoyed
mightily; especially when, in thrusting out his right arm, he brought it
into contact with another boy.  Like Laura Bridgman, this young child was
deaf, and dumb, and blind.

Dr. Howe’s account of this pupil’s first instruction is so very striking,
and so intimately connected with Laura herself, that I cannot refrain
from a short extract.  I may premise that the poor boy’s name is Oliver
Caswell; that he is thirteen years of age; and that he was in full
possession of all his faculties, until three years and four months old.
He was then attacked by scarlet fever; in four weeks became deaf; in a
few weeks more, blind; in six months, dumb.  He showed his anxious sense
of this last deprivation, by often feeling the lips of other persons when
they were talking, and then putting his hand upon his own, as if to
assure himself that he had them in the right position.

‘His thirst for knowledge,’ says Dr. Howe, ‘proclaimed itself as soon as
he entered the house, by his eager examination of everything he could
feel or smell in his new location.  For instance, treading upon the
register of a furnace, he instantly stooped down, and began to feel it,
and soon discovered the way in which the upper plate moved upon the lower
one; but this was not enough for him, so lying down upon his face, he
applied his tongue first to one, then to the other, and seemed to
discover that they were of different kinds of metal.

‘His signs were expressive: and the strictly natural language, laughing,
crying, sighing, kissing, embracing, &c., was perfect.

‘Some of the analogical signs which (guided by his faculty of imitation)
he had contrived, were comprehensible; such as the waving motion of his
hand for the motion of a boat, the circular one for a wheel, &c.

‘The first object was to break up the use of these signs and to
substitute for them the use of purely arbitrary ones.

‘Profiting by the experience I had gained in the other cases, I omitted
several steps of the process before employed, and commenced at once with
the finger language.  Taking, therefore, several articles having short
names, such as key, cup, mug, &c., and with Laura for an auxiliary, I sat
down, and taking his hand, placed it upon one of them, and then with my
own, made the letters _key_.  He felt my hands eagerly with both of his,
and on my repeating the process, he evidently tried to imitate the
motions of my fingers.  In a few minutes he contrived to feel the motions
of my fingers with one hand, and holding out the other he tried to
imitate them, laughing most heartily when he succeeded.  Laura was by,
interested even to agitation; and the two presented a singular sight: her
face was flushed and anxious, and her fingers twining in among ours so
closely as to follow every motion, but so slightly as not to embarrass
them; while Oliver stood attentive, his head a little aside, his face
turned up, his left hand grasping mine, and his right held out: at every
motion of my fingers his countenance betokened keen attention; there was
an expression of anxiety as he tried to imitate the motions; then a smile
came stealing out as he thought he could do so, and spread into a joyous
laugh the moment he succeeded, and felt me pat his head, and Laura clap
him heartily upon the back, and jump up and down in her joy.

‘He learned more than a half-dozen letters in half an hour, and seemed
delighted with his success, at least in gaining approbation.  His
attention then began to flag, and I commenced playing with him.  It was
evident that in all this he had merely been imitating the motions of my
fingers, and placing his hand upon the key, cup, &c., as part of the
process, without any perception of the relation between the sign and the
object.

‘When he was tired with play I took him back to the table, and he was
quite ready to begin again his process of imitation.  He soon learned to
make the letters for _key_, _pen_, _pin_; and by having the object
repeatedly placed in his hand, he at last perceived the relation I wished
to establish between them.  This was evident, because, when I made the
letters _pin_, or _pen_, or _cup_, he would select the article.

‘The perception of this relation was not accompanied by that radiant
flash of intelligence, and that glow of joy, which marked the delightful
moment when Laura first perceived it.  I then placed all the articles on
the table, and going away a little distance with the children, placed
Oliver’s fingers in the positions to spell _key_, on which Laura went and
brought the article: the little fellow seemed much amused by this, and
looked very attentive and smiling.  I then caused him to make the letters
_bread_, and in an instant Laura went and brought him a piece: he smelled
at it; put it to his lips; cocked up his head with a most knowing look;
seemed to reflect a moment; and then laughed outright, as much as to say,
“Aha!  I understand now how something may be made out of this.”

‘It was now clear that he had the capacity and inclination to learn, that
he was a proper subject for instruction, and needed only persevering
attention.  I therefore put him in the hands of an intelligent teacher,
nothing doubting of his rapid progress.’

Well may this gentleman call that a delightful moment, in which some
distant promise of her present state first gleamed upon the darkened mind
of Laura Bridgman.  Throughout his life, the recollection of that moment
will be to him a source of pure, unfading happiness; nor will it shine
less brightly on the evening of his days of Noble Usefulness.

The affection which exists between these two—the master and the pupil—is
as far removed from all ordinary care and regard, as the circumstances in
which it has had its growth, are apart from the common occurrences of
life.  He is occupied now, in devising means of imparting to her, higher
knowledge; and of conveying to her some adequate idea of the Great
Creator of that universe in which, dark and silent and scentless though
it be to her, she has such deep delight and glad enjoyment.

Ye who have eyes and see not, and have ears and hear not; ye who are as
the hypocrites of sad countenances, and disfigure your faces that ye may
seem unto men to fast; learn healthy cheerfulness, and mild contentment,
from the deaf, and dumb, and blind!  Self-elected saints with gloomy
brows, this sightless, earless, voiceless child may teach you lessons you
will do well to follow.  Let that poor hand of hers lie gently on your
hearts; for there may be something in its healing touch akin to that of
the Great Master whose precepts you misconstrue, whose lessons you
pervert, of whose charity and sympathy with all the world, not one among
you in his daily practice knows as much as many of the worst among those
fallen sinners, to whom you are liberal in nothing but the preachment of
perdition!

As I rose to quit the room, a pretty little child of one of the
attendants came running in to greet its father.  For the moment, a child
with eyes, among the sightless crowd, impressed me almost as painfully as
the blind boy in the porch had done, two hours ago.  Ah! how much
brighter and more deeply blue, glowing and rich though it had been
before, was the scene without, contrasting with the darkness of so many
youthful lives within!

                                * * * * *

At SOUTH BOSTON, as it is called, in a situation excellently adapted for
the purpose, several charitable institutions are clustered together.  One
of these, is the State Hospital for the insane; admirably conducted on
those enlightened principles of conciliation and kindness, which twenty
years ago would have been worse than heretical, and which have been acted
upon with so much success in our own pauper Asylum at Hanwell.  ‘Evince a
desire to show some confidence, and repose some trust, even in mad
people,’ said the resident physician, as we walked along the galleries,
his patients flocking round us unrestrained.  Of those who deny or doubt
the wisdom of this maxim after witnessing its effects, if there be such
people still alive, I can only say that I hope I may never be summoned as
a Juryman on a Commission of Lunacy whereof they are the subjects; for I
should certainly find them out of their senses, on such evidence alone.

Each ward in this institution is shaped like a long gallery or hall, with
the dormitories of the patients opening from it on either hand.  Here
they work, read, play at skittles, and other games; and when the weather
does not admit of their taking exercise out of doors, pass the day
together.  In one of these rooms, seated, calmly, and quite as a matter
of course, among a throng of mad-women, black and white, were the
physician’s wife and another lady, with a couple of children.  These
ladies were graceful and handsome; and it was not difficult to perceive
at a glance that even their presence there, had a highly beneficial
influence on the patients who were grouped about them.

Leaning her head against the chimney-piece, with a great assumption of
dignity and refinement of manner, sat an elderly female, in as many
scraps of finery as Madge Wildfire herself.  Her head in particular was
so strewn with scraps of gauze and cotton and bits of paper, and had so
many queer odds and ends stuck all about it, that it looked like a
bird’s-nest.  She was radiant with imaginary jewels; wore a rich pair of
undoubted gold spectacles; and gracefully dropped upon her lap, as we
approached, a very old greasy newspaper, in which I dare say she had been
reading an account of her own presentation at some Foreign Court.

I have been thus particular in describing her, because she will serve to
exemplify the physician’s manner of acquiring and retaining the
confidence of his patients.

‘This,’ he said aloud, taking me by the hand, and advancing to the
fantastic figure with great politeness—not raising her suspicions by the
slightest look or whisper, or any kind of aside, to me: ‘This lady is the
hostess of this mansion, sir.  It belongs to her.  Nobody else has
anything whatever to do with it.  It is a large establishment, as you
see, and requires a great number of attendants.  She lives, you observe,
in the very first style.  She is kind enough to receive my visits, and to
permit my wife and family to reside here; for which it is hardly
necessary to say, we are much indebted to her.  She is exceedingly
courteous, you perceive,’ on this hint she bowed condescendingly, ‘and
will permit me to have the pleasure of introducing you: a gentleman from
England, Ma’am: newly arrived from England, after a very tempestuous
passage: Mr. Dickens,—the lady of the house!’

We exchanged the most dignified salutations with profound gravity and
respect, and so went on.  The rest of the madwomen seemed to understand
the joke perfectly (not only in this case, but in all the others, except
their own), and be highly amused by it.  The nature of their several
kinds of insanity was made known to me in the same way, and we left each
of them in high good humour.  Not only is a thorough confidence
established, by those means, between the physician and patient, in
respect of the nature and extent of their hallucinations, but it is easy
to understand that opportunities are afforded for seizing any moment of
reason, to startle them by placing their own delusion before them in its
most incongruous and ridiculous light.

Every patient in this asylum sits down to dinner every day with a knife
and fork; and in the midst of them sits the gentleman, whose manner of
dealing with his charges, I have just described.  At every meal, moral
influence alone restrains the more violent among them from cutting the
throats of the rest; but the effect of that influence is reduced to an
absolute certainty, and is found, even as a means of restraint, to say
nothing of it as a means of cure, a hundred times more efficacious than
all the strait-waistcoats, fetters, and handcuffs, that ignorance,
prejudice, and cruelty have manufactured since the creation of the world.

In the labour department, every patient is as freely trusted with the
tools of his trade as if he were a sane man.  In the garden, and on the
farm, they work with spades, rakes, and hoes.  For amusement, they walk,
run, fish, paint, read, and ride out to take the air in carriages
provided for the purpose.  They have among themselves a sewing society to
make clothes for the poor, which holds meetings, passes resolutions,
never comes to fisty-cuffs or bowie-knives as sane assemblies have been
known to do elsewhere; and conducts all its proceedings with the greatest
decorum.  The irritability, which would otherwise be expended on their
own flesh, clothes, and furniture, is dissipated in these pursuits.  They
are cheerful, tranquil, and healthy.

Once a week they have a ball, in which the Doctor and his family, with
all the nurses and attendants, take an active part.  Dances and marches
are performed alternately, to the enlivening strains of a piano; and now
and then some gentleman or lady (whose proficiency has been previously
ascertained) obliges the company with a song: nor does it ever
degenerate, at a tender crisis, into a screech or howl; wherein, I must
confess, I should have thought the danger lay.  At an early hour they all
meet together for these festive purposes; at eight o’clock refreshments
are served; and at nine they separate.

Immense politeness and good breeding are observed throughout.  They all
take their tone from the Doctor; and he moves a very Chesterfield among
the company.  Like other assemblies, these entertainments afford a
fruitful topic of conversation among the ladies for some days; and the
gentlemen are so anxious to shine on these occasions, that they have been
sometimes found ‘practising their steps’ in private, to cut a more
distinguished figure in the dance.

It is obvious that one great feature of this system, is the inculcation
and encouragement, even among such unhappy persons, of a decent
self-respect.  Something of the same spirit pervades all the Institutions
at South Boston.

There is the House of Industry.  In that branch of it, which is devoted
to the reception of old or otherwise helpless paupers, these words are
painted on the walls: ‘WORTHY OF NOTICE.  SELF-GOVERNMENT, QUIETUDE, AND
PEACE, ARE BLESSINGS.’  It is not assumed and taken for granted that
being there they must be evil-disposed and wicked people, before whose
vicious eyes it is necessary to flourish threats and harsh restraints.
They are met at the very threshold with this mild appeal.  All
within-doors is very plain and simple, as it ought to be, but arranged
with a view to peace and comfort.  It costs no more than any other plan
of arrangement, but it speaks an amount of consideration for those who
are reduced to seek a shelter there, which puts them at once upon their
gratitude and good behaviour.  Instead of being parcelled out in great,
long, rambling wards, where a certain amount of weazen life may mope, and
pine, and shiver, all day long, the building is divided into separate
rooms, each with its share of light and air.  In these, the better kind
of paupers live.  They have a motive for exertion and becoming pride, in
the desire to make these little chambers comfortable and decent.

I do not remember one but it was clean and neat, and had its plant or two
upon the window-sill, or row of crockery upon the shelf, or small display
of coloured prints upon the whitewashed wall, or, perhaps, its wooden
clock behind the door.

The orphans and young children are in an adjoining building separate from
this, but a part of the same Institution.  Some are such little
creatures, that the stairs are of Lilliputian measurement, fitted to
their tiny strides.  The same consideration for their years and weakness
is expressed in their very seats, which are perfect curiosities, and look
like articles of furniture for a pauper doll’s-house.  I can imagine the
glee of our Poor Law Commissioners at the notion of these seats having
arms and backs; but small spines being of older date than their
occupation of the Board-room at Somerset House, I thought even this
provision very merciful and kind.

Here again, I was greatly pleased with the inscriptions on the wall,
which were scraps of plain morality, easily remembered and understood:
such as ‘Love one another’—‘God remembers the smallest creature in his
creation:’ and straightforward advice of that nature.  The books and
tasks of these smallest of scholars, were adapted, in the same judicious
manner, to their childish powers.  When we had examined these lessons,
four morsels of girls (of whom one was blind) sang a little song, about
the merry month of May, which I thought (being extremely dismal) would
have suited an English November better.  That done, we went to see their
sleeping-rooms on the floor above, in which the arrangements were no less
excellent and gentle than those we had seen below.  And after observing
that the teachers were of a class and character well suited to the spirit
of the place, I took leave of the infants with a lighter heart than ever
I have taken leave of pauper infants yet.

Connected with the House of Industry, there is also an Hospital, which
was in the best order, and had, I am glad to say, many beds unoccupied.
It had one fault, however, which is common to all American interiors: the
presence of the eternal, accursed, suffocating, red-hot demon of a stove,
whose breath would blight the purest air under Heaven.

There are two establishments for boys in this same neighbourhood.  One is
called the Boylston school, and is an asylum for neglected and indigent
boys who have committed no crime, but who in the ordinary course of
things would very soon be purged of that distinction if they were not
taken from the hungry streets and sent here.  The other is a House of
Reformation for Juvenile Offenders.  They are both under the same roof,
but the two classes of boys never come in contact.

The Boylston boys, as may be readily supposed, have very much the
advantage of the others in point of personal appearance.  They were in
their school-room when I came upon them, and answered correctly, without
book, such questions as where was England; how far was it; what was its
population; its capital city; its form of government; and so forth.  They
sang a song too, about a farmer sowing his seed: with corresponding
action at such parts as ‘’tis thus he sows,’ ‘he turns him round,’ ‘he
claps his hands;’ which gave it greater interest for them, and accustomed
them to act together, in an orderly manner.  They appeared exceedingly
well-taught, and not better taught than fed; for a more chubby-looking
full-waistcoated set of boys, I never saw.

The juvenile offenders had not such pleasant faces by a great deal, and
in this establishment there were many boys of colour.  I saw them first
at their work (basket-making, and the manufacture of palm-leaf hats),
afterwards in their school, where they sang a chorus in praise of
Liberty: an odd, and, one would think, rather aggravating, theme for
prisoners.  These boys are divided into four classes, each denoted by a
numeral, worn on a badge upon the arm.  On the arrival of a new-comer, he
is put into the fourth or lowest class, and left, by good behaviour, to
work his way up into the first.  The design and object of this
Institution is to reclaim the youthful criminal by firm but kind and
judicious treatment; to make his prison a place of purification and
improvement, not of demoralisation and corruption; to impress upon him
that there is but one path, and that one sober industry, which can ever
lead him to happiness; to teach him how it may be trodden, if his
footsteps have never yet been led that way; and to lure him back to it if
they have strayed: in a word, to snatch him from destruction, and restore
him to society a penitent and useful member.  The importance of such an
establishment, in every point of view, and with reference to every
consideration of humanity and social policy, requires no comment.

One other establishment closes the catalogue.  It is the House of
Correction for the State, in which silence is strictly maintained, but
where the prisoners have the comfort and mental relief of seeing each
other, and of working together.  This is the improved system of Prison
Discipline which we have imported into England, and which has been in
successful operation among us for some years past.

America, as a new and not over-populated country, has in all her prisons,
the one great advantage, of being enabled to find useful and profitable
work for the inmates; whereas, with us, the prejudice against prison
labour is naturally very strong, and almost insurmountable, when honest
men who have not offended against the laws are frequently doomed to seek
employment in vain.  Even in the United States, the principle of bringing
convict labour and free labour into a competition which must obviously be
to the disadvantage of the latter, has already found many opponents,
whose number is not likely to diminish with access of years.

For this very reason though, our best prisons would seem at the first
glance to be better conducted than those of America.  The treadmill is
conducted with little or no noise; five hundred men may pick oakum in the
same room, without a sound; and both kinds of labour admit of such keen
and vigilant superintendence, as will render even a word of personal
communication amongst the prisoners almost impossible.  On the other
hand, the noise of the loom, the forge, the carpenter’s hammer, or the
stonemason’s saw, greatly favour those opportunities of
intercourse—hurried and brief no doubt, but opportunities still—which
these several kinds of work, by rendering it necessary for men to be
employed very near to each other, and often side by side, without any
barrier or partition between them, in their very nature present.  A
visitor, too, requires to reason and reflect a little, before the sight
of a number of men engaged in ordinary labour, such as he is accustomed
to out of doors, will impress him half as strongly as the contemplation
of the same persons in the same place and garb would, if they were
occupied in some task, marked and degraded everywhere as belonging only
to felons in jails.  In an American state prison or house of correction,
I found it difficult at first to persuade myself that I was really in a
jail: a place of ignominious punishment and endurance.  And to this hour
I very much question whether the humane boast that it is not like one,
has its root in the true wisdom or philosophy of the matter.

I hope I may not be misunderstood on this subject, for it is one in which
I take a strong and deep interest.  I incline as little to the sickly
feeling which makes every canting lie or maudlin speech of a notorious
criminal a subject of newspaper report and general sympathy, as I do to
those good old customs of the good old times which made England, even so
recently as in the reign of the Third King George, in respect of her
criminal code and her prison regulations, one of the most bloody-minded
and barbarous countries on the earth.  If I thought it would do any good
to the rising generation, I would cheerfully give my consent to the
disinterment of the bones of any genteel highwayman (the more genteel,
the more cheerfully), and to their exposure, piecemeal, on any sign-post,
gate, or gibbet, that might be deemed a good elevation for the purpose.
My reason is as well convinced that these gentry were as utterly
worthless and debauched villains, as it is that the laws and jails
hardened them in their evil courses, or that their wonderful escapes were
effected by the prison-turnkeys who, in those admirable days, had always
been felons themselves, and were, to the last, their bosom-friends and
pot-companions.  At the same time I know, as all men do or should, that
the subject of Prison Discipline is one of the highest importance to any
community; and that in her sweeping reform and bright example to other
countries on this head, America has shown great wisdom, great
benevolence, and exalted policy.  In contrasting her system with that
which we have modelled upon it, I merely seek to show that with all its
drawbacks, ours has some advantages of its own.

The House of Correction which has led to these remarks, is not walled,
like other prisons, but is palisaded round about with tall rough stakes,
something after the manner of an enclosure for keeping elephants in, as
we see it represented in Eastern prints and pictures.  The prisoners wear
a parti-coloured dress; and those who are sentenced to hard labour, work
at nail-making, or stone-cutting.  When I was there, the latter class of
labourers were employed upon the stone for a new custom-house in course
of erection at Boston.  They appeared to shape it skilfully and with
expedition, though there were very few among them (if any) who had not
acquired the art within the prison gates.

The women, all in one large room, were employed in making light clothing,
for New Orleans and the Southern States.  They did their work in silence
like the men; and like them were over-looked by the person contracting
for their labour, or by some agent of his appointment.  In addition to
this, they are every moment liable to be visited by the prison officers
appointed for that purpose.

The arrangements for cooking, washing of clothes, and so forth, are much
upon the plan of those I have seen at home.  Their mode of bestowing the
prisoners at night (which is of general adoption) differs from ours, and
is both simple and effective.  In the centre of a lofty area, lighted by
windows in the four walls, are five tiers of cells, one above the other;
each tier having before it a light iron gallery, attainable by stairs of
the same construction and material: excepting the lower one, which is on
the ground.  Behind these, back to back with them and facing the opposite
wall, are five corresponding rows of cells, accessible by similar means:
so that supposing the prisoners locked up in their cells, an officer
stationed on the ground, with his back to the wall, has half their number
under his eye at once; the remaining half being equally under the
observation of another officer on the opposite side; and all in one great
apartment.  Unless this watch be corrupted or sleeping on his post, it is
impossible for a man to escape; for even in the event of his forcing the
iron door of his cell without noise (which is exceedingly improbable),
the moment he appears outside, and steps into that one of the five
galleries on which it is situated, he must be plainly and fully visible
to the officer below.  Each of these cells holds a small truckle bed, in
which one prisoner sleeps; never more.  It is small, of course; and the
door being not solid, but grated, and without blind or curtain, the
prisoner within is at all times exposed to the observation and inspection
of any guard who may pass along that tier at any hour or minute of the
night.  Every day, the prisoners receive their dinner, singly, through a
trap in the kitchen wall; and each man carries his to his sleeping cell
to eat it, where he is locked up, alone, for that purpose, one hour.  The
whole of this arrangement struck me as being admirable; and I hope that
the next new prison we erect in England may be built on this plan.

I was given to understand that in this prison no swords or fire-arms, or
even cudgels, are kept; nor is it probable that, so long as its present
excellent management continues, any weapon, offensive or defensive, will
ever be required within its bounds.

Such are the Institutions at South Boston!  In all of them, the
unfortunate or degenerate citizens of the State are carefully instructed
in their duties both to God and man; are surrounded by all reasonable
means of comfort and happiness that their condition will admit of; are
appealed to, as members of the great human family, however afflicted,
indigent, or fallen; are ruled by the strong Heart, and not by the strong
(though immeasurably weaker) Hand.  I have described them at some length;
firstly, because their worth demanded it; and secondly, because I mean to
take them for a model, and to content myself with saying of others we may
come to, whose design and purpose are the same, that in this or that
respect they practically fail, or differ.

I wish by this account of them, imperfect in its execution, but in its
just intention, honest, I could hope to convey to my readers
one-hundredth part of the gratification, the sights I have described,
afforded me.

                                * * * * *

To an Englishman, accustomed to the paraphernalia of Westminster Hall, an
American Court of Law is as odd a sight as, I suppose, an English Court
of Law would be to an American.  Except in the Supreme Court at
Washington (where the judges wear a plain black robe), there is no such
thing as a wig or gown connected with the administration of justice.  The
gentlemen of the bar being barristers and attorneys too (for there is no
division of those functions as in England) are no more removed from their
clients than attorneys in our Court for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors
are, from theirs.  The jury are quite at home, and make themselves as
comfortable as circumstances will permit.  The witness is so little
elevated above, or put aloof from, the crowd in the court, that a
stranger entering during a pause in the proceedings would find it
difficult to pick him out from the rest.  And if it chanced to be a
criminal trial, his eyes, in nine cases out of ten, would wander to the
dock in search of the prisoner, in vain; for that gentleman would most
likely be lounging among the most distinguished ornaments of the legal
profession, whispering suggestions in his counsel’s ear, or making a
toothpick out of an old quill with his penknife.

I could not but notice these differences, when I visited the courts at
Boston.  I was much surprised at first, too, to observe that the counsel
who interrogated the witness under examination at the time, did so
_sitting_.  But seeing that he was also occupied in writing down the
answers, and remembering that he was alone and had no ‘junior,’ I quickly
consoled myself with the reflection that law was not quite so expensive
an article here, as at home; and that the absence of sundry formalities
which we regard as indispensable, had doubtless a very favourable
influence upon the bill of costs.

In every Court, ample and commodious provision is made for the
accommodation of the citizens.  This is the case all through America.  In
every Public Institution, the right of the people to attend, and to have
an interest in the proceedings, is most fully and distinctly recognised.
There are no grim door-keepers to dole out their tardy civility by the
sixpenny-worth; nor is there, I sincerely believe, any insolence of
office of any kind.  Nothing national is exhibited for money; and no
public officer is a showman.  We have begun of late years to imitate this
good example.  I hope we shall continue to do so; and that in the fulness
of time, even deans and chapters may be converted.

In the civil court an action was trying, for damages sustained in some
accident upon a railway.  The witnesses had been examined, and counsel
was addressing the jury.  The learned gentleman (like a few of his
English brethren) was desperately long-winded, and had a remarkable
capacity of saying the same thing over and over again.  His great theme
was ‘Warren the ěn_gine_ driver,’ whom he pressed into the service of
every sentence he uttered.  I listened to him for about a quarter of an
hour; and, coming out of court at the expiration of that time, without
the faintest ray of enlightenment as to the merits of the case, felt as
if I were at home again.

In the prisoner’s cell, waiting to be examined by the magistrate on a
charge of theft, was a boy.  This lad, instead of being committed to a
common jail, would be sent to the asylum at South Boston, and there
taught a trade; and in the course of time he would be bound apprentice to
some respectable master.  Thus, his detection in this offence, instead of
being the prelude to a life of infamy and a miserable death, would lead,
there was a reasonable hope, to his being reclaimed from vice, and
becoming a worthy member of society.

I am by no means a wholesale admirer of our legal solemnities, many of
which impress me as being exceedingly ludicrous.  Strange as it may seem
too, there is undoubtedly a degree of protection in the wig and gown—a
dismissal of individual responsibility in dressing for the part—which
encourages that insolent bearing and language, and that gross perversion
of the office of a pleader for The Truth, so frequent in our courts of
law.  Still, I cannot help doubting whether America, in her desire to
shake off the absurdities and abuses of the old system, may not have gone
too far into the opposite extreme; and whether it is not desirable,
especially in the small community of a city like this, where each man
knows the other, to surround the administration of justice with some
artificial barriers against the ‘Hail fellow, well met’ deportment of
everyday life.  All the aid it can have in the very high character and
ability of the Bench, not only here but elsewhere, it has, and well
deserves to have; but it may need something more: not to impress the
thoughtful and the well-informed, but the ignorant and heedless; a class
which includes some prisoners and many witnesses.  These institutions
were established, no doubt, upon the principle that those who had so
large a share in making the laws, would certainly respect them.  But
experience has proved this hope to be fallacious; for no men know better
than the judges of America, that on the occasion of any great popular
excitement the law is powerless, and cannot, for the time, assert its own
supremacy.

The tone of society in Boston is one of perfect politeness, courtesy, and
good breeding.  The ladies are unquestionably very beautiful—in face: but
there I am compelled to stop.  Their education is much as with us;
neither better nor worse.  I had heard some very marvellous stories in
this respect; but not believing them, was not disappointed.  Blue ladies
there are, in Boston; but like philosophers of that colour and sex in
most other latitudes, they rather desire to be thought superior than to
be so.  Evangelical ladies there are, likewise, whose attachment to the
forms of religion, and horror of theatrical entertainments, are most
exemplary.  Ladies who have a passion for attending lectures are to be
found among all classes and all conditions.  In the kind of provincial
life which prevails in cities such as this, the Pulpit has great
influence.  The peculiar province of the Pulpit in New England (always
excepting the Unitarian Ministry) would appear to be the denouncement of
all innocent and rational amusements.  The church, the chapel, and the
lecture-room, are the only means of excitement excepted; and to the
church, the chapel, and the lecture-room, the ladies resort in crowds.

Wherever religion is resorted to, as a strong drink, and as an escape
from the dull monotonous round of home, those of its ministers who pepper
the highest will be the surest to please.  They who strew the Eternal
Path with the greatest amount of brimstone, and who most ruthlessly tread
down the flowers and leaves that grow by the wayside, will be voted the
most righteous; and they who enlarge with the greatest pertinacity on the
difficulty of getting into heaven, will be considered by all true
believers certain of going there: though it would be hard to say by what
process of reasoning this conclusion is arrived at.  It is so at home,
and it is so abroad.  With regard to the other means of excitement, the
Lecture, it has at least the merit of being always new.  One lecture
treads so quickly on the heels of another, that none are remembered; and
the course of this month may be safely repeated next, with its charm of
novelty unbroken, and its interest unabated.

The fruits of the earth have their growth in corruption.  Out of the
rottenness of these things, there has sprung up in Boston a sect of
philosophers known as Transcendentalists.  On inquiring what this
appellation might be supposed to signify, I was given to understand that
whatever was unintelligible would be certainly transcendental.  Not
deriving much comfort from this elucidation, I pursued the inquiry still
further, and found that the Transcendentalists are followers of my friend
Mr. Carlyle, or I should rather say, of a follower of his, Mr. Ralph
Waldo Emerson.  This gentleman has written a volume of Essays, in which,
among much that is dreamy and fanciful (if he will pardon me for saying
so), there is much more that is true and manly, honest and bold.
Transcendentalism has its occasional vagaries (what school has not?), but
it has good healthful qualities in spite of them; not least among the
number a hearty disgust of Cant, and an aptitude to detect her in all the
million varieties of her everlasting wardrobe.  And therefore if I were a
Bostonian, I think I would be a Transcendentalist.

The only preacher I heard in Boston was Mr. Taylor, who addresses himself
peculiarly to seamen, and who was once a mariner himself.  I found his
chapel down among the shipping, in one of the narrow, old, water-side
streets, with a gay blue flag waving freely from its roof.  In the
gallery opposite to the pulpit were a little choir of male and female
singers, a violoncello, and a violin.  The preacher already sat in the
pulpit, which was raised on pillars, and ornamented behind him with
painted drapery of a lively and somewhat theatrical appearance.  He
looked a weather-beaten hard-featured man, of about six or eight and
fifty; with deep lines graven as it were into his face, dark hair, and a
stern, keen eye.  Yet the general character of his countenance was
pleasant and agreeable.  The service commenced with a hymn, to which
succeeded an extemporary prayer.  It had the fault of frequent
repetition, incidental to all such prayers; but it was plain and
comprehensive in its doctrines, and breathed a tone of general sympathy
and charity, which is not so commonly a characteristic of this form of
address to the Deity as it might be.  That done he opened his discourse,
taking for his text a passage from the Song of Solomon, laid upon the
desk before the commencement of the service by some unknown member of the
congregation: ‘Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning on the
arm of her beloved!’

He handled his text in all kinds of ways, and twisted it into all manner
of shapes; but always ingeniously, and with a rude eloquence, well
adapted to the comprehension of his hearers.  Indeed if I be not
mistaken, he studied their sympathies and understandings much more than
the display of his own powers.  His imagery was all drawn from the sea,
and from the incidents of a seaman’s life; and was often remarkably good.
He spoke to them of ‘that glorious man, Lord Nelson,’ and of Collingwood;
and drew nothing in, as the saying is, by the head and shoulders, but
brought it to bear upon his purpose, naturally, and with a sharp mind to
its effect.  Sometimes, when much excited with his subject, he had an odd
way—compounded of John Bunyan, and Balfour of Burley—of taking his great
quarto Bible under his arm and pacing up and down the pulpit with it;
looking steadily down, meantime, into the midst of the congregation.
Thus, when he applied his text to the first assemblage of his hearers,
and pictured the wonder of the church at their presumption in forming a
congregation among themselves, he stopped short with his Bible under his
arm in the manner I have described, and pursued his discourse after this
manner:

‘Who are these—who are they—who are these fellows? where do they come
from?  Where are they going to?—Come from!  What’s the answer?’—leaning
out of the pulpit, and pointing downward with his right hand: ‘From
below!’—starting back again, and looking at the sailors before him: ‘From
below, my brethren.  From under the hatches of sin, battened down above
you by the evil one.  That’s where you came from!’—a walk up and down the
pulpit: ‘and where are you going’—stopping abruptly: ‘where are you
going? Aloft!’—very softly, and pointing upward: ‘Aloft!’—louder:
‘aloft!’—louder still: ‘That’s where you are going—with a fair wind,—all
taut and trim, steering direct for Heaven in its glory, where there are
no storms or foul weather, and where the wicked cease from troubling, and
the weary are at rest.’—Another walk: ‘That’s where you’re going to, my
friends.  That’s it.  That’s the place.  That’s the port.  That’s the
haven.  It’s a blessed harbour—still water there, in all changes of the
winds and tides; no driving ashore upon the rocks, or slipping your
cables and running out to sea, there: Peace—Peace—Peace—all
peace!’—Another walk, and patting the Bible under his left arm: ‘What!
These fellows are coming from the wilderness, are they?  Yes.  From the
dreary, blighted wilderness of Iniquity, whose only crop is Death.  But
do they lean upon anything—do they lean upon nothing, these poor
seamen?’—Three raps upon the Bible: ‘Oh yes.—Yes.—They lean upon the arm
of their Beloved’—three more raps: ‘upon the arm of their Beloved’—three
more, and a walk: ‘Pilot, guiding-star, and compass, all in one, to all
hands—here it is’—three more: ‘Here it is.  They can do their seaman’s
duty manfully, and be easy in their minds in the utmost peril and danger,
with this’—two more: ‘They can come, even these poor fellows can come,
from the wilderness leaning on the arm of their Beloved, and go
up—up—up!’—raising his hand higher, and higher, at every repetition of
the word, so that he stood with it at last stretched above his head,
regarding them in a strange, rapt manner, and pressing the book
triumphantly to his breast, until he gradually subsided into some other
portion of his discourse.

I have cited this, rather as an instance of the preacher’s eccentricities
than his merits, though taken in connection with his look and manner, and
the character of his audience, even this was striking.  It is possible,
however, that my favourable impression of him may have been greatly
influenced and strengthened, firstly, by his impressing upon his hearers
that the true observance of religion was not inconsistent with a cheerful
deportment and an exact discharge of the duties of their station, which,
indeed, it scrupulously required of them; and secondly, by his cautioning
them not to set up any monopoly in Paradise and its mercies.  I never
heard these two points so wisely touched (if indeed I have ever heard
them touched at all), by any preacher of that kind before.

Having passed the time I spent in Boston, in making myself acquainted
with these things, in settling the course I should take in my future
travels, and in mixing constantly with its society, I am not aware that I
have any occasion to prolong this chapter.  Such of its social customs as
I have not mentioned, however, may be told in a very few words.

The usual dinner-hour is two o’clock.  A dinner party takes place at
five; and at an evening party, they seldom sup later than eleven; so that
it goes hard but one gets home, even from a rout, by midnight.  I never
could find out any difference between a party at Boston and a party in
London, saving that at the former place all assemblies are held at more
rational hours; that the conversation may possibly be a little louder and
more cheerful; and a guest is usually expected to ascend to the very top
of the house to take his cloak off; that he is certain to see, at every
dinner, an unusual amount of poultry on the table; and at every supper,
at least two mighty bowls of hot stewed oysters, in any one of which a
half-grown Duke of Clarence might be smothered easily.

There are two theatres in Boston, of good size and construction, but
sadly in want of patronage.  The few ladies who resort to them, sit, as
of right, in the front rows of the boxes.

The bar is a large room with a stone floor, and there people stand and
smoke, and lounge about, all the evening: dropping in and out as the
humour takes them.  There too the stranger is initiated into the
mysteries of Gin-sling, Cock-tail, Sangaree, Mint Julep, Sherry-cobbler,
Timber Doodle, and other rare drinks.  The house is full of boarders,
both married and single, many of whom sleep upon the premises, and
contract by the week for their board and lodging: the charge for which
diminishes as they go nearer the sky to roost.  A public table is laid in
a very handsome hall for breakfast, and for dinner, and for supper.  The
party sitting down together to these meals will vary in number from one
to two hundred: sometimes more.  The advent of each of these epochs in
the day is proclaimed by an awful gong, which shakes the very
window-frames as it reverberates through the house, and horribly disturbs
nervous foreigners.  There is an ordinary for ladies, and an ordinary for
gentlemen.

In our private room the cloth could not, for any earthly consideration,
have been laid for dinner without a huge glass dish of cranberries in the
middle of the table; and breakfast would have been no breakfast unless
the principal dish were a deformed beef-steak with a great flat bone in
the centre, swimming in hot butter, and sprinkled with the very blackest
of all possible pepper.  Our bedroom was spacious and airy, but (like
every bedroom on this side of the Atlantic) very bare of furniture,
having no curtains to the French bedstead or to the window.  It had one
unusual luxury, however, in the shape of a wardrobe of painted wood,
something smaller than an English watch-box; or if this comparison should
be insufficient to convey a just idea of its dimensions, they may be
estimated from the fact of my having lived for fourteen days and nights
in the firm belief that it was a shower-bath.



CHAPTER IV
AN AMERICAN RAILROAD.  LOWELL AND ITS FACTORY SYSTEM


BEFORE leaving Boston, I devoted one day to an excursion to Lowell.  I
assign a separate chapter to this visit; not because I am about to
describe it at any great length, but because I remember it as a thing by
itself, and am desirous that my readers should do the same.

I made acquaintance with an American railroad, on this occasion, for the
first time.  As these works are pretty much alike all through the States,
their general characteristics are easily described.

There are no first and second class carriages as with us; but there is a
gentleman’s car and a ladies’ car: the main distinction between which is
that in the first, everybody smokes; and in the second, nobody does.  As
a black man never travels with a white one, there is also a negro car;
which is a great, blundering, clumsy chest, such as Gulliver put to sea
in, from the kingdom of Brobdingnag.  There is a great deal of jolting, a
great deal of noise, a great deal of wall, not much window, a locomotive
engine, a shriek, and a bell.

The cars are like shabby omnibuses, but larger: holding thirty, forty,
fifty, people.  The seats, instead of stretching from end to end, are
placed crosswise.  Each seat holds two persons.  There is a long row of
them on each side of the caravan, a narrow passage up the middle, and a
door at both ends.  In the centre of the carriage there is usually a
stove, fed with charcoal or anthracite coal; which is for the most part
red-hot.  It is insufferably close; and you see the hot air fluttering
between yourself and any other object you may happen to look at, like the
ghost of smoke.

In the ladies’ car, there are a great many gentlemen who have ladies with
them.  There are also a great many ladies who have nobody with them: for
any lady may travel alone, from one end of the United States to the
other, and be certain of the most courteous and considerate treatment
everywhere.  The conductor or check-taker, or guard, or whatever he may
be, wears no uniform.  He walks up and down the car, and in and out of
it, as his fancy dictates; leans against the door with his hands in his
pockets and stares at you, if you chance to be a stranger; or enters into
conversation with the passengers about him.  A great many newspapers are
pulled out, and a few of them are read.  Everybody talks to you, or to
anybody else who hits his fancy.  If you are an Englishman, he expects
that that railroad is pretty much like an English railroad.  If you say
‘No,’ he says ‘Yes?’ (interrogatively), and asks in what respect they
differ.  You enumerate the heads of difference, one by one, and he says
‘Yes?’ (still interrogatively) to each.  Then he guesses that you don’t
travel faster in England; and on your replying that you do, says ‘Yes?’
again (still interrogatively), and it is quite evident, don’t believe it.
After a long pause he remarks, partly to you, and partly to the knob on
the top of his stick, that ‘Yankees are reckoned to be considerable of a
go-ahead people too;’ upon which _you_ say ‘Yes,’ and then _he_ says
‘Yes’ again (affirmatively this time); and upon your looking out of
window, tells you that behind that hill, and some three miles from the
next station, there is a clever town in a smart lo-ca-tion, where he
expects you have concluded to stop.  Your answer in the negative
naturally leads to more questions in reference to your intended route
(always pronounced rout); and wherever you are going, you invariably
learn that you can’t get there without immense difficulty and danger, and
that all the great sights are somewhere else.

If a lady take a fancy to any male passenger’s seat, the gentleman who
accompanies her gives him notice of the fact, and he immediately vacates
it with great politeness.  Politics are much discussed, so are banks, so
is cotton.  Quiet people avoid the question of the Presidency, for there
will be a new election in three years and a half, and party feeling runs
very high: the great constitutional feature of this institution being,
that directly the acrimony of the last election is over, the acrimony of
the next one begins; which is an unspeakable comfort to all strong
politicians and true lovers of their country: that is to say, to
ninety-nine men and boys out of every ninety-nine and a quarter.

Except when a branch road joins the main one, there is seldom more than
one track of rails; so that the road is very narrow, and the view, where
there is a deep cutting, by no means extensive.  When there is not, the
character of the scenery is always the same.  Mile after mile of stunted
trees: some hewn down by the axe, some blown down by the wind, some half
fallen and resting on their neighbours, many mere logs half hidden in the
swamp, others mouldered away to spongy chips.  The very soil of the earth
is made up of minute fragments such as these; each pool of stagnant water
has its crust of vegetable rottenness; on every side there are the
boughs, and trunks, and stumps of trees, in every possible stage of
decay, decomposition, and neglect.  Now you emerge for a few brief
minutes on an open country, glittering with some bright lake or pool,
broad as many an English river, but so small here that it scarcely has a
name; now catch hasty glimpses of a distant town, with its clean white
houses and their cool piazzas, its prim New England church and
school-house; when whir-r-r-r! almost before you have seen them, comes
the same dark screen: the stunted trees, the stumps, the logs, the
stagnant water—all so like the last that you seem to have been
transported back again by magic.

The train calls at stations in the woods, where the wild impossibility of
anybody having the smallest reason to get out, is only to be equalled by
the apparently desperate hopelessness of there being anybody to get in.
It rushes across the turnpike road, where there is no gate, no policeman,
no signal: nothing but a rough wooden arch, on which is painted ‘WHEN THE
BELL RINGS, LOOK OUT FOR THE LOCOMOTIVE.’  On it whirls headlong, dives
through the woods again, emerges in the light, clatters over frail
arches, rumbles upon the heavy ground, shoots beneath a wooden bridge
which intercepts the light for a second like a wink, suddenly awakens all
the slumbering echoes in the main street of a large town, and dashes on
haphazard, pell-mell, neck-or-nothing, down the middle of the road.
There—with mechanics working at their trades, and people leaning from
their doors and windows, and boys flying kites and playing marbles, and
men smoking, and women talking, and children crawling, and pigs
burrowing, and unaccustomed horses plunging and rearing, close to the
very rails—there—on, on, on—tears the mad dragon of an engine with its
train of cars; scattering in all directions a shower of burning sparks
from its wood fire; screeching, hissing, yelling, panting; until at last
the thirsty monster stops beneath a covered way to drink, the people
cluster round, and you have time to breathe again.

I was met at the station at Lowell by a gentleman intimately connected
with the management of the factories there; and gladly putting myself
under his guidance, drove off at once to that quarter of the town in
which the works, the object of my visit, were situated.  Although only
just of age—for if my recollection serve me, it has been a manufacturing
town barely one-and-twenty years—Lowell is a large, populous, thriving
place.  Those indications of its youth which first attract the eye, give
it a quaintness and oddity of character which, to a visitor from the old
country, is amusing enough.  It was a very dirty winter’s day, and
nothing in the whole town looked old to me, except the mud, which in some
parts was almost knee-deep, and might have been deposited there, on the
subsiding of the waters after the Deluge.  In one place, there was a new
wooden church, which, having no steeple, and being yet unpainted, looked
like an enormous packing-case without any direction upon it.  In another
there was a large hotel, whose walls and colonnades were so crisp, and
thin, and slight, that it had exactly the appearance of being built with
cards.  I was careful not to draw my breath as we passed, and trembled
when I saw a workman come out upon the roof, lest with one thoughtless
stamp of his foot he should crush the structure beneath him, and bring it
rattling down.  The very river that moves the machinery in the mills (for
they are all worked by water power), seems to acquire a new character
from the fresh buildings of bright red brick and painted wood among which
it takes its course; and to be as light-headed, thoughtless, and brisk a
young river, in its murmurings and tumblings, as one would desire to see.
One would swear that every ‘Bakery,’ ‘Grocery,’ and ‘Bookbindery,’ and
other kind of store, took its shutters down for the first time, and
started in business yesterday.  The golden pestles and mortars fixed as
signs upon the sun-blind frames outside the Druggists’, appear to have
been just turned out of the United States’ Mint; and when I saw a baby of
some week or ten days old in a woman’s arms at a street corner, I found
myself unconsciously wondering where it came from: never supposing for an
instant that it could have been born in such a young town as that.

There are several factories in Lowell, each of which belongs to what we
should term a Company of Proprietors, but what they call in America a
Corporation.  I went over several of these; such as a woollen factory, a
carpet factory, and a cotton factory: examined them in every part; and
saw them in their ordinary working aspect, with no preparation of any
kind, or departure from their ordinary everyday proceedings.  I may add
that I am well acquainted with our manufacturing towns in England, and
have visited many mills in Manchester and elsewhere in the same manner.

I happened to arrive at the first factory just as the dinner hour was
over, and the girls were returning to their work; indeed the stairs of
the mill were thronged with them as I ascended.  They were all well
dressed, but not to my thinking above their condition; for I like to see
the humbler classes of society careful of their dress and appearance, and
even, if they please, decorated with such little trinkets as come within
the compass of their means.  Supposing it confined within reasonable
limits, I would always encourage this kind of pride, as a worthy element
of self-respect, in any person I employed; and should no more be deterred
from doing so, because some wretched female referred her fall to a love
of dress, than I would allow my construction of the real intent and
meaning of the Sabbath to be influenced by any warning to the
well-disposed, founded on his backslidings on that particular day, which
might emanate from the rather doubtful authority of a murderer in
Newgate.

These girls, as I have said, were all well dressed: and that phrase
necessarily includes extreme cleanliness.  They had serviceable bonnets,
good warm cloaks, and shawls; and were not above clogs and pattens.
Moreover, there were places in the mill in which they could deposit these
things without injury; and there were conveniences for washing.  They
were healthy in appearance, many of them remarkably so, and had the
manners and deportment of young women: not of degraded brutes of burden.
If I had seen in one of those mills (but I did not, though I looked for
something of this kind with a sharp eye), the most lisping, mincing,
affected, and ridiculous young creature that my imagination could
suggest, I should have thought of the careless, moping, slatternly,
degraded, dull reverse (I _have_ seen that), and should have been still
well pleased to look upon her.

The rooms in which they worked, were as well ordered as themselves.  In
the windows of some, there were green plants, which were trained to shade
the glass; in all, there was as much fresh air, cleanliness, and comfort,
as the nature of the occupation would possibly admit of.  Out of so large
a number of females, many of whom were only then just verging upon
womanhood, it may be reasonably supposed that some were delicate and
fragile in appearance: no doubt there were.  But I solemnly declare, that
from all the crowd I saw in the different factories that day, I cannot
recall or separate one young face that gave me a painful impression; not
one young girl whom, assuming it to be a matter of necessity that she
should gain her daily bread by the labour of her hands, I would have
removed from those works if I had had the power.

They reside in various boarding-houses near at hand.  The owners of the
mills are particularly careful to allow no persons to enter upon the
possession of these houses, whose characters have not undergone the most
searching and thorough inquiry.  Any complaint that is made against them,
by the boarders, or by any one else, is fully investigated; and if good
ground of complaint be shown to exist against them, they are removed, and
their occupation is handed over to some more deserving person.  There are
a few children employed in these factories, but not many.  The laws of
the State forbid their working more than nine months in the year, and
require that they be educated during the other three.  For this purpose
there are schools in Lowell; and there are churches and chapels of
various persuasions, in which the young women may observe that form of
worship in which they have been educated.

At some distance from the factories, and on the highest and pleasantest
ground in the neighbourhood, stands their hospital, or boarding-house for
the sick: it is the best house in those parts, and was built by an
eminent merchant for his own residence.  Like that institution at Boston,
which I have before described, it is not parcelled out into wards, but is
divided into convenient chambers, each of which has all the comforts of a
very comfortable home.  The principal medical attendant resides under the
same roof; and were the patients members of his own family, they could
not be better cared for, or attended with greater gentleness and
consideration.  The weekly charge in this establishment for each female
patient is three dollars, or twelve shillings English; but no girl
employed by any of the corporations is ever excluded for want of the
means of payment.  That they do not very often want the means, may be
gathered from the fact, that in July, 1841, no fewer than nine hundred
and seventy-eight of these girls were depositors in the Lowell Savings
Bank: the amount of whose joint savings was estimated at one hundred
thousand dollars, or twenty thousand English pounds.

I am now going to state three facts, which will startle a large class of
readers on this side of the Atlantic, very much.

Firstly, there is a joint-stock piano in a great many of the
boarding-houses.  Secondly, nearly all these young ladies subscribe to
circulating libraries.  Thirdly, they have got up among themselves a
periodical called THE LOWELL OFFERING, ‘A repository of original
articles, written exclusively by females actively employed in the
mills,’—which is duly printed, published, and sold; and whereof I brought
away from Lowell four hundred good solid pages, which I have read from
beginning to end.

The large class of readers, startled by these facts, will exclaim, with
one voice, ‘How very preposterous!’  On my deferentially inquiring why,
they will answer, ‘These things are above their station.’  In reply to
that objection, I would beg to ask what their station is.

It is their station to work.  And they _do_ work.  They labour in these
mills, upon an average, twelve hours a day, which is unquestionably work,
and pretty tight work too.  Perhaps it is above their station to indulge
in such amusements, on any terms.  Are we quite sure that we in England
have not formed our ideas of the ‘station’ of working people, from
accustoming ourselves to the contemplation of that class as they are, and
not as they might be? I think that if we examine our own feelings, we
shall find that the pianos, and the circulating libraries, and even the
Lowell Offering, startle us by their novelty, and not by their bearing
upon any abstract question of right or wrong.

For myself, I know no station in which, the occupation of to-day
cheerfully done and the occupation of to-morrow cheerfully looked to, any
one of these pursuits is not most humanising and laudable.  I know no
station which is rendered more endurable to the person in it, or more
safe to the person out of it, by having ignorance for its associate.  I
know no station which has a right to monopolise the means of mutual
instruction, improvement, and rational entertainment; or which has ever
continued to be a station very long, after seeking to do so.

Of the merits of the Lowell Offering as a literary production, I will
only observe, putting entirely out of sight the fact of the articles
having been written by these girls after the arduous labours of the day,
that it will compare advantageously with a great many English Annuals.
It is pleasant to find that many of its Tales are of the Mills and of
those who work in them; that they inculcate habits of self-denial and
contentment, and teach good doctrines of enlarged benevolence.  A strong
feeling for the beauties of nature, as displayed in the solitudes the
writers have left at home, breathes through its pages like wholesome
village air; and though a circulating library is a favourable school for
the study of such topics, it has very scant allusion to fine clothes,
fine marriages, fine houses, or fine life.  Some persons might object to
the papers being signed occasionally with rather fine names, but this is
an American fashion.  One of the provinces of the state legislature of
Massachusetts is to alter ugly names into pretty ones, as the children
improve upon the tastes of their parents.  These changes costing little
or nothing, scores of Mary Annes are solemnly converted into Bevelinas
every session.

It is said that on the occasion of a visit from General Jackson or
General Harrison to this town (I forget which, but it is not to the
purpose), he walked through three miles and a half of these young ladies
all dressed out with parasols and silk stockings.  But as I am not aware
that any worse consequence ensued, than a sudden looking-up of all the
parasols and silk stockings in the market; and perhaps the bankruptcy of
some speculative New Englander who bought them all up at any price, in
expectation of a demand that never came; I set no great store by the
circumstance.

In this brief account of Lowell, and inadequate expression of the
gratification it yielded me, and cannot fail to afford to any foreigner
to whom the condition of such people at home is a subject of interest and
anxious speculation, I have carefully abstained from drawing a comparison
between these factories and those of our own land.  Many of the
circumstances whose strong influence has been at work for years in our
manufacturing towns have not arisen here; and there is no manufacturing
population in Lowell, so to speak: for these girls (often the daughters
of small farmers) come from other States, remain a few years in the
mills, and then go home for good.

The contrast would be a strong one, for it would be between the Good and
Evil, the living light and deepest shadow.  I abstain from it, because I
deem it just to do so.  But I only the more earnestly adjure all those
whose eyes may rest on these pages, to pause and reflect upon the
difference between this town and those great haunts of desperate misery:
to call to mind, if they can in the midst of party strife and squabble,
the efforts that must be made to purge them of their suffering and
danger: and last, and foremost, to remember how the precious Time is
rushing by.

I returned at night by the same railroad and in the same kind of car.
One of the passengers being exceedingly anxious to expound at great
length to my companion (not to me, of course) the true principles on
which books of travel in America should be written by Englishmen, I
feigned to fall asleep.  But glancing all the way out at window from the
corners of my eyes, I found abundance of entertainment for the rest of
the ride in watching the effects of the wood fire, which had been
invisible in the morning but were now brought out in full relief by the
darkness: for we were travelling in a whirlwind of bright sparks, which
showered about us like a storm of fiery snow.



CHAPTER V
WORCESTER.  THE CONNECTICUT RIVER.  HARTFORD.  NEW HAVEN.  TO NEW YORK


LEAVING Boston on the afternoon of Saturday the fifth of February, we
proceeded by another railroad to Worcester: a pretty New England town,
where we had arranged to remain under the hospitable roof of the Governor
of the State, until Monday morning.

These towns and cities of New England (many of which would be villages in
Old England), are as favourable specimens of rural America, as their
people are of rural Americans.  The well-trimmed lawns and green meadows
of home are not there; and the grass, compared with our ornamental plots
and pastures, is rank, and rough, and wild: but delicate slopes of land,
gently-swelling hills, wooded valleys, and slender streams, abound.
Every little colony of houses has its church and school-house peeping
from among the white roofs and shady trees; every house is the whitest of
the white; every Venetian blind the greenest of the green; every fine
day’s sky the bluest of the blue.  A sharp dry wind and a slight frost
had so hardened the roads when we alighted at Worcester, that their
furrowed tracks were like ridges of granite.  There was the usual aspect
of newness on every object, of course.  All the buildings looked as if
they had been built and painted that morning, and could be taken down on
Monday with very little trouble.  In the keen evening air, every sharp
outline looked a hundred times sharper than ever.  The clean cardboard
colonnades had no more perspective than a Chinese bridge on a tea-cup,
and appeared equally well calculated for use.  The razor-like edges of
the detached cottages seemed to cut the very wind as it whistled against
them, and to send it smarting on its way with a shriller cry than before.
Those slightly-built wooden dwellings behind which the sun was setting
with a brilliant lustre, could be so looked through and through, that the
idea of any inhabitant being able to hide himself from the public gaze,
or to have any secrets from the public eye, was not entertainable for a
moment.  Even where a blazing fire shone through the uncurtained windows
of some distant house, it had the air of being newly lighted, and of
lacking warmth; and instead of awakening thoughts of a snug chamber,
bright with faces that first saw the light round that same hearth, and
ruddy with warm hangings, it came upon one suggestive of the smell of new
mortar and damp walls.

So I thought, at least, that evening.  Next morning when the sun was
shining brightly, and the clear church bells were ringing, and sedate
people in their best clothes enlivened the pathway near at hand and
dotted the distant thread of road, there was a pleasant Sabbath
peacefulness on everything, which it was good to feel.  It would have
been the better for an old church; better still for some old graves; but
as it was, a wholesome repose and tranquillity pervaded the scene, which
after the restless ocean and the hurried city, had a doubly grateful
influence on the spirits.

We went on next morning, still by railroad, to Springfield.  From that
place to Hartford, whither we were bound, is a distance of only
five-and-twenty miles, but at that time of the year the roads were so bad
that the journey would probably have occupied ten or twelve hours.
Fortunately, however, the winter having been unusually mild, the
Connecticut River was ‘open,’ or, in other words, not frozen.  The
captain of a small steamboat was going to make his first trip for the
season that day (the second February trip, I believe, within the memory
of man), and only waited for us to go on board.  Accordingly, we went on
board, with as little delay as might be.  He was as good as his word, and
started directly.

It certainly was not called a small steamboat without reason.  I omitted
to ask the question, but I should think it must have been of about half a
pony power.  Mr. Paap, the celebrated Dwarf, might have lived and died
happily in the cabin, which was fitted with common sash-windows like an
ordinary dwelling-house.  These windows had bright-red curtains, too,
hung on slack strings across the lower panes; so that it looked like the
parlour of a Lilliputian public-house, which had got afloat in a flood or
some other water accident, and was drifting nobody knew where.  But even
in this chamber there was a rocking-chair.  It would be impossible to get
on anywhere, in America, without a rocking-chair.  I am afraid to tell
how many feet short this vessel was, or how many feet narrow: to apply
the words length and width to such measurement would be a contradiction
in terms.  But I may state that we all kept the middle of the deck, lest
the boat should unexpectedly tip over; and that the machinery, by some
surprising process of condensation, worked between it and the keel: the
whole forming a warm sandwich, about three feet thick.

It rained all day as I once thought it never did rain anywhere, but in
the Highlands of Scotland.  The river was full of floating blocks of ice,
which were constantly crunching and cracking under us; and the depth of
water, in the course we took to avoid the larger masses, carried down the
middle of the river by the current, did not exceed a few inches.
Nevertheless, we moved onward, dexterously; and being well wrapped up,
bade defiance to the weather, and enjoyed the journey.  The Connecticut
River is a fine stream; and the banks in summer-time are, I have no
doubt, beautiful; at all events, I was told so by a young lady in the
cabin; and she should be a judge of beauty, if the possession of a
quality include the appreciation of it, for a more beautiful creature I
never looked upon.

After two hours and a half of this odd travelling (including a stoppage
at a small town, where we were saluted by a gun considerably bigger than
our own chimney), we reached Hartford, and straightway repaired to an
extremely comfortable hotel: except, as usual, in the article of
bedrooms, which, in almost every place we visited, were very conducive to
early rising.

We tarried here, four days.  The town is beautifully situated in a basin
of green hills; the soil is rich, well-wooded, and carefully improved.
It is the seat of the local legislature of Connecticut, which sage body
enacted, in bygone times, the renowned code of ‘Blue Laws,’ in virtue
whereof, among other enlightened provisions, any citizen who could be
proved to have kissed his wife on Sunday, was punishable, I believe, with
the stocks.  Too much of the old Puritan spirit exists in these parts to
the present hour; but its influence has not tended, that I know, to make
the people less hard in their bargains, or more equal in their dealings.
As I never heard of its working that effect anywhere else, I infer that
it never will, here.  Indeed, I am accustomed, with reference to great
professions and severe faces, to judge of the goods of the other world
pretty much as I judge of the goods of this; and whenever I see a dealer
in such commodities with too great a display of them in his window, I
doubt the quality of the article within.

In Hartford stands the famous oak in which the charter of King Charles
was hidden.  It is now inclosed in a gentleman’s garden.  In the State
House is the charter itself.  I found the courts of law here, just the
same as at Boston; the public institutions almost as good.  The Insane
Asylum is admirably conducted, and so is the Institution for the Deaf and
Dumb.

I very much questioned within myself, as I walked through the Insane
Asylum, whether I should have known the attendants from the patients, but
for the few words which passed between the former, and the Doctor, in
reference to the persons under their charge.  Of course I limit this
remark merely to their looks; for the conversation of the mad people was
mad enough.

There was one little, prim old lady, of very smiling and good-humoured
appearance, who came sidling up to me from the end of a long passage, and
with a curtsey of inexpressible condescension, propounded this
unaccountable inquiry:

‘Does Pontefract still flourish, sir, upon the soil of England?’

‘He does, ma’am,’ I rejoined.

‘When you last saw him, sir, he was—’

‘Well, ma’am,’ said I, ‘extremely well.  He begged me to present his
compliments.  I never saw him looking better.’

At this, the old lady was very much delighted.  After glancing at me for
a moment, as if to be quite sure that I was serious in my respectful air,
she sidled back some paces; sidled forward again; made a sudden skip (at
which I precipitately retreated a step or two); and said:

‘_I_ am an antediluvian, sir.’

I thought the best thing to say was, that I had suspected as much from
the first.  Therefore I said so.

‘It is an extremely proud and pleasant thing, sir, to be an
antediluvian,’ said the old lady.

‘I should think it was, ma’am,’ I rejoined.

The old lady kissed her hand, gave another skip, smirked and sidled down
the gallery in a most extraordinary manner, and ambled gracefully into
her own bed-chamber.

In another part of the building, there was a male patient in bed; very
much flushed and heated.

‘Well,’ said he, starting up, and pulling off his night-cap: ‘It’s all
settled at last.  I have arranged it with Queen Victoria.’

‘Arranged what?’ asked the Doctor.

‘Why, that business,’ passing his hand wearily across his forehead,
‘about the siege of New York.’

‘Oh!’ said I, like a man suddenly enlightened.  For he looked at me for
an answer.

‘Yes.  Every house without a signal will be fired upon by the British
troops.  No harm will be done to the others.  No harm at all.  Those that
want to be safe, must hoist flags.  That’s all they’ll have to do.  They
must hoist flags.’

Even while he was speaking he seemed, I thought, to have some faint idea
that his talk was incoherent.  Directly he had said these words, he lay
down again; gave a kind of a groan; and covered his hot head with the
blankets.

There was another: a young man, whose madness was love and music.  After
playing on the accordion a march he had composed, he was very anxious
that I should walk into his chamber, which I immediately did.

By way of being very knowing, and humouring him to the top of his bent, I
went to the window, which commanded a beautiful prospect, and remarked,
with an address upon which I greatly plumed myself:

‘What a delicious country you have about these lodgings of yours!’

‘Poh!’ said he, moving his fingers carelessly over the notes of his
instrument: ‘_Well enough for such an Institution as this_!’

I don’t think I was ever so taken aback in all my life.

‘I come here just for a whim,’ he said coolly.  ‘That’s all.’

‘Oh!  That’s all!’ said I.

‘Yes.  That’s all.  The Doctor’s a smart man.  He quite enters into it.
It’s a joke of mine.  I like it for a time.  You needn’t mention it, but
I think I shall go out next Tuesday!’

I assured him that I would consider our interview perfectly confidential;
and rejoined the Doctor.  As we were passing through a gallery on our way
out, a well-dressed lady, of quiet and composed manners, came up, and
proffering a slip of paper and a pen, begged that I would oblige her with
an autograph, I complied, and we parted.

‘I think I remember having had a few interviews like that, with ladies
out of doors.  I hope _she_ is not mad?’

‘Yes.’

‘On what subject?  Autographs?’

‘No.  She hears voices in the air.’

‘Well!’ thought I, ‘it would be well if we could shut up a few false
prophets of these later times, who have professed to do the same; and I
should like to try the experiment on a Mormonist or two to begin with.’

In this place, there is the best jail for untried offenders in the world.
There is also a very well-ordered State prison, arranged upon the same
plan as that at Boston, except that here, there is always a sentry on the
wall with a loaded gun.  It contained at that time about two hundred
prisoners.  A spot was shown me in the sleeping ward, where a watchman
was murdered some years since in the dead of night, in a desperate
attempt to escape, made by a prisoner who had broken from his cell.  A
woman, too, was pointed out to me, who, for the murder of her husband,
had been a close prisoner for sixteen years.

‘Do you think,’ I asked of my conductor, ‘that after so very long an
imprisonment, she has any thought or hope of ever regaining her liberty?’

‘Oh dear yes,’ he answered.  ‘To be sure she has.’

‘She has no chance of obtaining it, I suppose?’

‘Well, I don’t know:’ which, by-the-bye, is a national answer. ‘Her
friends mistrust her.’

‘What have _they_ to do with it?’ I naturally inquired.

‘Well, they won’t petition.’

‘But if they did, they couldn’t get her out, I suppose?’

‘Well, not the first time, perhaps, nor yet the second, but tiring and
wearying for a few years might do it.’

‘Does that ever do it?’

‘Why yes, that’ll do it sometimes.  Political friends’ll do it sometimes.
It’s pretty often done, one way or another.’

I shall always entertain a very pleasant and grateful recollection of
Hartford.  It is a lovely place, and I had many friends there, whom I can
never remember with indifference.  We left it with no little regret on
the evening of Friday the 11th, and travelled that night by railroad to
New Haven.  Upon the way, the guard and I were formally introduced to
each other (as we usually were on such occasions), and exchanged a
variety of small-talk.  We reached New Haven at about eight o’clock,
after a journey of three hours, and put up for the night at the best inn.

New Haven, known also as the City of Elms, is a fine town.  Many of its
streets (as its _alias_ sufficiently imports) are planted with rows of
grand old elm-trees; and the same natural ornaments surround Yale
College, an establishment of considerable eminence and reputation.  The
various departments of this Institution are erected in a kind of park or
common in the middle of the town, where they are dimly visible among the
shadowing trees.  The effect is very like that of an old cathedral yard
in England; and when their branches are in full leaf, must be extremely
picturesque.  Even in the winter time, these groups of well-grown trees,
clustering among the busy streets and houses of a thriving city, have a
very quaint appearance: seeming to bring about a kind of compromise
between town and country; as if each had met the other half-way, and
shaken hands upon it; which is at once novel and pleasant.

After a night’s rest, we rose early, and in good time went down to the
wharf, and on board the packet New York _for_ New York.  This was the
first American steamboat of any size that I had seen; and certainly to an
English eye it was infinitely less like a steamboat than a huge floating
bath.  I could hardly persuade myself, indeed, but that the bathing
establishment off Westminster Bridge, which I left a baby, had suddenly
grown to an enormous size; run away from home; and set up in foreign
parts as a steamer.  Being in America, too, which our vagabonds do so
particularly favour, it seemed the more probable.

The great difference in appearance between these packets and ours, is,
that there is so much of them out of the water: the main-deck being
enclosed on all sides, and filled with casks and goods, like any second
or third floor in a stack of warehouses; and the promenade or
hurricane-deck being a-top of that again.  A part of the machinery is
always above this deck; where the connecting-rod, in a strong and lofty
frame, is seen working away like an iron top-sawyer.  There is seldom any
mast or tackle: nothing aloft but two tall black chimneys.  The man at
the helm is shut up in a little house in the fore part of the boat (the
wheel being connected with the rudder by iron chains, working the whole
length of the deck); and the passengers, unless the weather be very fine
indeed, usually congregate below.  Directly you have left the wharf, all
the life, and stir, and bustle of a packet cease.  You wonder for a long
time how she goes on, for there seems to be nobody in charge of her; and
when another of these dull machines comes splashing by, you feel quite
indignant with it, as a sullen cumbrous, ungraceful, unshiplike
leviathan: quite forgetting that the vessel you are on board of, is its
very counterpart.

There is always a clerk’s office on the lower deck, where you pay your
fare; a ladies’ cabin; baggage and stowage rooms; engineer’s room; and in
short a great variety of perplexities which render the discovery of the
gentlemen’s cabin, a matter of some difficulty.  It often occupies the
whole length of the boat (as it did in this case), and has three or four
tiers of berths on each side.  When I first descended into the cabin of
the New York, it looked, in my unaccustomed eyes, about as long as the
Burlington Arcade.

The Sound which has to be crossed on this passage, is not always a very
safe or pleasant navigation, and has been the scene of some unfortunate
accidents.  It was a wet morning, and very misty, and we soon lost sight
of land.  The day was calm, however, and brightened towards noon.  After
exhausting (with good help from a friend) the larder, and the stock of
bottled beer, I lay down to sleep; being very much tired with the
fatigues of yesterday.  But I woke from my nap in time to hurry up, and
see Hell Gate, the Hog’s Back, the Frying Pan, and other notorious
localities, attractive to all readers of famous Diedrich Knickerbocker’s
History.  We were now in a narrow channel, with sloping banks on either
side, besprinkled with pleasant villas, and made refreshing to the sight
by turf and trees.  Soon we shot in quick succession, past a light-house;
a madhouse (how the lunatics flung up their caps and roared in sympathy
with the headlong engine and the driving tide!); a jail; and other
buildings: and so emerged into a noble bay, whose waters sparkled in the
now cloudless sunshine like Nature’s eyes turned up to Heaven.

Then there lay stretched out before us, to the right, confused heaps of
buildings, with here and there a spire or steeple, looking down upon the
herd below; and here and there, again, a cloud of lazy smoke; and in the
foreground a forest of ships’ masts, cheery with flapping sails and
waving flags.  Crossing from among them to the opposite shore, were steam
ferry-boats laden with people, coaches, horses, waggons, baskets, boxes:
crossed and recrossed by other ferry-boats: all travelling to and fro:
and never idle.  Stately among these restless Insects, were two or three
large ships, moving with slow majestic pace, as creatures of a prouder
kind, disdainful of their puny journeys, and making for the broad sea.
Beyond, were shining heights, and islands in the glancing river, and a
distance scarcely less blue and bright than the sky it seemed to meet.
The city’s hum and buzz, the clinking of capstans, the ringing of bells,
the barking of dogs, the clattering of wheels, tingled in the listening
ear.  All of which life and stir, coming across the stirring water,
caught new life and animation from its free companionship; and,
sympathising with its buoyant spirits, glistened as it seemed in sport
upon its surface, and hemmed the vessel round, and plashed the water high
about her sides, and, floating her gallantly into the dock, flew off
again to welcome other comers, and speed before them to the busy port.



CHAPTER VI
NEW YORK


THE beautiful metropolis of America is by no means so clean a city as
Boston, but many of its streets have the same characteristics; except
that the houses are not quite so fresh-coloured, the sign-boards are not
quite so gaudy, the gilded letters not quite so golden, the bricks not
quite so red, the stone not quite so white, the blinds and area railings
not quite so green, the knobs and plates upon the street doors not quite
so bright and twinkling.  There are many by-streets, almost as neutral in
clean colours, and positive in dirty ones, as by-streets in London; and
there is one quarter, commonly called the Five Points, which, in respect
of filth and wretchedness, may be safely backed against Seven Dials, or
any other part of famed St. Giles’s.

The great promenade and thoroughfare, as most people know, is Broadway; a
wide and bustling street, which, from the Battery Gardens to its opposite
termination in a country road, may be four miles long.  Shall we sit down
in an upper floor of the Carlton House Hotel (situated in the best part
of this main artery of New York), and when we are tired of looking down
upon the life below, sally forth arm-in-arm, and mingle with the stream?

Warm weather!  The sun strikes upon our heads at this open window, as
though its rays were concentrated through a burning-glass; but the day is
in its zenith, and the season an unusual one.  Was there ever such a
sunny street as this Broadway!  The pavement stones are polished with the
tread of feet until they shine again; the red bricks of the houses might
be yet in the dry, hot kilns; and the roofs of those omnibuses look as
though, if water were poured on them, they would hiss and smoke, and
smell like half-quenched fires.  No stint of omnibuses here!
Half-a-dozen have gone by within as many minutes.  Plenty of hackney cabs
and coaches too; gigs, phaetons, large-wheeled tilburies, and private
carriages—rather of a clumsy make, and not very different from the public
vehicles, but built for the heavy roads beyond the city pavement.  Negro
coachmen and white; in straw hats, black hats, white hats, glazed caps,
fur caps; in coats of drab, black, brown, green, blue, nankeen, striped
jean and linen; and there, in that one instance (look while it passes, or
it will be too late), in suits of livery.  Some southern republican that,
who puts his blacks in uniform, and swells with Sultan pomp and power.
Yonder, where that phaeton with the well-clipped pair of grays has
stopped—standing at their heads now—is a Yorkshire groom, who has not
been very long in these parts, and looks sorrowfully round for a
companion pair of top-boots, which he may traverse the city half a year
without meeting.  Heaven save the ladies, how they dress!  We have seen
more colours in these ten minutes, than we should have seen elsewhere, in
as many days.  What various parasols! what rainbow silks and satins! what
pinking of thin stockings, and pinching of thin shoes, and fluttering of
ribbons and silk tassels, and display of rich cloaks with gaudy hoods and
linings!  The young gentlemen are fond, you see, of turning down their
shirt-collars and cultivating their whiskers, especially under the chin;
but they cannot approach the ladies in their dress or bearing, being, to
say the truth, humanity of quite another sort.  Byrons of the desk and
counter, pass on, and let us see what kind of men those are behind ye:
those two labourers in holiday clothes, of whom one carries in his hand a
crumpled scrap of paper from which he tries to spell out a hard name,
while the other looks about for it on all the doors and windows.

Irishmen both!  You might know them, if they were masked, by their
long-tailed blue coats and bright buttons, and their drab trousers, which
they wear like men well used to working dresses, who are easy in no
others.  It would be hard to keep your model republics going, without the
countrymen and countrywomen of those two labourers.  For who else would
dig, and delve, and drudge, and do domestic work, and make canals and
roads, and execute great lines of Internal Improvement!  Irishmen both,
and sorely puzzled too, to find out what they seek.  Let us go down, and
help them, for the love of home, and that spirit of liberty which admits
of honest service to honest men, and honest work for honest bread, no
matter what it be.

That’s well!  We have got at the right address at last, though it is
written in strange characters truly, and might have been scrawled with
the blunt handle of the spade the writer better knows the use of, than a
pen.  Their way lies yonder, but what business takes them there?  They
carry savings: to hoard up?  No.  They are brothers, those men.  One
crossed the sea alone, and working very hard for one half year, and
living harder, saved funds enough to bring the other out.  That done,
they worked together side by side, contentedly sharing hard labour and
hard living for another term, and then their sisters came, and then
another brother, and lastly, their old mother.  And what now?  Why, the
poor old crone is restless in a strange land, and yearns to lay her
bones, she says, among her people in the old graveyard at home: and so
they go to pay her passage back: and God help her and them, and every
simple heart, and all who turn to the Jerusalem of their younger days,
and have an altar-fire upon the cold hearth of their fathers.

This narrow thoroughfare, baking and blistering in the sun, is Wall
Street: the Stock Exchange and Lombard Street of New York.  Many a rapid
fortune has been made in this street, and many a no less rapid ruin.
Some of these very merchants whom you see hanging about here now, have
locked up money in their strong-boxes, like the man in the Arabian
Nights, and opening them again, have found but withered leaves.  Below,
here by the water-side, where the bowsprits of ships stretch across the
footway, and almost thrust themselves into the windows, lie the noble
American vessels which have made their Packet Service the finest in the
world.  They have brought hither the foreigners who abound in all the
streets: not, perhaps, that there are more here, than in other commercial
cities; but elsewhere, they have particular haunts, and you must find
them out; here, they pervade the town.

We must cross Broadway again; gaining some refreshment from the heat, in
the sight of the great blocks of clean ice which are being carried into
shops and bar-rooms; and the pine-apples and water-melons profusely
displayed for sale.  Fine streets of spacious houses here, you see!—Wall
Street has furnished and dismantled many of them very often—and here a
deep green leafy square.  Be sure that is a hospitable house with inmates
to be affectionately remembered always, where they have the open door and
pretty show of plants within, and where the child with laughing eyes is
peeping out of window at the little dog below.  You wonder what may be
the use of this tall flagstaff in the by-street, with something like
Liberty’s head-dress on its top: so do I.  But there is a passion for
tall flagstaffs hereabout, and you may see its twin brother in five
minutes, if you have a mind.

Again across Broadway, and so—passing from the many-coloured crowd and
glittering shops—into another long main street, the Bowery.  A railroad
yonder, see, where two stout horses trot along, drawing a score or two of
people and a great wooden ark, with ease.  The stores are poorer here;
the passengers less gay.  Clothes ready-made, and meat ready-cooked, are
to be bought in these parts; and the lively whirl of carriages is
exchanged for the deep rumble of carts and waggons.  These signs which
are so plentiful, in shape like river buoys, or small balloons, hoisted
by cords to poles, and dangling there, announce, as you may see by
looking up, ‘OYSTERS IN EVERY STYLE.’  They tempt the hungry most at
night, for then dull candles glimmering inside, illuminate these dainty
words, and make the mouths of idlers water, as they read and linger.

What is this dismal-fronted pile of bastard Egyptian, like an enchanter’s
palace in a melodrama!—a famous prison, called The Tombs.  Shall we go
in?

So.  A long, narrow, lofty building, stove-heated as usual, with four
galleries, one above the other, going round it, and communicating by
stairs.  Between the two sides of each gallery, and in its centre, a
bridge, for the greater convenience of crossing.  On each of these
bridges sits a man: dozing or reading, or talking to an idle companion.
On each tier, are two opposite rows of small iron doors.  They look like
furnace-doors, but are cold and black, as though the fires within had all
gone out.  Some two or three are open, and women, with drooping heads
bent down, are talking to the inmates.  The whole is lighted by a
skylight, but it is fast closed; and from the roof there dangle, limp and
drooping, two useless windsails.

A man with keys appears, to show us round.  A good-looking fellow, and,
in his way, civil and obliging.

‘Are those black doors the cells?’

‘Yes.’

‘Are they all full?’

‘Well, they’re pretty nigh full, and that’s a fact, and no two ways about
it.’

‘Those at the bottom are unwholesome, surely?’

‘Why, we _do_ only put coloured people in ’em.  That’s the truth.’

‘When do the prisoners take exercise?’

‘Well, they do without it pretty much.’

‘Do they never walk in the yard?’

‘Considerable seldom.’

‘Sometimes, I suppose?’

‘Well, it’s rare they do.  They keep pretty bright without it.’

‘But suppose a man were here for a twelvemonth.  I know this is only a
prison for criminals who are charged with grave offences, while they are
awaiting their trial, or under remand, but the law here affords criminals
many means of delay.  What with motions for new trials, and in arrest of
judgment, and what not, a prisoner might be here for twelve months, I
take it, might he not?’

‘Well, I guess he might.’

‘Do you mean to say that in all that time he would never come out at that
little iron door, for exercise?’

‘He might walk some, perhaps—not much.’

‘Will you open one of the doors?’

‘All, if you like.’

The fastenings jar and rattle, and one of the doors turns slowly on its
hinges.  Let us look in.  A small bare cell, into which the light enters
through a high chink in the wall.  There is a rude means of washing, a
table, and a bedstead.  Upon the latter, sits a man of sixty; reading.
He looks up for a moment; gives an impatient dogged shake; and fixes his
eyes upon his book again.  As we withdraw our heads, the door closes on
him, and is fastened as before.  This man has murdered his wife, and will
probably be hanged.

‘How long has he been here?’

‘A month.’

‘When will he be tried?’

‘Next term.’

‘When is that?’

‘Next month.’

‘In England, if a man be under sentence of death, even he has air and
exercise at certain periods of the day.’

‘Possible?’

With what stupendous and untranslatable coolness he says this, and how
loungingly he leads on to the women’s side: making, as he goes, a kind of
iron castanet of the key and the stair-rail!

Each cell door on this side has a square aperture in it.  Some of the
women peep anxiously through it at the sound of footsteps; others shrink
away in shame.—For what offence can that lonely child, of ten or twelve
years old, be shut up here?  Oh! that boy? He is the son of the prisoner
we saw just now; is a witness against his father; and is detained here
for safe keeping, until the trial; that’s all.

But it is a dreadful place for the child to pass the long days and nights
in.  This is rather hard treatment for a young witness, is it not?—What
says our conductor?

‘Well, it an’t a very rowdy life, and _that’s_ a fact!’

Again he clinks his metal castanet, and leads us leisurely away.  I have
a question to ask him as we go.

‘Pray, why do they call this place The Tombs?’

‘Well, it’s the cant name.’

‘I know it is.  Why?’

‘Some suicides happened here, when it was first built.  I expect it come
about from that.’

‘I saw just now, that that man’s clothes were scattered about the floor
of his cell.  Don’t you oblige the prisoners to be orderly, and put such
things away?’

‘Where should they put ’em?’

‘Not on the ground surely.  What do you say to hanging them up?’

He stops and looks round to emphasise his answer:

‘Why, I say that’s just it.  When they had hooks they _would_ hang
themselves, so they’re taken out of every cell, and there’s only the
marks left where they used to be!’

The prison-yard in which he pauses now, has been the scene of terrible
performances.  Into this narrow, grave-like place, men are brought out to
die.  The wretched creature stands beneath the gibbet on the ground; the
rope about his neck; and when the sign is given, a weight at its other
end comes running down, and swings him up into the air—a corpse.

The law requires that there be present at this dismal spectacle, the
judge, the jury, and citizens to the amount of twenty-five.  From the
community it is hidden.  To the dissolute and bad, the thing remains a
frightful mystery.  Between the criminal and them, the prison-wall is
interposed as a thick gloomy veil.  It is the curtain to his bed of
death, his winding-sheet, and grave.  From him it shuts out life, and all
the motives to unrepenting hardihood in that last hour, which its mere
sight and presence is often all-sufficient to sustain.  There are no bold
eyes to make him bold; no ruffians to uphold a ruffian’s name before.
All beyond the pitiless stone wall, is unknown space.

Let us go forth again into the cheerful streets.

Once more in Broadway!  Here are the same ladies in bright colours,
walking to and fro, in pairs and singly; yonder the very same light blue
parasol which passed and repassed the hotel-window twenty times while we
were sitting there.  We are going to cross here.  Take care of the pigs.
Two portly sows are trotting up behind this carriage, and a select party
of half-a-dozen gentlemen hogs have just now turned the corner.

Here is a solitary swine lounging homeward by himself.  He has only one
ear; having parted with the other to vagrant-dogs in the course of his
city rambles.  But he gets on very well without it; and leads a roving,
gentlemanly, vagabond kind of life, somewhat answering to that of our
club-men at home.  He leaves his lodgings every morning at a certain
hour, throws himself upon the town, gets through his day in some manner
quite satisfactory to himself, and regularly appears at the door of his
own house again at night, like the mysterious master of Gil Blas.  He is
a free-and-easy, careless, indifferent kind of pig, having a very large
acquaintance among other pigs of the same character, whom he rather knows
by sight than conversation, as he seldom troubles himself to stop and
exchange civilities, but goes grunting down the kennel, turning up the
news and small-talk of the city in the shape of cabbage-stalks and offal,
and bearing no tails but his own: which is a very short one, for his old
enemies, the dogs, have been at that too, and have left him hardly enough
to swear by.  He is in every respect a republican pig, going wherever he
pleases, and mingling with the best society, on an equal, if not superior
footing, for every one makes way when he appears, and the haughtiest give
him the wall, if he prefer it.  He is a great philosopher, and seldom
moved, unless by the dogs before mentioned.  Sometimes, indeed, you may
see his small eye twinkling on a slaughtered friend, whose carcase
garnishes a butcher’s door-post, but he grunts out ‘Such is life: all
flesh is pork!’ buries his nose in the mire again, and waddles down the
gutter: comforting himself with the reflection that there is one snout
the less to anticipate stray cabbage-stalks, at any rate.

They are the city scavengers, these pigs.  Ugly brutes they are; having,
for the most part, scanty brown backs, like the lids of old horsehair
trunks: spotted with unwholesome black blotches.  They have long, gaunt
legs, too, and such peaked snouts, that if one of them could be persuaded
to sit for his profile, nobody would recognise it for a pig’s likeness.
They are never attended upon, or fed, or driven, or caught, but are
thrown upon their own resources in early life, and become preternaturally
knowing in consequence.  Every pig knows where he lives, much better than
anybody could tell him.  At this hour, just as evening is closing in, you
will see them roaming towards bed by scores, eating their way to the
last.  Occasionally, some youth among them who has over-eaten himself, or
has been worried by dogs, trots shrinkingly homeward, like a prodigal
son: but this is a rare case: perfect self-possession and self-reliance,
and immovable composure, being their foremost attributes.

The streets and shops are lighted now; and as the eye travels down the
long thoroughfare, dotted with bright jets of gas, it is reminded of
Oxford Street, or Piccadilly.  Here and there a flight of broad stone
cellar-steps appears, and a painted lamp directs you to the Bowling
Saloon, or Ten-Pin alley; Ten-Pins being a game of mingled chance and
skill, invented when the legislature passed an act forbidding Nine-Pins.
At other downward flights of steps, are other lamps, marking the
whereabouts of oyster-cellars—pleasant retreats, say I: not only by
reason of their wonderful cookery of oysters, pretty nigh as large as
cheese-plates (or for thy dear sake, heartiest of Greek Professors!), but
because of all kinds of caters of fish, or flesh, or fowl, in these
latitudes, the swallowers of oysters alone are not gregarious; but
subduing themselves, as it were, to the nature of what they work in, and
copying the coyness of the thing they eat, do sit apart in curtained
boxes, and consort by twos, not by two hundreds.

But how quiet the streets are!  Are there no itinerant bands; no wind or
stringed instruments?  No, not one.  By day, are there no Punches,
Fantoccini, Dancing-dogs, Jugglers, Conjurers, Orchestrinas, or even
Barrel-organs?  No, not one.  Yes, I remember one.  One barrel-organ and
a dancing-monkey—sportive by nature, but fast fading into a dull, lumpish
monkey, of the Utilitarian school.  Beyond that, nothing lively; no, not
so much as a white mouse in a twirling cage.

Are there no amusements?  Yes.  There is a lecture-room across the way,
from which that glare of light proceeds, and there may be evening service
for the ladies thrice a week, or oftener.  For the young gentlemen, there
is the counting-house, the store, the bar-room: the latter, as you may
see through these windows, pretty full.  Hark! to the clinking sound of
hammers breaking lumps of ice, and to the cool gurgling of the pounded
bits, as, in the process of mixing, they are poured from glass to glass!
No amusements?  What are these suckers of cigars and swallowers of strong
drinks, whose hats and legs we see in every possible variety of twist,
doing, but amusing themselves?  What are the fifty newspapers, which
those precocious urchins are bawling down the street, and which are kept
filed within, what are they but amusements?  Not vapid, waterish
amusements, but good strong stuff; dealing in round abuse and blackguard
names; pulling off the roofs of private houses, as the Halting Devil did
in Spain; pimping and pandering for all degrees of vicious taste, and
gorging with coined lies the most voracious maw; imputing to every man in
public life the coarsest and the vilest motives; scaring away from the
stabbed and prostrate body-politic, every Samaritan of clear conscience
and good deeds; and setting on, with yell and whistle and the clapping of
foul hands, the vilest vermin and worst birds of prey.—No amusements!

Let us go on again; and passing this wilderness of an hotel with stores
about its base, like some Continental theatre, or the London Opera House
shorn of its colonnade, plunge into the Five Points.  But it is needful,
first, that we take as our escort these two heads of the police, whom you
would know for sharp and well-trained officers if you met them in the
Great Desert.  So true it is, that certain pursuits, wherever carried on,
will stamp men with the same character.  These two might have been
begotten, born, and bred, in Bow Street.

We have seen no beggars in the streets by night or day; but of other
kinds of strollers, plenty.  Poverty, wretchedness, and vice, are rife
enough where we are going now.

This is the place: these narrow ways, diverging to the right and left,
and reeking everywhere with dirt and filth.  Such lives as are led here,
bear the same fruits here as elsewhere.  The coarse and bloated faces at
the doors, have counterparts at home, and all the wide world over.
Debauchery has made the very houses prematurely old.  See how the rotten
beams are tumbling down, and how the patched and broken windows seem to
scowl dimly, like eyes that have been hurt in drunken frays.  Many of
those pigs live here.  Do they ever wonder why their masters walk upright
in lieu of going on all-fours? and why they talk instead of grunting?

So far, nearly every house is a low tavern; and on the bar-room walls,
are coloured prints of Washington, and Queen Victoria of England, and the
American Eagle.  Among the pigeon-holes that hold the bottles, are pieces
of plate-glass and coloured paper, for there is, in some sort, a taste
for decoration, even here.  And as seamen frequent these haunts, there
are maritime pictures by the dozen: of partings between sailors and their
lady-loves, portraits of William, of the ballad, and his Black-Eyed
Susan; of Will Watch, the Bold Smuggler; of Paul Jones the Pirate, and
the like: on which the painted eyes of Queen Victoria, and of Washington
to boot, rest in as strange companionship, as on most of the scenes that
are enacted in their wondering presence.

What place is this, to which the squalid street conducts us?  A kind of
square of leprous houses, some of which are attainable only by crazy
wooden stairs without.  What lies beyond this tottering flight of steps,
that creak beneath our tread?—a miserable room, lighted by one dim
candle, and destitute of all comfort, save that which may be hidden in a
wretched bed.  Beside it, sits a man: his elbows on his knees: his
forehead hidden in his hands.  ‘What ails that man?’ asks the foremost
officer.  ‘Fever,’ he sullenly replies, without looking up.  Conceive the
fancies of a feverish brain, in such a place as this!

Ascend these pitch-dark stairs, heedful of a false footing on the
trembling boards, and grope your way with me into this wolfish den, where
neither ray of light nor breath of air, appears to come.  A negro lad,
startled from his sleep by the officer’s voice—he knows it well—but
comforted by his assurance that he has not come on business, officiously
bestirs himself to light a candle.  The match flickers for a moment, and
shows great mounds of dusty rags upon the ground; then dies away and
leaves a denser darkness than before, if there can be degrees in such
extremes.  He stumbles down the stairs and presently comes back, shading
a flaring taper with his hand.  Then the mounds of rags are seen to be
astir, and rise slowly up, and the floor is covered with heaps of negro
women, waking from their sleep: their white teeth chattering, and their
bright eyes glistening and winking on all sides with surprise and fear,
like the countless repetition of one astonished African face in some
strange mirror.

Mount up these other stairs with no less caution (there are traps and
pitfalls here, for those who are not so well escorted as ourselves) into
the housetop; where the bare beams and rafters meet overhead, and calm
night looks down through the crevices in the roof.  Open the door of one
of these cramped hutches full of sleeping negroes.  Pah!  They have a
charcoal fire within; there is a smell of singeing clothes, or flesh, so
close they gather round the brazier; and vapours issue forth that blind
and suffocate.  From every corner, as you glance about you in these dark
retreats, some figure crawls half-awakened, as if the judgment-hour were
near at hand, and every obscene grave were giving up its dead.  Where
dogs would howl to lie, women, and men, and boys slink off to sleep,
forcing the dislodged rats to move away in quest of better lodgings.

Here too are lanes and alleys, paved with mud knee-deep, underground
chambers, where they dance and game; the walls bedecked with rough
designs of ships, and forts, and flags, and American eagles out of
number: ruined houses, open to the street, whence, through wide gaps in
the walls, other ruins loom upon the eye, as though the world of vice and
misery had nothing else to show: hideous tenements which take their name
from robbery and murder: all that is loathsome, drooping, and decayed is
here.

Our leader has his hand upon the latch of ‘Almack’s,’ and calls to us
from the bottom of the steps; for the assembly-room of the Five Point
fashionables is approached by a descent.  Shall we go in?  It is but a
moment.

Heyday! the landlady of Almack’s thrives!  A buxom fat mulatto woman,
with sparkling eyes, whose head is daintily ornamented with a
handkerchief of many colours.  Nor is the landlord much behind her in his
finery, being attired in a smart blue jacket, like a ship’s steward, with
a thick gold ring upon his little finger, and round his neck a gleaming
golden watch-guard.  How glad he is to see us!  What will we please to
call for?  A dance?  It shall be done directly, sir: ‘a regular
break-down.’

The corpulent black fiddler, and his friend who plays the tambourine,
stamp upon the boarding of the small raised orchestra in which they sit,
and play a lively measure.  Five or six couple come upon the floor,
marshalled by a lively young negro, who is the wit of the assembly, and
the greatest dancer known.  He never leaves off making queer faces, and
is the delight of all the rest, who grin from ear to ear incessantly.
Among the dancers are two young mulatto girls, with large, black,
drooping eyes, and head-gear after the fashion of the hostess, who are as
shy, or feign to be, as though they never danced before, and so look down
before the visitors, that their partners can see nothing but the long
fringed lashes.

But the dance commences.  Every gentleman sets as long as he likes to the
opposite lady, and the opposite lady to him, and all are so long about it
that the sport begins to languish, when suddenly the lively hero dashes
in to the rescue.  Instantly the fiddler grins, and goes at it tooth and
nail; there is new energy in the tambourine; new laughter in the dancers;
new smiles in the landlady; new confidence in the landlord; new
brightness in the very candles.

Single shuffle, double shuffle, cut and cross-cut; snapping his fingers,
rolling his eyes, turning in his knees, presenting the backs of his legs
in front, spinning about on his toes and heels like nothing but the man’s
fingers on the tambourine; dancing with two left legs, two right legs,
two wooden legs, two wire legs, two spring legs—all sorts of legs and no
legs—what is this to him? And in what walk of life, or dance of life,
does man ever get such stimulating applause as thunders about him, when,
having danced his partner off her feet, and himself too, he finishes by
leaping gloriously on the bar-counter, and calling for something to
drink, with the chuckle of a million of counterfeit Jim Crows, in one
inimitable sound!

The air, even in these distempered parts, is fresh after the stifling
atmosphere of the houses; and now, as we emerge into a broader street, it
blows upon us with a purer breath, and the stars look bright again.  Here
are The Tombs once more.  The city watch-house is a part of the building.
It follows naturally on the sights we have just left.  Let us see that,
and then to bed.

What! do you thrust your common offenders against the police discipline
of the town, into such holes as these?  Do men and women, against whom no
crime is proved, lie here all night in perfect darkness, surrounded by
the noisome vapours which encircle that flagging lamp you light us with,
and breathing this filthy and offensive stench!  Why, such indecent and
disgusting dungeons as these cells, would bring disgrace upon the most
despotic empire in the world!  Look at them, man—you, who see them every
night, and keep the keys.  Do you see what they are?  Do you know how
drains are made below the streets, and wherein these human sewers differ,
except in being always stagnant?

Well, he don’t know.  He has had five-and-twenty young women locked up in
this very cell at one time, and you’d hardly realise what handsome faces
there were among ’em.

In God’s name! shut the door upon the wretched creature who is in it now,
and put its screen before a place, quite unsurpassed in all the vice,
neglect, and devilry, of the worst old town in Europe.

Are people really left all night, untried, in those black sties?—Every
night.  The watch is set at seven in the evening.  The magistrate opens
his court at five in the morning.  That is the earliest hour at which the
first prisoner can be released; and if an officer appear against him, he
is not taken out till nine o’clock or ten.—But if any one among them die
in the interval, as one man did, not long ago?  Then he is half-eaten by
the rats in an hour’s time; as that man was; and there an end.

What is this intolerable tolling of great bells, and crashing of wheels,
and shouting in the distance?  A fire.  And what that deep red light in
the opposite direction?  Another fire.  And what these charred and
blackened walls we stand before?  A dwelling where a fire has been.  It
was more than hinted, in an official report, not long ago, that some of
these conflagrations were not wholly accidental, and that speculation and
enterprise found a field of exertion, even in flames: but be this as it
may, there was a fire last night, there are two to-night, and you may lay
an even wager there will be at least one, to-morrow.  So, carrying that
with us for our comfort, let us say, Good night, and climb up-stairs to
bed.

                                * * * * *

One day, during my stay in New York, I paid a visit to the different
public institutions on Long Island, or Rhode Island: I forget which.  One
of them is a Lunatic Asylum.  The building is handsome; and is remarkable
for a spacious and elegant staircase.  The whole structure is not yet
finished, but it is already one of considerable size and extent, and is
capable of accommodating a very large number of patients.

I cannot say that I derived much comfort from the inspection of this
charity.  The different wards might have been cleaner and better ordered;
I saw nothing of that salutary system which had impressed me so
favourably elsewhere; and everything had a lounging, listless, madhouse
air, which was very painful.  The moping idiot, cowering down with long
dishevelled hair; the gibbering maniac, with his hideous laugh and
pointed finger; the vacant eye, the fierce wild face, the gloomy picking
of the hands and lips, and munching of the nails: there they were all,
without disguise, in naked ugliness and horror.  In the dining-room, a
bare, dull, dreary place, with nothing for the eye to rest on but the
empty walls, a woman was locked up alone.  She was bent, they told me, on
committing suicide.  If anything could have strengthened her in her
resolution, it would certainly have been the insupportable monotony of
such an existence.

The terrible crowd with which these halls and galleries were filled, so
shocked me, that I abridged my stay within the shortest limits, and
declined to see that portion of the building in which the refractory and
violent were under closer restraint.  I have no doubt that the gentleman
who presided over this establishment at the time I write of, was
competent to manage it, and had done all in his power to promote its
usefulness: but will it be believed that the miserable strife of Party
feeling is carried even into this sad refuge of afflicted and degraded
humanity?  Will it be believed that the eyes which are to watch over and
control the wanderings of minds on which the most dreadful visitation to
which our nature is exposed has fallen, must wear the glasses of some
wretched side in Politics?  Will it be believed that the governor of such
a house as this, is appointed, and deposed, and changed perpetually, as
Parties fluctuate and vary, and as their despicable weathercocks are
blown this way or that?  A hundred times in every week, some new most
paltry exhibition of that narrow-minded and injurious Party Spirit, which
is the Simoom of America, sickening and blighting everything of wholesome
life within its reach, was forced upon my notice; but I never turned my
back upon it with feelings of such deep disgust and measureless contempt,
as when I crossed the threshold of this madhouse.

At a short distance from this building is another called the Alms House,
that is to say, the workhouse of New York.  This is a large Institution
also: lodging, I believe, when I was there, nearly a thousand poor.  It
was badly ventilated, and badly lighted; was not too clean;—and impressed
me, on the whole, very uncomfortably.  But it must be remembered that New
York, as a great emporium of commerce, and as a place of general resort,
not only from all parts of the States, but from most parts of the world,
has always a large pauper population to provide for; and labours,
therefore, under peculiar difficulties in this respect.  Nor must it be
forgotten that New York is a large town, and that in all large towns a
vast amount of good and evil is intermixed and jumbled up together.

In the same neighbourhood is the Farm, where young orphans are nursed and
bred.  I did not see it, but I believe it is well conducted; and I can
the more easily credit it, from knowing how mindful they usually are, in
America, of that beautiful passage in the Litany which remembers all sick
persons and young children.

I was taken to these Institutions by water, in a boat belonging to the
Island jail, and rowed by a crew of prisoners, who were dressed in a
striped uniform of black and buff, in which they looked like faded
tigers.  They took me, by the same conveyance, to the jail itself.

It is an old prison, and quite a pioneer establishment, on the plan I
have already described.  I was glad to hear this, for it is
unquestionably a very indifferent one.  The most is made, however, of the
means it possesses, and it is as well regulated as such a place can be.

The women work in covered sheds, erected for that purpose.  If I remember
right, there are no shops for the men, but be that as it may, the greater
part of them labour in certain stone-quarries near at hand.  The day
being very wet indeed, this labour was suspended, and the prisoners were
in their cells.  Imagine these cells, some two or three hundred in
number, and in every one a man locked up; this one at his door for air,
with his hands thrust through the grate; this one in bed (in the middle
of the day, remember); and this one flung down in a heap upon the ground,
with his head against the bars, like a wild beast.  Make the rain pour
down, outside, in torrents.  Put the everlasting stove in the midst; hot,
and suffocating, and vaporous, as a witch’s cauldron.  Add a collection
of gentle odours, such as would arise from a thousand mildewed umbrellas,
wet through, and a thousand buck-baskets, full of half-washed linen—and
there is the prison, as it was that day.

The prison for the State at Sing Sing is, on the other hand, a model
jail.  That, and Auburn, are, I believe, the largest and best examples of
the silent system.

In another part of the city, is the Refuge for the Destitute: an
Institution whose object is to reclaim youthful offenders, male and
female, black and white, without distinction; to teach them useful
trades, apprentice them to respectable masters, and make them worthy
members of society.  Its design, it will be seen, is similar to that at
Boston; and it is a no less meritorious and admirable establishment.  A
suspicion crossed my mind during my inspection of this noble charity,
whether the superintendent had quite sufficient knowledge of the world
and worldly characters; and whether he did not commit a great mistake in
treating some young girls, who were to all intents and purposes, by their
years and their past lives, women, as though they were little children;
which certainly had a ludicrous effect in my eyes, and, or I am much
mistaken, in theirs also.  As the Institution, however, is always under a
vigilant examination of a body of gentlemen of great intelligence and
experience, it cannot fail to be well conducted; and whether I am right
or wrong in this slight particular, is unimportant to its deserts and
character, which it would be difficult to estimate too highly.

In addition to these establishments, there are in New York, excellent
hospitals and schools, literary institutions and libraries; an admirable
fire department (as indeed it should be, having constant practice), and
charities of every sort and kind.  In the suburbs there is a spacious
cemetery: unfinished yet, but every day improving.  The saddest tomb I
saw there was ‘The Strangers’ Grave.  Dedicated to the different hotels
in this city.’

There are three principal theatres.  Two of them, the Park and the
Bowery, are large, elegant, and handsome buildings, and are, I grieve to
write it, generally deserted.  The third, the Olympic, is a tiny show-box
for vaudevilles and burlesques.  It is singularly well conducted by Mr.
Mitchell, a comic actor of great quiet humour and originality, who is
well remembered and esteemed by London playgoers.  I am happy to report
of this deserving gentleman, that his benches are usually well filled,
and that his theatre rings with merriment every night.  I had almost
forgotten a small summer theatre, called Niblo’s, with gardens and open
air amusements attached; but I believe it is not exempt from the general
depression under which Theatrical Property, or what is humorously called
by that name, unfortunately labours.

The country round New York is surpassingly and exquisitely picturesque.
The climate, as I have already intimated, is somewhat of the warmest.
What it would be, without the sea breezes which come from its beautiful
Bay in the evening time, I will not throw myself or my readers into a
fever by inquiring.

The tone of the best society in this city, is like that of Boston; here
and there, it may be, with a greater infusion of the mercantile spirit,
but generally polished and refined, and always most hospitable.  The
houses and tables are elegant; the hours later and more rakish; and there
is, perhaps, a greater spirit of contention in reference to appearances,
and the display of wealth and costly living.  The ladies are singularly
beautiful.

Before I left New York I made arrangements for securing a passage home in
the George Washington packet ship, which was advertised to sail in June:
that being the month in which I had determined, if prevented by no
accident in the course of my ramblings, to leave America.

I never thought that going back to England, returning to all who are dear
to me, and to pursuits that have insensibly grown to be a part of my
nature, I could have felt so much sorrow as I endured, when I parted at
last, on board this ship, with the friends who had accompanied me from
this city.  I never thought the name of any place, so far away and so
lately known, could ever associate itself in my mind with the crowd of
affectionate remembrances that now cluster about it.  There are those in
this city who would brighten, to me, the darkest winter-day that ever
glimmered and went out in Lapland; and before whose presence even Home
grew dim, when they and I exchanged that painful word which mingles with
our every thought and deed; which haunts our cradle-heads in infancy, and
closes up the vista of our lives in age.



CHAPTER VII
PHILADELPHIA, AND ITS SOLITARY PRISON


THE journey from New York to Philadelphia, is made by railroad, and two
ferries; and usually occupies between five and six hours.  It was a fine
evening when we were passengers in the train: and watching the bright
sunset from a little window near the door by which we sat, my attention
was attracted to a remarkable appearance issuing from the windows of the
gentleman’s car immediately in front of us, which I supposed for some
time was occasioned by a number of industrious persons inside, ripping
open feather-beds, and giving the feathers to the wind.  At length it
occurred to me that they were only spitting, which was indeed the case;
though how any number of passengers which it was possible for that car to
contain, could have maintained such a playful and incessant shower of
expectoration, I am still at a loss to understand: notwithstanding the
experience in all salivatory phenomena which I afterwards acquired.

I made acquaintance, on this journey, with a mild and modest young
quaker, who opened the discourse by informing me, in a grave whisper,
that his grandfather was the inventor of cold-drawn castor oil.  I
mention the circumstance here, thinking it probable that this is the
first occasion on which the valuable medicine in question was ever used
as a conversational aperient.

We reached the city, late that night.  Looking out of my chamber-window,
before going to bed, I saw, on the opposite side of the way, a handsome
building of white marble, which had a mournful ghost-like aspect, dreary
to behold.  I attributed this to the sombre influence of the night, and
on rising in the morning looked out again, expecting to see its steps and
portico thronged with groups of people passing in and out.  The door was
still tight shut, however; the same cold cheerless air prevailed: and the
building looked as if the marble statue of Don Guzman could alone have
any business to transact within its gloomy walls.  I hastened to inquire
its name and purpose, and then my surprise vanished.  It was the Tomb of
many fortunes; the Great Catacomb of investment; the memorable United
States Bank.

The stoppage of this bank, with all its ruinous consequences, had cast
(as I was told on every side) a gloom on Philadelphia, under the
depressing effect of which it yet laboured.  It certainly did seem rather
dull and out of spirits.

It is a handsome city, but distractingly regular.  After walking about it
for an hour or two, I felt that I would have given the world for a
crooked street.  The collar of my coat appeared to stiffen, and the brim
of my hat to expand, beneath its quakery influence.  My hair shrunk into
a sleek short crop, my hands folded themselves upon my breast of their
own calm accord, and thoughts of taking lodgings in Mark Lane over
against the Market Place, and of making a large fortune by speculations
in corn, came over me involuntarily.

Philadelphia is most bountifully provided with fresh water, which is
showered and jerked about, and turned on, and poured off, everywhere.
The Waterworks, which are on a height near the city, are no less
ornamental than useful, being tastefully laid out as a public garden, and
kept in the best and neatest order.  The river is dammed at this point,
and forced by its own power into certain high tanks or reservoirs, whence
the whole city, to the top stories of the houses, is supplied at a very
trifling expense.

There are various public institutions.  Among them a most excellent
Hospital—a quaker establishment, but not sectarian in the great benefits
it confers; a quiet, quaint old Library, named after Franklin; a handsome
Exchange and Post Office; and so forth.  In connection with the quaker
Hospital, there is a picture by West, which is exhibited for the benefit
of the funds of the institution.  The subject is, our Saviour healing the
sick, and it is, perhaps, as favourable a specimen of the master as can
be seen anywhere.  Whether this be high or low praise, depends upon the
reader’s taste.

In the same room, there is a very characteristic and life-like portrait
by Mr. Sully, a distinguished American artist.

My stay in Philadelphia was very short, but what I saw of its society, I
greatly liked.  Treating of its general characteristics, I should be
disposed to say that it is more provincial than Boston or New York, and
that there is afloat in the fair city, an assumption of taste and
criticism, savouring rather of those genteel discussions upon the same
themes, in connection with Shakspeare and the Musical Glasses, of which
we read in the Vicar of Wakefield.  Near the city, is a most splendid
unfinished marble structure for the Girard College, founded by a deceased
gentleman of that name and of enormous wealth, which, if completed
according to the original design, will be perhaps the richest edifice of
modern times.  But the bequest is involved in legal disputes, and pending
them the work has stopped; so that like many other great undertakings in
America, even this is rather going to be done one of these days, than
doing now.

In the outskirts, stands a great prison, called the Eastern Penitentiary:
conducted on a plan peculiar to the state of Pennsylvania.  The system
here, is rigid, strict, and hopeless solitary confinement.  I believe it,
in its effects, to be cruel and wrong.

In its intention, I am well convinced that it is kind, humane, and meant
for reformation; but I am persuaded that those who devised this system of
Prison Discipline, and those benevolent gentlemen who carry it into
execution, do not know what it is that they are doing.  I believe that
very few men are capable of estimating the immense amount of torture and
agony which this dreadful punishment, prolonged for years, inflicts upon
the sufferers; and in guessing at it myself, and in reasoning from what I
have seen written upon their faces, and what to my certain knowledge they
feel within, I am only the more convinced that there is a depth of
terrible endurance in it which none but the sufferers themselves can
fathom, and which no man has a right to inflict upon his fellow-creature.
I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain, to
be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body: and because its
ghastly signs and tokens are not so palpable to the eye and sense of
touch as scars upon the flesh; because its wounds are not upon the
surface, and it extorts few cries that human ears can hear; therefore I
the more denounce it, as a secret punishment which slumbering humanity is
not roused up to stay.  I hesitated once, debating with myself, whether,
if I had the power of saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ I would allow it to be tried
in certain cases, where the terms of imprisonment were short; but now, I
solemnly declare, that with no rewards or honours could I walk a happy
man beneath the open sky by day, or lie me down upon my bed at night,
with the consciousness that one human creature, for any length of time,
no matter what, lay suffering this unknown punishment in his silent cell,
and I the cause, or I consenting to it in the least degree.

I was accompanied to this prison by two gentlemen officially connected
with its management, and passed the day in going from cell to cell, and
talking with the inmates.  Every facility was afforded me, that the
utmost courtesy could suggest.  Nothing was concealed or hidden from my
view, and every piece of information that I sought, was openly and
frankly given.  The perfect order of the building cannot be praised too
highly, and of the excellent motives of all who are immediately concerned
in the administration of the system, there can be no kind of question.

Between the body of the prison and the outer wall, there is a spacious
garden.  Entering it, by a wicket in the massive gate, we pursued the
path before us to its other termination, and passed into a large chamber,
from which seven long passages radiate.  On either side of each, is a
long, long row of low cell doors, with a certain number over every one.
Above, a gallery of cells like those below, except that they have no
narrow yard attached (as those in the ground tier have), and are somewhat
smaller.  The possession of two of these, is supposed to compensate for
the absence of so much air and exercise as can be had in the dull strip
attached to each of the others, in an hour’s time every day; and
therefore every prisoner in this upper story has two cells, adjoining and
communicating with, each other.

Standing at the central point, and looking down these dreary passages,
the dull repose and quiet that prevails, is awful.  Occasionally, there
is a drowsy sound from some lone weaver’s shuttle, or shoemaker’s last,
but it is stifled by the thick walls and heavy dungeon-door, and only
serves to make the general stillness more profound.  Over the head and
face of every prisoner who comes into this melancholy house, a black hood
is drawn; and in this dark shroud, an emblem of the curtain dropped
between him and the living world, he is led to the cell from which he
never again comes forth, until his whole term of imprisonment has
expired.  He never hears of wife and children; home or friends; the life
or death of any single creature.  He sees the prison-officers, but with
that exception he never looks upon a human countenance, or hears a human
voice.  He is a man buried alive; to be dug out in the slow round of
years; and in the mean time dead to everything but torturing anxieties
and horrible despair.

His name, and crime, and term of suffering, are unknown, even to the
officer who delivers him his daily food.  There is a number over his
cell-door, and in a book of which the governor of the prison has one
copy, and the moral instructor another: this is the index of his history.
Beyond these pages the prison has no record of his existence: and though
he live to be in the same cell ten weary years, he has no means of
knowing, down to the very last hour, in which part of the building it is
situated; what kind of men there are about him; whether in the long
winter nights there are living people near, or he is in some lonely
corner of the great jail, with walls, and passages, and iron doors
between him and the nearest sharer in its solitary horrors.

Every cell has double doors: the outer one of sturdy oak, the other of
grated iron, wherein there is a trap through which his food is handed.
He has a Bible, and a slate and pencil, and, under certain restrictions,
has sometimes other books, provided for the purpose, and pen and ink and
paper.  His razor, plate, and can, and basin, hang upon the wall, or
shine upon the little shelf.  Fresh water is laid on in every cell, and
he can draw it at his pleasure.  During the day, his bedstead turns up
against the wall, and leaves more space for him to work in.  His loom, or
bench, or wheel, is there; and there he labours, sleeps and wakes, and
counts the seasons as they change, and grows old.

The first man I saw, was seated at his loom, at work.  He had been there
six years, and was to remain, I think, three more.  He had been convicted
as a receiver of stolen goods, but even after his long imprisonment,
denied his guilt, and said he had been hardly dealt by.  It was his
second offence.

He stopped his work when we went in, took off his spectacles, and
answered freely to everything that was said to him, but always with a
strange kind of pause first, and in a low, thoughtful voice.  He wore a
paper hat of his own making, and was pleased to have it noticed and
commanded.  He had very ingeniously manufactured a sort of Dutch clock
from some disregarded odds and ends; and his vinegar-bottle served for
the pendulum.  Seeing me interested in this contrivance, he looked up at
it with a great deal of pride, and said that he had been thinking of
improving it, and that he hoped the hammer and a little piece of broken
glass beside it ‘would play music before long.’  He had extracted some
colours from the yarn with which he worked, and painted a few poor
figures on the wall.  One, of a female, over the door, he called ‘The
Lady of the Lake.’

He smiled as I looked at these contrivances to while away the time; but
when I looked from them to him, I saw that his lip trembled, and could
have counted the beating of his heart.  I forget how it came about, but
some allusion was made to his having a wife.  He shook his head at the
word, turned aside, and covered his face with his hands.

‘But you are resigned now!’ said one of the gentlemen after a short
pause, during which he had resumed his former manner.  He answered with a
sigh that seemed quite reckless in its hopelessness, ‘Oh yes, oh yes!  I
am resigned to it.’  ‘And are a better man, you think?’  ‘Well, I hope
so: I’m sure I hope I may be.’  ‘And time goes pretty quickly?’  ‘Time is
very long gentlemen, within these four walls!’

He gazed about him—Heaven only knows how wearily!—as he said these words;
and in the act of doing so, fell into a strange stare as if he had
forgotten something.  A moment afterwards he sighed heavily, put on his
spectacles, and went about his work again.

In another cell, there was a German, sentenced to five years’
imprisonment for larceny, two of which had just expired.  With colours
procured in the same manner, he had painted every inch of the walls and
ceiling quite beautifully.  He had laid out the few feet of ground,
behind, with exquisite neatness, and had made a little bed in the centre,
that looked, by-the-bye, like a grave.  The taste and ingenuity he had
displayed in everything were most extraordinary; and yet a more dejected,
heart-broken, wretched creature, it would be difficult to imagine.  I
never saw such a picture of forlorn affliction and distress of mind.  My
heart bled for him; and when the tears ran down his cheeks, and he took
one of the visitors aside, to ask, with his trembling hands nervously
clutching at his coat to detain him, whether there was no hope of his
dismal sentence being commuted, the spectacle was really too painful to
witness.  I never saw or heard of any kind of misery that impressed me
more than the wretchedness of this man.

In a third cell, was a tall, strong black, a burglar, working at his
proper trade of making screws and the like.  His time was nearly out.  He
was not only a very dexterous thief, but was notorious for his boldness
and hardihood, and for the number of his previous convictions.  He
entertained us with a long account of his achievements, which he narrated
with such infinite relish, that he actually seemed to lick his lips as he
told us racy anecdotes of stolen plate, and of old ladies whom he had
watched as they sat at windows in silver spectacles (he had plainly had
an eye to their metal even from the other side of the street) and had
afterwards robbed.  This fellow, upon the slightest encouragement, would
have mingled with his professional recollections the most detestable
cant; but I am very much mistaken if he could have surpassed the
unmitigated hypocrisy with which he declared that he blessed the day on
which he came into that prison, and that he never would commit another
robbery as long as he lived.

There was one man who was allowed, as an indulgence, to keep rabbits.
His room having rather a close smell in consequence, they called to him
at the door to come out into the passage.  He complied of course, and
stood shading his haggard face in the unwonted sunlight of the great
window, looking as wan and unearthly as if he had been summoned from the
grave.  He had a white rabbit in his breast; and when the little
creature, getting down upon the ground, stole back into the cell, and he,
being dismissed, crept timidly after it, I thought it would have been
very hard to say in what respect the man was the nobler animal of the
two.

There was an English thief, who had been there but a few days out of
seven years: a villainous, low-browed, thin-lipped fellow, with a white
face; who had as yet no relish for visitors, and who, but for the
additional penalty, would have gladly stabbed me with his shoemaker’s
knife.  There was another German who had entered the jail but yesterday,
and who started from his bed when we looked in, and pleaded, in his
broken English, very hard for work.  There was a poet, who after doing
two days’ work in every four-and-twenty hours, one for himself and one
for the prison, wrote verses about ships (he was by trade a mariner), and
‘the maddening wine-cup,’ and his friends at home.  There were very many
of them.  Some reddened at the sight of visitors, and some turned very
pale.  Some two or three had prisoner nurses with them, for they were
very sick; and one, a fat old negro whose leg had been taken off within
the jail, had for his attendant a classical scholar and an accomplished
surgeon, himself a prisoner likewise.  Sitting upon the stairs, engaged
in some slight work, was a pretty coloured boy. ‘Is there no refuge for
young criminals in Philadelphia, then?’ said I.  ‘Yes, but only for white
children.’  Noble aristocracy in crime!

There was a sailor who had been there upwards of eleven years, and who in
a few months’ time would be free.  Eleven years of solitary confinement!

‘I am very glad to hear your time is nearly out.’  What does he say?
Nothing.  Why does he stare at his hands, and pick the flesh upon his
fingers, and raise his eyes for an instant, every now and then, to those
bare walls which have seen his head turn grey?  It is a way he has
sometimes.

Does he never look men in the face, and does he always pluck at those
hands of his, as though he were bent on parting skin and bone?  It is his
humour: nothing more.

It is his humour too, to say that he does not look forward to going out;
that he is not glad the time is drawing near; that he did look forward to
it once, but that was very long ago; that he has lost all care for
everything.  It is his humour to be a helpless, crushed, and broken man.
And, Heaven be his witness that he has his humour thoroughly gratified!

There were three young women in adjoining cells, all convicted at the
same time of a conspiracy to rob their prosecutor.  In the silence and
solitude of their lives they had grown to be quite beautiful.  Their
looks were very sad, and might have moved the sternest visitor to tears,
but not to that kind of sorrow which the contemplation of the men
awakens.  One was a young girl; not twenty, as I recollect; whose
snow-white room was hung with the work of some former prisoner, and upon
whose downcast face the sun in all its splendour shone down through the
high chink in the wall, where one narrow strip of bright blue sky was
visible.  She was very penitent and quiet; had come to be resigned, she
said (and I believe her); and had a mind at peace.  ‘In a word, you are
happy here?’ said one of my companions.  She struggled—she did struggle
very hard—to answer, Yes; but raising her eyes, and meeting that glimpse
of freedom overhead, she burst into tears, and said, ‘She tried to be;
she uttered no complaint; but it was natural that she should sometimes
long to go out of that one cell: she could not help _that_,’ she sobbed,
poor thing!

I went from cell to cell that day; and every face I saw, or word I heard,
or incident I noted, is present to my mind in all its painfulness.  But
let me pass them by, for one, more pleasant, glance of a prison on the
same plan which I afterwards saw at Pittsburg.

When I had gone over that, in the same manner, I asked the governor if he
had any person in his charge who was shortly going out.  He had one, he
said, whose time was up next day; but he had only been a prisoner two
years.

Two years!  I looked back through two years of my own life—out of jail,
prosperous, happy, surrounded by blessings, comforts, good fortune—and
thought how wide a gap it was, and how long those two years passed in
solitary captivity would have been.  I have the face of this man, who was
going to be released next day, before me now.  It is almost more
memorable in its happiness than the other faces in their misery.  How
easy and how natural it was for him to say that the system was a good
one; and that the time went ‘pretty quick—considering;’ and that when a
man once felt that he had offended the law, and must satisfy it, ‘he got
along, somehow:’ and so forth!

‘What did he call you back to say to you, in that strange flutter?’ I
asked of my conductor, when he had locked the door and joined me in the
passage.

‘Oh!  That he was afraid the soles of his boots were not fit for walking,
as they were a good deal worn when he came in; and that he would thank me
very much to have them mended, ready.’

Those boots had been taken off his feet, and put away with the rest of
his clothes, two years before!

I took that opportunity of inquiring how they conducted themselves
immediately before going out; adding that I presumed they trembled very
much.

‘Well, it’s not so much a trembling,’ was the answer—‘though they do
quiver—as a complete derangement of the nervous system.  They can’t sign
their names to the book; sometimes can’t even hold the pen; look about
’em without appearing to know why, or where they are; and sometimes get
up and sit down again, twenty times in a minute.  This is when they’re in
the office, where they are taken with the hood on, as they were brought
in.  When they get outside the gate, they stop, and look first one way
and then the other; not knowing which to take.  Sometimes they stagger as
if they were drunk, and sometimes are forced to lean against the fence,
they’re so bad:—but they clear off in course of time.’

As I walked among these solitary cells, and looked at the faces of the
men within them, I tried to picture to myself the thoughts and feelings
natural to their condition.  I imagined the hood just taken off, and the
scene of their captivity disclosed to them in all its dismal monotony.

At first, the man is stunned.  His confinement is a hideous vision; and
his old life a reality.  He throws himself upon his bed, and lies there
abandoned to despair.  By degrees the insupportable solitude and
barrenness of the place rouses him from this stupor, and when the trap in
his grated door is opened, he humbly begs and prays for work.  ‘Give me
some work to do, or I shall go raving mad!’

He has it; and by fits and starts applies himself to labour; but every
now and then there comes upon him a burning sense of the years that must
be wasted in that stone coffin, and an agony so piercing in the
recollection of those who are hidden from his view and knowledge, that he
starts from his seat, and striding up and down the narrow room with both
hands clasped on his uplifted head, hears spirits tempting him to beat
his brains out on the wall.

Again he falls upon his bed, and lies there, moaning.  Suddenly he starts
up, wondering whether any other man is near; whether there is another
cell like that on either side of him: and listens keenly.

There is no sound, but other prisoners may be near for all that.  He
remembers to have heard once, when he little thought of coming here
himself, that the cells were so constructed that the prisoners could not
hear each other, though the officers could hear them.  Where is the
nearest man—upon the right, or on the left? or is there one in both
directions?  Where is he sitting now—with his face to the light? or is he
walking to and fro?  How is he dressed? Has he been here long?  Is he
much worn away?  Is he very white and spectre-like?  Does _he_ think of
his neighbour too?

Scarcely venturing to breathe, and listening while he thinks, he conjures
up a figure with his back towards him, and imagines it moving about in
this next cell.  He has no idea of the face, but he is certain of the
dark form of a stooping man.  In the cell upon the other side, he puts
another figure, whose face is hidden from him also.  Day after day, and
often when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he thinks of these two
men until he is almost distracted.  He never changes them.  There they
are always as he first imagined them—an old man on the right; a younger
man upon the left—whose hidden features torture him to death, and have a
mystery that makes him tremble.

The weary days pass on with solemn pace, like mourners at a funeral; and
slowly he begins to feel that the white walls of the cell have something
dreadful in them: that their colour is horrible: that their smooth
surface chills his blood: that there is one hateful corner which torments
him.  Every morning when he wakes, he hides his head beneath the
coverlet, and shudders to see the ghastly ceiling looking down upon him.
The blessed light of day itself peeps in, an ugly phantom face, through
the unchangeable crevice which is his prison window.

By slow but sure degrees, the terrors of that hateful corner swell until
they beset him at all times; invade his rest, make his dreams hideous,
and his nights dreadful.  At first, he took a strange dislike to it;
feeling as though it gave birth in his brain to something of
corresponding shape, which ought not to be there, and racked his head
with pains.  Then he began to fear it, then to dream of it, and of men
whispering its name and pointing to it.  Then he could not bear to look
at it, nor yet to turn his back upon it.  Now, it is every night the
lurking-place of a ghost: a shadow:—a silent something, horrible to see,
but whether bird, or beast, or muffled human shape, he cannot tell.

                     [Picture: The Solitary Prisoner]

When he is in his cell by day, he fears the little yard without.  When he
is in the yard, he dreads to re-enter the cell.  When night comes, there
stands the phantom in the corner.  If he have the courage to stand in its
place, and drive it out (he had once: being desperate), it broods upon
his bed.  In the twilight, and always at the same hour, a voice calls to
him by name; as the darkness thickens, his Loom begins to live; and even
that, his comfort, is a hideous figure, watching him till daybreak.

Again, by slow degrees, these horrible fancies depart from him one by
one: returning sometimes, unexpectedly, but at longer intervals, and in
less alarming shapes.  He has talked upon religious matters with the
gentleman who visits him, and has read his Bible, and has written a
prayer upon his slate, and hung it up as a kind of protection, and an
assurance of Heavenly companionship.  He dreams now, sometimes, of his
children or his wife, but is sure that they are dead, or have deserted
him.  He is easily moved to tears; is gentle, submissive, and
broken-spirited.  Occasionally, the old agony comes back: a very little
thing will revive it; even a familiar sound, or the scent of summer
flowers in the air; but it does not last long, now: for the world
without, has come to be the vision, and this solitary life, the sad
reality.

If his term of imprisonment be short—I mean comparatively, for short it
cannot be—the last half year is almost worse than all; for then he thinks
the prison will take fire and he be burnt in the ruins, or that he is
doomed to die within the walls, or that he will be detained on some false
charge and sentenced for another term: or that something, no matter what,
must happen to prevent his going at large.  And this is natural, and
impossible to be reasoned against, because, after his long separation
from human life, and his great suffering, any event will appear to him
more probable in the contemplation, than the being restored to liberty
and his fellow-creatures.

If his period of confinement have been very long, the prospect of release
bewilders and confuses him.  His broken heart may flutter for a moment,
when he thinks of the world outside, and what it might have been to him
in all those lonely years, but that is all.  The cell-door has been
closed too long on all its hopes and cares.  Better to have hanged him in
the beginning than bring him to this pass, and send him forth to mingle
with his kind, who are his kind no more.

On the haggard face of every man among these prisoners, the same
expression sat.  I know not what to liken it to.  It had something of
that strained attention which we see upon the faces of the blind and
deaf, mingled with a kind of horror, as though they had all been secretly
terrified.  In every little chamber that I entered, and at every grate
through which I looked, I seemed to see the same appalling countenance.
It lives in my memory, with the fascination of a remarkable picture.
Parade before my eyes, a hundred men, with one among them newly released
from this solitary suffering, and I would point him out.

The faces of the women, as I have said, it humanises and refines.
Whether this be because of their better nature, which is elicited in
solitude, or because of their being gentler creatures, of greater
patience and longer suffering, I do not know; but so it is.  That the
punishment is nevertheless, to my thinking, fully as cruel and as wrong
in their case, as in that of the men, I need scarcely add.

My firm conviction is that, independent of the mental anguish it
occasions—an anguish so acute and so tremendous, that all imagination of
it must fall far short of the reality—it wears the mind into a morbid
state, which renders it unfit for the rough contact and busy action of
the world.  It is my fixed opinion that those who have undergone this
punishment, MUST pass into society again morally unhealthy and diseased.
There are many instances on record, of men who have chosen, or have been
condemned, to lives of perfect solitude, but I scarcely remember one,
even among sages of strong and vigorous intellect, where its effect has
not become apparent, in some disordered train of thought, or some gloomy
hallucination.  What monstrous phantoms, bred of despondency and doubt,
and born and reared in solitude, have stalked upon the earth, making
creation ugly, and darkening the face of Heaven!

Suicides are rare among these prisoners: are almost, indeed, unknown.
But no argument in favour of the system, can reasonably be deduced from
this circumstance, although it is very often urged.  All men who have
made diseases of the mind their study, know perfectly well that such
extreme depression and despair as will change the whole character, and
beat down all its powers of elasticity and self-resistance, may be at
work within a man, and yet stop short of self-destruction.  This is a
common case.

That it makes the senses dull, and by degrees impairs the bodily
faculties, I am quite sure.  I remarked to those who were with me in this
very establishment at Philadelphia, that the criminals who had been there
long, were deaf.  They, who were in the habit of seeing these men
constantly, were perfectly amazed at the idea, which they regarded as
groundless and fanciful.  And yet the very first prisoner to whom they
appealed—one of their own selection confirmed my impression (which was
unknown to him) instantly, and said, with a genuine air it was impossible
to doubt, that he couldn’t think how it happened, but he _was_ growing
very dull of hearing.

That it is a singularly unequal punishment, and affects the worst man
least, there is no doubt.  In its superior efficiency as a means of
reformation, compared with that other code of regulations which allows
the prisoners to work in company without communicating together, I have
not the smallest faith.  All the instances of reformation that were
mentioned to me, were of a kind that might have been—and I have no doubt
whatever, in my own mind, would have been—equally well brought about by
the Silent System.  With regard to such men as the negro burglar and the
English thief, even the most enthusiastic have scarcely any hope of their
conversion.

It seems to me that the objection that nothing wholesome or good has ever
had its growth in such unnatural solitude, and that even a dog or any of
the more intelligent among beasts, would pine, and mope, and rust away,
beneath its influence, would be in itself a sufficient argument against
this system.  But when we recollect, in addition, how very cruel and
severe it is, and that a solitary life is always liable to peculiar and
distinct objections of a most deplorable nature, which have arisen here,
and call to mind, moreover, that the choice is not between this system,
and a bad or ill-considered one, but between it and another which has
worked well, and is, in its whole design and practice, excellent; there
is surely more than sufficient reason for abandoning a mode of punishment
attended by so little hope or promise, and fraught, beyond dispute, with
such a host of evils.

As a relief to its contemplation, I will close this chapter with a
curious story arising out of the same theme, which was related to me, on
the occasion of this visit, by some of the gentlemen concerned.

At one of the periodical meetings of the inspectors of this prison, a
working man of Philadelphia presented himself before the Board, and
earnestly requested to be placed in solitary confinement.  On being asked
what motive could possibly prompt him to make this strange demand, he
answered that he had an irresistible propensity to get drunk; that he was
constantly indulging it, to his great misery and ruin; that he had no
power of resistance; that he wished to be put beyond the reach of
temptation; and that he could think of no better way than this.  It was
pointed out to him, in reply, that the prison was for criminals who had
been tried and sentenced by the law, and could not be made available for
any such fanciful purposes; he was exhorted to abstain from intoxicating
drinks, as he surely might if he would; and received other very good
advice, with which he retired, exceedingly dissatisfied with the result
of his application.

He came again, and again, and again, and was so very earnest and
importunate, that at last they took counsel together, and said, ‘He will
certainly qualify himself for admission, if we reject him any more.  Let
us shut him up.  He will soon be glad to go away, and then we shall get
rid of him.’  So they made him sign a statement which would prevent his
ever sustaining an action for false imprisonment, to the effect that his
incarceration was voluntary, and of his own seeking; they requested him
to take notice that the officer in attendance had orders to release him
at any hour of the day or night, when he might knock upon his door for
that purpose; but desired him to understand, that once going out, he
would not be admitted any more.  These conditions agreed upon, and he
still remaining in the same mind, he was conducted to the prison, and
shut up in one of the cells.

In this cell, the man, who had not the firmness to leave a glass of
liquor standing untasted on a table before him—in this cell, in solitary
confinement, and working every day at his trade of shoemaking, this man
remained nearly two years.  His health beginning to fail at the
expiration of that time, the surgeon recommended that he should work
occasionally in the garden; and as he liked the notion very much, he went
about this new occupation with great cheerfulness.

He was digging here, one summer day, very industriously, when the wicket
in the outer gate chanced to be left open: showing, beyond, the
well-remembered dusty road and sunburnt fields.  The way was as free to
him as to any man living, but he no sooner raised his head and caught
sight of it, all shining in the light, than, with the involuntary
instinct of a prisoner, he cast away his spade, scampered off as fast as
his legs would carry him, and never once looked back.



CHAPTER VIII
WASHINGTON.  THE LEGISLATURE.  AND THE PRESIDENT’S HOUSE


WE left Philadelphia by steamboat, at six o’clock one very cold morning,
and turned our faces towards Washington.

In the course of this day’s journey, as on subsequent occasions, we
encountered some Englishmen (small farmers, perhaps, or country publicans
at home) who were settled in America, and were travelling on their own
affairs.  Of all grades and kinds of men that jostle one in the public
conveyances of the States, these are often the most intolerable and the
most insufferable companions.  United to every disagreeable
characteristic that the worst kind of American travellers possess, these
countrymen of ours display an amount of insolent conceit and cool
assumption of superiority, quite monstrous to behold.  In the coarse
familiarity of their approach, and the effrontery of their
inquisitiveness (which they are in great haste to assert, as if they
panted to revenge themselves upon the decent old restraints of home),
they surpass any native specimens that came within my range of
observation: and I often grew so patriotic when I saw and heard them,
that I would cheerfully have submitted to a reasonable fine, if I could
have given any other country in the whole world, the honour of claiming
them for its children.

As Washington may be called the head-quarters of tobacco-tinctured
saliva, the time is come when I must confess, without any disguise, that
the prevalence of those two odious practices of chewing and expectorating
began about this time to be anything but agreeable, and soon became most
offensive and sickening.  In all the public places of America, this
filthy custom is recognised.  In the courts of law, the judge has his
spittoon, the crier his, the witness his, and the prisoner his; while the
jurymen and spectators are provided for, as so many men who in the course
of nature must desire to spit incessantly.  In the hospitals, the
students of medicine are requested, by notices upon the wall, to eject
their tobacco juice into the boxes provided for that purpose, and not to
discolour the stairs.  In public buildings, visitors are implored,
through the same agency, to squirt the essence of their quids, or
‘plugs,’ as I have heard them called by gentlemen learned in this kind of
sweetmeat, into the national spittoons, and not about the bases of the
marble columns.  But in some parts, this custom is inseparably mixed up
with every meal and morning call, and with all the transactions of social
life.  The stranger, who follows in the track I took myself, will find it
in its full bloom and glory, luxuriant in all its alarming recklessness,
at Washington.  And let him not persuade himself (as I once did, to my
shame) that previous tourists have exaggerated its extent.  The thing
itself is an exaggeration of nastiness, which cannot be outdone.

On board this steamboat, there were two young gentlemen, with
shirt-collars reversed as usual, and armed with very big walking-sticks;
who planted two seats in the middle of the deck, at a distance of some
four paces apart; took out their tobacco-boxes; and sat down opposite
each other, to chew.  In less than a quarter of an hour’s time, these
hopeful youths had shed about them on the clean boards, a copious shower
of yellow rain; clearing, by that means, a kind of magic circle, within
whose limits no intruders dared to come, and which they never failed to
refresh and re-refresh before a spot was dry.  This being before
breakfast, rather disposed me, I confess, to nausea; but looking
attentively at one of the expectorators, I plainly saw that he was young
in chewing, and felt inwardly uneasy, himself.  A glow of delight came
over me at this discovery; and as I marked his face turn paler and paler,
and saw the ball of tobacco in his left cheek, quiver with his suppressed
agony, while yet he spat, and chewed, and spat again, in emulation of his
older friend, I could have fallen on his neck and implored him to go on
for hours.

We all sat down to a comfortable breakfast in the cabin below, where
there was no more hurry or confusion than at such a meal in England, and
where there was certainly greater politeness exhibited than at most of
our stage-coach banquets.  At about nine o’clock we arrived at the
railroad station, and went on by the cars.  At noon we turned out again,
to cross a wide river in another steamboat; landed at a continuation of
the railroad on the opposite shore; and went on by other cars; in which,
in the course of the next hour or so, we crossed by wooden bridges, each
a mile in length, two creeks, called respectively Great and Little
Gunpowder.  The water in both was blackened with flights of canvas-backed
ducks, which are most delicious eating, and abound hereabouts at that
season of the year.

These bridges are of wood, have no parapet, and are only just wide enough
for the passage of the trains; which, in the event of the smallest
accident, wound inevitably be plunged into the river.  They are startling
contrivances, and are most agreeable when passed.

We stopped to dine at Baltimore, and being now in Maryland, were waited
on, for the first time, by slaves.  The sensation of exacting any service
from human creatures who are bought and sold, and being, for the time, a
party as it were to their condition, is not an enviable one.  The
institution exists, perhaps, in its least repulsive and most mitigated
form in such a town as this; but it _is_ slavery; and though I was, with
respect to it, an innocent man, its presence filled me with a sense of
shame and self-reproach.

After dinner, we went down to the railroad again, and took our seats in
the cars for Washington.  Being rather early, those men and boys who
happened to have nothing particular to do, and were curious in
foreigners, came (according to custom) round the carriage in which I sat;
let down all the windows; thrust in their heads and shoulders; hooked
themselves on conveniently, by their elbows; and fell to comparing notes
on the subject of my personal appearance, with as much indifference as if
I were a stuffed figure.  I never gained so much uncompromising
information with reference to my own nose and eyes, and various
impressions wrought by my mouth and chin on different minds, and how my
head looks when it is viewed from behind, as on these occasions.  Some
gentlemen were only satisfied by exercising their sense of touch; and the
boys (who are surprisingly precocious in America) were seldom satisfied,
even by that, but would return to the charge over and over again.  Many a
budding president has walked into my room with his cap on his head and
his hands in his pockets, and stared at me for two whole hours:
occasionally refreshing himself with a tweak of his nose, or a draught
from the water-jug; or by walking to the windows and inviting other boys
in the street below, to come up and do likewise: crying, ‘Here he is!’
‘Come on!’  ‘Bring all your brothers!’ with other hospitable entreaties
of that nature.

We reached Washington at about half-past six that evening, and had upon
the way a beautiful view of the Capitol, which is a fine building of the
Corinthian order, placed upon a noble and commanding eminence.  Arrived
at the hotel; I saw no more of the place that night; being very tired,
and glad to get to bed.

Breakfast over next morning, I walk about the streets for an hour or two,
and, coming home, throw up the window in the front and back, and look
out.  Here is Washington, fresh in my mind and under my eye.

Take the worst parts of the City Road and Pentonville, or the straggling
outskirts of Paris, where the houses are smallest, preserving all their
oddities, but especially the small shops and dwellings, occupied in
Pentonville (but not in Washington) by furniture-brokers, keepers of poor
eating-houses, and fanciers of birds.  Burn the whole down; build it up
again in wood and plaster; widen it a little; throw in part of St. John’s
Wood; put green blinds outside all the private houses, with a red curtain
and a white one in every window; plough up all the roads; plant a great
deal of coarse turf in every place where it ought _not_ to be; erect
three handsome buildings in stone and marble, anywhere, but the more
entirely out of everybody’s way the better; call one the Post Office; one
the Patent Office, and one the Treasury; make it scorching hot in the
morning, and freezing cold in the afternoon, with an occasional tornado
of wind and dust; leave a brick-field without the bricks, in all central
places where a street may naturally be expected: and that’s Washington.

The hotel in which we live, is a long row of small houses fronting on the
street, and opening at the back upon a common yard, in which hangs a
great triangle.  Whenever a servant is wanted, somebody beats on this
triangle from one stroke up to seven, according to the number of the
house in which his presence is required; and as all the servants are
always being wanted, and none of them ever come, this enlivening engine
is in full performance the whole day through.  Clothes are drying in the
same yard; female slaves, with cotton handkerchiefs twisted round their
heads are running to and fro on the hotel business; black waiters cross
and recross with dishes in their hands; two great dogs are playing upon a
mound of loose bricks in the centre of the little square; a pig is
turning up his stomach to the sun, and grunting ‘that’s comfortable!’;
and neither the men, nor the women, nor the dogs, nor the pig, nor any
created creature, takes the smallest notice of the triangle, which is
tingling madly all the time.

I walk to the front window, and look across the road upon a long,
straggling row of houses, one story high, terminating, nearly opposite,
but a little to the left, in a melancholy piece of waste ground with
frowzy grass, which looks like a small piece of country that has taken to
drinking, and has quite lost itself.  Standing anyhow and all wrong, upon
this open space, like something meteoric that has fallen down from the
moon, is an odd, lop-sided, one-eyed kind of wooden building, that looks
like a church, with a flag-staff as long as itself sticking out of a
steeple something larger than a tea-chest.  Under the window is a small
stand of coaches, whose slave-drivers are sunning themselves on the steps
of our door, and talking idly together.  The three most obtrusive houses
near at hand are the three meanest.  On one—a shop, which never has
anything in the window, and never has the door open—is painted in large
characters, ‘THE CITY LUNCH.’  At another, which looks like a backway to
somewhere else, but is an independent building in itself, oysters are
procurable in every style.  At the third, which is a very, very little
tailor’s shop, pants are fixed to order; or in other words, pantaloons
are made to measure.  And that is our street in Washington.

It is sometimes called the City of Magnificent Distances, but it might
with greater propriety be termed the City of Magnificent Intentions; for
it is only on taking a bird’s-eye view of it from the top of the Capitol,
that one can at all comprehend the vast designs of its projector, an
aspiring Frenchman.  Spacious avenues, that begin in nothing, and lead
nowhere; streets, mile-long, that only want houses, roads and
inhabitants; public buildings that need but a public to be complete; and
ornaments of great thoroughfares, which only lack great thoroughfares to
ornament—are its leading features.  One might fancy the season over, and
most of the houses gone out of town for ever with their masters.  To the
admirers of cities it is a Barmecide Feast: a pleasant field for the
imagination to rove in; a monument raised to a deceased project, with not
even a legible inscription to record its departed greatness.

Such as it is, it is likely to remain.  It was originally chosen for the
seat of Government, as a means of averting the conflicting jealousies and
interests of the different States; and very probably, too, as being
remote from mobs: a consideration not to be slighted, even in America.
It has no trade or commerce of its own: having little or no population
beyond the President and his establishment; the members of the
legislature who reside there during the session; the Government clerks
and officers employed in the various departments; the keepers of the
hotels and boarding-houses; and the tradesmen who supply their tables.
It is very unhealthy.  Few people would live in Washington, I take it,
who were not obliged to reside there; and the tides of emigration and
speculation, those rapid and regardless currents, are little likely to
flow at any time towards such dull and sluggish water.

The principal features of the Capitol, are, of course, the two houses of
Assembly.  But there is, besides, in the centre of the building, a fine
rotunda, ninety-six feet in diameter, and ninety-six high, whose circular
wall is divided into compartments, ornamented by historical pictures.
Four of these have for their subjects prominent events in the
revolutionary struggle.  They were painted by Colonel Trumbull, himself a
member of Washington’s staff at the time of their occurrence; from which
circumstance they derive a peculiar interest of their own.  In this same
hall Mr. Greenough’s large statue of Washington has been lately placed.
It has great merits of course, but it struck me as being rather strained
and violent for its subject.  I could wish, however, to have seen it in a
better light than it can ever be viewed in, where it stands.

There is a very pleasant and commodious library in the Capitol; and from
a balcony in front, the bird’s-eye view, of which I have just spoken, may
be had, together with a beautiful prospect of the adjacent country.  In
one of the ornamented portions of the building, there is a figure of
Justice; whereunto the Guide Book says, ‘the artist at first contemplated
giving more of nudity, but he was warned that the public sentiment in
this country would not admit of it, and in his caution he has gone,
perhaps, into the opposite extreme.’  Poor Justice! she has been made to
wear much stranger garments in America than those she pines in, in the
Capitol.  Let us hope that she has changed her dress-maker since they
were fashioned, and that the public sentiment of the country did not cut
out the clothes she hides her lovely figure in, just now.

The House of Representatives is a beautiful and spacious hall, of
semicircular shape, supported by handsome pillars.  One part of the
gallery is appropriated to the ladies, and there they sit in front rows,
and come in, and go out, as at a play or concert.  The chair is canopied,
and raised considerably above the floor of the House; and every member
has an easy chair and a writing desk to himself: which is denounced by
some people out of doors as a most unfortunate and injudicious
arrangement, tending to long sittings and prosaic speeches.  It is an
elegant chamber to look at, but a singularly bad one for all purposes of
hearing.  The Senate, which is smaller, is free from this objection, and
is exceedingly well adapted to the uses for which it is designed.  The
sittings, I need hardly add, take place in the day; and the parliamentary
forms are modelled on those of the old country.

I was sometimes asked, in my progress through other places, whether I had
not been very much impressed by the _heads_ of the lawmakers at
Washington; meaning not their chiefs and leaders, but literally their
individual and personal heads, whereon their hair grew, and whereby the
phrenological character of each legislator was expressed: and I almost as
often struck my questioner dumb with indignant consternation by answering
‘No, that I didn’t remember being at all overcome.’  As I must, at
whatever hazard, repeat the avowal here, I will follow it up by relating
my impressions on this subject in as few words as possible.

In the first place—it may be from some imperfect development of my organ
of veneration—I do not remember having ever fainted away, or having even
been moved to tears of joyful pride, at sight of any legislative body.  I
have borne the House of Commons like a man, and have yielded to no
weakness, but slumber, in the House of Lords.  I have seen elections for
borough and county, and have never been impelled (no matter which party
won) to damage my hat by throwing it up into the air in triumph, or to
crack my voice by shouting forth any reference to our Glorious
Constitution, to the noble purity of our independent voters, or, the
unimpeachable integrity of our independent members.  Having withstood
such strong attacks upon my fortitude, it is possible that I may be of a
cold and insensible temperament, amounting to iciness, in such matters;
and therefore my impressions of the live pillars of the Capitol at
Washington must be received with such grains of allowance as this free
confession may seem to demand.

Did I see in this public body an assemblage of men, bound together in the
sacred names of Liberty and Freedom, and so asserting the chaste dignity
of those twin goddesses, in all their discussions, as to exalt at once
the Eternal Principles to which their names are given, and their own
character and the character of their countrymen, in the admiring eyes of
the whole world?

It was but a week, since an aged, grey-haired man, a lasting honour to
the land that gave him birth, who has done good service to his country,
as his forefathers did, and who will be remembered scores upon scores of
years after the worms bred in its corruption, are but so many grains of
dust—it was but a week, since this old man had stood for days upon his
trial before this very body, charged with having dared to assert the
infamy of that traffic, which has for its accursed merchandise men and
women, and their unborn children.  Yes.  And publicly exhibited in the
same city all the while; gilded, framed and glazed hung up for general
admiration; shown to strangers not with shame, but pride; its face not
turned towards the wall, itself not taken down and burned; is the
Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America, which
solemnly declares that All Men are created Equal; and are endowed by
their Creator with the Inalienable Rights of Life, Liberty, and the
Pursuit of Happiness!

It was not a month, since this same body had sat calmly by, and heard a
man, one of themselves, with oaths which beggars in their drink reject,
threaten to cut another’s throat from ear to ear.  There he sat, among
them; not crushed by the general feeling of the assembly, but as good a
man as any.

There was but a week to come, and another of that body, for doing his
duty to those who sent him there; for claiming in a Republic the Liberty
and Freedom of expressing their sentiments, and making known their
prayer; would be tried, found guilty, and have strong censure passed upon
him by the rest.  His was a grave offence indeed; for years before, he
had risen up and said, ‘A gang of male and female slaves for sale,
warranted to breed like cattle, linked to each other by iron fetters, are
passing now along the open street beneath the windows of your Temple of
Equality!  Look!’  But there are many kinds of hunters engaged in the
Pursuit of Happiness, and they go variously armed.  It is the Inalienable
Right of some among them, to take the field after _their_ Happiness
equipped with cat and cartwhip, stocks, and iron collar, and to shout
their view halloa! (always in praise of Liberty) to the music of clanking
chains and bloody stripes.

Where sat the many legislators of coarse threats; of words and blows such
as coalheavers deal upon each other, when they forget their breeding?  On
every side.  Every session had its anecdotes of that kind, and the actors
were all there.

Did I recognise in this assembly, a body of men, who, applying themselves
in a new world to correct some of the falsehoods and vices of the old,
purified the avenues to Public Life, paved the dirty ways to Place and
Power, debated and made laws for the Common Good, and had no party but
their Country?

I saw in them, the wheels that move the meanest perversion of virtuous
Political Machinery that the worst tools ever wrought.  Despicable
trickery at elections; under-handed tamperings with public officers;
cowardly attacks upon opponents, with scurrilous newspapers for shields,
and hired pens for daggers; shameful trucklings to mercenary knaves,
whose claim to be considered, is, that every day and week they sow new
crops of ruin with their venal types, which are the dragon’s teeth of
yore, in everything but sharpness; aidings and abettings of every bad
inclination in the popular mind, and artful suppressions of all its good
influences: such things as these, and in a word, Dishonest Faction in its
most depraved and most unblushing form, stared out from every corner of
the crowded hall.

Did I see among them, the intelligence and refinement: the true, honest,
patriotic heart of America?  Here and there, were drops of its blood and
life, but they scarcely coloured the stream of desperate adventurers
which sets that way for profit and for pay.  It is the game of these men,
and of their profligate organs, to make the strife of politics so fierce
and brutal, and so destructive of all self-respect in worthy men, that
sensitive and delicate-minded persons shall be kept aloof, and they, and
such as they, be left to battle out their selfish views unchecked.  And
thus this lowest of all scrambling fights goes on, and they who in other
countries would, from their intelligence and station, most aspire to make
the laws, do here recoil the farthest from that degradation.

That there are, among the representatives of the people in both Houses,
and among all parties, some men of high character and great abilities, I
need not say.  The foremost among those politicians who are known in
Europe, have been already described, and I see no reason to depart from
the rule I have laid down for my guidance, of abstaining from all mention
of individuals.  It will be sufficient to add, that to the most
favourable accounts that have been written of them, I more than fully and
most heartily subscribe; and that personal intercourse and free
communication have bred within me, not the result predicted in the very
doubtful proverb, but increased admiration and respect.  They are
striking men to look at, hard to deceive, prompt to act, lions in energy,
Crichtons in varied accomplishments, Indians in fire of eye and gesture,
Americans in strong and generous impulse; and they as well represent the
honour and wisdom of their country at home, as the distinguished
gentleman who is now its Minister at the British Court sustains its
highest character abroad.

I visited both houses nearly every day, during my stay in Washington.  On
my initiatory visit to the House of Representatives, they divided against
a decision of the chair; but the chair won.  The second time I went, the
member who was speaking, being interrupted by a laugh, mimicked it, as
one child would in quarrelling with another, and added, ‘that he would
make honourable gentlemen opposite, sing out a little more on the other
side of their mouths presently.’  But interruptions are rare; the speaker
being usually heard in silence.  There are more quarrels than with us,
and more threatenings than gentlemen are accustomed to exchange in any
civilised society of which we have record: but farm-yard imitations have
not as yet been imported from the Parliament of the United Kingdom.  The
feature in oratory which appears to be the most practised, and most
relished, is the constant repetition of the same idea or shadow of an
idea in fresh words; and the inquiry out of doors is not, ‘What did he
say?’ but, ‘How long did he speak?’  These, however, are but enlargements
of a principle which prevails elsewhere.

The Senate is a dignified and decorous body, and its proceedings are
conducted with much gravity and order.  Both houses are handsomely
carpeted; but the state to which these carpets are reduced by the
universal disregard of the spittoon with which every honourable member is
accommodated, and the extraordinary improvements on the pattern which are
squirted and dabbled upon it in every direction, do not admit of being
described.  I will merely observe, that I strongly recommend all
strangers not to look at the floor; and if they happen to drop anything,
though it be their purse, not to pick it up with an ungloved hand on any
account.

It is somewhat remarkable too, at first, to say the least, to see so many
honourable members with swelled faces; and it is scarcely less remarkable
to discover that this appearance is caused by the quantity of tobacco
they contrive to stow within the hollow of the cheek.  It is strange
enough too, to see an honourable gentleman leaning back in his tilted
chair with his legs on the desk before him, shaping a convenient ‘plug’
with his penknife, and when it is quite ready for use, shooting the old
one from his mouth, as from a pop-gun, and clapping the new one in its
place.

I was surprised to observe that even steady old chewers of great
experience, are not always good marksmen, which has rather inclined me to
doubt that general proficiency with the rifle, of which we have heard so
much in England.  Several gentlemen called upon me who, in the course of
conversation, frequently missed the spittoon at five paces; and one (but
he was certainly short-sighted) mistook the closed sash for the open
window, at three.  On another occasion, when I dined out, and was sitting
with two ladies and some gentlemen round a fire before dinner, one of the
company fell short of the fireplace, six distinct times.  I am disposed
to think, however, that this was occasioned by his not aiming at that
object; as there was a white marble hearth before the fender, which was
more convenient, and may have suited his purpose better.

The Patent Office at Washington, furnishes an extraordinary example of
American enterprise and ingenuity; for the immense number of models it
contains are the accumulated inventions of only five years; the whole of
the previous collection having been destroyed by fire.  The elegant
structure in which they are arranged is one of design rather than
execution, for there is but one side erected out of four, though the
works are stopped.  The Post Office is a very compact and very beautiful
building.  In one of the departments, among a collection of rare and
curious articles, are deposited the presents which have been made from
time to time to the American ambassadors at foreign courts by the various
potentates to whom they were the accredited agents of the Republic; gifts
which by the law they are not permitted to retain.  I confess that I
looked upon this as a very painful exhibition, and one by no means
flattering to the national standard of honesty and honour.  That can
scarcely be a high state of moral feeling which imagines a gentleman of
repute and station, likely to be corrupted, in the discharge of his duty,
by the present of a snuff-box, or a richly-mounted sword, or an Eastern
shawl; and surely the Nation who reposes confidence in her appointed
servants, is likely to be better served, than she who makes them the
subject of such very mean and paltry suspicions.

At George Town, in the suburbs, there is a Jesuit College; delightfully
situated, and, so far as I had an opportunity of seeing, well managed.
Many persons who are not members of the Romish Church, avail themselves,
I believe, of these institutions, and of the advantageous opportunities
they afford for the education of their children.  The heights of this
neighbourhood, above the Potomac River, are very picturesque: and are
free, I should conceive, from some of the insalubrities of Washington.
The air, at that elevation, was quite cool and refreshing, when in the
city it was burning hot.

The President’s mansion is more like an English club-house, both within
and without, than any other kind of establishment with which I can
compare it.  The ornamental ground about it has been laid out in garden
walks; they are pretty, and agreeable to the eye; though they have that
uncomfortable air of having been made yesterday, which is far from
favourable to the display of such beauties.

My first visit to this house was on the morning after my arrival, when I
was carried thither by an official gentleman, who was so kind as to
charge himself with my presentation to the President.

We entered a large hall, and having twice or thrice rung a bell which
nobody answered, walked without further ceremony through the rooms on the
ground floor, as divers other gentlemen (mostly with their hats on, and
their hands in their pockets) were doing very leisurely.  Some of these
had ladies with them, to whom they were showing the premises; others were
lounging on the chairs and sofas; others, in a perfect state of
exhaustion from listlessness, were yawning drearily.  The greater portion
of this assemblage were rather asserting their supremacy than doing
anything else, as they had no particular business there, that anybody
knew of.  A few were closely eyeing the movables, as if to make quite
sure that the President (who was far from popular) had not made away with
any of the furniture, or sold the fixtures for his private benefit.

After glancing at these loungers; who were scattered over a pretty
drawing-room, opening upon a terrace which commanded a beautiful prospect
of the river and the adjacent country; and who were sauntering, too,
about a larger state-room called the Eastern Drawing-room; we went
up-stairs into another chamber, where were certain visitors, waiting for
audiences.  At sight of my conductor, a black in plain clothes and yellow
slippers who was gliding noiselessly about, and whispering messages in
the ears of the more impatient, made a sign of recognition, and glided
off to announce him.

We had previously looked into another chamber fitted all round with a
great, bare, wooden desk or counter, whereon lay files of newspapers, to
which sundry gentlemen were referring.  But there were no such means of
beguiling the time in this apartment, which was as unpromising and
tiresome as any waiting-room in one of our public establishments, or any
physician’s dining-room during his hours of consultation at home.

There were some fifteen or twenty persons in the room.  One, a tall,
wiry, muscular old man, from the west; sunburnt and swarthy; with a brown
white hat on his knees, and a giant umbrella resting between his legs;
who sat bolt upright in his chair, frowning steadily at the carpet, and
twitching the hard lines about his mouth, as if he had made up his mind
‘to fix’ the President on what he had to say, and wouldn’t bate him a
grain.  Another, a Kentucky farmer, six-feet-six in height, with his hat
on, and his hands under his coat-tails, who leaned against the wall and
kicked the floor with his heel, as though he had Time’s head under his
shoe, and were literally ‘killing’ him.  A third, an oval-faced,
bilious-looking man, with sleek black hair cropped close, and whiskers
and beard shaved down to blue dots, who sucked the head of a thick stick,
and from time to time took it out of his mouth, to see how it was getting
on.  A fourth did nothing but whistle.  A fifth did nothing but spit.
And indeed all these gentlemen were so very persevering and energetic in
this latter particular, and bestowed their favours so abundantly upon the
carpet, that I take it for granted the Presidential housemaids have high
wages, or, to speak more genteelly, an ample amount of ‘compensation:’
which is the American word for salary, in the case of all public
servants.

We had not waited in this room many minutes, before the black messenger
returned, and conducted us into another of smaller dimensions, where, at
a business-like table covered with papers, sat the President himself.  He
looked somewhat worn and anxious, and well he might; being at war with
everybody—but the expression of his face was mild and pleasant, and his
manner was remarkably unaffected, gentlemanly, and agreeable.  I thought
that in his whole carriage and demeanour, he became his station
singularly well.

Being advised that the sensible etiquette of the republican court
admitted of a traveller, like myself, declining, without any impropriety,
an invitation to dinner, which did not reach me until I had concluded my
arrangements for leaving Washington some days before that to which it
referred, I only returned to this house once.  It was on the occasion of
one of those general assemblies which are held on certain nights, between
the hours of nine and twelve o’clock, and are called, rather oddly,
Levees.

I went, with my wife, at about ten.  There was a pretty dense crowd of
carriages and people in the court-yard, and so far as I could make out,
there were no very clear regulations for the taking up or setting down of
company.  There were certainly no policemen to soothe startled horses,
either by sawing at their bridles or flourishing truncheons in their
eyes; and I am ready to make oath that no inoffensive persons were
knocked violently on the head, or poked acutely in their backs or
stomachs; or brought to a standstill by any such gentle means, and then
taken into custody for not moving on.  But there was no confusion or
disorder.  Our carriage reached the porch in its turn, without any
blustering, swearing, shouting, backing, or other disturbance: and we
dismounted with as much ease and comfort as though we had been escorted
by the whole Metropolitan Force from A to Z inclusive.

The suite of rooms on the ground-floor were lighted up, and a military
band was playing in the hall.  In the smaller drawing-room, the centre of
a circle of company, were the President and his daughter-in-law, who
acted as the lady of the mansion; and a very interesting, graceful, and
accomplished lady too.  One gentleman who stood among this group,
appeared to take upon himself the functions of a master of the
ceremonies.  I saw no other officers or attendants, and none were needed.

The great drawing-room, which I have already mentioned, and the other
chambers on the ground-floor, were crowded to excess.  The company was
not, in our sense of the term, select, for it comprehended persons of
very many grades and classes; nor was there any great display of costly
attire: indeed, some of the costumes may have been, for aught I know,
grotesque enough.  But the decorum and propriety of behaviour which
prevailed, were unbroken by any rude or disagreeable incident; and every
man, even among the miscellaneous crowd in the hall who were admitted
without any orders or tickets to look on, appeared to feel that he was a
part of the Institution, and was responsible for its preserving a
becoming character, and appearing to the best advantage.

That these visitors, too, whatever their station, were not without some
refinement of taste and appreciation of intellectual gifts, and gratitude
to those men who, by the peaceful exercise of great abilities, shed new
charms and associations upon the homes of their countrymen, and elevate
their character in other lands, was most earnestly testified by their
reception of Washington Irving, my dear friend, who had recently been
appointed Minister at the court of Spain, and who was among them that
night, in his new character, for the first and last time before going
abroad.  I sincerely believe that in all the madness of American
politics, few public men would have been so earnestly, devotedly, and
affectionately caressed, as this most charming writer: and I have seldom
respected a public assembly more, than I did this eager throng, when I
saw them turning with one mind from noisy orators and officers of state,
and flocking with a generous and honest impulse round the man of quiet
pursuits: proud in his promotion as reflecting back upon their country:
and grateful to him with their whole hearts for the store of graceful
fancies he had poured out among them.  Long may he dispense such
treasures with unsparing hand; and long may they remember him as
worthily!

                                * * * * *

The term we had assigned for the duration of our stay in Washington was
now at an end, and we were to begin to travel; for the railroad distances
we had traversed yet, in journeying among these older towns, are on that
great continent looked upon as nothing.

I had at first intended going South—to Charleston.  But when I came to
consider the length of time which this journey would occupy, and the
premature heat of the season, which even at Washington had been often
very trying; and weighed moreover, in my own mind, the pain of living in
the constant contemplation of slavery, against the more than doubtful
chances of my ever seeing it, in the time I had to spare, stripped of the
disguises in which it would certainly be dressed, and so adding any item
to the host of facts already heaped together on the subject; I began to
listen to old whisperings which had often been present to me at home in
England, when I little thought of ever being here; and to dream again of
cities growing up, like palaces in fairy tales, among the wilds and
forests of the west.

The advice I received in most quarters when I began to yield to my desire
of travelling towards that point of the compass was, according to custom,
sufficiently cheerless: my companion being threatened with more perils,
dangers, and discomforts, than I can remember or would catalogue if I
could; but of which it will be sufficient to remark that blowings-up in
steamboats and breakings-down in coaches were among the least.  But,
having a western route sketched out for me by the best and kindest
authority to which I could have resorted, and putting no great faith in
these discouragements, I soon determined on my plan of action.

This was to travel south, only to Richmond in Virginia; and then to turn,
and shape our course for the Far West; whither I beseech the reader’s
company, in a new chapter.



CHAPTER IX
A NIGHT STEAMER ON THE POTOMAC RIVER.  VIRGINIA ROAD, AND A BLACK DRIVER.
RICHMOND.  BALTIMORE.  THE HARRISBURG MAIL, AND A GLIMPSE OF THE CITY.  A
CANAL BOAT


WE were to proceed in the first instance by steamboat; and as it is usual
to sleep on board, in consequence of the starting-hour being four o’clock
in the morning, we went down to where she lay, at that very uncomfortable
time for such expeditions when slippers are most valuable, and a familiar
bed, in the perspective of an hour or two, looks uncommonly pleasant.

It is ten o’clock at night: say half-past ten: moonlight, warm, and dull
enough.  The steamer (not unlike a child’s Noah’s ark in form, with the
machinery on the top of the roof) is riding lazily up and down, and
bumping clumsily against the wooden pier, as the ripple of the river
trifles with its unwieldy carcase.  The wharf is some distance from the
city.  There is nobody down here; and one or two dull lamps upon the
steamer’s decks are the only signs of life remaining, when our coach has
driven away.  As soon as our footsteps are heard upon the planks, a fat
negress, particularly favoured by nature in respect of bustle, emerges
from some dark stairs, and marshals my wife towards the ladies’ cabin, to
which retreat she goes, followed by a mighty bale of cloaks and
great-coats.  I valiantly resolve not to go to bed at all, but to walk up
and down the pier till morning.

I begin my promenade—thinking of all kinds of distant things and persons,
and of nothing near—and pace up and down for half-an-hour.  Then I go on
board again; and getting into the light of one of the lamps, look at my
watch and think it must have stopped; and wonder what has become of the
faithful secretary whom I brought along with me from Boston.  He is
supping with our late landlord (a Field Marshal, at least, no doubt) in
honour of our departure, and may be two hours longer.  I walk again, but
it gets duller and duller: the moon goes down: next June seems farther
off in the dark, and the echoes of my footsteps make me nervous.  It has
turned cold too; and walking up and down without my companion in such
lonely circumstances, is but poor amusement.  So I break my staunch
resolution, and think it may be, perhaps, as well to go to bed.

I go on board again; open the door of the gentlemen’s cabin and walk in.
Somehow or other—from its being so quiet, I suppose—I have taken it into
my head that there is nobody there.  To my horror and amazement it is
full of sleepers in every stage, shape, attitude, and variety of slumber:
in the berths, on the chairs, on the floors, on the tables, and
particularly round the stove, my detested enemy.  I take another step
forward, and slip on the shining face of a black steward, who lies rolled
in a blanket on the floor.  He jumps up, grins, half in pain and half in
hospitality; whispers my own name in my ear; and groping among the
sleepers, leads me to my berth.  Standing beside it, I count these
slumbering passengers, and get past forty.  There is no use in going
further, so I begin to undress.  As the chairs are all occupied, and
there is nothing else to put my clothes on, I deposit them upon the
ground: not without soiling my hands, for it is in the same condition as
the carpets in the Capitol, and from the same cause.  Having but
partially undressed, I clamber on my shelf, and hold the curtain open for
a few minutes while I look round on all my fellow-travellers again.  That
done, I let it fall on them, and on the world: turn round: and go to
sleep.

I wake, of course, when we get under weigh, for there is a good deal of
noise.  The day is then just breaking.  Everybody wakes at the same time.
Some are self-possessed directly, and some are much perplexed to make out
where they are until they have rubbed their eyes, and leaning on one
elbow, looked about them.  Some yawn, some groan, nearly all spit, and a
few get up.  I am among the risers: for it is easy to feel, without going
into the fresh air, that the atmosphere of the cabin is vile in the last
degree.  I huddle on my clothes, go down into the fore-cabin, get shaved
by the barber, and wash myself.  The washing and dressing apparatus for
the passengers generally, consists of two jack-towels, three small wooden
basins, a keg of water and a ladle to serve it out with, six square
inches of looking-glass, two ditto ditto of yellow soap, a comb and brush
for the head, and nothing for the teeth.  Everybody uses the comb and
brush, except myself.  Everybody stares to see me using my own; and two
or three gentlemen are strongly disposed to banter me on my prejudices,
but don’t.  When I have made my toilet, I go upon the hurricane-deck, and
set in for two hours of hard walking up and down.  The sun is rising
brilliantly; we are passing Mount Vernon, where Washington lies buried;
the river is wide and rapid; and its banks are beautiful.  All the glory
and splendour of the day are coming on, and growing brighter every
minute.

At eight o’clock, we breakfast in the cabin where I passed the night, but
the windows and doors are all thrown open, and now it is fresh enough.
There is no hurry or greediness apparent in the despatch of the meal.  It
is longer than a travelling breakfast with us; more orderly, and more
polite.

Soon after nine o’clock we come to Potomac Creek, where we are to land;
and then comes the oddest part of the journey.  Seven stage-coaches are
preparing to carry us on.  Some of them are ready, some of them are not
ready.  Some of the drivers are blacks, some whites.  There are four
horses to each coach, and all the horses, harnessed or unharnessed, are
there.  The passengers are getting out of the steamboat, and into the
coaches; the luggage is being transferred in noisy wheelbarrows; the
horses are frightened, and impatient to start; the black drivers are
chattering to them like so many monkeys; and the white ones whooping like
so many drovers: for the main thing to be done in all kinds of hostlering
here, is to make as much noise as possible.  The coaches are something
like the French coaches, but not nearly so good.  In lieu of springs,
they are hung on bands of the strongest leather.  There is very little
choice or difference between them; and they may be likened to the car
portion of the swings at an English fair, roofed, put upon axle-trees and
wheels, and curtained with painted canvas.  They are covered with mud
from the roof to the wheel-tire, and have never been cleaned since they
were first built.

The tickets we have received on board the steamboat are marked No. 1, so
we belong to coach No. 1.  I throw my coat on the box, and hoist my wife
and her maid into the inside.  It has only one step, and that being about
a yard from the ground, is usually approached by a chair: when there is
no chair, ladies trust in Providence.  The coach holds nine inside,
having a seat across from door to door, where we in England put our legs:
so that there is only one feat more difficult in the performance than
getting in, and that is, getting out again.  There is only one outside
passenger, and he sits upon the box.  As I am that one, I climb up; and
while they are strapping the luggage on the roof, and heaping it into a
kind of tray behind, have a good opportunity of looking at the driver.

He is a negro—very black indeed.  He is dressed in a coarse
pepper-and-salt suit excessively patched and darned (particularly at the
knees), grey stockings, enormous unblacked high-low shoes, and very short
trousers.  He has two odd gloves: one of parti-coloured worsted, and one
of leather.  He has a very short whip, broken in the middle and bandaged
up with string.  And yet he wears a low-crowned, broad-brimmed, black
hat: faintly shadowing forth a kind of insane imitation of an English
coachman!  But somebody in authority cries ‘Go ahead!’ as I am making
these observations.  The mail takes the lead in a four-horse waggon, and
all the coaches follow in procession: headed by No. 1.

By the way, whenever an Englishman would cry ‘All right!’ an American
cries ‘Go ahead!’ which is somewhat expressive of the national character
of the two countries.

The first half-mile of the road is over bridges made of loose planks laid
across two parallel poles, which tilt up as the wheels roll over them;
and IN the river.  The river has a clayey bottom and is full of holes, so
that half a horse is constantly disappearing unexpectedly, and can’t be
found again for some time.

But we get past even this, and come to the road itself, which is a series
of alternate swamps and gravel-pits.  A tremendous place is close before
us, the black driver rolls his eyes, screws his mouth up very round, and
looks straight between the two leaders, as if he were saying to himself,
‘We have done this often before, but _now_ I think we shall have a
crash.’  He takes a rein in each hand; jerks and pulls at both; and
dances on the splashboard with both feet (keeping his seat, of course)
like the late lamented Ducrow on two of his fiery coursers.  We come to
the spot, sink down in the mire nearly to the coach windows, tilt on one
side at an angle of forty-five degrees, and stick there.  The insides
scream dismally; the coach stops; the horses flounder; all the other six
coaches stop; and their four-and-twenty horses flounder likewise: but
merely for company, and in sympathy with ours.  Then the following
circumstances occur.

BLACK DRIVER (to the horses).  ‘Hi!’

Nothing happens.  Insides scream again.

BLACK DRIVER (to the horses).  ‘Ho!’

Horses plunge, and splash the black driver.

GENTLEMAN INSIDE (looking out).  ‘Why, what on airth—’

Gentleman receives a variety of splashes and draws his head in again,
without finishing his question or waiting for an answer.

BLACK DRIVER (still to the horses).  ‘Jiddy!  Jiddy!’

Horses pull violently, drag the coach out of the hole, and draw it up a
bank; so steep, that the black driver’s legs fly up into the air, and he
goes back among the luggage on the roof.  But he immediately recovers
himself, and cries (still to the horses),

‘Pill!’

No effect.  On the contrary, the coach begins to roll back upon No. 2,
which rolls back upon No. 3, which rolls back upon No. 4, and so on,
until No. 7 is heard to curse and swear, nearly a quarter of a mile
behind.

BLACK DRIVER (louder than before).  ‘Pill!’

Horses make another struggle to get up the bank, and again the coach
rolls backward.

BLACK DRIVER (louder than before).  ‘Pe-e-e-ill!’

Horses make a desperate struggle.

BLACK DRIVER (recovering spirits).  ‘Hi, Jiddy, Jiddy, Pill!’

Horses make another effort.

BLACK DRIVER (with great vigour).  ‘Ally Loo!  Hi.  Jiddy, Jiddy.  Pill.
Ally Loo!’

Horses almost do it.

BLACK DRIVER (with his eyes starting out of his head).  ‘Lee, den.  Lee,
dere.  Hi.  Jiddy, Jiddy.  Pill.  Ally Loo.  Lee-e-e-e-e!’

They run up the bank, and go down again on the other side at a fearful
pace.  It is impossible to stop them, and at the bottom there is a deep
hollow, full of water.  The coach rolls frightfully.  The insides scream.
The mud and water fly about us.  The black driver dances like a madman.
Suddenly we are all right by some extraordinary means, and stop to
breathe.

A black friend of the black driver is sitting on a fence.  The black
driver recognises him by twirling his head round and round like a
harlequin, rolling his eyes, shrugging his shoulders, and grinning from
ear to ear.  He stops short, turns to me, and says:

‘We shall get you through sa, like a fiddle, and hope a please you when
we get you through sa.  Old ‘ooman at home sa:’ chuckling very much.
‘Outside gentleman sa, he often remember old ‘ooman at home sa,’ grinning
again.

‘Ay ay, we’ll take care of the old woman.  Don’t be afraid.’

The black driver grins again, but there is another hole, and beyond that,
another bank, close before us.  So he stops short: cries (to the horses
again) ‘Easy.  Easy den.  Ease.  Steady.  Hi.  Jiddy.  Pill.  Ally.
Loo,’ but never ‘Lee!’ until we are reduced to the very last extremity,
and are in the midst of difficulties, extrication from which appears to
be all but impossible.

And so we do the ten miles or thereabouts in two hours and a half;
breaking no bones, though bruising a great many; and in short getting
through the distance, ‘like a fiddle.’

This singular kind of coaching terminates at Fredericksburgh, whence
there is a railway to Richmond.  The tract of country through which it
takes its course was once productive; but the soil has been exhausted by
the system of employing a great amount of slave labour in forcing crops,
without strengthening the land: and it is now little better than a sandy
desert overgrown with trees.  Dreary and uninteresting as its aspect is,
I was glad to the heart to find anything on which one of the curses of
this horrible institution has fallen; and had greater pleasure in
contemplating the withered ground, than the richest and most thriving
cultivation in the same place could possibly have afforded me.

In this district, as in all others where slavery sits brooding, (I have
frequently heard this admitted, even by those who are its warmest
advocates:) there is an air of ruin and decay abroad, which is
inseparable from the system.  The barns and outhouses are mouldering
away; the sheds are patched and half roofless; the log cabins (built in
Virginia with external chimneys made of clay or wood) are squalid in the
last degree.  There is no look of decent comfort anywhere.  The miserable
stations by the railway side, the great wild wood-yards, whence the
engine is supplied with fuel; the negro children rolling on the ground
before the cabin doors, with dogs and pigs; the biped beasts of burden
slinking past: gloom and dejection are upon them all.

In the negro car belonging to the train in which we made this journey,
were a mother and her children who had just been purchased; the husband
and father being left behind with their old owner.  The children cried
the whole way, and the mother was misery’s picture.  The champion of
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, who had bought them, rode in
the same train; and, every time we stopped, got down to see that they
were safe.  The black in Sinbad’s Travels with one eye in the middle of
his forehead which shone like a burning coal, was nature’s aristocrat
compared with this white gentleman.

                        [Picture: Black and White]

It was between six and seven o’clock in the evening, when we drove to the
hotel: in front of which, and on the top of the broad flight of steps
leading to the door, two or three citizens were balancing themselves on
rocking-chairs, and smoking cigars.  We found it a very large and elegant
establishment, and were as well entertained as travellers need desire to
be.  The climate being a thirsty one, there was never, at any hour of the
day, a scarcity of loungers in the spacious bar, or a cessation of the
mixing of cool liquors: but they were a merrier people here, and had
musical instruments playing to them o’ nights, which it was a treat to
hear again.

The next day, and the next, we rode and walked about the town, which is
delightfully situated on eight hills, overhanging James River; a
sparkling stream, studded here and there with bright islands, or brawling
over broken rocks.  Although it was yet but the middle of March, the
weather in this southern temperature was extremely warm; the peech-trees
and magnolias were in full bloom; and the trees were green.  In a low
ground among the hills, is a valley known as ‘Bloody Run,’ from a
terrible conflict with the Indians which once occurred there.  It is a
good place for such a struggle, and, like every other spot I saw
associated with any legend of that wild people now so rapidly fading from
the earth, interested me very much.

The city is the seat of the local parliament of Virginia; and in its
shady legislative halls, some orators were drowsily holding forth to the
hot noon day.  By dint of constant repetition, however, these
constitutional sights had very little more interest for me than so many
parochial vestries; and I was glad to exchange this one for a lounge in a
well-arranged public library of some ten thousand volumes, and a visit to
a tobacco manufactory, where the workmen are all slaves.

I saw in this place the whole process of picking, rolling, pressing,
drying, packing in casks, and branding.  All the tobacco thus dealt with,
was in course of manufacture for chewing; and one would have supposed
there was enough in that one storehouse to have filled even the
comprehensive jaws of America.  In this form, the weed looks like the
oil-cake on which we fatten cattle; and even without reference to its
consequences, is sufficiently uninviting.

Many of the workmen appeared to be strong men, and it is hardly necessary
to add that they were all labouring quietly, then.  After two o’clock in
the day, they are allowed to sing, a certain number at a time.  The hour
striking while I was there, some twenty sang a hymn in parts, and sang it
by no means ill; pursuing their work meanwhile.  A bell rang as I was
about to leave, and they all poured forth into a building on the opposite
side of the street to dinner.  I said several times that I should like to
see them at their meal; but as the gentleman to whom I mentioned this
desire appeared to be suddenly taken rather deaf, I did not pursue the
request.  Of their appearance I shall have something to say, presently.

On the following day, I visited a plantation or farm, of about twelve
hundred acres, on the opposite bank of the river.  Here again, although I
went down with the owner of the estate, to ‘the quarter,’ as that part of
it in which the slaves live is called, I was not invited to enter into
any of their huts.  All I saw of them, was, that they were very crazy,
wretched cabins, near to which groups of half-naked children basked in
the sun, or wallowed on the dusty ground.  But I believe that this
gentleman is a considerate and excellent master, who inherited his fifty
slaves, and is neither a buyer nor a seller of human stock; and I am
sure, from my own observation and conviction, that he is a kind-hearted,
worthy man.

The planter’s house was an airy, rustic dwelling, that brought Defoe’s
description of such places strongly to my recollection.  The day was very
warm, but the blinds being all closed, and the windows and doors set wide
open, a shady coolness rustled through the rooms, which was exquisitely
refreshing after the glare and heat without.  Before the windows was an
open piazza, where, in what they call the hot weather—whatever that may
be—they sling hammocks, and drink and doze luxuriously.  I do not know
how their cool rejections may taste within the hammocks, but, having
experience, I can report that, out of them, the mounds of ices and the
bowls of mint-julep and sherry-cobbler they make in these latitudes, are
refreshments never to be thought of afterwards, in summer, by those who
would preserve contented minds.

There are two bridges across the river: one belongs to the railroad, and
the other, which is a very crazy affair, is the private property of some
old lady in the neighbourhood, who levies tolls upon the townspeople.
Crossing this bridge, on my way back, I saw a notice painted on the gate,
cautioning all persons to drive slowly: under a penalty, if the offender
were a white man, of five dollars; if a negro, fifteen stripes.

The same decay and gloom that overhang the way by which it is approached,
hover above the town of Richmond.  There are pretty villas and cheerful
houses in its streets, and Nature smiles upon the country round; but
jostling its handsome residences, like slavery itself going hand in hand
with many lofty virtues, are deplorable tenements, fences unrepaired,
walls crumbling into ruinous heaps.  Hinting gloomily at things below the
surface, these, and many other tokens of the same description, force
themselves upon the notice, and are remembered with depressing influence,
when livelier features are forgotten.

To those who are happily unaccustomed to them, the countenances in the
streets and labouring-places, too, are shocking.  All men who know that
there are laws against instructing slaves, of which the pains and
penalties greatly exceed in their amount the fines imposed on those who
maim and torture them, must be prepared to find their faces very low in
the scale of intellectual expression.  But the darkness—not of skin, but
mind—which meets the stranger’s eye at every turn; the brutalizing and
blotting out of all fairer characters traced by Nature’s hand;
immeasurably outdo his worst belief.  That travelled creation of the
great satirist’s brain, who fresh from living among horses, peered from a
high casement down upon his own kind with trembling horror, was scarcely
more repelled and daunted by the sight, than those who look upon some of
these faces for the first time must surely be.

I left the last of them behind me in the person of a wretched drudge,
who, after running to and fro all day till midnight, and moping in his
stealthy winks of sleep upon the stairs betweenwhiles, was washing the
dark passages at four o’clock in the morning; and went upon my way with a
grateful heart that I was not doomed to live where slavery was, and had
never had my senses blunted to its wrongs and horrors in a slave-rocked
cradle.

It had been my intention to proceed by James River and Chesapeake Bay to
Baltimore; but one of the steamboats being absent from her station
through some accident, and the means of conveyance being consequently
rendered uncertain, we returned to Washington by the way we had come
(there were two constables on board the steamboat, in pursuit of runaway
slaves), and halting there again for one night, went on to Baltimore next
afternoon.

The most comfortable of all the hotels of which I had any experience in
the United States, and they were not a few, is Barnum’s, in that city:
where the English traveller will find curtains to his bed, for the first
and probably the last time in America (this is a disinterested remark,
for I never use them); and where he will be likely to have enough water
for washing himself, which is not at all a common case.

This capital of the state of Maryland is a bustling, busy town, with a
great deal of traffic of various kinds, and in particular of water
commerce.  That portion of the town which it most favours is none of the
cleanest, it is true; but the upper part is of a very different
character, and has many agreeable streets and public buildings.  The
Washington Monument, which is a handsome pillar with a statue on its
summit; the Medical College; and the Battle Monument in memory of an
engagement with the British at North Point; are the most conspicuous
among them.

There is a very good prison in this city, and the State Penitentiary is
also among its institutions.  In this latter establishment there were two
curious cases.

One was that of a young man, who had been tried for the murder of his
father.  The evidence was entirely circumstantial, and was very
conflicting and doubtful; nor was it possible to assign any motive which
could have tempted him to the commission of so tremendous a crime.  He
had been tried twice; and on the second occasion the jury felt so much
hesitation in convicting him, that they found a verdict of manslaughter,
or murder in the second degree; which it could not possibly be, as there
had, beyond all doubt, been no quarrel or provocation, and if he were
guilty at all, he was unquestionably guilty of murder in its broadest and
worst signification.

The remarkable feature in the case was, that if the unfortunate deceased
were not really murdered by this own son of his, he must have been
murdered by his own brother.  The evidence lay in a most remarkable
manner, between those two.  On all the suspicious points, the dead man’s
brother was the witness: all the explanations for the prisoner (some of
them extremely plausible) went, by construction and inference, to
inculcate him as plotting to fix the guilt upon his nephew.  It must have
been one of them: and the jury had to decide between two sets of
suspicions, almost equally unnatural, unaccountable, and strange.

The other case, was that of a man who once went to a certain distiller’s
and stole a copper measure containing a quantity of liquor.  He was
pursued and taken with the property in his possession, and was sentenced
to two years’ imprisonment.  On coming out of the jail, at the expiration
of that term, he went back to the same distiller’s, and stole the same
copper measure containing the same quantity of liquor.  There was not the
slightest reason to suppose that the man wished to return to prison:
indeed everything, but the commission of the offence, made directly
against that assumption.  There are only two ways of accounting for this
extraordinary proceeding.  One is, that after undergoing so much for this
copper measure he conceived he had established a sort of claim and right
to it.  The other that, by dint of long thinking about, it had become a
monomania with him, and had acquired a fascination which he found it
impossible to resist; swelling from an Earthly Copper Gallon into an
Ethereal Golden Vat.

After remaining here a couple of days I bound myself to a rigid adherence
to the plan I had laid down so recently, and resolved to set forward on
our western journey without any more delay.  Accordingly, having reduced
the luggage within the smallest possible compass (by sending back to New
York, to be afterwards forwarded to us in Canada, so much of it as was
not absolutely wanted); and having procured the necessary credentials to
banking-houses on the way; and having moreover looked for two evenings at
the setting sun, with as well-defined an idea of the country before us as
if we had been going to travel into the very centre of that planet; we
left Baltimore by another railway at half-past eight in the morning, and
reached the town of York, some sixty miles off, by the early dinner-time
of the Hotel which was the starting-place of the four-horse coach,
wherein we were to proceed to Harrisburg.

This conveyance, the box of which I was fortunate enough to secure, had
come down to meet us at the railroad station, and was as muddy and
cumbersome as usual.  As more passengers were waiting for us at the
inn-door, the coachman observed under his breath, in the usual
self-communicative voice, looking the while at his mouldy harness as if
it were to that he was addressing himself,

‘I expect we shall want _the big_ coach.’

I could not help wondering within myself what the size of this big coach
might be, and how many persons it might be designed to hold; for the
vehicle which was too small for our purpose was something larger than two
English heavy night coaches, and might have been the twin-brother of a
French Diligence.  My speculations were speedily set at rest, however,
for as soon as we had dined, there came rumbling up the street, shaking
its sides like a corpulent giant, a kind of barge on wheels.  After much
blundering and backing, it stopped at the door: rolling heavily from side
to side when its other motion had ceased, as if it had taken cold in its
damp stable, and between that, and the having been required in its
dropsical old age to move at any faster pace than a walk, were distressed
by shortness of wind.

‘If here ain’t the Harrisburg mail at last, and dreadful bright and smart
to look at too,’ cried an elderly gentleman in some excitement, ‘darn my
mother!’

I don’t know what the sensation of being darned may be, or whether a
man’s mother has a keener relish or disrelish of the process than anybody
else; but if the endurance of this mysterious ceremony by the old lady in
question had depended on the accuracy of her son’s vision in respect to
the abstract brightness and smartness of the Harrisburg mail, she would
certainly have undergone its infliction.  However, they booked twelve
people inside; and the luggage (including such trifles as a large
rocking-chair, and a good-sized dining-table) being at length made fast
upon the roof, we started off in great state.

At the door of another hotel, there was another passenger to be taken up.

‘Any room, sir?’ cries the new passenger to the coachman.

‘Well, there’s room enough,’ replies the coachman, without getting down,
or even looking at him.

‘There an’t no room at all, sir,’ bawls a gentleman inside.  Which
another gentleman (also inside) confirms, by predicting that the attempt
to introduce any more passengers ‘won’t fit nohow.’

The new passenger, without any expression of anxiety, looks into the
coach, and then looks up at the coachman: ‘Now, how do you mean to fix
it?’ says he, after a pause: ‘for I _must_ go.’

The coachman employs himself in twisting the lash of his whip into a
knot, and takes no more notice of the question: clearly signifying that
it is anybody’s business but his, and that the passengers would do well
to fix it, among themselves.  In this state of things, matters seem to be
approximating to a fix of another kind, when another inside passenger in
a corner, who is nearly suffocated, cries faintly, ‘I’ll get out.’

This is no matter of relief or self-congratulation to the driver, for his
immovable philosophy is perfectly undisturbed by anything that happens in
the coach.  Of all things in the world, the coach would seem to be the
very last upon his mind.  The exchange is made, however, and then the
passenger who has given up his seat makes a third upon the box, seating
himself in what he calls the middle; that is, with half his person on my
legs, and the other half on the driver’s.

‘Go a-head, cap’en,’ cries the colonel, who directs.

‘Gŏ-lāng!’ cries the cap’en to his company, the horses, and away we go.

We took up at a rural bar-room, after we had gone a few miles, an
intoxicated gentleman who climbed upon the roof among the luggage, and
subsequently slipping off without hurting himself, was seen in the
distant perspective reeling back to the grog-shop where we had found him.
We also parted with more of our freight at different times, so that when
we came to change horses, I was again alone outside.

The coachmen always change with the horses, and are usually as dirty as
the coach.  The first was dressed like a very shabby English baker; the
second like a Russian peasant: for he wore a loose purple camlet robe,
with a fur collar, tied round his waist with a parti-coloured worsted
sash; grey trousers; light blue gloves: and a cap of bearskin.  It had by
this time come on to rain very heavily, and there was a cold damp mist
besides, which penetrated to the skin.  I was glad to take advantage of a
stoppage and get down to stretch my legs, shake the water off my
great-coat, and swallow the usual anti-temperance recipe for keeping out
the cold.

When I mounted to my seat again, I observed a new parcel lying on the
coach roof, which I took to be a rather large fiddle in a brown bag.  In
the course of a few miles, however, I discovered that it had a glazed cap
at one end and a pair of muddy shoes at the other and further observation
demonstrated it to be a small boy in a snuff-coloured coat, with his arms
quite pinioned to his sides, by deep forcing into his pockets.  He was, I
presume, a relative or friend of the coachman’s, as he lay a-top of the
luggage with his face towards the rain; and except when a change of
position brought his shoes in contact with my hat, he appeared to be
asleep.  At last, on some occasion of our stopping, this thing slowly
upreared itself to the height of three feet six, and fixing its eyes on
me, observed in piping accents, with a complaisant yawn, half quenched in
an obliging air of friendly patronage, ‘Well now, stranger, I guess you
find this a’most like an English arternoon, hey?’

The scenery, which had been tame enough at first, was, for the last ten
or twelve miles, beautiful.  Our road wound through the pleasant valley
of the Susquehanna; the river, dotted with innumerable green islands, lay
upon our right; and on the left, a steep ascent, craggy with broken rock,
and dark with pine trees.  The mist, wreathing itself into a hundred
fantastic shapes, moved solemnly upon the water; and the gloom of evening
gave to all an air of mystery and silence which greatly enhanced its
natural interest.

We crossed this river by a wooden bridge, roofed and covered in on all
sides, and nearly a mile in length.  It was profoundly dark; perplexed,
with great beams, crossing and recrossing it at every possible angle; and
through the broad chinks and crevices in the floor, the rapid river
gleamed, far down below, like a legion of eyes.  We had no lamps; and as
the horses stumbled and floundered through this place, towards the
distant speck of dying light, it seemed interminable.  I really could not
at first persuade myself as we rumbled heavily on, filling the bridge
with hollow noises, and I held down my head to save it from the rafters
above, but that I was in a painful dream; for I have often dreamed of
toiling through such places, and as often argued, even at the time, ‘this
cannot be reality.’

At length, however, we emerged upon the streets of Harrisburg, whose
feeble lights, reflected dismally from the wet ground, did not shine out
upon a very cheerful city.  We were soon established in a snug hotel,
which though smaller and far less splendid than many we put up at, it
raised above them all in my remembrance, by having for its landlord the
most obliging, considerate, and gentlemanly person I ever had to deal
with.

As we were not to proceed upon our journey until the afternoon, I walked
out, after breakfast the next morning, to look about me; and was duly
shown a model prison on the solitary system, just erected, and as yet
without an inmate; the trunk of an old tree to which Harris, the first
settler here (afterwards buried under it), was tied by hostile Indians,
with his funeral pile about him, when he was saved by the timely
appearance of a friendly party on the opposite shore of the river; the
local legislature (for there was another of those bodies here again, in
full debate); and the other curiosities of the town.

I was very much interested in looking over a number of treaties made from
time to time with the poor Indians, signed by the different chiefs at the
period of their ratification, and preserved in the office of the
Secretary to the Commonwealth.  These signatures, traced of course by
their own hands, are rough drawings of the creatures or weapons they were
called after.  Thus, the Great Turtle makes a crooked pen-and-ink outline
of a great turtle; the Buffalo sketches a buffalo; the War Hatchet sets a
rough image of that weapon for his mark.  So with the Arrow, the Fish,
the Scalp, the Big Canoe, and all of them.

I could not but think—as I looked at these feeble and tremulous
productions of hands which could draw the longest arrow to the head in a
stout elk-horn bow, or split a bead or feather with a rifle-ball—of
Crabbe’s musings over the Parish Register, and the irregular scratches
made with a pen, by men who would plough a lengthy furrow straight from
end to end.  Nor could I help bestowing many sorrowful thoughts upon the
simple warriors whose hands and hearts were set there, in all truth and
honesty; and who only learned in course of time from white men how to
break their faith, and quibble out of forms and bonds.  I wonder, too,
how many times the credulous Big Turtle, or trusting Little Hatchet, had
put his mark to treaties which were falsely read to him; and had signed
away, he knew not what, until it went and cast him loose upon the new
possessors of the land, a savage indeed.

Our host announced, before our early dinner, that some members of the
legislative body proposed to do us the honour of calling.  He had kindly
yielded up to us his wife’s own little parlour, and when I begged that he
would show them in, I saw him look with painful apprehension at its
pretty carpet; though, being otherwise occupied at the time, the cause of
his uneasiness did not occur to me.

It certainly would have been more pleasant to all parties concerned, and
would not, I think, have compromised their independence in any material
degree, if some of these gentlemen had not only yielded to the prejudice
in favour of spittoons, but had abandoned themselves, for the moment,
even to the conventional absurdity of pocket-handkerchiefs.

It still continued to rain heavily, and when we went down to the Canal
Boat (for that was the mode of conveyance by which we were to proceed)
after dinner, the weather was as unpromising and obstinately wet as one
would desire to see.  Nor was the sight of this canal boat, in which we
were to spend three or four days, by any means a cheerful one; as it
involved some uneasy speculations concerning the disposal of the
passengers at night, and opened a wide field of inquiry touching the
other domestic arrangements of the establishment, which was sufficiently
disconcerting.

However, there it was—a barge with a little house in it, viewed from the
outside; and a caravan at a fair, viewed from within: the gentlemen being
accommodated, as the spectators usually are, in one of those locomotive
museums of penny wonders; and the ladies being partitioned off by a red
curtain, after the manner of the dwarfs and giants in the same
establishments, whose private lives are passed in rather close
exclusiveness.

We sat here, looking silently at the row of little tables, which extended
down both sides of the cabin, and listening to the rain as it dripped and
pattered on the boat, and plashed with a dismal merriment in the water,
until the arrival of the railway train, for whose final contribution to
our stock of passengers, our departure was alone deferred.  It brought a
great many boxes, which were bumped and tossed upon the roof, almost as
painfully as if they had been deposited on one’s own head, without the
intervention of a porter’s knot; and several damp gentlemen, whose
clothes, on their drawing round the stove, began to steam again.  No
doubt it would have been a thought more comfortable if the driving rain,
which now poured down more soakingly than ever, had admitted of a window
being opened, or if our number had been something less than thirty; but
there was scarcely time to think as much, when a train of three horses
was attached to the tow-rope, the boy upon the leader smacked his whip,
the rudder creaked and groaned complainingly, and we had begun our
journey.



CHAPTER X
SOME FURTHER ACCOUNT OF THE CANAL BOAT, ITS DOMESTIC ECONOMY, AND ITS
PASSENGERS.  JOURNEY TO PITTSBURG ACROSS THE ALLEGHANY MOUNTAINS.
PITTSBURG


AS it continued to rain most perseveringly, we all remained below: the
damp gentlemen round the stove, gradually becoming mildewed by the action
of the fire; and the dry gentlemen lying at full length upon the seats,
or slumbering uneasily with their faces on the tables, or walking up and
down the cabin, which it was barely possible for a man of the middle
height to do, without making bald places on his head by scraping it
against the roof.  At about six o’clock, all the small tables were put
together to form one long table, and everybody sat down to tea, coffee,
bread, butter, salmon, shad, liver, steaks, potatoes, pickles, ham,
chops, black-puddings, and sausages.

‘Will you try,’ said my opposite neighbour, handing me a dish of
potatoes, broken up in milk and butter, ‘will you try some of these
fixings?’

There are few words which perform such various duties as this word ‘fix.’
It is the Caleb Quotem of the American vocabulary.  You call upon a
gentleman in a country town, and his help informs you that he is ‘fixing
himself’ just now, but will be down directly: by which you are to
understand that he is dressing.  You inquire, on board a steamboat, of a
fellow-passenger, whether breakfast will be ready soon, and he tells you
he should think so, for when he was last below, they were ‘fixing the
tables:’ in other words, laying the cloth.  You beg a porter to collect
your luggage, and he entreats you not to be uneasy, for he’ll ‘fix it
presently:’ and if you complain of indisposition, you are advised to have
recourse to Doctor So-and-so, who will ‘fix you’ in no time.

One night, I ordered a bottle of mulled wine at an hotel where I was
staying, and waited a long time for it; at length it was put upon the
table with an apology from the landlord that he feared it wasn’t ‘fixed
properly.’  And I recollect once, at a stage-coach dinner, overhearing a
very stern gentleman demand of a waiter who presented him with a plate of
underdone roast-beef, ‘whether he called _that_, fixing God A’mighty’s
vittles?’

There is no doubt that the meal, at which the invitation was tendered to
me which has occasioned this digression, was disposed of somewhat
ravenously; and that the gentlemen thrust the broad-bladed knives and the
two-pronged forks further down their throats than I ever saw the same
weapons go before, except in the hands of a skilful juggler: but no man
sat down until the ladies were seated; or omitted any little act of
politeness which could contribute to their comfort.  Nor did I ever once,
on any occasion, anywhere, during my rambles in America, see a woman
exposed to the slightest act of rudeness, incivility, or even
inattention.

By the time the meal was over, the rain, which seemed to have worn itself
out by coming down so fast, was nearly over too; and it became feasible
to go on deck: which was a great relief, notwithstanding its being a very
small deck, and being rendered still smaller by the luggage, which was
heaped together in the middle under a tarpaulin covering; leaving, on
either side, a path so narrow, that it became a science to walk to and
fro without tumbling overboard into the canal.  It was somewhat
embarrassing at first, too, to have to duck nimbly every five minutes
whenever the man at the helm cried ‘Bridge!’ and sometimes, when the cry
was ‘Low Bridge,’ to lie down nearly flat.  But custom familiarises one
to anything, and there were so many bridges that it took a very short
time to get used to this.

As night came on, and we drew in sight of the first range of hills, which
are the outposts of the Alleghany Mountains, the scenery, which had been
uninteresting hitherto, became more bold and striking.  The wet ground
reeked and smoked, after the heavy fall of rain, and the croaking of the
frogs (whose noise in these parts is almost incredible) sounded as though
a million of fairy teams with bells were travelling through the air, and
keeping pace with us.  The night was cloudy yet, but moonlight too: and
when we crossed the Susquehanna river—over which there is an
extraordinary wooden bridge with two galleries, one above the other, so
that even there, two boat teams meeting, may pass without confusion—it
was wild and grand.

I have mentioned my having been in some uncertainty and doubt, at first,
relative to the sleeping arrangements on board this boat.  I remained in
the same vague state of mind until ten o’clock or thereabouts, when going
below, I found suspended on either side of the cabin, three long tiers of
hanging bookshelves, designed apparently for volumes of the small octavo
size.  Looking with greater attention at these contrivances (wondering to
find such literary preparations in such a place), I descried on each
shelf a sort of microscopic sheet and blanket; then I began dimly to
comprehend that the passengers were the library, and that they were to be
arranged, edge-wise, on these shelves, till morning.

I was assisted to this conclusion by seeing some of them gathered round
the master of the boat, at one of the tables, drawing lots with all the
anxieties and passions of gamesters depicted in their countenances; while
others, with small pieces of cardboard in their hands, were groping among
the shelves in search of numbers corresponding with those they had drawn.
As soon as any gentleman found his number, he took possession of it by
immediately undressing himself and crawling into bed.  The rapidity with
which an agitated gambler subsided into a snoring slumberer, was one of
the most singular effects I have ever witnessed.  As to the ladies, they
were already abed, behind the red curtain, which was carefully drawn and
pinned up the centre; though as every cough, or sneeze, or whisper,
behind this curtain, was perfectly audible before it, we had still a
lively consciousness of their society.

The politeness of the person in authority had secured to me a shelf in a
nook near this red curtain, in some degree removed from the great body of
sleepers: to which place I retired, with many acknowledgments to him for
his attention.  I found it, on after-measurement, just the width of an
ordinary sheet of Bath post letter-paper; and I was at first in some
uncertainty as to the best means of getting into it.  But the shelf being
a bottom one, I finally determined on lying upon the floor, rolling
gently in, stopping immediately I touched the mattress, and remaining for
the night with that side uppermost, whatever it might be.  Luckily, I
came upon my back at exactly the right moment.  I was much alarmed on
looking upward, to see, by the shape of his half-yard of sacking (which
his weight had bent into an exceedingly tight bag), that there was a very
heavy gentleman above me, whom the slender cords seemed quite incapable
of holding; and I could not help reflecting upon the grief of my wife and
family in the event of his coming down in the night.  But as I could not
have got up again without a severe bodily struggle, which might have
alarmed the ladies; and as I had nowhere to go to, even if I had; I shut
my eyes upon the danger, and remained there.

One of two remarkable circumstances is indisputably a fact, with
reference to that class of society who travel in these boats.  Either
they carry their restlessness to such a pitch that they never sleep at
all; or they expectorate in dreams, which would be a remarkable mingling
of the real and ideal.  All night long, and every night, on this canal,
there was a perfect storm and tempest of spitting; and once my coat,
being in the very centre of the hurricane sustained by five gentlemen
(which moved vertically, strictly carrying out Reid’s Theory of the Law
of Storms), I was fain the next morning to lay it on the deck, and rub it
down with fair water before it was in a condition to be worn again.

Between five and six o’clock in the morning we got up, and some of us
went on deck, to give them an opportunity of taking the shelves down;
while others, the morning being very cold, crowded round the rusty stove,
cherishing the newly kindled fire, and filling the grate with those
voluntary contributions of which they had been so liberal all night.  The
washing accommodations were primitive.  There was a tin ladle chained to
the deck, with which every gentleman who thought it necessary to cleanse
himself (many were superior to this weakness), fished the dirty water out
of the canal, and poured it into a tin basin, secured in like manner.
There was also a jack-towel.  And, hanging up before a little
looking-glass in the bar, in the immediate vicinity of the bread and
cheese and biscuits, were a public comb and hair-brush.

At eight o’clock, the shelves being taken down and put away and the
tables joined together, everybody sat down to the tea, coffee, bread,
butter, salmon, shad, liver, steak, potatoes, pickles, ham, chops,
black-puddings, and sausages, all over again.  Some were fond of
compounding this variety, and having it all on their plates at once.  As
each gentleman got through his own personal amount of tea, coffee, bread,
butter, salmon, shad, liver, steak, potatoes, pickles, ham, chops,
black-puddings, and sausages, he rose up and walked off.  When everybody
had done with everything, the fragments were cleared away: and one of the
waiters appearing anew in the character of a barber, shaved such of the
company as desired to be shaved; while the remainder looked on, or yawned
over their newspapers.  Dinner was breakfast again, without the tea and
coffee; and supper and breakfast were identical.

There was a man on board this boat, with a light fresh-coloured face, and
a pepper-and-salt suit of clothes, who was the most inquisitive fellow
that can possibly be imagined.  He never spoke otherwise than
interrogatively.  He was an embodied inquiry.  Sitting down or standing
up, still or moving, walking the deck or taking his meals, there he was,
with a great note of interrogation in each eye, two in his cocked ears,
two more in his turned-up nose and chin, at least half a dozen more about
the corners of his mouth, and the largest one of all in his hair, which
was brushed pertly off his forehead in a flaxen clump.  Every button in
his clothes said, ‘Eh?  What’s that?  Did you speak?  Say that again,
will you?’  He was always wide awake, like the enchanted bride who drove
her husband frantic; always restless; always thirsting for answers;
perpetually seeking and never finding.  There never was such a curious
man.

I wore a fur great-coat at that time, and before we were well clear of
the wharf, he questioned me concerning it, and its price, and where I
bought it, and when, and what fur it was, and what it weighed, and what
it cost.  Then he took notice of my watch, and asked me what _that_ cost,
and whether it was a French watch, and where I got it, and how I got it,
and whether I bought it or had it given me, and how it went, and where
the key-hole was, and when I wound it, every night or every morning, and
whether I ever forgot to wind it at all, and if I did, what then?  Where
had I been to last, and where was I going next, and where was I going
after that, and had I seen the President, and what did he say, and what
did I say, and what did he say when I had said that?  Eh?  Lor now! do
tell!

Finding that nothing would satisfy him, I evaded his questions after the
first score or two, and in particular pleaded ignorance respecting the
name of the fur whereof the coat was made.  I am unable to say whether
this was the reason, but that coat fascinated him afterwards; he usually
kept close behind me as I walked, and moved as I moved, that he might
look at it the better; and he frequently dived into narrow places after
me at the risk of his life, that he might have the satisfaction of
passing his hand up the back, and rubbing it the wrong way.

We had another odd specimen on board, of a different kind.  This was a
thin-faced, spare-figured man of middle age and stature, dressed in a
dusty drabbish-coloured suit, such as I never saw before.  He was
perfectly quiet during the first part of the journey: indeed I don’t
remember having so much as seen him until he was brought out by
circumstances, as great men often are.  The conjunction of events which
made him famous, happened, briefly, thus.

The canal extends to the foot of the mountain, and there, of course, it
stops; the passengers being conveyed across it by land carriage, and
taken on afterwards by another canal boat, the counterpart of the first,
which awaits them on the other side.  There are two canal lines of
passage-boats; one is called The Express, and one (a cheaper one) The
Pioneer.  The Pioneer gets first to the mountain, and waits for the
Express people to come up; both sets of passengers being conveyed across
it at the same time.  We were the Express company; but when we had
crossed the mountain, and had come to the second boat, the proprietors
took it into their beads to draft all the Pioneers into it likewise, so
that we were five-and-forty at least, and the accession of passengers was
not at all of that kind which improved the prospect of sleeping at night.
Our people grumbled at this, as people do in such cases; but suffered the
boat to be towed off with the whole freight aboard nevertheless; and away
we went down the canal.  At home, I should have protested lustily, but
being a foreigner here, I held my peace.  Not so this passenger.  He
cleft a path among the people on deck (we were nearly all on deck), and
without addressing anybody whomsoever, soliloquised as follows:

‘This may suit _you_, this may, but it don’t suit _me_.  This may be all
very well with Down Easters, and men of Boston raising, but it won’t suit
my figure nohow; and no two ways about _that_; and so I tell you.  Now!
I’m from the brown forests of Mississippi, _I_ am, and when the sun
shines on me, it does shine—a little.  It don’t glimmer where _I_ live,
the sun don’t.  No.  I’m a brown forester, I am.  I an’t a Johnny Cake.
There are no smooth skins where I live.  We’re rough men there.  Rather.
If Down Easters and men of Boston raising like this, I’m glad of it, but
I’m none of that raising nor of that breed.  No.  This company wants a
little fixing, _it_ does.  I’m the wrong sort of man for ’em, _I_ am.
They won’t like me, _they_ won’t.  This is piling of it up, a little too
mountainous, this is.’  At the end of every one of these short sentences
he turned upon his heel, and walked the other way; checking himself
abruptly when he had finished another short sentence, and turning back
again.

It is impossible for me to say what terrific meaning was hidden in the
words of this brown forester, but I know that the other passengers looked
on in a sort of admiring horror, and that presently the boat was put back
to the wharf, and as many of the Pioneers as could be coaxed or bullied
into going away, were got rid of.

When we started again, some of the boldest spirits on board, made bold to
say to the obvious occasion of this improvement in our prospects, ‘Much
obliged to you, sir;’ whereunto the brown forester (waving his hand, and
still walking up and down as before), replied, ‘No you an’t.  You’re none
o’ my raising.  You may act for yourselves, _you_ may.  I have pinted out
the way.  Down Easters and Johnny Cakes can follow if they please.  I
an’t a Johnny Cake, I an’t.  I am from the brown forests of the
Mississippi, I am’—and so on, as before.  He was unanimously voted one of
the tables for his bed at night—there is a great contest for the
tables—in consideration for his public services: and he had the warmest
corner by the stove throughout the rest of the journey.  But I never
could find out that he did anything except sit there; nor did I hear him
speak again until, in the midst of the bustle and turmoil of getting the
luggage ashore in the dark at Pittsburg, I stumbled over him as he sat
smoking a cigar on the cabin steps, and heard him muttering to himself,
with a short laugh of defiance, ‘I an’t a Johnny Cake,—I an’t.  I’m from
the brown forests of the Mississippi, I am, damme!’  I am inclined to
argue from this, that he had never left off saying so; but I could not
make an affidavit of that part of the story, if required to do so by my
Queen and Country.

As we have not reached Pittsburg yet, however, in the order of our
narrative, I may go on to remark that breakfast was perhaps the least
desirable meal of the day, as in addition to the many savoury odours
arising from the eatables already mentioned, there were whiffs of gin,
whiskey, brandy, and rum, from the little bar hard by, and a decided
seasoning of stale tobacco.  Many of the gentlemen passengers were far
from particular in respect of their linen, which was in some cases as
yellow as the little rivulets that had trickled from the corners of their
mouths in chewing, and dried there.  Nor was the atmosphere quite free
from zephyr whisperings of the thirty beds which had just been cleared
away, and of which we were further and more pressingly reminded by the
occasional appearance on the table-cloth of a kind of Game, not mentioned
in the Bill of Fare.

And yet despite these oddities—and even they had, for me at least, a
humour of their own—there was much in this mode of travelling which I
heartily enjoyed at the time, and look back upon with great pleasure.
Even the running up, bare-necked, at five o’clock in the morning, from
the tainted cabin to the dirty deck; scooping up the icy water, plunging
one’s head into it, and drawing it out, all fresh and glowing with the
cold; was a good thing.  The fast, brisk walk upon the towing-path,
between that time and breakfast, when every vein and artery seemed to
tingle with health; the exquisite beauty of the opening day, when light
came gleaming off from everything; the lazy motion of the boat, when one
lay idly on the deck, looking through, rather than at, the deep blue sky;
the gliding on at night, so noiselessly, past frowning hills, sullen with
dark trees, and sometimes angry in one red, burning spot high up, where
unseen men lay crouching round a fire; the shining out of the bright
stars undisturbed by noise of wheels or steam, or any other sound than
the limpid rippling of the water as the boat went on: all these were pure
delights.

Then there were new settlements and detached log-cabins and frame-houses,
full of interest for strangers from an old country: cabins with simple
ovens, outside, made of clay; and lodgings for the pigs nearly as good as
many of the human quarters; broken windows, patched with worn-out hats,
old clothes, old boards, fragments of blankets and paper; and home-made
dressers standing in the open air without the door, whereon was ranged
the household store, not hard to count, of earthen jars and pots.  The
eye was pained to see the stumps of great trees thickly strewn in every
field of wheat, and seldom to lose the eternal swamp and dull morass,
with hundreds of rotten trunks and twisted branches steeped in its
unwholesome water.  It was quite sad and oppressive, to come upon great
tracts where settlers had been burning down the trees, and where their
wounded bodies lay about, like those of murdered creatures, while here
and there some charred and blackened giant reared aloft two withered
arms, and seemed to call down curses on his foes.  Sometimes, at night,
the way wound through some lonely gorge, like a mountain pass in
Scotland, shining and coldly glittering in the light of the moon, and so
closed in by high steep hills all round, that there seemed to be no
egress save through the narrower path by which we had come, until one
rugged hill-side seemed to open, and shutting out the moonlight as we
passed into its gloomy throat, wrapped our new course in shade and
darkness.

We had left Harrisburg on Friday.  On Sunday morning we arrived at the
foot of the mountain, which is crossed by railroad.  There are ten
inclined planes; five ascending, and five descending; the carriages are
dragged up the former, and let slowly down the latter, by means of
stationary engines; the comparatively level spaces between, being
traversed, sometimes by horse, and sometimes by engine power, as the case
demands.  Occasionally the rails are laid upon the extreme verge of a
giddy precipice; and looking from the carriage window, the traveller
gazes sheer down, without a stone or scrap of fence between, into the
mountain depths below.  The journey is very carefully made, however; only
two carriages travelling together; and while proper precautions are
taken, is not to be dreaded for its dangers.

It was very pretty travelling thus, at a rapid pace along the heights of
the mountain in a keen wind, to look down into a valley full of light and
softness; catching glimpses, through the tree-tops, of scattered cabins;
children running to the doors; dogs bursting out to bark, whom we could
see without hearing: terrified pigs scampering homewards; families
sitting out in their rude gardens; cows gazing upward with a stupid
indifference; men in their shirt-sleeves looking on at their unfinished
houses, planning out to-morrow’s work; and we riding onward, high above
them, like a whirlwind.  It was amusing, too, when we had dined, and
rattled down a steep pass, having no other moving power than the weight
of the carriages themselves, to see the engine released, long after us,
come buzzing down alone, like a great insect, its back of green and gold
so shining in the sun, that if it had spread a pair of wings and soared
away, no one would have had occasion, as I fancied, for the least
surprise.  But it stopped short of us in a very business-like manner when
we reached the canal: and, before we left the wharf, went panting up this
hill again, with the passengers who had waited our arrival for the means
of traversing the road by which we had come.

On the Monday evening, furnace fires and clanking hammers on the banks of
the canal, warned us that we approached the termination of this part of
our journey.  After going through another dreamy place—a long aqueduct
across the Alleghany River, which was stranger than the bridge at
Harrisburg, being a vast, low, wooden chamber full of water—we emerged
upon that ugly confusion of backs of buildings and crazy galleries and
stairs, which always abuts on water, whether it be river, sea, canal, or
ditch: and were at Pittsburg.

Pittsburg is like Birmingham in England; at least its townspeople say so.
Setting aside the streets, the shops, the houses, waggons, factories,
public buildings, and population, perhaps it may be.  It certainly has a
great quantity of smoke hanging about it, and is famous for its
iron-works.  Besides the prison to which I have already referred, this
town contains a pretty arsenal and other institutions.  It is very
beautifully situated on the Alleghany River, over which there are two
bridges; and the villas of the wealthier citizens sprinkled about the
high grounds in the neighbourhood, are pretty enough.  We lodged at a
most excellent hotel, and were admirably served.  As usual it was full of
boarders, was very large, and had a broad colonnade to every story of the
house.

We tarried here three days.  Our next point was Cincinnati: and as this
was a steamboat journey, and western steamboats usually blow up one or
two a week in the season, it was advisable to collect opinions in
reference to the comparative safety of the vessels bound that way, then
lying in the river.  One called the Messenger was the best recommended.
She had been advertised to start positively, every day for a fortnight or
so, and had not gone yet, nor did her captain seem to have any very fixed
intention on the subject.  But this is the custom: for if the law were to
bind down a free and independent citizen to keep his word with the
public, what would become of the liberty of the subject?  Besides, it is
in the way of trade.  And if passengers be decoyed in the way of trade,
and people be inconvenienced in the way of trade, what man, who is a
sharp tradesman himself, shall say, ‘We must put a stop to this?’

Impressed by the deep solemnity of the public announcement, I (being then
ignorant of these usages) was for hurrying on board in a breathless
state, immediately; but receiving private and confidential information
that the boat would certainly not start until Friday, April the First, we
made ourselves very comfortable in the mean while, and went on board at
noon that day.



CHAPTER XI
FROM PITTSBURG TO CINCINNATI IN A WESTERN STEAMBOAT.  CINCINNATI


THE Messenger was one among a crowd of high-pressure steamboats,
clustered together by a wharf-side, which, looked down upon from the
rising ground that forms the landing-place, and backed by the lofty bank
on the opposite side of the river, appeared no larger than so many
floating models.  She had some forty passengers on board, exclusive of
the poorer persons on the lower deck; and in half an hour, or less,
proceeded on her way.

We had, for ourselves, a tiny state-room with two berths in it, opening
out of the ladies’ cabin.  There was, undoubtedly, something satisfactory
in this ‘location,’ inasmuch as it was in the stern, and we had been a
great many times very gravely recommended to keep as far aft as possible,
‘because the steamboats generally blew up forward.’  Nor was this an
unnecessary caution, as the occurrence and circumstances of more than one
such fatality during our stay sufficiently testified.  Apart from this
source of self-congratulation, it was an unspeakable relief to have any
place, no matter how confined, where one could be alone: and as the row
of little chambers of which this was one, had each a second glass-door
besides that in the ladies’ cabin, which opened on a narrow gallery
outside the vessel, where the other passengers seldom came, and where one
could sit in peace and gaze upon the shifting prospect, we took
possession of our new quarters with much pleasure.

If the native packets I have already described be unlike anything we are
in the habit of seeing on water, these western vessels are still more
foreign to all the ideas we are accustomed to entertain of boats.  I
hardly know what to liken them to, or how to describe them.

In the first place, they have no mast, cordage, tackle, rigging, or other
such boat-like gear; nor have they anything in their shape at all
calculated to remind one of a boat’s head, stem, sides, or keel.  Except
that they are in the water, and display a couple of paddle-boxes, they
might be intended, for anything that appears to the contrary, to perform
some unknown service, high and dry, upon a mountain top.  There is no
visible deck, even: nothing but a long, black, ugly roof covered with
burnt-out feathery sparks; above which tower two iron chimneys, and a
hoarse escape valve, and a glass steerage-house.  Then, in order as the
eye descends towards the water, are the sides, and doors, and windows of
the state-rooms, jumbled as oddly together as though they formed a small
street, built by the varying tastes of a dozen men: the whole is
supported on beams and pillars resting on a dirty barge, but a few inches
above the water’s edge: and in the narrow space between this upper
structure and this barge’s deck, are the furnace fires and machinery,
open at the sides to every wind that blows, and every storm of rain it
drives along its path.

Passing one of these boats at night, and seeing the great body of fire,
exposed as I have just described, that rages and roars beneath the frail
pile of painted wood: the machinery, not warded off or guarded in any
way, but doing its work in the midst of the crowd of idlers and emigrants
and children, who throng the lower deck: under the management, too, of
reckless men whose acquaintance with its mysteries may have been of six
months’ standing: one feels directly that the wonder is, not that there
should be so many fatal accidents, but that any journey should be safely
made.

Within, there is one long narrow cabin, the whole length of the boat;
from which the state-rooms open, on both sides.  A small portion of it at
the stern is partitioned off for the ladies; and the bar is at the
opposite extreme.  There is a long table down the centre, and at either
end a stove.  The washing apparatus is forward, on the deck.  It is a
little better than on board the canal boat, but not much.  In all modes
of travelling, the American customs, with reference to the means of
personal cleanliness and wholesome ablution, are extremely negligent and
filthy; and I strongly incline to the belief that a considerable amount
of illness is referable to this cause.

We are to be on board the Messenger three days: arriving at Cincinnati
(barring accidents) on Monday morning.  There are three meals a day.
Breakfast at seven, dinner at half-past twelve, supper about six.  At
each, there are a great many small dishes and plates upon the table, with
very little in them; so that although there is every appearance of a
mighty ‘spread,’ there is seldom really more than a joint: except for
those who fancy slices of beet-root, shreds of dried beef, complicated
entanglements of yellow pickle; maize, Indian corn, apple-sauce, and
pumpkin.

Some people fancy all these little dainties together (and sweet preserves
beside), by way of relish to their roast pig.  They are generally those
dyspeptic ladies and gentlemen who eat unheard-of quantities of hot corn
bread (almost as good for the digestion as a kneaded pin-cushion), for
breakfast, and for supper.  Those who do not observe this custom, and who
help themselves several times instead, usually suck their knives and
forks meditatively, until they have decided what to take next: then pull
them out of their mouths: put them in the dish; help themselves; and fall
to work again.  At dinner, there is nothing to drink upon the table, but
great jugs full of cold water.  Nobody says anything, at any meal, to
anybody.  All the passengers are very dismal, and seem to have tremendous
secrets weighing on their minds.  There is no conversation, no laughter,
no cheerfulness, no sociality, except in spitting; and that is done in
silent fellowship round the stove, when the meal is over.  Every man sits
down, dull and languid; swallows his fare as if breakfasts, dinners, and
suppers, were necessities of nature never to be coupled with recreation
or enjoyment; and having bolted his food in a gloomy silence, bolts
himself, in the same state.  But for these animal observances, you might
suppose the whole male portion of the company to be the melancholy ghosts
of departed book-keepers, who had fallen dead at the desk: such is their
weary air of business and calculation.  Undertakers on duty would be
sprightly beside them; and a collation of funeral-baked meats, in
comparison with these meals, would be a sparkling festivity.

The people are all alike, too.  There is no diversity of character.  They
travel about on the same errands, say and do the same things in exactly
the same manner, and follow in the same dull cheerless round.  All down
the long table, there is scarcely a man who is in anything different from
his neighbour.  It is quite a relief to have, sitting opposite, that
little girl of fifteen with the loquacious chin: who, to do her justice,
acts up to it, and fully identifies nature’s handwriting, for of all the
small chatterboxes that ever invaded the repose of drowsy ladies’ cabin,
she is the first and foremost.  The beautiful girl, who sits a little
beyond her—farther down the table there—married the young man with the
dark whiskers, who sits beyond _her_, only last month.  They are going to
settle in the very Far West, where he has lived four years, but where she
has never been.  They were both overturned in a stage-coach the other day
(a bad omen anywhere else, where overturns are not so common), and his
head, which bears the marks of a recent wound, is bound up still.  She
was hurt too, at the same time, and lay insensible for some days; bright
as her eyes are, now.

Further down still, sits a man who is going some miles beyond their place
of destination, to ‘improve’ a newly-discovered copper mine.  He carries
the village—that is to be—with him: a few frame cottages, and an
apparatus for smelting the copper.  He carries its people too.  They are
partly American and partly Irish, and herd together on the lower deck;
where they amused themselves last evening till the night was pretty far
advanced, by alternately firing off pistols and singing hymns.

They, and the very few who have been left at table twenty minutes, rise,
and go away.  We do so too; and passing through our little state-room,
resume our seats in the quiet gallery without.

A fine broad river always, but in some parts much wider than in others:
and then there is usually a green island, covered with trees, dividing it
into two streams.  Occasionally, we stop for a few minutes, maybe to take
in wood, maybe for passengers, at some small town or village (I ought to
say city, every place is a city here); but the banks are for the most
part deep solitudes, overgrown with trees, which, hereabouts, are already
in leaf and very green.  For miles, and miles, and miles, these solitudes
are unbroken by any sign of human life or trace of human footstep; nor is
anything seen to move about them but the blue jay, whose colour is so
bright, and yet so delicate, that it looks like a flying flower.  At
lengthened intervals a log cabin, with its little space of cleared land
about it, nestles under a rising ground, and sends its thread of blue
smoke curling up into the sky.  It stands in the corner of the poor field
of wheat, which is full of great unsightly stumps, like earthy
butchers’-blocks.  Sometimes the ground is only just now cleared: the
felled trees lying yet upon the soil: and the log-house only this morning
begun.  As we pass this clearing, the settler leans upon his axe or
hammer, and looks wistfully at the people from the world.  The children
creep out of the temporary hut, which is like a gipsy tent upon the
ground, and clap their hands and shout.  The dog only glances round at
us, and then looks up into his master’s face again, as if he were
rendered uneasy by any suspension of the common business, and had nothing
more to do with pleasurers.  And still there is the same, eternal
foreground.  The river has washed away its banks, and stately trees have
fallen down into the stream.  Some have been there so long, that they are
mere dry, grizzly skeletons.  Some have just toppled over, and having
earth yet about their roots, are bathing their green heads in the river,
and putting forth new shoots and branches.  Some are almost sliding down,
as you look at them.  And some were drowned so long ago, that their
bleached arms start out from the middle of the current, and seem to try
to grasp the boat, and drag it under water.

Through such a scene as this, the unwieldy machine takes its hoarse,
sullen way: venting, at every revolution of the paddles, a loud
high-pressure blast; enough, one would think, to waken up the host of
Indians who lie buried in a great mound yonder: so old, that mighty oaks
and other forest trees have struck their roots into its earth; and so
high, that it is a hill, even among the hills that Nature planted round
it.  The very river, as though it shared one’s feelings of compassion for
the extinct tribes who lived so pleasantly here, in their blessed
ignorance of white existence, hundreds of years ago, steals out of its
way to ripple near this mound: and there are few places where the Ohio
sparkles more brightly than in the Big Grave Creek.

All this I see as I sit in the little stern-gallery mentioned just now.
Evening slowly steals upon the landscape and changes it before me, when
we stop to set some emigrants ashore.

Five men, as many women, and a little girl.  All their worldly goods are
a bag, a large chest and an old chair: one, old, high-backed,
rush-bottomed chair: a solitary settler in itself.  They are rowed ashore
in the boat, while the vessel stands a little off awaiting its return,
the water being shallow.  They are landed at the foot of a high bank, on
the summit of which are a few log cabins, attainable only by a long
winding path.  It is growing dusk; but the sun is very red, and shines in
the water and on some of the tree-tops, like fire.

The men get out of the boat first; help out the women; take out the bag,
the chest, the chair; bid the rowers ‘good-bye;’ and shove the boat off
for them.  At the first plash of the oars in the water, the oldest woman
of the party sits down in the old chair, close to the water’s edge,
without speaking a word.  None of the others sit down, though the chest
is large enough for many seats.  They all stand where they landed, as if
stricken into stone; and look after the boat.  So they remain, quite
still and silent: the old woman and her old chair, in the centre the bag
and chest upon the shore, without anybody heeding them all eyes fixed
upon the boat.  It comes alongside, is made fast, the men jump on board,
the engine is put in motion, and we go hoarsely on again.  There they
stand yet, without the motion of a hand.  I can see them through my
glass, when, in the distance and increasing darkness, they are mere
specks to the eye: lingering there still: the old woman in the old chair,
and all the rest about her: not stirring in the least degree.  And thus I
slowly lose them.

The night is dark, and we proceed within the shadow of the wooded bank,
which makes it darker.  After gliding past the sombre maze of boughs for
a long time, we come upon an open space where the tall trees are burning.
The shape of every branch and twig is expressed in a deep red glow, and
as the light wind stirs and ruffles it, they seem to vegetate in fire.
It is such a sight as we read of in legends of enchanted forests: saving
that it is sad to see these noble works wasting away so awfully, alone;
and to think how many years must come and go before the magic that
created them will rear their like upon this ground again.  But the time
will come; and when, in their changed ashes, the growth of centuries
unborn has struck its roots, the restless men of distant ages will repair
to these again unpeopled solitudes; and their fellows, in cities far
away, that slumber now, perhaps, beneath the rolling sea, will read in
language strange to any ears in being now, but very old to them, of
primeval forests where the axe was never heard, and where the jungled
ground was never trodden by a human foot.

Midnight and sleep blot out these scenes and thoughts: and when the
morning shines again, it gilds the house-tops of a lively city, before
whose broad paved wharf the boat is moored; with other boats, and flags,
and moving wheels, and hum of men around it; as though there were not a
solitary or silent rood of ground within the compass of a thousand miles.

Cincinnati is a beautiful city; cheerful, thriving, and animated.  I have
not often seen a place that commends itself so favourably and pleasantly
to a stranger at the first glance as this does: with its clean houses of
red and white, its well-paved roads, and foot-ways of bright tile.  Nor
does it become less prepossessing on a closer acquaintance.  The streets
are broad and airy, the shops extremely good, the private residences
remarkable for their elegance and neatness.  There is something of
invention and fancy in the varying styles of these latter erections,
which, after the dull company of the steamboat, is perfectly delightful,
as conveying an assurance that there are such qualities still in
existence.  The disposition to ornament these pretty villas and render
them attractive, leads to the culture of trees and flowers, and the
laying out of well-kept gardens, the sight of which, to those who walk
along the streets, is inexpressibly refreshing and agreeable.  I was
quite charmed with the appearance of the town, and its adjoining suburb
of Mount Auburn: from which the city, lying in an amphitheatre of hills,
forms a picture of remarkable beauty, and is seen to great advantage.

There happened to be a great Temperance Convention held here on the day
after our arrival; and as the order of march brought the procession under
the windows of the hotel in which we lodged, when they started in the
morning, I had a good opportunity of seeing it.  It comprised several
thousand men; the members of various ‘Washington Auxiliary Temperance
Societies;’ and was marshalled by officers on horseback, who cantered
briskly up and down the line, with scarves and ribbons of bright colours
fluttering out behind them gaily.  There were bands of music too, and
banners out of number: and it was a fresh, holiday-looking concourse
altogether.

I was particularly pleased to see the Irishmen, who formed a distinct
society among themselves, and mustered very strong with their green
scarves; carrying their national Harp and their Portrait of Father
Mathew, high above the people’s heads.  They looked as jolly and
good-humoured as ever; and, working (here) the hardest for their living
and doing any kind of sturdy labour that came in their way, were the most
independent fellows there, I thought.

The banners were very well painted, and flaunted down the street
famously.  There was the smiting of the rock, and the gushing forth of
the waters; and there was a temperate man with ‘considerable of a
hatchet’ (as the standard-bearer would probably have said), aiming a
deadly blow at a serpent which was apparently about to spring upon him
from the top of a barrel of spirits.  But the chief feature of this part
of the show was a huge allegorical device, borne among the
ship-carpenters, on one side whereof the steamboat Alcohol was
represented bursting her boiler and exploding with a great crash, while
upon the other, the good ship Temperance sailed away with a fair wind, to
the heart’s content of the captain, crew, and passengers.

After going round the town, the procession repaired to a certain
appointed place, where, as the printed programme set forth, it would be
received by the children of the different free schools, ‘singing
Temperance Songs.’  I was prevented from getting there, in time to hear
these Little Warblers, or to report upon this novel kind of vocal
entertainment: novel, at least, to me: but I found in a large open space,
each society gathered round its own banners, and listening in silent
attention to its own orator.  The speeches, judging from the little I
could hear of them, were certainly adapted to the occasion, as having
that degree of relationship to cold water which wet blankets may claim:
but the main thing was the conduct and appearance of the audience
throughout the day; and that was admirable and full of promise.

Cincinnati is honourably famous for its free schools, of which it has so
many that no person’s child among its population can, by possibility,
want the means of education, which are extended, upon an average, to four
thousand pupils, annually.  I was only present in one of these
establishments during the hours of instruction.  In the boys’ department,
which was full of little urchins (varying in their ages, I should say,
from six years old to ten or twelve), the master offered to institute an
extemporary examination of the pupils in algebra; a proposal, which, as I
was by no means confident of my ability to detect mistakes in that
science, I declined with some alarm.  In the girls’ school, reading was
proposed; and as I felt tolerably equal to that art, I expressed my
willingness to hear a class.  Books were distributed accordingly, and
some half-dozen girls relieved each other in reading paragraphs from
English History.  But it seemed to be a dry compilation, infinitely above
their powers; and when they had blundered through three or four dreary
passages concerning the Treaty of Amiens, and other thrilling topics of
the same nature (obviously without comprehending ten words), I expressed
myself quite satisfied.  It is very possible that they only mounted to
this exalted stave in the Ladder of Learning for the astonishment of a
visitor; and that at other times they keep upon its lower rounds; but I
should have been much better pleased and satisfied if I had heard them
exercised in simpler lessons, which they understood.

As in every other place I visited, the judges here were gentlemen of high
character and attainments.  I was in one of the courts for a few minutes,
and found it like those to which I have already referred.  A nuisance
cause was trying; there were not many spectators; and the witnesses,
counsel, and jury, formed a sort of family circle, sufficiently jocose
and snug.

The society with which I mingled, was intelligent, courteous, and
agreeable.  The inhabitants of Cincinnati are proud of their city as one
of the most interesting in America: and with good reason: for beautiful
and thriving as it is now, and containing, as it does, a population of
fifty thousand souls, but two-and-fifty years have passed away since the
ground on which it stands (bought at that time for a few dollars) was a
wild wood, and its citizens were but a handful of dwellers in scattered
log huts upon the river’s shore.



CHAPTER XII
FROM CINCINNATI TO LOUISVILLE IN ANOTHER WESTERN STEAMBOAT; AND FROM
LOUISVILLE TO ST. LOUIS IN ANOTHER.  ST. LOUIS


LEAVING Cincinnati at eleven o’clock in the forenoon, we embarked for
Louisville in the Pike steamboat, which, carrying the mails, was a packet
of a much better class than that in which we had come from Pittsburg.  As
this passage does not occupy more than twelve or thirteen hours, we
arranged to go ashore that night: not coveting the distinction of
sleeping in a state-room, when it was possible to sleep anywhere else.

There chanced to be on board this boat, in addition to the usual dreary
crowd of passengers, one Pitchlynn, a chief of the Choctaw tribe of
Indians, who _sent in his card_ to me, and with whom I had the pleasure
of a long conversation.

He spoke English perfectly well, though he had not begun to learn the
language, he told me, until he was a young man grown.  He had read many
books; and Scott’s poetry appeared to have left a strong impression on
his mind: especially the opening of The Lady of the Lake, and the great
battle scene in Marmion, in which, no doubt from the congeniality of the
subjects to his own pursuits and tastes, he had great interest and
delight.  He appeared to understand correctly all he had read; and
whatever fiction had enlisted his sympathy in its belief, had done so
keenly and earnestly.  I might almost say fiercely.  He was dressed in
our ordinary everyday costume, which hung about his fine figure loosely,
and with indifferent grace.  On my telling him that I regretted not to
see him in his own attire, he threw up his right arm, for a moment, as
though he were brandishing some heavy weapon, and answered, as he let it
fall again, that his race were losing many things besides their dress,
and would soon be seen upon the earth no more: but he wore it at home, he
added proudly.

He told me that he had been away from his home, west of the Mississippi,
seventeen months: and was now returning.  He had been chiefly at
Washington on some negotiations pending between his Tribe and the
Government: which were not settled yet (he said in a melancholy way), and
he feared never would be: for what could a few poor Indians do, against
such well-skilled men of business as the whites?  He had no love for
Washington; tired of towns and cities very soon; and longed for the
Forest and the Prairie.

I asked him what he thought of Congress?  He answered, with a smile, that
it wanted dignity, in an Indian’s eyes.

He would very much like, he said, to see England before he died; and
spoke with much interest about the great things to be seen there.  When I
told him of that chamber in the British Museum wherein are preserved
household memorials of a race that ceased to be, thousands of years ago,
he was very attentive, and it was not hard to see that he had a reference
in his mind to the gradual fading away of his own people.

This led us to speak of Mr. Catlin’s gallery, which he praised highly:
observing that his own portrait was among the collection, and that all
the likenesses were ‘elegant.’  Mr. Cooper, he said, had painted the Red
Man well; and so would I, he knew, if I would go home with him and hunt
buffaloes, which he was quite anxious I should do.  When I told him that
supposing I went, I should not be very likely to damage the buffaloes
much, he took it as a great joke and laughed heartily.

He was a remarkably handsome man; some years past forty, I should judge;
with long black hair, an aquiline nose, broad cheek-bones, a sunburnt
complexion, and a very bright, keen, dark, and piercing eye.  There were
but twenty thousand of the Choctaws left, he said, and their number was
decreasing every day.  A few of his brother chiefs had been obliged to
become civilised, and to make themselves acquainted with what the whites
knew, for it was their only chance of existence.  But they were not many;
and the rest were as they always had been.  He dwelt on this: and said
several times that unless they tried to assimilate themselves to their
conquerors, they must be swept away before the strides of civilised
society.

When we shook hands at parting, I told him he must come to England, as he
longed to see the land so much: that I should hope to see him there, one
day: and that I could promise him he would be well received and kindly
treated.  He was evidently pleased by this assurance, though he rejoined
with a good-humoured smile and an arch shake of his head, that the
English used to be very fond of the Red Men when they wanted their help,
but had not cared much for them, since.

He took his leave; as stately and complete a gentleman of Nature’s
making, as ever I beheld; and moved among the people in the boat, another
kind of being.  He sent me a lithographed portrait of himself soon
afterwards; very like, though scarcely handsome enough; which I have
carefully preserved in memory of our brief acquaintance.

There was nothing very interesting in the scenery of this day’s journey,
which brought us at midnight to Louisville.  We slept at the Galt House;
a splendid hotel; and were as handsomely lodged as though we had been in
Paris, rather than hundreds of miles beyond the Alleghanies.

The city presenting no objects of sufficient interest to detain us on our
way, we resolved to proceed next day by another steamboat, the Fulton,
and to join it, about noon, at a suburb called Portland, where it would
be delayed some time in passing through a canal.

The interval, after breakfast, we devoted to riding through the town,
which is regular and cheerful: the streets being laid out at right
angles, and planted with young trees.  The buildings are smoky and
blackened, from the use of bituminous coal, but an Englishman is well
used to that appearance, and indisposed to quarrel with it.  There did
not appear to be much business stirring; and some unfinished buildings
and improvements seemed to intimate that the city had been overbuilt in
the ardour of ‘going-a-head,’ and was suffering under the re-action
consequent upon such feverish forcing of its powers.

On our way to Portland, we passed a ‘Magistrate’s office,’ which amused
me, as looking far more like a dame school than any police establishment:
for this awful Institution was nothing but a little lazy,
good-for-nothing front parlour, open to the street; wherein two or three
figures (I presume the magistrate and his myrmidons) were basking in the
sunshine, the very effigies of languor and repose.  It was a perfect
picture of justice retired from business for want of customers; her sword
and scales sold off; napping comfortably with her legs upon the table.

Here, as elsewhere in these parts, the road was perfectly alive with pigs
of all ages; lying about in every direction, fast asleep.; or grunting
along in quest of hidden dainties.  I had always a sneaking kindness for
these odd animals, and found a constant source of amusement, when all
others failed, in watching their proceedings.  As we were riding along
this morning, I observed a little incident between two youthful pigs,
which was so very human as to be inexpressibly comical and grotesque at
the time, though I dare say, in telling, it is tame enough.

One young gentleman (a very delicate porker with several straws sticking
about his nose, betokening recent investigations in a dung-hill) was
walking deliberately on, profoundly thinking, when suddenly his brother,
who was lying in a miry hole unseen by him, rose up immediately before
his startled eyes, ghostly with damp mud.  Never was pig’s whole mass of
blood so turned.  He started back at least three feet, gazed for a
moment, and then shot off as hard as he could go: his excessively little
tail vibrating with speed and terror like a distracted pendulum.  But
before he had gone very far, he began to reason with himself as to the
nature of this frightful appearance; and as he reasoned, he relaxed his
speed by gradual degrees; until at last he stopped, and faced about.
There was his brother, with the mud upon him glazing in the sun, yet
staring out of the very same hole, perfectly amazed at his proceedings!
He was no sooner assured of this; and he assured himself so carefully
that one may almost say he shaded his eyes with his hand to see the
better; than he came back at a round trot, pounced upon him, and
summarily took off a piece of his tail; as a caution to him to be careful
what he was about for the future, and never to play tricks with his
family any more.

We found the steamboat in the canal, waiting for the slow process of
getting through the lock, and went on board, where we shortly afterwards
had a new kind of visitor in the person of a certain Kentucky Giant whose
name is Porter, and who is of the moderate height of seven feet eight
inches, in his stockings.

There never was a race of people who so completely gave the lie to
history as these giants, or whom all the chroniclers have so cruelly
libelled.  Instead of roaring and ravaging about the world, constantly
catering for their cannibal larders, and perpetually going to market in
an unlawful manner, they are the meekest people in any man’s
acquaintance: rather inclining to milk and vegetable diet, and bearing
anything for a quiet life.  So decidedly are amiability and mildness
their characteristics, that I confess I look upon that youth who
distinguished himself by the slaughter of these inoffensive persons, as a
false-hearted brigand, who, pretending to philanthropic motives, was
secretly influenced only by the wealth stored up within their castles,
and the hope of plunder.  And I lean the more to this opinion from
finding that even the historian of those exploits, with all his
partiality for his hero, is fain to admit that the slaughtered monsters
in question were of a very innocent and simple turn; extremely guileless
and ready of belief; lending a credulous ear to the most improbable
tales; suffering themselves to be easily entrapped into pits; and even
(as in the case of the Welsh Giant) with an excess of the hospitable
politeness of a landlord, ripping themselves open, rather than hint at
the possibility of their guests being versed in the vagabond arts of
sleight-of-hand and hocus-pocus.

The Kentucky Giant was but another illustration of the truth of this
position.  He had a weakness in the region of the knees, and a
trustfulness in his long face, which appealed even to five-feet nine for
encouragement and support.  He was only twenty-five years old, he said,
and had grown recently, for it had been found necessary to make an
addition to the legs of his inexpressibles.  At fifteen he was a short
boy, and in those days his English father and his Irish mother had rather
snubbed him, as being too small of stature to sustain the credit of the
family.  He added that his health had not been good, though it was better
now; but short people are not wanting who whisper that he drinks too
hard.

I understand he drives a hackney-coach, though how he does it, unless he
stands on the footboard behind, and lies along the roof upon his chest,
with his chin in the box, it would be difficult to comprehend.  He
brought his gun with him, as a curiosity.

Christened ‘The Little Rifle,’ and displayed outside a shop-window, it
would make the fortune of any retail business in Holborn.  When he had
shown himself and talked a little while, he withdrew with his
pocket-instrument, and went bobbing down the cabin, among men of six feet
high and upwards, like a light-house walking among lamp-posts.

Within a few minutes afterwards, we were out of the canal, and in the
Ohio river again.

The arrangements of the boat were like those of the Messenger, and the
passengers were of the same order of people.  We fed at the same times,
on the same kind of viands, in the same dull manner, and with the same
observances.  The company appeared to be oppressed by the same tremendous
concealments, and had as little capacity of enjoyment or
light-heartedness.  I never in my life did see such listless, heavy
dulness as brooded over these meals: the very recollection of it weighs
me down, and makes me, for the moment, wretched.  Reading and writing on
my knee, in our little cabin, I really dreaded the coming of the hour
that summoned us to table; and was as glad to escape from it again, as if
it had been a penance or a punishment.  Healthy cheerfulness and good
spirits forming a part of the banquet, I could soak my crusts in the
fountain with Le Sage’s strolling player, and revel in their glad
enjoyment: but sitting down with so many fellow-animals to ward off
thirst and hunger as a business; to empty, each creature, his Yahoo’s
trough as quickly as he can, and then slink sullenly away; to have these
social sacraments stripped of everything but the mere greedy satisfaction
of the natural cravings; goes so against the grain with me, that I
seriously believe the recollection of these funeral feasts will be a
waking nightmare to me all my life.

There was some relief in this boat, too, which there had not been in the
other, for the captain (a blunt, good-natured fellow) had his handsome
wife with him, who was disposed to be lively and agreeable, as were a few
other lady-passengers who had their seats about us at the same end of the
table.  But nothing could have made head against the depressing influence
of the general body.  There was a magnetism of dulness in them which
would have beaten down the most facetious companion that the earth ever
knew.  A jest would have been a crime, and a smile would have faded into
a grinning horror.  Such deadly, leaden people; such systematic plodding,
weary, insupportable heaviness; such a mass of animated indigestion in
respect of all that was genial, jovial, frank, social, or hearty; never,
sure, was brought together elsewhere since the world began.

Nor was the scenery, as we approached the junction of the Ohio and
Mississippi rivers, at all inspiriting in its influence.  The trees were
stunted in their growth; the banks were low and flat; the settlements and
log cabins fewer in number: their inhabitants more wan and wretched than
any we had encountered yet.  No songs of birds were in the air, no
pleasant scents, no moving lights and shadows from swift passing clouds.
Hour after hour, the changeless glare of the hot, unwinking sky, shone
upon the same monotonous objects.  Hour after hour, the river rolled
along, as wearily and slowly as the time itself.

At length, upon the morning of the third day, we arrived at a spot so
much more desolate than any we had yet beheld, that the forlornest places
we had passed, were, in comparison with it, full of interest.  At the
junction of the two rivers, on ground so flat and low and marshy, that at
certain seasons of the year it is inundated to the house-tops, lies a
breeding-place of fever, ague, and death; vaunted in England as a mine of
Golden Hope, and speculated in, on the faith of monstrous
representations, to many people’s ruin.  A dismal swamp, on which the
half-built houses rot away: cleared here and there for the space of a few
yards; and teeming, then, with rank unwholesome vegetation, in whose
baleful shade the wretched wanderers who are tempted hither, droop, and
die, and lay their bones; the hateful Mississippi circling and eddying
before it, and turning off upon its southern course a slimy monster
hideous to behold; a hotbed of disease, an ugly sepulchre, a grave
uncheered by any gleam of promise: a place without one single quality, in
earth or air or water, to commend it: such is this dismal Cairo.

But what words shall describe the Mississippi, great father of rivers,
who (praise be to Heaven) has no young children like him! An enormous
ditch, sometimes two or three miles wide, running liquid mud, six miles
an hour: its strong and frothy current choked and obstructed everywhere
by huge logs and whole forest trees: now twining themselves together in
great rafts, from the interstices of which a sedgy, lazy foam works up,
to float upon the water’s top; now rolling past like monstrous bodies,
their tangled roots showing like matted hair; now glancing singly by like
giant leeches; and now writhing round and round in the vortex of some
small whirlpool, like wounded snakes.  The banks low, the trees dwarfish,
the marshes swarming with frogs, the wretched cabins few and far apart,
their inmates hollow-cheeked and pale, the weather very hot, mosquitoes
penetrating into every crack and crevice of the boat, mud and slime on
everything: nothing pleasant in its aspect, but the harmless lightning
which flickers every night upon the dark horizon.

For two days we toiled up this foul stream, striking constantly against
the floating timber, or stopping to avoid those more dangerous obstacles,
the snags, or sawyers, which are the hidden trunks of trees that have
their roots below the tide.  When the nights are very dark, the look-out
stationed in the head of the boat, knows by the ripple of the water if
any great impediment be near at hand, and rings a bell beside him, which
is the signal for the engine to be stopped: but always in the night this
bell has work to do, and after every ring, there comes a blow which
renders it no easy matter to remain in bed.

The decline of day here was very gorgeous; tingeing the firmament deeply
with red and gold, up to the very keystone of the arch above us.  As the
sun went down behind the bank, the slightest blades of grass upon it
seemed to become as distinctly visible as the arteries in the skeleton of
a leaf; and when, as it slowly sank, the red and golden bars upon the
water grew dimmer, and dimmer yet, as if they were sinking too; and all
the glowing colours of departing day paled, inch by inch, before the
sombre night; the scene became a thousand times more lonesome and more
dreary than before, and all its influences darkened with the sky.

We drank the muddy water of this river while we were upon it.  It is
considered wholesome by the natives, and is something more opaque than
gruel.  I have seen water like it at the Filter-shops, but nowhere else.

On the fourth night after leaving Louisville, we reached St. Louis, and
here I witnessed the conclusion of an incident, trifling enough in
itself, but very pleasant to see, which had interested me during the
whole journey.

There was a little woman on board, with a little baby; and both little
woman and little child were cheerful, good-looking, bright-eyed, and fair
to see.  The little woman had been passing a long time with her sick
mother in New York, and had left her home in St. Louis, in that condition
in which ladies who truly love their lords desire to be.  The baby was
born in her mother’s house; and she had not seen her husband (to whom she
was now returning), for twelve months: having left him a month or two
after their marriage.

                        [Picture: The Little Wife]

Well, to be sure, there never was a little woman so full of hope, and
tenderness, and love, and anxiety, as this little woman was: and all day
long she wondered whether ‘He’ would be at the wharf; and whether ‘He’
had got her letter; and whether, if she sent the baby ashore by somebody
else, ‘He’ would know it, meeting it in the street: which, seeing that he
had never set eyes upon it in his life, was not very likely in the
abstract, but was probable enough, to the young mother.  She was such an
artless little creature; and was in such a sunny, beaming, hopeful state;
and let out all this matter clinging close about her heart, so freely;
that all the other lady passengers entered into the spirit of it as much
as she; and the captain (who heard all about it from his wife) was
wondrous sly, I promise you: inquiring, every time we met at table, as in
forgetfulness, whether she expected anybody to meet her at St. Louis, and
whether she would want to go ashore the night we reached it (but he
supposed she wouldn’t), and cutting many other dry jokes of that nature.
There was one little weazen, dried-apple-faced old woman, who took
occasion to doubt the constancy of husbands in such circumstances of
bereavement; and there was another lady (with a lap-dog) old enough to
moralize on the lightness of human affections, and yet not so old that
she could help nursing the baby, now and then, or laughing with the rest,
when the little woman called it by its father’s name, and asked it all
manner of fantastic questions concerning him in the joy of her heart.

It was something of a blow to the little woman, that when we were within
twenty miles of our destination, it became clearly necessary to put this
baby to bed.  But she got over it with the same good humour; tied a
handkerchief round her head; and came out into the little gallery with
the rest.  Then, such an oracle as she became in reference to the
localities! and such facetiousness as was displayed by the married
ladies! and such sympathy as was shown by the single ones! and such peals
of laughter as the little woman herself (who would just as soon have
cried) greeted every jest with!

At last, there were the lights of St. Louis, and here was the wharf, and
those were the steps: and the little woman covering her face with her
hands, and laughing (or seeming to laugh) more than ever, ran into her
own cabin, and shut herself up.  I have no doubt that in the charming
inconsistency of such excitement, she stopped her ears, lest she should
hear ‘Him’ asking for her: but I did not see her do it.

Then, a great crowd of people rushed on board, though the boat was not
yet made fast, but was wandering about, among the other boats, to find a
landing-place: and everybody looked for the husband: and nobody saw him:
when, in the midst of us all—Heaven knows how she ever got there—there
was the little woman clinging with both arms tight round the neck of a
fine, good-looking, sturdy young fellow! and in a moment afterwards,
there she was again, actually clapping her little hands for joy, as she
dragged him through the small door of her small cabin, to look at the
baby as he lay asleep!

We went to a large hotel, called the Planter’s House: built like an
English hospital, with long passages and bare walls, and sky-lights above
the room-doors for the free circulation of air.  There were a great many
boarders in it; and as many lights sparkled and glistened from the
windows down into the street below, when we drove up, as if it had been
illuminated on some occasion of rejoicing.  It is an excellent house, and
the proprietors have most bountiful notions of providing the creature
comforts.  Dining alone with my wife in our own room, one day, I counted
fourteen dishes on the table at once.

In the old French portion of the town, the thoroughfares are narrow and
crooked, and some of the houses are very quaint and picturesque: being
built of wood, with tumble-down galleries before the windows,
approachable by stairs or rather ladders from the street.  There are
queer little barbers’ shops and drinking-houses too, in this quarter; and
abundance of crazy old tenements with blinking casements, such as may be
seen in Flanders.  Some of these ancient habitations, with high garret
gable-windows perking into the roofs, have a kind of French shrug about
them; and being lop-sided with age, appear to hold their heads askew,
besides, as if they were grimacing in astonishment at the American
Improvements.

It is hardly necessary to say, that these consist of wharfs and
warehouses, and new buildings in all directions; and of a great many vast
plans which are still ‘progressing.’  Already, however, some very good
houses, broad streets, and marble-fronted shops, have gone so far ahead
as to be in a state of completion; and the town bids fair in a few years
to improve considerably: though it is not likely ever to vie, in point of
elegance or beauty, with Cincinnati.

The Roman Catholic religion, introduced here by the early French
settlers, prevails extensively.  Among the public institutions are a
Jesuit college; a convent for ‘the Ladies of the Sacred Heart;’ and a
large chapel attached to the college, which was in course of erection at
the time of my visit, and was intended to be consecrated on the second of
December in the next year.  The architect of this building, is one of the
reverend fathers of the school, and the works proceed under his sole
direction.  The organ will be sent from Belgium.

In addition to these establishments, there is a Roman Catholic cathedral,
dedicated to Saint Francis Xavier; and a hospital, founded by the
munificence of a deceased resident, who was a member of that church.  It
also sends missionaries from hence among the Indian tribes.

The Unitarian church is represented, in this remote place, as in most
other parts of America, by a gentleman of great worth and excellence.
The poor have good reason to remember and bless it; for it befriends
them, and aids the cause of rational education, without any sectarian or
selfish views.  It is liberal in all its actions; of kind construction;
and of wide benevolence.

There are three free-schools already erected, and in full operation in
this city.  A fourth is building, and will soon be opened.

No man ever admits the unhealthiness of the place he dwells in (unless he
is going away from it), and I shall therefore, I have no doubt, be at
issue with the inhabitants of St. Louis, in questioning the perfect
salubrity of its climate, and in hinting that I think it must rather
dispose to fever, in the summer and autumnal seasons.  Just adding, that
it is very hot, lies among great rivers, and has vast tracts of undrained
swampy land around it, I leave the reader to form his own opinion.

As I had a great desire to see a Prairie before turning back from the
furthest point of my wanderings; and as some gentlemen of the town had,
in their hospitable consideration, an equal desire to gratify me; a day
was fixed, before my departure, for an expedition to the Looking-Glass
Prairie, which is within thirty miles of the town.  Deeming it possible
that my readers may not object to know what kind of thing such a gipsy
party may be at that distance from home, and among what sort of objects
it moves, I will describe the jaunt in another chapter.



CHAPTER XIII
A JAUNT TO THE LOOKING-GLASS PRAIRIE AND BACK


I MAY premise that the word Prairie is variously pronounced _paraaer_,
_parearer_, _paroarer_.  The latter mode of pronunciation is perhaps the
most in favour.

We were fourteen in all, and all young men: indeed it is a singular
though very natural feature in the society of these distant settlements,
that it is mainly composed of adventurous persons in the prime of life,
and has very few grey heads among it.  There were no ladies: the trip
being a fatiguing one: and we were to start at five o’clock in the
morning punctually.

I was called at four, that I might be certain of keeping nobody waiting;
and having got some bread and milk for breakfast, threw up the window and
looked down into the street, expecting to see the whole party busily
astir, and great preparations going on below.  But as everything was very
quiet, and the street presented that hopeless aspect with which five
o’clock in the morning is familiar elsewhere, I deemed it as well to go
to bed again, and went accordingly.

I woke again at seven o’clock, and by that time the party had assembled,
and were gathered round, one light carriage, with a very stout axletree;
one something on wheels like an amateur carrier’s cart; one double
phaeton of great antiquity and unearthly construction; one gig with a
great hole in its back and a broken head; and one rider on horseback who
was to go on before.  I got into the first coach with three companions;
the rest bestowed themselves in the other vehicles; two large baskets
were made fast to the lightest; two large stone jars in wicker cases,
technically known as demi-johns, were consigned to the ‘least rowdy’ of
the party for safe-keeping; and the procession moved off to the
ferryboat, in which it was to cross the river bodily, men, horses,
carriages, and all, as the manner in these parts is.

We got over the river in due course, and mustered again before a little
wooden box on wheels, hove down all aslant in a morass, with ‘MERCHANT
TAILOR’ painted in very large letters over the door.  Having settled the
order of proceeding, and the road to be taken, we started off once more
and began to make our way through an ill-favoured Black Hollow, called,
less expressively, the American Bottom.

The previous day had been—not to say hot, for the term is weak and
lukewarm in its power of conveying an idea of the temperature.  The town
had been on fire; in a blaze.  But at night it had come on to rain in
torrents, and all night long it had rained without cessation.  We had a
pair of very strong horses, but travelled at the rate of little more than
a couple of miles an hour, through one unbroken slough of black mud and
water.  It had no variety but in depth.  Now it was only half over the
wheels, now it hid the axletree, and now the coach sank down in it almost
to the windows.  The air resounded in all directions with the loud
chirping of the frogs, who, with the pigs (a coarse, ugly breed, as
unwholesome-looking as though they were the spontaneous growth of the
country), had the whole scene to themselves.  Here and there we passed a
log hut: but the wretched cabins were wide apart and thinly scattered,
for though the soil is very rich in this place, few people can exist in
such a deadly atmosphere.  On either side of the track, if it deserve the
name, was the thick ‘bush;’ and everywhere was stagnant, slimy, rotten,
filthy water.

As it is the custom in these parts to give a horse a gallon or so of cold
water whenever he is in a foam with heat, we halted for that purpose, at
a log inn in the wood, far removed from any other residence.  It
consisted of one room, bare-roofed and bare-walled of course, with a loft
above.  The ministering priest was a swarthy young savage, in a shirt of
cotton print like bed-furniture, and a pair of ragged trousers.  There
were a couple of young boys, too, nearly naked, lying idle by the well;
and they, and he, and _the_ traveller at the inn, turned out to look at
us.

The traveller was an old man with a grey gristly beard two inches long, a
shaggy moustache of the same hue, and enormous eyebrows; which almost
obscured his lazy, semi-drunken glance, as he stood regarding us with
folded arms: poising himself alternately upon his toes and heels.  On
being addressed by one of the party, he drew nearer, and said, rubbing
his chin (which scraped under his horny hand like fresh gravel beneath a
nailed shoe), that he was from Delaware, and had lately bought a farm
‘down there,’ pointing into one of the marshes where the stunted trees
were thickest.  He was ‘going,’ he added, to St. Louis, to fetch his
family, whom he had left behind; but he seemed in no great hurry to bring
on these incumbrances, for when we moved away, he loitered back into the
cabin, and was plainly bent on stopping there so long as his money
lasted.  He was a great politician of course, and explained his opinions
at some length to one of our company; but I only remember that he
concluded with two sentiments, one of which was, Somebody for ever; and
the other, Blast everybody else! which is by no means a bad abstract of
the general creed in these matters.

When the horses were swollen out to about twice their natural dimensions
(there seems to be an idea here, that this kind of inflation improves
their going), we went forward again, through mud and mire, and damp, and
festering heat, and brake and bush, attended always by the music of the
frogs and pigs, until nearly noon, when we halted at a place called
Belleville.

Belleville was a small collection of wooden houses, huddled together in
the very heart of the bush and swamp.  Many of them had singularly bright
doors of red and yellow; for the place had been lately visited by a
travelling painter, ‘who got along,’ as I was told, ‘by eating his way.’
The criminal court was sitting, and was at that moment trying some
criminals for horse-stealing: with whom it would most likely go hard: for
live stock of all kinds being necessarily very much exposed in the woods,
is held by the community in rather higher value than human life; and for
this reason, juries generally make a point of finding all men indicted
for cattle-stealing, guilty, whether or no.

The horses belonging to the bar, the judge, and witnesses, were tied to
temporary racks set up roughly in the road; by which is to be understood,
a forest path, nearly knee-deep in mud and slime.

There was an hotel in this place, which, like all hotels in America, had
its large dining-room for the public table.  It was an odd, shambling,
low-roofed out-house, half-cowshed and half-kitchen, with a coarse brown
canvas table-cloth, and tin sconces stuck against the walls, to hold
candles at supper-time.  The horseman had gone forward to have coffee and
some eatables prepared, and they were by this time nearly ready.  He had
ordered ‘wheat-bread and chicken fixings,’ in preference to ‘corn-bread
and common doings.’  The latter kind of rejection includes only pork and
bacon.  The former comprehends broiled ham, sausages, veal cutlets,
steaks, and such other viands of that nature as may be supposed, by a
tolerably wide poetical construction, ‘to fix’ a chicken comfortably in
the digestive organs of any lady or gentleman.

On one of the door-posts at this inn, was a tin plate, whereon was
inscribed in characters of gold, ‘Doctor Crocus;’ and on a sheet of
paper, pasted up by the side of this plate, was a written announcement
that Dr. Crocus would that evening deliver a lecture on Phrenology for
the benefit of the Belleville public; at a charge, for admission, of so
much a head.

Straying up-stairs, during the preparation of the chicken fixings, I
happened to pass the doctor’s chamber; and as the door stood wide open,
and the room was empty, I made bold to peep in.

It was a bare, unfurnished, comfortless room, with an unframed portrait
hanging up at the head of the bed; a likeness, I take it, of the Doctor,
for the forehead was fully displayed, and great stress was laid by the
artist upon its phrenological developments.  The bed itself was covered
with an old patch-work counterpane.  The room was destitute of carpet or
of curtain.  There was a damp fireplace without any stove, full of wood
ashes; a chair, and a very small table; and on the last-named piece of
furniture was displayed, in grand array, the doctor’s library, consisting
of some half-dozen greasy old books.

Now, it certainly looked about the last apartment on the whole earth out
of which any man would be likely to get anything to do him good.  But the
door, as I have said, stood coaxingly open, and plainly said in
conjunction with the chair, the portrait, the table, and the books, ‘Walk
in, gentlemen, walk in!  Don’t be ill, gentlemen, when you may be well in
no time.  Doctor Crocus is here, gentlemen, the celebrated Dr. Crocus!
Dr. Crocus has come all this way to cure you, gentlemen.  If you haven’t
heard of Dr. Crocus, it’s your fault, gentlemen, who live a little way
out of the world here: not Dr. Crocus’s.  Walk in, gentlemen, walk in!’

In the passage below, when I went down-stairs again, was Dr. Crocus
himself.  A crowd had flocked in from the Court House, and a voice from
among them called out to the landlord, ‘Colonel! introduce Doctor
Crocus.’

‘Mr. Dickens,’ says the colonel, ‘Doctor Crocus.’

Upon which Doctor Crocus, who is a tall, fine-looking Scotchman, but
rather fierce and warlike in appearance for a professor of the peaceful
art of healing, bursts out of the concourse with his right arm extended,
and his chest thrown out as far as it will possibly come, and says:

‘Your countryman, sir!’

Whereupon Doctor Crocus and I shake hands; and Doctor Crocus looks as if
I didn’t by any means realise his expectations, which, in a linen blouse,
and a great straw hat, with a green ribbon, and no gloves, and my face
and nose profusely ornamented with the stings of mosquitoes and the bites
of bugs, it is very likely I did not.

‘Long in these parts, sir?’ says I.

‘Three or four months, sir,’ says the Doctor.

‘Do you think of soon returning to the old country?’ says I.

Doctor Crocus makes no verbal answer, but gives me an imploring look,
which says so plainly ‘Will you ask me that again, a little louder, if
you please?’ that I repeat the question.

‘Think of soon returning to the old country, sir!’ repeats the Doctor.

‘To the old country, sir,’ I rejoin.

Doctor Crocus looks round upon the crowd to observe the effect he
produces, rubs his hands, and says, in a very loud voice:

‘Not yet awhile, sir, not yet.  You won’t catch me at that just yet, sir.
I am a little too fond of freedom for _that_, sir.  Ha, ha!  It’s not so
easy for a man to tear himself from a free country such as this is, sir.
Ha, ha!  No, no!  Ha, ha!  None of that till one’s obliged to do it, sir.
No, no!’

As Doctor Crocus says these latter words, he shakes his head, knowingly,
and laughs again.  Many of the bystanders shake their heads in concert
with the doctor, and laugh too, and look at each other as much as to say,
‘A pretty bright and first-rate sort of chap is Crocus!’ and unless I am
very much mistaken, a good many people went to the lecture that night,
who never thought about phrenology, or about Doctor Crocus either, in all
their lives before.

From Belleville, we went on, through the same desolate kind of waste, and
constantly attended, without the interval of a moment, by the same music;
until, at three o’clock in the afternoon, we halted once more at a
village called Lebanon to inflate the horses again, and give them some
corn besides: of which they stood much in need.  Pending this ceremony, I
walked into the village, where I met a full-sized dwelling-house coming
down-hill at a round trot, drawn by a score or more of oxen.

The public-house was so very clean and good a one, that the managers of
the jaunt resolved to return to it and put up there for the night, if
possible.  This course decided on, and the horses being well refreshed,
we again pushed forward, and came upon the Prairie at sunset.

It would be difficult to say why, or how—though it was possibly from
having heard and read so much about it—but the effect on me was
disappointment.  Looking towards the setting sun, there lay, stretched
out before my view, a vast expanse of level ground; unbroken, save by one
thin line of trees, which scarcely amounted to a scratch upon the great
blank; until it met the glowing sky, wherein it seemed to dip: mingling
with its rich colours, and mellowing in its distant blue.  There it lay,
a tranquil sea or lake without water, if such a simile be admissible,
with the day going down upon it: a few birds wheeling here and there: and
solitude and silence reigning paramount around.  But the grass was not
yet high; there were bare black patches on the ground; and the few wild
flowers that the eye could see, were poor and scanty.  Great as the
picture was, its very flatness and extent, which left nothing to the
imagination, tamed it down and cramped its interest.  I felt little of
that sense of freedom and exhilaration which a Scottish heath inspires,
or even our English downs awaken.  It was lonely and wild, but oppressive
in its barren monotony.  I felt that in traversing the Prairies, I could
never abandon myself to the scene, forgetful of all else; as I should do
instinctively, were the heather underneath my feet, or an iron-bound
coast beyond; but should often glance towards the distant and
frequently-receding line of the horizon, and wish it gained and passed.
It is not a scene to be forgotten, but it is scarcely one, I think (at
all events, as I saw it), to remember with much pleasure, or to covet the
looking-on again, in after-life.

We encamped near a solitary log-house, for the sake of its water, and
dined upon the plain.  The baskets contained roast fowls, buffalo’s
tongue (an exquisite dainty, by the way), ham, bread, cheese, and butter;
biscuits, champagne, sherry; lemons and sugar for punch; and abundance of
rough ice.  The meal was delicious, and the entertainers were the soul of
kindness and good humour.  I have often recalled that cheerful party to
my pleasant recollection since, and shall not easily forget, in
junketings nearer home with friends of older date, my boon companions on
the Prairie.

Returning to Lebanon that night, we lay at the little inn at which we had
halted in the afternoon.  In point of cleanliness and comfort it would
have suffered by no comparison with any English alehouse, of a homely
kind, in England.

Rising at five o’clock next morning, I took a walk about the village:
none of the houses were strolling about to-day, but it was early for them
yet, perhaps: and then amused myself by lounging in a kind of farm-yard
behind the tavern, of which the leading features were, a strange jumble
of rough sheds for stables; a rude colonnade, built as a cool place of
summer resort; a deep well; a great earthen mound for keeping vegetables
in, in winter time; and a pigeon-house, whose little apertures looked, as
they do in all pigeon-houses, very much too small for the admission of
the plump and swelling-breasted birds who were strutting about it, though
they tried to get in never so hard.  That interest exhausted, I took a
survey of the inn’s two parlours, which were decorated with coloured
prints of Washington, and President Madison, and of a white-faced young
lady (much speckled by the flies), who held up her gold neck-chain for
the admiration of the spectator, and informed all admiring comers that
she was ‘Just Seventeen:’ although I should have thought her older.  In
the best room were two oil portraits of the kit-cat size, representing
the landlord and his infant son; both looking as bold as lions, and
staring out of the canvas with an intensity that would have been cheap at
any price.  They were painted, I think, by the artist who had touched up
the Belleville doors with red and gold; for I seemed to recognise his
style immediately.

After breakfast, we started to return by a different way from that which
we had taken yesterday, and coming up at ten o’clock with an encampment
of German emigrants carrying their goods in carts, who had made a rousing
fire which they were just quitting, stopped there to refresh.  And very
pleasant the fire was; for, hot though it had been yesterday, it was
quite cold to-day, and the wind blew keenly.  Looming in the distance, as
we rode along, was another of the ancient Indian burial-places, called
The Monks’ Mound; in memory of a body of fanatics of the order of La
Trappe, who founded a desolate convent there, many years ago, when there
were no settlers within a thousand miles, and were all swept off by the
pernicious climate: in which lamentable fatality, few rational people
will suppose, perhaps, that society experienced any very severe
deprivation.

The track of to-day had the same features as the track of yesterday.
There was the swamp, the bush, and the perpetual chorus of frogs, the
rank unseemly growth, the unwholesome steaming earth.  Here and there,
and frequently too, we encountered a solitary broken-down waggon, full of
some new settler’s goods.  It was a pitiful sight to see one of these
vehicles deep in the mire; the axle-tree broken; the wheel lying idly by
its side; the man gone miles away, to look for assistance; the woman
seated among their wandering household gods with a baby at her breast, a
picture of forlorn, dejected patience; the team of oxen crouching down
mournfully in the mud, and breathing forth such clouds of vapour from
their mouths and nostrils, that all the damp mist and fog around seemed
to have come direct from them.

In due time we mustered once again before the merchant tailor’s, and
having done so, crossed over to the city in the ferry-boat: passing, on
the way, a spot called Bloody Island, the duelling-ground of St. Louis,
and so designated in honour of the last fatal combat fought there, which
was with pistols, breast to breast.  Both combatants fell dead upon the
ground; and possibly some rational people may think of them, as of the
gloomy madmen on the Monks’ Mound, that they were no great loss to the
community.



CHAPTER XIV
RETURN TO CINCINNATI.  A STAGE-COACH RIDE FROM THAT CITY TO COLUMBUS, AND
THENCE TO SANDUSKY.  SO, BY LAKE ERIE, TO THE FALLS OF NIAGARA


AS I had a desire to travel through the interior of the state of Ohio,
and to ‘strike the lakes,’ as the phrase is, at a small town called
Sandusky, to which that route would conduct us on our way to Niagara, we
had to return from St. Louis by the way we had come, and to retrace our
former track as far as Cincinnati.

The day on which we were to take leave of St. Louis being very fine; and
the steamboat, which was to have started I don’t know how early in the
morning, postponing, for the third or fourth time, her departure until
the afternoon; we rode forward to an old French village on the river,
called properly Carondelet, and nicknamed Vide Poche, and arranged that
the packet should call for us there.

The place consisted of a few poor cottages, and two or three
public-houses; the state of whose larders certainly seemed to justify the
second designation of the village, for there was nothing to eat in any of
them.  At length, however, by going back some half a mile or so, we found
a solitary house where ham and coffee were procurable; and there we
tarried to wait the advent of the boat, which would come in sight from
the green before the door, a long way off.

It was a neat, unpretending village tavern, and we took our repast in a
quaint little room with a bed in it, decorated with some old oil
paintings, which in their time had probably done duty in a Catholic
chapel or monastery.  The fare was very good, and served with great
cleanliness.  The house was kept by a characteristic old couple, with
whom we had a long talk, and who were perhaps a very good sample of that
kind of people in the West.

The landlord was a dry, tough, hard-faced old fellow (not so very old
either, for he was but just turned sixty, I should think), who had been
out with the militia in the last war with England, and had seen all kinds
of service,—except a battle; and he had been very near seeing that, he
added: very near.  He had all his life been restless and locomotive, with
an irresistible desire for change; and was still the son of his old self:
for if he had nothing to keep him at home, he said (slightly jerking his
hat and his thumb towards the window of the room in which the old lady
sat, as we stood talking in front of the house), he would clean up his
musket, and be off to Texas to-morrow morning.  He was one of the very
many descendants of Cain proper to this continent, who seem destined from
their birth to serve as pioneers in the great human army: who gladly go
on from year to year extending its outposts, and leaving home after home
behind them; and die at last, utterly regardless of their graves being
left thousands of miles behind, by the wandering generation who succeed.

His wife was a domesticated, kind-hearted old soul, who had come with
him, ‘from the queen city of the world,’ which, it seemed, was
Philadelphia; but had no love for this Western country, and indeed had
little reason to bear it any; having seen her children, one by one, die
here of fever, in the full prime and beauty of their youth.  Her heart
was sore, she said, to think of them; and to talk on this theme, even to
strangers, in that blighted place, so far from her old home, eased it
somewhat, and became a melancholy pleasure.

The boat appearing towards evening, we bade adieu to the poor old lady
and her vagrant spouse, and making for the nearest landing-place, were
soon on board The Messenger again, in our old cabin, and steaming down
the Mississippi.

If the coming up this river, slowly making head against the stream, be an
irksome journey, the shooting down it with the turbid current is almost
worse; for then the boat, proceeding at the rate of twelve or fifteen
miles an hour, has to force its passage through a labyrinth of floating
logs, which, in the dark, it is often impossible to see beforehand or
avoid.  All that night, the bell was never silent for five minutes at a
time; and after every ring the vessel reeled again, sometimes beneath a
single blow, sometimes beneath a dozen dealt in quick succession, the
lightest of which seemed more than enough to beat in her frail keel, as
though it had been pie-crust.  Looking down upon the filthy river after
dark, it seemed to be alive with monsters, as these black masses rolled
upon the surface, or came starting up again, head first, when the boat,
in ploughing her way among a shoal of such obstructions, drove a few
among them for the moment under water.  Sometimes the engine stopped
during a long interval, and then before her and behind, and gathering
close about her on all sides, were so many of these ill-favoured
obstacles that she was fairly hemmed in; the centre of a floating island;
and was constrained to pause until they parted, somewhere, as dark clouds
will do before the wind, and opened by degrees a channel out.

In good time next morning, however, we came again in sight of the
detestable morass called Cairo; and stopping there to take in wood, lay
alongside a barge, whose starting timbers scarcely held together.  It was
moored to the bank, and on its side was painted ‘Coffee House;’ that
being, I suppose, the floating paradise to which the people fly for
shelter when they lose their houses for a month or two beneath the
hideous waters of the Mississippi.  But looking southward from this
point, we had the satisfaction of seeing that intolerable river dragging
its slimy length and ugly freight abruptly off towards New Orleans; and
passing a yellow line which stretched across the current, were again upon
the clear Ohio, never, I trust, to see the Mississippi more, saving in
troubled dreams and nightmares.  Leaving it for the company of its
sparkling neighbour, was like the transition from pain to ease, or the
awakening from a horrible vision to cheerful realities.

We arrived at Louisville on the fourth night, and gladly availed
ourselves of its excellent hotel.  Next day we went on in the Ben
Franklin, a beautiful mail steamboat, and reached Cincinnati shortly
after midnight.  Being by this time nearly tired of sleeping upon
shelves, we had remained awake to go ashore straightway; and groping a
passage across the dark decks of other boats, and among labyrinths of
engine-machinery and leaking casks of molasses, we reached the streets,
knocked up the porter at the hotel where we had stayed before, and were,
to our great joy, safely housed soon afterwards.

We rested but one day at Cincinnati, and then resumed our journey to
Sandusky.  As it comprised two varieties of stage-coach travelling,
which, with those I have already glanced at, comprehend the main
characteristics of this mode of transit in America, I will take the
reader as our fellow-passenger, and pledge myself to perform the distance
with all possible despatch.

Our place of destination in the first instance is Columbus.  It is
distant about a hundred and twenty miles from Cincinnati, but there is a
macadamised road (rare blessing!) the whole way, and the rate of
travelling upon it is six miles an hour.

We start at eight o’clock in the morning, in a great mail-coach, whose
huge cheeks are so very ruddy and plethoric, that it appears to be
troubled with a tendency of blood to the head.  Dropsical it certainly
is, for it will hold a dozen passengers inside.  But, wonderful to add,
it is very clean and bright, being nearly new; and rattles through the
streets of Cincinnati gaily.

Our way lies through a beautiful country, richly cultivated, and
luxuriant in its promise of an abundant harvest.  Sometimes we pass a
field where the strong bristling stalks of Indian corn look like a crop
of walking-sticks, and sometimes an enclosure where the green wheat is
springing up among a labyrinth of stumps; the primitive worm-fence is
universal, and an ugly thing it is; but the farms are neatly kept, and,
save for these differences, one might be travelling just now in Kent.

We often stop to water at a roadside inn, which is always dull and
silent.  The coachman dismounts and fills his bucket, and holds it to the
horses’ heads.  There is scarcely ever any one to help him; there are
seldom any loungers standing round; and never any stable-company with
jokes to crack.  Sometimes, when we have changed our team, there is a
difficulty in starting again, arising out of the prevalent mode of
breaking a young horse: which is to catch him, harness him against his
will, and put him in a stage-coach without further notice: but we get on
somehow or other, after a great many kicks and a violent struggle; and
jog on as before again.

Occasionally, when we stop to change, some two or three half-drunken
loafers will come loitering out with their hands in their pockets, or
will be seen kicking their heels in rocking-chairs, or lounging on the
window-sill, or sitting on a rail within the colonnade: they have not
often anything to say though, either to us or to each other, but sit
there idly staring at the coach and horses.  The landlord of the inn is
usually among them, and seems, of all the party, to be the least
connected with the business of the house.  Indeed he is with reference to
the tavern, what the driver is in relation to the coach and passengers:
whatever happens in his sphere of action, he is quite indifferent, and
perfectly easy in his mind.

The frequent change of coachmen works no change or variety in the
coachman’s character.  He is always dirty, sullen, and taciturn.  If he
be capable of smartness of any kind, moral or physical, he has a faculty
of concealing it which is truly marvellous.  He never speaks to you as
you sit beside him on the box, and if you speak to him, he answers (if at
all) in monosyllables.  He points out nothing on the road, and seldom
looks at anything: being, to all appearance, thoroughly weary of it and
of existence generally.  As to doing the honours of his coach, his
business, as I have said, is with the horses.  The coach follows because
it is attached to them and goes on wheels: not because you are in it.
Sometimes, towards the end of a long stage, he suddenly breaks out into a
discordant fragment of an election song, but his face never sings along
with him: it is only his voice, and not often that.

He always chews and always spits, and never encumbers himself with a
pocket-handkerchief.  The consequences to the box passenger, especially
when the wind blows towards him, are not agreeable.

Whenever the coach stops, and you can hear the voices of the inside
passengers; or whenever any bystander addresses them, or any one among
them; or they address each other; you will hear one phrase repeated over
and over and over again to the most extraordinary extent.  It is an
ordinary and unpromising phrase enough, being neither more nor less than
‘Yes, sir;’ but it is adapted to every variety of circumstance, and fills
up every pause in the conversation.  Thus:—

The time is one o’clock at noon.  The scene, a place where we are to stay
and dine, on this journey.  The coach drives up to the door of an inn.
The day is warm, and there are several idlers lingering about the tavern,
and waiting for the public dinner.  Among them, is a stout gentleman in a
brown hat, swinging himself to and fro in a rocking-chair on the
pavement.

As the coach stops, a gentleman in a straw hat looks out of the window:

STRAW HAT.  (To the stout gentleman in the rocking-chair.)  I reckon
that’s Judge Jefferson, an’t it?

BROWN HAT.  (Still swinging; speaking very slowly; and without any
emotion whatever.)  Yes, sir.

STRAW HAT.  Warm weather, Judge.

BROWN HAT.  Yes, sir.

STRAW HAT.  There was a snap of cold, last week.

BROWN HAT.  Yes, sir.

STRAW HAT.  Yes, sir.

A pause.  They look at each other, very seriously.

STRAW HAT.  I calculate you’ll have got through that case of the
corporation, Judge, by this time, now?

BROWN HAT.  Yes, sir.

STRAW HAT.  How did the verdict go, sir?

BROWN HAT.  For the defendant, sir.

STRAW HAT.  (Interrogatively.)  Yes, sir?

BROWN HAT. (Affirmatively.)  Yes, sir.

BOTH.  (Musingly, as each gazes down the street.)  Yes, sir.

Another pause.  They look at each other again, still more seriously than
before.

BROWN HAT.  This coach is rather behind its time to-day, I guess.

STRAW HAT.  (Doubtingly.)  Yes, sir.

BROWN HAT.  (Looking at his watch.)  Yes, sir; nigh upon two hours.

STRAW HAT.  (Raising his eyebrows in very great surprise.)  Yes, sir!

BROWN HAT.  (Decisively, as he puts up his watch.)  Yes, sir.

ALL THE OTHER INSIDE PASSENGERS.  (Among themselves.)  Yes, sir.

COACHMAN.  (In a very surly tone.)  No it an’t.

STRAW HAT.  (To the coachman.)  Well, I don’t know, sir.  We were a
pretty tall time coming that last fifteen mile.  That’s a fact.

The coachman making no reply, and plainly declining to enter into any
controversy on a subject so far removed from his sympathies and feelings,
another passenger says, ‘Yes, sir;’ and the gentleman in the straw hat in
acknowledgment of his courtesy, says ‘Yes, sir,’ to him, in return.  The
straw hat then inquires of the brown hat, whether that coach in which he
(the straw hat) then sits, is not a new one?  To which the brown hat
again makes answer, ‘Yes, sir.’

STRAW HAT.  I thought so.  Pretty loud smell of varnish, sir?

BROWN HAT.  Yes, sir.

ALL THE OTHER INSIDE PASSENGERS.  Yes, sir.

BROWN HAT.  (To the company in general.)  Yes, sir.

The conversational powers of the company having been by this time pretty
heavily taxed, the straw hat opens the door and gets out; and all the
rest alight also.  We dine soon afterwards with the boarders in the
house, and have nothing to drink but tea and coffee.  As they are both
very bad and the water is worse, I ask for brandy; but it is a Temperance
Hotel, and spirits are not to be had for love or money.  This
preposterous forcing of unpleasant drinks down the reluctant throats of
travellers is not at all uncommon in America, but I never discovered that
the scruples of such wincing landlords induced them to preserve any
unusually nice balance between the quality of their fare, and their scale
of charges: on the contrary, I rather suspected them of diminishing the
one and exalting the other, by way of recompense for the loss of their
profit on the sale of spirituous liquors.  After all, perhaps, the
plainest course for persons of such tender consciences, would be, a total
abstinence from tavern-keeping.

Dinner over, we get into another vehicle which is ready at the door (for
the coach has been changed in the interval), and resume our journey;
which continues through the same kind of country until evening, when we
come to the town where we are to stop for tea and supper; and having
delivered the mail bags at the Post-office, ride through the usual wide
street, lined with the usual stores and houses (the drapers always having
hung up at their door, by way of sign, a piece of bright red cloth), to
the hotel where this meal is prepared.  There being many boarders here,
we sit down, a large party, and a very melancholy one as usual.  But
there is a buxom hostess at the head of the table, and opposite, a simple
Welsh schoolmaster with his wife and child; who came here, on a
speculation of greater promise than performance, to teach the classics:
and they are sufficient subjects of interest until the meal is over, and
another coach is ready.  In it we go on once more, lighted by a bright
moon, until midnight; when we stop to change the coach again, and remain
for half an hour or so in a miserable room, with a blurred lithograph of
Washington over the smoky fire-place, and a mighty jug of cold water on
the table: to which refreshment the moody passengers do so apply
themselves that they would seem to be, one and all, keen patients of Dr.
Sangrado.  Among them is a very little boy, who chews tobacco like a very
big one; and a droning gentleman, who talks arithmetically and
statistically on all subjects, from poetry downwards; and who always
speaks in the same key, with exactly the same emphasis, and with very
grave deliberation.  He came outside just now, and told me how that the
uncle of a certain young lady who had been spirited away and married by a
certain captain, lived in these parts; and how this uncle was so valiant
and ferocious that he shouldn’t wonder if he were to follow the said
captain to England, ‘and shoot him down in the street wherever he found
him;’ in the feasibility of which strong measure I, being for the moment
rather prone to contradiction, from feeling half asleep and very tired,
declined to acquiesce: assuring him that if the uncle did resort to it,
or gratified any other little whim of the like nature, he would find
himself one morning prematurely throttled at the Old Bailey: and that he
would do well to make his will before he went, as he would certainly want
it before he had been in Britain very long.

On we go, all night, and by-and-by the day begins to break, and presently
the first cheerful rays of the warm sun come slanting on us brightly.  It
sheds its light upon a miserable waste of sodden grass, and dull trees,
and squalid huts, whose aspect is forlorn and grievous in the last
degree.  A very desert in the wood, whose growth of green is dank and
noxious like that upon the top of standing water: where poisonous fungus
grows in the rare footprint on the oozy ground, and sprouts like witches’
coral, from the crevices in the cabin wall and floor; it is a hideous
thing to lie upon the very threshold of a city.  But it was purchased
years ago, and as the owner cannot be discovered, the State has been
unable to reclaim it.  So there it remains, in the midst of cultivation
and improvement, like ground accursed, and made obscene and rank by some
great crime.

We reached Columbus shortly before seven o’clock, and stayed there, to
refresh, that day and night: having excellent apartments in a very large
unfinished hotel called the Neill House, which were richly fitted with
the polished wood of the black walnut, and opened on a handsome portico
and stone verandah, like rooms in some Italian mansion.  The town is
clean and pretty, and of course is ‘going to be’ much larger.  It is the
seat of the State legislature of Ohio, and lays claim, in consequence, to
some consideration and importance.

There being no stage-coach next day, upon the road we wished to take, I
hired ‘an extra,’ at a reasonable charge to carry us to Tiffin; a small
town from whence there is a railroad to Sandusky.  This extra was an
ordinary four-horse stage-coach, such as I have described, changing
horses and drivers, as the stage-coach would, but was exclusively our own
for the journey.  To ensure our having horses at the proper stations, and
being incommoded by no strangers, the proprietors sent an agent on the
box, who was to accompany us the whole way through; and thus attended,
and bearing with us, besides, a hamper full of savoury cold meats, and
fruit, and wine, we started off again in high spirits, at half-past six
o’clock next morning, very much delighted to be by ourselves, and
disposed to enjoy even the roughest journey.

It was well for us, that we were in this humour, for the road we went
over that day, was certainly enough to have shaken tempers that were not
resolutely at Set Fair, down to some inches below Stormy.  At one time we
were all flung together in a heap at the bottom of the coach, and at
another we were crushing our heads against the roof.  Now, one side was
down deep in the mire, and we were holding on to the other.  Now, the
coach was lying on the tails of the two wheelers; and now it was rearing
up in the air, in a frantic state, with all four horses standing on the
top of an insurmountable eminence, looking coolly back at it, as though
they would say ‘Unharness us.  It can’t be done.’  The drivers on these
roads, who certainly get over the ground in a manner which is quite
miraculous, so twist and turn the team about in forcing a passage,
corkscrew fashion, through the bogs and swamps, that it was quite a
common circumstance on looking out of the window, to see the coachman
with the ends of a pair of reins in his hands, apparently driving
nothing, or playing at horses, and the leaders staring at one
unexpectedly from the back of the coach, as if they had some idea of
getting up behind.  A great portion of the way was over what is called a
corduroy road, which is made by throwing trunks of trees into a marsh,
and leaving them to settle there.  The very slightest of the jolts with
which the ponderous carriage fell from log to log, was enough, it seemed,
to have dislocated all the bones in the human body.  It would be
impossible to experience a similar set of sensations, in any other
circumstances, unless perhaps in attempting to go up to the top of St.
Paul’s in an omnibus.  Never, never once, that day, was the coach in any
position, attitude, or kind of motion to which we are accustomed in
coaches.  Never did it make the smallest approach to one’s experience of
the proceedings of any sort of vehicle that goes on wheels.

Still, it was a fine day, and the temperature was delicious, and though
we had left Summer behind us in the west, and were fast leaving Spring,
we were moving towards Niagara and home.  We alighted in a pleasant wood
towards the middle of the day, dined on a fallen tree, and leaving our
best fragments with a cottager, and our worst with the pigs (who swarm in
this part of the country like grains of sand on the sea-shore, to the
great comfort of our commissariat in Canada), we went forward again,
gaily.

As night came on, the track grew narrower and narrower, until at last it
so lost itself among the trees, that the driver seemed to find his way by
instinct.  We had the comfort of knowing, at least, that there was no
danger of his falling asleep, for every now and then a wheel would strike
against an unseen stump with such a jerk, that he was fain to hold on
pretty tight and pretty quick, to keep himself upon the box.  Nor was
there any reason to dread the least danger from furious driving, inasmuch
as over that broken ground the horses had enough to do to walk; as to
shying, there was no room for that; and a herd of wild elephants could
not have run away in such a wood, with such a coach at their heels.  So
we stumbled along, quite satisfied.

These stumps of trees are a curious feature in American travelling.  The
varying illusions they present to the unaccustomed eye as it grows dark,
are quite astonishing in their number and reality.  Now, there is a
Grecian urn erected in the centre of a lonely field; now there is a woman
weeping at a tomb; now a very commonplace old gentleman in a white
waistcoat, with a thumb thrust into each arm-hole of his coat; now a
student poring on a book; now a crouching negro; now, a horse, a dog, a
cannon, an armed man; a hunch-back throwing off his cloak and stepping
forth into the light.  They were often as entertaining to me as so many
glasses in a magic lantern, and never took their shapes at my bidding,
but seemed to force themselves upon me, whether I would or no; and
strange to say, I sometimes recognised in them counterparts of figures
once familiar to me in pictures attached to childish books, forgotten
long ago.

It soon became too dark, however, even for this amusement, and the trees
were so close together that their dry branches rattled against the coach
on either side, and obliged us all to keep our heads within.  It
lightened too, for three whole hours; each flash being very bright, and
blue, and long; and as the vivid streaks came darting in among the
crowded branches, and the thunder rolled gloomily above the tree tops,
one could scarcely help thinking that there were better neighbourhoods at
such a time than thick woods afforded.

At length, between ten and eleven o’clock at night, a few feeble lights
appeared in the distance, and Upper Sandusky, an Indian village, where we
were to stay till morning, lay before us.

They were gone to bed at the log Inn, which was the only house of
entertainment in the place, but soon answered to our knocking, and got
some tea for us in a sort of kitchen or common room, tapestried with old
newspapers, pasted against the wall.  The bed-chamber to which my wife
and I were shown, was a large, low, ghostly room; with a quantity of
withered branches on the hearth, and two doors without any fastening,
opposite to each other, both opening on the black night and wild country,
and so contrived, that one of them always blew the other open: a novelty
in domestic architecture, which I do not remember to have seen before,
and which I was somewhat disconcerted to have forced on my attention
after getting into bed, as I had a considerable sum in gold for our
travelling expenses, in my dressing-case.  Some of the luggage, however,
piled against the panels, soon settled this difficulty, and my sleep
would not have been very much affected that night, I believe, though it
had failed to do so.

My Boston friend climbed up to bed, somewhere in the roof, where another
guest was already snoring hugely.  But being bitten beyond his power of
endurance, he turned out again, and fled for shelter to the coach, which
was airing itself in front of the house.  This was not a very politic
step, as it turned out; for the pigs scenting him, and looking upon the
coach as a kind of pie with some manner of meat inside, grunted round it
so hideously, that he was afraid to come out again, and lay there
shivering, till morning.  Nor was it possible to warm him, when he did
come out, by means of a glass of brandy: for in Indian villages, the
legislature, with a very good and wise intention, forbids the sale of
spirits by tavern keepers.  The precaution, however, is quite
inefficacious, for the Indians never fail to procure liquor of a worse
kind, at a dearer price, from travelling pedlars.

It is a settlement of the Wyandot Indians who inhabit this place.  Among
the company at breakfast was a mild old gentleman, who had been for many
years employed by the United States Government in conducting negotiations
with the Indians, and who had just concluded a treaty with these people
by which they bound themselves, in consideration of a certain annual sum,
to remove next year to some land provided for them, west of the
Mississippi, and a little way beyond St. Louis.  He gave me a moving
account of their strong attachment to the familiar scenes of their
infancy, and in particular to the burial-places of their kindred; and of
their great reluctance to leave them.  He had witnessed many such
removals, and always with pain, though he knew that they departed for
their own good.  The question whether this tribe should go or stay, had
been discussed among them a day or two before, in a hut erected for the
purpose, the logs of which still lay upon the ground before the inn.
When the speaking was done, the ayes and noes were ranged on opposite
sides, and every male adult voted in his turn.  The moment the result was
known, the minority (a large one) cheerfully yielded to the rest, and
withdrew all kind of opposition.

We met some of these poor Indians afterwards, riding on shaggy ponies.
They were so like the meaner sort of gipsies, that if I could have seen
any of them in England, I should have concluded, as a matter of course,
that they belonged to that wandering and restless people.

Leaving this town directly after breakfast, we pushed forward again, over
a rather worse road than yesterday, if possible, and arrived about noon
at Tiffin, where we parted with the extra.  At two o’clock we took the
railroad; the travelling on which was very slow, its construction being
indifferent, and the ground wet and marshy; and arrived at Sandusky in
time to dine that evening.  We put up at a comfortable little hotel on
the brink of Lake Erie, lay there that night, and had no choice but to
wait there next day, until a steamboat bound for Buffalo appeared.  The
town, which was sluggish and uninteresting enough, was something like the
back of an English watering-place, out of the season.

Our host, who was very attentive and anxious to make us comfortable, was
a handsome middle-aged man, who had come to this town from New England,
in which part of the country he was ‘raised.’  When I say that he
constantly walked in and out of the room with his hat on; and stopped to
converse in the same free-and-easy state; and lay down on our sofa, and
pulled his newspaper out of his pocket, and read it at his ease; I merely
mention these traits as characteristic of the country: not at all as
being matter of complaint, or as having been disagreeable to me.  I
should undoubtedly be offended by such proceedings at home, because there
they are not the custom, and where they are not, they would be
impertinencies; but in America, the only desire of a good-natured fellow
of this kind, is to treat his guests hospitably and well; and I had no
more right, and I can truly say no more disposition, to measure his
conduct by our English rule and standard, than I had to quarrel with him
for not being of the exact stature which would qualify him for admission
into the Queen’s grenadier guards.  As little inclination had I to find
fault with a funny old lady who was an upper domestic in this
establishment, and who, when she came to wait upon us at any meal, sat
herself down comfortably in the most convenient chair, and producing a
large pin to pick her teeth with, remained performing that ceremony, and
steadfastly regarding us meanwhile with much gravity and composure (now
and then pressing us to eat a little more), until it was time to clear
away.  It was enough for us, that whatever we wished done was done with
great civility and readiness, and a desire to oblige, not only here, but
everywhere else; and that all our wants were, in general, zealously
anticipated.

We were taking an early dinner at this house, on the day after our
arrival, which was Sunday, when a steamboat came in sight, and presently
touched at the wharf.  As she proved to be on her way to Buffalo, we
hurried on board with all speed, and soon left Sandusky far behind us.

She was a large vessel of five hundred tons, and handsomely fitted up,
though with high-pressure engines; which always conveyed that kind of
feeling to me, which I should be likely to experience, I think, if I had
lodgings on the first-floor of a powder-mill.  She was laden with flour,
some casks of which commodity were stored upon the deck.  The captain
coming up to have a little conversation, and to introduce a friend,
seated himself astride of one of these barrels, like a Bacchus of private
life; and pulling a great clasp-knife out of his pocket, began to
‘whittle’ it as he talked, by paring thin slices off the edges.  And he
whittled with such industry and hearty good will, that but for his being
called away very soon, it must have disappeared bodily, and left nothing
in its place but grist and shavings.

After calling at one or two flat places, with low dams stretching out
into the lake, whereon were stumpy lighthouses, like windmills without
sails, the whole looking like a Dutch vignette, we came at midnight to
Cleveland, where we lay all night, and until nine o’clock next morning.

I entertained quite a curiosity in reference to this place, from having
seen at Sandusky a specimen of its literature in the shape of a
newspaper, which was very strong indeed upon the subject of Lord
Ashburton’s recent arrival at Washington, to adjust the points in dispute
between the United States Government and Great Britain: informing its
readers that as America had ‘whipped’ England in her infancy, and whipped
her again in her youth, so it was clearly necessary that she must whip
her once again in her maturity; and pledging its credit to all True
Americans, that if Mr. Webster did his duty in the approaching
negotiations, and sent the English Lord home again in double quick time,
they should, within two years, sing ‘Yankee Doodle in Hyde Park, and Hail
Columbia in the scarlet courts of Westminster!’  I found it a pretty
town, and had the satisfaction of beholding the outside of the office of
the journal from which I have just quoted.  I did not enjoy the delight
of seeing the wit who indited the paragraph in question, but I have no
doubt he is a prodigious man in his way, and held in high repute by a
select circle.

There was a gentleman on board, to whom, as I unintentionally learned
through the thin partition which divided our state-room from the cabin in
which he and his wife conversed together, I was unwittingly the occasion
of very great uneasiness.  I don’t know why or wherefore, but I appeared
to run in his mind perpetually, and to dissatisfy him very much.  First
of all I heard him say: and the most ludicrous part of the business was,
that he said it in my very ear, and could not have communicated more
directly with me, if he had leaned upon my shoulder, and whispered me:
‘Boz is on board still, my dear.’  After a considerable pause, he added,
complainingly, ‘Boz keeps himself very close;’ which was true enough, for
I was not very well, and was lying down, with a book.  I thought he had
done with me after this, but I was deceived; for a long interval having
elapsed, during which I imagine him to have been turning restlessly from
side to side, and trying to go to sleep; he broke out again, with ‘I
suppose _that_ Boz will be writing a book by-and-by, and putting all our
names in it!’ at which imaginary consequence of being on board a boat
with Boz, he groaned, and became silent.

We called at the town of Erie, at eight o’clock that night, and lay there
an hour.  Between five and six next morning, we arrived at Buffalo, where
we breakfasted; and being too near the Great Falls to wait patiently
anywhere else, we set off by the train, the same morning at nine o’clock,
to Niagara.

It was a miserable day; chilly and raw; a damp mist falling; and the
trees in that northern region quite bare and wintry.  Whenever the train
halted, I listened for the roar; and was constantly straining my eyes in
the direction where I knew the Falls must be, from seeing the river
rolling on towards them; every moment expecting to behold the spray.
Within a few minutes of our stopping, not before, I saw two great white
clouds rising up slowly and majestically from the depths of the earth.
That was all.  At length we alighted: and then for the first time, I
heard the mighty rush of water, and felt the ground tremble underneath my
feet.

The bank is very steep, and was slippery with rain, and half-melted ice.
I hardly know how I got down, but I was soon at the bottom, and climbing,
with two English officers who were crossing and had joined me, over some
broken rocks, deafened by the noise, half-blinded by the spray, and wet
to the skin.  We were at the foot of the American Fall.  I could see an
immense torrent of water tearing headlong down from some great height,
but had no idea of shape, or situation, or anything but vague immensity.

When we were seated in the little ferry-boat, and were crossing the
swollen river immediately before both cataracts, I began to feel what it
was: but I was in a manner stunned, and unable to comprehend the vastness
of the scene.  It was not until I came on Table Rock, and looked—Great
Heaven, on what a fall of bright-green water!—that it came upon me in its
full might and majesty.

Then, when I felt how near to my Creator I was standing, the first
effect, and the enduring one—instant and lasting—of the tremendous
spectacle, was Peace.  Peace of Mind, tranquillity, calm recollections of
the Dead, great thoughts of Eternal Rest and Happiness: nothing of gloom
or terror.  Niagara was at once stamped upon my heart, an Image of
Beauty; to remain there, changeless and indelible, until its pulses cease
to beat, for ever.

Oh, how the strife and trouble of daily life receded from my view, and
lessened in the distance, during the ten memorable days we passed on that
Enchanted Ground!  What voices spoke from out the thundering water; what
faces, faded from the earth, looked out upon me from its gleaming depths;
what Heavenly promise glistened in those angels’ tears, the drops of many
hues, that showered around, and twined themselves about the gorgeous
arches which the changing rainbows made!

I never stirred in all that time from the Canadian side, whither I had
gone at first.  I never crossed the river again; for I knew there were
people on the other shore, and in such a place it is natural to shun
strange company.  To wander to and fro all day, and see the cataracts
from all points of view; to stand upon the edge of the great Horse-Shoe
Fall, marking the hurried water gathering strength as it approached the
verge, yet seeming, too, to pause before it shot into the gulf below; to
gaze from the river’s level up at the torrent as it came streaming down;
to climb the neighbouring heights and watch it through the trees, and see
the wreathing water in the rapids hurrying on to take its fearful plunge;
to linger in the shadow of the solemn rocks three miles below; watching
the river as, stirred by no visible cause, it heaved and eddied and awoke
the echoes, being troubled yet, far down beneath the surface, by its
giant leap; to have Niagara before me, lighted by the sun and by the
moon, red in the day’s decline, and grey as evening slowly fell upon it;
to look upon it every day, and wake up in the night and hear its
ceaseless voice: this was enough.

I think in every quiet season now, still do those waters roll and leap,
and roar and tumble, all day long; still are the rainbows spanning them,
a hundred feet below.  Still, when the sun is on them, do they shine and
glow like molten gold.  Still, when the day is gloomy, do they fall like
snow, or seem to crumble away like the front of a great chalk cliff, or
roll down the rock like dense white smoke.  But always does the mighty
stream appear to die as it comes down, and always from its unfathomable
grave arises that tremendous ghost of spray and mist which is never laid:
which has haunted this place with the same dread solemnity since Darkness
brooded on the deep, and that first flood before the Deluge—Light—came
rushing on Creation at the word of God.



CHAPTER XV
IN CANADA; TORONTO; KINGSTON; MONTREAL; QUEBEC; ST.  JOHN’S.  IN THE
UNITED STATES AGAIN; LEBANON; THE SHAKER VILLAGE; WEST POINT


I WISH to abstain from instituting any comparison, or drawing any
parallel whatever, between the social features of the United States and
those of the British Possessions in Canada.  For this reason, I shall
confine myself to a very brief account of our journeyings in the latter
territory.

But before I leave Niagara, I must advert to one disgusting circumstance
which can hardly have escaped the observation of any decent traveller who
has visited the Falls.

On Table Rock, there is a cottage belonging to a Guide, where little
relics of the place are sold, and where visitors register their names in
a book kept for the purpose.  On the wall of the room in which a great
many of these volumes are preserved, the following request is posted:
‘Visitors will please not copy nor extract the remarks and poetical
effusions from the registers and albums kept here.’

But for this intimation, I should have let them lie upon the tables on
which they were strewn with careful negligence, like books in a
drawing-room: being quite satisfied with the stupendous silliness of
certain stanzas with an anti-climax at the end of each, which were framed
and hung up on the wall.  Curious, however, after reading this
announcement, to see what kind of morsels were so carefully preserved, I
turned a few leaves, and found them scrawled all over with the vilest and
the filthiest ribaldry that ever human hogs delighted in.

It is humiliating enough to know that there are among men brutes so
obscene and worthless, that they can delight in laying their miserable
profanations upon the very steps of Nature’s greatest altar.  But that
these should be hoarded up for the delight of their fellow-swine, and
kept in a public place where any eyes may see them, is a disgrace to the
English language in which they are written (though I hope few of these
entries have been made by Englishmen), and a reproach to the English
side, on which they are preserved.

The quarters of our soldiers at Niagara, are finely and airily situated.
Some of them are large detached houses on the plain above the Falls,
which were originally designed for hotels; and in the evening time, when
the women and children were leaning over the balconies watching the men
as they played at ball and other games upon the grass before the door,
they often presented a little picture of cheerfulness and animation which
made it quite a pleasure to pass that way.

At any garrisoned point where the line of demarcation between one country
and another is so very narrow as at Niagara, desertion from the ranks can
scarcely fail to be of frequent occurrence: and it may be reasonably
supposed that when the soldiers entertain the wildest and maddest hopes
of the fortune and independence that await them on the other side, the
impulse to play traitor, which such a place suggests to dishonest minds,
is not weakened.  But it very rarely happens that the men who do desert,
are happy or contented afterwards; and many instances have been known in
which they have confessed their grievous disappointment, and their
earnest desire to return to their old service if they could but be
assured of pardon, or lenient treatment.  Many of their comrades,
notwithstanding, do the like, from time to time; and instances of loss of
life in the effort to cross the river with this object, are far from
being uncommon.  Several men were drowned in the attempt to swim across,
not long ago; and one, who had the madness to trust himself upon a table
as a raft, was swept down to the whirlpool, where his mangled body eddied
round and round some days.

I am inclined to think that the noise of the Falls is very much
exaggerated; and this will appear the more probable when the depth of the
great basin in which the water is received, is taken into account.  At no
time during our stay there, was the wind at all high or boisterous, but
we never heard them, three miles off, even at the very quiet time of
sunset, though we often tried.

Queenston, at which place the steamboats start for Toronto (or I should
rather say at which place they call, for their wharf is at Lewiston, on
the opposite shore), is situated in a delicious valley, through which the
Niagara river, in colour a very deep green, pursues its course.  It is
approached by a road that takes its winding way among the heights by
which the town is sheltered; and seen from this point is extremely
beautiful and picturesque.  On the most conspicuous of these heights
stood a monument erected by the Provincial Legislature in memory of
General Brock, who was slain in a battle with the American forces, after
having won the victory.  Some vagabond, supposed to be a fellow of the
name of Lett, who is now, or who lately was, in prison as a felon, blew
up this monument two years ago, and it is now a melancholy ruin, with a
long fragment of iron railing hanging dejectedly from its top, and waving
to and fro like a wild ivy branch or broken vine stem.  It is of much
higher importance than it may seem, that this statue should be repaired
at the public cost, as it ought to have been long ago.  Firstly, because
it is beneath the dignity of England to allow a memorial raised in honour
of one of her defenders, to remain in this condition, on the very spot
where he died.  Secondly, because the sight of it in its present state,
and the recollection of the unpunished outrage which brought it to this
pass, is not very likely to soothe down border feelings among English
subjects here, or compose their border quarrels and dislikes.

I was standing on the wharf at this place, watching the passengers
embarking in a steamboat which preceded that whose coming we awaited, and
participating in the anxiety with which a sergeant’s wife was collecting
her few goods together—keeping one distracted eye hard upon the porters,
who were hurrying them on board, and the other on a hoopless washing-tub
for which, as being the most utterly worthless of all her movables, she
seemed to entertain particular affection—when three or four soldiers with
a recruit came up and went on board.

The recruit was a likely young fellow enough, strongly built and well
made, but by no means sober: indeed he had all the air of a man who had
been more or less drunk for some days.  He carried a small bundle over
his shoulder, slung at the end of a walking-stick, and had a short pipe
in his mouth.  He was as dusty and dirty as recruits usually are, and his
shoes betokened that he had travelled on foot some distance, but he was
in a very jocose state, and shook hands with this soldier, and clapped
that one on the back, and talked and laughed continually, like a roaring
idle dog as he was.

The soldiers rather laughed at this blade than with him: seeming to say,
as they stood straightening their canes in their hands, and looking
coolly at him over their glazed stocks, ‘Go on, my boy, while you may!
you’ll know better by-and-by:’ when suddenly the novice, who had been
backing towards the gangway in his noisy merriment, fell overboard before
their eyes, and splashed heavily down into the river between the vessel
and the dock.

I never saw such a good thing as the change that came over these soldiers
in an instant.  Almost before the man was down, their professional
manner, their stiffness and constraint, were gone, and they were filled
with the most violent energy.  In less time than is required to tell it,
they had him out again, feet first, with the tails of his coat flapping
over his eyes, everything about him hanging the wrong way, and the water
streaming off at every thread in his threadbare dress.  But the moment
they set him upright and found that he was none the worse, they were
soldiers again, looking over their glazed stocks more composedly than
ever.

The half-sobered recruit glanced round for a moment, as if his first
impulse were to express some gratitude for his preservation, but seeing
them with this air of total unconcern, and having his wet pipe presented
to him with an oath by the soldier who had been by far the most anxious
of the party, he stuck it in his mouth, thrust his hands into his moist
pockets, and without even shaking the water off his clothes, walked on
board whistling; not to say as if nothing had happened, but as if he had
meant to do it, and it had been a perfect success.

Our steamboat came up directly this had left the wharf, and soon bore us
to the mouth of the Niagara; where the stars and stripes of America
flutter on one side and the Union Jack of England on the other: and so
narrow is the space between them that the sentinels in either fort can
often hear the watchword of the other country given.  Thence we emerged
on Lake Ontario, an inland sea; and by half-past six o’clock were at
Toronto.

The country round this town being very flat, is bare of scenic interest;
but the town itself is full of life and motion, bustle, business, and
improvement.  The streets are well paved, and lighted with gas; the
houses are large and good; the shops excellent.  Many of them have a
display of goods in their windows, such as may be seen in thriving county
towns in England; and there are some which would do no discredit to the
metropolis itself.  There is a good stone prison here; and there are,
besides, a handsome church, a court-house, public offices, many
commodious private residences, and a government observatory for noting
and recording the magnetic variations.  In the College of Upper Canada,
which is one of the public establishments of the city, a sound education
in every department of polite learning can be had, at a very moderate
expense: the annual charge for the instruction of each pupil, not
exceeding nine pounds sterling.  It has pretty good endowments in the way
of land, and is a valuable and useful institution.

The first stone of a new college had been laid but a few days before, by
the Governor General.  It will be a handsome, spacious edifice,
approached by a long avenue, which is already planted and made available
as a public walk.  The town is well adapted for wholesome exercise at all
seasons, for the footways in the thoroughfares which lie beyond the
principal street, are planked like floors, and kept in very good and
clean repair.

It is a matter of deep regret that political differences should have run
high in this place, and led to most discreditable and disgraceful
results.  It is not long since guns were discharged from a window in this
town at the successful candidates in an election, and the coachman of one
of them was actually shot in the body, though not dangerously wounded.
But one man was killed on the same occasion; and from the very window
whence he received his death, the very flag which shielded his murderer
(not only in the commission of his crime, but from its consequences), was
displayed again on the occasion of the public ceremony performed by the
Governor General, to which I have just adverted.  Of all the colours in
the rainbow, there is but one which could be so employed: I need not say
that flag was orange.

The time of leaving Toronto for Kingston is noon.  By eight o’clock next
morning, the traveller is at the end of his journey, which is performed
by steamboat upon Lake Ontario, calling at Port Hope and Coburg, the
latter a cheerful, thriving little town.  Vast quantities of flour form
the chief item in the freight of these vessels.  We had no fewer than one
thousand and eighty barrels on board, between Coburg and Kingston.

The latter place, which is now the seat of government in Canada, is a
very poor town, rendered still poorer in the appearance of its
market-place by the ravages of a recent fire.  Indeed, it may be said of
Kingston, that one half of it appears to be burnt down, and the other
half not to be built up.  The Government House is neither elegant nor
commodious, yet it is almost the only house of any importance in the
neighbourhood.

There is an admirable jail here, well and wisely governed, and
excellently regulated, in every respect.  The men were employed as
shoemakers, ropemakers, blacksmiths, tailors, carpenters, and
stonecutters; and in building a new prison, which was pretty far advanced
towards completion.  The female prisoners were occupied in needlework.
Among them was a beautiful girl of twenty, who had been there nearly
three years.  She acted as bearer of secret despatches for the
self-styled Patriots on Navy Island, during the Canadian Insurrection:
sometimes dressing as a girl, and carrying them in her stays; sometimes
attiring herself as a boy, and secreting them in the lining of her hat.
In the latter character she always rode as a boy would, which was nothing
to her, for she could govern any horse that any man could ride, and could
drive four-in-hand with the best whip in those parts.  Setting forth on
one of her patriotic missions, she appropriated to herself the first
horse she could lay her hands on; and this offence had brought her where
I saw her.  She had quite a lovely face, though, as the reader may
suppose from this sketch of her history, there was a lurking devil in her
bright eye, which looked out pretty sharply from between her prison bars.

There is a bomb-proof fort here of great strength, which occupies a bold
position, and is capable, doubtless, of doing good service; though the
town is much too close upon the frontier to be long held, I should
imagine, for its present purpose in troubled times.  There is also a
small navy-yard, where a couple of Government steamboats were building,
and getting on vigorously.

We left Kingston for Montreal on the tenth of May, at half-past nine in
the morning, and proceeded in a steamboat down the St. Lawrence river.
The beauty of this noble stream at almost any point, but especially in
the commencement of this journey when it winds its way among the thousand
Islands, can hardly be imagined.  The number and constant successions of
these islands, all green and richly wooded; their fluctuating sizes, some
so large that for half an hour together one among them will appear as the
opposite bank of the river, and some so small that they are mere dimples
on its broad bosom; their infinite variety of shapes; and the numberless
combinations of beautiful forms which the trees growing on them present:
all form a picture fraught with uncommon interest and pleasure.

In the afternoon we shot down some rapids where the river boiled and
bubbled strangely, and where the force and headlong violence of the
current were tremendous.  At seven o’clock we reached Dickenson’s
Landing, whence travellers proceed for two or three hours by stage-coach:
the navigation of the river being rendered so dangerous and difficult in
the interval, by rapids, that steamboats do not make the passage.  The
number and length of those _portages_, over which the roads are bad, and
the travelling slow, render the way between the towns of Montreal and
Kingston, somewhat tedious.

Our course lay over a wide, uninclosed tract of country at a little
distance from the river-side, whence the bright warning lights on the
dangerous parts of the St. Lawrence shone vividly.  The night was dark
and raw, and the way dreary enough.  It was nearly ten o’clock when we
reached the wharf where the next steamboat lay; and went on board, and to
bed.

She lay there all night, and started as soon as it was day.  The morning
was ushered in by a violent thunderstorm, and was very wet, but gradually
improved and brightened up.  Going on deck after breakfast, I was amazed
to see floating down with the stream, a most gigantic raft, with some
thirty or forty wooden houses upon it, and at least as many flag-masts,
so that it looked like a nautical street.  I saw many of these rafts
afterwards, but never one so large.  All the timber, or ‘lumber,’ as it
is called in America, which is brought down the St. Lawrence, is floated
down in this manner.  When the raft reaches its place of destination, it
is broken up; the materials are sold; and the boatmen return for more.

At eight we landed again, and travelled by a stage-coach for four hours
through a pleasant and well-cultivated country, perfectly French in every
respect: in the appearance of the cottages; the air, language, and dress
of the peasantry; the sign-boards on the shops and taverns: and the
Virgin’s shrines, and crosses, by the wayside.  Nearly every common
labourer and boy, though he had no shoes to his feet, wore round his
waist a sash of some bright colour: generally red: and the women, who
were working in the fields and gardens, and doing all kinds of husbandry,
wore, one and all, great flat straw hats with most capacious brims.
There were Catholic Priests and Sisters of Charity in the village
streets; and images of the Saviour at the corners of cross-roads, and in
other public places.

At noon we went on board another steamboat, and reached the village of
Lachine, nine miles from Montreal, by three o’clock.  There, we left the
river, and went on by land.

Montreal is pleasantly situated on the margin of the St. Lawrence, and is
backed by some bold heights, about which there are charming rides and
drives.  The streets are generally narrow and irregular, as in most
French towns of any age; but in the more modern parts of the city, they
are wide and airy.  They display a great variety of very good shops; and
both in the town and suburbs there are many excellent private dwellings.
The granite quays are remarkable for their beauty, solidity, and extent.

There is a very large Catholic cathedral here, recently erected with two
tall spires, of which one is yet unfinished.  In the open space in front
of this edifice, stands a solitary, grim-looking, square brick tower,
which has a quaint and remarkable appearance, and which the wiseacres of
the place have consequently determined to pull down immediately.  The
Government House is very superior to that at Kingston, and the town is
full of life and bustle.  In one of the suburbs is a plank road—not
footpath—five or six miles long, and a famous road it is too.  All the
rides in the vicinity were made doubly interesting by the bursting out of
spring, which is here so rapid, that it is but a day’s leap from barren
winter, to the blooming youth of summer.

The steamboats to Quebec perform the journey in the night; that is to
say, they leave Montreal at six in the evening, and arrive at Quebec at
six next morning.  We made this excursion during our stay in Montreal
(which exceeded a fortnight), and were charmed by its interest and
beauty.

The impression made upon the visitor by this Gibraltar of America: its
giddy heights; its citadel suspended, as it were, in the air; its
picturesque steep streets and frowning gateways; and the splendid views
which burst upon the eye at every turn: is at once unique and lasting.

It is a place not to be forgotten or mixed up in the mind with other
places, or altered for a moment in the crowd of scenes a traveller can
recall.  Apart from the realities of this most picturesque city, there
are associations clustering about it which would make a desert rich in
interest.  The dangerous precipice along whose rocky front, Wolfe and his
brave companions climbed to glory; the Plains of Abraham, where he
received his mortal wound; the fortress so chivalrously defended by
Montcalm; and his soldier’s grave, dug for him while yet alive, by the
bursting of a shell; are not the least among them, or among the gallant
incidents of history.  That is a noble Monument too, and worthy of two
great nations, which perpetuates the memory of both brave generals, and
on which their names are jointly written.

The city is rich in public institutions and in Catholic churches and
charities, but it is mainly in the prospect from the site of the Old
Government House, and from the Citadel, that its surpassing beauty lies.
The exquisite expanse of country, rich in field and forest,
mountain-height and water, which lies stretched out before the view, with
miles of Canadian villages, glancing in long white streaks, like veins
along the landscape; the motley crowd of gables, roofs, and chimney tops
in the old hilly town immediately at hand; the beautiful St. Lawrence
sparkling and flashing in the sunlight; and the tiny ships below the rock
from which you gaze, whose distant rigging looks like spiders’ webs
against the light, while casks and barrels on their decks dwindle into
toys, and busy mariners become so many puppets; all this, framed by a
sunken window in the fortress and looked at from the shadowed room
within, forms one of the brightest and most enchanting pictures that the
eye can rest upon.

In the spring of the year, vast numbers of emigrants who have newly
arrived from England or from Ireland, pass between Quebec and Montreal on
their way to the backwoods and new settlements of Canada.  If it be an
entertaining lounge (as I very often found it) to take a morning stroll
upon the quay at Montreal, and see them grouped in hundreds on the public
wharfs about their chests and boxes, it is matter of deep interest to be
their fellow-passenger on one of these steamboats, and mingling with the
concourse, see and hear them unobserved.

The vessel in which we returned from Quebec to Montreal was crowded with
them, and at night they spread their beds between decks (those who had
beds, at least), and slept so close and thick about our cabin door, that
the passage to and fro was quite blocked up.  They were nearly all
English; from Gloucestershire the greater part; and had had a long
winter-passage out; but it was wonderful to see how clean the children
had been kept, and how untiring in their love and self-denial all the
poor parents were.

Cant as we may, and as we shall to the end of all things, it is very much
harder for the poor to be virtuous than it is for the rich; and the good
that is in them, shines the brighter for it.  In many a noble mansion
lives a man, the best of husbands and of fathers, whose private worth in
both capacities is justly lauded to the skies.  But bring him here, upon
this crowded deck.  Strip from his fair young wife her silken dress and
jewels, unbind her braided hair, stamp early wrinkles on her brow, pinch
her pale cheek with care and much privation, array her faded form in
coarsely patched attire, let there be nothing but his love to set her
forth or deck her out, and you shall put it to the proof indeed.  So
change his station in the world, that he shall see in those young things
who climb about his knee: not records of his wealth and name: but little
wrestlers with him for his daily bread; so many poachers on his scanty
meal; so many units to divide his every sum of comfort, and farther to
reduce its small amount.  In lieu of the endearments of childhood in its
sweetest aspect, heap upon him all its pains and wants, its sicknesses
and ills, its fretfulness, caprice, and querulous endurance: let its
prattle be, not of engaging infant fancies, but of cold, and thirst, and
hunger: and if his fatherly affection outlive all this, and he be
patient, watchful, tender; careful of his children’s lives, and mindful
always of their joys and sorrows; then send him back to Parliament, and
Pulpit, and to Quarter Sessions, and when he hears fine talk of the
depravity of those who live from hand to mouth, and labour hard to do it,
let him speak up, as one who knows, and tell those holders forth that
they, by parallel with such a class, should be High Angels in their daily
lives, and lay but humble siege to Heaven at last.

Which of us shall say what he would be, if such realities, with small
relief or change all through his days, were his!  Looking round upon
these people: far from home, houseless, indigent, wandering, weary with
travel and hard living: and seeing how patiently they nursed and tended
their young children: how they consulted ever their wants first, then
half supplied their own; what gentle ministers of hope and faith the
women were; how the men profited by their example; and how very, very
seldom even a moment’s petulance or harsh complaint broke out among them:
I felt a stronger love and honour of my kind come glowing on my heart,
and wished to God there had been many Atheists in the better part of
human nature there, to read this simple lesson in the book of Life.

                                * * * * *

We left Montreal for New York again, on the thirtieth of May, crossing to
La Prairie, on the opposite shore of the St. Lawrence, in a steamboat; we
then took the railroad to St. John’s, which is on the brink of Lake
Champlain.  Our last greeting in Canada was from the English officers in
the pleasant barracks at that place (a class of gentlemen who had made
every hour of our visit memorable by their hospitality and friendship);
and with ‘Rule Britannia’ sounding in our ears, soon left it far behind.

But Canada has held, and always will retain, a foremost place in my
remembrance.  Few Englishmen are prepared to find it what it is.
Advancing quietly; old differences settling down, and being fast
forgotten; public feeling and private enterprise alike in a sound and
wholesome state; nothing of flush or fever in its system, but health and
vigour throbbing in its steady pulse: it is full of hope and promise.  To
me—who had been accustomed to think of it as something left behind in the
strides of advancing society, as something neglected and forgotten,
slumbering and wasting in its sleep—the demand for labour and the rates
of wages; the busy quays of Montreal; the vessels taking in their
cargoes, and discharging them; the amount of shipping in the different
ports; the commerce, roads, and public works, all made _to last_; the
respectability and character of the public journals; and the amount of
rational comfort and happiness which honest industry may earn: were very
great surprises.  The steamboats on the lakes, in their conveniences,
cleanliness, and safety; in the gentlemanly character and bearing of
their captains; and in the politeness and perfect comfort of their social
regulations; are unsurpassed even by the famous Scotch vessels,
deservedly so much esteemed at home.  The inns are usually bad; because
the custom of boarding at hotels is not so general here as in the States,
and the British officers, who form a large portion of the society of
every town, live chiefly at the regimental messes: but in every other
respect, the traveller in Canada will find as good provision for his
comfort as in any place I know.

There is one American boat—the vessel which carried us on Lake Champlain,
from St. John’s to Whitehall—which I praise very highly, but no more than
it deserves, when I say that it is superior even to that in which we went
from Queenston to Toronto, or to that in which we travelled from the
latter place to Kingston, or I have no doubt I may add to any other in
the world.  This steamboat, which is called the Burlington, is a
perfectly exquisite achievement of neatness, elegance, and order.  The
decks are drawing-rooms; the cabins are boudoirs, choicely furnished and
adorned with prints, pictures, and musical instruments; every nook and
corner in the vessel is a perfect curiosity of graceful comfort and
beautiful contrivance.  Captain Sherman, her commander, to whose
ingenuity and excellent taste these results are solely attributable, has
bravely and worthily distinguished himself on more than one trying
occasion: not least among them, in having the moral courage to carry
British troops, at a time (during the Canadian rebellion) when no other
conveyance was open to them.  He and his vessel are held in universal
respect, both by his own countrymen and ours; and no man ever enjoyed the
popular esteem, who, in his sphere of action, won and wore it better than
this gentleman.

By means of this floating palace we were soon in the United States again,
and called that evening at Burlington; a pretty town, where we lay an
hour or so.  We reached Whitehall, where we were to disembark, at six
next morning; and might have done so earlier, but that these steamboats
lie by for some hours in the night, in consequence of the lake becoming
very narrow at that part of the journey, and difficult of navigation in
the dark.  Its width is so contracted at one point, indeed, that they are
obliged to warp round by means of a rope.

After breakfasting at Whitehall, we took the stage-coach for Albany: a
large and busy town, where we arrived between five and six o’clock that
afternoon; after a very hot day’s journey, for we were now in the height
of summer again.  At seven we started for New York on board a great North
River steamboat, which was so crowded with passengers that the upper deck
was like the box lobby of a theatre between the pieces, and the lower one
like Tottenham Court Road on a Saturday night.  But we slept soundly,
notwithstanding, and soon after five o’clock next morning reached New
York.

Tarrying here, only that day and night, to recruit after our late
fatigues, we started off once more upon our last journey in America.  We
had yet five days to spare before embarking for England, and I had a
great desire to see ‘the Shaker Village,’ which is peopled by a religious
sect from whom it takes its name.

To this end, we went up the North River again, as far as the town of
Hudson, and there hired an extra to carry us to Lebanon, thirty miles
distant: and of course another and a different Lebanon from that village
where I slept on the night of the Prairie trip.

The country through which the road meandered, was rich and beautiful; the
weather very fine; and for many miles the Kaatskill mountains, where Rip
Van Winkle and the ghostly Dutchmen played at ninepins one memorable
gusty afternoon, towered in the blue distance, like stately clouds.  At
one point, as we ascended a steep hill, athwart whose base a railroad,
yet constructing, took its course, we came upon an Irish colony.  With
means at hand of building decent cabins, it was wonderful to see how
clumsy, rough, and wretched, its hovels were.  The best were poor
protection from the weather the worst let in the wind and rain through
wide breaches in the roofs of sodden grass, and in the walls of mud; some
had neither door nor window; some had nearly fallen down, and were
imperfectly propped up by stakes and poles; all were ruinous and filthy.
Hideously ugly old women and very buxom young ones, pigs, dogs, men,
children, babies, pots, kettles, dung-hills, vile refuse, rank straw, and
standing water, all wallowing together in an inseparable heap, composed
the furniture of every dark and dirty hut.

Between nine and ten o’clock at night, we arrived at Lebanon which is
renowned for its warm baths, and for a great hotel, well adapted, I have
no doubt, to the gregarious taste of those seekers after health or
pleasure who repair here, but inexpressibly comfortless to me.  We were
shown into an immense apartment, lighted by two dim candles, called the
drawing-room: from which there was a descent by a flight of steps, to
another vast desert, called the dining-room: our bed-chambers were among
certain long rows of little white-washed cells, which opened from either
side of a dreary passage; and were so like rooms in a prison that I half
expected to be locked up when I went to bed, and listened involuntarily
for the turning of the key on the outside.  There need be baths somewhere
in the neighbourhood, for the other washing arrangements were on as
limited a scale as I ever saw, even in America: indeed, these bedrooms
were so very bare of even such common luxuries as chairs, that I should
say they were not provided with enough of anything, but that I bethink
myself of our having been most bountifully bitten all night.

The house is very pleasantly situated, however, and we had a good
breakfast.  That done, we went to visit our place of destination, which
was some two miles off, and the way to which was soon indicated by a
finger-post, whereon was painted, ‘To the Shaker Village.’

As we rode along, we passed a party of Shakers, who were at work upon the
road; who wore the broadest of all broad-brimmed hats; and were in all
visible respects such very wooden men, that I felt about as much sympathy
for them, and as much interest in them, as if they had been so many
figure-heads of ships.  Presently we came to the beginning of the
village, and alighting at the door of a house where the Shaker
manufactures are sold, and which is the headquarters of the elders,
requested permission to see the Shaker worship.

Pending the conveyance of this request to some person in authority, we
walked into a grim room, where several grim hats were hanging on grim
pegs, and the time was grimly told by a grim clock which uttered every
tick with a kind of struggle, as if it broke the grim silence
reluctantly, and under protest.  Ranged against the wall were six or
eight stiff, high-backed chairs, and they partook so strongly of the
general grimness that one would much rather have sat on the floor than
incurred the smallest obligation to any of them.

Presently, there stalked into this apartment, a grim old Shaker, with
eyes as hard, and dull, and cold, as the great round metal buttons on his
coat and waistcoat; a sort of calm goblin.  Being informed of our desire,
he produced a newspaper wherein the body of elders, whereof he was a
member, had advertised but a few days before, that in consequence of
certain unseemly interruptions which their worship had received from
strangers, their chapel was closed to the public for the space of one
year.

As nothing was to be urged in opposition to this reasonable arrangement,
we requested leave to make some trifling purchases of Shaker goods; which
was grimly conceded.  We accordingly repaired to a store in the same
house and on the opposite side of the passage, where the stock was
presided over by something alive in a russet case, which the elder said
was a woman; and which I suppose _was_ a woman, though I should not have
suspected it.

On the opposite side of the road was their place of worship: a cool,
clean edifice of wood, with large windows and green blinds: like a
spacious summer-house.  As there was no getting into this place, and
nothing was to be done but walk up and down, and look at it and the other
buildings in the village (which were chiefly of wood, painted a dark red
like English barns, and composed of many stories like English factories),
I have nothing to communicate to the reader, beyond the scanty results I
gleaned the while our purchases were making.

These people are called Shakers from their peculiar form of adoration,
which consists of a dance, performed by the men and women of all ages,
who arrange themselves for that purpose in opposite parties: the men
first divesting themselves of their hats and coats, which they gravely
hang against the wall before they begin; and tying a ribbon round their
shirt-sleeves, as though they were going to be bled.  They accompany
themselves with a droning, humming noise, and dance until they are quite
exhausted, alternately advancing and retiring in a preposterous sort of
trot.  The effect is said to be unspeakably absurd: and if I may judge
from a print of this ceremony which I have in my possession; and which I
am informed by those who have visited the chapel, is perfectly accurate;
it must be infinitely grotesque.

They are governed by a woman, and her rule is understood to be absolute,
though she has the assistance of a council of elders.  She lives, it is
said, in strict seclusion, in certain rooms above the chapel, and is
never shown to profane eyes.  If she at all resemble the lady who
presided over the store, it is a great charity to keep her as close as
possible, and I cannot too strongly express my perfect concurrence in
this benevolent proceeding.

All the possessions and revenues of the settlement are thrown into a
common stock, which is managed by the elders.  As they have made converts
among people who were well to do in the world, and are frugal and
thrifty, it is understood that this fund prospers: the more especially as
they have made large purchases of land.  Nor is this at Lebanon the only
Shaker settlement: there are, I think, at least, three others.

They are good farmers, and all their produce is eagerly purchased and
highly esteemed.  ‘Shaker seeds,’ ‘Shaker herbs,’ and ‘Shaker distilled
waters,’ are commonly announced for sale in the shops of towns and
cities.  They are good breeders of cattle, and are kind and merciful to
the brute creation.  Consequently, Shaker beasts seldom fail to find a
ready market.

They eat and drink together, after the Spartan model, at a great public
table.  There is no union of the sexes, and every Shaker, male and
female, is devoted to a life of celibacy.  Rumour has been busy upon this
theme, but here again I must refer to the lady of the store, and say,
that if many of the sister Shakers resemble her, I treat all such slander
as bearing on its face the strongest marks of wild improbability.  But
that they take as proselytes, persons so young that they cannot know
their own minds, and cannot possess much strength of resolution in this
or any other respect, I can assert from my own observation of the extreme
juvenility of certain youthful Shakers whom I saw at work among the party
on the road.

They are said to be good drivers of bargains, but to be honest and just
in their transactions, and even in horse-dealing to resist those thievish
tendencies which would seem, for some undiscovered reason, to be almost
inseparable from that branch of traffic.  In all matters they hold their
own course quietly, live in their gloomy, silent commonwealth, and show
little desire to interfere with other people.

This is well enough, but nevertheless I cannot, I confess, incline
towards the Shakers; view them with much favour, or extend towards them
any very lenient construction.  I so abhor, and from my soul detest that
bad spirit, no matter by what class or sect it may be entertained, which
would strip life of its healthful graces, rob youth of its innocent
pleasures, pluck from maturity and age their pleasant ornaments, and make
existence but a narrow path towards the grave: that odious spirit which,
if it could have had full scope and sway upon the earth, must have
blasted and made barren the imaginations of the greatest men, and left
them, in their power of raising up enduring images before their
fellow-creatures yet unborn, no better than the beasts: that, in these
very broad-brimmed hats and very sombre coats—in stiff-necked,
solemn-visaged piety, in short, no matter what its garb, whether it have
cropped hair as in a Shaker village, or long nails as in a Hindoo
temple—I recognise the worst among the enemies of Heaven and Earth, who
turn the water at the marriage feasts of this poor world, not into wine,
but gall.  And if there must be people vowed to crush the harmless
fancies and the love of innocent delights and gaieties, which are a part
of human nature: as much a part of it as any other love or hope that is
our common portion: let them, for me, stand openly revealed among the
ribald and licentious; the very idiots know that _they_ are not on the
Immortal road, and will despise them, and avoid them readily.

Leaving the Shaker village with a hearty dislike of the old Shakers, and
a hearty pity for the young ones: tempered by the strong probability of
their running away as they grow older and wiser, which they not
uncommonly do: we returned to Lebanon, and so to Hudson, by the way we
had come upon the previous day.  There, we took the steamboat down the
North River towards New York, but stopped, some four hours’ journey short
of it, at West Point, where we remained that night, and all next day, and
next night too.

In this beautiful place: the fairest among the fair and lovely Highlands
of the North River: shut in by deep green heights and ruined forts, and
looking down upon the distant town of Newburgh, along a glittering path
of sunlit water, with here and there a skiff, whose white sail often
bends on some new tack as sudden flaws of wind come down upon her from
the gullies in the hills: hemmed in, besides, all round with memories of
Washington, and events of the revolutionary war: is the Military School
of America.

It could not stand on more appropriate ground, and any ground more
beautiful can hardly be.  The course of education is severe, but well
devised, and manly.  Through June, July, and August, the young men encamp
upon the spacious plain whereon the college stands; and all the year
their military exercises are performed there, daily.  The term of study
at this institution, which the State requires from all cadets, is four
years; but, whether it be from the rigid nature of the discipline, or the
national impatience of restraint, or both causes combined, not more than
half the number who begin their studies here, ever remain to finish them.

The number of cadets being about equal to that of the members of
Congress, one is sent here from every Congressional district: its member
influencing the selection.  Commissions in the service are distributed on
the same principle.  The dwellings of the various Professors are
beautifully situated; and there is a most excellent hotel for strangers,
though it has the two drawbacks of being a total abstinence house (wines
and spirits being forbidden to the students), and of serving the public
meals at rather uncomfortable hours: to wit, breakfast at seven, dinner
at one, and supper at sunset.

The beauty and freshness of this calm retreat, in the very dawn and
greenness of summer—it was then the beginning of June—were exquisite
indeed.  Leaving it upon the sixth, and returning to New York, to embark
for England on the succeeding day, I was glad to think that among the
last memorable beauties which had glided past us, and softened in the
bright perspective, were those whose pictures, traced by no common hand,
are fresh in most men’s minds; not easily to grow old, or fade beneath
the dust of Time: the Kaatskill Mountains, Sleepy Hollow, and the Tappaan
Zee.



CHAPTER XVI
THE PASSAGE HOME


I NEVER had so much interest before, and very likely I shall never have
so much interest again, in the state of the wind, as on the
long-looked-for morning of Tuesday the Seventh of June.  Some nautical
authority had told me a day or two previous, ‘anything with west in it,
will do;’ so when I darted out of bed at daylight, and throwing up the
window, was saluted by a lively breeze from the north-west which had
sprung up in the night, it came upon me so freshly, rustling with so many
happy associations, that I conceived upon the spot a special regard for
all airs blowing from that quarter of the compass, which I shall cherish,
I dare say, until my own wind has breathed its last frail puff, and
withdrawn itself for ever from the mortal calendar.

The pilot had not been slow to take advantage of this favourable weather,
and the ship which yesterday had been in such a crowded dock that she
might have retired from trade for good and all, for any chance she seemed
to have of going to sea, was now full sixteen miles away.  A gallant
sight she was, when we, fast gaining on her in a steamboat, saw her in
the distance riding at anchor: her tall masts pointing up in graceful
lines against the sky, and every rope and spar expressed in delicate and
thread-like outline: gallant, too, when, we being all aboard, the anchor
came up to the sturdy chorus ‘Cheerily men, oh cheerily!’ and she
followed proudly in the towing steamboat’s wake: but bravest and most
gallant of all, when the tow-rope being cast adrift, the canvas fluttered
from her masts, and spreading her white wings she soared away upon her
free and solitary course.

In the after cabin we were only fifteen passengers in all, and the
greater part were from Canada, where some of us had known each other.
The night was rough and squally, so were the next two days, but they flew
by quickly, and we were soon as cheerful and snug a party, with an
honest, manly-hearted captain at our head, as ever came to the resolution
of being mutually agreeable, on land or water.

We breakfasted at eight, lunched at twelve, dined at three, and took our
tea at half-past seven.  We had abundance of amusements, and dinner was
not the least among them: firstly, for its own sake; secondly, because of
its extraordinary length: its duration, inclusive of all the long pauses
between the courses, being seldom less than two hours and a half; which
was a subject of never-failing entertainment.  By way of beguiling the
tediousness of these banquets, a select association was formed at the
lower end of the table, below the mast, to whose distinguished president
modesty forbids me to make any further allusion, which, being a very
hilarious and jovial institution, was (prejudice apart) in high favour
with the rest of the community, and particularly with a black steward,
who lived for three weeks in a broad grin at the marvellous humour of
these incorporated worthies.

Then, we had chess for those who played it, whist, cribbage, books,
backgammon, and shovelboard.  In all weathers, fair or foul, calm or
windy, we were every one on deck, walking up and down in pairs, lying in
the boats, leaning over the side, or chatting in a lazy group together.
We had no lack of music, for one played the accordion, another the
violin, and another (who usually began at six o’clock A.M.) the
key-bugle: the combined effect of which instruments, when they all played
different tunes in different parts of the ship, at the same time, and
within hearing of each other, as they sometimes did (everybody being
intensely satisfied with his own performance), was sublimely hideous.

When all these means of entertainment failed, a sail would heave in
sight: looming, perhaps, the very spirit of a ship, in the misty
distance, or passing us so close that through our glasses we could see
the people on her decks, and easily make out her name, and whither she
was bound.  For hours together we could watch the dolphins and porpoises
as they rolled and leaped and dived around the vessel; or those small
creatures ever on the wing, the Mother Carey’s chickens, which had borne
us company from New York bay, and for a whole fortnight fluttered about
the vessel’s stern.  For some days we had a dead calm, or very light
winds, during which the crew amused themselves with fishing, and hooked
an unlucky dolphin, who expired, in all his rainbow colours, on the deck:
an event of such importance in our barren calendar, that afterwards we
dated from the dolphin, and made the day on which he died, an era.

Besides all this, when we were five or six days out, there began to be
much talk of icebergs, of which wandering islands an unusual number had
been seen by the vessels that had come into New York a day or two before
we left that port, and of whose dangerous neighbourhood we were warned by
the sudden coldness of the weather, and the sinking of the mercury in the
barometer.  While these tokens lasted, a double look-out was kept, and
many dismal tales were whispered after dark, of ships that had struck
upon the ice and gone down in the night; but the wind obliging us to hold
a southward course, we saw none of them, and the weather soon grew bright
and warm again.

The observation every day at noon, and the subsequent working of the
vessel’s course, was, as may be supposed, a feature in our lives of
paramount importance; nor were there wanting (as there never are)
sagacious doubters of the captain’s calculations, who, so soon as his
back was turned, would, in the absence of compasses, measure the chart
with bits of string, and ends of pocket-handkerchiefs, and points of
snuffers, and clearly prove him to be wrong by an odd thousand miles or
so.  It was very edifying to see these unbelievers shake their heads and
frown, and hear them hold forth strongly upon navigation: not that they
knew anything about it, but that they always mistrusted the captain in
calm weather, or when the wind was adverse.  Indeed, the mercury itself
is not so variable as this class of passengers, whom you will see, when
the ship is going nobly through the water, quite pale with admiration,
swearing that the captain beats all captains ever known, and even hinting
at subscriptions for a piece of plate; and who, next morning, when the
breeze has lulled, and all the sails hang useless in the idle air, shake
their despondent heads again, and say, with screwed-up lips, they hope
that captain is a sailor—but they shrewdly doubt him.

It even became an occupation in the calm, to wonder when the wind _would_
spring up in the favourable quarter, where, it was clearly shown by all
the rules and precedents, it ought to have sprung up long ago.  The first
mate, who whistled for it zealously, was much respected for his
perseverance, and was regarded even by the unbelievers as a first-rate
sailor.  Many gloomy looks would be cast upward through the cabin
skylights at the flapping sails while dinner was in progress; and some,
growing bold in ruefulness, predicted that we should land about the
middle of July.  There are always on board ship, a Sanguine One, and a
Despondent One.  The latter character carried it hollow at this period of
the voyage, and triumphed over the Sanguine One at every meal, by
inquiring where he supposed the Great Western (which left New York a week
after us) was _now_: and where he supposed the ‘Cunard’ steam-packet was
_now_: and what he thought of sailing vessels, as compared with
steamships _now_: and so beset his life with pestilent attacks of that
kind, that he too was obliged to affect despondency, for very peace and
quietude.

These were additions to the list of entertaining incidents, but there was
still another source of interest.  We carried in the steerage nearly a
hundred passengers: a little world of poverty: and as we came to know
individuals among them by sight, from looking down upon the deck where
they took the air in the daytime, and cooked their food, and very often
ate it too, we became curious to know their histories, and with what
expectations they had gone out to America, and on what errands they were
going home, and what their circumstances were.  The information we got on
these heads from the carpenter, who had charge of these people, was often
of the strangest kind.  Some of them had been in America but three days,
some but three months, and some had gone out in the last voyage of that
very ship in which they were now returning home.  Others had sold their
clothes to raise the passage-money, and had hardly rags to cover them;
others had no food, and lived upon the charity of the rest: and one man,
it was discovered nearly at the end of the voyage, not before—for he kept
his secret close, and did not court compassion—had had no sustenance
whatever but the bones and scraps of fat he took from the plates used in
the after-cabin dinner, when they were put out to be washed.

The whole system of shipping and conveying these unfortunate persons, is
one that stands in need of thorough revision.  If any class deserve to be
protected and assisted by the Government, it is that class who are
banished from their native land in search of the bare means of
subsistence.  All that could be done for these poor people by the great
compassion and humanity of the captain and officers was done, but they
require much more.  The law is bound, at least upon the English side, to
see that too many of them are not put on board one ship: and that their
accommodations are decent: not demoralising, and profligate.  It is
bound, too, in common humanity, to declare that no man shall be taken on
board without his stock of provisions being previously inspected by some
proper officer, and pronounced moderately sufficient for his support upon
the voyage.  It is bound to provide, or to require that there be
provided, a medical attendant; whereas in these ships there are none,
though sickness of adults, and deaths of children, on the passage, are
matters of the very commonest occurrence.  Above all it is the duty of
any Government, be it monarchy or republic, to interpose and put an end
to that system by which a firm of traders in emigrants purchase of the
owners the whole ’tween-decks of a ship, and send on board as many
wretched people as they can lay hold of, on any terms they can get,
without the smallest reference to the conveniences of the steerage, the
number of berths, the slightest separation of the sexes, or anything but
their own immediate profit.  Nor is even this the worst of the vicious
system: for, certain crimping agents of these houses, who have a
percentage on all the passengers they inveigle, are constantly travelling
about those districts where poverty and discontent are rife, and tempting
the credulous into more misery, by holding out monstrous inducements to
emigration which can never be realised.

The history of every family we had on board was pretty much the same.
After hoarding up, and borrowing, and begging, and selling everything to
pay the passage, they had gone out to New York, expecting to find its
streets paved with gold; and had found them paved with very hard and very
real stones.  Enterprise was dull; labourers were not wanted; jobs of
work were to be got, but the payment was not.  They were coming back,
even poorer than they went.  One of them was carrying an open letter from
a young English artisan, who had been in New York a fortnight, to a
friend near Manchester, whom he strongly urged to follow him.  One of the
officers brought it to me as a curiosity.  ‘This is the country, Jem,’
said the writer.  ‘I like America.  There is no despotism here; that’s
the great thing.  Employment of all sorts is going a-begging, and wages
are capital.  You have only to choose a trade, Jem, and be it.  I haven’t
made choice of one yet, but I shall soon.  _At present I haven’t quite
made up my mind whether to be a carpenter—or a tailor_.’

There was yet another kind of passenger, and but one more, who, in the
calm and the light winds, was a constant theme of conversation and
observation among us.  This was an English sailor, a smart,
thorough-built, English man-of-war’s-man from his hat to his shoes, who
was serving in the American navy, and having got leave of absence was on
his way home to see his friends.  When he presented himself to take and
pay for his passage, it had been suggested to him that being an able
seaman he might as well work it and save the money, but this piece of
advice he very indignantly rejected: saying, ‘He’d be damned but for once
he’d go aboard ship, as a gentleman.’  Accordingly, they took his money,
but he no sooner came aboard, than he stowed his kit in the forecastle,
arranged to mess with the crew, and the very first time the hands were
turned up, went aloft like a cat, before anybody.  And all through the
passage there he was, first at the braces, outermost on the yards,
perpetually lending a hand everywhere, but always with a sober dignity in
his manner, and a sober grin on his face, which plainly said, ‘I do it as
a gentleman.  For my own pleasure, mind you!’

At length and at last, the promised wind came up in right good earnest,
and away we went before it, with every stitch of canvas set, slashing
through the water nobly.  There was a grandeur in the motion of the
splendid ship, as overshadowed by her mass of sails, she rode at a
furious pace upon the waves, which filled one with an indescribable sense
of pride and exultation.  As she plunged into a foaming valley, how I
loved to see the green waves, bordered deep with white, come rushing on
astern, to buoy her upward at their pleasure, and curl about her as she
stooped again, but always own her for their haughty mistress still!  On,
on we flew, with changing lights upon the water, being now in the blessed
region of fleecy skies; a bright sun lighting us by day, and a bright
moon by night; the vane pointing directly homeward, alike the truthful
index to the favouring wind and to our cheerful hearts; until at sunrise,
one fair Monday morning—the twenty-seventh of June, I shall not easily
forget the day—there lay before us, old Cape Clear, God bless it,
showing, in the mist of early morning, like a cloud: the brightest and
most welcome cloud, to us, that ever hid the face of Heaven’s fallen
sister—Home.

Dim speck as it was in the wide prospect, it made the sunrise a more
cheerful sight, and gave to it that sort of human interest which it seems
to want at sea.  There, as elsewhere, the return of day is inseparable
from some sense of renewed hope and gladness; but the light shining on
the dreary waste of water, and showing it in all its vast extent of
loneliness, presents a solemn spectacle, which even night, veiling it in
darkness and uncertainty, does not surpass.  The rising of the moon is
more in keeping with the solitary ocean; and has an air of melancholy
grandeur, which in its soft and gentle influence, seems to comfort while
it saddens.  I recollect when I was a very young child having a fancy
that the reflection of the moon in water was a path to Heaven, trodden by
the spirits of good people on their way to God; and this old feeling
often came over me again, when I watched it on a tranquil night at sea.

The wind was very light on this same Monday morning, but it was still in
the right quarter, and so, by slow degrees, we left Cape Clear behind,
and sailed along within sight of the coast of Ireland.  And how merry we
all were, and how loyal to the George Washington, and how full of mutual
congratulations, and how venturesome in predicting the exact hour at
which we should arrive at Liverpool, may be easily imagined and readily
understood.  Also, how heartily we drank the captain’s health that day at
dinner; and how restless we became about packing up: and how two or three
of the most sanguine spirits rejected the idea of going to bed at all
that night as something it was not worth while to do, so near the shore,
but went nevertheless, and slept soundly; and how to be so near our
journey’s end, was like a pleasant dream, from which one feared to wake.

The friendly breeze freshened again next day, and on we went once more
before it gallantly: descrying now and then an English ship going
homeward under shortened sail, while we, with every inch of canvas
crowded on, dashed gaily past, and left her far behind.  Towards evening,
the weather turned hazy, with a drizzling rain; and soon became so thick,
that we sailed, as it were, in a cloud.  Still we swept onward like a
phantom ship, and many an eager eye glanced up to where the Look-out on
the mast kept watch for Holyhead.

At length his long-expected cry was heard, and at the same moment there
shone out from the haze and mist ahead, a gleaming light, which presently
was gone, and soon returned, and soon was gone again.  Whenever it came
back, the eyes of all on board, brightened and sparkled like itself: and
there we all stood, watching this revolving light upon the rock at
Holyhead, and praising it for its brightness and its friendly warning,
and lauding it, in short, above all other signal lights that ever were
displayed, until it once more glimmered faintly in the distance, far
behind us.

Then, it was time to fire a gun, for a pilot; and almost before its smoke
had cleared away, a little boat with a light at her masthead came bearing
down upon us, through the darkness, swiftly.  And presently, our sails
being backed, she ran alongside; and the hoarse pilot, wrapped and
muffled in pea-coats and shawls to the very bridge of his
weather-ploughed-up nose, stood bodily among us on the deck.  And I think
if that pilot had wanted to borrow fifty pounds for an indefinite period
on no security, we should have engaged to lend it to him, among us,
before his boat had dropped astern, or (which is the same thing) before
every scrap of news in the paper he brought with him had become the
common property of all on board.

We turned in pretty late that night, and turned out pretty early next
morning.  By six o’clock we clustered on the deck, prepared to go ashore;
and looked upon the spires, and roofs, and smoke, of Liverpool.  By eight
we all sat down in one of its Hotels, to eat and drink together for the
last time.  And by nine we had shaken hands all round, and broken up our
social company for ever.

The country, by the railroad, seemed, as we rattled through it, like a
luxuriant garden.  The beauty of the fields (so small they looked!), the
hedge-rows, and the trees; the pretty cottages, the beds of flowers, the
old churchyards, the antique houses, and every well-known object; the
exquisite delights of that one journey, crowding in the short compass of
a summer’s day, the joy of many years, with the winding up with Home and
all that makes it dear; no tongue can tell, or pen of mine describe.



CHAPTER XVII
SLAVERY


THE upholders of slavery in America—of the atrocities of which system, I
shall not write one word for which I have not had ample proof and
warrant—may be divided into three great classes.

The first, are those more moderate and rational owners of human cattle,
who have come into the possession of them as so many coins in their
trading capital, but who admit the frightful nature of the Institution in
the abstract, and perceive the dangers to society with which it is
fraught: dangers which however distant they may be, or howsoever tardy in
their coming on, are as certain to fall upon its guilty head, as is the
Day of Judgment.

The second, consists of all those owners, breeders, users, buyers and
sellers of slaves, who will, until the bloody chapter has a bloody end,
own, breed, use, buy, and sell them at all hazards: who doggedly deny the
horrors of the system in the teeth of such a mass of evidence as never
was brought to bear on any other subject, and to which the experience of
every day contributes its immense amount; who would at this or any other
moment, gladly involve America in a war, civil or foreign, provided that
it had for its sole end and object the assertion of their right to
perpetuate slavery, and to whip and work and torture slaves, unquestioned
by any human authority, and unassailed by any human power; who, when they
speak of Freedom, mean the Freedom to oppress their kind, and to be
savage, merciless, and cruel; and of whom every man on his own ground, in
republican America, is a more exacting, and a sterner, and a less
responsible despot than the Caliph Haroun Alraschid in his angry robe of
scarlet.

The third, and not the least numerous or influential, is composed of all
that delicate gentility which cannot bear a superior, and cannot brook an
equal; of that class whose Republicanism means, ‘I will not tolerate a
man above me: and of those below, none must approach too near;’ whose
pride, in a land where voluntary servitude is shunned as a disgrace, must
be ministered to by slaves; and whose inalienable rights can only have
their growth in negro wrongs.

It has been sometimes urged that, in the unavailing efforts which have
been made to advance the cause of Human Freedom in the republic of
America (strange cause for history to treat of!), sufficient regard has
not been had to the existence of the first class of persons; and it has
been contended that they are hardly used, in being confounded with the
second.  This is, no doubt, the case; noble instances of pecuniary and
personal sacrifice have already had their growth among them; and it is
much to be regretted that the gulf between them and the advocates of
emancipation should have been widened and deepened by any means: the
rather, as there are, beyond dispute, among these slave-owners, many kind
masters who are tender in the exercise of their unnatural power.  Still,
it is to be feared that this injustice is inseparable from the state of
things with which humanity and truth are called upon to deal.  Slavery is
not a whit the more endurable because some hearts are to be found which
can partially resist its hardening influences; nor can the indignant tide
of honest wrath stand still, because in its onward course it overwhelms a
few who are comparatively innocent, among a host of guilty.

The ground most commonly taken by these better men among the advocates of
slavery, is this: ‘It is a bad system; and for myself I would willingly
get rid of it, if I could; most willingly.  But it is not so bad, as you
in England take it to be.  You are deceived by the representations of the
emancipationists.  The greater part of my slaves are much attached to me.
You will say that I do not allow them to be severely treated; but I will
put it to you whether you believe that it can be a general practice to
treat them inhumanly, when it would impair their value, and would be
obviously against the interests of their masters.’

Is it the interest of any man to steal, to game, to waste his health and
mental faculties by drunkenness, to lie, forswear himself, indulge
hatred, seek desperate revenge, or do murder?  No.  All these are roads
to ruin.  And why, then, do men tread them? Because such inclinations are
among the vicious qualities of mankind.  Blot out, ye friends of slavery,
from the catalogue of human passions, brutal lust, cruelty, and the abuse
of irresponsible power (of all earthly temptations the most difficult to
be resisted), and when ye have done so, and not before, we will inquire
whether it be the interest of a master to lash and maim the slaves, over
whose lives and limbs he has an absolute control!

But again: this class, together with that last one I have named, the
miserable aristocracy spawned of a false republic, lift up their voices
and exclaim ‘Public opinion is all-sufficient to prevent such cruelty as
you denounce.’  Public opinion!  Why, public opinion in the slave States
_is_ slavery, is it not?  Public opinion, in the slave States, has
delivered the slaves over, to the gentle mercies of their masters.
Public opinion has made the laws, and denied the slaves legislative
protection.  Public opinion has knotted the lash, heated the
branding-iron, loaded the rifle, and shielded the murderer.  Public
opinion threatens the abolitionist with death, if he venture to the
South; and drags him with a rope about his middle, in broad unblushing
noon, through the first city in the East.  Public opinion has, within a
few years, burned a slave alive at a slow fire in the city of St. Louis;
and public opinion has to this day maintained upon the bench that
estimable judge who charged the jury, impanelled there to try his
murderers, that their most horrid deed was an act of public opinion, and
being so, must not be punished by the laws the public sentiment had made.
Public opinion hailed this doctrine with a howl of wild applause, and set
the prisoners free, to walk the city, men of mark, and influence, and
station, as they had been before.

Public opinion! what class of men have an immense preponderance over the
rest of the community, in their power of representing public opinion in
the legislature? the slave-owners.  They send from their twelve States
one hundred members, while the fourteen free States, with a free
population nearly double, return but a hundred and forty-two.  Before
whom do the presidential candidates bow down the most humbly, on whom do
they fawn the most fondly, and for whose tastes do they cater the most
assiduously in their servile protestations?  The slave-owners always.

Public opinion! hear the public opinion of the free South, as expressed
by its own members in the House of Representatives at Washington.  ‘I
have a great respect for the chair,’ quoth North Carolina, ‘I have a
great respect for the chair as an officer of the house, and a great
respect for him personally; nothing but that respect prevents me from
rushing to the table and tearing that petition which has just been
presented for the abolition of slavery in the district of Columbia, to
pieces.’—‘I warn the abolitionists,’ says South Carolina, ‘ignorant,
infuriated barbarians as they are, that if chance shall throw any of them
into our hands, he may expect a felon’s death.’—‘Let an abolitionist come
within the borders of South Carolina,’ cries a third; mild Carolina’s
colleague; ‘and if we can catch him, we will try him, and notwithstanding
the interference of all the governments on earth, including the Federal
government, we will HANG him.’

Public opinion has made this law.—It has declared that in Washington, in
that city which takes its name from the father of American liberty, any
justice of the peace may bind with fetters any negro passing down the
street and thrust him into jail: no offence on the black man’s part is
necessary.  The justice says, ‘I choose to think this man a runaway:’ and
locks him up.  Public opinion impowers the man of law when this is done,
to advertise the negro in the newspapers, warning his owner to come and
claim him, or he will be sold to pay the jail fees.  But supposing he is
a free black, and has no owner, it may naturally be presumed that he is
set at liberty.  No: HE IS SOLD TO RECOMPENSE HIS JAILER.  This has been
done again, and again, and again.  He has no means of proving his
freedom; has no adviser, messenger, or assistance of any sort or kind; no
investigation into his case is made, or inquiry instituted.  He, a free
man, who may have served for years, and bought his liberty, is thrown
into jail on no process, for no crime, and on no pretence of crime: and
is sold to pay the jail fees.  This seems incredible, even of America,
but it is the law.

Public opinion is deferred to, in such cases as the following: which is
headed in the newspapers:—

                           ‘_Interesting Law-Case_.

    ‘An interesting case is now on trial in the Supreme Court, arising
    out of the following facts.  A gentleman residing in Maryland had
    allowed an aged pair of his slaves, substantial though not legal
    freedom for several years.  While thus living, a daughter was born to
    them, who grew up in the same liberty, until she married a free
    negro, and went with him to reside in Pennsylvania.  They had several
    children, and lived unmolested until the original owner died, when
    his heir attempted to regain them; but the magistrate before whom
    they were brought, decided that he had no jurisdiction in the case.
    _The owner seized the woman and her children in the night_, _and
    carried them to Maryland_.’

‘Cash for negroes,’ ‘cash for negroes,’ ‘cash for negroes,’ is the
heading of advertisements in great capitals down the long columns of the
crowded journals.  Woodcuts of a runaway negro with manacled hands,
crouching beneath a bluff pursuer in top boots, who, having caught him,
grasps him by the throat, agreeably diversify the pleasant text.  The
leading article protests against ‘that abominable and hellish doctrine of
abolition, which is repugnant alike to every law of God and nature.’  The
delicate mamma, who smiles her acquiescence in this sprightly writing as
she reads the paper in her cool piazza, quiets her youngest child who
clings about her skirts, by promising the boy ‘a whip to beat the little
niggers with.’—But the negroes, little and big, are protected by public
opinion.

Let us try this public opinion by another test, which is important in
three points of view: first, as showing how desperately timid of the
public opinion slave-owners are, in their delicate descriptions of
fugitive slaves in widely circulated newspapers; secondly, as showing how
perfectly contented the slaves are, and how very seldom they run away;
thirdly, as exhibiting their entire freedom from scar, or blemish, or any
mark of cruel infliction, as their pictures are drawn, not by lying
abolitionists, but by their own truthful masters.

The following are a few specimens of the advertisements in the public
papers.  It is only four years since the oldest among them appeared; and
others of the same nature continue to be published every day, in shoals.

    ‘Ran away, Negress Caroline.  Had on a collar with one prong turned
    down.’

    ‘Ran away, a black woman, Betsy.  Had an iron bar on her right leg.’

    ‘Ran away, the negro Manuel.  Much marked with irons.’

    ‘Ran away, the negress Fanny.  Had on an iron band about her neck.’

    ‘Ran away, a negro boy about twelve years old.  Had round his neck a
    chain dog-collar with “De Lampert” engraved on it.’

    ‘Ran away, the negro Hown.  Has a ring of iron on his left foot.
    Also, Grise, _his wife_, having a ring and chain on the left leg.’

    ‘Ran away, a negro boy named James.  Said boy was ironed when he left
    me.’

    ‘Committed to jail, a man who calls his name John.  He has a clog of
    iron on his right foot which will weigh four or five pounds.’

    ‘Detained at the police jail, the negro wench, Myra.  Has several
    marks of LASHING, and has irons on her feet.’

    ‘Ran away, a negro woman and two children.  A few days before she
    went off, I burnt her with a hot iron, on the left side of her face.
    I tried to make the letter M.’

    ‘Ran away, a negro man named Henry; his left eye out, some scars from
    a dirk on and under his left arm, and much scarred with the whip.’

    ‘One hundred dollars reward, for a negro fellow, Pompey, 40 years
    old.  He is branded on the left jaw.’

    ‘Committed to jail, a negro man.  Has no toes on the left foot.’

    ‘Ran away, a negro woman named Rachel.  Has lost all her toes except
    the large one.’

    ‘Ran away, Sam.  He was shot a short time since through the hand, and
    has several shots in his left arm and side.’

    ‘Ran away, my negro man Dennis.  Said negro has been shot in the left
    arm between the shoulder and elbow, which has paralysed the left
    hand.’

    ‘Ran away, my negro man named Simon.  He has been shot badly, in his
    back and right arm.’

    ‘Ran away, a negro named Arthur.  Has a considerable scar across his
    breast and each arm, made by a knife; loves to talk much of the
    goodness of God.’

    ‘Twenty-five dollars reward for my man Isaac.  He has a scar on his
    forehead, caused by a blow; and one on his back, made by a shot from
    a pistol.’

    ‘Ran away, a negro girl called Mary.  Has a small scar over her eye,
    a good many teeth missing, the letter A is branded on her cheek and
    forehead.’

    ‘Ran away, negro Ben.  Has a scar on his right hand; his thumb and
    forefinger being injured by being shot last fall.  A part of the bone
    came out.  He has also one or two large scars on his back and hips.’

    ‘Detained at the jail, a mulatto, named Tom.  Has a scar on the right
    cheek, and appears to have been burned with powder on the face.’

    ‘Ran away, a negro man named Ned.  Three of his fingers are drawn
    into the palm of his hand by a cut.  Has a scar on the back of his
    neck, nearly half round, done by a knife.’

    ‘Was committed to jail, a negro man.  Says his name is Josiah.  His
    back very much scarred by the whip; and branded on the thigh and hips
    in three or four places, thus (J M).  The rim of his right ear has
    been bit or cut off.’

    ‘Fifty dollars reward, for my fellow Edward.  He has a scar on the
    corner of his mouth, two cuts on and under his arm, and the letter E
    on his arm.’

    ‘Ran away, negro boy Ellie.  Has a scar on one of his arms from the
    bite of a dog.’

    ‘Ran away, from the plantation of James Surgette, the following
    negroes: Randal, has one ear cropped; Bob, has lost one eye; Kentucky
    Tom, has one jaw broken.’

    ‘Ran away, Anthony.  One of his ears cut off, and his left hand cut
    with an axe.’

    ‘Fifty dollars reward for the negro Jim Blake.  Has a piece cut out
    of each ear, and the middle finger of the left hand cut off to the
    second joint.’

    ‘Ran away, a negro woman named Maria.  Has a scar on one side of her
    cheek, by a cut.  Some scars on her back.’

    ‘Ran away, the Mulatto wench Mary.  Has a cut on the left arm, a scar
    on the left shoulder, and two upper teeth missing.’

I should say, perhaps, in explanation of this latter piece of
description, that among the other blessings which public opinion secures
to the negroes, is the common practice of violently punching out their
teeth.  To make them wear iron collars by day and night, and to worry
them with dogs, are practices almost too ordinary to deserve mention.

    ‘Ran away, my man Fountain.  Has holes in his ears, a scar on the
    right side of his forehead, has been shot in the hind part of his
    legs, and is marked on the back with the whip.’

    ‘Two hundred and fifty dollars reward for my negro man Jim.  He is
    much marked with shot in his right thigh.  The shot entered on the
    outside, halfway between the hip and knee joints.’

    ‘Brought to jail, John.  Left ear cropt.’

    ‘Taken up, a negro man.  Is very much scarred about the face and
    body, and has the left ear bit off.’

    ‘Ran away, a black girl, named Mary.  Has a scar on her cheek, and
    the end of one of her toes cut off.’

    ‘Ran away, my Mulatto woman, Judy.  She has had her right arm broke.’

    ‘Ran away, my negro man, Levi.  His left hand has been burnt, and I
    think the end of his forefinger is off.’

    ‘Ran away, a negro man, NAMED WASHINGTON.  Has lost a part of his
    middle finger, and the end of his little finger.’

    ‘Twenty-five dollars reward for my man John.  The tip of his nose is
    bit off.’

    ‘Twenty-five dollars reward for the negro slave, Sally.  Walks _as
    though_ crippled in the back.’

    ‘Ran away, Joe Dennis.  Has a small notch in one of his ears.’

    ‘Ran away, negro boy, Jack.  Has a small crop out of his left ear.’

    ‘Ran away, a negro man, named Ivory.  Has a small piece cut out of
    the top of each ear.’

While upon the subject of ears, I may observe that a distinguished
abolitionist in New York once received a negro’s ear, which had been cut
off close to the head, in a general post letter.  It was forwarded by the
free and independent gentleman who had caused it to be amputated, with a
polite request that he would place the specimen in his ‘collection.’

I could enlarge this catalogue with broken arms, and broken legs, and
gashed flesh, and missing teeth, and lacerated backs, and bites of dogs,
and brands of red-hot irons innumerable: but as my readers will be
sufficiently sickened and repelled already, I will turn to another branch
of the subject.

These advertisements, of which a similar collection might be made for
every year, and month, and week, and day; and which are coolly read in
families as things of course, and as a part of the current news and
small-talk; will serve to show how very much the slaves profit by public
opinion, and how tender it is in their behalf.  But it may be worth while
to inquire how the slave-owners, and the class of society to which great
numbers of them belong, defer to public opinion in their conduct, not to
their slaves but to each other; how they are accustomed to restrain their
passions; what their bearing is among themselves; whether they are fierce
or gentle; whether their social customs be brutal, sanguinary, and
violent, or bear the impress of civilisation and refinement.

That we may have no partial evidence from abolitionists in this inquiry,
either, I will once more turn to their own newspapers, and I will confine
myself, this time, to a selection from paragraphs which appeared from day
to day, during my visit to America, and which refer to occurrences
happening while I was there.  The italics in these extracts, as in the
foregoing, are my own.

These cases did not ALL occur, it will be seen, in territory actually
belonging to legalised Slave States, though most, and those the very
worst among them did, as their counterparts constantly do; but the
position of the scenes of action in reference to places immediately at
hand, where slavery is the law; and the strong resemblance between that
class of outrages and the rest; lead to the just presumption that the
character of the parties concerned was formed in slave districts, and
brutalised by slave customs.

                             ‘_Horrible Tragedy_.

    ‘By a slip from _The Southport Telegraph_, Wisconsin, we learn that
    the Hon. Charles C. P. Arndt, Member of the Council for Brown county,
    was shot dead _on the floor of the Council chamber_, by James R.
    Vinyard, Member from Grant county.  _The affair_ grew out of a
    nomination for Sheriff of Grant county.  Mr. E. S. Baker was
    nominated and supported by Mr. Arndt.  This nomination was opposed by
    Vinyard, who wanted the appointment to vest in his own brother.  In
    the course of debate, the deceased made some statements which Vinyard
    pronounced false, and made use of violent and insulting language,
    dealing largely in personalities, to which Mr. A. made no reply.
    After the adjournment, Mr. A. stepped up to Vinyard, and requested
    him to retract, which he refused to do, repeating the offensive
    words.  Mr. Arndt then made a blow at Vinyard, who stepped back a
    pace, drew a pistol, and shot him dead.

    ‘The issue appears to have been provoked on the part of Vinyard, who
    was determined at all hazards to defeat the appointment of Baker, and
    who, himself defeated, turned his ire and revenge upon the
    unfortunate Arndt.’

                          ‘_The Wisconsin Tragedy_.

    Public indignation runs high in the territory of Wisconsin, in
    relation to the murder of C. C. P. Arndt, in the Legislative Hall of
    the Territory.  Meetings have been held in different counties of
    Wisconsin, denouncing _the practice of secretly bearing arms in the
    Legislative chambers of the country_.  We have seen the account of
    the expulsion of James R. Vinyard, the perpetrator of the bloody
    deed, and are amazed to hear, that, after this expulsion by those who
    saw Vinyard kill Mr. Arndt in the presence of his aged father, who
    was on a visit to see his son, little dreaming that he was to witness
    his murder, _Judge Dunn has discharged Vinyard on bail_.  The Miners’
    Free Press speaks _in terms of merited rebuke_ at the outrage upon
    the feelings of the people of Wisconsin.  Vinyard was within arm’s
    length of Mr. Arndt, when he took such deadly aim at him, that he
    never spoke.  Vinyard might at pleasure, being so near, have only
    wounded him, but he chose to kill him.’

                                  ‘_Murder_.

    By a letter in a St. Louis paper of the ‘4th, we notice a terrible
    outrage at Burlington, Iowa.  A Mr. Bridgman having had a difficulty
    with a citizen of the place, Mr. Ross; a brother-in-law of the latter
    provided himself with one of Colt’s revolving pistols, met Mr. B. in
    the street, _and discharged the contents of five of the barrels at
    him_: _each shot taking effect_.  Mr. B., though horribly wounded,
    and dying, returned the fire, and killed Ross on the spot.’

                     ‘_Terrible Death of Robert Potter_.

    ‘From the “Caddo Gazette,” of the 12th inst., we learn the frightful
    death of Colonel Robert Potter. . . . He was beset in his house by an
    enemy, named Rose.  He sprang from his couch, seized his gun, and, in
    his night-clothes, rushed from the house.  For about two hundred
    yards his speed seemed to defy his pursuers; but, getting entangled
    in a thicket, he was captured.  Rose told him _that he intended to
    act a generous part_, and give him a chance for his life.  He then
    told Potter he might run, and he should not be interrupted till he
    reached a certain distance.  Potter started at the word of command,
    and before a gun was fired he had reached the lake.  His first
    impulse was to jump in the water and dive for it, which he did.  Rose
    was close behind him, and formed his men on the bank ready to shoot
    him as he rose.  In a few seconds he came up to breathe; and scarce
    had his head reached the surface of the water when it was completely
    riddled with the shot of their guns, and he sunk, to rise no more!’

                            ‘_Murder in Arkansas_.

    ‘We understand _that a severe rencontre came off_ a few days since in
    the Seneca Nation, between Mr. Loose, the sub-agent of the mixed band
    of the Senecas, Quapaw, and Shawnees, and Mr. James Gillespie, of the
    mercantile firm of Thomas G. Allison and Co., of Maysville, Benton,
    County Ark, in which the latter was slain with a bowie-knife.  Some
    difficulty had for some time existed between the parties.  It is said
    that Major Gillespie brought on the attack with a cane.  A severe
    conflict ensued, during which two pistols were fired by Gillespie and
    one by Loose.  Loose then stabbed Gillespie with one of those
    never-failing weapons, a bowie-knife.  The death of Major G. is much
    regretted, as he was a liberal-minded and energetic man.  Since the
    above was in type, we have learned that Major Allison has stated to
    some of our citizens in town that Mr. Loose gave the first blow.  We
    forbear to give any particulars, as _the matter will be the subject
    of judicial investigation_.’

                                ‘_Foul Deed_.

    The steamer Thames, just from Missouri river, brought us a handbill,
    offering a reward of 500 dollars, for the person who assassinated
    Lilburn W. Baggs, late Governor of this State, at Independence, on
    the night of the 6th inst.  Governor Baggs, it is stated in a written
    memorandum, was not dead, but mortally wounded.

    ‘Since the above was written, we received a note from the clerk of
    the Thames, giving the following particulars.  Gov. Baggs was shot by
    some villain on Friday, 6th inst., in the evening, while sitting in a
    room in his own house in Independence.  His son, a boy, hearing a
    report, ran into the room, and found the Governor sitting in his
    chair, with his jaw fallen down, and his head leaning back; on
    discovering the injury done to his father, he gave the alarm.  Foot
    tracks were found in the garden below the window, and a pistol picked
    up supposed to have been overloaded, and thrown from the hand of the
    scoundrel who fired it.  Three buck shots of a heavy load, took
    effect; one going through his mouth, one into the brain, and another
    probably in or near the brain; all going into the back part of the
    neck and head.  The Governor was still alive on the morning of the
    7th; but no hopes for his recovery by his friends, and but slight
    hopes from his physicians.

    ‘A man was suspected, and the Sheriff most probably has possession of
    him by this time.

    ‘The pistol was one of a pair stolen some days previous from a baker
    in Independence, and the legal authorities have the description of
    the other.’

                                ‘_Rencontre_.

    ‘An unfortunate _affair_ took place on Friday evening in Chatres
    Street, in which one of our most respectable citizens received a
    dangerous wound, from a poignard, in the abdomen.  From the Bee (New
    Orleans) of yesterday, we learn the following particulars.  It
    appears that an article was published in the French side of the paper
    on Monday last, containing some strictures on the Artillery Battalion
    for firing their guns on Sunday morning, in answer to those from the
    Ontario and Woodbury, and thereby much alarm was caused to the
    families of those persons who were out all night preserving the peace
    of the city.  Major C. Gally, Commander of the battalion, resenting
    this, called at the office and demanded the author’s name; that of
    Mr. P. Arpin was given to him, who was absent at the time.  Some
    angry words then passed with one of the proprietors, and a challenge
    followed; the friends of both parties tried to arrange the affair,
    but failed to do so.  On Friday evening, about seven o’clock, Major
    Gally met Mr. P. Arpin in Chatres Street, and accosted him.  “Are you
    Mr. Arpin?”

    ‘“Yes, sir.”

    ‘“Then I have to tell you that you are a—” (applying an appropriate
    epithet).

    ‘“I shall remind you of your words, sir.”

    ‘“But I have said I would break my cane on your shoulders.”

    ‘“I know it, but I have not yet received the blow.”

    ‘At these words, Major Gally, having a cane in his hands, struck Mr.
    Arpin across the face, and the latter drew a poignard from his pocket
    and stabbed Major Gally in the abdomen.

    ‘Fears are entertained that the wound will be mortal.  _We understand
    that Mr. Arpin has given security for his appearance at the Criminal
    Court to answer the charge_.’

                          ‘_Affray in Mississippi_.

    ‘On the 27th ult., in an affray near Carthage, Leake county,
    Mississippi, between James Cottingham and John Wilburn, the latter
    was shot by the former, and so horribly wounded, that there was no
    hope of his recovery.  On the 2nd instant, there was an affray at
    Carthage between A. C. Sharkey and George Goff, in which the latter
    was shot, and thought mortally wounded.  Sharkey delivered himself up
    to the authorities, _but changed his mind and escaped_!’

                            ‘_Personal Encounter_.

    ‘An encounter took place in Sparta, a few days since, between the
    barkeeper of an hotel, and a man named Bury.  It appears that Bury
    had become somewhat noisy, _and that the barkeeper_, _determined to
    preserve order_, _had threatened to shoot Bury_, whereupon Bury drew
    a pistol and shot the barkeeper down.  He was not dead at the last
    accounts, but slight hopes were entertained of his recovery.’

                                   ‘_Duel_.

    ‘The clerk of the steamboat _Tribune_ informs us that another duel
    was fought on Tuesday last, by Mr. Robbins, a bank officer in
    Vicksburg, and Mr. Fall, the editor of the Vicksburg Sentinel.
    According to the arrangement, the parties had six pistols each,
    which, after the word “Fire!” _they were to discharge as fast as they
    pleased_.  Fall fired two pistols without effect.  Mr. Robbins’ first
    shot took effect in Fall’s thigh, who fell, and was unable to
    continue the combat.’

                         ‘_Affray in Clarke County_.

    ‘An _unfortunate affray_ occurred in Clarke county (MO.), near
    Waterloo, on Tuesday the 19th ult., which originated in settling the
    partnership concerns of Messrs. M‘Kane and M‘Allister, who had been
    engaged in the business of distilling, and resulted in the death of
    the latter, who was shot down by Mr. M‘Kane, because of his
    attempting to take possession of seven barrels of whiskey, the
    property of M‘Kane, which had been knocked off to M‘Allister at a
    sheriff’s sale at one dollar per barrel.  M‘Kane immediately fled
    _and at the latest dates had not been taken_.

    ‘_This unfortunate affray_ caused considerable excitement in the
    neighbourhood, as both the parties were men with large families
    depending upon them and stood well in the community.’

I will quote but one more paragraph, which, by reason of its monstrous
absurdity, may be a relief to these atrocious deeds.

                             ‘_Affair of Honour_.

    ‘We have just heard the particulars of a meeting which took place on
    Six Mile Island, on Tuesday, between two young bloods of our city:
    Samuel Thurston, _aged fifteen_, and William Hine, _aged thirteen_
    years.  They were attended by young gentlemen of the same age.  The
    weapons used on the occasion, were a couple of Dickson’s best rifles;
    the distance, thirty yards.  They took one fire, without any damage
    being sustained by either party, except the ball of Thurston’s gun
    passing through the crown of Hine’s hat.  _Through the intercession
    of the Board of Honour_, the challenge was withdrawn, and the
    difference amicably adjusted.’

If the reader will picture to himself the kind of Board of Honour which
amicably adjusted the difference between these two little boys, who in
any other part of the world would have been amicably adjusted on two
porters’ backs and soundly flogged with birchen rods, he will be
possessed, no doubt, with as strong a sense of its ludicrous character,
as that which sets me laughing whenever its image rises up before me.

Now, I appeal to every human mind, imbued with the commonest of common
sense, and the commonest of common humanity; to all dispassionate,
reasoning creatures, of any shade of opinion; and ask, with these
revolting evidences of the state of society which exists in and about the
slave districts of America before them, can they have a doubt of the real
condition of the slave, or can they for a moment make a compromise
between the institution or any of its flagrant, fearful features, and
their own just consciences? Will they say of any tale of cruelty and
horror, however aggravated in degree, that it is improbable, when they
can turn to the public prints, and, running, read such signs as these,
laid before them by the men who rule the slaves: in their own acts and
under their own hands?

Do we not know that the worst deformity and ugliness of slavery are at
once the cause and the effect of the reckless license taken by these
freeborn outlaws?  Do we not know that the man who has been born and bred
among its wrongs; who has seen in his childhood husbands obliged at the
word of command to flog their wives; women, indecently compelled to hold
up their own garments that men might lay the heavier stripes upon their
legs, driven and harried by brutal overseers in their time of travail,
and becoming mothers on the field of toil, under the very lash itself;
who has read in youth, and seen his virgin sisters read, descriptions of
runaway men and women, and their disfigured persons, which could not be
published elsewhere, of so much stock upon a farm, or at a show of
beasts:—do we not know that that man, whenever his wrath is kindled up,
will be a brutal savage?  Do we not know that as he is a coward in his
domestic life, stalking among his shrinking men and women slaves armed
with his heavy whip, so he will be a coward out of doors, and carrying
cowards’ weapons hidden in his breast, will shoot men down and stab them
when he quarrels?  And if our reason did not teach us this and much
beyond; if we were such idiots as to close our eyes to that fine mode of
training which rears up such men; should we not know that they who among
their equals stab and pistol in the legislative halls, and in the
counting-house, and on the marketplace, and in all the elsewhere peaceful
pursuits of life, must be to their dependants, even though they were free
servants, so many merciless and unrelenting tyrants?

What! shall we declaim against the ignorant peasantry of Ireland, and
mince the matter when these American taskmasters are in question?  Shall
we cry shame on the brutality of those who hamstring cattle: and spare
the lights of Freedom upon earth who notch the ears of men and women, cut
pleasant posies in the shrinking flesh, learn to write with pens of
red-hot iron on the human face, rack their poetic fancies for liveries of
mutilation which their slaves shall wear for life and carry to the grave,
breaking living limbs as did the soldiery who mocked and slew the Saviour
of the world, and set defenceless creatures up for targets! Shall we
whimper over legends of the tortures practised on each other by the Pagan
Indians, and smile upon the cruelties of Christian men!  Shall we, so
long as these things last, exult above the scattered remnants of that
race, and triumph in the white enjoyment of their possessions?  Rather,
for me, restore the forest and the Indian village; in lieu of stars and
stripes, let some poor feather flutter in the breeze; replace the streets
and squares by wigwams; and though the death-song of a hundred haughty
warriors fill the air, it will be music to the shriek of one unhappy
slave.

On one theme, which is commonly before our eyes, and in respect of which
our national character is changing fast, let the plain Truth be spoken,
and let us not, like dastards, beat about the bush by hinting at the
Spaniard and the fierce Italian.  When knives are drawn by Englishmen in
conflict let it be said and known: ‘We owe this change to Republican
Slavery.  These are the weapons of Freedom.  With sharp points and edges
such as these, Liberty in America hews and hacks her slaves; or, failing
that pursuit, her sons devote them to a better use, and turn them on each
other.’



CHAPTER XVIII
CONCLUDING REMARKS


THERE are many passages in this book, where I have been at some pains to
resist the temptation of troubling my readers with my own deductions and
conclusions: preferring that they should judge for themselves, from such
premises as I have laid before them.  My only object in the outset, was,
to carry them with me faithfully wheresoever I went: and that task I have
discharged.

But I may be pardoned, if on such a theme as the general character of the
American people, and the general character of their social system, as
presented to a stranger’s eyes, I desire to express my own opinions in a
few words, before I bring these volumes to a close.

They are, by nature, frank, brave, cordial, hospitable, and affectionate.
Cultivation and refinement seem but to enhance their warmth of heart and
ardent enthusiasm; and it is the possession of these latter qualities in
a most remarkable degree, which renders an educated American one of the
most endearing and most generous of friends.  I never was so won upon, as
by this class; never yielded up my full confidence and esteem so readily
and pleasurably, as to them; never can make again, in half a year, so
many friends for whom I seem to entertain the regard of half a life.

These qualities are natural, I implicitly believe, to the whole people.
That they are, however, sadly sapped and blighted in their growth among
the mass; and that there are influences at work which endanger them still
more, and give but little present promise of their healthy restoration;
is a truth that ought to be told.

It is an essential part of every national character to pique itself
mightily upon its faults, and to deduce tokens of its virtue or its
wisdom from their very exaggeration.  One great blemish in the popular
mind of America, and the prolific parent of an innumerable brood of
evils, is Universal Distrust.  Yet the American citizen plumes himself
upon this spirit, even when he is sufficiently dispassionate to perceive
the ruin it works; and will often adduce it, in spite of his own reason,
as an instance of the great sagacity and acuteness of the people, and
their superior shrewdness and independence.

‘You carry,’ says the stranger, ‘this jealousy and distrust into every
transaction of public life.  By repelling worthy men from your
legislative assemblies, it has bred up a class of candidates for the
suffrage, who, in their very act, disgrace your Institutions and your
people’s choice.  It has rendered you so fickle, and so given to change,
that your inconstancy has passed into a proverb; for you no sooner set up
an idol firmly, than you are sure to pull it down and dash it into
fragments: and this, because directly you reward a benefactor, or a
public servant, you distrust him, merely because he is rewarded; and
immediately apply yourselves to find out, either that you have been too
bountiful in your acknowledgments, or he remiss in his deserts.  Any man
who attains a high place among you, from the President downwards, may
date his downfall from that moment; for any printed lie that any
notorious villain pens, although it militate directly against the
character and conduct of a life, appeals at once to your distrust, and is
believed.  You will strain at a gnat in the way of trustfulness and
confidence, however fairly won and well deserved; but you will swallow a
whole caravan of camels, if they be laden with unworthy doubts and mean
suspicions.  Is this well, think you, or likely to elevate the character
of the governors or the governed, among you?’

The answer is invariably the same: ‘There’s freedom of opinion here, you
know.  Every man thinks for himself, and we are not to be easily
overreached.  That’s how our people come to be suspicious.’

Another prominent feature is the love of ‘smart’ dealing: which gilds
over many a swindle and gross breach of trust; many a defalcation, public
and private; and enables many a knave to hold his head up with the best,
who well deserves a halter; though it has not been without its
retributive operation, for this smartness has done more in a few years to
impair the public credit, and to cripple the public resources, than dull
honesty, however rash, could have effected in a century.  The merits of a
broken speculation, or a bankruptcy, or of a successful scoundrel, are
not gauged by its or his observance of the golden rule, ‘Do as you would
be done by,’ but are considered with reference to their smartness.  I
recollect, on both occasions of our passing that ill-fated Cairo on the
Mississippi, remarking on the bad effects such gross deceits must have
when they exploded, in generating a want of confidence abroad, and
discouraging foreign investment: but I was given to understand that this
was a very smart scheme by which a deal of money had been made: and that
its smartest feature was, that they forgot these things abroad, in a very
short time, and speculated again, as freely as ever.  The following
dialogue I have held a hundred times: ‘Is it not a very disgraceful
circumstance that such a man as So-and-so should be acquiring a large
property by the most infamous and odious means, and notwithstanding all
the crimes of which he has been guilty, should be tolerated and abetted
by your Citizens?  He is a public nuisance, is he not?’  ‘Yes, sir.’  ‘A
convicted liar?’  ‘Yes, sir.’  ‘He has been kicked, and cuffed, and
caned?’  ‘Yes, sir.’  ‘And he is utterly dishonourable, debased, and
profligate?’  ‘Yes, sir.’  ‘In the name of wonder, then, what is his
merit?’  ‘Well, sir, he is a smart man.’

In like manner, all kinds of deficient and impolitic usages are referred
to the national love of trade; though, oddly enough, it would be a
weighty charge against a foreigner that he regarded the Americans as a
trading people.  The love of trade is assigned as a reason for that
comfortless custom, so very prevalent in country towns, of married
persons living in hotels, having no fireside of their own, and seldom
meeting from early morning until late at night, but at the hasty public
meals.  The love of trade is a reason why the literature of America is to
remain for ever unprotected ‘For we are a trading people, and don’t care
for poetry:’ though we _do_, by the way, profess to be very proud of our
poets: while healthful amusements, cheerful means of recreation, and
wholesome fancies, must fade before the stern utilitarian joys of trade.

These three characteristics are strongly presented at every turn, full in
the stranger’s view.  But, the foul growth of America has a more tangled
root than this; and it strikes its fibres, deep in its licentious Press.

Schools may be erected, East, West, North, and South; pupils be taught,
and masters reared, by scores upon scores of thousands; colleges may
thrive, churches may be crammed, temperance may be diffused, and
advancing knowledge in all other forms walk through the land with giant
strides: but while the newspaper press of America is in, or near, its
present abject state, high moral improvement in that country is hopeless.
Year by year, it must and will go back; year by year, the tone of public
feeling must sink lower down; year by year, the Congress and the Senate
must become of less account before all decent men; and year by year, the
memory of the Great Fathers of the Revolution must be outraged more and
more, in the bad life of their degenerate child.

Among the herd of journals which are published in the States, there are
some, the reader scarcely need be told, of character and credit.  From
personal intercourse with accomplished gentlemen connected with
publications of this class, I have derived both pleasure and profit.  But
the name of these is Few, and of the others Legion; and the influence of
the good, is powerless to counteract the moral poison of the bad.

Among the gentry of America; among the well-informed and moderate: in the
learned professions; at the bar and on the bench: there is, as there can
be, but one opinion, in reference to the vicious character of these
infamous journals.  It is sometimes contended—I will not say strangely,
for it is natural to seek excuses for such a disgrace—that their
influence is not so great as a visitor would suppose.  I must be pardoned
for saying that there is no warrant for this plea, and that every fact
and circumstance tends directly to the opposite conclusion.

When any man, of any grade of desert in intellect or character, can climb
to any public distinction, no matter what, in America, without first
grovelling down upon the earth, and bending the knee before this monster
of depravity; when any private excellence is safe from its attacks; when
any social confidence is left unbroken by it, or any tie of social
decency and honour is held in the least regard; when any man in that free
country has freedom of opinion, and presumes to think for himself, and
speak for himself, without humble reference to a censorship which, for
its rampant ignorance and base dishonesty, he utterly loathes and
despises in his heart; when those who most acutely feel its infamy and
the reproach it casts upon the nation, and who most denounce it to each
other, dare to set their heels upon, and crush it openly, in the sight of
all men: then, I will believe that its influence is lessening, and men
are returning to their manly senses.  But while that Press has its evil
eye in every house, and its black hand in every appointment in the state,
from a president to a postman; while, with ribald slander for its only
stock in trade, it is the standard literature of an enormous class, who
must find their reading in a newspaper, or they will not read at all; so
long must its odium be upon the country’s head, and so long must the evil
it works, be plainly visible in the Republic.

To those who are accustomed to the leading English journals, or to the
respectable journals of the Continent of Europe; to those who are
accustomed to anything else in print and paper; it would be impossible,
without an amount of extract for which I have neither space nor
inclination, to convey an adequate idea of this frightful engine in
America.  But if any man desire confirmation of my statement on this
head, let him repair to any place in this city of London, where scattered
numbers of these publications are to be found; and there, let him form
his own opinion. {206}

It would be well, there can be no doubt, for the American people as a
whole, if they loved the Real less, and the Ideal somewhat more.  It
would be well, if there were greater encouragement to lightness of heart
and gaiety, and a wider cultivation of what is beautiful, without being
eminently and directly useful.  But here, I think the general
remonstrance, ‘we are a new country,’ which is so often advanced as an
excuse for defects which are quite unjustifiable, as being, of right,
only the slow growth of an old one, may be very reasonably urged: and I
yet hope to hear of there being some other national amusement in the
United States, besides newspaper politics.

They certainly are not a humorous people, and their temperament always
impressed me is being of a dull and gloomy character.  In shrewdness of
remark, and a certain cast-iron quaintness, the Yankees, or people of New
England, unquestionably take the lead; as they do in most other evidences
of intelligence.  But in travelling about, out of the large cities—as I
have remarked in former parts of these volumes—I was quite oppressed by
the prevailing seriousness and melancholy air of business: which was so
general and unvarying, that at every new town I came to, I seemed to meet
the very same people whom I had left behind me, at the last.  Such
defects as are perceptible in the national manners, seem, to me, to be
referable, in a great degree, to this cause: which has generated a dull,
sullen persistence in coarse usages, and rejected the graces of life as
undeserving of attention.  There is no doubt that Washington, who was
always most scrupulous and exact on points of ceremony, perceived the
tendency towards this mistake, even in his time, and did his utmost to
correct it.

I cannot hold with other writers on these subjects that the prevalence of
various forms of dissent in America, is in any way attributable to the
non-existence there of an established church: indeed, I think the temper
of the people, if it admitted of such an Institution being founded
amongst them, would lead them to desert it, as a matter of course, merely
because it _was_ established.  But, supposing it to exist, I doubt its
probable efficacy in summoning the wandering sheep to one great fold,
simply because of the immense amount of dissent which prevails at home;
and because I do not find in America any one form of religion with which
we in Europe, or even in England, are unacquainted.  Dissenters resort
thither in great numbers, as other people do, simply because it is a land
of resort; and great settlements of them are founded, because ground can
be purchased, and towns and villages reared, where there were none of the
human creation before.  But even the Shakers emigrated from England; our
country is not unknown to Mr. Joseph Smith, the apostle of Mormonism, or
to his benighted disciples; I have beheld religious scenes myself in some
of our populous towns which can hardly be surpassed by an American
camp-meeting; and I am not aware that any instance of superstitious
imposture on the one hand, and superstitious credulity on the other, has
had its origin in the United States, which we cannot more than parallel
by the precedents of Mrs. Southcote, Mary Tofts the rabbit-breeder, or
even Mr. Thorn of Canterbury: which latter case arose, some time after
the dark ages had passed away.

The Republican Institutions of America undoubtedly lead the people to
assert their self-respect and their equality; but a traveller is bound to
bear those Institutions in his mind, and not hastily to resent the near
approach of a class of strangers, who, at home, would keep aloof.  This
characteristic, when it was tinctured with no foolish pride, and stopped
short of no honest service, never offended me; and I very seldom, if
ever, experienced its rude or unbecoming display.  Once or twice it was
comically developed, as in the following case; but this was an amusing
incident, and not the rule, or near it.

I wanted a pair of boots at a certain town, for I had none to travel in,
but those with the memorable cork soles, which were much too hot for the
fiery decks of a steamboat.  I therefore sent a message to an artist in
boots, importing, with my compliments, that I should be happy to see him,
if he would do me the polite favour to call.  He very kindly returned for
answer, that he would ‘look round’ at six o’clock that evening.

I was lying on the sofa, with a book and a wine-glass, at about that
time, when the door opened, and a gentleman in a stiff cravat, within a
year or two on either side of thirty, entered, in his hat and gloves;
walked up to the looking-glass; arranged his hair; took off his gloves;
slowly produced a measure from the uttermost depths of his coat-pocket;
and requested me, in a languid tone, to ‘unfix’ my straps.  I complied,
but looked with some curiosity at his hat, which was still upon his head.
It might have been that, or it might have been the heat—but he took it
off.  Then, he sat himself down on a chair opposite to me; rested an arm
on each knee; and, leaning forward very much, took from the ground, by a
great effort, the specimen of metropolitan workmanship which I had just
pulled off: whistling, pleasantly, as he did so.  He turned it over and
over; surveyed it with a contempt no language can express; and inquired
if I wished him to fix me a boot like _that_?  I courteously replied,
that provided the boots were large enough, I would leave the rest to him;
that if convenient and practicable, I should not object to their bearing
some resemblance to the model then before him; but that I would be
entirely guided by, and would beg to leave the whole subject to, his
judgment and discretion. ‘You an’t partickler, about this scoop in the
heel, I suppose then?’ says he: ‘we don’t foller that, here.’  I repeated
my last observation.  He looked at himself in the glass again; went
closer to it to dash a grain or two of dust out of the corner of his eye;
and settled his cravat.  All this time, my leg and foot were in the air.
‘Nearly ready, sir?’ I inquired.  ‘Well, pretty nigh,’ he said; ‘keep
steady.’  I kept as steady as I could, both in foot and face; and having
by this time got the dust out, and found his pencil-case, he measured me,
and made the necessary notes.  When he had finished, he fell into his old
attitude, and taking up the boot again, mused for some time.  ‘And this,’
he said, at last, ‘is an English boot, is it?  This is a London boot,
eh?’  ‘That, sir,’ I replied, ‘is a London boot.’  He mused over it
again, after the manner of Hamlet with Yorick’s skull; nodded his head,
as who should say, ‘I pity the Institutions that led to the production of
this boot!’; rose; put up his pencil, notes, and paper—glancing at
himself in the glass, all the time—put on his hat—drew on his gloves very
slowly; and finally walked out.  When he had been gone about a minute,
the door reopened, and his hat and his head reappeared.  He looked round
the room, and at the boot again, which was still lying on the floor;
appeared thoughtful for a minute; and then said ‘Well, good arternoon.’
‘Good afternoon, sir,’ said I: and that was the end of the interview.

There is but one other head on which I wish to offer a remark; and that
has reference to the public health.  In so vast a country, where there
are thousands of millions of acres of land yet unsettled and uncleared,
and on every rood of which, vegetable decomposition is annually taking
place; where there are so many great rivers, and such opposite varieties
of climate; there cannot fail to be a great amount of sickness at certain
seasons.  But I may venture to say, after conversing with many members of
the medical profession in America, that I am not singular in the opinion
that much of the disease which does prevail, might be avoided, if a few
common precautions were observed.  Greater means of personal cleanliness,
are indispensable to this end; the custom of hastily swallowing large
quantities of animal food, three times a-day, and rushing back to
sedentary pursuits after each meal, must be changed; the gentler sex must
go more wisely clad, and take more healthful exercise; and in the latter
clause, the males must be included also.  Above all, in public
institutions, and throughout the whole of every town and city, the system
of ventilation, and drainage, and removal of impurities requires to be
thoroughly revised.  There is no local Legislature in America which may
not study Mr. Chadwick’s excellent Report upon the Sanitary Condition of
our Labouring Classes, with immense advantage.

                                * * * * *

I HAVE now arrived at the close of this book.  I have little reason to
believe, from certain warnings I have had since I returned to England,
that it will be tenderly or favourably received by the American people;
and as I have written the Truth in relation to the mass of those who form
their judgments and express their opinions, it will be seen that I have
no desire to court, by any adventitious means, the popular applause.

It is enough for me, to know, that what I have set down in these pages,
cannot cost me a single friend on the other side of the Atlantic, who is,
in anything, deserving of the name.  For the rest, I put my trust,
implicitly, in the spirit in which they have been conceived and penned;
and I can bide my time.

I have made no reference to my reception, nor have I suffered it to
influence me in what I have written; for, in either case, I should have
offered but a sorry acknowledgment, compared with that I bear within my
breast, towards those partial readers of my former books, across the
Water, who met me with an open hand, and not with one that closed upon an
iron muzzle.

                                * * * * *

                                 THE END

                                * * * * *



POSTSCRIPT


AT a Public Dinner given to me on Saturday the 18th of April, 1868, in
the City of New York, by two hundred representatives of the Press of the
United States of America, I made the following observations among others:

‘So much of my voice has lately been heard in the land, that I might have
been contented with troubling you no further from my present
standing-point, were it not a duty with which I henceforth charge myself,
not only here but on every suitable occasion, whatsoever and wheresoever,
to express my high and grateful sense of my second reception in America,
and to bear my honest testimony to the national generosity and
magnanimity.  Also, to declare how astounded I have been by the amazing
changes I have seen around me on every side,—changes moral, changes
physical, changes in the amount of land subdued and peopled, changes in
the rise of vast new cities, changes in the growth of older cities almost
out of recognition, changes in the graces and amenities of life, changes
in the Press, without whose advancement no advancement can take place
anywhere.  Nor am I, believe me, so arrogant as to suppose that in five
and twenty years there have been no changes in me, and that I had nothing
to learn and no extreme impressions to correct when I was here first.
And this brings me to a point on which I have, ever since I landed in the
United States last November, observed a strict silence, though sometimes
tempted to break it, but in reference to which I will, with your good
leave, take you into my confidence now.  Even the Press, being human, may
be sometimes mistaken or misinformed, and I rather think that I have in
one or two rare instances observed its information to be not strictly
accurate with reference to myself.  Indeed, I have, now and again, been
more surprised by printed news that I have read of myself, than by any
printed news that I have ever read in my present state of existence.
Thus, the vigour and perseverance with which I have for some months past
been collecting materials for, and hammering away at, a new book on
America has much astonished me; seeing that all that time my declaration
has been perfectly well known to my publishers on both sides of the
Atlantic, that no consideration on earth would induce me to write one.
But what I have intended, what I have resolved upon (and this is the
confidence I seek to place in you) is, on my return to England, in my own
person, in my own journal, to bear, for the behoof of my countrymen, such
testimony to the gigantic changes in this country as I have hinted at
to-night.  Also, to record that wherever I have been, in the smallest
places equally with the largest, I have been received with unsurpassable
politeness, delicacy, sweet temper, hospitality, consideration, and with
unsurpassable respect for the privacy daily enforced upon me by the
nature of my avocation here and the state of my health.  This testimony,
so long as I live, and so long as my descendants have any legal right in
my books, I shall cause to be republished, as an appendix to every copy
of those two books of mine in which I have referred to America.  And this
I will do and cause to be done, not in mere love and thankfulness, but
because I regard it as an act of plain justice and honour.’

I said these words with the greatest earnestness that I could lay upon
them, and I repeat them in print here with equal earnestness.  So long as
this book shall last, I hope that they will form a part of it, and will
be fairly read as inseparable from my experiences and impressions of
America.

                                                          CHARLES DICKENS.

_May_, 1868.

                                * * * * *

                                PRINTED BY
                    WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
                           LONDON AND BECCLES.



FOOTNOTES


{1}  This Doctrine Publishing Corporation eText contains just _American Notes_.
_Pictures from Italy_ is also available from Doctrine Publishing Corporation as a
separate eText.—DP.

{206}  NOTE TO THE ORIGINAL EDITION.—Or let him refer to an able, and
perfectly truthful article, in _The Foreign Quarterly Review_, published
in the present month of October; to which my attention has been
attracted, since these sheets have been passing through the press.  He
will find some specimens there, by no means remarkable to any man who has
been in America, but sufficiently striking to one who has not.





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