Letters from Alabama
To Which is Added,
Sundry Members of the 20th & 21st Congress,
High Characters, &c. &c.
at the Seat of Government.
In One Volume.
Author of Sketches, &c. in the United States, Tennesseean, Black-Book, &c.
District of Columbia, to wit:
Be it remembered, that on the 1829-12-19nineteenth day of December, in the A rectangle of asterisks (four lines high) with the word Seal. centered inside. (The seal in question is not visibly affixed or embossed.)Seal. year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty-nine, and of the independence of the United States of America, the fifty-fourth, Ann Royall, of the said District, has deposited in the Office of the Clerk of the District Court for the District of Columbia, the title of a Book, the right whereof she claims as author, in the words following, to wit:
Letters from Alabama on various subjects: to which is added, an Appendix, containing Remarks on sundry Members of the 20th and 21st Congress, and other High Characters, &c. &c., at the Seat of Government. In one volume. By Anne Royall, author or Sketches, &c. in the United States, Tennesseean, Black-Book, &c.
In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the times therein mentioned. And also to the act, entitled An act supplementary to an act, entitled An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the times therein mentioned. and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other Prints.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and affixed the public seal of my Office, the day and year aforesaid.
Edm. L. Lee, Clerk of the District Court for the District of Columbia
To the Public.
The following letters were written some time back, taking in a period of four to five years, during various tours to the South. They were to have appeared five years since, but, unfortunately, were lost, and only recovered a few months since. They were often mentioned in the Newspapers, and are doubtless recollected by many who subscribed for the work. They are brought down to 18221822.
Cabell Court House, Virginia, 1817-11-2828th Nov. 1817.
I lament your absence from Charlestown, at the time my setting out; yet perhaps it is better so, expecially as it was not in your power to transact the business with S――. On my arrival here, I sent for Mr. Ladely, who very politely undertook to execute the business without delay; but how you are to get the papers in time, Heaven only knows. I must leave it to chance. You say you are going to Ohio to spend the winter—for your health, I presume—better go to North Carolina, or any southern climate. Go to bed early, and rise betimes in the morning. You ruin your health by setting up late. Hang the cards, they are to be your ruin: I never knew any good come of them. They will, if you persist in them, cost you your health, reputation, perhaps your life! Cards subject you to bad company and bad hours. What is worse? Oh, M. quit them—pursue something more worthy of yourself.
But I see I must quit writing. Mr. L. and myself are both sitting at one table, and trying to write; but we shall have to give it up. The room we are in, which is the family apartment, was occupied when I came in, by two or three rough looking men. They had been drinking, and were disputing on politics when I entered. When Mr. L. and myself sat down to write, I thought they would take the hint; but no! here they sit. I suspect they must be some of the consequentials of the neighborhood, as they are suffered to occupy the sanctum sanctorum 6 1(3)v 6 of the landlady, to the groast molestation of the guests. They have begun on the scriptures now, and a fight, I suspect, will break up the debate. Strange! how the sacred writings are abused by the misguided vulgar. How absurd! and yet how common! You will scarcely see two or three persons together who do not engage in disputes about the scriptures; and yet no subject is so little calculated to sustain contradiction. One party always, and often both, fall into a rage. Were the scriptures given for this? But some will say it is our privilege to talk in a free country. True—but not to quarrel! I never knew any good, but on the contrary much harm, flow from these disputes: neither is this practice confined to drunkards over their cups: sober, but narrow minded religious sects are addicted to it; and it is always found to present most amongst those who practice the duties of the Christian religion least. As there is no surer mark of an evil disposed female, or want of virtue, than to hear her defame her own sex; so there can be no stronger evidence of a hypocrite than to hear him rail at other sects than that to which he belongs: and I should want no better proof of his being every thing but a Christian. The Christian religion does not consist in vain disputes and idle talk, but in the practice of its precepts. I have never heard any of these sectarians dispute the privelege of relieving the distressed. The idea of such a dispute never entered their heads or hearts.
I find Mr. L. a man of much patience. I confess I must yield to him the victory. He is certainly a modest as well as a very pleasant man. Dear M. I must retire to rest. God bless you! Pray take care of your health.
N. B. You shall have the papers by Tuesday, if possible.
Mount Sterling, Kentucky, 1817-12-022d Dec. 1817.
Here I am, safe and sound, in defiance of wind and weather, bad roads, and all. To use the common phrase, very little 7 1(4)r 7 worth your attention has occured since I wrote to you from Cabell. I had not proceeded a mile on my way the next morning, before I was met by a gentleman riding on horseback, and alone. This was the thing I wished, provided he was going so far as your town; but from the stranger’s appearance, I had little hope of that. He was without any thing that might indicate a journey of any distance. He was thinly clad, without portmanteau or saddle bags, and even without a great coat, although it had snowed during the night, and the morning was intensely cold. He addressed me with the easy politeness of a gentleman, and inquired how far it was to town, meaning Cabell Court House, and also how far it was to Charlestown? My heart leaped for joy on hearing the last interrogatory. After giving him the desired information on each of his inquiries, Are you going to Charlestown, Sir, said I, drawing forth my packet from my pocket. He replied in the affirmative. Will you be so good then, I asked, as to take charge of this packet and deliver it there? He kindly assented, observing that he would execute my commands with pleasure. All this was the business of the moment; but no sooner had he disposed of the packet, and we were about to separate, than I repented my rashness in confiding so much in a stranger, and thought it might not be amiss to inquire for his place of residence. But what was my astonishment, when he told me he lived in Scotland; but that, at present, he was going to Canada. At any rate, Sir, said I, you have the deportment of a gentleman, and I will venture to trust you. Fear me not, said he, I will not deceive you. We bowed to each other and separated. You are in a poor trim, thought I, for a journey to Canada at this season, as he parted from me shivering with the cold.
At the distance of a mile from the place of our meeting, I met three men riding with led horses, heavy laden. They were muffled up in great coats, cloaks, &c. I concluded they belonged to the gentleman ahead, probably his suite; which I found to be the fact. You will have heard, ere this, that this great personage was Lord Selkirk. On the second night after parting with his Lordship, we—I say we, for the companions 8 1(4)v 8 of my journey found me at Big Sandy River—we stopped for the night at an Inn kept by old Mr. Clack. Here I learned the name and quality of the Scottish Lord; and I could not but blame myself for the liberty I had takenwith his Lordship. Yet what the plague could he be poking about our wild hills and mountains for? And how was I to know that he was a foreign dignitary? Indeed, he had more the appearance of an out-rider, in the way I met him, than any thing else.
Old Mr. Clack informed us, that Lord Selkirk put up at his house, as he went on—that he was on his return from a tour of three years, which were spent in exploring the western country bordering on the Pacific—and that his suite consisted of his Physician, his Secretary and his servant. These were the three men I met in the rear of his Lordship. These particulars Mr. C. collected from the servant, without the knowlege of his superiors, who maintained the strictest silence on the subject of their journey. Mr. C. stated, that his Lordship’s domestics behaved with the greatest humility towards him, never presuming to sit in his presence, nor to eat until he had finished his meal—for the rest, he ate a great many eggs, ten or fourteen at a meal; wrote to a late hour at night; and slept under a great many blankets between his own sheets.
The fears of Mrs. Clack, on account of the Earl, afforded us much amusement. She said he must harbor some bad design against the country—that was certain: for, said she, he must be a Jew, or a Turk, or a Tory, or some outlandish animal; for, because, whenever my old man would go out, he would always be a axin me how many neighbors I had, how many were in each family, and how far distant the country was inhabited around us; but, whenever my old man came in, he would just be as still as a mouse! We endeavored to remove the old lady’s fears, by assuring her that little danger was to be apprehended from his Lordship. I have since learned that his motive in visiting the west, was to seek an asylum for his poorer countrymen.
Lexington, Kentucky, 1817-12-088th Dec. 1817.
I intend to spend a few days in this town, or city, whatever it he called. I have seen but little of it yet. Should I describe it to you, it would be too much like repeating a thrice told tale. The country around it is well situated— beautiful in the extreme, and in a state of high cultivation. The first three days of my journey, after entering Kentucky, presented no variety, the soil and face of the country being nearly the same from Big Sandy River to Mount Sterling, about ninety miles. The surface is very uneven, covered with heavy timber, and thinly inhabited; but on approaching Mount Sterling, you are suddenly transported, as it were, into another world. The face of the country assumes a new appearance, the soil and its productions differing entirely from the preceding. It is not in the power of imagination to paint the contrast, which you behold on emerging from the gloomy, lonesome woods into open day. The light, which was hitherto excluded by the lofty timber, rushes upon you in an instant; and you find yourself in a soil, rich indeed, but the growth of timber, which principally consists of locust, cherry-tree, and black-walnut, is low and small, and the trees universally terminate abruptly from a large base to a diminutive top, although they have wide spreading branches. The fruit trees on the Kenhawa equal them in height: they are thinly scattered over the ground. Such is the face of the country from Mount Sterling to this place, and it is said to extend to Danville in this state. The farmers give their attention chiefly to the raising of Indian corn and tobacco, though other vegetables are produced in plenty and in great perfection. But with these subjects, as well as most others, relative to the manufactures and produce of Kentucky, you are much better acquainted with than I am.
You have often heard it stated, that a solid rock of limestone runs beneath the surface of the earth here. This is not generally the fact; it only exists in what is called old Kentucky2 10 2(1)v 10 ky, meaning that part of the state, which extends from Mount Sterling to Danville, and which, I presume, was the first settled. This rock is said to be at unequal distances from the surface, from two and a half to four feet. To this circumstance may be ascribed the diminutive growth of the timber. As I rode through the country from Mount Sterling to this place, I observed that the sugar trees were dead. Upon inquiry into the cause of this novel appearance, I was informed that they were killed by a worm, which attacks the leaves and boughs with such avidity, and in such numbers, that they succeed in destroying the tree; and having despatched the sugar trees, it had begun the same process on all others, except the walnut, which it has never yet been known to touch.
Dr. Claud has called to see me, and I must conclude.
Lexington, Kentucky, 1817-12-08same day, 1817.
If you are a rich man, says Goldsmith, you may enter a room with three loud hems!—march deliberately up to the chimney—and turn your back to the fire. If you are a poor man, shrink into the room as fast as possible, and seat yourself, as usual, on the corner of a chair in a remote part of the room. I omitted the relation of an anecdote of a poor Irish traveller, whom we met at Licking: it will cure you of the hypo.
It was dark, it was cold, it was raining—when we entered a tolerable Inn on the bank of Licking river. We had scarcely seated ourselves by a welcome fire, when some one batted the house from the opposite shore. The landlord stepped out, answered the call, and in a few minutes returned, ushering in a man all dripping with water. We made room for him to approach the fire; but he declined seating himself amongst us, and retreating into the chimney corner, seated 11 2(2)r 11 himself, not on one corner, but on the edge of a chair. All eyes were turned towards him. How common, and yet how ungenteel—nay, how uncivil—to embarrass a poor, unfortunate stranger! How apt we are to do the very thing we would wish not to have done unto us! It is cruel to stare a poor creature out of countenance only because he is a stranger, and differing from outselves only in his outward appearance, while his modest, downcast look, tacitly disclose his superior manners.
Poor Paddy, for an Irishman he was, replied to the inquires of the guests, respecting his unpleasant trim, that his horse was after trowing him in the wather: by the powers he niver was witter in his life. And I wish, continued he, I wasn’t safe at ome, in old Patrick O’Brian’s to night. I wouldn’t be here, so I wouldn’t. Do, if you plase, landlord, give us a gill of whiskey. By this time, the landlord, of his own accord, had appeared with a glass of spirits. Och, long life to your honor, cried Paddy: here’s wishing you may live all the days of your life, so I do. On being urged to change his clothes, he replied—indeed, and I haven’t a clean rag at all, at all; and so I will just sit here and dry myself by this good fire, and never mind—and I ought to go and see that Gin has her meat, poor bayst! She is the swaytest craycher in the world, for all she trow’d me in the pool; but ’twasn’t her fault, for the saddle fill in first, and then you know, she couldn’t help that. The landlord begged him to make himself easy, and he would see that Gin should have a plentiful supper.
One of our party asked him, if he had travelled far: Och! indeed, I have then, said he; I’ve been all the way to the Orleans among the agues, and the fayvers, and the miskeetoes, where they make sugar out of dare cane, and grind it in dare mills, wid dare nagurs. It is mesilf that had the ague, tree long monts and nine days; an all the time I lay flat o’me back, an the fayver shakin the skin traugt the bones, an not a christian craycher anigh me to give me a drink, but the doctor, and an old woman to wait on me. And there I lay spaychless, all the time talkin all the nonsense; an if I ever live to get home to Ireland again, it will never be me that will come to this here country again—if I do, my name isn’t Dennis O’Brian. 12 2(2)v 12 Many’s the time I’d say to the doctor, doctor, says I, I can’t stand it much longer, so jist lit me alone, an lit me die in payce, for the miskeetoes is aytin me up, any way, Says the doctor to me, Dennis, says he, have patience, you’ll be well by and bye, and so— He would have run on till now, had he not been interrupted by the entrance of two more travelers; and in a short time afterwards supper was announced.
We all arose to go to supper. Poor Dennis arose very slowly, apparently hesitating whether he ought to advance or not. One of our party tarried behind the company, waiting for him. Finding he was about to decline the summons, he asked, if he would not walk in and take supper with us. Och! may the blessings attend you for that, for I havn’t broke my fast on mayt to day, but I hated to be afther aytin wid gentlefolks; an I have but little money too, for I give the last dollar I had away to a poor woman that I met in the road a walkin. Come along, sir, said the gentleman, You are as good as we are. The kindess of this address made his eyes sparkle, and he took the precedence, which the gentleman gave him, in walking before him to the supper room—exclaiming, God forbid I should ever be half so good as your honor.
During supper, and long after, he entertained us with a history of his travels from New York to Pittsburg, thence to New Orleans, and last of all from Ireland to America: not, however without the assistance of another glass of whiskey and a great number of says I’s and says he’s. Long before he closed his narrative, I went to bed, and fell asleep; and I know not how long it was before I was awakened by some one who was singing. It was our Hibernian, beguiling his sorrows with a song. Happy man! Is he not to be envied? thought I. In my opinion, much more than he who possesses thousands.
Lexington, Kentucky, 1817-12-099th Dec. 1817.
I shall leave Lexington after breakfast. In the mean time, you will expect to hear something of this town. Although 13 2(3)r 13 I have been here two days, I have learned but little concerning it, having been confined most of the time. In size and population, it is such as it has been described: and is the largest town I ever saw. The first thing that strikes the eye of a stranger, is its white houses, gates, and posts (which last are very large) and the great activity in the streets—many people, carriages, &c. moving in all directions. Here are, also, very extensive Rope Walks. I have not visited any of the manufacturing houses in Lexington, but I have been told they are in a flourishing condition. Of the market, I say nothing, as the cheapness, variety, and abundance of its supplies have been so often proclaimed by others.
I am informed that the citizens of Lexington are remarkable for their benevolence and humanity to the distressed of all descriptions, particularly to poor emigrants, who pass through their town. In no part of the United States, perhaps, do the unfortunate meet with more compassion than in Lexington. This is a noble trait in their character. I found, however, one exception in the person of Mr. Keen (I think his name is,) a vain, impertinent upstart. It contains about 5,000 inhabitants, who are genteel and hospitable. But my horses are ready, and I must conclude abruptly.
Bowling Green, Kentucky, 1817-12-1313th Dec. 1817.
We arrived here without meeting with any accident. This place is situate in the barrens of Kentucky, and is a handsome village. These barrens are almost destitute of timber. The soil, however, is very rich, and produces crops equal to any in the state: it is of a black color, tinged with red. Black Jack abounds on these barrens, and serves the inhabitants for fire wood; but it is not sufficient to defend them against the beams of the sun in summer, nor shield them from the cold blasts 14 2(3)v 14 of winter—neither can it furnish rails for fencing; and the inhabitants are obliged to procure timber for this purpose, and also for building elsewhere at considerable expense. These barrens are but poorly watered, being destitute of springs; and the inhabitants have to supply the deficiency by digging wells. I am informed that the scenery, in summer, is beautiful, being varigated with flowers of the richest hue, and clothed with a coat of most luxuriant grass.
I was considerably amused this evening, in listening to a conversation which took place in the room where I was sitting. There were present five persons—I made the sixth: two doctors of physic, one lawyer, one old farmer, and one of your dandies. For myself, I sat a silent spectator. The subject of disputation arose from the circumstance of a burning coal of fire flying, by accident, into Doctor E’s bosom, as the servant threw a log of wood with much force on the fire. This instantly called up the two great properties of all bodies, denominated by philosophers the power of attraction and repulsion. After dwelling some time on these points, they glided, imperceptibly, into the proofs of chymical affinity, At this period chymistry was all the go in the west. by exhibiting in full array the different experiments—such as exposure of phosporus to the action of the atmosphere, muriate of ammonia and carbonate of magnesia, muriate of soda and sulphate of magnesia, ardent spirits and a solution of salt and water, the attraction between mercury and oxygen gas upon being exposed to the common temperature of the atmosphere.
The conversation (which was all Greek to me) was interrupted by the old farmer who exclaimed, Oh, d—n your oxen and grass, Dick; its all nonsense—better come and take some grog, gentlemen, and let us go to supper. What do you think your aunt Patty will do to night, Dick; hey! I suppose, sir, she will guess at the truth, and conclude that you could not accomplish your business in time to return home.— I think you may make yourself easy, uncle, and enjoy yourself with your friends. We discovered that one of the young champions was the old gentleman’s nephew; and that modest and respectful deportment, which he manifested towards him, inspired the guests with an exalted opinion of his merit.15 2(4)r 15
The old gentleman having drunk his grog and recommended his example to the other guests, supper was announced, and we arose and followed the landlord to the supper-room. After we were seated, the old farmer, who had listened attentively to the illustrations of chymistry, without attempting to join in the conversation, was the first person, who spoke, delivering himself as follows: I tell you what, Dick, I don’t understand none of your high flowing words, see, about this chymistry, nor your paresses and rats, and magnitudes, and all that are stuff. I don’t see that any of you can get along any better than I do, with all your larnin, and I never knowed nothing about ’em. The young gentleman’s face colored with a deep blush, and he replied: You deserve much credit, sir, for that success, which has distinguished your industry and skill as a farmer, which has not only secured to yourself an easy independence, but has furnished you with the means of gratifying that liberality and benevolence, for which you are so justly celebrated. Oh, now hold your tongue about them things, and let us go on about these chymistries. Why, d—n it, I don’t understand a word of the confounded stuff at all. I suppose we shall have the sun, moon, and stars, and Joe Graphy next. What do you think of these thinks, friend, said the old man, turning to the dandy?
Mr. Fop, who had evinced his restiveness in a variety of ways during the learned discussion before supper, in which he took no part, being now appealed to, delivered himself thus:— The rotundity of the earth’s velocity, and the humidity of hydrolics, and their specific gravity, ar quite ridiculous in the abstract. I ar astonished to hear some folks purfess to have larned the infinities of tractions, when that ar a thing that ar out of the question! This rhodomontade was uttered as it were, in a breath. If you had seen the old man, with his mouth and eyes wide open, staring at our dandy, while he was blending the different properties of bodies in a mass, and then hurling the whole to destruction, you would have stared, I believe, far more than the old man himself. D—n your ars and your finities, said the farmer. The company could contain themselves no longer—a general burst of laughter from 16 2(4)v 16 all, even from the servants, put an end to further conversation. The lawyer, who was a pretty clever fellow, I thought would have gone into fits. He laid down his knife and fork, clapped his hands on his sides, and continued to repeat the old man’s ars, and laugh, till I expected he would drop. The gravity of the nephew was constrained to give way: and, in short, we were compelled to quit the supper-table. My young fop moved off, and I have not seen him since. Have I not taken some pains to amuse you, instead of going to bed? which last I shall now do, however, in a few minutes. Good night.
1817-12-15December 15th, 1817.
At length I have reached the state of Tennessee, the land of Heroes. I have been in the state about three hours, and already I seem to tread on sacred ground. At this period the state of Tennessee and its high born sons, attracted universal admiration, and was the subject of conversation in all companies. As I rode to the Inn, where I now am, I was informed, that I was in Tennessee, and I immediately fell into a train of pleasant musing. The victory of New Orleans, the battles of Tallushatches, Talladega, and Emuckfau, all passed, in retrospection before me— the brave, the intrepid, the invincible Jackson, and his brilliant achievements engrossed every faculty of my mind. I shall see him! thought I. I shall now be gratified with a sight of the brave Tennesseeans, whose valour has secured forever the honour of their state!
After the necessary attention to ourselves, horses, &c. the landlord appeared to be at leisure, and I began a desultory conversation with him on the subject of his state. He informed me, that he had been only two years an inhabitant of the state, having removed hither from Kentucky. I found him disposed to bestow no very favorable encomiums upon the Tennesseeans: in fact, he endeavored to impress me with an 17 3(1)r 17 opinion, redounding very little to the honor of their moral character. He related the story of a robbery, which had lately been committed at the next house of entertainment, in that direction in which we were travelling. I am amongst the few that do not credit evil reports upon slight grounds, and concluded that in the present instance, rivalry, or something else that the landlord thought proper to conceal, was the cause of this illnatured alumny; which I found in the end to be true. I was however gratified this evening in becoming acquainted with one of the subaltern officers, who served under General Jackson as a volunteer. He came to the inn for the purpose of passing the night there; and finding he had been in the army, I attached myself to him the residue of the evening. He bestowed the highest praise on General Jackson, and related many anecdotes of that great man, among which were the two following—one of which concerns his deportment whilst he was a judge.
One day, when he was sitting on the bench at Jonesborough, the sheriff came into the court and informed him that the man (charged with the commission of some offence) would not be taken. Summon every man in the court yard, said the judge. The sheriff did so, and approached the man a second time; but the notorious offender placed his back against the stone wall of a house, and, with arms in his hands, set his pursuers at defiance. Hereupon the sheriff once more complained to the judge, that the man would not be taken. Did you summon all the men in the court yard? asked the judge.— I did, replied the sheriff; but he is armed, and none of the men will approach him. But summon every man you see, said the judge: and the sheriff, taking the hint, answered—I summon you, then sir,—whereupon the judge arose, came down from the bench, approached the man, took him, and delivered him to the sheriff.
The other anecdote relates to his conduct towards Witherford, the Indian Chief, who commanded at Fort Mims, the scene of a then recent inhuman butchery by the Indians. After the battle of the Horse Shoe, the Indians sued for peace; and Jackson, to prove their sincerity, ordered them to bring 3 18 3(1)v 18 Witherford, bound, to his camp. Learning what Jackson demanded, Witherford determined to go and surrender himself voluntarily. He gained Jackson’s camp without being known, and desired admittance to the General. Jackson, astonished at his presumption, asked him how he dared to appear in his presence, after acting such a part as he did at Fort Mims? Witherford replied—I am Witherford: I am in your power. Do with me what you please. I am a soldier still. I have done the white people all the harm I could. I have fought them, and fought them bravely. If I had an army, I would fight them still. But I have none! My people are no more!! Nothing is left me but to weep over the misfortunes of my country.
Jackson, admiring the firmness of his address, told him, that if he rejected his (Jackson’s) terms, although he (Witherford) was completely in his power, he (Jackson) would take no advantage of his situation—that he was at liberty to return to his own camp. But if, said Jackson, you choose to try the fate of arms once more, and I take you prisoner, your life shall pay the forfeit of your crimes. But if you really wish for peace, stay where you are, and I will protect you.
Well may you speak to me in this style, now! replied Witherford. There was a time, when I had a choice. I have none, now—even hope is ended! Once I could animate my warriors; but I cannot animate the dead. Their bones are bleaching on the plains of Tallushatches, Talladega, and Emuckfau; and I have not surrendered myself without reflection. While there was the smallest hope. I remained firm at my post, nor supplicated for peace. But, my warriors are no more! The miseries of my nation affects me with deepest sorrow!—His voice was lost in emotion for some minutes, and then he added—But I desire peace for the few that are left. If I had had none but the Georgia army to contend with, I would have raised my corn on one bank of the river, and fought them on the other. But your people are a brave people—you are a brave man; and I rely on your generosity. You talk a good talk: my people shall listen to it. Here all the world might stand up and say, this was a man! No wonder19 3(2)r 19 der the magnanimous soul of Jackson felt for him. Does he not remind you of Logan?
Nashville, 1817-12-1818th December, 1817.
Nashville, like everything else, sounds louder at a distance than when it draws near. At the distance of a mile from the town, you see a board, with a hand painted on it as large as life, and the fore finger pointing with the following inscription, in large letters, underneath—Look and see the Town! Upon looking down the road, you see the town, sure enough. It has a beautiful appearance, when viewed from this point. As you approach it, you are so much engrossed by its lofty looks, from which it is difficult to avert your eyes, that you would be apt to plunge into the narrow Cumberland, which flows between you and the Town. We, however, did happen not to do so; but preferred a boat, which met us in good time.
Nashville is built on a high bluff, and the houses look very much like tumbling on your head, as you cross the river in a small boat at what is called the middle ferry. The citizens have, with much labor and expense, cut a passage through this bluff, large enough for carriages to pass and repass. This passage, which is cut through a solid rock, turns abruptly down the river as if to seek a more commodious place to land the passengers, who receive no sort of hospitality or attention from the high minded gentleman, who looks down upon them while crossing the Cumberland. I was much disappointed in the size of this far famed Cumberland river. Although the large barges on it seem to indicate that there is much water, yet it is very narrow and steals softly along, its blue smooth waters making not the least noise.
The soil of West Tennessee, north of Cumberland river, is very rich and equally as productive as any in Kentucky or 20 3(2)v 20 on the Kenhawa—it is an open plain of uninterrupted good land; and the farmers raise corn, tobacco, and pumpkins, in great abundance. They rear great numbers of hogs and horses, and have a great many distilleries in operation. In this way they convert their surplus produce into cash. But neither their hogs nor horses are so large as those of Kentucky; nor can their cattle be compared, in size, with those of that state.
I am afraid my brave Tennesseeans indulge too great a fondness for whiskey. When I was in Virginia, it was too much whiskey—in Ohio, too much whiskey—in Tennessee, it is too, too much whiskey! But I must relate an anecdote of a blind man, before I take leave of the north side of Cumberland river.
We slept, last night, about ten miles north of Nashville. When we stopped at the stile in order to dismount, we observed a gentleman of middle age and decent dress, standing in the yard with a cane in his hand, apparently giving direction to a servant, who was feeding the cattle: as soon as we stopped our horses, he pointed his cane towards us and told the servant to go and take those horses. When we had crossed the stile, this gentleman saluted us very politely, and asked us to walk into the house. After giving directions relative to our horses, he also came in, took a seat, and entered into conversation with us. It was now dark. Some men, whom we found there, when we stopped, asked how much is there to pay? The landlord, who was no other than the gentleman whom we first saw in the yard, told them the amount; they gave him some money, and he walked to his desk, took out the requisite change, and gave it to them. He then walked out of doors, was gone sometime, returned, took a chair, sat down by the fire, and continued to converse with us till bed-time. But guess my astonishment, upon being informed, that this man was totally blind! and had not distinguished day from night for ten years. His wife, who is one of the finest women I have seen, says, that most travellers who spend the night there, go away without discovering that he is blind—that he could change specie to any amount correctly, but in changing notes, or bills, she had to tell him the amount of the bills.21 3(3)r 21
Nashville is principally built of bricks, and is very handsome, and does much business. In size it is nearly as large as Lexington. It commands a handsome view, both of the river and of a beautiful cedar grove, which is rendered more beautiful by art, being trimmed and cut into cones and pyramids. The citizens of Nashville in their dress and manners exhibit much taste and opulence. About ten years ago cotton was raised in this part of Tennessee in considerable quantities, an acre of ground yielding from ten to fifteen hundred pounds; but strange as it may seem, it does not succeed here now. It grows as high as ever, but will not open. This defect is said to be owing to the seasons growing colder.
I am sorry I am obliged to leave Nashville so soon; were it not for this I might write you again from this place. Take care of your health, and take care of Tray. A favorite dog of the author.
1817-12-1919th December, 1817.
After limping along about fourteen miles from Nashville, I was compelled to stop, my saddle horse being foundered; and here I am left alone, and more—but no matter! All things happen for the best. I will try to beguile the time in amusing myself with mine host and hostess, who I dare say, expect to make their Jack out of me—Old Feginny begging! A Virginia phrase. Did you ever see one of your low-bred Virginians—I mean what we call Tuckahoe? The Blue Ridge, you know, as well as I do, separates Virginia into Eastern and Western Virginia, or Tuckahoe and Cohee. Foreigners often distinguish it by the terms Old Virginia and New Virginia. In Old Virginia the lower class of citizens are the most ignorant, presumptuous people in the United States. Well, then, it was one of these bold, arrogant, ignorant, self-important, purse-proud females that constituted 22 3(3)v 22 the character of my hostess. The old man had not made his appearance, being, as she said, out in the field to look after his hands, (meaning his slaves) for he is rich. My landlady is not homely: she is about forty, low, corpulent, and has a countenance that sets one at defiance. She was all bluster, bustle and anxiety, as if she actually intended to give the lie to the old proverb, that Rome was not built in a day. She would go out, come in, sit down, get up, and walk to the door and call as loud as if the house were on fire—Luke, an’t you done totin them taters yet?—I ’spose you at the fire again. Sal, you brush them tables off, you hear; take up them ashes, you hear: make up a good fire, you hear I am obliged to retain the r in hear, fire, &c or not be understood, but she sounded it not in speaking, nor does any of her sort. For they sound like faw or fow, (light,) and nor like naw &c. as naw you, naw or na I, &c. and, what faw, you hea or he, &c. Also, tha for there, and sharance for assurance, &c. Nev’r or nev’ for never—stars for stairs—mar for mare, &c. An’t Rich’d come with some good water yet? Tha, now, you dun it! What’s that [A servant girl had broken a glass—the landlady runs to see.]— Well, my lady, nev’r mind, I’ll pay you fow that—pick um up.
In the midst of the scrape a lad came in, who, it seems, was the landlady’s son, and had just returned from one of the neighbors. Well! is it true, that—massy upon me. I bin so hurried I an’t had time to pull off my night-cap to-day!— Yond’s the old black ho’s come up. Sal, go and put him in the stable, and give him some con [corn.] Is it true that Billy’s married shoo nuff? [sure enough.] Yes! drones out the boy, no way concerned for his mother’s flurries, nor for the passion it was about to throw her into. Well, now, did ever any body hear the match o’ that. Go and tell your daddy to come here. I reckon he’ll make him pay the ten dollaars he borrowed—he shall smack him with a wan’t, [warrant] this very night! Well, it doesn’t signify, the sharance some people have. I’ve wocked [worked] hard for my ’state—but yonders your daddy and Betsy too.
The landlord entered. He was one of your tall, darkskinned, smooth tongued, sly-looking fellows, that manage matters softly; and quite as low-bred as his spouse. Fine spot of work! Billy’s married, shoo nuff! Betsy, an awkward lump of mortality, apparently about seventeen, strode across 23 3(4)r 23 the room to dispose of her bonnet; and finding a stranger in the house, she frisked back, and began to adjust her Feginny cloth dress. Not so, the old lady; but before she opened the flood-gate of her tongue, I made my escape to my chamber. The apartment, however, being on the same floor, I heard the whole lecture distinctly, like a torrent, overwhelming the new married pair. You know how quick those negro-raised Tuckahoes speak: just so did she, never finishing one sentence before she began another.
Well, it’s just as I thought. Wha—t, says the old man? Oh, it’s a fact—John seed’um together. I wish, replied the wife, I may never stir, if he oughten to be hanged. I wish I may die!—a good-for-nothing, stinking, lazy—I ’spose you’ll lend him ten dollars again. I bound ’twas to pay for his license—well, it don’t signify; you will fool away all your ’state—I’d put him in jail, this very night, before he sleeps, that I would. I’ll tell him a piece of my mind. Nev’r mind! fa’ to have the inshoince to cote [court] my gal! This comes o’ larnin gals to write! A darter o’ mine shouldn’t lan to write, to save her life!—Nev’r mind—I ’spose he thought I was a sich a fool I didn’t know what all them letters was about. Tha, now—that’s your thanks faw lett’n him eat here! And so my darter is to be scandalized by sich—.
On a sudden she stopped; but soon she exclaimed, No! you may go some wha, else—I takes no sich trash as you is, into my house! The person, whom she addressed, was a female, who spoke so low that I could not distinguish her words clearly. It was a bitter cold evening; the sun was setting; and I framed an excuse of asking for water, to go into the apartment to ascertain whether she was such a savage as to turn the woman out of doors. When I entered the apartment, I beheld a poor, but decent-looking woman, with a child in her arms, standing in the door—the wretch had not asked her to the fire, nor offered her a seat. Poor woman! thought I, you have happened to fall in here in a bad time. I ventured to soften the brute of a landlady, and expostulated with her very mildly upon the cruelty of turning a fellow-creature out of doors on such a night! The poor woman turned her eyes upon 24 3(4)v 24 me in grateful silence. It came into my head to try the effect of money upon this she-imp. I offered to pay her double the poor woman’s expenses—but no! oceans of grace would not melt her heart to pity. I might as well have attempted to stop the mouth of a roaring lion as to soften her more than savage heart. Let her go long, wha ever she’s goin—I ’spose she’s bin with the sojers: how came she by herself? I’m not goin to have my house scandalized by no sich trash—I got nuff of um last fall, stopp’n here; and when I come to find out, nothin ’tall but strumpits come from camp. I ’spose you the same—so you may clear yourself.
The poor woman, during this speech, was struggling to suppress the big tear, which, in spite of her efforts, rolled down her cheeks—she was alone, on foot, and carrying a child. I asked her how far she had to travel. She answered that she believed it was fifteen miles; that she was going to see her husband, who was lying sick on the road; and that he was returning home from New Orleans, when he was taken so ill he could travel no farther. I endeavored to comfort her, giving her a trifle at the same time. The sun was now in the horizon, and I told her she had better proceed, lest night should overtake her, since the landlord said the nearest house was two miles distant. It’s not a great distance, said I; keep a good heart—it cannot be possible that there are many such people as these, darting a look of contempt at the landlord at the same time, who must be a pusillanimous wretch to suffer his wife to usurp his prerogatives to the great dishonor of his head and heart. The woman departed. Had my horse been able to travel, I could willingly have left this house with her, sought another lodging. I stood in the door looking after her and for some minutes. To that God, who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb—even to him, who says to the wicked thus far shalt thou go, and no farther, did I breathe a supplication in behalf of this distressed female.
1817-12-1919th December, 1817.
I had been in my apartment but a short time when I was called to supper, which was excellent, considering the eternal clatter of this woman’s tongue. I was silent, all her obsolete politeness notwithstanding; and, it was would I be hope to this, and would I be hope to that? During our repast, I showed, by my looks, as much as possible, my abhorrence of her conduct; and the moment I had finished my supper, I retreated once more to my chamber. I called for more wood and stirred up my fire; and having given orders relative to my horse and dismissed my servant, I fell into the following train of reflections on the nature and character of woman! Yes, I knew that would come next, you will say. Very well; you guessed right, for once.
It is said that woman is the last—best—gift of the Creator. She is celebrated by poets—praised by historians—extolled by travellers—and by all authors, both ancient and modern, is allowed to excell the other in every virtue that dwells in the human heart. Woman are renowned for wit, learning, taste, and talents. Pack, Ledyard, Weld, Liancourt, and many others, have proclaimed aloud to the world the obligations they are under to women, who at the hazard of their lives flew to their assistance in the hour of danger. When abandoned to despair, afflicted with disease, famine, and in death—woman, lovely woman, stood before them; and, like an angel, dispelled their fears, relieved their wants, and soothed their sorrows. The Duke of Liancourt, who narrowly escaped the guillotine in France, and who owed his life to the friendship of a woman, has drawn their character with a master’s hand. Their friendship, he says, is inviolable, their fidelity unshaken, their courage invincible. They are intimidated by no difficulty, and bid defiance to dangers. Amiable woman! When man desponds, she animates him with new hopes—when he is sick, she ministers unto him—when in distress, she comforts him, bids him live, and makes him in love with himself. And well 4 26 4(1)v 26 can she soothe and comfort him: she is all patience, she is all fortitude. The endearment of her smiles, the melting accents of her voice, and her bewitching softness, beguile him of his sorrows and makes his prison a palace! In short, it would be endless to enumerate examples of that decided superiority of women over men in acts of benevolence.
But, fair and softly—who are the objects of this divine excellence?—Man—not woman—not their own helpless, friendless, cheerless, forlorn sex—but men, who by their nature and constitutions are every way better calculated to bear misfortunes. But this preference, which is manifested towards man, almost to the exclusion of their own sex in redressing their grievances, is founded in nature, from which they cannot deviate. I admit it—I make every allowance for that immutable law that pervades the material world. I would not dissolve it if I could, and particularly that mutual predilection that the sexes have for each other, independently of moral obligation. In my judgment it is the basis of all our social happiness. The result, then, from this view of the case is, that this irrisistable influence, flowing from necessity, reflects neither praise nor blame on the female character. But does it follow that this impulse, which discovers itself in acts of noble generosity towards men, should dispose them to a contrary course of conduct towards their own sex? I presume not. At most, it leaves them free to avoid doing them harm. If they choose not to relieve their sufferings, they could pass on as the Priest and the Levite did of old—But no—cruel woman does not imitate those holy men, and much less the good Samaritan. When woman is the subject—woman is all hostility, either directly or indirectly, in public, in private, in adversity, in prosperity, in the palace, in the cottage; in all alike a deep rooted malignity seem to prevail! In the most civilized nations, in the most civilized age, in the most polished circles of society, history affords us a lamentable evidence that the general tenor of woman to her own sex, is envious, deceitful, malicious, haughty, bitter, insolent, revengeful, treacherous, implacable. However specious they may carry themselves, while in each other’s presence, no sooner do they turn their backs, than most 27 4(2)r 27 of them indulge more or less in some species of detraction, from the sly insidious hint to broad assertion.
I never in my life witnessed an assembly of women, great or small, but indulged in that most hateful of all vices, slander against her own sex!
What a picture you will say of a woman—yet my dear sir, all this your candor will admit!
Were you not present once when the news of the unfortunate―― ――was announced?—I think you were. It was then you saw the true character of woman. It is needless to repeat the peals of artillery discharged from their tongues upon the unfortunate. I recollected well, and so might you, the whole posse, with rage (instead of pity for the frailty of the sex) in their looks; they hunted down their prey, more like blood hounds than human beings, and the forlorn sufferer was spurned from society! This is a pretty general case.
Whither was this unfortunate to go?—seduced!—betrayed!—abandoned!—by whom?—By man—by man who was designed to protect her. Inhuman villain! He robbed her of that which not inriches him, and makes her poor indeed. Poor, forlorn, and friendless as thou art, thou needest not go to thy own sex for shelter. As well might thou apply to the savage beasts of prey.—What then?—Go to man?—O no. He is the cause of all thy wo! An outcast must thou roam, unpitied and forgot.
All this time not a word of reproach is uttered against the seducer: This is strange, But he is a wicked profligate, unworthy of respect, and ought to be banished society. No such thing!! He is received into company—he is invited to all our parties—nay, he is a greater favorite than ever with the ladies. Oh, fie! not for his virtue I presume, but for what all thinking people will concur in, viz: a similarity of taste—depravity of heart—and, above all, that secret something which is paramount to all motives and resists education.
But I deny that this innate principle, which is involuntary, acts as an incentive to cruelty to their own sex, which is voluntary. Does it bind them hand and foot? Does it control the faculties of the mind? Thousands of females come to a 28 4(2)v 28 miserable end, not by the cruelty of man, but by the savageness of their own sex. These unhappy sufferers, without house or home!—without friends!—destitute!—driven out from society!—doomed to roam through winter’s storms!—perhaps without clothes to put on or bread to eat! I weep for you!—it is all I can do! May the God of mercy have mercy on you. Long, long, heavily will ye have to suffer in a world where repentance is vain! Your sorrows are without hope!!!
But you will say, what would I have ladies to do? Take such persons into their houses, associate with them? They would be thought no better— I have conversed seriously with several of my female friends on this subject, and they tell me that the fear of being suspected, prevents them from showing compassion to this unfortunate class of females. If I were to hazard an opinion, I would say, their want of charity to their own sex, ought, by no means to enhance our opinion of their virtue. I once heard a libertine say, he wanted no better sign for his purpose: and all men of sense say the same thing. On the other hand, I am astonished those affected ladies do not spurn the men upon the same grounds. Abominable affectation! Every one is known by their company. Yes—if they repent, I would not only take them into my house, but into my bosom. I would wipe the tears from their eyes—I would soothe their sorrows, and support them in the trying hour; I would divide my last morsel with them!!
For those who would not repent,—if they were hungry I would feed them; if they were naked, I would clothe them; and much more, if they were sick, would I minister unto them; I would admonish them, and I would then have done. What did our Saviour? I would not revile them; I would not persecute them. Good night! I beg pardon, once more, for troubling you with a long letter. I was led on by my feelings.
Reynolds’ Tavern, 1817-12-21 21st Dec. 1817.
I found my horse better this morning, and with no other company than my servant, I bade my entertainers adieu. The 29 4(3)r 29 family, when I left them, were preparing to attend preaching— for with all the old lady’s good qualities, she is in the Church! None attending it but the mother and her daughter! Mighty good Christians, thought I. Of what denomination, I inquired? A Methodist. I suspect that one of the same is here now, a guest, with two others beside myself. The Inn is kept by Mr. Reynolds, and looks very well.
The parson looks very holy: sighs very often and loud; so there is no mistake. His dress is a black, sleek, broadcloth coat, blue pantaloons and vest, with short skirts (domestic:) his cravat is white, and tied on very closely. He is about the middle size, young, ignorant, and very important. He scarcely deigns to cast a look at us, poor sinners; and when he does, he withdraws his eyes with conscious triumph! The other guests are a good natured Yankee pedlar, and a gentleman of genteel appearance. I shall let them rest till after supper.— I promise myself much amusement with the parson and the pedlar.
Prepared with my pencil, I waited some time; nothing to do—all set mute. At length the pedlar, throwing his sparkling black eyes around upon the company, addressed his holyness with, be you travelling Mister? The parson, turning his gloomy face towards the speaker, as if his immaculate purity was now about to be tarnished by this vile pedlar, answered him with a look of contempt; after an interval of some seconds, he said, I am travelling the circuit. I guess, if you travels the circle I bin, you’ll have bad travelin on’t, said the pedlar. The third gentleman whose name, I find is K――, asked, if the road was worse towards Huntsville?— I guess you’l find purty much so— The land is so rich, and never or seldom freezing in winter, and the want of good roads, makes the travelling unspeakably bad. tarnation swamps and sedars and mud, take one a’most up to hub sinkin into that are mire grounds ’tallmost killed my cattle. Yankee phrase for Horses. I guess if I gets to hum agin I’ll stay there. Have you made good sales, sir, said the gentleman. I guess I’ll spend more ’an I makes—knows no more a tin ware in that are Huntsville than 30 4(3)v 30 if they had no sense; guess they’ll know more on’t when I tak’t to ’um.
While he was speaking, the hostler made his appeareance to know how much oats each traveller wished to give his horse. The pedlar was the first to reply. He said, he won to have his horses have two gallon a piece. I have fed yours, sir. You hadn’t ought to fed ’um; I guess you’ll gi’um too much.
It appeared the pedlar was direct from Huntsville, and he had put up for the night long before I arrived. Mr. K. is travelling that way, and so also is the preacher. The preacher, I suspect, thought the Yankee below him, (but so thought not I,) and Mr. K. above him. I made some remarks on the country, addressed to Mr. K. who is a man of intelligence. We descanted upon the progress of society, agriculture, &c.
Supper being over, Mr. K. and myself dipped a little into the sciences, merely from mutual curiosity. Could we have drawn the pedlar and the preacher in, it would have been worth repeating; but, as you hate learning (and so do I, between familiar friends,) I pass it over.
The people generally, through this state, so far, are almost the middle grade as to information. If you ask how far it is to the next house?—Well, I don’t know—Does such a man live on the road? Well he does. They have the well to every thing, just as they do with us. There are a great many Methodists in Tennessee, and in the new settled part of Kentucky. I have frequently seen them, and heard them, as I rode through the country. It is strange to observe how their preachers draw the women after them.
1817-12-2121st December, 1817.
In my last, I forgot to inform you we passed the woman on the road who was turned out of doors. She informed me, that after walking two miles, she obtained lodging, but with 31 4(4)r 31 difficulty. She had overtaken a wagon on the road, and was riding in it when I passed her, yesterday, about twelve o’clock. The story she related I found was correct, having passed the house, to day, where her husband was confined. But, alas! no wife, nor home, nor children, will he ever see more— He is dead! I slept last night in a room adjoining to the one occupied by the preacher mentioned in my last; and, whether sitting up or in bed, I could not ascertain, but a long dialogue passed between him and some other person. This person was a man, I think one of the neighbors, as one came in after dark, who called the preacher Brother,—the person, whoever it was, was likely to bring disgrace on the church, in violating some of the rules, by intemperance, and something worse: the man spoke so low that I could hear but a word now and then.
Preacher. But you bring reproach on God’s people, brother; you ought to be holy and blameless before God; you ought to take up the cross, brother, and deny yourself the things of the world, the pleasures of the world, and the sins of the world, and the e—vils that are in this wicked world; walking in all holiness before Go—d and his holy angels, and blameless and ho—ly.
Neighbor. But, brother, I am tried. [A groan.]
Preacher. Brother, they tell me, that you will drink a little too much.
Neighbor. Brother, I only got a little lively at brother I’s shucking; and brother W. were there, and brother D. was there, and brother S. and I thought no harm, and it was a cold night, an’ we all drank a little—No, what makes um parsecute me above the rest—I didn’t take but three drams since; and because I happen to stump my toe against a little bit of a stump and fell down it was nurated over the whole country. [You see he is a little bit of an Irishman.]
Preacher. Oh, brother, you have hurt the cause of God. I hear you have ruined one of the prettiest sisters; that she is with ―― by you. This is wicked.
Neighbor. Oh! brother, it’s all a flam. Do you think I would offer to go and be guilty of the like—and what if I did 32 4(4)v 32 talk to her about the state of her precious soul—sure where’s the harm? [The conversation at this part of the story I was unable to hear, except now and then a groan.]
Preacher. Brother, you ought to pray to the Lord to strengthen you, that the d—l may have no power over you while you are travelling through this vale of sorrow and temptations; and—
Neighbor. Now I’ll jist tell you the naked truth, brother, before God, and I’ve prayed nightly to him—with wrestling, sare wrestling have I wrestled in prayer, that he would save me from sin, and forgive me. Now, this here is the truth—I was jist walking along, not thinking—well, I hope the Lord will forgive me; but as I was saying, I was going to brother Wilson’s to see if he had any work for to do; for you know, brother, that Saint Paul labored with his hands. Well, who should I meet, right in the road, walking the self-same way that I was going myself—you may be sure, that auld sarpent, who is always troubling God’s people, begun for to tempt me. But, as I was saying, who should I meet, but sister ――. Good morning sister, sez I; good morning brother, sez she: and so we fell to talking about the things that God had done for us, in shedding abroad his love in our hearts—in saving our immortal souls from sin. I sez to her, sez I, sister, how is the state of your precious soul, to-day?—O, brother, sez she, I feel bound for glory: and so—but the devil put it into my head, I’m sure—. [The rest was spoken low for some time.] And so, we talked about the things of God, till we got very happy.
Preacher. O! brother, you ought to pray to God for that sin, that doth so easily beset you. You have wrought evil in Israel. [The rest past in whispers, and I fell asleep.]
A Preacher here again as I hope to live! The people must be very pious in this place—and he is going to preach too. Here is the house filling fast; great many women—few men—and I shall put this away and join them in worship. I shall leave my prejudice behind with my pen, ink, and paper. Be he Jew or Turk, fool or fanatic, I care not. In the firm belief, that the worship of God is paramount to all other duties, 33 5(1)r 33 I spurn the narrow mind, which is attached to a sect or party, to the exclusion of the rest of mankind. Can I not implore the Divine mercy? Can I not praise that fountain of all excellence, as sincerely with these people as with others?—You may laugh, and think I am jesting; but, I assure you, my friend, I am serious. I am far from being among the number of those, who set at nought the worship of the Deity, however I may deplore the abominable prostitution of that religion which is pure and undefiled. Go thou and do likewise.
Fayetteville, Tenn.1817-12-22Dec. 22d, 1817.
I remember when you and I, sitting by my fireside, in that easy familiar frankness, indulged in our remarks on Priests—that they are always the same, let them be of what persuasion they may. I retain that opinion still! Hitherto I have only learned mankind in theory—but I am now studying him in practice. One learns more in a day, by mixing with mankind, than he can in an age shut up in a closet.
But the Priests, I perceive, are precisely the same they were centuries passed—they all aim at power. Their drift, I see, is to gain as many proselytes as possible, without regard to the conduct of their flock—they will not suffer them to possess any will of their own—perfect despots. No potentate is more despotic, and no subjects more submissive, whilst in the presence of their Priests, but the greatest rogues in the world when out of sight. I perceive, too, they are very jealous in controversy. They seem to me as though they would fight in defence of their principles, while they leave the practice of religion to the sinners who make no fuss at all about religion.— Between you and I, Matt, this world is most abominably wicked. I have seen such sights—nothing but preaching and praying—and not one to relieve the poor. No! not one steps forward. Can this be Christianity?5 34 5(1)v 34
Christ says, if you love me, keep my commandments—and this is my commandment—that you love one another. This was our preacher’s text last night. I should like to have this text indemnified for the depredation committed on it by his Reverence. His discourse was nothing by a hop, skip, and jump—from one thing to another. Nothing but hardened sinners you will go to hell and be d—d. Why, the man swore outright. The wickedness of this world; and the pleasures of this world; and the temptations of this world. Mem! thought of the affair of Brother, the Irishman, and his devout sister.
Now for the righteous: Press on ye mourners to the end, and—to that glo—rious [loud as a trumpet] place, prepar—ed for you. &c. &c. He stamped—he roared! Not a word on the subject of love to our neighbors.
I never but once in my life heard a sermon to please me; and that was preached by a Mr. Sargent, sometime of Ohio.— But this preacher (as he is called) poured out a torrent of nonsense. The men groaned—the young ladies cried—the louder the preacher bawled, the louder they cried—at last they screamed!—Did you ever hear wolves howl? It was more like their howling than any thing else I can name. Is this religion? These would, like their sister, turn the poor friendless female from their door. But let facts speak. A gentleman removed to this country last year. He came on sometime before his family, in order to engage provisions for their arrival. Through some oversight, he forgot his money. The neighborhood consisted chiefly of professors of religion. He went to a man, who, as he was told, had a large quantity of bacon and corn for sale, and withal was very religious. He told him his situation: that he had a large family, both black and white, coming on, and he wished to purchase provisions sufficient for them till he could raise a crop; and that, when his family arrived, he would pay him. No!—He would not trust him. The applicant went to another and another, and still received the same answer. Thus discouraged, he at length inquired for the wickedest man in the neighborhood. He was told where to find him. He went to him, and related his situation, and what he wanted. 35 5(2)r 35 There, said this wicked man, without any hesitation or inquiry, there is my crib, and there is my smoke house; use them as your own, whilst their contents last. Which of all these was neighbor to him, who fell among――thieves, I might say.
Well’s Tavern. 3 miles South of Fayetteville, 1817-12-2323d Dec. 1817.
I am now within a short day’s ride of Huntsville. I have travelled slow, on account of my horses, the roads being deep and heavy, such as the pedlar described them. The cane has made its appearance for some days past, and my servant has been breaking whole arm’s full of pipe stems, and throwing them away alternately, as he finds they increase without end. Having never witnessed the growth of the cane before, I was much gratified to meet with it. It first appears scattering, very slender, but tall, from eight to twelve feet high. It has blades like Indian cord, and some resemblance of a tassel on the top. It grows every where through the woods; but, as you proceed, it is larger and higher, and tons of it lie on the ground, on each side of the road, broken in pieces and rotting; and where this is the case, the green cane is extinct forever, doubtless. The cause of this I cannot learn. These stalks are larger than corn stalks, and must have been twenty feet in height!
The land increases in fertility as we advance; and this fertility extends a vast distance on each side of us. The land at this place, and Fayetteville, resembles that north of the Cumberland, as black as your hat, and level.
I have travelled a south course since I left Nashville, from which Huntsville is distant 100 miles. Pony, (15 hands high!) is a horse of great patience and slow to anger, or he would have testified his displeasure at this same road: but he tugs 36 5(2)v 36 along without a murmur. We are now to have a change for the better.
This inn is kept by a bachelor. His mother lives with him, and attends to the cooking department. The tavern is a separate building from the one occupied by the old lady, which is also the kitchen. I was shown into the latter by the landlord, and was pleased to find the house large, neat, and warm; but the lady looked old, cold, and crusty. Being very hungry, (not having dined,) my appetite was no little increased by the savory smell of bacon and cabbage, which Mrs. W. had sitting by her, very snug in the corner, for the family dinner.
I knew from her looks, it would be a cross and pile chance whether she would condescend to set a part of it on the table for me till she saw her own time. But, setting my wits to work, I prevailed finally, and made a hearty meal, cunningly, by the fire.
There were two good beds, with curtains, in the room, and being weary, my next court to Mrs. Wells was, for liberty to repose on one of the beds: this was also granted. Thus every wish was gratified. Upon inquiry, I learned that the guests, should any arrive, dined in the kitchen, or what you choose to denominate it. Night was drawing on, and I was quite delighted with a place of concealment, should travellers arrive; and, drawing the curtains of a princely bed close, I lay still and snug out of sight.
It was hog killing day at Wells’, and dinner was delayed till the business was over, and the table was sitting for dinner as I lay down, when, as I expected, word came that two travellers had arrived and wanted supper. The lady returned for answer, that the table was setting for her own family, and if they thought proper to accept such fare as she had ready, they were welcome, but that she would prepare nothing more tonight. The Negro woman, who was charged with the message, remonstrated with her mistress, and said coffee, or tea, ought to be made. No, I will make none to night; if they don’t eat such as there is, they may go without. Very well! replied the woman; you may do as you please, you know, very well, Massa Tommy won’t like it. Who 37 5(3)r 37 cares for your Massa Tommy, or you either, said Mrs. W. Accordingly, the bacon and cabbage was placed on the table, with milk, in tin cups—plenty of corn bread—a small plate of butter, and all placed upon a table hard by your humble servant.
Highly delighted with my situation, ensconsed behind the curtains, I awaited the entrance of Mr. Tommy and the travellers. The candle was lit, and our guests summoned to supper. I took a sly peep at them as they were sitting down. One was lame, and a small man, but had a genteel and manly appearance; the other was still less, with a small sallow face and a perfect dandy, or fop, who looked over the table with sovereign contempt.—Mean time the genteel looking man asked if he should help him? The fop hung back some time, but at last said, yes, sah, [sir,] a Tuckahoe, by the way [a citizen of Virginia, below the Blue Ridge.] This was two lettersflawed-reproductionts for me. Tommy, who had likewise taken a seat, paid no attention to the strangers. He was a good looking man, rather swarthy, and about forty years of age.
After eating some time, the little Tuckahoe erected himself on his seat, and observed, without addressing any one in particular, I believe you have no tea, no coffee in this country. The old lady, with great composure replied, sometimes. You dosen’t have any flower hea’ neither. The lady sung out sometimes, again. I b’lieve you’ all savages in this country. Savage enough. said the lady quite in a good humour. Both gentlemen sat in my view, and the face of the other gentleman colored deep at foppy’s remarks; who asked, with great spirit, what country may you call yours, sir? I ar from Norfolk, Virginny, su’ He pronounced it sugh, for Sir. The low raised Virginians have a great aversion to the r s, except where they ought not. And how do they live there? Why, su’, they live, su’, like gentlemen, su’; I hasn’t seen a bit of victuals fit to eat since I left Norfolk, except in Nashville. That is a great pity, sir, said the other. But we, of this country, do not rate ourselves by eating: we rate ourselves by fighting. Would you like to take a shot?
Huntsville, 1817-12-24December 24th, 1817.
Here I am, landed safe and sound, and in high spirits. This will go by the same mail with yesterday’s adventures. I broke off short last night, being sleepy: but, taking up the subject—The little man dropped his feathers quite low, upon the departure of his friend, who, immediately arose and walked out of the house. The Tuckahoe, after asking the girl for mo’ milk, and mincing awhile, left the table likewise, and walked into the tavern. Had the latter as much spunk as he had impudence, they certainly would have fought—but I heard no more of it. The old lady said, if my Billy had been at home he would have slapped his jaws.
This morning very early, upon sallying forth, I found my little fop inquiring for his mar, [mare,] and it was laughable enough to hear him insist upon sending his mar to water, the very self-same way we were going. I always has my mar wartered befo’ I starts.
They were both going to Huntsville, where the fighting gentleman lived, as I found in the course of the day. We will have a merry time of it, thought I; and, taking leave, we all set out.
Having every prospect of a rainy day, we whipped on pretty brisk. I found the land high and dry after leaving Wells’, and another change in the growth, which is very light, and in many places none at all. The land is of a redish black, light as ashes, and very rich.
I attached myself to the Tennesseean, (he of Huntsville,) being pleased with his manners, and, above all, with his spirit. He related many anecdotes of the recent battles, and was very communicative on the situation and prospects of the territory. New Alabama.
We had taken up more company, and at length the conversation turned on the renown of General Jackson. My little Tuckahoe, not pleased that he was overlooked in the conversation, would some times be alongside, often before, but never behind.39 5(4)r 39 hind. His hat stuck on the top of his head, to the hazard of falling off. He twisted and turned, his head now on one shoulder, and now on the other; and again elevated, and next bending forward to look at his stirrups. Finding all his evolutions failed to attract attention, after displaying all his fine parts, and the fine parts of his mar, he could brook the indignation no longer.—By G—d, I suppose, you think General Jackson is a G—d almighty about here. By G—d, sir, I think he is next to him, said the Huntsville man; and none but a d—d fool would have made the remark. Now thought I, they will fight. You, nor no other man, Sir, shall speak disrespectfully of General Jackson, in my presence. This spirited reply, rather cooled the little gentleman’s ire. He ventured, however, to draw a comparison in favor of General Washington. The other said he was disposed to acknowledge all possible praise of General Washington, but, at the same time, Sir, the man who dares to impugn the name of Jackson in my presence, does it at his peril. I begged the gentleman to resume his good humour, and turn the little gentleman over to me. Thus he fell out of the pan into the fire. That ar a fine mar of yours, Mr. Jones, said I, that being his name. How far have she toted you? She have toted me a thousand miles, and she could a toted me a thousand miles mo’. I then inquired after the lobster family, at Norfolk; said I understood they were a numerous and respectable family. Humph! he replied. I ar astonished to hear some folks talk: the lobsters ar a fish. A lawyer, in one of the lower counties of Virginia, being in court one day, arose and observed to the court, my witnesses is come, and I ar ready for trial. The opposite counsel, whom I believe was Mr. Wirt, rose up, and bowing, replied, am you, Sir Thus I continued to torment him, to the great amusement of the party. He had the only umbrella in company, and the Huntsville gentleman, who could scarcely sit on his horse for laughing, asked if he would not compromise with the lady, by giving her the umbrella? which I would not accept, though it rained moderately fast. He had the most scornful lip I ever beheld.
The cotton fields now began to appear. These are astonishingly large; from four to five hundred acres in a field!— It 40 5(4)v 40 is without a parallel! Fancy is inadequate to conceive a prospect more grand! The cotton, as it now stands, has the appearance of buckwheat when ripe, being divested of the cotton, (as my friend informed me,) which is picked out. Although the land is level, you cannot see the end of the fields either way. To a stranger, coming suddenly amongst these fields, it has the appearance of magic. He is lost in wonder, and nothing but the evidence of his senses can persuade him it is reality. In laboring to do this, I was forced to abandon my ideas of human industry, which I could not accommodate to this novel appearance.
We arrived in Huntsville about 2 o’clock, P.M. and met another wonder at the entrance of the town, which was one of the great cotton machines.
Huntsville, 1817-12-25December 25th, 1817.
A merry Christmas to you, in the first place. I was saluted by a few guns, last evening, which reminded me of old times.
The face of the country has changed five times in my tour! From Big Sandy River (the boundary of Kentucky and Virginia) to Mount Sterling, the soil is black, firm, uneven, and covered with heavy timber, beach and oak principally.
From Mount Sterling to Danville, called first rate land, it is generally black as your hat, but in many places, for instance on the margin of creeks, it has a grayish color, and resembles calcined stone, and has a light crumbling appearance; the growth is locust, cherry, and walnut; very low, as I remarked before. I do not think it produces better than Kenhawa bottom. It is well watered. Some of the farms are wretchedly managed. I was told these were the School lands.41 6(1)r 41
Upon leaving Danville, a very handsome little town, the timber gradually diminishes, and you are soon in the barrens, and the soil changes to a redish, or chocolate color, and very little water: but the land is rich and level. I forgot to inform you that I met with Mrs. Madison, the celebrated Patrick Henry’s sister. She has removed to the barrens, and has an excellent farm. I dined at her house. She has two sons who live with her, both single; also, a grand daughter. She is quite an active woman, and very little inferior, it is said, to her brother, in mental powers. Seeing a house on the road, some distance ahead, I sent my servant forward to bespeak breakfast, concluding it was a tavern. When I rode up, what was my surprise to find Mrs. Madison, who formerly lived in the same county I did. I was invited in; but my companions, finding it was a private house, road on. But to return:—these barrens have no timber but black Jack. They continue to Red river, in Tennessee, one hundred miles. They are not a dead, or prairie like level, but rather waving.
Next to this comes on the lofty timbered black rich soil, and large grape vines, and continues to Nashville. Upon leaving Nashville, the red cedar begins, and though the land is still rich, it is much interrupted with swamps and stones. This is well watered. This description continues to Fayetteville, on Elk river, near the southern boundary of the state. There again we have the black loam and heavy timber, till, within eighteen miles of Huntsville, when the chocolate land comes again, like the barrens; though light, it is not destitute of timber; but water is very scarce; many have to haul the water three miles in summer.
All these varieties of land extends from the mountains, on the left, to the Ohio river on the right.
We forded all the rivers in Kentucky and Tennessee, excepting the Kentucky river, which is very often forded.
The Kentuckyans are the handsomest people, by far, in the United States. They are not only stout men, but have fine features, and very beautiful complexions.
The Tennesseeans are not so stout as the Kentuckyans, not so fair, but they are well shaped, and more active. There 6 42 6(1)v 42 is a native bold independence in both, with this difference— the Kentuckyans are great brags, whilst the Tennesseeans, equally brave and gallant, are wholly unconscious of those virtues. The Kentuckyan is rash and hot headed—the Tennesseean is cool and steady. The Kentuckyan is froward and assuming—the Tennesseean is modest and retiring. There is an independence, even in the children, which is neither awed by fear nor won by love. But what astonished me was their careless indifference on the subject of their late gallant achievements, particularly at New Orleans. They spoke of it with perfect unconcern, and only mentioned it when applied to, and then with not half the same interest they would on the subject of hunting or killing a deer. Not so the Kentuckyans: they appreciate their bravery in its widest extent. Nor are the Tennesseeans so distinguished as the former for industry, or the art of acquiring wealth; though both are great jockeys.
The Kentucky ladies are very large, but are fair and well featured, and much more polished (excepting the ladies of Nashville) than the ladies of Tennessee: but the latter are better shaped; are very artless; and the young women have a sweet simplicity in their looks and countenance. Both men and women are without disguise, nor have they any of that impertinent curiosity common to other states; I mean that of teazing travellers. But the most distinguishing trait of a Tennesseean is, that he treats all men alike—the Nabob, with his splendid equipage, receives no more, nor as much attention, as the pedestrian. They are extremely jealous of wealthy, or what we call big, men. One of them, as I came on, being asked rather peremptorily, by one of the big bugs to rub down his horse, cursed him, and told him to do it yourself—I am no man’s servant He then offered money and apologized; but the brave Tennesseean was not to be hired.
Huntsville, 1818-01-01January 1st, 1818.
Now here is the twentieth letter I have written, without receiving an answer to one of them, until to-day—and that is no answer I may say. What are you about? Have you got the blues again, or blacks; or are you in love? I have been thinking your complaint is altogether a love matter—I am told it has that effect sometimes. Should that be the case, you had better apply to Dr. Matrimony at once, as delays are dangerous. Cupid is a cunning rogue—very likely he has given you a sly shot in your sleep.
But seriously, I am sorry to hear you mend so slow. I am convinced this climate would restore you. It is summer here, compared to our country: the trees, many of them, are still green.
Huntsville. You will expect something of this flourishing town. It takes its name from a man called Captain Hunt, who built the first cabin on the spot, where the Court House now stands, in 18021802. In front of this cabin, which was built on a high bluff, there was a large pond, which is now nearly filled up by the citizens. Captain Hunt cleared a small field west of his cabin, the same year. This was between his cabin and the Huntsville Spring. He spent much of his time in wageing war with the rattlesnakes, who were very numerous in his day, and had entire possession of the Bluff at the Spring. Thousands of them, it appears, were lodged amongst the rocks, and the Captain would shoot hundreds of a day, by thrusting long canes filled with powder, into the scissures When they were digging the vault for the Huntsville Bank, they found a vast number of snake skeletons. of the rocks.
Whether Hunt, or the snakes acquired victory, I have not heard, as he was compelled to abandon his settlement to a more successful rival, who purchased the land. This was Colonel L. Pope, who, in company with Dr. Maning, and others, purchased the land at a Land Office opened in Nashville44 6(2)v 44 ville; and though this sale did not stand, these gentlemen at this time own vast bodies of land around Huntsville, and are the wealthiest men in the Territory. Colonel Pope, it is said, tried hard to have the name changed, to Twickenham, after the residence of his namesake (and from whom it is said he is descended) in England. But, places, somehow or other, will retain their first names. The land around Huntsville, and the whole of Madison county, of which it is the capital, is rich and beautiful as you can imagine; and the appearance of wealth would baffle belief. The town stands on elevated ground, and enjoys a beautiful prospect. It contains about 260 houses, principally built of brick; has a bank, a court house., and market house. There is a large square in the centre of the town, like the towns in Ohio, and facing this are the stores, twelve in number. These buildings form a solid wall, though divided into apartments. The 1 wordflawed-reproductionhad 2 wordsflawed-reproduction Philadelphia, or any town east of the Allegheny. The workmanship is the best I have seen in all the states; and several of the houses are three stories high, and very large. There is no church. The people assemble in the Court House to worship. Huntsville is settled by people mostly from Georgia and the Carolinas—though there are a few from almost every part of the world;—and the town displays much activity. The citizens are gay, polite, and hospitable, and live in great splendor. Nothing like it in our country.
To go on. The Huntsville Spring, is a great natural curiosity. This you, as well as myself, heard before. But I had no conception of it. It flows from under the Bluff mentioned, and forms a stream large enough for the purposes of 45 6(3)r 45 navigation, and empties into Indian Creek, also navigable. The head of the spring is about sixty yards wide, but spreads out to a much greater length, covering about three acres of ground!!! The Bluff, at its head, forms a perpendicular of 60 or 70 feet in height, perhaps more, and is conical.
Huntsville is situated in latitude 34° 45″, 18 miles from the line of Tennessee, 100 South from Nashville, and 10 miles north of Ditto’s Landing on Tennessee river.
General Coffee. Last evening I had the pleasure of seeing this renowned soldier and companion of General Jackson. This hero, of whom you have heard so much, is upwards of six feet in height, and proportionally made. Nor did I ever see so fine a figure. He is 35 or 36 years of age. His face is round and full, and features handsome. His complexion is ruddy, though sunburnt. His hair and eyes black, and a soft serenity diffuses his countenance. His hair is carelessly thrown one side, in front, and displays one of the finest foreheads in nature—high, smoothe, and retreating. His countenance has much animation, while speaking, and his eyes sparkle; but the moment he ceases to speak, it resumes its wonted placidness, which is a characteristic of the Tennesseeans.
In General Coffee, I expected to see a stern, haughty, fierce, warrior. No such thing. You look in vain for that rapidity with which he marched and defeated the Indians at Tallashatches: nor could I trace in his countenance the swiftness of pursuit, and sudden defeat of the Indians again at Emuckfau; much less his severe conflicts at the head of his gallant men at New Orleans. He is as mild as the dew drop; but deep in his soul you see very plain that deliberate, firm, cool, and manly courage, which has covered him with glory. He must be a host when he is roused. All these Tennesseeans are mild and gentle, except they are excited, which is hard to do; but when they are once raised, it is victory or death.— General Coffee speaken very slow, and may weigh about 200 weight. Major Rose, another of the heroes, is a Scotch gentleman, but a Tennessee soldier. You have not to look very deep for the qualities of his mind. It is plainly depicted in 46 6(3)v 46 his fine open countenance, and soft blue eye. He is a middle aged man, of portly size, and acted in the Quartermaster’s Department in the late war. This man, from the land of Wallace and Bruce, was in high favor with General Jackson; and his labors in procuring supplies for the army were unequalled by any thing in history. He rode from the seat of war to Huntsville, very often, without sleep or rest! proceeding night and day express: when one horse would give out he would press another. I am called to dinner.
I left off with Major Rose, the merriest soul in the world. He is nothing but frolic and fun. He and Mrs. Rose have often called, and nothing pleases me better than his broad Scotch face. He is a merchant, and generally drops in in the evening, to take a game of backgammon, with Talbot, the landlord. It is ludicrous enough to hear their mock quarrels, cursing each other at every word. Tell the d—d old b—r to come in—I’ll be at him, by the Lard will I. Mariah, [Miss Talbot] set away the chairs, and stir up the fire, and draw up tables, and hop round—be brisk—you will never get married while you squeeze yourself up in them d—d coarse setts, and stuff them pan handles It was said that there was but two panaleft with handles on them in Huntsville— one of these belonged to Mrs. T. which she keeps under lock and key. down your b—. This beats us all hollow, Matt. They are, however, the most generous of the human race. Since this the author has been surprised at the difference of the Atlantic people from these—they do not, it is true, swear, but are as hard hearted as the flinty rock.
General Brahan, Benjamin Patterson, Esq. (the cousin of our friend,) Messrs. Reed and Cox, the latter Cashier of the Bank, and Dr. Bradford, are all the citizens I have been 47 6(4)r 47 introduced to. General Brahan, of the late war, is a prince, in whatever light he may be viewed. He is polite and affable; of great size; handsome person; of middle age, and a man of great wealth. Mr. Reed, a merchant, is also a stout gentlemanly man, and said to be wealthy. Patterson is quite young, and one of the finest men in the world. Cox is a crusty old man, and a bachelor—but the dogs may take him for me.
I tried to see Colonel Pope, one of the first men in Madison county; but he was absent. He lives at the edge of the town.
Mr. Patton, formerly of Monroe county, whom you knew well, and who set out poor, is now one of the richest men in the territory. This fortune he has acquired solely by his own industry and enterprize. Mr. Patton is much respected in Huntsville, and is the proprietor of large plantations, stock, &c. Madison county alone contains more wealth than half west Virginia! But more of it when I have been longer in the country.
1818-01-03January 3d. 1818.
Not willing to break in on the thread of my journey, I send you a few particulars of Tennessee, of which you anxiously expressed a wish to be informed. I only stopped one day at Nashville, to rest, and had no opportunity to learn much of the state, though I have picked up a few anecdotes of it in this place.
I learn that, next to General Jackson, General Carroll is the idol of the people. As I travelled through the state, I asked the people what they would do when they lost General Jackson—that I supposed they would hardly fight under any other man? They replied, that they would almost as soon fight under General Carroll, or General Coffee. Astonishing 48 6(4)v 48 how these men doat on their officers. It would be a serious matter to say any thing against them in this country. General Carroll, as well as General Jackson, are worshipped as Deities.
When General Carroll was descending the Mississippi with his troops, to join General Jackson at New Orleans, he used to exercise his men by moonlight on the decks of the boats, as they floated down the river, to fit them for the conflict with the British, which awaited them on their arrival. General Carroll is said to be a mild good natured man, and contributed no little to the brilliant victory of New Orleans. He commanded the centre of the American line.
I understand a work is now in press, written by one of Jackson’s aids, Major Eaton, in which we are to have the principal incidents of the battles, and a sketch of the principal officers. For the rest, Judge Kelly, Judge Haywood, Felix Grundy, and Counsellor Whiteside are reckoned the first men in Tennessee, and rank high at the bench and the bar. Mr. Hayze, whom we knew in Virginia, is tolerable hazy you know, but is much respected. He lives in Nashville, and called to see me at the inn. Grundy is said to be the first orator in Tennessee. He is a pupil of the celebrated Doctor Priestly, once President of Columbia College at Nashville.
Of General Jackson, I shall say nothing till I see him, which pleasure I expect at Melton’s Bluff, head of the Muscle Shoals, where I shall be in a few days.
N. B.—Do not be afraid, I will notice all the big things, and you may guess at the little ones.
Huntsville, 1818-01-04January 4th, 1818.
After packing up last evening for the Bluff, I sat musing in my parlour, when all at once my ear was saluted with 49 7(1)r 49 the sound of mirth and jollity below. Eager to learn what was going on, I descended to the parlour, and there I found the sweet girl, the grave matron, the sparkling belle, the conceited fop, the modest young gentleman, vetran soldier, and a sociable old planter. They were all talking and laughing about the gas, (all the rage,) planting cotton, courting, philosophy, biography, &c. Every one expressed themselves with freedom and good humour; but I perceived great deference was paid to the old planter, a Virginian by birth, immensely rich, and a widower.
I had scarcely seated myself when my landlady, a sprightly black-eyed woman, and no fool either, joked the old planter about the girls. Poh, poh. said the planter, I don’t care a cent about the girls: why they won’t let such an old fellow come within a squirrel’s jump of ’em. But you must persevere—don’t give up the ship—I’ll engage you will succeed— many a girl would jump at you. Faith, that’s the greatest fault I find with them; but instead of jumping at me, they jump away; and if I offer to lay my hand on one, she runs and squalls, as though I were a robber, and were tempting her life. But, says the sprightly Mrs. Mosely, there you are wrong: no one offers to touch a lady in these days. I am surprised at you. When you court a girl, you must set off at a distance and talk to her; and write verses in her praise, and send them to her; the old time’s fashion, when you and my mother were young people, will not do now-a-days. The d—l it won’t; then they may all die old maids for me. I tell you what, Mrs. M., I think the gals was as virtuous in my young days, and may be, a little more so, then they are now—and many an arm have I laid round ’em, see. Oh, fie! don’t talk so—you will make the ladies faint. These were old times, the fashions have changed. Faith, I believe so; but it is from good to bad. I am opposed to all these new kick-ups. Whenever I see a gal so very coy and prudish, and won’t let a man come near her, it gives me a bad opinion of her; and I’ll tell you why—when I was a young man, I happened to be at a ball—your mother was there too. So, there was one gal there; a m—i—g—h—t—y precise creature, and would not let me 7 50 7(1)v 50 touch the tip of her finger. No, Sir, I do n—’t d—a—n—c—e t—o—n—i—g—h—t, and primped up and tossed her head, and cried out to a friend, sitting by her, how odious it was, for men to be taking hold of ladies’ hands—she was surprised at my presumption; and not long after this, this same nice lady met with a misfortune ladies, which I leave you to guess. Ever since that I marks ’em—I has my own opinion of ’em. La, what nonsense, said the belle; such talk ar quite ridiculous.
While the old planter and the ladies were conversing, Mr. Fop and the young gentleman were engaged in an analasys of the gases. And what is gas? inquired Mrs. Mosely: I hear nothing but gas, gas, gas, where I go— and I know no more about it than a monkey. I have asked hundreds, and either they, or I, must be fools: Not a soul that I meet can explain it in terms I can comprehend. They stuff it with such a number of outrageous hard words, that I could understand Greek sooner. Now, gentlemen, do if you please, tell me in plain words what is this gas. She looked at Mr. Fop as she spoke, who being appealed to, cocked his head, spit, and hemmed; and edging his chair towards the ladies, said: Have you never read Accam’s theoretical, practical, chymistry, Madam? No, I have not, said Mrs. M., in a pet, and I should not understand a word of it if I had. I despise your theoreticals and practicals. I understand none of your hard names. If you cannot tell me, in plain English, what gas is; where it comes from; and what it is made of; or whether made at all, or not, you need say no more. I am sick of the gases. Now, thought I, I shall hear what these gases are at last. She will certainly get it out of him. There are several sorts of gases—Oh, if you have more than one gas, I am sure I will never understand it, so you may stop at once—just tell me what is gas! Gas, Madam, is a combination of certain substances, reduced to a gaseous state, formed by adding a solvent substance, and by their joint formation. Thank you, Sir, I have heard enough of it, said the lady, very short and illnatured. She must be one of the Honourables, as he took it all in good humour.
The old planter, who had listened attentively, said, faith 51 7(2)r 51 Mrs. M. this is more of your new fangled fashions, I suppose. What the d—l it means I don’t know. It is like your new fashion of wooing. I mean no disparagement to you, ladies and gentlemen; but I thingk the good old times were the best; and I never herd a word about Gashes, or what you may call it. Landlord, times are dry, hand round some wine. I was pleased to hear the order, though I could not join them, as I wished to hear the old man talk another talk.
A little bustle succeeded, but in a short time all were seated again; when I asked Mrs. M. if she gave up the gases?— The other young gentleman blushing deeply, and regarding Mrs. M. earnestly, at first, faultering, but growing firm as he proceeded, (being very young) addressing himself to the ladies expressed himself nearly as follows: Gas is a fluid substance, and is similar to air. It is transparent like water; and like water, elastic, forcing itself to its level. It is heavy, but invisible. It cannot be affected by cold, but can by heat. Gas exists throughout nature. There is gas, more or less, in all substances; and all gases (for as my friend said, there are several kinds of gas) are a combination of substances, such as common salt and water; to these add half their weight of sulphuric acid; heat applied to these, gas is produced, and may be collected by an instrument suited to the purpose; but to retain it, it must be placed over mercury. There is gas in all substances, and of three distinct kinds, viz: Oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen, gas. These are produced by different processes, and their properties differ: Oxygen gas, for instance, is indispensable to the respiration of animals—it is the cause of animal heat. In its artificial state, it will, when brought into contact with any combustion, burn, and emit a flame. Hydrogen gas, is what was formerly called inflammable air. Animals will die in it instantly, as they cannot breathe in it, though vegetables will grow in it. When brought in contact with atmospheric air, or what is the same thing, oxygen gas, it will burn fiercely. Nitrogen gas, in its primitive state, will not burn on touching combustion. In chymistry it has various uses. It is a component part of all animal substances, and 52 7(2)v 52 communicates to them their most distinctive characters. He concluded by adding, that he had a very limited knowledge of the gases, having but just commenced the study of chymistry, and that it was a science the most difficult of all others to explain to those who have not a practical knowledge of the same. Loud were the plaudits of the ladies; and the old planter said, the young man must take a glass of wine with him: he spoke like a man of sense, though he (the planter) did not understand his argufication. The party ended with a dance, and I retired shortly after they commenced, as I had to rise betimes.
Yours, &c.At Huntsville I saw crickets to put the feet on, for the first time.
Melton’s Bluff, 1818-01-08January 8th, 1818.
I was three days on the road to this place. Melton’s Bluff is at the head of Mussel Shoals. But to see more of the lands shortly to be sold, I went direct to the foot of the Shoals, 70 miles from Huntsville, crossed the river, and came up on the south side of Tennessee river. We had a soaking rain the first day, but the road was fine, the country being a level plain, and the land as rich as any in the world, doubtless, and well watered. Many houses are already built on the road side, and good entertainment. The lady, however, where we staid the first night, said it was very sickly.
The second day, towards evening, as Mr. Beech (my fellow traveller) and I were at our ease, chatting on different subjects, my servant, behind us, cried out Looky! looky! what a great river! We had heard a roaring sometime, and Mr. B. who was acquainted with the country, observed we could not be far from the foot of the Shoals. Upon turning our horses out of the road a few steps, we saw the river—a most sublime picture it was! That part which first burst on 53 7(3)r 53 our view, was three miles in width! the largest body of water I ever saw. It was at this time very high and muddy; and the noise produced by the water washing over the rocks was tremendous.
We saw a boat hung on a rock, about the middle of the stream, and many persons around it on the rocks, endeavoring to get it off; the waves and white caps were dashing furiously around them; and unable even to hail them, we proceeded, being near our destination.
The sun was verging upon the horizon, while I was musing upon the fall in the river (which was evident.) Having travelled over level ground from Huntsville, we began to descend rapidly, almost a precipice, the road making a sudden bend to the left; and shortly the house, at which we were to spend the night, stood before us, on the bank of the river. But it here flowed in a smoothe current; yet, upon looking up the river, the wide spreading Shoals were seen. The grandeur of the scene engrossed my attention, until night fall compelled me to retire into the house.
Upon entering the tavern, I had the pleasure of meeting with the Reverend Gideon Blackburn, the same who civilized the Cherokee Indians. I had heard of Mr. Blackburn often. He is represented as a man of superior talents, both as a divine and a politician, and rendered his country many signal benefits in co-operating with General Jackson last war, in raising the necessary requisites for the army. He is a stout coarse featured man, of middle age, and very distant in his manners; but has great expression of countenance, and every mark of a sensible man. He did not seem pleased with the house, and crossed the river, late as it was, to seek a lodging elsewhere. It was a great disappointment to me, as I promised myself much pleasure in his society. The landlord, and a number of boatmen had been drinking freely, which, I suspect, displeased the Parson.—The lady of the house, a very beautiful and accomplished woman, was no less sorry, adding, she had known him from her infancy.
Mr. Beech going no farther, I took a guide, one of the pilots, and crossed the river next morning, in a ferry boat. 54 7(3)v 54 I should have found it difficult, on account of several creeks which were backed up by the river, without a guide. The Tennessee river is wider at the foot of the Shoals than the Ohio, at any part I have seen, and equally beautiful, perhaps superior. It has not those high banks which confine the Ohio, if we except what the people, in this country call Bluffs. These are steep ledges of rocks which appear at very considerable intervals, sometimes on one side of the river, and sometimes on the other—and from appearances I would suppose it often inundates the bottom lands. These are covered with cane, as thick as the hairs on your head, and look like so many fields of green wheat. These, contrasted with the leafless forest, are singularly beautiful. Not only the islands, but the bottoms are so thickly covered with cane, that you could not see a man on horseback five steps from you.
Melton’s Bluff, 1818-01-12January 12th, 1818.
Upon leaving the ferry, I was pensive and melancholy; for, being told by my guide I was to pass several Indian farms, it struck a damp on my spirits, of which he was unconscious. He speaks of the Indians and their departure with perfect indifference.
On leaving the river the beauties of this deservedly extolled country broke on my view by degrees. To compare it with the Elysian fields of the ancients, would give but a feeble idea of it. The diminutive vale of Tempe and their thousand sylvan shades, vanish into nothing, compared with this. As you are partial to any thing I say or do, I shall throw my thoughts together for your amusement, and you may arrange them at your leisure.55 7(4)r 55
It is unnecessary to state what you have learned from the newspapers, that this land was abandoned last fall by the Indians. The fires were still smoking, when the white people took possession. Although I had travelled through a beautiful country, the two preceding days, and my mind had been raised to the highest pitch of expectation by repeated descriptions of this land; yet, it far exceeded all I anticipated. On quitting the impervious river-bottom, I emerged into an open country, high and dry. The exuberance of cane and timber subsides. This enables the eye to see a great distance—no hill nor dale—neither is it a perfect level; but the surface is gently undulating, or alternately elevated or depressed like waves. The eye can range without controul in all directions. This is what charms; and this I was not prepared for.
But what struck me with most wonder was, that I always appeared to occupy the highest ground; and, all from that point, seemed to descend; and when I gained the extreme boundary of view from a given point, it was the same thing as before—this appeared the highest; that which I had left, the lowest. A warm hospitality seemed to breathe among the trees: they have something cheering in their aspect. They do not terrify by their gigantic looks—they open on all sides, as if to let you pass, and welcome your approach. The sun throws a shining lustre over them. How unlike the cold, dreary, hard frozen hills of Monroe, or in fact any thing in our country.
About ten o’clock we came in sight of the first Indian farm—but Indian farm no longer! The smoke was issuing slowly through the chimney. Why, these Indians have been like us!—could not be savage—cornfields—apple trees, and peach trees. Fences like ours, but not so high—trusted to their neighbor’s honesty—perhaps these being more civilized had more reason to fear their neighbor. Provoked with my guide because he could not tell me the original cause of these enclosures among the Indians—from four to five rails high— this would not do among us—’twould breed a civil war.— There were the lusty corn-stalks—looked grayish—some were standing erect, some were broken off at the middle and hung 56 7(4)v 56 together still, some were prostrate. The house looked tight and comfortable; the fruit-trees are large, and show age— there the Indian sat under their shade, or stood up and plucked the apples—wonder he did not plant more—suppose he did not know how to make cider. Blockhead!—better than whiskey.
My guide says peaches are delightful in this country.
Poor Gourd! That was the Indian’s name; had he still been there, I would have called to see him: but I felt no desire to see his successor. Guide says Gourd was very kind; he knew him for fifteen years. He helped to subdue the Creeks, and made an excellent soldier. There was a portico over the door—there Gourd used to sit in the warm summer days. We rode close to the fence, built by his hands, or perhaps his wife’s; no matter which it was, it was no less dear!—It was his home! The sun, at this moment, overcast with clouds, threw a solemn gloom upon the Indian farm. Nothing moved but the smoke from the chimney—all was silent and hushed as death!—Poor Gourd had to leave his home, his cornfield, and his apple trees.
There could not exist a greater evidence of unbounded avarice and ambition which distinguished the Christian world, than the one that lay before me. There was a time when the owners of this beauteous country flattered themselves that distance alone would screen them from the intrusion of the whites. Vain hope!
Absorbed in pensiveness, I heeded not the loquacity of my servant and guide, who cared for none of these things. My guide tripped lightly along—a tall keen man. I proposed that my servant should walk and let him ride; but he refused; said he would rather walk. But you will have to swim presently, said he. How so? I would rather not. Your horses, I mean; you cross Town Creek, in a canoe, and swim your horses; this will cost you one dollar. One dollar! These white people I thought are greedy. Shortly after this we came to the house where the man lived who was to have the dollar—another Indian house, and I hastened to view the interior. It was a roomy tight built cabin, similar to many 57 8(1)r 57 you have seen. The logs are round, very light, and lie close upon each other. The door was the only singularity:— It was as high as common doors, but not more than half as wide.
As I sat musing upon the ups and downs of this life, I was roused by the man who was to put us over, observing, I can’t tell what’s to be done about putting you over Town Creek. Some of my good neighbours, on the other side, has cut down four or five trees into the crossing; and it is almost impossible to cut them away, as the Creek is high, and they have to be cut in such a manner, (the ends of them lying on the land,) as the water may float them off. But can we not find another place by going higher up the Creek? No! Impossible! and it will be a hard job, if it can be done at all. There is no possible way but to stand in the canoe, to the danger of our lives. Then, said I, we will return, and await the falling of the river. I saw through the matter at once; he wished to have something extra; and had he not been a sharper, I would have given him something extra. Now see these white people! These Christians! His Christian neighbours felled the trees in the stream, and he wanted to filch the damage out of me! So would not the Indians!—Oh, we will go and see what can be done. Shall I help you on your horse? The Creek is a good step off.
A few minutes brought us to Town Creek; and there were the trees, sure enough—cut near the margin—four of them; and all their tops lying piled on each other, precisely where our horses were to land. None but a fiend would have thought of such hellish malice, and such an ingenious piece of mischief too. I should never have dreamed of it.
Leaving the horses on this side, the ferryman and Rhea, (my guide’s name,) and my servant, crossed over, and commenced chopping the trees, at the surface of the stream, some alternately holding the canoe to the place.
I sat down on a log, and taking a newspaper to pass the time; behold! a long holding forth upon converting the Indians, was the first thing that struck my eye! I would have a much 8 58 8(1)v 58 better opinion of robbers and pirates, than such men: they do not belie their trade.
In a quarter of an hour the trees were removed, and I, with my horses, were safely on the other side; and do you think the fellow had not the impudence to ask seventy-five cents extra, after drinking between them a bottle of whiskey, which I gave them as a treat, and Rhea and my servant also assisting them!! No, Sir, said I, I will advertise you as a sharper besides! Give him seventy-five cents extra! I was on the rong side of the river for that. Rhea said I had two more creeks to pass! Big Nance, (called after a woman by that name, who lived there.) These, however, were easily forded—and chatting with Rhea, I learned he was from Rockbridge county, Virginia; had piloted boats through the Muscle Shoals, fifteen years; sometimes four at a time, at ten dollars each. He sails down one day, and walks back the next. He never met, in all that time, with an accident! There are several of these pilots.
You cannot imagine a sight so beautiful as this country exhibits to this place. But the sight of the Bluff at a mile’s distance, fairly entranced me. It is an even high plain, and resembles a hanging garden. The sun favored us with his rays as we drew in sight, and shed a beautiful lustre on the Bluff.—This land is so clear of undergrowth that you may drive a wagon any where through the woods; and this body extends, I am told, twenty miles in width. We passed many Indian houses in the day, and some beautiful springs.
Melton’s Bluff, Now called Marathon. 1818-01-14January 14th, 1818.
Melton’s Bluff is a town, and takes its name from a person by the name of John Melton, a white man, deceased 59 8(2)r 59 two years since, at an advanced age. Various stories are related of this man; but all agree in this: that he was an Irishman by birth; became displeased with the white people; attached himself to the Cherokee Indians; married a squaw, and settled at this place many years ago; that, with the assistance of the Indians, he used to rob the boats which passed down the river, and murder the crews. By these means he became immensely rich; owned a great number of slaves; most of whom he robbed from these boats. Thus ’t is said he continued his piracies until the treaty between the United States and the Cherokees.
He had several children by his Indian wife, one of whom married Rhea, the pilot. After peace was signed with the Indians, Melton lived quietly at home, and cultivated his farm; but towards the latter part of his life he became alarmed from the threats of the Creeks, and removed over the river, where he also had a large farm, and built a fine house, (which I have seen,) and died rich in a good old age. Most of his children married white people.
He used to keep a house of entertainment at Melton’s Bluff, after his piracies ceased; and kept an excellent house. His table was furnished with the best of liquors, meat, coffee, and tea, and all prepared in the best manner. I met with a gentleman who spent a week at Melton’s house, in company with six others. He said he never fared better in any part of the United States: but their bill was excessively high.
I saw and conversed with many of Melton’s slaves; amongst whom was a cook whom he purchased in Baltimore, at a very high price, as a first rate cook. She said that Mrs. Melton would sometimes take it into her head to go into the kitchen, (particularly when she took a dram,) and kick up a dust with her about the dinner. Mrs. M. wanted to model the cooking to her own mind, that is, Indian fashion. She, the cook, being responsible to her master for the forthcoming of the dinner would go to her master; upon which the old man would sally forth, with whip in hand, and if fair words failed, the horsewhip always restored order.
You recollect Rhea whom I have mentioned: he married 60 8(2)v 60 one of Melton’s daughters—a most amiable woman, and very lame. When the Cherokee Indians abandoned this territory last fall, some of them went up the river to the Cherokee nation, there to remain, till boats were provided for their removal to the west, by the government; others went directly down the river to Arkansas—of whom Rhea’s wife was one. The order for their departure was sudden and unexpected. Such was the eagerness of the white people to possess these lands, that the fires were not extinguished when they took possession. Rhea, at that time was absent from home, but returned on the same day, and learning what had happened, was almost frantic— jumped into a canoe, and soon overtook the boats. He flew to his wife, and clasped her in his arms. Neither spoke a word, but both wept bitterly. In a few moments he resumed his canoe and returned to the Bluff, and she went on. They had no children.
Whether Rhea was prohibited by the treaty from accompanying his wife, or whether he was under a prior engagement, none here are able to inform me—but certain it is, he is now married to a white woman.
You have heard that this country consists of table and bottom land, also, of the Bluffs. These Bluffs happen where there is no bottom land, but the table land running up to the river forms a high precipice, called a Bluff. This is the case at Melton’s Bluff, the highest I have seen. Here is a very large plantation of cotton and maize, worked by about sixty slaves, and owned by General Jackson, who bought the interest of old Melton.
No language can convey an idea of the beauties of Melton’s Bluff. It is said to be the handsomest spot in the world, off the seabord; and rich as it is beautiful. I can sit in my room and see the whole plantation; the boats gliding down the river, and the opposite shore, one mile distant. The ducks, geese, and swans, playing at the same time on the bosom of the stream, with a full view of the many islands. It is, after all, the great height of the site that pleases.
I took a walk with some ladies to-day over the plantation, as we wished to have a nearer view of those snowy fields, which so sedulously present themselves to our view, together with 61 8(3)r 61 orchards, gin houses, gardens, Melton’s mansion, and a considerable negro town.
We approached the mansion, by a broad street, running up the river bank east of the town. This street seems suspended between heaven and earth, as the whole premises for two miles, all in sight, appears to be elevated above the horizon, and none above the rest. We entered the court yard, fronting the house, by a stile; and the first thing we met was a large scaffold overspread with cotton: as it was in the seed, their must have been many thousands of pounds. Being damp from dew, and often rain, it must be dried in this manner. The mansion was large, built with logs, shingled roof, and may have been built 25 or 30 years since. I recoiled at the sight of a place once the habitation of such a monster. Some of our party went in: I did not. General Jackson’s overseer, who joined us here, said he lived in the lower story, the upper being filled with cotton. The scaffold was about four feet from the ground. From this we crossed another fence, and found ourselves in a cotton field of about one hundred acres, white with cotton and alive with negroes. The centre of this field is said to be the rallying point of viewing the scenery; as it doubtless is. You can see up to Brown’s Ferry, eight miles distant, with the naked eye—and the same distance down.— The term beauty is applied to any thing which excites pleasant feelings. Beauty is said to be a uniformity amidst variety; a proportion of parts adapted to a whole; fitness of things to an end; quantity and simplicity. All this is realised on the scenery of Melton’s Bluff. Here is a noble river which combines in itself all you can conceive of grandeur and utility, adorned with islands spangled with boats, and enlivened with wild fowl. Lift your eye from the river, and lo! magnificent fields, white as snow, orchards, farms, and houses, all in view, without moving out of the spot. You may thus form some idea of this farfamed Bluff. Here the green islands look like floating meadows. Here the boatman wields his massy oar, and guides his freighted boat along. Here the wild fowl arrayed in glossy plumes, wantons as she lists. Here the distant billows breaking o’er the Shoals, echo back in murmuring 62 8(3)v 62 sounds, and mingling sweetly with the music of the boatman’s viol, swells upon the ear and softly dies away upon the breeze. To crown the whole, here the majestic swan, robed in dazzling white, moves in all her graceful attitudes. These are beauties which may be felt but cannot be described. This combination of objects, each beautiful in itself, and so materially useful, constitutes the beauty of Melton’s Bluff. All the trade of East Tennessee passes by the Bluff, and halt here to take in their pilots.
Now comes the cotton field again. As you complain of long letters, I will please you if it can be done. This is the first cotton field I have ever been in. It appears an endless business when we cast our eye over so vast a plain of white with a production, the gathering of which is to be effected by the application of the fingers to every individual pod; and those pods as thick as they can stand one by the side of the other. It is discouraging indeed. But these negroes have great patience, and seem to be cut out for the business. Here are from 40 to 50, who scarcely seem to move out of one place; nor can you tell which way they are going. They face about to every point. Some are erect, and others stooping, and all their hands move very fast. It is very light work; and the climate is so mild, they work out the whole winter.
It requires practice to be a good picker; an expert hand will pick about 100 weight per day. It is planted in drills from three to four feet asunder. The stem sends out branches from the bottom to the top, so dense, that you think it is sown like wheat. The branches extend from one row to the other, and so intermingle. It is worked in the same manner you do Indian corn until it blooms, and the first frost that comes, 63 8(4)r 63 and even before some of the pods open, whilst others are only in bloom. As soon as it opens, the picking begins; but this requires double the hands it took in the cultivation. These go regularly over the field, and by that time, a number of pods which were not open on the first picking, are now ready, and they return to where they first began, and go over the same ground, and so on the whole winter. Large quantities are burnt for want of hands to get it out of the way of the plow, for the plowing must commence at the usual time; and they set fire to rid it out of the way. I asked why they did not give it gratis to the poor? without reflecting that every man, woman, and child, able to work, were engaged till the last moment. Children of twelve years of age, and often under, make 75 cents per day. The land is amazingly fertile on the Bluff. We measured one of the stalks and found it 6 feet 6 inches high. From the field we sauntered along to the cotton-gin. Every one who raises cotton, must have a gin. As we walked along, thousands of paroquets flew over us in flocks. They are very handsome, green and yellow. The squirrels were likewise chattering in the trees, shelling their nuts, whilst the friendly jay was sporting in the boughs, and the red bird, in his brilliant scarlet plumage, hopping familiarly before us, and his kindred songsters, were serenading us in the adjoining forest. It is like our springs, music and beauty greet you whichever way you move; and yet I am told foreigners say we have no scenery in America. I do not envy them their barren heaths and tottering castles. We have one here, Melton’s castle; but like their own it only serves to remind us of the rapine and bloodshed of its former owner.
We found a number of boys and horses at the the cotton gin, which gave variety to our amusement, particularly a considerable tree pulled round and round by a horse; this turned a screw which pressed the bales of cotton—the world and all the boys seem to be made of cotton here—that is all the description I can give of the thing. The pressing part of it is something like pressing cyder; but as to the ginning part of it, with its thousand wheels and saws 64 8(4)v 64 It would puzzle ApolloIts whimses to follow.
On our return home, we passed two lines of negro cabins. There were very few but children in them. We found the cabins warm and comfortable, and well stored with provisions: General Jackson, to whom they belong, being one of the best of masters.
As I lingered behind the party, thinking of my own negro children, the little things flocked round me, and as they were looking up in my face, eager to be carressed, I discovered the traces of tears on some of their cheeks. The sight pierced me to the heart. Oh, slavery, slavery! nothing can soften thee! thou are slavery still! Is there no hope high heaven?
Melton’s Bluff, 1818-01-16January 16th, 1818.
I am here for the winter, doubtless, and shall while away the time between writing to you, viewing the country, and chatting with the beaux. As you are desirous to hear a particular account of this beautiful region, I shall finish what I began sometime back.
I said the land was divided into bottom, table land, and Bluffs. It also contains Bayous Pronounced Bius. and mountains. The bottom land is held in little estimation; for, though more fertile than the table land, it is hard to clear, being thickly covered with heavy timber, and often not only by these bayous, but often overflowed; this renders it too wet for cotton, which delights in dry soil. Those bayous are formed by the water of the river forsaking the channel, and, running off in various directions, returns to the river and unites with it again. The cotton, or table land, is separated from the bottom land, by the Bluffs, and though they are only called Bluffs where 65 9(1)r 65 they meet the river, they are evidently the same elivation which divides the bottom land from the table land. The table land is not a dead level, but waving, and varies from 20 to 25 miles wide: then comes the mountain, a narrow strip of pine land, very little higher than the table land generally, and, though stony, might be tilled. Then comes the table land again; next mountain. These varieties run parallel with the Tennessee river.
Then comes the long moss, sixty miles on this side of Cahawba, running in the same direction; and beyond it the table land appears again. In the region of this moss it is sickly, as it also is, on the rivers; but keep off the rivers and it is as healthy as any climate, or perhaps more so, than any part of the Union. There is no such thing as consumptions. Those families subject to it perfectly recover from it in this climate. Of this I have been an eye witness.
I saw some of the moss just mentioned. It looks like hay when cured in the sun, though much finer. It has joints like timothy grass. A gentleman who brought some of it in his saddle bags to this place, informed me that it hangs loosely upon the trees, as though it were thrown on by the hand, and has no connection whatever with the branch upon which it hangs. This is most singular. He said that trees of all descriptions were enveloped with it, from the top to the bottom, hanging down to the ground; and that cattle lived on it. I ought to have said that a narrow blade branches out from the joints of the moss. When it is soaked in water, it discharges a thin coat with which the stem is enveloped; it is then black, and resembles horse hair, and matrasses are made out of it.
But to return. This land produces upon an average 1000 pounds of cotton in the seed. Sweet potatoes grow very fine, and are an article of food for the negroes. Corn grows well, and, also, wheat; though the weavel destroys it almost instantly; consequently, as they can buy it cheaper, and turn their labor and land to better account, by raising cotton, wheat is not raised. Tobacco, also, grows well, but they prefer the cotton as more profitable.
I have seen no meadows since I left Tennessee; and though 9 66 9(1)v 66 clover grows well in Madison county, north of the river, the soil is said to be unfavorable to grass. Vast numbers of cattle are raised here upon the cane.
Melton’s Bluff, 1818-01-16same date.
It is now high time to introduce you to the ladies and gentlemen of this town, city, or what you please to denominate it. It would be a million of pities not to do so; particularly a young lady, called the beauty of the Territory. There are so many pleasing objects here—the climate so mild—and such a wide and handsome prospect, that I am all delight—like a bird let out of a cage. But I shall take care not to mount my hobby, lest I might gallop off to Cahawba, or some other place.
To begin with my landlord, Colonel Pettis. He is a young man of handsome appearance, and very good natured— weighs about 200 weight, though not corpulent. He is a native of Virginia; lived sometime in Madison, and moved here about the time I arrived. I was introduced to him in Huntsville, and knowing he was about to remove her, I was warmly recommended to him. He is a man of considerable property, and keeps a house of entertainment for the accommodation of the innumerable travellers, who, like locusts, cover the land. He amuses himself in this way, till the land sales approach, when he designs to purchase and settle himself. His wife, young, active, genteel, and sprightly, with a sparkling black eye, is a beautiful woman, and the life and soul of the Bluff, two children, boys, all they have, and two of his wife’s sisters, a gay young widow and her child, with the bar-keeper, and myself, compose the family. But the beauty, Matt, the flower of the country, is here. She is only fourteen, but her fame extends, 67 9(2)r 67 and will, doubtless, cause many an aching heart. She is one of the sisters just mentioned, the handsomest piece of mortality I ever met with. Her features are without fault; her eyes are unmatched in expression, as black as shoes; and her cheeks are like roses. But my pen fails me—her name is Martha Patrick. Another tavern is kept here, by Major Wyatt, one of the heroes of New Orleans. The Major, his wife, and his wife’s sister, with his mother, compose this other family. Besides these, there are several tipling shows, three stores, an apothecary shop, two doctors, a hatter’s shop, a ware house, and several mechanics.
Major Wyatt is by far the most interesting man in the town, as poor as Job, but brave and generous as a prince. At the battle of New Orleans, he held a captain’s commission, and was taken prisoner on the night of the 1814-12-2323d December. After forcing the British from one position to another, and dealing death wherever he appeared, deceived by the darkness of the night, he mistook the British for our own men, and was taken prisoner. The officer into whose hands he fell, immediately disarmed him; put him under guard, and treated him very harshly. Next morning he was exchanged. The next engagement, Wyatt had the good fortune to take the same officer prisoner. The officer immediately surrendered his sword, which Wyatt received, but instantly returned it: shook him by the hand very friendly, led him to his tent, ordered refreshments, and setting a bottle of wine before him, after taking a glass, desired him to make himself happy, and that he should take the first opportunity of effecting his exchange; saying this, he hastened to take his station at the head of his men, leaving the Englishman overwhelmed with shame and astonishment. Would you believe it, the hero of this Godlike act was master of nothing at the time but his sword and his honor, and at this moment is an humble boatman, and pilots boats through the Shoals! His wife is young, handsome, and industrious, and attends to the tavern. But Mrs. Wyatt, his mother, one of the nobility of the Ancient Dominion, poor and proud, is extremely mortified that her son should have married68 9(2)v 68 ried so much beneath him. She has a daughter married to Mr. Pope, one of the wealthiest men in Madison. Shocking! She has condescended to come and spend the winter with Neddy, however, but she lowers upon her sweet daughter-in-law like a thunder cloud. This widow of 70, is laced and starched stiff up to the chin; homely face, but a fine figure, ignorant and proud as Lucifer, and if I am not much mistaken, would have no objection to enter into the holy bands of matrimony again. The young widow of our family, is a daughter of the wealthy Mr. Foaly, of Natchez. She fell in love and married a Major Chandler against her father’s consent, who not only refused to give her a dollar, but forbid her his house.
Chandler was a handsome, accomplished, man, but poor; and about one year after his marriage, died, and left his wife with an infant amongst strangers. Mrs. Chandler was found in this situation by Colonel Pettis, and taken to his house, where she is treated with kindness and respect. Her father, who owns about ninety slaves, has sent for her to return to him, and upon this condition he promises to divide his fortune with her, General Castleton, his son-in-law, and a son, his remaining child. But she, as yet, refuses to return to her parent. She is a very small woman, but handsome and kind hearted.
To go on with the rest. One of the Doctors, Crab, of Botetourt, Virginia, I knew, as well as the whole family. They were respectable, and were formerly of Maryland. The Doctor is a young widower, tall and slender; and pursues his profession.
The other Doctor, Roussean, descended from the famous writer of that name, is also from Virginia, and near Alexandria. He is a man of genteel manners, young and handsome, and very sociable. One of the merchants, Mitchell, with his wife, is from Nashville, Tennessee, the first people on the Bluff, and are also very pleasant. If we except a little envy on the part of Mrs. Widow W. we have a very pleasant society of our own, independent of the flood of travellers which delight this country, making choice of such lands as they design 69 9(3)r 69 to purchase at the sales. The whole country exhibits fair roads, produced by the people allured from all the States to settle in this beauteous country. Our house is full every night. In short, there are ten families, which, with the comers and goers, and the arrival of the boats from East Tennessee, we have a merry time of it.
N. B. Here is another Jay’s Treaty.
Melton’s Bluff, 1818-01-18January 18th, 1818.
Good news awaits you: read on! Having collected a few books, I was devouring Phillip’s Speeches (first sight of the book) in a corner, when a loud cry, General Jackson, General Jackson comes! and, running to my window, I saw him walking slowly up the hill, between two gentlemen, his aids. He was dressed in a blue frock coat, with epaulettes, a common hat with a black cockade, and a sword by his side. He is very tall and slender. He walked on by our door to Major Wyatt’s, his companion in arms, where he put up for the night, though he called on us that evening and the next morning. His person is finely shaped, and his features not handsome, but strikingly bold and determined. He is very easy and affable in his manners, and loves a jest. He told one of our party, he was one of the blue hen’s chickens. He appears to be about 50 years of age. There is a great deal of dignity about him. He related many hardships endured by his men, in the army, but never breathed a word of his own. His language is pure and fluent, and he has the appearance of having kept the best company.
You will recollect he was ordered by the government against the Seminole Indians. His army is on its march considerably ahead of him, having crossed at Ditto’s Landing, up the river, while he came round by this place to see his plantation and slaves.70 9(3)v 70
The hero of the south, as he is called, left us this morning, at 10 o’clock, and our best wishes went with him. Upon seeing him, I called to mind the night I was roused from my sleep in Charlestown, about midnight, by William Quarrier, who knocked at my door and proclaimed aloud, General Jackson has defeated the British at New Orleans; get up, we are going to illuminate. This was the night of the fire-works and rejoicing upon the news of the victory, which you no doubt well remember. Many other anecdotes, particularly of his humanity to the distressed, occured to my mind.
Upon my return once from Ohio, I put up at a Mr. Jones’s, on Kentucky river. In the course of the conversation, I observed, that a new county had been established in Ohio, and was called Jackson; and not satisfied with this mark of respect, they called the seat of justice Jackson. Mrs. Jones observed they could not have him too much; and it gave her great pleasure to hear of his hapiness and success; that he had been the means once of saving herself and her children from perishing in the wilderness. Mrs. Jones, was the daughter of Captain Arbuckle, of Greenbrier City, Va. with whom you must be acquainted, though you may not be with the history of his daughter, as you are too young.—Her history contains a most surprising train of incidents, and superior to any novel. The story is this: Mr. Arbuckle had several handsome and sensible daughters. One of these was addressed by a Mr. Jones, and a mutual and deep rooted affection grew up between them: but Captain A. opposed their union, and forbid Jones his house; and finally through persuasion and force compelled his daughter to marry the son of Captain Robertson, a near neighbour of mine. Upon this, Jones abandoned the country, and I never heard of him from that day till the night of which I am now speaking. As soon as Robertson married the girl, he removed with her to Natchez, and I heard no more of them. I did see a publication in the newspapers, of a female travelling through the Indian nation, without protection, and that she, and six children, entered the state of Kentucky, nearly famished. Mrs. Jones was the woman! Her own narrative follows: I was forced to marry Mr. Robertson and be miserable,71 9(4)r 71 able, or marry Mr. Jones, and render my father miserable; I preferred the former. All places being alike to me, after this sacrifice, I accompanied my husband to Natchez. We had received a handsome beginning from both our fathers, and were, for some time prosperous. But my husband, at length, fell in with bad company, and took to gambling and drinking, and spent the whole of his property.—Meantime we had seven children, which I partly maintained by my own labour. Finally, my husband took sick, and after lingering some time, died, and every thing I had was seized and sold by his creditors, with the exception of four horses, which I concealed, with a view of conveying my children and myself to my father in Virginia. I hired a man to go with me, and departed early one night, and never stopped till I got over the boundary line between the white people and the Indians. I had but 8 dollars and a bushel of meal for myself and children; but I was so annxious to get out of the reach of the white people, whom I expected would pursue me, that I travelled without ceasing, or rest, till the second day about 10 o’clock, when I turned out my horses to feed on the pea vine, and began to prepare bread for my children. Several of them being sick when I left Natchez, were stretched upon the ground, while I was preparing food, when, behold, three white men, whom I knew, appeared in sight, having pursued me. They rode towards the horses, as if to surround and take them by force, when I flew between them and the horses, and told them they should not lay hands on them. I acknowledged I owed money in Natchez, which I honestly intended to pay when I reached my fathers. You have deprived me of all but the horses, and without them I cannot reach my fathers. I am out of your jurisdiction. I am on Indian ground, and if you levy your process on my property, you do it at your peril. You know the penalty, and so do I, and I will prosecute you at every hazard. I had been particular enough to learn by certain signs on the line, and I knew I was out of their power. They endeavored to frighten me out of the horses, but finding it vain they returned.
I pursued my journey all that night, and next day, until evening, when coming to a deep hollow, over which there 72 9(4)v 72 was a bridge, I drove the horses over, and after taking a slight supper, I lay down on the bridge, with a view of guarding the horses. The man who was with me, an old silly sort of a man, had disappeared sometime before I lay down. I lay awake, suspecting some treachery. The moon shone quite bright. The old many had doubtless betrayed me to the same men whom, as I expected, pursued me. When I missed the man I concluded I was undone, and gave way to despair; for, though I saw no possibility of the horses crossing the gully, except by the bridge, I was apprehensive some place was known to my guide, or to the men. As I lay watching, with an aching heart, about midnight I perceived the horses moving slowly towards the bridge, and the same men, with the traitor, pursuing them silently. When the horses drew near the bridge, I jumped up and frightened them back, and the men disappeared. They, doubtless, expected I was asleep, and never dreamed of my securing the bridge. I never saw my men afterwards. I continued my journey, now and then buying a scanty supply of provisions for ourselves and horses, from the Indians. These were the Choctaws, and were very friendly. But it was at a season of the year when provisions were scarce.
I travelled but slow, as my children were all sick, except one.—One of the children was so ill that I had to carry it in my lap; and though I expected to lose some of them, I strove to get to the white settlements if possible.
The ninth day, as I was riding slow along, I met a gentleman and his servant. He stopped and spoke very kindly to me, and inquired very particularly into the cause of my travelling in the wilderness; and asked me how much money I had? I informed him I had but two dollars, and at the same time repeating the cause of my journey. He approved my undertakking, and pulling out his purse, gave me forty dollars! He told me to keep a good heart, and I would surmount my difficulties. Said he was sorry he was going the opposite way. He spoke kind to all the children, and went on. It was General Jackson!
The day after I left him, as I stopped at an Indian house, 73 10(1)r 73 I discovered a gentleman, who appeared to be sick. He had been resting awhile, and finding I was going the same way, he had his horse prepared, and went on with me. He was very feeble, and was followed by a mule, which was heavily laden with specie. He had been taken sick on the road. We travelled together, very slow, till the third day, when he informed me he could go no further. As I had some knowledge of medicine, and not wishing to travel without his company, I placed him in an Indian cabin, and having medicine with me, left by the physicians when my husband died, I administered it to him—in three days, during which I constantly attended him, he found himself well enough to venture on; and my children, too, being better, we proceeded with much greater celerity than before. We did not make as much progress as we could have wished, owing to the want of grain for our horses. He was well armed, but was, nevertheless, timorous—nor was I less so; and the following will prove that our fears were not groundless: As we were lying down one night, all asleep but myself, (I never slept at night,) my eyes being fixed upon the road, watching both ways, I saw a person walking up the road. I turned to the tent where the gentleman slept. (I always stretched a blanket over him at night,) and wakened him; but as I crawled to him, I saw two more men in the other end of the road, also, walking towards us. Their coming in this manner, evidently showed their design, which was to rob the gentleman. He seized a pistol, and called out to the men to stand—upon this, all three ran, and he fired after them. They never appeared after this, although we watched for them the whole of that night.
In the course of our conversations, I mentioned the money given me by General Jackson; and as we were now drawing near Kentucky, and were soon to part, he said he must give me something before we separated. Taking a fancy to one of my horses, he inquired of me if I would dispose of him— that if I would he would give me the full value, and I could send him the horse when I arrived home. I agreed to this, and he paid me the money, and we parted next morning.10 74 10(1)v 74
I struggled with the sickness and hardships for the sake of my children, until I arrived in Kentucky, when, having less cause to exert my fortitude, I sunk upon a sick bed, where I lay, until writing to my father, he sent for me, and four months after leaving Natchez, we arrived, all safe, in Greenbrier!
The remainder of Mrs. Jones’ story is so interesting that I must finish it. It amounts to the following:—When she arrived at home, her father gave her, by way of compensation, one of those fine tracts of land on the Kenhawa river, below the Washington Lands. Meantime Jones, who was still unmarried, wandered about the Western frontier, furing, &c. and by sundry speculations, had collected a considerable sum of money; and the British, on their invasion of New Orleans, sending word to the citizens of Louisville, that they would dine with them the next day! many of the inhabitants became panic struck, and sold their possessions for a mere trifle.— Jones became one of the purchasers, and grew, suddenly, rich. He was offered, I think, and received, one hundred per cent, for a part of the property, next day, reserving the best for himself.
When Jones heard of Mrs. Robinson’s return, and death of her husband, he hastened to seek her; and, still retaining his partiality for her, and she for him, they were married.— She had been married about two years when I was at her house, and was in the act of packing up to remove to Louisville, where a splendid house and every thing that heart could wish was ready to receive her. I should have been much pleased to have seen Jones, but he was absent from home. I however saw a very handsome child, better than a year old, the fruits of their union. Let any of your novel writers beat this! Mrs. Jones’ children were very stout, and the oldest was nearly a woman.75 10(2)r 75
Many similar acts of kindness, as related above, are told of General Jackson. He is represented as being particularly good and kind to his soldiers. One of his men informed me he would walk through the mud for miles, and let his sick men ride his horse. He would distribute his biscuit, tea, and whatever his private stores consisted of, amongst the sick, and go to the slaughter pen, and he and his suite would broil and eat the tripe, and other offal, without bread and without salt. This man, also, stated to me, he was present at the battle of the Horse Shoe, and a squaw being killed by accident, her child was found alive, and at the breast of its dead mother.— The General was pierced to the heart, and taking the child in his arms, had it immediately fed and clothed, and hired a person to take it to Huntsville, to be nursed. He has adopted the child since, and calls it Leneour Jackson, and both himself and Mrs. Jackson treats it with the utmost tendernes.
Last fall General Jackson came to the Bluff, when every family was down with a fever, it being exceedingly sickly. Many of these were unable to give the others a drink of water. He had heard of the sickness of which his overseer had died, and of several of his slaves being confined at the same time.— Mrs. Mitchell, and her husband, (the merchant before mentioned) were lying, not able to rise, one in one bed, and the other opposite in another. She related to me, that the General and his suite would take the water buckets and go to the river for water; heat it over the fire, and take the sick in their arms, and placing their feet in the warm water, would thus support them, until they were sufficiently bathed, and then bear them back to their bed again. After this the General would administer medicine with his own hands. Thus he went the whole night, and never ceased till he had administered the necessary wants to all, both black and white, and consoling them with the most soothing language. Mrs. M. said the General had handled her as tenderly as though she were a babe; and when he left the place, he ordered a negro woman of his own to wait on all those who were without servants. You could scarcely hear his name mentioned without the repetition of some generous act. Well may the people adore him as they do.
Melton’s Bluff, 1818-01-20January 20th, 1818.
If I were not the best tempered person in the world, I should get into a pet and quit this correspondence. If it were not for some way to pass off the time, I would do so. I have not received a word from you these three weeks. What are you about? Are you sick, or sullen; or bemiring yourself and your horse by riding up and down the river through the mud; or, taking the opportunity of my absence, gone to your old tricks again? I shall be likely to hear no good of you, I suspect. When I return, I mean to make very particular inquiries about you; and there are not wanting those that will tell me the truth; and a great deal more!
But I will give you only a piece of letter now, and the residue of it when I get over the fatigue I experienced in a late party of pleasure, or rather expedition, not against, but amongst, the Indians. But such a job, or rather such a voyage of discovery, as it was made by our party on the river, under a commander or leader, who was called a good waterman, but who was more like a land-lubber, unless the character of a good waterman consists in roundly wetting and worrying all his passengers, you never witnessed, perhpas never read of. The particulars of it, however, would not be at all interesting, because, they would be much like ordinary frights, screams, and hair-breadth ’scapes of most large parties, composed chiefly of females crammed into one poor little canoe to navigate a great river. A more ill-looking, frightened, chagrined, fatigued, be-drabbled, and be-drowned set of miserables, than our party exhibited after being rocked and tossed about, not in the Bay of Biscay, O, but in the broad Tennessee for a considerable time without making a progress of 800 yards, you never beheld in decent people, who started in high spirits and holy-day dresses. All the curls, crimps, and flourishing of gay gowns, new shoes, silk stockings, pantaloons and petticoats, shawls and other flaunting finery humbled—not to the dust, but—to the water! But I will now only give you the subject of my story, and the object of this grand expedition, and proceed to the result of it in my next.77 10(3)r 77
To the same—in continuation.
Hearing eleven boats had arrived about two miles from hence, and had haulted up the river, we set off, as I said before, in a little canoe, to see the Indians, which are on their way to their destination beyond the Mississippi. Government, agreeably to their contract, having completed the boats, the news of the arrival of the Indians had been received with much interest; but being unable to proceed by water, we quit the canoe, and proceeded by land in our wet shoes and hose.
We arrived at the Indian camps about eleven o’clock. There were several encampments at the distance of three hundred yards from each other, containing three hundred Indians. The camps were nothing but some forks of wood driven into the ground, and a stick laid across them, on which hung a pot in which they were boiling meat; I took it to be venison. Around these fires were seated, some on the ground, some on logs, and some on chairs, females of all ages; and all employed, except the old women. There were some very old gray-haired women, and several children at each camp. The children were very pretty; but the grown females were not. I saw but few men. I asked the interpreter where they were: he said they had gone to hunt; some of them had returned, and were skinning and others preparing their game for their journey. But none of them were near the womens’ department; they kept at a very respectful distance.
I have heard much of the elegant figures of the Indians; true, some nations of Indians are elegantly formed, but such is not the case with the Cherokees. They are low in stature, and there is nothing majestic or dignified about them. They have no expression of countenance. They have a dead eye; but their feet and hands are exceedingly small and beautiful. This is all the beauty I could distinguish about them. No lady that ever I saw has a hand so small or so well turned as these Indian women; and the same may be said of their feet. But, after all, they are ugly lumps of things. They are thick and short. Their hair is jet black, and very coarse. It parts from the crown of the head to its termination on the 78 10(3)v 78 forehead, as the Dutch women wear theirs, and clubbed up behind with a blue or red ferret. Their colour is that of dark mulattoes. They were all well dressed; at least as well as most white women are, when engaged in their ordinary employment. Some were engaged in sewing, some in cooking, and some in nursing their babies, which were the prettiest little creatures I ever beheld.
Their manner of nursing is singular. They do not hold their infants in their arms, or on their laps, as our women do; but on their backs, confined in such a manner that they are in no danger of falling, or moving in any direction. This is done by means of a blanket, or a part of one, drawn tight round the infant, leaving its head and arms out. This blanket is fastened round the waist of the mother, and the top I do not know exactly how; but the utmost confidence seems to be reposed in its tenacity, as the mother never touches the child with her hands, or is at any more trouble with it whatever. The little things clasp their arms round the necks of their mothers, which they never move: no crying, nor fretting, nor any apprehension of danger disturbed the serenity of these little philosophers, on our approaching them. I have been told that the mothers suckle them, where they are, by raising the breast up to the child’s mouth, which is very probable.
The Indian women appear to sustain no inconvenience from the incumbrance of their children. They went through the different vocations of pounding their corn into meal, carrying wood and water, with the same apparent ease as those that had no children. Seeing several little girls of from ten to twelve years old, I asked the women why they did not make those little girls nurse their little ones. They answered no other way than by shaking their heads, and smiling at my ignorance, no doubt. I went up to one of them, who was pounding corn, took the pestle out of her hand and helped her to pound: she laughed at my awkwardness, and took it out of my hand. She had, sitting by her on a washing-tub, a large tray full of parched corn. This it was that she was pounding into meal; and as she finished each portion, she emptied it into another tray. Every thing about her was neat and clean. The 79 10(4)r 79 Indian corn was parched to a nice light brown, and looked very interesting. The meal manufactured from this corn, is not fine, nor do they make it into bread at all, but mix it with common water and drink it. ’Tis rarely that they drink water in any other way. No one, who has never tasted it, would believe what a delicious drink it is.
Having walked about and made a number of inquiries, I sat myself down and made signs to an old Indian woman that I wanted to smoke: she very courteously handed me her pipe. The seat I had chosen was near one of those women, whom I had observed for some time, sedulously engaged with her needle. She was engaged making a family dress, in which she discovered all the skill and industry necessary to accomplish it. Their dresses were made like our ladies, and were put on. They had fine cotton shawls on their shoulders, and many of them had men’s hats on their heads; but no bonnets were seen amongst them. They all had good shoes or mockasins on their feet, and some hundreds of beads round their necks; but their broad faces and coarse hair (as coarse as a horses mane) were quite disgusting. There is one elegance, however, which they possess in a superiour degree to any civilized people that I am acquainted with; and this is not their beautiful hands and feet, already mentioned, but their walk. No lady, however skilled in the art of dancing, can walk with so much grace and dignity as these Indians, both men and women: and this, I am told, is peculiar to almost all Indians.
Although there were such a number of them, so near together as to be seen from one camp to the other, yet there was the greatest ardor imaginable: not the least noise to be heard. How would so many whites have managed to maintain the good order evinced by these Indians? Even their dogs were not permitted to bark at us. The poor dogs! I felt for them: they were nothing but skin and bone! The same word that we use to encourage our dogs to seize on any thing, or to bark, the Indians use to control theirs, which is hiss! One of our party told me that it was hiska! which means be still. The dress of the men was equally as decent and fashionable as that of the women. Many of them had on very neat half-boots, broadcloth80 10(4)v 80 cloth coats, and good hats; though some prefer tying their heads up with a handkerchief, as being more convenient to hunt in.
By all that I have said in regard to these Cherokees, you may perceive they are far advanced in civilized arts and manners. This great work was accomplished by the indefatigable labors of the Reverend Gideon Blackburn! And yet, what an aversion they manifest toward our language! I was told that nearly all those that I saw, both understood and could talk good English; but not one word could I get out of them, of any sort. Their inter-communications were carried on by signs. I saw many of the half-breed, as they are called, here; the offspring of a white and an Indian—but they were as unsociable as the others. I was thinking that this would be a good plan to promote their civilization, but the result proves that any plan would not succeed. It is very probable, that the most effectual means have been resorted to by our government to overcome their prejudices. I mean our rifles.
Please to give my best respects to Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Dryden.
1818-01-30January 30th, 1818.
You want every-day things, common-life, living-manners, evening-chat, and have I not done so? Not every thing to be sure, for I see and hear many things, that, oh heavens! I would not—what was I going to say?—why, that I hear and see such things, that would not look very seemingly on paper. But if I live to see you, I shall let you into the knowledge of some things you would not dream of.
But as you are fond of stories, here follows one, which I am pretty certain you never saw. It is the first time I saw it, and is said to be written by Dr. Franklin himself: The Doctor81 11(1)r 81 tor left Boston when a boy, and came to Philadelphia, where he lived till his death. Upon the death of his father, he went to Boston to comfort and console his mother. He had not seen her since he left Boston, many years, and was sure she would not know him. When he drew near her dwelling, as he was fond of philosophical experiments, it came into his head to pass himself for a stranger, and by this, ascertain whether there was such a thing as natural affection. On a cold, chilly day, in the month of January, in the afternoon, the Doctor knocked at the door, and asked to see Mrs. Franklin. He found the old lady knitting, before the parlour fire, and introduced himself, by observing, that he had been informed she entertained travellers, and requested a night’s lodging. She eyed him with that cold look of disapprobation, which most people assume, when they imagine themselves insulted. She assured him, that he had been misinformed, that she did not keep tavern, but that it was true, to oblige some members of the Legislature, she took a number of them into her family during the session: that she then had four members of the Council, and six of the House of Representatives boarding with her; and that all her beds were full; and then betook herself to her knitting, with that intense application, which expressed as much and as forceably as actions could do—if you have done your business, the sooner you leave the better. But on the Doctor’s wrapping his coat about him and observing that it was very chilly weather, she pointed to a chair and gave him permission to warm himself. The entrance of the boarders precluded all further conversation. Coffee was soon served, and the Doctor partook with the rest of the family. To the coffee succeeded pipes and a paper of McIntire’s best, when the whole family formed a cheerful smoking semi-circle round the fire.
Perhaps no man ever possessed colloquial powers in a more facinating degree than Doctor Franklin, and never was there an occasion when he displayed those powers to a greater advantage than at this time. He drew the attention of the company by the solidity of his judgment, and the modesty of his deportment; instructed them by the new and varied lights in which he placed his subject, and delighted them with apt 11 82 11(1)v 82 and amusing anecdotes. Thus employed, the hours passed merrily along, until eight o’clock, when punctual to a moment, Mrs. Franklin announced supper. Busied with her household affairs, she fancied the intruding stranger had quitted the house immediately after coffee, and it was with difficulty she restrained resentment when she saw him without invitation seat himself at the table with the freedom of a member of the family. Immediately after supper, she called an elderly gentleman, a member of the Council in whom she was accustomed to confide, to another room, complained bitterly of the rudeness of the stranger, told the manner of his introduction to the house, observed that he appeared like an outlandish man, and she thought he had something very suspicious in his appearance; concluding by soliciting her friend’s advice with respect to the way in which she could most easily rid herself of his presence. The old gentleman assured her that the stranger was a man of education, and to all appearances a gentleman; that being in agreeable company, he had paid no attention to the lateness of the hour, and advised her to call him aside, and repeat to him her inability to lodge him. She accordingly sent her maid to him, and then, with as much temper as she could command, recapitulated the situation of her family, observed that it grew late, and mildly intimated, that he would do well to seek himself a lodging. The Doctor said that with her leave he would smoke one more pipe with her boarders, and then retire. He returned to the company, filled his pipe, and with the first whiff his powers of conversation returned with redoubled force. He recounted the hardships, he extolled the piety and policy of our ancestors. A gentleman present mentioned the subject of the day’s debate in the House of Representatives—a bill had been introduced to extend the prerogatives of the crown. The Doctor immediately entered upon the subject, separated the Colonial rights with new and forcible arguments, was familiar with the names of the influential members of the house, when Dudly was Governor, recited their speeches, and applauded the noble defence of the Chamber rights.
During a discourse so appropriately interesting to the company, no wonder the clock struck eleven unperceived by 83 11(2)r 83 the delighted circle. Nor was it wonderful, that Mrs. Franklin, by this time, grew exhausted: she now entered the room, and, before the whole company, with much warmth, addressed the Doctor, told him plainly she thought herself imposed on, observed it was true she was a lone woman, but that she had friends, who would protect her, and concluded by insisting on his leaving the house. The Doctor made a slight apology and very deliberately put on his great coat and hat, took a polite leave of the company, and approached the street door, lighted by the maid and attended by the mistress. While the Doctor and his companions had enjoyed themselves within, a most tremendous snow had fallen without, which had filled the streets knee-deep; and when the maid lifted the latch, a roaring northwester forced open the door, extinguished the light, and almost filled the entry with drifted snow and hail. As soon as the candle was relighted, the Doctor cast a woful look towards the door, and thus addressed his mother: My dear Madam, can you turn me out of doors in this dreadful storm? I am a stranger in this town, and shall certainly perish in the street. You look like a charitable old lady: I don’t think you could turn a dog from your door on this tempestuous night. Don’t tell me about charity, said the offended matron; charity begins at home. It was your own fault, that you staid so long: to be plain with you, sir, I don’t like your conduct; and I fear you have some bad design in thus intruding yourself on my family. The warmth of the parley had drawn the company from the parlour, and by their united interferance the stranger was permitted to lodge in the house, and as no bed could be had, he consented to repose on an easy chair before the parlour fire. Although the boarders entertained no doubt of the stranger’s honesty, it was not so with Mrs. Franklin. With suspicious caution she collected all her silver spoons, pepper-box, and porringer, from the closet, and after securing the parlour-door by sticking a fork over the latch, carried the plate to her chamber, charged the negro-man to sleep with his clothes on, to take the clever to bed with him, and wake and seize the vagrant at the first noise he made in attempting to rob the house.84 11(2)v 84
Having thus taken every precaution, she retired to bed with her maid, whom she compelled to sleep in her room.— Mrs. Franklin rose before the sun, roused her domestics, unfastened the parlour door, with timid caution, and was greatly surprised to find her guest quietly sleeping in the chair. A sudden transition from mistrust to perfect confidence was natural. She awakened him with a cheerful good morning, inquiring how he had rested, and invited him to partake of her breakfast, which was always served before that of the boarders. And pray, sir, said the old lady, as she sipped her chocolate, as you say you are a stranger here, to what distant country do you belong? I, Madam, belong to the city of Philadelphia. The Doctor declared he, for the first time, perceived any emotion in her. Philadelphia! said she, and all the mother suffused her eyes. If you live in Philadelphia, perhaps you know our Ben. Who, Madam!— Why, Ben Franklin, my Ben; Oh, he is the best child that ever blest a mother! What—is Ben Franklin, the printer, your son? Why he is my most intimate friend. Oh! God forgive me; and have I suffered a friend of my Benny to sleep on that hard chair, and I in a good bed?
How the Doctor made himself known to his mother, he has not informed us. But he always said, after that, that there was no such thing as natural affection. How much like her are all old women! I never found one drop of the milk of human kindness in one of them.
Melton’s Bluff, 1818-01-30same date.
The anecdote of Doctor Franklin, in my last, reminds me of a similar one of my mother.
When I was a child, my parents removed from Maryland to the frontier of Pennsylvania, and settled in the woods at the 85 11(3)r 85 mouth of Loyalhanah, now in Westmoreland County. I can just remember passing through Tanny Town, and seeing a sign over a tavern door, which represented a boy sitting on a keg with a bunch of grapes in his hand. I thought they were actually grapes, and asked for some to eat. This, and seeing the trees covered with snow, as we rode along, and Isaac Fanosedelle, who travelled with us, is all I recollect of the journey. But, to the anecdote.
A vast number of sugar trees grew in that region, and my mother employed herself in the spring of the year in making sugar. I was about four or five years old, when my father being on a journey, and my mother, as usual, employed at the sugar camp, had left my sister (younger than I) and myself in the house by ourselves. The spring was far advanced, and as my sister and myself were amusing ourselves catching butterflies before the cabin door, on a warm sunshine evening, we were on a sudden surprised by a gentleman on horseback, who rode up to us, and inquired if he could stay all night. We stood still, staring at the gentleman, not knowing what answer to make, till he inquired where our parents were, and what were thereir names. I was always the first to speak, and said, my mama is at the sugar camp, and her name is Mary; and my papa’s name is William. I shall stop, said he, and alighted from his horse, and taking off the saddle, laid it down by the door, and asked me if we had a stable to put horses in? I told him I did not know what that was—but we put old Bonny in the pen there, pointing it out to him. Have you any corn? said the gentleman. Yes, sir, we have corn in the crib. You are a finne girl; come and show me the crib, said he, smiling: and after turning his horse in the pen, I ran to show him the crib, communicating every incident within my memory to him, without reserve, at which he laughed heartily, and chatted with me in turn.— But a violent dispute succeeded to this. I told him he took too much corn for his horse; he must not take more than twelve ears, that was all we gave to Bonny. He gave the best of reasons why his horse should have more than Bonny; but 86 11(3)v 86 he argued to the wind. Our parents had laid down certain rules for us to go by, and these were as firm and steadfast as the laws of the Medes and Persians. I did not grudge him the corn, but thought he was a novice in the art of feeding a horse; and, finally, he was forced to let me have my own way.
Our cabin, or camp rather, was very small—not more than 8 or 10 feet. This contained one bed, four wooden stools, with legs stuck in them through augur holes, half a dozen tin cups, and the like number of pewter plates, knives, forks, and spoons, though my sister (very mischievous) had lost one of the knives, (for which I was chastised,) broke one of the spoons, and seriously damaged one of the plates. Besides these we had a tray and frying pan, a camp-kettle, and a pot; and our cabin was considered the best furnished on the frontier. A pewter dish or spoons, in those days, were considered articles of opulence— two-thirds of the people of the frontiers eat with muscle shells, and I have, had a great veneration for muscle shells ever since, for my sister soon broke and lost, together, our half dozen spoons. Besides this, we had a table made of puncheon, (a tree split in half,) and like the other furniture, was graced with four substantial legs of rough hewed white oak. I think we had a towel, but as for table-cloth, I had never seen one to my knowledge; and neither trunk nor box incommoded us. There was a few skins upon which those reposed who thought proper to share them. Sometimes we had bread, and always a plenty of meal.
The gentleman upon entering the hut, asked if we had any thing to eat? I am very hungry; I have eat nothing since morning. We have plenty of jerk (dried venison) in the chimney, I replied. He soon had a piece in his hand; and hearing a hen at the door, he asked if we had any eggs? My sister upon the inquiry ran out to a nest, hard by, and brought four eggs in, and gave them to him. He made a hole in the ashes, and covered up the eggs, and having salt and biscuit with him, he made a hearty meal. He gave us a cake each.
It was now near night, and after taking a walk to look at his horse, the gentleman being weary, said he would lie down. He had travelled that day from Pittsburg. I offered him the only bed in the house, saying we could sleep on the floor; we 87 11(4)r 87 had done so many a time. He declined the offer, and throwing a bear skin, said, would do very well. I am used to camping out; this will be delightful, and threw himself on the floor. I ran and brought two or three more, and seeing I was hardly able to drag them along, he laughed, and took them from me. He put his saddle under his head, and I took a spare quilt and threw it over him. In a very few minutes he was fast asleep, and still my mother came not, though it was quite dark; I put my sister to bed, as she grew sleepy, and sat up alone.
My mother having a fine day for her business, did not arrive till, perhaps, an hour after dark, and one of the next neighbors, a female (the only one we had except the Peery’s came with her, as she frequently did, when my mother was alone: and, in turn, my mother would take us children, when their husbands were absent, and spend the night with her. I had heard their approach, and opening the door, ran to meet them with the news I had to impart. I expected to receive the applause of the two; but what was to my astonishment to find they were not only displeased, but alarmed. It was just at the commencement of hostilities with the Indians, and several white men were recently detected as spies. He is a spy, I’ll wager, said aunt Molly, (as we called her.) I’ll be bound! said my mother, or some robber come to murder us. You ought not to have let him in the house, said she sharply; never do the like again. Finding I had done wrong in my mother’s estimation, I sneaked into the house, and set myself down, leaving the matrons holding a counsel in the yard. At length they entered, on tiptoe, and lighting a lamp, took a peep at the stranger, who was snoring aloud. They drew near the fire, after this, and aunt Molly Carrahan said, I don’t like his looks. Nor I neither, said my mother. He looks for all the world, said the former, like Paddy Dunahan, that was hung in Limerick, for killing of Dennis O’Shaan. My mother said she had a great mind to take her children, and go to Mr. Blane’s to-night. Not a foot will ye stir, said aunt Molly. I’ll tell you what we’ll do, Mary. I’ll just put on the camp-kettle and have it boiling in a giffey, and 88 11(4)v 88 if he offers to stir, I’ll scald his eyes out the first thing. He’s just one of the them English, I’ll warrant, come to spy out the land; but if he offers for to go to molest us, I’ll put him past spying.
The camp-kettle was put on, and a brisk fire made under it; and for my part, in no apprehension from the stranger, I laid myself down, and soon fell asleep. The first thing I saw in the morning, was the gentleman pulling on his boots, and my mother, (who doubtless sat up the whole night,) with a smile, bid him good morning; and aunt Molly, and Irish woman, hoped he had had pleasant dreams. The gentleman apologized, said he had been very fortunate in lighting upon a house; that he had travelled the preceding day through the wilderness without meeting with one, and praised me no little for a fine girl; and told the story to my mother about the horse feed. The two ladies were highly delighted, and breakfast was prepared for him before he set out; his horse fed; and, at his departure he gave me a silver dollar, the first I ever saw. And whom do you think was the gentleman? No less than the amiable Mr. Findley, long a member of Congress from Pennsylvania, distinguished for his republican principles, and one of the ablest men in the state. He used to be called the walking library, from his knowledge of books; and one of the finest looking men in the world.
Melton’s Bluff, 1818-02-06February 6th, 1818.
Spring has commenced—the trees on the river are green and the people are begining to plough. They plant cotton here the first week in March, and, I think, corn too—the plowing commences the first week in February.
You ask if I have books? Yes; I have read Salmagundi, 89 12(1)r 89 Philips’ Speeches, and Lady Morgan’s France; all new to me. I never saw them before. They are very interesting. Standing in a store one day, I saw a book lying amongst some rubbish, and requesting the clerk to hand it to me, after brushing the dust from it, I found it to be Salmagundi, a humorous and well written work, by Paulding and Irving, of New York, so it is said. Oh, said the boy, that is not a good book. If you want a book to read, here is a good book, and handed Russell’s Severi Sermons. He put me in mind of old Mrs. W—, whom you must have known. She came to our house one Sunday; (she hardly missed a Sunday:) I was reading Buffon, and laying the book on a chair to attend to something about the house, the woman picked it up, and turning the leaves over, exclaimed, La, do you read such books to-day? Why! what is the matter with it? Why it an’t a good book. I would not read such a book on the Sabbath. Now, this woman would pick whortleberries, and even wash her clothes on Sunday. The young man was, doubtless, of the same stamp.
Have you seen Lady Morgan’s France? You will be pleased with it. For a woman she is a fine writer. This work will long remain a standing evidence of that towering genius which knows no sex. Her delineation of men and manners are well drawn. Her style is classical, nervous, glowing, and pure, and discovers a perfect knowledge of mankind. She is the best portrayer I have met with, except Voltaire. She descends to the bottom, and searches the lowest depths of society. She re-ascends amongst the nobility and gentry, and unlocks the cabinets of kings and ministers. She examines for herself. She bursts the chains of prejudice, and comes forth arrayed in honors all her own. This female, an honor to her sex, and the brightest ornament of literature, was once, it seems, an actress, and on the stage.
I have seen several new novels, which, with the exception of Walter Scott’s, I do not read. Insipid, frothy, nauseous stuff, I cannot endure them,—they are so stuffed with unmeaning words. Now what do you say to playfulness, fastidious, witchery; how silly in sound and signification; it 12 90 12(1)v 90 makes one sick, and serves no purpose but to entangle the subject and obscure the sense. And, by the way, these silly novel writers must show their learning. Profound philosophers! deeply read in history! abundance of things irrelevant to the subject. Simpletons, we suppose every one know these things. But, as some one has said, let blockheads read what blockheads write. But I find these novels corrupt the morals of our females, and engender hardness of heart to real distress. Those most pleased with fictitious distress, have hearts as hard as iron. If they are pleased with one who relieves fictitious distress, the reality ought to please much more, and every one may be a real hero, or heroine, with less trouble than writing or reading a romance. Let them just step into the streets, the highways, or the hovel of the widow or orphan, heaven knows they may find enough there; they need not look in books for distress. I have seen pictures of real distress, which greatly exceeded the pen of any novel writers; and yet none heeds it. Relieving these would be Godlike, and would impart a heaven upon earth. But you like short letters.
Melton’s Bluff, 1818-02-07February 7th, 1818.
I am never better pleased, than when seated alone by a bright fire, a clean swept hearth, a lighted candle, and a pair of snuffers. I have a snuffer-tray too, but one who was raised in the woods, you know, can easily dispense with a snuffer- tray; but I confess, I abominate the practice of snuffing the candle with your fingers. I was going on, however, to say, that nothing gives me more pleasure than to seize my pen at night, sitting comfortably, as I just observed, and talking to you on paper; and here follows another catalogue of every day incidents, appalling ones indeed, but you will have them.
It is one hand asserted, that human nature is the same 91 12(2)r 91 in all ages, and in all countries, on our globe. This is denied by others, who say as the twig is bent, the tree’s inclined. That there is a difference in mankind, is certain, and I am forced to believe this difference is the effect of education.— Mankind, say some, are all alike. Alike, in what? This vague conclusion is a violation of justice and truth. If it be meant that mankind are alike in shape—true; but that they are alike in actions, I deny! Else how comes it, that one man will cooly, wantonly, and deliberately spill the blood of his fellow man; whilst another affectionately relieves his sufferings? Whether the cause of this difference lies in nature, or education, I am unable, or rather unwilling, to say. But I am inclined to think it the effect of education. We have a conclusive evidence in the two puppies of Lycurgus. One of these was purposely trained to the chase, and the other left to pursue the dictates of nature. Lycurgus, you will recollect, to convince the Spartans of the power and influence of education on children, brought the two dogs, both of the same litter, into the school room, and setting a dish of victuals in the centre of the room, also a live hare, let loose the two dogs; and what was the consequence? the dog trained to the chase took after the hare, and the other ran to the dish of victuals.
It is, however, well known, that the brute, in a state of nature, is superior to the human race; for instance, dog will not eat dog; cat will not eat cat; nor will any of the brute creation feed on its own species. But man will eat man! This fact cannot be denied; and though we have line upon line, and precept upon precept; and teachers from A, B, C, to the mathematics for these 1818 years, yet we have cannibals still.— This proves that something is wrong in our system of education; or while it evidently improves our nature in onne place, why does it not improve the whole—and while it has been able to cure one vice, why has it not cured all? It is clear, education improves mankind, and makes them happier, why then does it progress so slow? The system must be wrong. But what I was going to remark, we have great encouragement to press forward in the arts of improvement, and since we have been able to overcome the shocking practice of feeding upon 92 12(2)v 92 the flesh of our fellow man, we may in time, perchance 1818 years hence, be able to arrive to such a height of refinement, as to cease from the practice of killing him; which I think is a much worse crime than eating him after he is dead. It does the dead no harm to eat him; and yet what an outcry against cannibals. It is not the eating a man after he is dead, that constitutes crime; it is the taking away of his life. A lady told be once she would kill an hundred men before she would eat one. She was a christian and not a cannibal. I hope, however, to see the day that we may cease to kill men, since we have ceased to eat them. In the one case we have so far overcome nature, and I hope we will not stop till murder is rooted out from amongst mankind.
I was led to these reflections, by various incidents of recent occurrence, in this region; but no matter, wherever I go, wherever I turn, I see ignorance the most besetting crime, of the blackest die, and vice the most glaring. Amusing myself this evening with a spy-glass, viewing the gambols of a large flock of swans, whilst I had the glass up to my eye, I saw a boat gliding swiftly down the river. It drew near to the shore, on the opposite side, and a solitary man leaped out, and fastening the boat, hastily disappeared in the woods. I sat musing upon the strange appearance of seeing but one man in the boat, when I was called to supper, where I found several strangers, who had just arrived. In the course of the conversation I mentioned the circumstance; when one of the strangers, who was from East Tennessee, inquired the dress, and height of the man, and observed, that is the man we are in pursuit of. He then added, that this man had committed two murders in East Tennessee, one in the summer, and one in the fall; and that he was so desperate, people were afraid to risk their lives in apprehending him; and he went at large. He has a sister over the river, three miles from here, where I suspect he has gone to night. His sister lives at Fort Hampton, and is a very fine looking woman. I breakfasted at her house on my way from Huntsville. The gentleman endeavored to collect men to go and take him that night: but no one was wililing to join in the enterprize, and we heard no more of him. 93 12(3)r 93 But the following circumstance would seem to confound the the idea advanced in the commencement of this letter, and seems to decide in favor of man, in a state of nature; so you may see, that by giving both sides of the question, I am free from prejudice at least. About a year since, a widow lady, who lived in East Tennessee, having received several invitations to go to reside with a brother who lived in the lower part of this territory, accordingly, disposing of her property, excepting two beds, a negro girl, a favorite white cow, and three horses upon which she and a daughter, (who was a woman grown,) her beds, &c. were to be conveyed. She took passage by water, in East Tennessee, with other persons, (who were removing,) to this place, intending to pursue the residue of her journey by land. She remained here at the Bluffs, a few days, endeavoring to procure a man to accompany her, both as guide and protector, her way lying through the Choctaw Indian nation. A man, with whom she had been formerly acquainted, and who had followed the business of navigating the Tennessee, (or boating down the river, as it is called,) happened to come to the Bluff; she hired this man, and set forward on her journey. The first day after leaving the Bluff, they overtook two Indians who were travelling the same way. They all proceeded together, until the next night. Some hours, however, before night, the young lady complained of being sick, and wanted water. The Indians informed her, that there was a fine spring, a few miles before them, at which they would arrive about camp time. The young woman being very thirsty, asked if there was no water nearer. They replied that there was a little creek about half way. They travelled on to this creek, when the white man said he would stop for the night. The Indians tried to dissuade him from his purpose, but in vain—he would stay there—the Indians would go on to the spring.
In the night the negro girl was awakened by the screams of her young mistress, and beheld her old mistress weltering in blood, and in the last struggles of death; and the wretch, their guide, in the act of raising an axe to split out the brains of the young lady, which he instantly did, although she begged 94 12(3)v 94 her life of him on her knees! He then ran to the negro girl, and commanded her to hush instantly, or he would split out her brains also; but that, if she would be a good girl, and report (if any inquiries were ever made for the women) that they were killed by the Indians, she would not be hurt. He then took the two dead bodies, one at a time, and dragged them by the heels, as the girl states, and threw them on an island in the aforesaid creek. The next morning he set out with all the property, changing his course a little from that which the Indians had taken. To the first white inhabitant, whose house he reached, he sold the murdered woman’s beds, her wearing apparel, and the cow. When questioned about the blood on the beds, he said his wife was travelling with him; that she took sick and died; that she had been bled, and in that way accounted for the blood on the bed. He then proceeded towards the Spanish dominions, taking the negro girl and horses with him. In the course of two months, the same two Indians returned, and happened to call at the same house where the white man sold the clothing and white cow. Seeing the cow in the yard, they knew her instantly, and asked what was become of the two women who owned that cow. The man replied, that he had bought the cow of a travelling man, not a woman. To repeated inquiries made by the Indians they discovered it must be the same man. The horses, the negro girl, &c. corroborated so exactly, that the Indians immediately suspected the man of murdering the women. They stated every circumstance of the young lady’s wanting water, the creek, and the spring; and proposed that this man should go with them and they would, probably, find the dead bodies. Accordingly, the man went with the Indians, and found their camp by the spring, as they had stated, and the other by the creek, exactly as the Indians had reported; and upon searching the spot sometime, they found the dead bodies in the creek, and round the waist of the young woman, they found specie and bank notes to a large amount!!!
The man who purchased the property, said he would have the murderer at the hazard of his life and fortune.—He pursued him, and in the lower country found him, and, securing 95 12(4)r 95 him in jail, returned home. The murderer broke jail and returned to East Tennessee. The man who first took him, hearing this, proceed to Tennessee, retook him, and placed him in jail, which he again broke, and has not been heard of since. The gentleman who had so often interfered, in endeavoring to bring this murderer to punishment, was heard to say he would pursue the murderer to the end of the world, but he would find him. This renegade was apprehended three years afterwards, and lodges in Huntsville jail, where I saw him, and shortly afterwards he broke jail and made his escape with fifteen others, and was not heard of at the time of writing this note. The murderer, from the first, laid the murder on the two Indians. They being informed of this, assisted in taking him the last time, and came on with the guard to Huntsville. They were much enraged with him, and made him run before them, he on foot, and they on horseback. They made him wade all the creeks, and now and then gave him a cut with their whips, saying, You kill white women, and tell lie on Indian.
Melton’s Bluff, 1818-02-08February 8th, 1818.
I laid over the other part of my subject (ignorance) for another letter. You may remember the little Natchez widow, our guest; also the proud, haughty, next neighbor. Since that, another widow has arrived, different from both these. She is learned, sensible, and gay, though rather satirical. The little widow is very captious, and pronounces dis, dat, and torra, the comon dialect I am told of the country she came from. She does not want sense, however, but is little skilled in the affairs of the world. Old Mrs. Starchy and her can never agree, and the other widow amuses herself at their expense, and often has them almost by the ears. But I am rambling again. Several gentlemen, on a visit to this country to purchase land, spent a few days at the Bluff. They were gentlemen of intelligence, learning, and politeness. While here, they had frequent opportunities of conversing with the ladies, of which they availed themselves with that taste, and good sense which ever distinguish well bred people. But, alas! then 96 12(4)v 96 it was I discovered the disadvantage a female labors under, when destitute of education; and this is still more apparent when contrasted by one of their own sex. It is well for them their ignorance effectually screens them from all knowledge of the ridiculous figure they make. If they were sensible of the pain they inflict upon those who are so unfortunate as to hear them blundering from one thing to another; miscalling some words, and misapplying others; and the no small pains they take to expose their ignorance, shame and mortification would drive them mad.
One evening, when all our females were present, (I have always heard widows were jealous of each other, but this time I had occular proof of the fact,) our newly arrived widow put her rivals to shame, and gained a complete victory. This she was enabled to do, without violating those rules of politeness, which dispose the well bred modesty to concede their talents, rather than wound the feelings of the company. The conversation, at first, general, soon turned upon the victory of New Orleans, and its consequences to the British government; the accumulation of their national debt; and the expenditures of their navy in times of peace. This last was stated by a friend of the lady; in doing which, he inadvertently committed himself. The lady had paid deep attention to the subject, and seemed to participate in it like one thoroughly acquainted with the subject; and the moment the gentleman mistated the amount of the expenditures, she smiled, and set him right. He bowed to her, as much as to say, go on, I yield to you. She took up the subject where he left off, and went into a complete investigation of the British policy; the measures of their ministers; and their effects upon the people at large. She introduced many original remarks of her own, upon their system of finance, with the probable effects that may result, or grow out of the contemplated change. Imagine the surprise of the company, who regarded her with deep attention. The ladies turned their eyes upon her in astonishment, and stared at her for some time; but, at length, they began to whisper, and carry on a conversation amongst themselves, with no friendly aspect. I heard one of them say, Some folks ar very fond o’ talkin wiht men—I 97 13(1)r 97 never liked men. Nor I neither, said another lady, in a negro dialect; it’s a bad sign to see some folks so fond o’ men. I never, for my part, said old Starchy, liked men so well. When I hear a woman say she does not like men, I have the same opinion of her that I have of a man who praises his honesty; or a parson who boasts of his religion. There is a striking analogy between these three descriptions of people, and one conclusion may apply to the whole of them.
On the next morning our guests departed, and a friend of ours took occasion to call on the lady who expressed such a dislike to men. He carelessly observed, that he felt quite lonesome upon the departure of the strangers. She bridled up, and said, Where is Mrs.――; she is very good company I ’spose? Yes, said the gentleman, she is very agreeable; she has very few equals. I ’spose she’s a great scholar; and I dare say she’s very rich. For my part, I don’t know what she is, nur I don’t care, that’s more. She’s a mighty game-making sort of woman, for one thing, I know. If I was Mrs――, I would tell her a piece of my mind, I know—that I would. She’s a mighty comicle sort of a somebody anyhow, oh! She ended, and shook her head.
A lady asked me one day What state Virginia was in? Another asked If Canada was not in Kentucky? and, another Supposed Joe Graphy was very hard to learn.
Hence arises all our mistakes in religion, morals, and politics. When our reason is cultivated and our minds enlightened by education, we are enabled to strip off that disguise which knavery, bigotry, and superstition wears. It rectifies our judgements, holds the reins of our passions, in short, enables us to discover whatever tends to promote our present and eternal welfare. I was reading a newspaper to-day in which was something respecting Ireland; a genteel, well dressed looking man was standing by, and asked me if Ireland was not in South America! He lives in this place; he is worth not less than twenty thousand dollars; is a candidate for the office of sheriff, in this county, which is the next wealthiest in the state; he has eight or nine competitors, and the misfortune is, that the electors, or a majority of them, and his rivals, are 13 98 13(1)v 98 equally ignorant! Now, what sort of an administration of public affairs are we to expect when it is wielded by such men as these? This is to be the downfall of our country some day!— All republics have fallen from the same cause. We learn, when the republic of Rome was overturned, it was done by the ignorant vulgar. We find that all the men of learning and polite manners, rallied on the side of liberty, while Cæsar was worshipped by the common people—as a friend of mine once said, all the common people want rope enough. This ignorance is not confined to any one part of the Union; it is universal. I happened to be in court once in a respectable county in Virginia. The court was just commencing, the judge ordered the sheriff to command silence until he gave the charge to the Grand Jury. The sheriff replied, that he would thank him (the judge) to do it himself, as he was a new hand at the business. This was the high sheriff of the county. Why, a person who is reputed to know any thing of geography, philosophy, or astronomy, is looked upon with as much abhorrence by the great mass of the people, as if he were in league with the devil. They are jealous of the rich and great. Why then, do they grovel in the dark? Why don’t they seek to have their minds enlightened, which is their only security against the oppression and encroachments of the wealthy? In a country like this, where the freedom of elections bestows public honors and public offices on every man alike, how can he discharge the duties of his office with honor to himself, or benefit to his country, who is ignorant of the principles of the very foundation of his government? or how can he tell when the government is administered correctly by others, when he is destitute of the knowledge by which he is to ascertain the fact? Ever since I can remember, this has been the case: the great mass of the people are just the same; not one step do they advance in knowledge. Is there not something wrong in our system of education? If there be, where does the defect lie? I have seen many evils, much sorrow, much oppression, much wickedness of all descriptions and degrees, indeed I see nothing else. I have taken much pains to trace these evils to their source, and find its origin in ignorance. I have pursued them through 99 13(2)r 99 all those labyrinths, and they all stop here. But to apply a remedy, or to dictate one, would exceed, pperhaps, the powers of any one man or woman. If I were to speak from experience upon this desultory view of the subject, I would say, in the first place, that man is a reasonable being, reason is improved by observation and study, and, as we see, hear, and understand from the cradle to the grave, we are learning from the first dawn of understanding. Man’s education, therefore, begins with his life, and ends at his death. But first impressions are the most permanent, because they find the mind empty and prepared to take in a greater share than it is ever able to do thereafter; and because the mind is soft and blank, as a sheet of white paper receives the type, so it receives the impression of images which are never effaced, and although he still is improving by observation, yet the original impressions are the strongest and accompanies us to the end of our lives. How necessary is it then to impress the young mind with justice and humanity. How necessary to enforce them, both by precept and example, since these impressions are to influence them all their lives afterwards. But when parents are ignorant themselves, deplorable indeed must be the state of their offspring. Destitute of learning himself, a man sees not the necessity of cultivating the reason of his child, who, thrown on the world like a vessel on the ocean, without sail or rudder, no wonder he is shipwrecked on the rocks of superstition and credulity.— But here lies the misfortune, and here I fear it is long to rest: most parents not only being ignorant but are highly prejudiced against learning. I shall dismiss the subject by a remark on myself, upon the strength and force of early impressions.
When I was yet a very small child, being a terrible great scholar, and a cruel good reader, my mother, proud of her first born, procured scores of little histories for me to read—such as the Seven Wise Masters, Moll Flanders, Paddy from Cork, &c. and many a weary hour did I pour over these little histories. I knew they were stories, that is, falsehoods; and what was the consequence—when I came to read real history, I had no more idea that it was reality than I had that Aladdin and his Lamp, were true. The very name, history, of all others, bore 100 13(2)v 100 the impression of falsehood, and it was long before I could believe that history was a narrative of facts; and had I not fortunately fell in with a person of learning, I should always have delved at little histories.
Every country have their little histories. Since I have been here, numbers have asked me to loan them a little history: all have the little. From not mixing with the common people, not one in a thousand is aware of this state of society. One would think that it would be the first and only object with men of letters, to set on foot some method to enlighten the great mass of the people, as they must, inevitably, and that before long, have the management of matters in their own hands!— And many a one, at this moment, are in office, by the instrumentality of a vote purchased for half a pint of whiskey! But says one, there always have been degrees of knowledge, and always will be distinctions in society;—nor was it intended all men should be upon an equality. That there has always existed degrees in knowledge, I admit, but that ignorance is a necessary consequence, is most false. There is another Jay’s treaty for you.
Melton’s Bluff, 1818-02-19February 19th, 1818.
Now we have it from real life. If this does not cure you of the blues, nothing that I can give you will. You have heard of electioneering, and have seen it too. But your elections bear no comparison to those here.
This country exhibits man in all his varieties, and in all his gradations, from the country boor, to the most polished gentleman—There is something truly amusing in contemplating the progress of society. To see man slowly emerging from a state of nature, to take his stand in civilized life—to behold him in defiance of rules and maxims thrusting himself 101 13(3)r 101 forward, his means small, and at most, precarious—his understanding limited—his heart ingenuous, exposing him to the subtleties of his designing neighbor—to consider man in this point of view, is a luxury to a thinking mind.
This morning, while we were sitting at breakfast, a stranger stepped in, who proved to be one of the neighbors. He was rather coarsely dressed, but had a pleasing aspect. Well, old fellow, said the Colonel, how goes it; shaking hands cordially. How do you do? Come, Sir, sit down, and take some breakfast with us—[Maria bring a plate, and knife and fork]—Come, Sir, take a dram first—[Hand a glass Maria.] The stranger took a dram, and then seated himself at the table; and the Colonel and him carried on a kind of dialogue, for some time. How is your family, Sir? Why I’m ’bliged to you, Colonel, the’r all about, but Mary: She’s got her ager yet. How’s it wi’ yourself? We are all well thank you, Sir. Let me help you to another piece of steak. Have some of the gravy, Sir. Well, lets hear the news: who do the people talk of voting for—[take some butter, Sir]—in your part? What do they talk about? Why, some on’em is mighty feard, see, of losin their land; and some on’em agin is ’mind to stand ’em a pull. I tell you what, Colonel—[Sam put more wood on the fire]—its hard upon a poor man, after all, after clearin on himself a smart patch o’ ground, and puttin it under a good fence.—[Pour out some more coffee, Maria]—see, and buildin on him a snug cabin, and then for a rich man like you, Colonel, because he rebounds in most money, to come to buy it from over his head, see t’ll ’e what, it’s little sort o’ hard. But I reviewed it so from the first. I saw how it was a goin and sold out. If they fool me they have but one more to fool. Well, but tell me, old fellow, who do the people talk of voting for on Flint? Why, to tell the truth, Colonel, they’r purty much divided. Some on ’em talks a runnin Doctor Crab—[Maria set that decanter on the table]— and some on ’em agin talk o’ votin for Lawyer L. [Take some whiskey, Sir.]—But tell me, who do you intend to vote for? Well, I was jist goin to say, I don’t hold with sendin none of these here doctors, and lawyers, and ’losophers.—I 102 13(3)v 102 look upon it, see, that these here men of larnin jist lay the’r heads together, and cologue, and jist make laws to ’press the poor. I’m for ’sportin a plain farmer, like myself, Colonel, that will act upon nomical principles—an’t I right? But tell us, old fellow, A friendly phrase, quite common here. have you any corn to sell up your way? Why, it’s purty tol’able sca’ce. I raised a fine chance this year, and my wife had the finest passel of truck—I da’e say, she had greens enough to a ’splied the whole neigborhood; but Jim Wilson’s critters broke in and most ’stroyed the whole affair: so it is, I shall have to buy. The neighbors told me, if it had abin them, as it was me, they would a shot the critters. But that would abin too sneakin. But an’t you comin to the barbacue, next Friday? Doctor Crab is goin to have a great barbacue, and goin to make a stump speech; and there’s to be the greatest doins that ever was heard on. He’s sent up two barrels of whiskey, and— Where is it to be?—Why it’s to be at Ellum’s Mill; and old Molly’s goin to do her best, I dare say sh’ll make her own out on ’em. She’s one of your most inactive women folks in all my knowin, and she has plenty to go upon. Come up, Thursday, to my house, and bring your gun, and we’ll take the hounds and have a hunt. Thank God, I have plenty to go upon, enough to eat and drink, and plenty to feed your critter. We’ll knock up a fat chicken or two, and my wife is first rate at a cup of coffee. Stay all night, and we’ll take a hunt in the mornin! Well, Sir, I believe I will. That’s clever: I shall look for you. So, some of your neighbors are a mind to contest the public sales? They say so. Tom Towns says he has a friend that will help him out. But you know how it was the first land sales; every poor fellow as fout for his country, was forgotton, see, and kicked off, and thought nothin of—Don’t tell me about premptions; oh! I seed enough! Colonel Donalson said it was a diabolical business. Though I was unable to discover the Colonel’s candidate, I was pleased with the blunt honesty of the countryman, who was now interrupted by the entrance of another countryman.
The ladies withdrew, but I was spell-bound to the spot.— 103 13(4)r 103 It is the rude state of the species, we are to seek for the true characteristics of man. When he becomes polished, his resources enables him to conceal his real character.
The second guest was alike known to the Colonel and the first guest. How goes it, how goes it, old fellow? said the Colonel, to the second guest. Why purty well, I’m ’bliged to you. How’s it wi’ yourself. How goes it [to the first guest] Mr. Smith? Purty well, how’s it wi’ yourself?—And how is all your consarns?
First Guest. All well but my oldest darter; she’s got her ager yet—How’s all your consarns?
Colonel. Maria, set that decanter back, and get some hot coffee, and set a plate. Come, Sir, [to second guest] help yourself; that is old Kentucky—come, Sir, take some breakfast; the girl will soon have you a hot steak.
First Guest. Well, what’s for times your way?
Second Guest. I tell you what, it’s purty diggin—[seats himself at table]—Corn’s a dollar a bushel, and can’t be got at that—and some is runin away, and some talkin o’ the ’lection, and some’s talkin o’ the land sales. This whiskey’s prime.
First Guest. Who’s runaway.
Second Guest. Bill Cheatum’s cleared out. He sarved Tom Marchant the slickest as ever you heard on in all the days o’ your life. We was all settin talkin and takin a dram in at Merchant’s last Friday, before breakfast, when who should come along, ridin of a critter, In this country horses are called critters—In West Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, they are called beasts. but Bill. I seed he had skins tied behind him; so he hitches his critter, and comes in, and after talkin awhile, and takin a dram, he axed to look at some cloth, and told Marchant to cut off four yards, and takes out a 100 dollar note, and pays for the cloth, and puts the change in his pocket, and axed Marchant if he didn’t want to trade for some coonskins. Marchant said he didn’t care if he did, if they were good. So Bill goes out and brings in the coonskins. Marchant looks at them—very good skins—counted the tails, and axed what for trade he’d make? So, Bill said he’d take same he’d always gave, and would take it in domestic cotton; and the other agreed to it, and the skins lay on the 104 13(4)v 104 counter. So, after awhile Bill went off, and I went off home, too, and never heard any more of it till yesterday; I was at the store, and Marchant, says to me, says he, do you think that r—l Cheatum didn’t cheat me that day, give me a counterfeit note—and didn’t you see how slick he sarved me about the coonskins. Didn’t you see the coonskins, and didn’t you see the note? Yes, says I, I saw the coonskins, and the note, too. Nothing in the world but possom skins, coontails tied to them, and only bare two coonshkins in the whole, one at top and one at bottom. With that he showed me the skins; and sure enough nothing but possum skins, and the note not worth one cent. It’s as fair cheatin says I, as ever I seed in my life; and you can make him smoke for it. Yes, says Marchant, but catching’s before hanging—the villain’s cleared out.
Thus the Colonel and his guests talked and laughed at the coonskins—drank whiskey, electioneered, and finally settled the affairs of the nation among themselves.
N. B. I leave this for Virginia, next week.
Melton’s Bluff, 1818-12-25December 25th, 1818.
A merry Christmas to you; and a merrier one than we have, you need not. I cannot hold the pen for laughing. Such another comic farce was never played on any stage as was played here last night. But first, without meeting or seeing your brother, I arrived, on my way from Virginia, at the Bluff, last night. I met with the Colonel at Limestone Court, and the evening being fine, and our company lively and jovial, we concluded to proceed all the way to the Bluff, where we arrived about 10 o’clock, and found the company still up. For though they had no expectation of seeing me, till I entered the house, they were looking for the Colonel, who, by promise, was to be home that night.105 14(1)r 105
The Colonel has been appointed to marry people since I left the Bluff; and, late as the hour was, he had to marry a couple, who had been waiting for him from an early hour in the day. The clerk of the county, who boards with the Colonel, and who had issued the license, came in to apprise him, and the Colonel forthwith sent for the couple. Imagine our surprise, at seeing an old man of about sixty, and the bride little under. The Colonel, being a man of humour, blends sundry ceremonies with the marriage contract, suited to his fancy and the persons he marries.
In the first place he told the couple to stand forth, asked them several ludicrous questions—made them repeat the Lord’s prayer—and when the ceremony was ended, (being put up to it by the young men who boarded with him) directed them to a room of his own house, to spend the night. We then separated, and retired to rest, and this morning we were thrown into convulsions with laughter, at the merry dance the lovers were led after they left us. During my absence from the Bluff, several young doctors and lawyers have arrived, and have their residence here. Being young, wild, and frolicksome, they are always devising some means of amusement, and the old couple were selected as a subject of sport, upon whom it appeared they played sundry mischievous pranks, in the course of the night. For this purpose they laid their plan during the day, selecting a room for the purpose. They went so far, in the first place, to persuade a merry old soul of a bar-keeper to marry the couple during the day; and they were in the act of setting off to their home, when the bar-keeper told them he was not the Colonel; that he was only an apprentice, and married them by way of getting his hand in. But the party contrived to keep them, knowing the Colonel would certainly be at home.— Meantime they had removed every thing out of the room which might serve as weapons of defence, and carefully disposed some plank in a corner of the room, and was at no small pains to dress up one of the part like a ghost, and esconsed him behind the plank.
The houses at the Bluff are nothing but rude cabins built of logs, with cracks between the logs, so that any one without 14 106 14(1)v 106 can see what passes within. These mischievous wags, had fixed the bed upon a lilt, which by pulling a rope fastened to it, would fall down. This rope they drew through, in the outside, between the logs. They had also provided themselves with a number of canes, of different sizes—the cane being hollow, served as bugles, and make a hollow, doleful sound, when blown through with the mouth. Some of the canes were large, and others small, so as to have treble, tenour, bass. Thus, the bride and bridegroom were no sooner beded, and a bright fire in the hearth, than the ghost, upwards of six feet in height, stalked forth with a white sheet round it, and advanced towards the lovers, with a slow grave step. Those without began to blow their bugles, at the same time. The bride shrieked out, and covered her head—not so the bridegroom— being an old soldier, it would have taken more ghosts than one to have frightened him. Finding the ghost continued to advance, he sprang out of bed, and looked about for some weapon for defence; finding nothing but a box of nails, which from its weight he was unable to wield, he flew round the room for something else. Meanwhile the ghost slipped out of doors.— The hero finding he had fled, exclaimed, Ah, d—n you, if you had only waited a moment longer, I’d a tore your long trappings for you. Oh, my dear, said the bride, what was that? Listen—only hear—Oh, mercy, we’ll be carried away—we’ll be murdered—help me up—I always heard old Melton haunted the Bluff. Haunt the d—l; its them fellows, I tell you, makin their fun—lie still. Oh, blow away and be d—d, said the old man. But you don’t come in here again, and pushed the door too; but finding neither bolt nor latch, he placed one of the planks against it, and betook himself to bed again. The imps watching him through the cracks all the while, he no sooner drew the clothes over him than down came the bed and all, with a sudden crash! Report says, instead of praying for his enemies, like a good christian, he uttered many hard names: and running out of doors, swore vengence against every shoe-boot gentleman on the Bluff. He flew round the cabin with the agility of a youth of fifteen; and the gentlemen took to flight. Where are you, cried the enraged107 14(2)r 107 ed lover; I dare you to show your faces; I’ll whip the best of you; I’ll take you one by one, and whip the whole of you. Pretty gentlemen with your high crowned hats, and shoe-boots, a screaking. It was to no purpose he drove his enemies from one position to another; he would no sooner return to bed, than his tormentors renewed the music of canes— sometimes putting them through the cracks of the house, near to the ear of the bride: the old man losing all patience, left the place, with his bride, before day, and it is supposed without sleep!—This was really cruel! In these, as well as all other cases, we ought to fulfil the golden rule.
This place looks precisely as it did when I arrived last year, and my absence seems only a dream. The ducks and geese, and swans, seem to be playing where I left them. There are great doings going on here. The population has greatly increased, and the whole country round is one scene of activity.
Moulton, 1819-03-02March 2d, 1819.
Since the weather became mild, I frequently ride out through this beautiful country, and find no little to admire and amuse. This town is in the centre of Lawrence county, and it is supposed will be the county seat of justice. It is 20 miles south of the Bluff, in a most enchanting situation. Several very respectable families live here; the town is handsomely laid off, and the country around it is as rich as heart can wish. I have formed an acquaintance here with an elderly Tennesseean, the incidents of whose life is a complete novel.
His father was the first white man that made a permanent settlement on the waters of the Holston, now in the bounds of Tennessee. He settled on the Wataga, a creek that empties 108 14(2)v 108 into the Holston. His name was Burlison, a native of New Jersey, and moved from thence to North Carolina, and finally to Wataga. He was allured, in the first place by the prospect of game, and, in the second place, by good land, and was soon followed by others; and by their united efforts successfully disputed the hunting grounds with the Indians. The timid deer, assailed on all sides by deadly foes, fled before the white man for shelter amongst the Indians. The adventurous white man pursued the game, but in doing so, he was fiercely opposed by the Indians, who disputed every inch of ground with him, at the mouths of their rifles, until they were fairly compelled to yield. Thus was Tennessee settled. This settlement was made about the year 17741774 or 17751775.
Mr. Burlison was so young at this time, that he recollects nothing of the enterprize. He lost his father at twelve years of age, and from that day, to the end of the Creek war, he has been almost constantly with arms in his hands!—He is a stout man, about 50 years of age—is honest, affable, and generous as a prince; has experienced every vicissitude of fortune, and endured every species of suffering! Peace and war, sickness and health, poverty and plenty, has at different times been his lot.—He is at this time possessed of an independent fortune, and yet this man, with the manners of a courtier, cannot write his own name! though he reads very well.
This gentleman, for such he is, losing his father at the early age he did, with eight more children, the widow had to struggle with the Indians on one side, and the tories on the other. Most of the children were boys, and their father left property sufficient to educate them, and left strict injunctions to that amount; but the revolutionary war coming on, the widow, between the tories and the Indians, was stripped of every thing she had, excepting a valuable brood mare! In order to save this last of her property, she was forced to keep it in the house where she slept every night! But those lawless ruffians, the tories, gaining intelligence of the fact, proceeded to the house, and forcing the door, took her off. This was the last thing she had. Her situation was now at the highest pitch of human misery. Without a friend, without provision; the 109 14(3)r 109 Indians in alliance with the British, killing all that fell in their way, she dared not flee in that direction. The tories, burning and murdering all before them, on the other side, it was but death, and she resolved to meet it in the woods where she was! Meantime her oldest son, not 14, and Joseph, (of whom I learned the story,) about 12 years old, would sally forth with gun on shoulder, sometimes alone, but often with others of their own age, to watch the motions of the Indians; and whenever they saw them approach, would hasten to apprize their parents. These little heroes would pass whole days in the woods, at all seasons, almost naked, and without tasting food; for though they saw plenty of game, they were afraid to shoot lest the report of the gun might betray them to the Indians. The two oldest brothers would sometimes take their next eldest brother with them. On this occasion they would wander farther into the forest than usual, and once became so bewildered they lost their course, and wandered about till they were quite spent with fatigue and hunger. The youngest was carrying one of his brother’s guns, having none of his own, and seeing a deer jump before him, he levelled the piece at the deer, and killed it; saying, Indians, or no Indians, he would have something to eat—he might as well die one way as another. The eldest one being alarmed, forced him away, and they concealed themselves in the brushwood to await the result, concluding the Indians, if within hearing, would soon appear. As they lay concealed, the little one who had done the mischief, would often rise up to take a peep at his meat. At length he saw a wolf marching up to it, and pointing it out to his brothers, they bid him be still; but finding he could not be restrained, they all ran together and frightened off the wolf. They then skinned the deer, and kindling a fire, broiled a part of it and swallowed it hastily; and taking what they could carry, once more sought their way home, entirely ignorant of the course. At length night overtook them, and, losing heart, they threw away their venison, and still wandered on, without seeing a human face, and without knowing whither they were going. Late in the night they were overtaken by a hunter, who conducted them home to no small joy of their 110 14(3)v 110 mother, who concluded they were killed by the Indians. She had been running through the forest, from the time it grew dark, in a state of distraction. Thus Mr. Burlison, and his brothers, spent nine years, guarding the settlements in this perilous manner, suffering every species of misery. He was three years of the time without shoes, and no sort of clothing, but a shirt made of buckskin!
He states that he had become so inured to cold, hunger, danger, and fatigue, that he was a stranger to their opposites. Meantime their settlement advanced by degrees. Those who survived the fire and sword of the British and the tories, sought their brothers in the wilderness. Their highborn souls fired by their wrongs, glowing with resentment, and inspired by the example of their companions in the wilderness, took courage from despair. Having nothing left but their lives, and disdaining alike British gold and British chains, united with their friends for the common safety. Thus they nurtured a germ, which, in time, hurled destructionn on their proud oppressors. Many of these lived to overwhelm their imperious foewith a complete vengeance. Little did the impolitic Briton think those outcasts, those little victims of his wanton barbarity, would ever dare to face him, much less that he would teach him such a lesson in the art of war, as he never learned before. If it be asked in time to come, how so potent an army of vetrans came to be slaughtered by an inferior force, it may be answered, these were the men, and the sons of those men, who, thirty-three years back, nobly resolved never to submit to the British yoke. These were the highminded few, who, in the tender years of childhood, indignant at their wrongs, rushed into the woods, destitute of every comfort; but in their youthful breasts they carried a spark which they cherished at the hazard of their lives; this spark it was, that, bursting into a flame, at New Orleans, laid their daring foe at their feet!— The astonished Britons will long remember, too, that it was his ill judged policy, and inhuman cruelty, that paved the way to it.
Mr. Burlison related many anecdotes of those enterprizing men. As they increased in numbers, they extended their 111 14(4)r 111 settlements, always keeping a party of choice spirits watching the enemy—of these he was one. In one of their excursions they discovered the fertile plains on Cumberland river; now West Tennessee. In one of those exploring expeditions he made two narrow escapes. Coming suddenly upon the Indians one day, he instantly threw himself flat on the ground, in some brush wood, and the Indians passed within a few steps of him. At another time, he and his companions came near perishing with cold. They had travelled several days in a succession of snow and rain; one night, however, when they went to strike their camp, they found their powder wet, and they had to remain in their wet clothes all night, wet to the skin, the snow deep, and the night cold and freezing. Thus was Tennessee settled; and by such men.
It has been said that Tennessee was an asylum for outlaws and horse thieves. That Tennessee should be exempt from an evil, common to the settling of all our States, I should be happy to know. I would recommend to horse thieves in particular to choose some other asylum in future, as there is not a state in the Union in which they receive less hospitality. The crime of horse-stealing is punished with death.
Moulton, 1819-03-10March 10th, 1819.
I spend much of my time with the Tennesseean. He has a fund of anecdote, and the most retentive memory of any person I ever conversed with. As I have nothing better to amuse you with, I send you more of his history. I was reading this evening of the treachery of Lord Dunmore. Mr. Burlison (or Captain, as he is,) listened to me some time, but at last exclaimed, Blast him—don’t read any more about him. It makes my blood boil whenever I hear the name of a Briton. See how deep rooted their enmity to the British. They are all 112 14(4)v 112 so! In the course of the conversation that followed, I asked him if he ever felt the effects of fear; that is, did he ever know what fear was? Never but once, he replied, and that was during the shakes; meaning the earthquakes on the borders of the Ohio and Mississippi, some years back. You recollect them, though they were nothing with us in comparison to those further west.
Taking offence at the general government, Mr. Burlison quit the country, and removed over the Ohio river, not far from New Madrid, in 18111811. The first shock happened in the night, when he and his family were all in bed asleep. All on a sudden, they were alarmed by the shaking of the beds; he sprung out of bed, between sleep and awake, but from the reeling of the house he was unable to keep his feet. The hens croaked, and the dogs barked. He could not conceive what it could be. He never thought of an earthquake; but concluded that either the house was haunted, or the end of the world was at hand. The terror of the family was beyond description. They all gave themselves up for lost. He thought he ought to pray, but could not think of any thing proper to say. After the first shock was over, he determined, if he lived till morning, to go to his nearest neighbor and ascertain whether it was the end of the world, or whether the house was haunted. When the morning came, while he was considering what to do, he was surprised with another shock, worse than the first. As this happened in the day time, he thought, within himself, it could not be spirits, as he never heard of their doing mischief in the day time, therefore it must be the end of the world! He was very wicked himself; his children were wicked, and the neighborhood was very wicked, and he concluded they were about to receive the chastisement of heaven. He had a very fleet horse in the stable, but not wishing to leave his family, and being unwell, he desired his son, a man grown, to gallop over to neighbor――, and see how it was there, and if it were the same, he would leave the place instantly. The young man, John, set off to the stable, while the earth, the trees and stable, were swinging backwards and forwards, to such a degree, that it was with difficulty he reached it. He at length brought out the 113 15(1)r 113 horse, and, mounting him, flew over the rocking plain. But it was just as bad there, said Mr. Burlison, and I now bethought myself it must be an earthquake. But let it be what it might, I saw we were all doomed to destruction; for, upon going to the door, I saw the earth sinking, and the trees falling. The great road passed by my door; this road was alive with men, women, and children, shrieking and crying, and some of them almost without clothes, as they had escaped from their beds, and nearly frozen with cold. Some were without hats or shoes— some running one way, some another, in a state of distraction.
Mr. Burlison had heard of a neighborhood, not far off, where the people were professors of religion. I thought if I could live to get there, they would teach me how to prepare for death. My family, were, many of them, sick. I had a new wagon, and a fine team of horses, and several good saddle horses besides. I harnessed up my team without delay, and put the sick ones in the wagon, and the well ones on horses, and set off for the religious neighborhood.
My wife had been sick a long time, and had eat nothing for some days. As we drew near the neigborhood, we espied a woman sitting in a door, as it were, eating mush and milk. My wife’s appetite revived at the moment, and she expressed an eager desire to have some of the mush and milk. We approached the door and stopped the wagon, and made our business known to the woman. She had none to spare. She had but little meal in the house—had a great way to go to mill, and could not tell when she could get more. But my wife is sick, and has eat nothing for several days, and as she fancies she can eat the mush and milk, I will give you any price you may ask. I took out a silver dollar, at the same time, and held it out to her. She then handed my wife a tin cup about half full of mush and milk, for which I paid her half a dollar! I now began to think I had made a bad exchange, for the people I had left, though wicked, were kind.
When I arrived at the house I had been directed to, the man informed me I could have a house, but it was very small, without a floor, and full of corn: but if I would be at the trouble15 114 15(1)v 114 ble of emptying it of the corn, and put it in a crib, I might have the house, or pen rather, for so much—ten times the worth of it. I had no choice, and feeble as myself and family were, we joined too and soon dislodged the corn; and my family, (nine children,) my wife, and myself, crowded in this miserable hole. I was little concerned about worldly affairs, however, as I expected an end of all things; for there was no alteration for the better in the shakes; indeed they were rather worse; all I wanted, or cared for, was to be amongst Godly people, that they might instruct me how to prepare for my doom. In short, I cared nothing about the things of this world. But such was not the case with my religious friends. Some admired my fine wagon; some admired my horses; and others admired my fine new saddles and bridles; and some one thing, and some another, and they must have this, and they must have that. I cared nothing about property provided they would pray for me, and preach for me! They plied me with enough of both! But I soon discovered there were wicked people here too, and, inured to the shakes, they resumed their old practices. Some horse-raced it; some played cards, and some preached, whilst others were cheating their neighbors! I saw some running races, some playing cards, some preaching, and the earth shaking, all at the same instant. No wonder, I thought, these people have called down the judgment of heaven. I thought I had seen all strange sights that were to be seen in the world, but never saw the equal of this.
By degreses I grew familiar to the shakes myself; but in the meantime these religious people had cheated me out of all my property, and I thought it high time to quit the country; and, from that day to this, I put no faith in religious people. My fine wagon and team; all my horses and all my money, 1,500 dollars in silver, and a fine drove of cattle, gone. I mustered up enough to buy a couple of little ponies for my wife and the two youngest children, to ride, and returned to Tennessee worse than nothing, and had to begin the world again. I now left my wife and children to shift for themselves, and went into the army, and acting as Commissary under General 115 15(2)r 115 Jackson, I soon recovered my losses. So much for getting in a pot with the government. Having inadvertantly settled on the Indian lands, his house was burnt by order of government.
As the German’s say, I suspect this will please you.
Moulton, 1819-03-12March 12th, 1819.
I can find nothing better to amuse you than the anecdotes and history of the old Tennesseean, particularly as I know you to be partial to them. Mr. Burlison is equal to the best library; and, in fact, no library contains a greater variety of amusement. He can commence at the beginning of his life, and relate every incident, not only of himself, but of the times. But chiefly I love to hear his anecdotes of General Jackson’s struggles and difficulties in his various campaigns, and the incidents of those brave men who suffered with him.
There is now, I am told, in press, a well written book, which gives a detail of the southern army, and the principal incidents of General Jackson’s life. Such a book is much wanted, and must be very gratifying to the friends and admirers of this great man. The smallest incident of his companions, and his unequalled courage, is devoured with avidity. The settlers of this new country love him to idolatry; and my Tennessee friend is not amongst the least. He was with the General during the whole of the war—as also two of his sons, and a son-in-law. The hardships and privations endured by the General, and his men, are almost incredible. Mr. Burlison, as well as his brother, and a son of each, held a captain’s commission in the Creek war; and he gives the clearest description of it I have ever heard. He says the army suffered almost to starvation for want of provisions; and as they were principally militia, it required all the General’s 116 15(2)v 116 skill and address to keep the army together; sometimes, however, a mutinous spirit would appear, in spite of him, and once in particular, their sufferings were so great, that all the appeals of the General to their patriotism, failed; and though, like a common soldier, he shared all their wants and hardships, it would not do, they determined to leave him. His appeals were so pathetic on this occasion as to draw tears from the bystanders. After he thought they were reconciled, he rode out alone, one day, and was astonished to find the whole brigade in the act of marching to Tennessee. He instantly snatched a gun from one of the men, and his left arm being useless from a wound, he rested the gun between his horses ears, and placing himself in front of the column, swore the first man that moved one step forward, was a dead man. His gun was cocked, ready to fire, and at this critical moment his friends, having missed him, flew to his side. Thus each party stood some minutes; at length the men turned back to camp. I thought I had seen courage and boldness before, said Mr. Burlison, but there is not such a man in the world—for one man with one arm to stop a whole brigade! He is the most undaunted being in creation. Mr. Burlison was one of those who adhered to General Jackson.
That inimitable writer, Voltaire, observes, that to convey a just idea of the characteristics of men, you must strictly observe the expressions which accompany their actions. This was fully illustrated by the expression of General Jackson as he was steadying the gun between his horses ears. This act, and the expression that accompanied it, conveys a better idea of the man than volumes elaborately written.
At another of those mutinies, he threw himself before them, and told them they should not succeed but by passing over his dead body. In opposing you I am only doing my duty, and I will die where I stand, before I will dishonor my country. What! will you have it said, you abandoned your General?
On another occasion, he addressed them in a speech of some length, and thus concluded: I know you are anxious to see your families—and so am I—yet, do stay a little longer!— 117 15(3)r 117 Go with me—the enemy is near—we will conquer him—and then go to our homes! Again, he told them, the heart of your General has been pierced! The first object of his affections, and the first glory of his life, were the volunteers of Tennessee. The very name recalls to my mind a thousand tender recollections. Oh, then, my brothers in arms, do not, do not leave me. You see how much he bore rather than resort to cruel measures towards those he loved dear as his own soul. He humoured and carressed his men to such a degree, Mr. Burlison says, that they were like spoiled children—the camp exhibited nothing but a scene of uproar— singing songs, laughing, and loud talking. This laxity of manners led them to frequent mutinies, till the General was exhausted, and he was compelled to make an example of one of the ringleaders, though it wrung his heart with the bitterest sorrow. After this, he had no trouble with the army. Mr. Burlison, who was present at the execution, said he had seen many fall in battle—he had seem many wounded—and had witnessed distress and death in all its shapes, but never saw any thing so awful, or that shocked him more, than this execution. The army was drawn out on parade—the criminal seated in the centre on a stool—his eyes tied with a handkerchief, and eight men, with never failing rifles, standing round him. Mr. Burlison’s brother was one, but neither Mr. Burlison, his brother, nor a single man in the army, least of all, the criminal, expected he would be shot, till the word fire; and eight bullets pierced him at once! It was expected he would be pardoned, as many had been before. That night not a word was heard in the camp. They were all as silent as death. What an effect! General Jackson had no more plague with mutinies.
The men, for want of roads, were compelled to take the horses from the wagons, and carry them up the mountains themselves. On these occasions, the General would throw off his coat and aid the men.
At one time he overtook the baggage wagons at Tennnessee River, and the landing being steep, the men were in the act of pushing the wheels up the bank; the general, as usual, 118 15(3)v 118 threw off his coat, and laid hold of the wheels, but seeing one man idle, friend, said the General, why do you not assist your companions? I am a corporall, Sir. Ah! and what of that; I am a Generall. Some one by this time discovered who the stranger was, and informed the corporal. It is hardly necessary to add that the corporal soon put his shoulder to the wheel.
General Jackson, however true it be, is, nevertheless, charged with partiality to his friends; and who is not? But it is said, by those who would lose their lives for him, that he advances his friends or intimates, in preference to others, equally capable. How did he know this? He preferred his friends, because his long acquaintance with their integrity and honor justified the choice! He is, also, accused of being arbitrary. Whether the charge be just or unjust, the result proves he has few equals in the art of war.
To judge accurately of any subject it requires a thorough knowledge of the thing submitted. War is an art, if it be not a science, which above all others, requires genius to conceive, skill to concert, wisdom to conduct, judgment to determine, promptness to execute, ability to command, fortitude to endure; patriotism, energy, firmness, decision, perseverance and courage. That General Jackson, possesses all these, in an eminent degree, his enemies admit. But, independently of these, he possesses magnanimity, candour, humanity—a knowledge of the world—a liberal education. He is just, he is bountiful, and beyond, far beyond example, compassionate. This is his character. Now, where will you find a man, at once competent to judge of all these qualities! Not one in an hundred, to say the least. He must possess a competent knowledge of them in the first place; and, in the next place, he must be divested of prejudice. The first requires a mind highly improved by observation and study—and, as for prejudice, it is without remedy, if it be not in education. It requires men of the first science to judge accurately of a single blade of grass—but for an illiterate man to judge accurately on the qualities of a general, is out of the question; because, it would be to know what he does not, which is impossible! And, 119 15(4)r 119 because, he does not understand the subject submitted, he has no idea within himself to correspond with it, and both are necessary to pass sentence of judgment. A man may be competent to decide upon the qualities in question; yet, he may err from prejudice, and all reasoning, founded on error, is false. Of prejudice there are several—Prejudices arising from things, from words, from ourselves, from others; but none of these are so apt to lead us astray, as self. This is beautifully illustrated by the judge who reversed his own judgment, in the case of the ox; and envy in a few individuals has, doubtless, led them to instil it into the minds of others, who are unable to judge for themselves. In all countries there are not wanting something to keep envy and malice alive. It is prone in the human species. General Jackson has fewer enemies, perhaps, than any man of his notoriety. Yet he has some.
With respect to General Jackson’s conduct at New Orleans, it reminds one of Columbus and the egg. He had undertaken to defend his country against fearful odds. It was an enterprize deep with hazard. It was a desperate case, and required a desperate remedy. His mind was equal to the enterprize, and every act of the man’s life proves, that love of country is his ruling passion. What a curse this passion of envy is. One would think that an American did not exist who did not admire General Jackson.
It would seem that the God of Nature has annexed to this unnatural passion of envy, its own punishment, whilst the objects of it sustain no injury. Wherever envy prevails, all is misery. It not only destroys all relish for those things we actually possess, but sinks us into contemptible wretches.
Wealth is another great cause of envy in the human family; and while I am on the subject, I will give you an anecdote of yesterday: Tom Envy came into my parlor, while he was under the influence of an affront put upon him by his rich neighbor. D—n him, said Tom; I remember the time when he had to borrow twenty-five cents from me to pay for his breakfast; and do you think he had not like to have drove over me, just now! I saw him, driving along in his carriage. I was on foot. I knew his waiter. I stood still till he came 120 15(4)v 120 up to me, and I bowed to him: drive on, said he, and went by me like fury. Well, friend, said I, let him do so.— He only degrades himself, while you are just as you were before. When he treats you ungratefully, he is guilty of the blackest crime, while you sustain no injury, except in your own imagination. But are you sure, friend, you would not act as he did, were you to change places with him? Wealth, you say, has had this effect upon him, and the same cause always produces the same effect. In that case you would act the part you now condemn. Tom was struck by the force of the argument, and after rolling up a fresh quid of tobacco, and thrusting it in his mouth, he said I was right, he believed; but, for all that, I would like to be rich, if it were only to mortify that upstart neighbor. There, now, you are wrong again. If you wish to punish him, only be more wise and virtuous, and the fame of your good name will mortify him much more than wealth. But if this does not satisfy you, you have only to go to work. If you wish to be a rich man, industry and economy will soon do the business. You have the example of your rich neighbor before you; tread in his steps. Tom scratched his head, and said, he believed it was dinner time, and departed. Some pray for riches—riches they obtain,And, watched by villains, for their wealth are slain!
Moulton, 1821-04-20April 20th, 1821.
You say you are pleased with the countryman in my last. Here is a score of them. Perhaps this may bring another reply. I am much pleased, in the meantime, to hear your health is restored, and hope to wish you much joy, on a certain occasion, ere long.121 16(1)r 121
I strolled out with a friend to see a neighbor yesterday, who lives on the skirts of the town, merely for the sake of amusement. If you wish to ascertain the dialect of a country, you must seek for it amongst the common, or in other words, the lower order of the people, as well bred people speak alike. But the children of both classes are good specimens of dialect, as the better sort, in this country, particularly, consign their children to the care of negroes. You see I am for another dish of philosophy. But to go on. Those who have black nurses, and those who have illiterate white nurses to attend children, are at much pains and cost for teachers to unlearn them what they need never have learned, had they kept illiterate people from them at first. This is not the case with the poorer class of people, as their children are nursed by themselves, and speak their language.
While we were chatting with our neighbor, a number of people rode up to the door, and we went out to see what was the matter. It appeared they were on their return from a barbacue, and had heard a stump speech. Some of these were mere children, and some were grown persons. Our neighbor, who was aware of their business, asked What news from the barbacue? Oh there was a proper sight of people—Oh, my! but there was—You never seed the like! And a heap of ’em had on ruffled shirts, and shoeboots, and was so proud, stepin about; and there was some monstrous purty gals there, and some dinged ugly ones, too; and such a powerful chance of apples and cyder, and ginger cakes. I tell ye what, they were prime; and they made such a fuss, and covaulted, and was going to fight; you never saw the like in all the days of your life. Then these fellows that lives on Flint, had liked to abin whipped, steppin about. I tell you what, them fellows is monstrous proud; and old F――, was there, too, and got the maddest, he fairly snorted. Oh, he was rearin. And them fellows from Elum’s Mill, turned in with old F――, and snorted and covaulted, and dared them ruffle-shirt fellows to turn out. Oh, they got the maddest! And Mr. E―― made a stump speech. He said if we voted for that there ’tother man, I forgot his 16 122 16(1)v 122 name, that government would come and take away our land, and we would have to pay taxes and all that. These were mostly Tennesseeans and North Carolinians.
I saw a piece in the papers not long since, which went to satirize the Tennessee dialect. I would advise such people to look at home. Those who live in glass houses, ought not to throw stones. Let us compare this with the dialect of Virginia. You remember the bear hunting party from Bedford. I will stake them against the whole United States. One of them called at our house on his return, and entertained us with the following account of his adventures: You know da is heap of baw (bear) on da Kenhawa; so I and Bill Prout, Jess Passin, and Zack Miller, are all goin to Kenhawa to hunt baw— Kenhawa mighty far—so we walk—we walk—last we come to da Kenhawa—Kenhawa b—i—g river, for true—Tell you what, it skears me—well, I goes out into de woods—I hear noise—I look up tree, and see a baw!—I went to da root o’ da tree—I bark like any dog—presently da baw come husslin down—Ah, boy!—I took to my keels, and did book it.—Now for the Pennsylvania dialect: Jim, where are you and Sam; why but ye’s pit (put) you cow in the pester, (pasture;) ’am sure a towled ye’s the mornin.—Ye’s cruel bad children—and there a fine job ye’s done to leave you gears out by. The Yankee: Flora you want (ought) to wash them clothes right away. You hadn’t ought to left ’em so. What say?
Covault is of Tennessee birth, and not unaptly applied in the sense they use it. It signifies an unruly or ungovernable man; also an untame horse, or any thing that cannot be controuled. It is quite a classical word, and I hope to see it admitted into the English language. It appears to be a compound of co and vault, which are both very significant. For the rest I find the Tennesseeans are a very plain people, and have a very high sense of honor. Their houses and equipage are void of ostentation: The North Carolinians next; the South Carolians and Georgians, next: and the Virginians the the most ostentatious of any. But the preaching; you must hear that. This country is run mad after preaching.—Here is a new sect called Cumberland presbyterians; and between 123 16(2)r 123 these, the baptists, methodists, the woods resound. As they have no churches they preach out of doors mostly. I have just returned from preaching, where I remained about two hours, and the parson, when I left him appeared to be only about midway through his sermon. He ought to have a patent- right, for he certainly has the strongest voice in the state.
I have met with several excellent orators since I have been in the country; the best I ever heard. Parson Burress , formerly of Virginia, is, doubtless, the finest public speaker in the Union. I have seen no parallel for him. The Reverennd Mr. Butler and McMahon, the latter of Nashville, Tennessee, are, also, men of handsome delivery. These are methodists. I was truly astonished at this, as I never saw one of the sect, before, hardly worth hearing. The baptists, and the Cumberland presbyterians, are continually preaching and covaulting. Mr. Porter, a most amiable man; also a Mr. Madden, preached in Mr. B’s house since I was here, and that busybody, Mr. They say, reported Mr. B. was to preach here to day, that is, out at the stand in the woods. I observed, I will go and hear Mr. Porter. Oh, said a bystander, it is another preacher than Mr. Porter that preaches today—there is not such another preacher itn the known world— he’s a monstrous fine preacher. As I had heard some fine preaching, for the oratory I went to hear this none such. But never was I so disappointed. I placed myself in front of the preacher, (a great rough looking man,) and the congregation sat some on fallen timber, some on benches carried there for the purpose—some sat flat on the ground, and many stood up—about 500 in all. His text was, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. The people must have been deaf indeed that could not have heard him. He neither made division nor subdivision. He is one of the Cumberland presbyterians. They are Calvinists, it is said, but do not deem education a necessary qualification to preach the Gospel. But to the sermon: He began low but soon bawled to deafening. He spit in his hands, rubbed them against each other, and then would smite them together, till he made the woods ring. The people now began to covault, and dance, and shout, till they fairly drowned the speaker. 124 16(2)v 124 Many of the people, however, burst out into a laugh. Seeing this the preacher cried out, pointing to them with his finger, Now look at them sinners there—You’ll see how they will come tumbling down presently—I’ll bring them down. He now redoubled his strength; spit in his hands and smote them together, till he made the forest resound, and took a fresh start; and sure enough the sinners came tumbling down. The scene that succeeded baffles description. Principally confined to women and children, the young women had carefully taken out their combs, from their hair, and laid them and their bonnets in a place of safety, as though they were going to set in for a fight; and it was much like a battle. After tumbling on the ground, and kicking sometime, the old women were employed in keeping their clothes civil, and the young men (never saw an old man go near them) would help them up, and taking them by each hand, by their assistance, and their own agility, they would spring nearly a yard from the ground at every jump, one jump after another, crying out, glory, glory, as loud as their strength would admit; others would be singing a lively tune to which they kept time—hundreds might be seen and heard going on in this manner at once. Others, again, exhausted by this jumping, would fall down, and here they lay cross and pile, heads and points, yelling and screaming like wild beasts of the forest, rolling on the ground, like hogs in a mire,—very much like they do at camp meetings in our country, but more shameless; their clothes were the color of the dirt; and like those who attend the camp meetings, they were all of the lower class of the people. I saw no genteel person among them. Are not people of education answerable for this degradation of society? It appears to me, since I have had opportunities of mixing with the world, that there are a certain class of citizens, whose interest it is to keep their fellow men in ignorance. I am very sure, half a dozen words of common sense, well applied, would convince those infatuated young women that they were acting like fools. In fact a fool is more rational. Not one of those but would think it a crying sin to dance.
The noise of the preacher was effectually drowned at 125 16(3)r 125 length, and a universal uproar succeeded louder than ever.— Whilst this was going on, I observed an old woman near me, snivelling and turning up the whites of her eyes, (she was a widow—all the widows, old and young, covaulted,) and often applying her handkerchief to her eyes, and throwing herself into contortions, but it would not do, she could not raise the steam.
I pointed to one young woman, with a red scarf, who had tired down several young men, and was still covaulting, and seeing she jumped higher than the rest, I asked who she might be? One of the gentlemen, a Mr. Gallagher, who was standing near, gave such an account of her (men know these things) as would shock a modest ear. D—n her, she gets converted every meeting she goes to. How much better had she been at a ball, (if they must dance,) where they would be obliged to behave decent, and where vile characters dare not appear.
Shortly after they began to rear and covault, a daughter of Mr. B’s began too. He walked up to her, and led her off some distance, and sat her down at the root of a tree. When he returned, I inquired if she was sick? No, he answered, but she was beginning to go on as the rest, and I told her if she wished to worship God, to do it there, and not to expose herself before faces.
The preacher having spent all his ammunition, made a pause, and then called upon all the sinners to approach, and be prayed for. Numbers went forward, all women and children, (children of ten years old get religion!) and the priest began to pray; when a decent looking young man approached the stand, and took a female by the arm, and led her away. As he walked along, the preacher pointed to him, and said, God, strike that sinner down! The man turned around, and in an angry tone said, God has more sense than to mind such a d—d fool as you are! and resumed his course. He was one of the brave Tennesseeans; and the lady was his wife.
Being tired of such an abominable scene, I proposed returning home, and, taking a near cut through a slip of woodland, we surprized the red scarf lady in a manner that gave us no favorable opinion of her piety.126 16(3)v 126
Meeting has broke up, and several are coming to our house to dine. I wish to have some conversation with them, and shall finish my letter afterwards.
I took my seat at the table, by a stout, jolly looking lady, who, in replying to some of the party, observed a great many had got religion that day. Now was my time—And pray, Madam, said I, what religion did they get? Why, that is a queer question—there is but one religion, every body knows. There you are a little mistaken, Madam; there are various religions. There is the Christian religion; the Jewish religion; the Mahometan religion, &c. &c.; which of those religions was it you spoke of? I never heard of them before! and stared at me in astonishment. And what religion are you of? said the lady. I told her my religion was piety. Never heard of it before; and doubtless she told the truth. And what sort of a religion is piety? Why, Madam, it is simply to love God and my neighbor. It is a queer name, and it’s the first I ever heard of it. Is there many of the pieties where you come from? Not many. Mr. G. and several at the table could scarcely suppress a laugh. And pray, Madam, since we have made up our acquaintance, may I take the liberty of asking which of these religions you profess? Ne’re one, said the lady; I’m a Cumberland presbyterian. The company could no longer retain themselves; they roared; whilst the subject of it had not the least idea of the cause.
Now, this woman, take her or any other subject, was a reasonable and intelligent woman. Thoroughly acquainted with the ordinary business of life. She was from the interior of Kentucky; and had attended preaching for twenty years! and yet is ignorant, not only of the duties, but of the very name of a christian! Whose fault is this? The fault of the priest! So they can draw the women (they do not seem partial to men) after them, they care for nothing else. If there is a hell, there will be more priests in it than any other description of people.
In answer to yours—This place is growing. The county seat of justice is fixed here, ever since the state was admitted in the Union. It contains several genteel families, mostly merchants, lawyers, and doctors. When I first came here there were but four cabins: It is now a considerable town. I dare say you will be pleased with it. It has no navigation, but it is healthy. This is the richest county, in land, in the state, and contains many planters of great wealth. But the society is the best this side of Huntsville, and the flower of it boards at our house.
In the first place we have two Irish gentlemen, Mr. Gallegher, and Mr. Maden, and Doctor Baker, the latter of North Carolina. Mr. Gallegher is a man of highly accomplished manners, very sprightly and gay, and tells a good story. Mr. Maden is also good company, and sings, and plays well on the flute. The Doctor is the best singer I ever heard. He sings the Turban’d Turk, Blithe Sandy, and Poll, and my partner Joe, with much taste. These are all young men, and full of mirth and fun. Mr. B. himself, is not a bad hand at a story; and Mrs. Burlison is one of the most amiable of her sex. These, and Miss Burlison, a great beauty, form the society at Mr. B’s, besides a great number of travellers; of course I spend my time pleasant enough.
We had had a shower of rain after dinner, and being late, Mr. G. (who is a merchant) declined going to the store; the strangers had proceeded to their respective homes, and the air being cooled by the rain, rendered it necessary to have a fire. A fire has something cheering and social in its aspect, and always inspires pleasure and converse.
We all drew our chairs round the hearth, which was neatly swept, and amused ourselves on the incidents of the day; and I gained no small credit for my ingenuity in taking the lady in at dinner. Mr. B. said it was the best preaching he ever heard—that the woman insisted she was not a christian. Mrs. B. who would do honor to any church, is a baptist,128 16(4)v 128 tist, and dislikes this tumbling about, and said she did not think there was any good in it. All had something to say, and the whole of it was very justly turned into ridicule. Now, what astonished me was, that when Mr. Porter preached here, he did not excite the least noise—but to-day, when this babbler preached, you could not hear your neighbors speak. You may judge of his qualifications to teach the ignorant—In speaking of the children of Israel, he said, they were conveyed captive to Babylon by the Romans! With such leaders, no wonder they both fall into the ditch. But I am going to apprise you of of a singular occurrence which has excited much interest in the country round. The house being thronged a few evenings since, onn account of the court which is sitting, I arose from the table when I had supped, to make roonm for those who were waiting, and walked to the door. While I was standing at the door with a glas of water in my hand, it being now quite dark, a ragged old looking man, with a heavy pack on his back, followed by a little boy, approached, and asked me if he could stay all night, supposing me to be the woman of the house. I spoke to Mr. B. who went to the door and told the man to come in. He came in, and taking his pack from his back, (which was a skin with the hair on,) laid it down on the floor, and, seeming weary, sat down. He was all in tatters; a small man, and about 60 years of age. The son, for it was his son, was about 12 years, and something better dressed. When the rest had supped, he and the boy, also sat down to supper; and while he was eating, some of the party asked him how far he had travelled, and what course he came. He said from toward Tuscaloosy; and made no other reply. When he went to bed, which was in another house, he left his pack where he first laid it down. Next morning he walked about the town, and was out most of the day: sometimes his boy was with him, and sometimes he loitered about the door— the pack still lying in the same place. But when Mrs. B. went to sweep the dining room, she gave the pack a kick with her foot, to move it out of her way, thinking it was nothing but clothing. Hump! said she, you are heavy; and applying her hands to it, was not able to lift it, but with difficulty 129 17(1)r 129 rolled it over out of her way; and no more was said about it. Towards evening, the man came in, and said he would be going, and asked Mrs. B. what was to pay? She told him, nothing; supposing him to be very poor, from his appearance; though she said she saw him with money in his hand, when he asked what was to pay.
Sometime after dark he returned, and to our astonishment, said he had been robbed of 1500 dollars in silver! Every one was amazed, that a man with so much money, should dress as he did, and walk on foot; he was in his shirt sleeves, and they were hanging in ribbands. Mrs. B. now repeated the weight of the pack; and various were the opinions on the subject. Some thought his story correct, and that he dressed in that manner to avoid suspicion; and others gave him no credit, as he was so careless about the pack.
He stated, that drawing near a house about three miles distant from the town, where he intended to stay all night, he saw several men standing in the yard drinking. When he came up to them he did not like their looks, and laying his pack on the fence, to rest himself, made some inquiry about the distance to the next house. The men cursed and swore, and turned him into ridicule, instead of giving him satisfaction; pressed him to drink with them; which he refused. But while he was considering what to do, one of the men went to the pack, and felt it. Finally, he resolved to return; and putting on his pack, said he would go back to town. As he said this, one of the men sat off from the house, nearly in the same direction, but did not keep the road. He left the house and proceeded back the same road he came; and another man, he said, followed. When he had proceeded some distance from the house, the first man jumped out of the bushes, with a large club, and threatened his life, if he did not immediately stop and deliver his pack. By this time the other man appeared, and by them he was robbed of every dollar!
The men he spoke of, were immediately taken, and proved to be men of bad character, one in particular; but no money was found with them. As court was sitting, they were immediately brought to trial, before his Honor, C. C. Clay, and 17 130 17(1)v 130 Mrs. B. and myself were called on by both parties successively. The Commonwealth summoned us the first day, and the prisoners the next, when and where we stated the substance which has been related. A number of witnesses were summoned, and the boy was examined apart from his father, and agreed nearly with him; and always told the same story, which was not a very probable one; but neither would tell how they obtained the money, except that they made it by trading in furs, towards the Rocky Mountains, and were absent seven years; and were amongst the Pawnee Indians, and at the lead mines. But his appearance, and his coming such a circuitous route, induced the most people to think he did not tell truth; and though a few of the witnesses seemed to corroborate, with his testimony, as to the weight of the bundle, not one ever saw the money. The men accused were acquitted. I never was more staggered in my opinion, as was also the judge, and almost every one, so much so, that the smallest particle would have turned the scale one way or the other. Some said it must have been lead; others said it might have been silver oar,. For the honor of Judge Clay, he gave the old man every opportunity to establish the fact; sending off, to a great distance, for witnesses; protracting the trial, and seemed anxious to do the old man justice.
The Judge did not put up at our house, but very politely called several times. Judge Clay is a very young man, of pleasing manners, handsome person, and said to be a man of the first talents in the state. Though this is a new country, I have witnessed very few judges who might rank with Judge Clay in elegance of manners.
Thus ended the mighty matter, which excited much interest, and is still a cause of wonder in the neighborhood. The old man seems quite chop-fallen, and still hangs about the house.
Another strange occurrence has, for some time, thrown the whole neighborhood into confusion and surprize. A woman, a few miles hence, was taken strangely ill, and said she was bewitched! She threw up knots of pins, and other things equally unaccountable; was racked with excruciating pains, so 131 17(2)r 131 that she had no rest night or day. She laid this upon one of the neighboring women, whom she pointed out by name! Her neighbors attended her, and was often present when she threw up the pins, knots of hair, and other unaccountable substances. The matter ran onn for several weeks, during which she contrived to inspire a large portion of the neighbors with the belief that she was actually bewitched. Even respectable physicians were imposed upon, and were ready, and actually did testify that she was afflicted with some supernatural disease, over which medicine had no controul. Finally, they carried on the farce so far, as to have the supposed witch apprehended and brought before the magistrate, and hundreds (likewise bewitched) attended to hear the trial. But the magistrate happened not to be bewitched, and the woman, producing proof of a fair character, was acquitted. The patient now became worse than ever, and the neighbors said it was a shame that the witch should have been acquitted; and the whole neighborhood seemed to combine in a dangerous conspiracy, and the phrenzy of witchcraft at length alarmed the thinking part of the comunity, and three or four gentlemen took horses and rode to the house of the bewitched, with a view of putting an end to the cheat. It appeared that the husband of the bewitched woman, had traded for a barrel of brandy, to speculate on, and this barrel was in the house where the woman lay. The gentlemen having made this discovery, together with certain symptoms of the afflicted woman, kept a close watch, and at length discovered the real witch, which was the brandy barrel, having detected the lady drawing the brandy. They immediately made this known, and told the husband (who was deeply concerned for his wife) to send the barrel of brandy away, and his wife would soon be well. The neighbors now turned against the woman, and the husband of the lady who was persecuted, brought an action for slander, and finally, the bewitched lady, and her worse bewitched husband, became so obnoxious, they were compelled to leave the country. So much for ignorance.
Moulton, 1821-05-03May 3d, 1821.
I am fertile in anecdotes, and I send you the following, not quite three days old: Three evenings since, as I stood in our door, a genteel looking man rode up, and dismounting, asked if he could be entertained? I replied in the affirmative: he passed by me into the house, as though he felt little concern for my reply. I still remained in the door, and Mr. Burlison, who had been at his plantation, appeared, walking slowly towards the door, with his eyes fixed on the stranger’s horse; and when he came up, slapped his hands on it and said, this is my horse; who rode it? I replied, a stranger. He stepped in the house, and I turned from the door at the same time to look at the gentleman, who had taken a seat, and found him smiling at Mr. Burlison, as he heard him claim the horse. This was a mere joke, it appeared, got up for amusement, between the stranger and a nephew of the Captain’s, who had also arrived from East Tennessee. Mr. Burlison had loaned the horse to his nephew some time back, to ride home to Tennessee; and when they arrived in Moulton, the young man stopped up in town, with the stranger’s horse, and sent the stranger forward with the borrowed horse. As it turned out, however, it was quite a flat joke, and is merely referred to as a preface to something more interesting.
The gentleman, like all those who visit the country, was endless in his praises, and entertained us until a late hour with his travels, and the incidents of the journey, which was several hundred miles, namely, from Salem, Virginia—though he was now, he said, near the end of his journey—but never dropped a hint of his business. Thus the evening passed away, and every one was pleased with the stranger, and all seemed anxious to know his business in this part of the country; and no one, for a wonder, asked his name. He was well dressed; by no means foppish; rather spare, and rode a first rate horse, followed by another equally valuable. Some of us thought, most of us, indeed, were certain, he came to purchase land, as nothing133 17(3)r 133 thing else brings people to this country. Not a syllable of purchasing, or a word, on the object of his journey escaped him. This was provoking, particularly to us females.
The stranger retired to his bed, and next morning chatted till after breakfast, and seemed in no hurry to leave the house, and we concluded he was going to spend the day with us. We retired to dress and was absent some time; when returning to the parlor, we found the gentleman still sitting there, familiarly engaged in conversation, and seemed to win much upon the respect and esteem of the company. At length, about 10 o’clock, he took out his pocket book, and taking a paper from thence, asked Mr. Burlison how far it was to a Mr. King’s. As there are several of that name, the question remained unanswered, until he, the stranger, named the distance he lived from a particular Mill, which was down, as the river runs, about seven miles distant from Moulton. This being ascertained, the stranger sat musing sometime with the paper in his hand, and his eyes bent on the floor, absorbed in thought.— At length, he said, I have a sister at this Mr. King’s, if she still be living! We women held our breath, and a painful silence reigned throughout the company. The stranger, after a pause, during which he labored under strong emotions, proceeded: I am full of hopes and fears, respecting my sister.— She wrote to us six months since, but her letter never reached us until about a few hours before I sat out on this journey, and I have not seen her for nearly four years. As I lived in the same county some years, from which he was, though unacquainted with the family, I became rather more interested than the company, and inquired, by what means his sister happened to be so far from her friends? He replied, it was a long and rather a melancholy story, but he would relate it as briefly as possible. About four years ago, a French Doctor, as he called himself, came to our town and spent several months. During the time, he called often at my father’s, and before we were aware, he succeeded in gaining the affections of one of my sisters, and made proposals of marriage. This was opposed by all the family, as the man was a total stranger, and was forbid the house, and my sister forbid his company—here134 17(3)v 134 pany—here we thought the matter at an end. Meanwhile my younger brother and him meeting by accident, quarrelled and fought a duel. During the time, however, he procured letters from New York, and Philadelphia, from various persons, whether genuine or forged, I do not know; but these letters represented him to be a man of the highest respectability, and a man of fortune, which lay principally in the Spanish dominions, near Pensacola. He contrived to have these letters shown to my father; but it had no effect; and the matter seemed (as we thought) to have died away. But my sister, whom it appears, kept up a correspondence with him, declared she would never be happy if she did not marry Doctor Gennee, and that she would have him if she were forced to run away with him. Thus she teased us all, night and day, and finally prevailed, though against the wishes of every friend she had. The Doctor, after his marriage, was anxious to go on to his possessions in Florida; and to induce him to treat my sister well, my father gave him 1000 dollars in cash, and bought a first rate wagon, entirely new, filled it with every species of best furniture, for house keeping, put a fine team of horses in it, with a slave to drive it, and with a saddle horse for my sister. They took leave, and we heard no more of them, till we received a letter from my sister dated about six months since, which filled us with astonishment and distress. I have the letter here now, he added, and will read it. It was a long letter, and the young man was so overpowered by his feelings, that he was forced to pause several times, often the tear stealing down his cheek. The amount of the letter was:—That they arrived in safety in Florida; but her husband had no property there, and left her often without money to help herself, and went off she could not tell where, a long time; that he was very cross and ill natured to her from the time she left her father’s, and at last he sold every thing they had, and went off no one knew wither, leaving her without one cent in the world, or a particle of property. She was ashamed to apprize her father and brothers, as they had opposed her marriage; that she struggled to sustain life, though at the same time she prayed for death. At length, 135 17(4)r 135 growing calm, she thought of returning to her friends, if she had to beg her way, which she would certainly have to do.— Finally, her wrongs and her sufferings excited the compassion of some humane individuals, who furnished her with a pony, and a few dollars. She set forward alone, steering towards Nashville, pursuing Coffee’s Trace. This was an appaling undertaking for a female, through an uninhabited country of swamps and cane-breaks. She often lost her way, and wandered about for days and for nights without food, and often without water. At length she gave out, and could travel no farther. She had been for some time aiming to reach a settlement, she had had in view from the first, and intended to stop there and write to her friends. This is the settlement (principally religious people) where she now is. The first house she called at, the people refused even to let her come in, much less would they give her food to eat. What are you travelling alone for? It is a bad sign—you must be a bad woman. She went to another, and another house, but was turned away from all, with more than brutal cruelty. She now lost all hope, and sat down on the road side! While she was sitting there, this Mr. King was passing by, and telling him her story, he took her to his house and treated her with great kindness. In a few days she wrote the letter mentioned, but by some means it did not reach its destination for six months.
The letter contained a pathetic appeal to her father and brothers for forgiveness, and if they thought her worthy to be received into the family again, to send for her; if not, she would remain with her kind friend.
Shortly after the letter arrived, this young man, who kept a Latin School in the neighborhood, came home, and his father requested him to get ready and go for her as quick as possible.
After relating the story, he ordered his horses, and set out; and this day (the 2d) he passed by here, about one o’clock, P. M., with his sister, a very fine looking woman; but they were in a great hurry, and we only saw her on horseback.— While they were yet in sight, some of the neighbors of Mr. King, who were at the house when the brother called, and 136 17(4)v 136 who had rode up with them part of the way, stopped at our house, and related a most pathetic scene between the brother and sister. They flew into each others arms, and were for many minutes unable to speak. The sister at length burst into a flood of tears, and the brother likewise wept. But this was a trifle to the scene that followed. This lady had never been taught to work, and by way of amusement, she had induced Mrs. King to teach her how to work, such as spinning, carding, &c. She soon became very expert, and by way of remunerating her friends for their kindness in saving her life, worked late and early, thinking she could never do enough for them. But when the people who had turned her out of doors found she was a decent woman, and was industrious, they had the effrontry to come to King’s to seduce her away. His house, (being a poor man) was not fit for her to stay at; come to our house, was their language. The lady refused their invitation with disdain, and remained with her friends; and so strong was her attachment to Mrs. King, and Mrs. King for her, that when they came to take leave, it was difficult to tear them asunder. Thus ends the story.
What think you, Matt, of the christian religion? Between you and I, and the bed post, I begin to think it is all a plot of the priests. I have ever marked those professors, whenever humanity demanded their attention, the veriest savages under the sun. Now, this King made no pretensions to religion, and though this is, as you say, a Jay’s treaty, I must add another instance of their brutality—it happened when I was very young, and made an impression on me which I shall never forget. A presbyterian Elder, (and to this day I do not know the meaning of the word,) who prayed a long prayer, night and morning, owned a ferry. A poor woman, as I supposed then, (as she was on foot,) stopped at his door, and inquired what the ferryage was, saying she wanted to cross. She looked tired, hungry, miserable. The wretch asked her how much money she had? She showed him some in an old rag, and taking up a bit, I think it was, asked him if that was enough?—No. She took a half bit A small sum current in those days. 137 18(1)r 137 up, and holding them in her hand, asked if that would do? He shook his head. She had but one more bit, which she said was all she had. He would not touch it. She said, I must cross; for God’s sake take all, and put me over. No; he turned off and was going into the house. The woman wiped the tears from her eyes with her sleeve, and pulling off a blue and white checked handkerchief, which she wore round her neck, called him back, and told him she must cross the river if she had to go without a handkerchief; and the wretch took it and the money too!!! One of these hypocrites told me once I ought not to judge all by one. No! But I judge all by all, for they are all the same.
This man lived on North river, Virginia.
Courtland, 1821-06-02June 2d, 1821.
My old acquaintance, the Colonel, has moved from the Bluff (or Marathon) to this place, which, though now a considerable town, consisting of fine brick houses, was a cornfield 18 months ago, and the corn furrows are still visible in many parts of the town. The Colonel, and all the citizens, however, are much disappointed that they did not obtain the seat of justice here; and the Colonel particularly takes it much to heart, as he purchased lots under that view. But he is forced to submit. Courtland, (you see they counted their chickens before they were hatched) being eight miles from the river, the boundary of the country, Courtland was too far from the centre.
And the great beauty is married! At a few months over 14 years of age! She married a South Carolinian, by the name of Daniel Wright, Esq. a very genteel, amiable man, and clerk of the court. He was a member of the convention 18 138 18(1)v 138 that framed the Constitution for the state, and is a man of princely manners. The lady had a considerable fortune, and they will doubtless do well. So you have missed it again.
This is the region of the Carolina pink and Colomba root. Wagon loads of the latter may be gathered any where in the woods; it, and the pink, cover the ground. The pink grows much like the garden pink, and the flower is similar in size and figure, but is of a scarlet. I am sure I have seen it in some part of the Union before, but cannot tell where. The woods are alive with it here, and a profusion of other beautiful flowers. It is quite a treat to ride through the woods. The Colomba root has several broad leaves near the ground, in the shape like the hound’s tongue, of a yellowish green—the leaf thick and fuzzy—and a stem runs up from these from one to two feet in height, without leaves, and has a flower near the top—but it is not now in bloom.
The greatest curiosity here, is the sensitive brier. It is in its nature, (but not in shape,) like the sensitive plant, though with this difference, only that part of the plant shrinks which you touch. For instance, if you touch one leaf, it draws up instantly, but this does not affect the other leaves—not so the brier: It grows like the raspberry brier, long, and still more slender, with narrow leaves; if you touch the stem at one end, the leaves instantly pucker themselves up from one end of the brier to the other, the most astonishing phenomenon I have witnessed in the vegetable kingdom. The brier grows spontaneously. Those I saw were from one to five feet high, and about the thickness of a wheat straw. The leaves are very small, narrow, and notched, not larger than the smallest pink leaf. I amused myself sometime in tormenting these little whimsical rogues.
Since I have began with the curious, we have, another great curiosity here, viz: the jointed snake, which, if struck with a stick flies to pieces with a jingling noise. No blood is emitted from the broken parts, and it is said the pieces unite again. This I was told was a fact, though I did not see the snake. The Camelion is also a native of this place. They are found every where; but the prairies abound with them.— 139 18(2)r 139 They are called the Green Lizard, by the inhabitants.— Mrs. Burlison informed me, that its general color was green, but if provoked, it changed to a grayish color, and the throat, which swells to a great size, when it is made angry, changes to a pale crimson. I did not happen to see one, as you may ride for days through the prairies without being able to distinguish them from the grass, of which color they are. Speaking of prairies—these prairies are too damp for cotton, but corn grows well on them, and in the season for strawberries, you may gather wagon loads of them; and these are a superior flavor to any in our part of the country. You cannot walk through a prairie in strawberry time, they take you up to the ankle.
Another curiosity—Tobacco grows spontaneously in this state! It grows in Madison county in the forest, and attains the same height as when cultivated—but the leaves are thin, and unfit for use. It is also found in West Tennessee. It was found in Madison, by the first white people who visited the country, nor can the oldest Indian account for its origin.— Some think it is a native, and others, again, suppose it possible the seed might have been scattered by some adventurous traveller.
This, and the adjoining states, on the Mississippi, is beyond doubt to become the wealthiest part of the United States. In fact, it is so now. The inhabitants of this state, however, not contented with the overflowing productions of their thrice happy soil, have vainly attempted to introduce the sugar cane—but, doubtless, it will fail. By covering the roots it lives through the winter, and grows to a considerable height. Though it is now in perfection of two year’s growth, the winters are evidently too cold for the plant.
Upland rice grows here with success. It looks like oats, is sown in drills, and plowed and hoed like corn. It is of a reddish color when cooked. Every planter rears enough for his own use.
I fell in with a traveller of intelligence, from whom I gathered a few particulars of those new Southern States, and taking the whole together, it is beyond doubt the most desirable 140 18(2)v 140 country on earth. The gentleman is from the Red River last: His information amounts to the following:
He has been several years in that country, and assisted in surveying and running the boundary lines, both of Mississippi and Louisiana. The lands (he says) on the Mississippi, on both sides, far exceeds this in fertility, and producing two thousand weight of cotton to the acre: whereas fifteen hundred is the most that is calculated on here. Indigo, tobacco, and rice grow there in great abundance. Indian corn grows with such rapidity, that two crops can be raised in one year, below thirty two or thirty one degrees of North latitude. From one to two hundred bushels of Indian corn are produced to the acre. Sugar and oranges grow in the same latitude, but neither will grow to any degree of perfection above thirty-two. Cotton and sugar are the staples of Louisiana and Mississippi; and people amass great wealth there in a short time, from the culture of those articles. Even poor men, that go there, and attend to large stocks of cattle that run on great natural meadows, which abound in Louisiana, for which they get a certain part, soon become rich. Sugar is cultivated by laying the stalks in furrows once in three years, and from the joints new stems arise.
The best cotton grows on Red River. All, who have visited that country, agree on this point. The stalks grow to such thickness and strength there, that they are strong enough to bear a man’s weight. [I have heard this asserted by many.]Red River falls into the Mississippi from the West side below Natchez, in about the thirty-first degree of latitude. Beyond Louisiana, that is, west of it, there is another vast region equally as productive, and almost without inhabitants: I mean Texas—though it belongs to the Spanish government.—The Spaniard offer a considerable bounty in land to all persons, who will go and settle it. The Southern part of Louisiana extends from the East side of the Mississippi river, which bounds it East, to the Saline river, which bounds it on the West, and divides it from Texas. There is no difference in the soil or productions of the states of Louisiana and Mississippi; but the former is more liable to be everflowed by the 141 18(3)r 141 rivers that flow through the former, and much more of it is covered with swamps—but there is enough to reward industry and enterprise, exclusive of the swamps.The Mississippi state extends from the river of the same name, which bounds it on the West, but I give the boundary. The boundary commences on the Mississippi river, at the point where the Southern boundary line of the state of Tennessee strikes the said river; thence East along the said boundary line to the Tennessee river; thence up the same to the mouth of Bear creek; thence, by a direct line to the Northwest corner of the county of Washington, in Alabama; thence due South to the Gulf of Mexico; thence Westwardly, including all the Islands within six leagues of the shore, to the most Eastern junction of Pearl river with Lake Borgne; thence up said river to the thirty-first degree of North latitude; thence west along the said degree of latitude to the Mississippi river; and thence up the same to the beginning. Mississippi is watered by the Pascagula, Mississippi, Tennessee, Pearl, Yazoo, and Big Black rivers. Although the bottoms are not so wide and extensive on the east side of Mississippi river, yet they are equally as fertile, producing cotton, &c. in abundance. There are three distinct species of land, both in this state and Alabama: The bottom, the bluff, (or high, dry, rich cotton land,) and pine land. Take it all in all, it is not exceeded in fertility by any in the world: Neither is it so sickly as is represented.— Consumptions, which sweep so many of our Northern people to the grave, are unknown here. I have seen a gentleman, that was far gone with that complaint, who tells me that he has entirely recovered. The moschitoes, however, are troublesome; but the small expense they are at, to secure themselves from them, is amply remunerated by the soil’s overflowing productiveness.
There is a country for you, Matt: and am I not a good old lady to send you such amusement. I have some notion of turning author some of these days, for though I know you are only indulging your irony, (you saucy rogue, is that the way to treat your betters,) let me tell you I would not make the worst in the world. You, and Joe Fry, may laugh again; 142 18(3)v 142 I was never blind to your winks and nods; and if ever I do take up my pen, I mean to write a book, and I will flay you two saucy rogues.
I have this moment received your letter of March! If you are as slow a traveller as your letters, you may find it necessary to bring a summer-house with you.
The people have elected C. C. Was there ever such fools? They must have been intoxicated. Can America stand? Can she preserve her liberty thus? She cannot; she ought not! They are prodigal of their sovereignty, indeed. It appears to be painful to them. To elect the greatest fool, by odds the greatest fool in the country. You know he always has Lord Hale in his mouth. In my husband’s lifetime, this Lord Hale came to our house and spent a day. You knew my husband’s hospitality. He entertained all alike. Court was sitting at this time, at the Sweet Springs, and this booby, (how he came to be licensed a lawyer, is strange,) while at the dinner table, began to repeat part of a defence, it appeared he made for a criminal; in doing which, he referred to Lord Hale’s Pleas of the Crown. Finding we were all silent, he took it for granted, we were delighted, and launched out in the praise of Demosthenes and Cicero. My husband, who had remained silent, and was weary of the fool, at length, asked who this Demosthenes was, as I am very ignorant in these things. You don’t know who Demosthenes was? Why he was a great Roman Emperor; and Cicero was another great Emperor; and Cato was another. There are very few things come amiss to me. Thus he went on till he swept away all the great men of antiquity; whilst I suffered the ordeal, as being at my own table, I dare not laugh. My husband never laughed at any thing; but he did something much better this day. He always sat sometime after the cloth was removed, and had a fashion of leaning forward, when displeased, upon his arms, which were usually crossed, and at the same time biting his thumb. I always trembled when I saw this; nor dare I rise from the table till he made a signal; and though our house was usually full, we happened to have no one this day, but Lord Hale. At length, my husband, addressing his Lordship, said, 143 18(4)r 143 Now, what a d—d fool you are; this is the way you expose yourself; do you know you are a laughing stock for the whole country? My dog, Citizen, (a favorite pointer,) has more sense. Just go home, and go to plow, for if my dog could speak, he would make a better lawyer. He took it in good part, and said it was the best lesson he ever had heard. It was lost upon such a fool. Strange, that whatever side he took at the bar, was sure to be victorious; as, true to their nature, the people, or rabble, rather always think the greatest fool the wisest man. They have proved it in this instance, by their selecting him to make laws for them. Alas, for my country! all your citizens want is rope.
Good bye; I am going to Florence, foot of the Muscle Shoals; I give Kenhawa joy of her representative.
N. B. What a pity this fellow had not chosen the profession of a preacher. He would have made a Lady Hale of all the women in the country round. He would have left the Cumberland preacher, (I mentioned some time back,) far behind, in causing them to come tumbling down! Handsome language, I confess, for a preacher of the gospel to use. They ought, at least, to go halves.
Florence, 1821-07-10July 10th, 1821.
And here I am, my Dear Matt—foot of the Shoals, once more. I have been here ten days; and what do you think I came here for? Of all people you, you, I say, are the most extraordinary and neglectful of men? Where are my trunks? What has become of them? Were they not to have been sent long since? I have just seen Major S. and he tells me a fine tale of Gardner, and a few more, of whom I was going to say you must be one. But I would as soon expect to see the 144 18(4)v 144 sun start from its centre, as that you would countenance such an infamous transaction. But what were you about, that you suffered this infamous Yankee tin pedlar, Whitiker, to surrender my furniture into the hands of the wretch, Gardner? S. lest he might be charged with what he is innocent of, did not, and would not tell me, but the gentleman who came with him, did. It is enough that I know it; I saw by S—’s countenance that all was not right. But that Mr. Fry would pay over money of mine, to Gardner, without an order from me, I cannot believe, until I have better evidence! He doubtless sets a high value upon his character; but it would seem that honesty cannot breathe in Kenhawa. It is fatal to the principle. If it be true that Whitiker has delivered my property into the hands of Gardner, a curse will pursue him to his grave, nor will his offspring This was literally fulfilled. He actually delivered the property as stated above; had his house burnt twice to the ground, with all its contents, and died a wretched death. Thus the Lord avenges the widows’ wrongs. ever prosper. But I will endeavor not to believe that human nature is so depraved. I give you joy on your marriage, and I hope you may be as happy as I wish.
Florence is one of the new towns of this beautiful and rapid rising state. It is happily situated for commerce at the head of steamboat navigation, on the north side of Tennessee river, in the country of Lauderdale, five miles below the port of the Muscle Shoals, and ten miles from the line of the state of Tennessee.
Florence is to be the great emporium of the northern part of this state. I do not see why it should not; it has a great capital and is patronized by the wealthiest gentlemen in the state. It has a great state at its back; another in front, and a noble river on all sides, the steamboats pouring every necessary and every luxury into its lap. Its citizens, bold, enterprising, and industrious—much more so than any I have seen in the state.
Many large and elegant brick buildings are already built here, (although it was sold out, but two years since,) and frame houses are putting up daily. It is not uncommon to see a framed building begun in the morning and finished by night.145 19(1)r 145
Several respectable mercantile houses are established here, and much business is done on commission also. The site of the town is beautifully situated on an eminence, commanding an extensive view of the surrounding country, and Tennessee river, from which it is three quarters of a mile distant.—It has two springs of excellent and never failing water. Florence has communication by water with Mississippi, Missouri, Louisiana, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, West Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and East Tennessee, and very shortly will communicate with the Eastern States, through the great canal!!! The great Military road that leads from Nashville to New Orleans, by way of Lake Ponchartrain, passes through this town, and the number of people who travel through it, and the numerous droves of horses for the lower country, for market, are incredible. Florence contains one printing press, and publishes a paper weekly called the Florence Gazette; it is ably patronized, and edited by one of our first men, and said to be the best paper in the state. Florence is inhabited by people from almost all parts of Europe and the United States; here are English, Irish, Welch, Scotch, French, Dutch, Germans, and Grecians. The first Greek I ever saw was in this town. I conversed with him on the subject of his country, but found him grossly ignorant. He butchers for the town, and has taken to his arms a mullatto woman for a wife. He very often takes an airing on horseback of a Sunday afternoon, with his wife riding by his side, and both arrayed in shining costume.
The river at Florence is upwards of five-hundred yards wide; it is ferried in a large boat worked by four horses, and crosses in a few minutes.
There are two large and well kept Taverns in Florence, and several Doggeries. A Doggery is a place where spirituous liquors are sold; and where men get drunk, quarrel, and fight, as often as they choose, but where there is nothing to eat for man or beast. Did you ever hear any thing better named. I sware! said a Yankee pedlar, one day, with both his eyes banged up, that are Doggery, be rightly named. Never seed the like on’t. If I get to ham agin it ’il be a nice man ’il 19 146 19(1)v 146 catch me in these here parts. Awfullest place one could be at. It appeared the inmates of the Doggery enticed him under pretence of buying his wares, and forced him to drink; and then forced him to fight; but the poor little Yankee was sadly beaten. Not content with blacking up his eyes, they overturned his tin-cart, and scattered his tins to the four winds; frightened his horse, and tormented his very soul out about lasses, &c. He was a laughable object—but to hear his dialect in laying off the law, was a complete farce, particularly when Pat came to invite him into the same Doggery to drink friends—I ben’t a dog to go into that are dog house.
The people, you see, know a thing or two, here; they call things by their right names. But to proceed—there may be about one hundred dwelling houses and stores, a court house, and several ware houses in Florence. The latter are however on the river. One of the longest buildings I ever saw, is in Florence. It was built by a company of gentlemen, and is said to have cost $90,000, and is not yet finished. The proprietors, being of this place, are men of immense wealth, and are pushing their capital with great foresight and activity. For industry and activity, Florence outstrips all the northern towns in the state. More people travel this road than all our western roads put together. I was just going to conclude, when an old German passing through my room from that of my landlady’s, made me laugh, in reply to something uttered by the lady, he said poverty was no crime, when we came honestly by it.
Florence, 1821-07-15July 15th, 1821.
More of Florence. I observed in my last, the surprizing wealth of this place. The principal gentlemen of wealth are General Coffee, James Jackson, Esq., Major McKinley, Now a Senator in Congress for Alabama. and 147 19(2)r 147 Messrs. Simpson and Gaither. Of these J. Jackson is said to be not only wealthy, but the wealthiest man in the state.— There are, however, many others quite easy in their circumstances. General Coffee, and J. Jackson live out of town. Major McKinley lives in Florence, and is reputed to be the first lawyer in the three states. He is a stout, fine looking man; of easy manners, as all gentlemen are; and his dwelling contains more taste and splendor, by one half, than I ever saw in my whole life put together. But this is nothing.— Mrs. McKinley, the elegance of her manners, and the sweetness of her conversation, joined with her interesting children, completely disconcerted me. Every thing in the house had, to me, the appearance of enchantment. I never was in such a paradise before. Mrs. McKinley looked as though she had dropped from above. I never was more confounded. And the children! They are truly a pattern! The dear little things were in the nursery, and hearing there was a stranger in the parlour, prevailed on the nurse to open the door a few inches, that they might see who was there—but they were instantly upbraided by their mother. Make these a pattern for your children, if you should have any. I begged admission for the dear creatures, and they were admitted upon condition of good behavior. They were the handsomest children I ever beheld, and I was so completely fascinated by their manners, I forgot everything else. Mrs. McKinley informed me she was from Philadelphia, and was acquainted with Mrs. Doctor Charles Lewis.
All the ladies of Florence excel in the domestic virtues. No gadding abroad. They demean themselves with that modesty and attention to their domestic affairs, beyond any ladies I have seen in the state. Mrs. Coffee (a niece of Mrs. General Jackson,) comes to preaching in a plain bonnet and calico dress. General Coffee was here since I arrived, and appears to be much reduced since I saw him in Huntsville. His constitution was much injured by the hardships he suffered in the army. I was never within speaking of James Jackson. It is said he is a native of Ireland. Mrs. Ward, Mrs. Gibson, and Mrs. Southworth, the printer’s wife, and several others, 148 19(2)v 148 are charming women. Captain Gibson, a son of the brave Colonel Gibson, of Tennessee, is one of the most amiable men on earth.
It is unaccountable why such a number of physicians should flock to this country. Every town is flooded with them. They are strung along the roads like so many blacksmith’s shops. You can neither walk nor ride, but you have a physician on each side, one in front, and one in rear. Here are seven in Florence—seven more went away, for want of room. There are also, here, six lawyers. I left thirteen doctors in Courtland, a much smaller place. One hundred passed through the latter, south, unable to get in. You cannot, as I stated before, travel a mile on any great road, without meeting with a Doctor’s shop. But this is not all. Almost every practising doctor has three or four students. I have known mechanics quit their trade and commence the study of medicine. This would lead one to think the country was sickly. No such thing. It is a much healthier country than ours. It appears that the first doctors, who came here, made great fortunes, and every young man studied medicine, so that mankind has, indeed, given themselves up to the guidance of folly. They remind one of Erasmus’ drunken man attempting to mount his horse; if you help him up on one side, he falls over on the other. Many of these physicians, however, are becoming planters, by which they will doubtless make their bread. They add, however, much to society, and help to pass off the time. They are all life annd gaiety, and are constantly playing pranks on each other, for want of other employment. A most laughable scene occurred here the other day, which, for ingenuity of plot, and fertility of humor, might challenge the author of Don Quixotte.
The first we heard of it was the voice of a female entering the town, on foot, in a violent rage, cursing and swearing, (for it appears ladies do swear, or women I mean, as the word lady cannot possibly belong to one who would use such vulgar language.) She smote her fists together violently, and (passing over about ninety-nine oaths, at least) declared vengeance against every young man in Florence. Those who were in 149 19(3)r 149 the secret, began to laugh; others laughed for company; but the most of the people were astonished. Twenty-four miles here I’ve walked, and torn myself to pieces with thorns, and bruises; look at my arms d—n you; look at my clothes; yes, laugh, laugh; see mpy shoes and stockings, wading all the creeks, you sons of b—s. Oh, yes, you’re the ones. Her face was as red as scarlet, from the heat and rage together.— Briefly—a number of boats are generally lying at the landing, and it appears that the young men in Florence are no better than the young men of other towns, or what I would say, rather, that all young men are alike. This is an undeniable fact, and has been the case since the world began, if history be true, and will doubtless continue to the end of it. Whether this be the effect of preaching, or the want of it, I pretend not to say. All I have to say, is, that the priests have been preaching these 1821 years, and yet young men, and young women, too, are still the same, and may be, a little worse. This may, however, be a part of the religion they preach, as I always find most of it where there is most preaching. The sensible reader will understand me as wishing to check the evil of swearing, and without any desire to wound the delicacy or any fair sisters, though, like myself, they never ceased until they unravelled the mystery; and with no other view than to guard them against temptations and the cunning of young men. It was ascertained, that parties of both sexes, for want of house room, doubtless, had often spent the night in these boats. It is said that people live in boats in China; probably this gave rise to the idea in this country. Let this be ats it may, a very decent and respectable young man was seen leading a lady in the dusk of the evening into one of these boats; and sometime in the night, somebody untied the cable of the boat, and down the river she sailed of her own accord. There are shoals in Tennessee river, about 20 or 24 miles below Florence, and the first intelligence the inmates of the boat had of being under way, was the noise of the Shoals, which awakened them from a sound sleep! The woman waked first, and being alarmed at the noise, roused the young man, no other person happening to be on board. Upon looking out, and rubbing his eyes, the truth 150 19(3)v 150 burst upon him; but there was no remedy, and their fears were no little, lest the boat might hang or break upon a rock. Fortunately the boat lodged against an island, fair and softly— and there the gentleman and his companion had to remain, till fortune might send a boat for their relief, either up or down the river, which, by chance, happened sometime the ensuing day. But it appears the gentleman proved rather ungallant, in the end, as he left the lady to shift for herself, the moment he set foot on shore; and turning back to back, he went down the river, and she came up to Florence. It is supposed he had two reasons for this: First—he did not wish to be seen walking side by side with the lady into Florence, which would have subjected him to the ridicule of his friends. Secondly—within six or seven miles below Lover’s Landing, as it has since been called, there was a small town, where he wished to refresh himself, and procure a horse, to ride back, being clerk of the court, his absence could not well be dispensed with.
These incidents we learned partly from the woman, partly from observation, and partly from the contrivers of the plot. The woman said it was very unkind, or in words to that amount, to go off, and leave her to come home through the swamps, by herself, without a road. And all the ladies thought so too: but they spoke differently, for they said she deserved it all, and a great deal more. They did not in my hearing cast the smallest reflection upon the young man. He returned the next day, and in a very ill humour; and without adverting to his misfortunes, examined the countenance of every and each of his friends, with a view of detecting the party concerned. Being a man of spirit, he would have certainly walked the man or men out; but this part of the farce will never be known; and he is very silent himself, for obvious reasons. This incident has afforded much amusement.
I ought to have mentioned Mr. Mayers, This amiable man I lament to hear, is now dead. your old acquaintance. He lives in Franklin county, over the river from hence. I dined at his house on my way to Florence. He is delighted with the country, owns a valuable plantation, and is up to the eyes rearing cotton. But he lacks one very essential 151 19(4)r 151 comfort, which is water; having to haul it about two miles.— He has been at great expense digging for water on his land, but has failed. Miss Ann, looks as charming as ever, and is often a visiter at the house of my friend, Judge Ellis, one of the most interesting families in Alabama. I never, though long acquainted with Mr. Mayers, and Miss M. saw Mrs. Mayers before. She is one of the finest women I have seen in this or any other country. They are all highly pleased with the change; and Mr. Mayers has a number of very promising children. But he talks of removing to Tuscaloosa, if he can sell out to advantage.
In noting all the fine things of Florence, I overlooked a Mr. Fulton, an eminent lawyer, and a gentleman of first rate talents. He is from Maryland, and one of the ornaments of society. I was just now called on for a toast, and gave an old one which is said to have been given extempore by one of my Irish ancestors, and which follows: Health to the sick,Wealth to the brave,A husband to the widow,And freedom to the slave!
I should have no objection to realize one line of the toast. You may readily guess which; but that is between ourselves.
N. B. Pray give my respects to Mrs. Dunbar.
Huntsville, 1822-01-29January 29th, 1822.
Hearing Colonel Biern, of Monroe, was to be here, I came up to learn the news from my old neighborhood. But Colonel B. looked cold and frowning. I cannot account for this, unless I am to join in the opinion with Tom Envy, mentioned in a former letter, viz: that wealth changes the manners of men.152 19(4)v 152
Whatever is, is right! says Pope. So be it. I concur. But I should think, my friends would have sent some message at least. Grant me patience, good heavens!
Huntsville, has greatly increased since my first visit; and notwithstanding the check it has received, in the great number of new towns on the river, it will always be a place of wealth and business. Its capital is considerable, and the proprietors are thoroughgoing business men. It has now a population of 1300 inhabitants. Two churches have been built since I have been here; a theatre, (now burnt,) and a number of dwelling houses. It has now two printing offices—each publish a paper; sixteen stores; several commission merchants; auctioneer; a land office; and various other public offices, which draw numbers of people from the country. They have a very fine fire engine, and a well regulated company. There are two academies for young ladies; one for gentlemen, and several common schools. Great encouragement is given to the encouragement of learning throughout the state. Every sixteenth section of land is set apart for the benefit of education, Fine pickings for the blue skins. and provision is made by law for a university, which is soon to go into operation. There’s your chance Mr. Black-Coats! They have a tolerable library; fine taverns; several Doggeries; twenty-one lawyers! and eight practising physicians!
I mentioned to you the Huntsville Spring. The citizens of Huntsville are now employed in collecting the water which flows from it into a canal; this canal is to have five locks, and to communicate with Indian Creek, which is navigable to the river.
Few places combine more blessings than Huntsville; and not a town in the world, perhaps, in proportion to its population, except Florence, has more wealth, more talent, more taste, more hospitality, mirth and gaiety, than Huntsville. The ladies of Huntsville, distance every thing in costliness of their dress; nor do I like their manners so well as I do the manners of the Florence ladies. They are always in the streets. But they are beautiful women, and very familiar. The young gentlemen are rather better informed; are gay and lively; 153 20(1)r 153 play and sing well. They often go out serenading, and have a Thespian society, who entertain the citizens at stated periods; to these are added balls and cotillion parties. I shall remain here till I hear from Virginia, and shall then pay a visit to Blakely, to see Mrs. Biern, formerly Kitty Davis, whom I partly raised. You recollect her—Mr. Caperton is dead, and she is married to a Mr. Biern, and doing well.
Respecting your last letter, you say, and very plausibly too, No wonder the ignorant are prejudiced against learning, when they see learned men inflicting every evil, cheating, defrauding, and oppressing the poor. Aware of these objections made, acted and done, to use your law phrases, I am ready to enter my rejoinder. The very reason you adduce to excuse the ignorant, is the reason I would advance against them. If their minds were improved, they would not become the dupes and victims of their learned neighbors. They would then be able to cope with him. If men of the best learning and parts often fall a sacrifice to the artful disguise which hypocracy and knavery put on, how then are the ignorant to escape? If education was better attended to, it would greatly alleviate the evils of fraud and oppression. If a few, now and then, emerge from the night and ignorance, the great mass of the people are still the same. And this ignorance is to be our downfall. It strikes at the vitals of our liberty. It affects morally and politically, and the few are soon to rule the many, instead of the many ruling the few. I would not, as some one said, have them all philosophers; but I would have them raised a little above the brute creation. I would have them know they were endowed with reason. I would have them know, this reason was bestowed on them as a guide to enable them to distinguish right from wrong—truth from falsehood—good from evil. I would have them know, that it is the cultivation of this reason alone that can secure to them its advantages. As a fertile field, without cultivation, produces nothing but noxious weeds, so our reason, without cultivation, is no more advantage to us in transacting the commom concerns of life, than if it were destitute of this glory of human 20 154 20(1)v 154 nature. But I am sleepy, and must bid you good night. Remember me to Mrs. D.
Huntsville, 1822-02-22February 22d, 1822.
This day, the anniversary of our beloved Washington, was ushered in with all manner of rejoicing. The star spangled banner is now waving on the cupola, before my window, and an elegant ball is to conclude the day.
While I sat in my window, with my eye on the flag, my mind was thrown back to the Revolutionary War; and whilst I gazed on this emblem of our liberty, I thought on the day that I first saw the colors of the then conflicting states: the occasion nor the date I do not now remember. But I well remember the brilliant striped flag. I was then a child, and lived in Hannah’s Town, not far from Pittsburg. I was standing in the street one morning, with other little children, and happening to turn my eyes in the direction of Pittsburg, I caught a view of soldiers marching into the Town, their colours flying, and drums beating. I remember the order of the march—I remember, too, that there were several women: but I am sorry I cannot tell how they came to visit Hannah’s Town, or to pass through it, which they did. I never saw the United States’ colors since, that it does not recall that day! and the whole repasses again before me, and with it all the sufferings of those trying times. I suffered all that human nature could bear, both with cold and hunger. Oh, ye wealthy of those times, little idea had ye of what the poor frontier settlers suffered. Often running for our lives to the forts, the Indians pursuing and shooting at us. At other times lying concealed in brushwood, exposed to rain and snakes, for days and nights without food, and almost without clothes! We were one half of the 155 20(2)r 155 time without salt or bread! pinned our scanty clothing with thorns; lived on nuts, bear’s meat, and dried venison! All these things revive in my mind, and I love to dwell on them.
The company are now marching before me, under arms, in a handsome uniform; they step light and graceful, and are tall fine looking men. Their captain, Howard, boards with me; I mean at the same house. He is just six feet in height, and one of the finest figures of them all, and has a martial look. He is a great favorite among the ladies, and is, doubtless, to open the ball this evening with some of the fairest of the fair.
I board with Major Rose, the merry old veteran mentioned some time back. He has met with a dreadful reverse of fortune since I first saw him. He was then one of the first merchants in the place, but was overwhelmed in the general wreck, which prostrated so many of our merchants. But the Major is as merry as ever; keeps a tavern and boarding house; amuses himself with a pet crow; and sings Jerry go Nimble. Mrs. Rose, too, bears her misfortunes like a philosopher. She is a mild, sensible woman, and the most benevolent of her sex.— Captain Luke Howard, just mentioned, Mr. Tharp, and Mr. Wooldridge, and two Italians, are the only new acquaintance I have made. Captain Howard, is an Irish gentleman, highly polished, and breathes the very soul of philanthropy and feeling. Nature has showered her bounties on him liberally, and these are cultivated with great care and taste. He is the soul of music—performs well on the flute—sings a good song—is lively and facetious, which, united with a general knowledge of the world, renders him a most desirable companion. It appears to me, that all the Irish who visit this country, are very different from any I ever saw with us. They have none of those habits of drinking, common to all I knew in other states. These are perfect gentlemen and men of business. Mr. Tharp is a neat, pleasant young man, with the sweetest temper in the world; though he conceives he is mighty ill sometimes, and it is amusing enough to hear Mr. Howard quizzing, and advising him to make his will. I sometimes advise him to marry, and this seems to agree with his malady, better than Howard’s 156 20(2)v 156 prescription. I think he will take my advice. Mr. Wooldridge is a lawyer, next door, retiring, learned and modest.— He is little known in Huntsville. He is a man of reading, taste and abilities, and one of the most amiable and polite.— But the Italians—they are brothers, and seem to belong to a different species of the human race. They have fine full features, round faces, and dark complexions. Their eyes and hair are jet black. But such eyes belong to no other nation— they sparkle like diamonds. Their manners and dispositions, likewise, differ from those of any people, or nation, I have seen. They are men of rich imaginations, very gay and lively in conversation, and philanthropy itself. Their company is courted by all.
Huntsville, 1822-04April, 1822.
I have not, as you suppose, forgotten you, though you are a sad boy. But I will lay the matter over till we meet. You have heard and read of tornadoes. We had the most dreadful tornado, last week, that was every known in this country. The ravages of this dreadful calamity was confined to a ridge of high poor land, the nearest part of which, is about three miles from hence, though we had a severe gale here, the hardest by far I ever witnessed. It prostrated every thing before it in its career, trees, houses, fences, all raised to the foundation. Trees were said to be carried fifteen miles, twisted and split to atoms, and though strange, no lives were lost; most of the people were bruised and mangled, and lying on the ground, unable to disengage themselves from the fallen trees and houses; some with broken legs, some with broken arms, and all more or less injured, excepting one man and a few children. There they lay, and the rain pouring on them in torrents, and as dark as Egypt. It happened a little before 157 20(3)r 157 midnight. By daylight, next morning, their situation being discovered, by their nearest neighbors, several expresses on horseback came into Huntsville, for surgeons, doctors, and assistance of every sort, as their clothing, and every atom they had in their houses were blown off, and never seen afterwards. Numbers jumped on their horses, doctors and all, and fled with the utmost speed to the sufferers; and amongst the foremost of these were the Sonano’s, the Italian gentlemen. But in their haste they did not forget to take clothes, money, wine, biscuit, coffee, sugar, and tea; and these are Roman Catholics, who have been stigmatized as worse than the d—l. You will expect to hear that the christian went, I mean those professing religion. No such thing. Howard was sick, but he sent them money and food, and he is another Roman Catholic. But you have not heard the worst of it yet. Word was soon brought in, that there were twenty-one persons in all wounded, without food and clothing, and houseless—many of them widows and orphans— The land where it happened being poor, was settled by poor people generally. a subscription was instantly set on foot, for their relief, and a paper carried round. Now, you would suppose that a Turk would not refuse relief in such a case; and you would suppose right: but do not imagine the professors subscribed—with the exception of one or two. When the paper was handed to them, they said There were so many, they could not help all; and it was not adviseable to help any unless they gave all some!!! One of these, a wealthy merchant, was the most abominable iron souled man in the world— a presbyterian elder, by the name, I think, of Hilton, He was the first man (or woman) I ever saw hand the tracts 5 lettersflawed-reproduction. He was from Philadelphia. and used to make long prayers. What do you think of this sample of professors, as they are called?
I conversed with one of these sufferers, and inquired what were her sensations during the storm; and how she felt when carried away before it. She replied, that the storm was very sudden, and from the noise of crashing timber, thunder, and the dreadful roaring, she concluded she was to meet instant death. She had three children, and covering the two eldest in 158 20(3)v 158 the bed, as she thought, for the last time, she took her babe in her arms, and crept under the bed, and resigned herself to the will of her maker. This is the last thing she remembered.— Upon regaining her senses, she was over an hundred yards from the place where the house had stood, with one of the logs of the house lying on her, and her leg broke. Her babe was lying near her, with a log across its neck, but did not touch the child, as it rested on the other timber. Her other two children were within a few steps of her, unhurt. She heard them talking to each other, and could see them very plain by the flashes of lightning. One man, an overseer, was very commodiously carried off in his bed, bedstead, and all, just as he lay, and put down about fifty yars off, and the first he knew of it was the rain pouring on him. He was in an upper story, which alone was blown off. These tornadoes must be more terrible than any storm at sea.
I have been told by those who have witnessed them by daylight, that the sky suddenly becomes black, after a still clear atmosphere—the winds then follow so quick, it is impossible to escape. Their ravages are generally confined to a narrow straight line, of different lengths. The one above described, was about 50 miles long, and not exceeding one quarter or one half a mile in breadth. No one can give a clear description of these sweeping desolations, for the darkness, dust, &c. they occasion, and, above all, the total absense of the senses. I did not go to see the one above, but I saw the effects of one in Kentucky, which must have been moderate, as it was not more than five or six hundred yards wide; but it levelled every tree to the earth. Some of these trees were the largest of the forest, and uniformly lay with their tops one way. I should suppose the noise alone would stun any one to death, as it must exceed the united artillery of heaven and earth! And here follows another of the wonders.
In this county (Madison) there is a stone, called the maddog stone, which effectually cures the bite of a mad dog, and all poisonous snakes. It is said to be about the size of a walnut, and porus, like a honey comb. This stone is applied to the wound, where it sticks fast, until the pores become full, 159 20(4)r 159 when it drops off of itself. It is then washed in warm milk and water, and again applied to the wound, when it sticks, as at first, and so on, until the poison is extracted, when it will stick no longer. The man who owns it, lives about twenty miles from hence, and receives no compensation for the use of the stone; nor will he sell it. I have not been able to trace its history, thought I saw several who have been cured by it. I am told there is one similar to it in East Virginia. I should think them of more value than the most costly diamonds.
But I have still stranger news for you. I have never heard a word on the subject of politics, or tea parties, since I have been in this country! I mean the two great parties, Federal and Republican—for this good substantial reason—there are no parties here—they are all Republicans. The country people, and very few of the city, know the meaning of the word Federalist! Nor have I heard of a tea party, in the whole country. No such thing, as will you come and spend the evening? They visit each other without ceremony, morning, noon, and night, and are invited to await breakfast, dinner, and supper; but no such thing as that bane of society, a Tea party.
As some amends for the terrible, (to make a Jay’s treaty of it,) in the first of this letter, I must relate an amusing anecdote, at which I have laughed enough. During the Creek war, (not long since,) some mischievous ill disposed man, reported that there was a large body of Indians within a day’s march of Huntsville, coming to take the town. The citizens of Huntsville, and the whole of Madison county, were instantly panic struck, and immediately flew towards Nashville. Some left their calves fastened up in the pens, and some their horses in the stable, some their horses in the plow; most of them taking their flight on foot. Others, again, mounted their horses, without saddles or bridles. Of these were four young ladies on one horse, riding like gentlemen, without saddle or bridle, and making good speed by applying their heels to the horses sides!!! One man took another man’s child, and left his own. In one place would be seen ladies on foot, running with their night caps on, and no bonnet; and in another, husbands riding, 160 20(4)v 160 and wives walking. Some of the women mistook other men for their husbands, and some husbands mistook other men’s wives for theirs. One stout fat woman, though she had horses and slaves in abundance, picked up her youngest child, and taking it in her arms, on foot outstripped every man and horse in company! Indeed, it is said a gentleman even left his sweetheart! He could not have been a Kentuckian or a Tennesseean, as they never desert the ladies. The fat lady, however, walked twenty-five miles, without halting, when one of her slaves overtook her, having outran his fellow servants— They were now near Fayetteville. The lady inquired what news? Oh, bad news enough, Missee. Are the Indians coming? Oh, yes, Missee! When I got ’pon top dat big hill you see da, Missee, I look back, and see most hundred comin long, wid da guns. The lady gave him the child, and mended her pace. Not long after this, as she trudged through the mud, with petticoats tucked up, the negro cried out, Yonder da comes now, Missee! Her face which was scarlet red, now became deadly pale; but she was afraid to take time to look at her foes, as she supposed them to be. At length, five or six of her own neighbors hailed her, and told her the whole was a false alarm.
About a thousand people were on the road to Nashville, and were within a day’s journey of that place before they were undeceived. Only two families remained in Huntsville.— These barricaded the door of the Court House, which served them for a fort; and old Captain Wyatt, the father of Major Wyatt, of Melton’s Bluff, assumed the command. He had but two guns, but being well charged with whiskey and courage, he kept up a constant fire, crying out, by two’s, fire! Spang, spang, went the two guns; and being instantly reloaded, he would raise his voice to the highest pitch again, and give the word, by two’s, fire! Thus he went on till daylight; and at the same time there was not an hostile Indian within an hundred miles.
Huntsville, 1822-06-08June 8th, 1822.
Well, Matt, what shall I give you now? It is so long since I wrote to you, that I forgot what I last said. If I recollect right, I have, upon the whole, entertained you with a little of every thing, except love; and I confess I do not know how to write upon that subject; and yet, how easy it appears to be to most people. But I can give you a little upon hatred.
I have often mentioned the great wealth of this place.— Here are Colonel Leroy Pope, General Brayhan, Doctor Fern, Doctor Chambers, Doctor Manning, Thomas Bibb, Esq. and a score or two besides, that are rich as princes, and are stigmatized, by a few of the vicious, by the appellation of nobility! If by this designation, they mean the performance of noble actions, which is really the origin of the word, they could not better apply the term. But I am inclined to think, in the present instance, it is used by way of contempt. But let envy alone. Only because these people, by their own foresight and industry, laid out their money in the right time, and at the right place, instead of spending it in taverns and gambling houses, they have drawn down upon them the envy of little minds, who never did a generous act in their lives.— But what do you think of Doctor Manning, the greatest planter in the state, but one—and him I know nothing of: he living in Laurence county, over the river. Doctor Manning, this year, has seven hundred and sixty acres in cultivation; and Doctor Chambers, and a dozen others, very little behind him!
The merchants, in other states, hold the farmers in vassalage—but, here, the merchant is held in subjection by the planter. The planter does not ship his own cotton: this is done by the merchant, and at his own risk. The planter delivers it at the gin, and has no more to do with it. The merchant is glad to get it at the planter’s own price, as he has no other way to pay for his goods, in New York, where the money of this country will not pass.21 162 21(1)v 162
The merchant goes to market but once a year. The usual mode of transportation for goods is to wagon them to Pittsburg, and thence down the Ohio, and up the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers. Groceries are laid in at New Orleans.
It is in contemplation, I am told, to establish a mercantile house at New Orleans, or some point in these states, to import direct from Liverpool.
Through the politeness of Colonel Pope, I obtained the following intelligence, which I send as I received it in a letter:
Poplar Grove, --01-2525th January. I beg leave to apologize to you for not answering your letter sooner, which I had the pleasure of receiving some days ago. My absence from home was the cause of this neglect. I regret much that it is not in my power to furnish you such information, on all your inquiries, as would be of interest to yourself, or others. On such of your inquiries as I am able to answer with any degree of correctness, I will do with pleasure. Your first question—The quantity of cotton raised in Madison, the last three years? From the best information that I have been able to obtain, and which I think is pretty correct, there has been raised about fourteen thousand bales, annually, the last three years, being in the total weight, about fourteen millions two hundred thousand pounds; the average price I conceive may be fairly said to have been twelve and an half cents per pound, making the total sum, annually, in this article shipped from the county of Madison, five hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars. The quantity of land cultivated in this article is about sixteen thousand eight hundred acres, which produces upon an average, one thousand pounds of seed cotton per acre, and from five to six acres cultivated to the hand.— The use made of the cotton seed after it is ginned, is various: some make manure of them, for which they answer a good purpose; some feed horned cattle, and if properly prepared, it is excellent food for stock of that description; and sheep will eat them freely. The carriage from here to Tuscaloosa varies, it is from two to four dollars per hundred weight. With respect163 21(2)r 163 spect to the temperature of the air, and other particulars, I refer you to John Boardman, Esq. of this place, who will furnish you with the information you want. Respectfully, yours, &c. Pope.
Since this communication, I have received the receipts of shipments of cotton for this year, which amounts to upwards of two millions of dollars, from all the counties bordering on the Tennessee river!!!
There is a country for you. All, except Madison, was in woods two years ago. I have known cotton to bring twenty five cents; but Colonel Pope gives the average. Would you believe it? The people are leaving this beautiful country, and going, some to Texas, some to Missouri, and some to Red River, and others, the plague knows where. But if they find a handsomer, or richer country, I am much mistaken.
The rapid growth of vegetables would astonish you. Go into a garden one day, and the next you would scarcely know the same. I have never been more surprized at this rapid growth.
In the common way we had strawberries and peas the last week in April. Irish potatoes and snaps, first week in May. Early York’s, and cucumbers the last day of May; and on the same day, a summer turnip that measured seven and an half inches round. This being near the northern boundary, I am told they are two weeks earlier to the south. But no country can excel in fruit. You may sit down in one place in the gardens, and gather half a bushel of strawberries. The wild fruit, such as plumbs, &c. are as delicious as our tame fruits. The woods and prairies abound with all sorts of fruit, and they have, it is said, the true Muscodine grape: I have seen and eat them. They are larger than our Fox grapes, and of a greenish color. They grow in profusion on all the rivers, upon a large vine, which runs to the top of the tallest trees. Ten bushels at the least might be gathered from one tree; and were it not for the overflowing abundance of other good things, I am certain, though I never heard it mentioned, these grapes would make good wine.164 21(2)v 164
You have often heard said, Oh, that Alabama, is so hot, I could not live there; and it is so sickly, too. What abominable fools. It is much warmer there (West Virginia) than here, in summer; and why? Because our days here are much shorter—Even a goose knows this. Again, we have a pleasant breeze through summer here, which sets in a little after sunrise, every fair day, and blows till sundown. Our nights in summer are long, in proportion as the days are short; it is therefore cool and pleasant. It is, however, sultry in cloudy weather, as there is then no breeze. But I have never seen the Thermometer, in summer, here, as high as it is where you live.
You recollect your old school mate, Doctor Erskine: he lives here, and has become wealthy. He married, sometime since, the beautiful Miss Russel, and has one child. The Doctor is highly respected in Huntsville, both as a gentleman and a physician; and has handsome practice. He rides in his carriage, and ranks with the first men in the place. Almost every one rides in carriages here—very few are ever seen on horseback.
With all these blessings, however, we have a few curses; and one of them is slavery! Not that the slaves are treated bad. If we except the total neglect, on the part of their owners, to enlighten their minds, they live as well as their masters; and are by no means hard tasked. But they are the most immoral and cruel brutes in the world. One shrinks with horror at their barbarity to poor innocent brutes. I never have looked into the streets, since I have been here, but I see those brutal negroes torturing and wounding poor innocent cats, dogs, hogs, or oxen, and no one interferes to prevent it. The white people do not see it, as they are seasoned to it by habit, and appear as callous as the brutes themselves. I have (but it is almost too shocking to relate) seen cats lying with their backs broke, for two days at a time, in the street, and when I entreated these ruffians to kill them, to put them out of their misery, they burst into a laugh in my face. A curse must fall on a land so lost to feeling. Those innocent creatures were given to us for our use, and not to glut a worse than savage disposition. 165 21(3)r 165 And yet, these negroes are very pious. They have two churches, and prayer meetings every night. There were seven fights here, between negroes, near the doors of their churches.
We went to hear a Missionary preach the other night, and he collected a large sum, several hundred dollars, to convert the Heathen. This was the first Missionary I ever heard; and it was amusing to hear the wommen next day passing severe reflections on Colonel Pope, because he put only 25 cents in the hat. Such a man—a man of his wealth—to give a quarter—Did you ever see the like! They would have given all they had! It was, beyond doubt, the worst laid out quarter he ever spent. What a burlesque. Where are greater Heathens to be found, than these negroes. There is a great deal of preaching here; and a great many ill natured remarks pass between the presbyterians and methodists; but whether it be to determine which shall save most souls, or receive most money, I am too ignorant to discover. I hope that the one or the other may take those in hand. They need not go far for the Heathen.
From what I have heard, it appears the methodists have braved every danger, and preached to the people gratis, in the settling of the country; and now that there is no danger, and the people have become wealthy, those sly fellows, the presbyterians, are creeping in to reap the harvest. But the methodists have a great advantage, in point of talent, many of them being the best orators in the country. But they all draw too many women after them, in my humble opinion.
End of the Letters.
Appendix,168 21(4)v 169 22(1)r
Inauguration of President Jackson.
While I was yet in Pennsylvania, various were the reports of General Jackson. Some said he was coming this way, and some that. One paper stated that a splendid carriage and four white horses, sent by the state of New York, was to meet him at Wheeling. And, again, that the horses and driver, (as horses I presume would not go of their own accord,) and fine carriage, were to be furnished by Philadelphia; and some again by Baltimore. At length, however, the General arrived in his own plain carriage, and reached Gadsby’s before any one was aware of his presence in the District.
It is said that several big guns were stationed on the heights of George Town, to welcome his arrival; and notwithstanding they were well manned, by staunch Bladensburg-men, they suffered him to pass without saluting him. It appears he came in an hour or two earlier than was expected. As soon as it was known he had arrived, hundreds flocked to welcome him, with stout hearts, insted of stout guns; and so great was the throng, that the passage to his door was completely blocked up. Excepting the arrival of General La Fayette, perhaps no occasion ever drew more people together, than the arrival of General Jackson, at this period. Thus it continued while he remained at the tavern. It is said he was fatigued nearly to death, in receiving and returning the salutations of his friends.
I had seen General Jackson in Alabama, and in this country, and though an admirer and well wisher of his, I did 22 170 22(1)v 170 not intrude upon him. Have you not been to see the General, yet? You ought to go. Another would say, Why, is it possible, you have not been to see the General? Such was the fever, and thus it continued, old and young, rich and poor, all crowded round him, leaving him scarcely time for repose or refreshment.
At length the --03-04Fourth of March arrived: and to grace the occasion, I purchased a new dress, at the aggregate of two dollars, and walked to the Capitol, at an early hour, as it was presumed seats would be scarce.
It being a fair day, to gratify the people who had been literally pouring into the City for several days, to witness the Inauguration, the Committee of Arrangements had resolved the ceremony should take place in the East Portico of the Capitol, so that the crowd, which no building could hold, might be gratified. This arrangement was made, that those within the Capitol, as well as those without, might have an equal chance to see and hear. This was the calculation. But, doubtless, no arrangement was more completely defeated. Excepting a parcel of boys, black people, and those who had the good fortune to mix with them, and stand up on the square in front of the Capitol, the Inauguration was a perfect blank.
When I arrived at the Capitol, which was long before the hour, I stepped out on the platform to see the preparations, and found my friend, Senator Smith, of Maryland, giving directions to the men who were spreading carpets, and placing chairs and settees for the Judges of the Supreme Court. Foreign Ministers, and other high and mighty characters. As I considered myself one of the latter, and was taking notes, I merely asked my friend Smith where the President was to stand. Oh, go away Mrs. R.; don’t interrupt us; don’t you see I have been appointed by the Senate to make the arrangements. I saw it, to-be-sure, but I was not prepared to see he had studied his part so well. But I did not take it ill in my friend Smith, as he was a friend to me in the hour of need, and I shall never forget him; and so I put it in my notes.
Looking up, I beheld Colonel Towson at the other end, directing the men also in placing the seats, he, also, being one 171 22(2)r 171 of the Committee of Arrangements. The Colonel saluted me with great gallantry, and took me under his protection, but a hundred Colonels would have found it impossible to protect my toes that day against hostile feet, which in the end was verified.
President Adams has called a session of the new Senate, upon his retiring from office, to enable his successor to appoint his cabinet, and perform other Executive business. The new Senate met about 11 o’clock, in the Senate Chamber, to be sworn in. I had selected a seat convenient to the door, behind the bar of the Senate, so that I could step at once into the portico.
The lobby round the bar, was exclusively reserved for the ladies and such Members of Congress as might choose to attend. The gallery, which has been made entirely new, during the summer, was also filled with ladies. All this being understood, I amused myself in conversing with my friends, awaiting the arrival of General Jackson, the Judges, and the Foreign Ministers, for all of whom General Smith, and his colleagues had prepared seats, on the right and left of the chair. At length, the Foreign Ministers were announced, and General Smith met them at the door and conducted them to their seats, to the left of the chair, and very near my Royal self. Next came the Judges, and took their seats on the right of the chair; and, lastly, the President elect. The Ministers were covered with gold lace, I suspect; I never will, or can believe, that mankind can be perfect in civilization, while they bedaub their exteriors with metal and show. Some of these men, the Danish Minister, I think, must have had several pounds weight of gold upon him—and there was but one good looking man in the whole. This show will only attract the vulgar. the Judges were dressed in black silk gowns—and General Jackson was the plainest dressed man in the Chamber. He was dressed in a suit of black, and with a cane in his hand he entered the Chamber. After taking off his hat, he bowed respectfully, and was conducted by General Smith to a seat in front of the chair, at the foot of the Foreign Ministers. He was thin and pale, and his hair, which was black when I first saw him, was now, almost white, and his countenance was melancholy. He showed no embarrassment, however, but surveyed the company with a mild and friendly aspect: sometimes resting upon 172 22(2)v 172 his cane, while every eye was bent upon him. Shortly after he entered, the new Senators, two or three at a time, stepped up to the chair, where the usual oath was administered, and they then resumed their seats. It yet wanted several minutes of twelve, and every one watched the clock, which is always kept in the Senate Chamber, with deep attention. Within a minute or two of the time, I arose and walked out to select an eligible place to witness the Inauguration. I did reach the door by hard squeezing; but such another sight baffles description. Not only every seat, but every inch of the platform was crowded, by men, women and children. These had forced the guards, and taken possession. This was bad management, with all deference to the Honorable Committee of Arrangements. I was shoved and pushed from one place to another, squeezed, and betrampled; and at length wedged up, about an inch from the door: but as for moving backwards or forwards, it was out of the question. How the President, the Judges, Foreign Ministers, and Senators, &c. got out of the Senate Chamber, I am at a loss to divine; for I saw nothing of the President, but the top of his head. The chairs, intended for the Honorables, were filled with women, standing on them, and the whole appeared one mass of solid people. One half of those in the Senate Chamber were unable to get out.
I had been watching an opportunity, and one offering, I squeezed my way back; nor did I hear one word of the President’s address; much less did I hear him take the oath.
My only chance now, was to witness the procession on its return, and Senator Rowan advised me to go to the Library; but that, and all the rooms were fast locked. After wandering about, I found a messenger who unlocked a lower room, and I sat in the window, but was under promise to let no one else in, and to keep the door locked. The firing of the cannon, and the shouting of the multitude, soon proclaimed the new President; and shortly after this the crowd came thundering down the steps, and President Jackson appeared bare headed, leaning upon two gentlemen, one on each side, while he was followed by a dense crowd, who rent the air with shouts. The earth was literally, covered with people, who maintained 173 22(3)r 173 neither order nor regularity. Some ran, some walked, and some jumped the walls. The square, the Avenue, all was now all motion; and to have a better view, I ran up stairs to look out of some of the upper windows; and here I found a colored man in a violent passion. It appears he had been locked up. I was always for Jackson, said Sambo, but if this is the way, I wish Adams was President again. It’s a great deal worser than when Adams was President. Here I have been locked up, and can neither see nor hear the naugaration. Ah! I am done with the Jackson people. It’s fair tyranny—no freedom in this! Being in nearly the same situation, I could not help feeling for Blackey; and after viewing the crowd some minutes, I stepped into the Senate Chamber, where Judge Story was reading the Inauguration Speech, which, I having listened to, I sought my way home, which was but a few steps distant; and if ever I am caught in such another crowd, while I live, it will be an accident.
It would have been infinitely better to have had it in Congress Hall, for though it could not have contained the multitude; those who could have attended would have met with some satisfaction. As it was, there was none. So ended the Inauguration.
Not wishing to interrupt the narrative, I observed that the lobby around the bar was reserved for none but the ladies, and such Members of Congress as might find room. Whilst leaning over the bar, talking with some of the Senators, I happened to look behind me, and who should have placed himself exactly in front of my seat, but Boss Brown. Boss, in the Atlantic states, is a word applied to an overseer or manager. Though the Members of Congress had the privilege of setting below, they generously resigned the seats round the bar to the ladies.— What then was my astonishment to find this insolent Scotch stone-cutter in possession of my seat!!! I ordered him away! I complained to the Senators in his hearing, upon which he condescended to move one side, with an insolent grin! And who is Boss Brown? Neither more nor less than a low, insolent, Scotch presbyterian stone-cutter, placed over the workmen, at the Capitol, by the Prince Regent, Elgar, and who 174 22(3)v 174 turns away every poor American, and employs insolent drunken foreigners; a rabble of insolent tories like himself, whilst the honest American is discarded. Thus Mr. Elgar rewards his country, for paying him 2,000 dollars per annum, and for lying down on his soft hair sofa, from day to day. I cannot tell how many sofas he has worn out, as they, with the chairs in ever part of the Capitol, all disappear when a little worn. I have just understood, this Mr. Boss Brown, a good Adams-man, has been appointed to some lucrative place by President Jackson. So much for the idle tales of rewarding his friends. This is rewarding them with a vengeance! Thus these foreign traitors are nurtured by our own traitors. Can America stand long upon such a foundation? Certainly not.
This subject, in order of time, ought to have preceeded the Inauguration; but I shall be pardoned for paying that respect to the instalment of the President, which it deserves.— A slave to the public, as I am, it is impossible to do justice to any one subject, where the public are anticipating a little of every thing: nor will it give me time to look up from my pen, or partake of those amusements which are enjoyed by the meanest slave.
One of the greatest sacrifices I am compelled to make, is the pleasure of attending the Debates of Congress, as no subject on earth has afforded me more pleasure than public speaking.
I snatched a few minutes, however, to look at the Members, having recovered from my lameness. I visited the gallery of the Senate first.
The old gallery has been torn down, and replaced by another, more beautiful, and infinitely more convenient. I found the gallery much crowded by ladies and gentlemen—the latter, with most of the ladies, however, gave way, and finally departed—but others were coming and going all the while.175 22(4)r 175
It is astonishing to witness the variety of character who crowd the Capitol, during the sessions. It is laughable to see awkward scrubs, running breathless into the Capitol, with as much anxiety painted on their countenances, as if their lives were at stake, or kingdoms to be won. Our ingenuous poet, (I am sorry I do not know him,) who has so often amused us with his inimitable pen, on the subject of Jonathan’s visits, might inquire, Did you ever go into the gallery? They are always in a hurry. Come running into the Rotundo, with their muddy club shoes, first this way, and then that way, as though they were chaced by a bear. They salute the first one they meet, with Mister, which is the gallery where people comes to hear the ’bates? After obtaining an answer, off they run, up the stairs, puffing and blowing: and after looking down a minute or two, and tramping upon ladies fine dresses, and overthrowing their fine feathers, off they run, down the stairs, and through the Rotundo. Where’s that ’tother place, whar people comes? Oh, see them there pictures; an’t they very queer, Jim? See, if there an’t horses, and swords, and people. My stars! Mister, show us ’tother place; meaning the gallery of the House of Representatives. One would think they would be satisfied by running a dozen times from one gallery to the other, in as many minutes, as though they were looking for something they had lost. But they keep it up, and go away, as it were, sadly disappointed. This is the case every day in the session; and Jock always carries his wagon whip in his hand, doubtless as capable of receiving amusement as himself. What a pity he could not drive his team and horses in too.
But to return. The first thing that met my eye, was Mrs. Senator Woodbury, and her sister, both sisters of William Clap, Esquire, of Portland, Maine. Much gratified to see them, I took a seat by their side, to observe the Members, some of whom I noted in the Third volume of the Black Book. They were by no means so much appaled as upon my first visit; as they viewed me from their seats as though I were a human being, instead of having seven heads and ten horns—and to convince them of the fact, I began to handle my pencil.176 22(4)v 176
The first countenance I caught, was Senator Foot, of Connecticut—a handsome middle sized, black pop-eyed Yankee. He rolled his black eyes up at me, with a significant cast of countenance, as much as to say there is no escaping you. I told him, the saucy rogue, the other day day, I had him down, meaning in my book. Ah, said he, I have been down many a time.
Honorable S. A. Foot, is quite a agreeable looking man, with a sharp full eye, round fair full face, and rather sensible countenance.
Senator R. Kane, of Illinois, is a very young man for a Senator. Senator Kane is of a middle height, and light make, a good figure, with round handsome features, intelligent blue eye, and a sweet bending countenance. His manners are very easy, mild and genteel.
Senator Benjamin Ruggles, of Ohio, is a tall, straight, slender, middle aged man. His face is thin and oval; his eye blue, and his countenance mild and steady. He is pleasant in his manners, and loses nothing by comparison with any member of the Senate. I was much pleased with the conversation of Mr. Ruggles—a pleasure I rarely have an opportunity to indulge with Members of Congress.
Senator William Marks, of Pennsylvania, is a young looking man, tall and well made. His face is oval, and complexion fair, with a soft blue eye. Mr. Marks is a very friendly familiar man, of sprightly, insinuating manners. He lives in the city of Pittsburg.
Senator James Iredell, of North Carolina, is a young looking, heavy made man, with a full fair round face, and gray eyes; and upon the whole, handsome and genteel—though I was too far off to notice him distinctly.
Senator Burnet, is a small keen looking man, from Ohio, of middle age, and very dark visage. He is said to be a man of talents and education. He certainly has a very sensible, cool, steady, countenance, but rather austere. I had the pleasure, or the honor, I should have said, of travelling with Judge Burnet, as he came on to take his seat in Congress; and taking him for a missionary or presbyterian, which is the same thing, I am apprehensive I expressed myself rather free to his 177 23(1)r 177 honor. He met me at Washington, very friendly, however, and is, doubtless, an agreeable man.
Senator Chase, of Vermont, is a stout middle aged man, of very pleasing manners, though I had formed an unfavorable opinion of him from his state. He has a large full face, a good set of features, and blue eyes. He is free and easy in his conversation, and clear of the blues, so prevalent in Vermont.
Senator Horatio Seymour, also of Vermont, is a small man, likewise of middle age, round face, and dark complexion. His countenance is open and benevolent, and his manners friendly and pleasing. He is an uncle of my friend Captain Seymour, of Vergennes, Vermont. I should say Vermont was respectably represented in the Senate.
Senator John Rowan, of Kentucky, stands high in the esteem of his country, not only as a statesman, but as a lawyer and a gentleman. I was long familiar with the celebrity of Judge Rowan, and am proud to number him amongst my own countrymen of the West, though I never had the pleasure of seeing him before. The Judge is rather advanced in years, but has the remains of a fine manly person. He is a stout figure, and must have been, indeed is now, one of the finest looking men of his day. His features, and countenance, at this day, are magnificently fine. His large full eye is shaded by a strong arched brow, and his manners are distinguished by an easy affability alike graceful and dignified. I am told (for I was intimate with his friends) he has the most amiable family of children in the western country. I once knew a daughter of Judge Rowan’s, the pride of the western states; this was Mrs. Steel, whom I lament to learn is no more.
Senator Samuel Bell, of New Hampshire, like Judge Rowan, though a younger man, is one of the best looking men in the Senate—has a fine showy person, and a perfect Chester field in his manners and dress. He is a tall and majestic figure, with a Grecian fair face, a bright gray eye, and keen countenance. I was truly astonished to find so affable a man from such a blue skin state as New Hampshire.
Senator David Barton, of Missouri, is under middle age, stout make, and middling height, with a high square forehead, 2317823(1)v178 and intelligent blue eye. His face is fair, and countenance open, mild and benevolent; his manners affable and genteel.
Senator O. Prince, of Georgia, rightly named, is one of the most pleasing generous men in the world,—correctly is he named Prince!
Senator Henry H. Ridgely, of Delaware, is also a man of princely manners, and elegant appearance. He is of middle age and a little gray. His face is fair and full, with a noble black eye, and great expression of countenance. I regret to find this gentleman is not in the Twenty-first Congress. I trust they have not sent a missionary in his stead. Mr. Ridgleely y was accompanied by his daughter, when I had the pleasure to see him. She is at once beautiful and accomplished—and the most exquisite figure in female form. Honorable H. H. Ridgely, lives in Dover, which I am sorry I could not visit when I called at Newcastle and Wilmington: particularly as it is the only place worth visiting in the state—being a place of taste and refinement, if I were to judge from report, and the several specimens I have seen of the place.
Senator Chambers, likewise from Maryland—my countryman—I am sorry I cannot praise him. He is as gloomy as a Monk, or a missionary. And now I think of it, he is, doubtless, a missionary. But I will try to keep out of his reach. I do not like his solemncholly countenance, as the girl said. He has a slim person, a slim face, a slim nose, and if I were to spend my opinion on him, I should pronounce him to have a slim soul. Shocking! What a country I sprang from. I am ashamed of it. I rejoice I was carried out of it when I was young, or I should have had a slim chance, too.
Senator Bouligny, of Louisiana, was rather far off to distinguish him minutely. I saw enough, however, to warrant the assertion, that Mr. Bouligny is beyond doubt one of the most noble and majestic looking men in Congress. His visage and countenance, for intelligence and manly appearance, is certainly unrivalled.
Senator Tyler, of Virginia, is a fine looking man. He is very fair, with a high retreating forehead, Roman nose, and features of the best Grecian model. His eye is pearly blue, and his countenance is one of incomparable sweetness. If I was pleased with the appearance of Mr. Tyler, I was charmed 17923(2)r179 with that of Mrs. and Miss Tyler, particularly the latter. The little sylph, she stood behind me, when taking notes, the last day of the session, and in her own smoothe fascinating way, fairly beguiled me of my senses. Besides her, and Mrs. Tyler, there were one or two other ladies in the party, all of whom, for beauty of persons, and elegance of manners, greatly exceed any females I met with in Washington.
Senator Tazewell, of Virginia, I have mentioned in First volume of Black Book. He is denominated a great statesman, and one of the ablest members of the Senate. He certainly has a countenance indicative of wisdom and deep thinking. He is staid and sturdy, and has the most profound look of any member present.
When I first went to the Senate Chamber, I laid a few copies of the Third volume of the Black Book, on the desks of some of my friends. Mr. Secretary Lowrie picked up one, and slunk behind one of the columns. He opened the book very eagerly, but casting an eye towards me, he instantly laid it down—his soul not being equal to seventy-five cents.
I had nearly forgot a rencounter with some upstart Fop, as I walked through the small Rotundo, fronting the Senate Chamber. Mr. Cravat was accompanied by a few Miss Ostrich Feathers; and although they saw I was old and lame, they kept the way; and the consequence was, that I ran against one of their Featherships. Take care, Mam, said Mr. Cravat, Do you know these are ladies? I should think not; and I never give the way to Fops, I replied. He looked back on me with great astonishment. It is lamentable to see the vast number of gaudy dressed women, who crowd the galleries, and even intrude upon the Members. It is enough to derange the ideas of the sedate white headed Tazewell.— Well might my friend John express his unwillingness to be under petticoat government. It is very evident these women only come to show themselves, or show their finery rather, as no woman of sense or taste would dress as they do. I find they are very unpopular with men of sense. They are a great hindrance to public business too. Not satisfied with the galleries, they take possession of the floors, and are constantly getting 180 23(2)v 180 up and sitting down; going out, and returning; and disturb the proceedings exceedingly. It is surprizing the Senate particularly, do not resort to some measures to secure their quiet. With all their sense and wisdom, the Senate is often perplexed with deep and intricate discussions, and it is cruel to molest them. As for the House of Representatives as they are younger men, they must be excused for a little gallantry towards the ladies—and were it any were else but a Legislative Hall, I would excuse them myself. Of all places, except Baltimore and Richmond, the females of Washington dress the most abominable; the effect of tracts and preaching, doubtless, as there is an overflowing of both: And their gaudiness is only equalled by their ignorance.
House of Representatives.
Ah! here I am again! But, excepting the blue skins, some of whom pulled their hats over their faces, and others ran out, they are a fine looking set of men, and hailed me with pleasure. I had just published the Third volume of the Black Book; and as they were to rise in a few days, I laid the books on a few of their desks. Most of them took them, One gentleman sent me a quarter of an Eagle, in gold, but carefully concealed his name. The manner greatly exceeded the action. May he meet his reward. and the balance were pilfered by the rabble, which infest the Hall, as messengers, &c. I have at various times noticed several of the Members, but now, as always, I labored under great disadvantage, from distance and want of light.
The first who caught my eye, was the Honorable Charles A. Wickliffe, of Kentucky, quite a young man, with a stout goodly person. His face is fair and handsome, with a fine gray eye, and easy elegant manners. He is a good speaker, and said to be an industrious attentive member.181 23(3)r 181
Governor Clark, likewise a representative from Kentucky, is a pretty fine figure, large face, and manly generous countenance. This is the gentleman, who, with Captain Meriwether Lewis, explored the Western Country. I was much gratified to see Mr. Clark, having been familiar with his character, and was likewise acquainted with his wife. Mrs. Clark was the daughter of Colonel Hancock, of Botetourt county, Virginia, who was long a Member of Congress, and amongst the most amiable of men. I was acquainted with Colonel Hancock thirty years. Mrs. Clark was also unequalled in mind and manners; but is long since deceased. Her death almost drove Governor Clark beside himself. Peace to her shade; she has left few equals behind her. I have never understood whether the governor married a second time.
Honorable Innis Green, of Pennsylvania, is of middle size and age, with round comely features. He is rather dark complected, but his countenance is bright, with great expression. I could not distinguish him minutely from the great distance between us.
Honorable Daniel L. Barringer, of North Carolina, is a young looking man, of good height and manly figure, neither spare nor robust; his complexion is fair, with fine features, and an insinuating blue eye. His countenance is diffused alike with smiles and genius; and his manners are frank, gay and genteel. He partakes largely of that warm-hearted benevolence, without the hauteur of the South.
Honorable Mr. Williams. I find this gentleman described as follows; but as I find there were two of the name, in Congress, I cannot tell, from my note, whether he is from Mississippi or North Carolina. He appears to be a strong featured man, with an oval face, full dark eye, and easy manners.
Honorable Joseph Richardson, of Massachusetts, is a gentleman of very striking appearance: His face is round, full, and handsome, with a fine intelligent eye, and much expression of countenance. His manners are very engaging and refined. But his colleague, one John Locke, I think is the most savage looking man, of all the representatives. A gloomy blood-spilling missionary, doubtless. Strange how this abominable 182 23(3)v 182 sect can change their countenance into an appearance so horrible.
The Honorable Chittenden Lyon, of Kentucky, I find next. He is rightly named. He, and one Mr. Ellis, of New Haven, Connecticut, who was in the City, resembled so nearly, that the one was usually taken for the other. It was amusing to hear persons addressing the former, with how do you do, Mr. Ellis? and presently meeting Mr. Ellis, how do you do, Mr. Lyon? Some distinguished them by the names of the Lyon and the Elephant, both being very large men. The Honorable Chittenden Lyon, is a tall and very heavy made man, but not very fierce. His face is round and well featured, with a pleasing black eye, and dark complexion. His countenance and manners are open, gay and good natured. He is the gentlest Lyon I ever met with. But, doubtless, like all his countrymen, it will be dangerous to rouse him. All these Kentuckyans, or rather all these Western Members have a very determined, but very noble look.
Honorable Joel Fancey, also of Kentucky, is of middle size, and age, with an oval, thin, dark visage, and steady grave countenance. He has every mark of a sensible man, and polite, though distant, in his manners.
Honorable Henry Daniel, likewise of Kentucky, is a stout man, of young appearance, fair and well featured, with a staid mild countenance, and wends his way through the debates with an easy untiring perseverance.
Honorable Joseph Lecompte, of Kentucky: I lost the note I took of him, but recollect him as an amiable looking man.
Honorable Robert McHattan, also of Kentucky, is a gentleman of singular fine appearance, and handsome address. His aspect is mild and insinuating: his eye and countenance has great expression, but I was too far to distinguish him particularly.
Honorable James KR. Polk, of Tennessee, is of middling size and height, with a fair good face, high smoothe square forehead, and light lively gray eye. His countenance is open gay, and independent, and his manners affable and genteel.183 23(4)r 183
Honorable Selah R. Hobbie, of New York, is altogether a Chesterfield. He is a rather small man, with a most engaging person. His features are remarkably handsome, adorned with a beautiful black eye. His countenance has much expression, and, take him altogether, a very pleasant man. He is the youngest looking man in Congress. His face is tinged with a modest blush.
Honorable Thomas R. Mitchell, of South Carolina, has also made an inroad upon the graces. His appearance is singularly striking. Mr. Mitchell is young looking, and rather low of stature, handsome features, dark complexion, and the blackest and keenest eye of the human race. His glossy jet black hair hangs in profusion over his face and neck. His face is diffused with smiles, and good nature revels in his countenance.
Honorable Starling Tucker, is another prince of good fellows. I am just finding these southern people out. Mr. Tucker is certainly one of the most captivating men, in manners, in the House, and is good natured, and generosity itself. He is tall and rather stout, of middle age, with a round dark visage, soft blue eye, and the milk of human kindness adorns his countenance.
Honorable William T. Nuckolls, also from the land of warm hearts, South Carolina, is quite a young looking man, tall, stout, and finely made. He is very fair, with bright auburn hair, and mild intelligent blue eye. His countenance is firm and steady, indicative of deep penetration. His manners are dignified and polite.
Honorable William D. Martin, likewise of South Carolina, and the Honorable Mr. Hamilton, are the only and last I was able to distinguish from that state. Mr. Martin I mentioned before, but very imperfectly. He is a most interesting man in manners and appearance. I cannot here note their speeches if I were even qualified to judge, which I am not.
Honorable James Hamilton, Jr. is a young fair looking man with very fine features and gentlemanly appearance. I dare not say more, as I had but a glimpse of his person.184 23(4)v 184
The Honorable Representatives of Georgia, either kept out of my way, or I happened not to fall in with them.
The Honorable Mr. Barringer, of North Carolina, I have mentioned before.
Honorable Samuel P. Carson, of North Carolina, is a light figure with a thin keen face, very fine full dark gray eye, and a countenance of uncommon expression, wide at the top and tapering to the chin. I was now interrupted by some ladies who were peeping over my shoulder, but in mercy to them I let it pass. But to say the least of it, it is very rude, ladies, so take warning and learn better behavior.
Honorable Gabriel Holmes, of same state, is an honor to his constituents, with a noble mien, and fine portly frame. Mr. Holmes unites every embellishment of mind, and every kindred virtue of the heart. He is advanced in years, and has the remains of much personal elegance. I lament to hear this amiable man is no more, and the House of Representatives is in mourning for him.
But oh, what a contrast! The Honorable Pepperbox, the wildest beast I ever saw. He outdoes me, nor have I a similie for his face in human shape. Is it not lamentable that the people disgrace themselves, and their state, by such a choice? This man, is the scorn and butt of the House, and beheld with horror—and a parson, too! it is said. I suppose religion made him what he is. Shocking!
Honorable Mr. Turner, (I think,) of North Carolina, is a good sized man, and genteel appearance. NHis face is round and fair, with a sensible gay open countenance; but I had not the pleasure of being near him.
Honorable Willis Alston, is as stern as the Peaks of Otter, or Nicolls’ Knobs. He looks rather hostile to war with.
Honorable Joseph M. White, of Florida, I mentioned in the Third Volume of Black Book. He is still a very pleasing genteel man.
Honorable John Blair, of Tennessee, is a tall keen made man, and very young, for a member. Like all the Tennesseeans, he has great dignity and independence of countenance. He has an oval thin face, and dark gray eyes, with a steady 18524(1)r185 countenance of much expression. His manners are frank and gentlemanly, and I would suppose he was a man of talents and information, in whatever light he may be considered.
Honorable General Robert Desha, in personal appearance has few equals; and the same may be said of his mind and manners. He is a tall neat formed figure, with very handsome features; a complexion of clear white and red, and a speaking black eye.
Honorable Prior Lea, is a tall, thin, young looking man, with an oval studious fasce. His countenance is grave and very dignified. He is quite a gentleman in appearance. All these Tennesseeans resemble in make and appearance.
Honorable John Bell, from the same state, is likewise a young, tall, spare, elegant figure; very fair, with handsome features, and great dignity and intelligence of countenance. I have often observed the Tennesseeans differ from the people of every other state. There is a native silent, manly, and commanding dignity in their manner, peculiarly their own. They neither smile nor frown, but are always steady and collected; and no state is more ably represented.
Honorable Oliver H. Smith, of Indiana, is a stout, portly young man, with rather good features, oval face, and middling complexion. His visage is full and ruddy; his hair profuse, and very black; with a strong full blue eye. The lineaments of his face are strongly marked, and indicate study. His countenance is serene, and his manners free and polite.
Honorable Joseph Duncan, from Illinois, is a man of handsome size, and a fine large bright black eye. He is extremely affable and pleasant in his manners.
Honorable Delegate Ambrose H. Sevier, from Arkansas, is a perfect Adonis. Young, genteel, handsome, and sprightly. He is of fine size and shape, and has an easy dignity about him.
Honorable Thomas H. Blake, of Indiana, is also a man of good personal appearance. He is tall and comely, with very fine handsome features, and an eye and countenance of great brilliancy and meaning. His manners are very pleasing.
Honorable Richard H. Wilde, of Georgia, is one of the 2418624(1)v186 most noble looking men in the House. A tall manly figure, and very black hair. I could distinguish no more.
Honorable Edward Bates, of Missouri, is also a very interesting man in appearance. He is of middling age; thin round fair face, and fine hazle eyes, though they are rather weak. His manners are genteel and friendly.
Honorable Mr. Mitchell, of Tennessee, I did not see. He was sick.
Honorable William Haile, of Mississippi, has an agreeable figure, handsome features, and blue eye of much expression. He is a very pleasant and deserving man.
Honorable L. Brent, of Louisiana, like all the Brents, is a man of great size and affable gentlemanly manners. He is of middle age, and rather handsome in appearance, and possessed of uncommon ease and ability.
Honorable Joseph Vance, was all I was able to see of the Ohio delegation. This was their fault, not mine. Mr. Vance is a stout fine looking man, with a pleasing countenance, good face, and very gentlemanly manners.
Honorable William C. Rives, of Virginia, is a most charming man. His manners are showy and genteel; his figure light, and his countenance has great expression. Genius is stamped on every feature in his face, and he is entirely void of that ridiculous pride common to his state. He is one of our first men. This gentleman seems to have confirmed the remarks. He is now our minister in France.
Honorable Thomas Newton, likewise of Virginia, is said to be the oldest member in the House of Representatives. He is, however, not an old looking man, and appears not to be over fifty years of age, though he has been in Congress since 18011801. Mr. Newton is a keen, rather light, active man, with a thin, fair sensible face, soft blue eye, and bright lively countenance. His manners have great ease and dignity, and he is said to be an able and experienced statesman.
Honorable A. Smyth, I have noticed before. He is also an old member, and a consummate statesman. He is advanced in 18724(2)r187 years, but is still a man of handsome appearance, and most pleasing address.
Honorable John Randolph, has been in Congress since 18091809, and is deservedly reckoned the finest orator in the House. His voice is loud, shrill, and melodious, and his gestures pertinent and graceful: never at a loss, his language is flowing, refined, and classical, and his remarks brief and cutting. He seems to be of no party, though severe against the Yankees. Mr. Randolph is rather tall, but straight and very slender. His face is like no other man’s, if we except the Lords of the Forest, from whom he he is descended. It inclines to oval, with a high square jutting forehead—his complexion is sallow, and his features are neither handsome, nor the contrary. But such an eye does not exist, if we except the piercing eye of Red Jacket. His eye is terrible in debate, and gives tone to his words and gestures. It is black, without scarcely any white. It is not jet black, but rather a shade removed—large and piercing, and when excited, glistens with a never-to-be-forgotten fierceness. His countenance is stern and immoveable. I never saw him smile—and his manners are distant and lofty, unlike the pomposity, however, of his fellow Virginians, but are nevertheless, gentlemanly. In size, he is tall enough, but very light. He is said to be immensely rich, but not charitable. A fig for wealth and genius, when the possessor has no heart. The plodding ploughman, or the rattling tar, who puts a coat on the shivering limbs of his fellow creature; who gives a piece of bread to the hungry, and wipes the tear from the widow’s eye, is a prince, compared to the man whose heart is steeled against the sufferings of his fellow man.
In justice to Mr. Randolph, though he never put his hand to his purse to relieve me, when I first entered the City of Washington, without the means of procuring a single meal’s victuals, he attended to me with more condescension, perhaps, than he ever did before or since, and wrote me a very polite note; which note proved of infinite more service to me than if he had given me an hundred dollar bank note. I kept the note 188 24(2)v 188 carefully for two or three years, as a treasure; It was either lost or stolen from me on a voyage on the Grand Canal. and notwithstanding I had a letter from General La Fayette, Mr. Randolph’s letter was sought after, and read with much more eagerness. It was almost worn out. He never did, however, patronise my writings; and I would suppose he is not only unfriendly to literature, but no friend to genius, or the encouragement of the arts and sciences. Many ludicrous stories are told of Mr. Randolph, which are evidently false. I shall instance but one only. Every one recollects a piece in the papers, when Mr. Randolph was a Senator in Congress, representing him as addressing the doorkeeper every other word, while speaking, for porter. Tims give me some porter— Tims give me some porter. I thought it very extraordinary, as I never heard of Mr. Randolph’s drinking any thing—and upon inquiry, found it to be untrue. This was fabricated by the Yankees. No wonder Mr. Randolph will not let his horse eat hay raised North of the Potomac.
Honorable John Floyd, though like myself, from the backwoods, I never saw before. Every one is aware that Mr. Floyd is a man of gigantic talents, and has much weight in Congress. He is a stout man advanced in life, with a splendid set of features, and the keenest eye in nature, next to Mr. Randolphs. It is fearless as the eye of the Lyon. His complexion is very dark, so much so, that he might easily be taken for an Indian, which he strongly resembles. He is about the color of a Spaniard. I knew Mrs. Floyd when she was a girl. She was a Miss Preston, and one of the most sensible women in Virginia. She was one of many brothers and sisters of the great Preston family. The women were all remarkable for good sense; and the men, it was said, were very silly. General Floyd has some of the finest children, beyond doubt, in the Union.
Whilst speaking of the Virginia Members, or Virginians generally, the Eastern and Western population differ as widely, as though they occupied different states. The Western, are steady, mild, independent, and natural in their manners. 189 24(3)r 189 They are kind, frank, and familiar, entirely void of ostentation; whilst, with the exception of one, perhaps, in a thousand, the Eastern Virginian swells himself up and looks big; is very lofty and pompous; all of which no one cares for, as that ar very ridiculous.
Honorable Mark Alexander, was all of the Virginia Members I was able to distinguish, with the exception of those I have mentioned. He is a man of fine appearance at a distance; and said to be a man of talents, and a good speaker. He does not carry quite as much sail as many of his brethren.
We must now, as heretofore, (oh, fie!) step over Maryland, (cold hearted mother—unnnatural parent,) to Pennsylvania, noble generous state! They are princes compared to the Members of the former. I have already mentioned most of them in the Third volume of the Black Book. I have since seen the following of the Twentieth Congress, viz:
Honorable Robert Orr, Jr. a tall, well looking, rather under aged, man. He is delicate and slender, with tolerable features, weak eyes, and pleasant open countenance. He is genteel, though rather distant in his manners. This is, however, no evidence that he is so; as Major Noah says the most people are afraid of me. Mr. Orr is, however, a very pleasant man, and descended from one of the first families of the state.
Honorable James Wilson, is a stout tall man, and rather rough featured. He is of middle age, fair face, and of pleasing, friendly, but very plain manners.
Honorable Samuel McKean, is a man of very handsome appearance; of fine size, and courtly manners. He is a very engaging man on every account, which is all I recollect, having lost my notes of him.
Honorable Andrew Stewart, is a man of good size and appearance; dark regular features, with an undaunted black eye. He has much expression, but I was not near him.
Honorable Joseph Laurence, of the blue stocking county, Washington, Pennsylvania, is a tall good figure; but thin face, and swarthy complexion. His countenance is close and forbidding, though he is lively and gay in his manners. I bore rather hard upon him for presenting a petition to stop the mail 190 24(3)v 190 on Sundays: but he got out of the scrape with much pleasantry. Mr. Laurence is quite a young man.
Honorable Mr. Mitchell, is a poor chance, as we say in the West. He had a letter for me, and after keeping it a long time, refused to see me, and carefully kept his back towards me. I see he is left out. I hope Pennsylvania will not send him again.
Honorable Stephen Barlow, is a stout, tall, amiable looking man, and of very plain address. Whoever has seen his mild black eye once, can never forget it.
Honorable George Kremer, is little and auld, as the Irishman said of his horse. His face is round, and looks as though it were tanned, and is considerably wrinckled. His hair is of a handsome golden hue, and is the best part about him, if he were to keep it combed. But from its appearance, I would suppose it not to have been combed for six months, not even with a three legged stool. He is very small; very plainly dressed; and wears a big brimmed hat. He is continually poking about in every hole and corner, and from one part of the Hall to the other, lying down on the sofas, behind the bar, getting up, and strolling every where. He is not deficient, however, and is said to be a great admirer of the ladies. When he speaks, he sets the House in a roar, which seems to be his sole aim. His dialect is between English and German; but he always puts on plenty of German to draw attention. I was in the gallery when he got up to reply to Mr. Wright, of Ohio. He said that Mr. Wright reminded him of an old hen in his (Kremer’s) barn yard; she was always cackling, and cackling, and cackling, and never laid an egg! These expressions, so appropriate, has immortalized the name of Kremer. It was in vain for the Speaker to maintain order, as he was himself convulsed with laughter. Mr. Kremer’s gestures are inimitably comic.
Honorable Samuel D. Ingham, is a thin, middle aged man, with a round, very thin furrowed face, and mild countenance. His manners are distant and unsocial. He is said to be a man of talents, but his countenance by no means confirms the report.191 24(4)r 191
Honorable Joseph Fry, Jr., also of Pennsylvania, is rather a small man of middle age, and round pleasing German face, somewhat fair. He is a plain farmer looking man. His black hair hangs round his neck and face, in thick clusters, and his countenance is remarkably placid and innocent.
In the whole state of New Jersey, with the exception of the Honorables Mr. Dickerson and Mr. Tucker, mentioned before, I find none but the Honorable Samuel Swan, who drew near me. Mr. Swan is a modest, unassuming man, of very pleasing, steady manners, and rather young looking, with a handsome fair face, fair hair, and soft blue eyes. He is quite a handsome man.
Honorable John De Graff, of New York, is a princely looking man, of delightful manners. He is a large middle aged man, rather gray for his years. His face is round, and handsomely featured, with a soft mild steady blue eye.
Honorable Speaker Taylor, is a thick headed, broad-faced man, with a blue eye, bald head, and vacant countenance. From what I saw once, I guess he goes the whole for Clay.
Honorable P. Tracy, is another mean looking man. I find there is no middle ground in New York, whether public or private; they, the people, are either all dross, or pure metal. One part seems to be the chaff, and the other the wheat.— There is, certainly, some of the most awkward, rough-hewn, thick-headed, simple men, in the New York delegation, that ever formed a representation of any people—and some, again, are amongst the best looking. What can the people mean by sending such boobies to Congress, only to be laughed and pointed at. It would seem they looked for the worst, instead of the best men. I have travelled through the whole state, and found good looking men every where, barring the blacklegs. If they cannot find better men at home, I would advise them to import some; for I can assure them as a friend, their Members, at least many of them, cut a very shabby figure in Congress Hall, even by the side of the remotest West.
Honorable Aaron Ward, from New York, is a fine looking man, (I shall pick out the best,) rather of young appearance, 19224(4)v192 and middling height. His face is oval, with a handsome set of features, and adorned with a most beautiful dark gray eye. His manners are affable and genteel.
Honorable Jeromus Johnson I mentioned before, but did him injustice. He is much taller than I thought. His face has much expression, with a deep black piercing eye. He is a most pleasant man.
Honorable S. Hobbie, is mentioned further back. They keep such a scouting about, I have to take them on the wing.
Honorable Samuel Chace, of New York, is a young looking man, of good appearance, with a very pale face, and large fine eye.
Honorable John C. Clarke, of same state, has a striking appearance; of good height; very handsome features, and fine countenance. He has an affable easy manner, though I was some distance from him.
Honorable C. C. Cambreling, is one of the most distinguished Members in the House. He is from the city of New York, and one of her most shining men. He is a handsome engaging figure, with fine features, and a most alluring softness of countenance. He appears to most advantage when speaking. His voice is smoothe and his actions manly and commanding.
Honorable Mr. Hoffman, is a good looking man, and a very handsome speaker—but he smells very strong of the sauer kraut, and his hand wears the P—s.
I see none in Connecticut worth naming, with the exception of those mentioned before, Honorables Mr. Baldwin and Ingersoll—I see a Whelp, and a Plant, and a Barber, to shave them, I suspect. If there be any good agoing, old mother Blue-Law will find it. She is always shifting. They turned out one of the finest men in the world, Senator Edwards, an honor to the state. I expect M. Ingersoll will go next. Give them more rope.
Steppinng into the Island of Rodes, we have not Tristriam Shandy, but the Honorable Tristrim Burgess. He is rather an elderly man, gray for his years, and bald; very stout; with a large face, and open fair countenance. He has a very cunning blue eye. All these Rhode Islanders have cunning eyes. Mr. Burgess is denominated a good debater.193 25(1)r 193
So we pass on to Massachusetts. Honorable Joseph Richardson. I have noticed him before. Honorable John Varnum, is as the appletree amongst the trees of the woods; and though Massachusetts, like her sister, Connecticut, is often changing, and neither remarkable for great men, yet Mr. Varnum holds the first rank, and particularly so, in personal appearance. He is a tall majestic figure, of striking elegance, and his face is one of the finest modles. He is decidedly one of the most gentlemanly looking men in the United States.
Honorable Henry Dwight, of Massachusetts, also has a very manly and free appearance. He is of good size and has an easy softness of countenance, which, however, indicates learning and good sense. He has a careless dignity about him, similar to the Tennesseeans.
Honorable John Reed, also of Massachusetts, is a stout manly figure; but I was not able to distinguish him further.
Honorable John Bailey, of the same state, is a tall genteel man; young looking, with a pale handsome face.
Honorable Mr. Bartlett, and Mr. Healey, was all I recollect to have seen of New Hampshire. Mr. HBartlett, so far as I discovered, is a young man, and a good figure, with a round intelligent face, and blue eye.
Vermont, or the land of snags, comes next. I only saw the Honorable Jonathan Hunt, with the exception of those in the Third volume of the Black Book.Mr. Hunt is a well looking man, but rather sallow; with a thin sensible face.
Maine is by a long way the best represented state of New England. I have mentioned the most of them heretofore. Honorable Mr. McIntire, is a most noble figure; tall and well made, with a soft mild countenance, and the finest black eye in mortal head.
I overlooked the Honorable William Armstrong, from Virginia, though I merely had a side glance of his person. He is a middle aged man, with a good fair face, and gentlemanly appearance.
While I was in the gallery, I saw a clownish man setting some distance from me, with his hand over that side of his face next to me. He looked meanness itself. I saw he strove to 25 194 25(1)v 194 avoid me, which made me only the more anxious to find him out. And whom should it prove to be but Captain Patridge. He wants more money. I hope Congress has more sense than to be gulled by every sharper. Thank fortune, Captain Patridge’s fine American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy at Middletown, is at an end, and the people have got well of the Patridge fever. I hope they will continue the bark to prevent a relapse. Here I also became acquainted with Mr. Smith, of the United States’ Gazette; a most interesting man. Mr. Smith is tall and finely shaped, with a fair interesting face and eye. He is easy and very graceful in his manners.
I was teased to death here, by an impertinent little fop, who kept company with my friend Norton, of Hartford. His brass led him in company with every one. He was very young, and very impudent, and had the halter painted in his countenance. He had either stole a coat from somebody, or the money to purchase one, and was screwed in the middle, to bring himself within the limits of a scanty vest, which he had outgrown. He reminded me of a wasp. He certainly had the most hateful and suspicious look of his species. Norton refused to tell me his name and residence, which, and his intimacy with the fellow, gave me, for the first, a bad opinion of him, though once a decent and friendly man.
Of all schemes or plans, of hairbrained man, the Capitol of the United States is the greatest humbug. Here is a Hall that has cost the people thousands of dollars, where you can neither see nor hear; and I am pretty certain it is mere guess work with the reporters. The windows are about as large as the barn windows in Pennsylvania. The dome is too small to give sufficient light—and from the misguided plan of the building, there is windows only on the segment. The whole is a dark labyrinth of useless cut up passages, which would disgrace a common court house; in fact, no court house is so illy contrived, if we except the Library and the Rotundo. Nor is there a place in this pile of stone, for it is nothing else, for those to sit in who have business with Congress. They have to stand up in a dark, narrow dirty passage, amongst negroes and other rubbish; more like a hogs-sty than any thing else 195 25(2)r 195 —dirt knee deep. It has a fair outside, to-be-sure; but a more gloomy, dismal, filthy place, does not exist, than the inside of this costly building. One would think a small parlor, or carpeted sitting room, at least, might be offered, for those who paid for it, to sit in when they come to Washington on business, where they would be secure from the rabble and pickpockets, which infest the building. Why there are not seats in the Rotundo, where the weary might rest themselves. I cannot conceive: so, that after paying such vast sums, those who come hundreds of miles, on important business, have not a comfortable place to sit or stand in. Truly, we are the most enlightened nation on earth. I wish the national representatives would condescend to dispense a little of their light in the dark rooms of the Capitol. If tracts constitute this superlative eminence, then, I confess, we are the most enlightened nation on earth.
I mention the situation of Congress Hall, by way of apology for the imperfect portraits of the Members. A few of them very politely came up and saluted me, and those who did not, have only themselves to blame, should I have misrepresented them.
I amused myself no little in chasing the Missionaries out of the gallery. One in particular, when I drove him off, returned after a while, and stole (not the first time I dare say) softly into the further end of the gallery. The moment he seated himself, I laid down my pencil and paper, and walked round to him. Upon asking his long-facedship what business he had there, he got up, without speaking, and walked further on. I followed him up, and finding I pursued him, he darted through the end door, and away he went—and I returned in triumph. Strange how well these missionaries are acquainted with holes and corners. Now, I have been in the Capitol, off and on, for five years, and never knew there was an outlet at the end of the gallery, till this Blue Beard opened the door.
Upon returning to my seat, a gentleman, who had been amusing himself at the terror of Captain Patridge, and the missionaries, showed me a newspaper, containing an advertisement, purporting that Captain Patridge would deliver Lectures 196 25(2)v 196 (somewhere) upon Grecian and Roman tactics, and some other ticks, and a long string of high sounding names. I should think he had fingered enough of the peoples’ cash for nothing. He holds to it. He is like a bull-dog.
Why do you not call to see us, Mrs. Royall? inquired Mr. Peters, when I saw him in Philadelphia. What is the reason you never come into the Supreme Court, at Washington? I always attend there to report. I never had the pleasure to see you there, yet. We set under the Senate Chamber, at Washington City, during the Winter—Why do you not come down; you will find something for your pen? Sure enough, I never thought of the Supreme Court, and moreover, never have had time. When relieved from examining proof sheets, however, I stole one day, and went to the Court Room, which, like the rest of the Capitol, is dark, damp, and gloomy, and almost chilled me to death. It is equal to going out into a shower of rain. This place is worse than the Hall, as respects a view of the Judges. They sit in a line with their backs to the only windows there are, and this throws their faces in the shade, and visiters sitting opposite, the light coming in contact with their eyes, completely blinds them. By moving a little to the left, however, though you have not a better view of the Judges, you have a very good view of the Attorneys, or Counsellors I should say.
The Court was just going in Session, and several of the Counsellors were in the Court Room, (the Judges not having arrived.) Amongst these were Counsellor Jones of the City of Washington, whom I have noticed somewhere else; and Counsellor Ogden, of New York, and one or two gentleman, 197 25(3)r 197 came up, and saluted me very politely, but Counsellor Ogden slunk off to the other end of the lobby, carefully turning his back. I followed him up to get a better view off him, but he, and a brother clown of his, picked up a newspaper, and holding it before theisr faces, fell to reading intensely. They were both great overgrown awkward men, with as little of the gentleman about them as any other two I have ever seen.
Meantime the Judges arrived, and taking their seats, Court was proclaimed open, by the cryer, and I walked round to take my seat in front of the Judges.
It was laughable enough to see the panic and dismay of those who had taken their seats in the lobby, not to attend to the pleadings, but to show their long feathers, silk pelisses, &c. Mrs. Royall, Mrs. Royall, my G—d! I’ll not stay here!— The whisper ran from one end of the bench to the other, in a truce. The women wrapped their veils round their faces, and the men held their hats up to theirs, and off they scampered. If the plague, a mad dog, or any ferocious wild beast had been let loose, in the Court Room, their flight could not have been more precipitate. Now, if these fools had sat still, I should have had a much better opinion of them; as it was, the reverse was the effect. They always commit themselves by taking to flight. In a very short time another drove entered the Court Room—the ladies with flaming bonnets and ribbands—but, oh, tortures! these, like the first, began to whisper and hide their faces, and they decamped: and so they continued while I staid there. Towards the last, three very genteel women came in, in plain black bonnets. I was told one was Mrs. Edward Livingston—One was a very beautiful young lady.— These, of course, were ladies. They were attended also, by gentlemen. Mrs. Royall, said a gentleman, who sat near me, how can you distinguish people so quick? Any one might distinguish, when they see women dressed so gaudy, and attended by shabby scrubs and bits of boys. Seeing the intensity with which I viewed one of these Miss Ostrich feathers, her beau, (she had three,) who happened to know me, and guessing my thoughts, plucked up courage enough to draw near, and said, that young lady is not what you take her to 198 25(3)v 198 be, she is one of the first ladies in the City—in his opinion, he meant. All I have to say, her beau was a long way from being the first gentleman in the City.
It could create nothing but a smile to see those who remained in the Court Room, studiously keeping their backs towards me. Amongst the visiters, however, there were sundry country people, who were very interesting. These were distinguished by their plainness and modesty, and drew the eyes of every one present. There were, likewise, a few genteel men; but these were, probably, attorneys. The young woman—lady I mean—the most respectable in the City! sat it out, in defiance of pens and pencil, and laughed herself almost into the hysterics, whilst her beau, one on each side, and one at her blue bonnet back, were continually billing and cooing to her. I could not commend her taste in the choice of her beaux, one in particular: he looked as though he had been under the effect of a strong cathartic.
Besides these there were a number of pick-pockets to top off with. Such was the Supreme Court. I fondly hoped, however, to be indemnified by the fine pleadings; but here I was unfortunate again—I ought to have went the preceding day, when I should have heard the great Webster. Instead of this, I was bored with Counsellor Ogden. Ogden looks well enough in a newspaper, but you ought to see him when he is pleading. If you can imagine an ox standing on his hinder legs, you may form an apt opinion of Counsellor Ogden, though I was told the latter was without horns. For my part I cannot vouch for his front, as his back was turned towards me, and was sufficiently amusing. He is tall and lusty; leans forward, and never moves his hand or his body—and his voice!—His pleading was nothing but one sing song monotony. It was dot and go one, the whole time. He kept one hand behind his back, as carefully as though it were held by a neuse. He griped his spectacles in the hand behind his back; and I was naughty enough to propose to some of my friends to slip them out, that the opposite Counsel might gain victory; for doubtless, his pleading would have been at an end, had the spectacles been overruled. Such another pair of paws is at issue with 199 25(4)r 199 bench and bar; and though he kept his body stiff as a stake, his body was continually bobbing up and down, like Diggory in the play.
There sat my friend Wirt, the Attorney General, and looked as smiling as a May morning. Who but he. The Honorables E. Livingston and A. Smyth, were likewise in Court; but I had not the pleasure of hearing them speak.
The Judges were so much in the shade, it was impossible to distinguish them with any accuracy, and I merely had a glance at them when they adjourned. But all of them, except Judge Thompson, and Judge Story, departed with such expedition that it was impossible to venture a description of them. They looked very solemn the whole time—not a smile marked their countenances. Judge Duvall has the most singular face in the world, every line of which is marked with wisdom. His face is of great length, with an uncommon high square forehead. Judge Washington has a face of uncommon placidness. He is quite a small man, with a round small face, and very delicate features. He, and Judge Marshall, mentioned before, and Judge Duvall, are about the same age. Judges Story, Thompson, (I did not see Trimble,) and Johnson, are much younger looking men. Judge Thompson and Story very politely dropped behind, and chatted with me sometime. I had often seen Judge Story before: he is from Massachusetts, and a most amiable and worthy man.—And Judge Thompson is one of your stout, jolly, sensible men. He paid me some compliments upon my writings against the missionaries.
William Thomas Carroll, Clerk of the Court. I have long been acquainted with him. He is a nephew of Daniel Carroll, Esq. and a near relation of the remaining signer of the Declaration of Independence. Mr. Carroll is a stout, handsome figure, and one of the best men in the City. I was again happy to meet with Mr. Peters, author of the Reports of the Supreme Court. He is a very pleasant familiar man, but I find I was mistaken in the color of his hair, which is a bright auburn, instead of red.200 25(4)v 200
Mr. Middleton. I owe much to this young man. When I first visited Washington, Colonel Brent kindly furnished me with a room in the old Capitol. This young man plays well on the flute, and his store being opposite to my room, he used to serenade me every afternoon, and very often came under my window at night; though at that time neither of us knew each other even by name. The softness of the music beguiled me of my cares, as I sat alone, friendless and pennyless, and wrote the Sketches; and from the time I left Washington, for the North, till this day, five years, though I anxiously inquired for him, I never saw or knew who he was. His mild engaging looks reminded me of the soft strains which kept me alive.
The first business of the new President, was to arrange his Cabinet. The choice was at the time, popular; and though they baegan the work of reform with much spirit, they stopped all at once, no one knew for what. This was a serious disappointment to many a poor fellow who had staked his all in the election of General Jackson. These poor fellows, in the joy of their hearts came to Washington, to witness the Inauguration, and receive some of the bounty due them for their losses. But after looking on with aching hearts at the overgrown gluttons, who had long riotted on the good things of Uncle Sam, they turned their heartless steps from whence they came. Many of them were unable to pay their bills. This was shameful! When we look upon the lists, and still find the same unthankful insolent men in the same place, it is much to be deplored.
Department of State.
Only four or five were reformed out of the Department of State, where there are sixteen clerks; and two out of the Patent Office. But McIntire, the vilest man in the world, remains. As for the chief clerk, a Dr. Craig, had the Secretary appointed a panther, or any other wild beast, it would have been full as agreeable to the people. Many a poor man spends his last cent, before he can have an interview with him, whilst his ferocious aspect puts them in terror of their lives. After snarling sometime, he finds fault with this, and with that—the writings are not well done—he can’t receive them. The big mouthed Irishman. These are pretexts to throw money into the hands of another catchpenny foreigner, whilst the heart-worn stranger, perhaps, after spending his last cent in travelling hundreds of miles to reach Washington, has either to borrow five dollars, to pay these rapacious monsters, or return without his patent right. This is an evil that calls loudly for a remedy, and a clerk ought to be furnished by the Department, to do the writing, if necessary. In many instances, however, I am satisfied, this is a fraud. It is worse than fraud to keep McIntire in. The new clerk, Mr. Temple, is a very decent looking man.
Mr. Van Buren, however, deserves much credit for a few removals, and the choice he has made in successors, particularly two gentlemen from New York, William Coventry and H. Waddell, a very amiable man. I should be pleased to see a few more New Yorkers in all the Departments. Mr. Waddell is a tall, keen, intelligent, handsome man, and a foe to priestcraft—no little recommendation. Doctor Jones, removed from the Patent Office (heaven knows for what) is a prince.— Mr. N. P. Trist and Mr. Hunter, also, are very amiable men, the former especially; and so is Mr. Tyler. The chief clerk, D. Brent and Josiah King, Esqs. are still in office, and deserve to be; likewise A. Vail and E. Stubbs —but the others ought to go out.
Excepting the chief clerk, Asbury Dickens, I should say, Secretary, and all, are unworthy the confidence of the people. No more need be said, to justify the allegation, against Secretary Ingham, than his keeping old Coyle and his son in office, after their conduct in the infamous trial at Washington. It would seem, that Mr. Ingham rewarded them for the foul deed. Will the people of the United States patronize such infamous men? I fancy not. Not a more worthless set of men under heaven than the whole of the clerks in his office. It is said that Samuel D. Ingham takes pleasure in inflicting pain upon those who may apply to him for an office. He is warm in his situation, and he feels not for the wants of others. If he received his just merits, as to worth and talent, he would never have obtained the appointment, or else long since been displaced. He has learned his taunts doubtless from Mr. St. C. Clarke, upon whom alone he condescends to smile . In fact, the whole of the Cabinet, with the exception of the Postmaster General, Mr. Barry, and, perhaps, Secretary, Branch, reminds one of the rich lady in the Fable. Being out one cold day she met a poor beggar man in the street, and suffering from the cold herself, she felt for the poor beggar, and told him to come to her house and she would give him something. She arrived at the house sometime before the beggar, and ordering a bowl of rich soup, was comfortably regaling herself upon it, by the fire, when the beggar came in: Oh, said she, the day has moderated very much, you may go about your business. So it is with the Cabinet; they have tasted the sweets of office, and are no longer mindful of those friends who helped them to these offices, and good things. But the time may come round again, when they may need the assistance of the people, whom, to a great measure, they have disappointed.
Secretary Eaton, as well as Mr. Van Buren, has made some very judicious removals: but he has retained the worst, as also the most unpopular one, which is James L. Edwards. It appears that they take pleasure in fostering those religious hypocrites. There was not a better man than this Edwards, till he got religion, as the phrase is.
His new chief clerk, Doctor Randolph, does him much honor. A better man does not exist. The Doctor is a man of towering height, six feet four inches, and symmetry itself, with fine features, and of the most captivating and easy manners. But L. S. Van Kleeck, in room of old Edwards, is na great things.
Secretary Branch. He raised a woful hue and cry, too, and acquired much honor in his spirited removals. He swept the whole, excepting one. Mr. Clark, his chief clerk, is a most amiable man.
Honorable Isaac Hill puts it to them. If all were like him, and Kendall, every glutton, and every pauper would, ere this, have been reduced to work, like other people; and what is worse, every blue skin of them, is still in office. Amos Kendall, with a keenness which few men possess, has ferreted out many a knave; and to his indefatigable perseverance, the people are much indebted. I am proud to find that he has discovered the knavery and swindling of the Navy Corps, which I foretold. I was convinced from the conduct of the Navy Board, that these naval heroes were engaged in some clandestine practices and fraud. They ought, every one, to be dismissed; and I am gratified to see the President has advised Congress to put the Board down. I hope they will compell them to leave the Navy.204 26(2)v 204
The prince of the new appointments is Auditor Lewis. Without the searching keenness, perhaps, of Amos Kendall, he certainly is one of the best men in the government. Generous, open, and candid, he is, at the same time cool and firm as a rock. Mr. Lewis is a stout young looking man, of plain dignified manners. His face is fair and round; his eye a soft gray; his countenance firm and tranquil; yet, all the rival graces revel in his manly face; and while his tongue says nothing, his looks say every thing. I would suppose, from the little I have witnessed of Mr. Auditor Lewis, it would be as easy to overturn the Andes, as to shake his integrity. He is lively, facetious, and witty, and one of the most pleasant companions in the world. At the sound of distress, humanity springs to his eye. I have seen but very few men like him. I am much pleased with this pride of Tennessee, and that he still retains Mr. Eakin in office; a most worthy man. Besides Mr. Eakin, he has twelve clerks, at salaries, amounting in the gross, to 13,200 dollars, per annum. Had Auditor Lewis conferred this sum upon his friends, instead of still retaining his enemies in office, which he has, he would have rendered his name dear to the American people, by complying with their wishes. What right have these people to monopolize places of profit, to the exclusion of others? What rights have they that others have not? Upon what grounds do these men claim, and still usurp, emoluments, equally the right of other men? This is the case—nearly the case in all the offices at Washington. They abuse us so in the papers, says one man. And what of that? Better bear the discontent of the unjust, than the displeasure of an indignant, disappointed, and injured people. What is it that they say in the papers? What can they say, compared with the just displeasure of the people. They only pervert truth. Hear what they say.Reform—Nothing can be more disgraceful to the American character, than the scenes which have been lately exhibited at Washington. By all accounts from that City, it appears that the number of applicants for office was large, and very troublesome to President Jackson. We are sorry to witness205 26(3)r 205 ness such an occurrence in this country. It evinces a disregard for independence and manly pride, and presents to view, minds lost to patriotic feelings. We are indeed sorry for this occurrence. It proves to us that the vices of the old world, have began to take root in the new.
Doubtless this must have been Uncle Toby. He is so sorry for the American character. What is this but a perversion of truth. Again, same article:One year hence we shall know whether they are really more deserving of public confidence than their predecessors; and whether Messrs Hill and Kendall, who, it seems take the lead, for a radical reform, are more honest, disinterested, and patriotic, than Messrs. Cutts and Watkins.
This is fine stuff to frighten honest men from fulfilling their engagements with the people; and proves that their pusalanimity alone drew it upon them. And again: Mr. Sweeny, a very honest man, has been in the Post Office twenty years. Then it was time for Mr. Somebody else, who had been out of the Post Office twenty years, to take his place. So, of all these twenty years’ men, our people, so far as they have failed in turning out these old incumbents, have proved themselves unworthy of the trust reposed in them—and though they are all my particular friends, (except Mr. Ingham,) and from my own country, I am by no means disposed to connive at, or hide their faults. I must say that Mr. Hill and Mr. Kendall, have acted more like true Americans, than any men in the four great Departments. And, by the way, there is something like an unmanly compromise in the matter, which I do not understand. It is said by outcriers, that the President, and his friends, turn out all who were opposed to his election. This is not true by a great deal. But no wonder this slander. Men naturally become insolent, in proportion as those they have to deal with become cowardly. But to go on.
The Third Auditor, Peter Hagner—How many have been turned out here? Only one I believe: and excepting Mr. James Thompson, the chief clerk, every one, fourteen in all, ought to go out, with Peter Hagner himself. If I had any vote I would make James Thompson Auditor in his place. Let Hagner’s 206 26(3)v 206 papers be overhauled; he is rather intimate with the Navy Board.
In Comptroller Anderson’s office, out of fifteen clerks, only one was turned out! Excepting Webster, not a man of them ought to be left. Likewise Auditor Harrison’s office is filled with paupers and blue skins.
Fourth Auditor, Kendall. Here we find the removals have been judicious. Mr. Gillis, the chief clerk, has been retained, and doubtless will be, so long as he continues upright. The new clerks here are fine young men. Mr. Kendall did not hunt up the paupers and copper heads of Washington, and cheat the people, as the rest are doing, by keeping paupers in office. The new clerks are, Major B. Buckner, of Virginia, H. C. Williams and William Garrett, of Tennessee, and one or two others. For the sake of modest merit, I should like to see Mr. H. C. Williams promoted from the pittiful sum of 800 dollars, to something more worthy his inestimable character; he being, beyond doubt, one of the most amiable in the government. I hope Mr. Kendall will bestow particular attention to this young man, whose worth is beyond price; and the more so, as he still has a few of the old clerks in. Mr. Kendall, however, deserves eternal praise for driving off the blue skin Macdaniels.
Fifth Auditor, Stephen Pleasonton. We are pleased he is retained. He is an amiable man. In his office are ten clerks, and, with the exception of Messrs. Barry and Houston, the whole ought to be reformed out. There is Thaw and Mustin, two of the rankest copperheads in Washington—twenty years’ men. It is downright conspiracy to keep men in the bosom of our government, who have openly avowed themselves hostile to our liberties, as these men both have done, in their unwearied efforts under a pretext to keep the Sabbath. The President of the United States either knows this, or he does not know it; if the former, he is not true to the people—if the latter, he is unfit for the trust. But he is the President of the people, say, some, viz: the blue skins, alias, Sunday mail men. The felon, at the gallows, may, with as much justice, claim him as their President.207 26(4)r 207
The Treasurer, Mr. Campbell. Here again I disagree with our government for turning out Mr. Clark. It seems this was done at the instance of Pennsylvania. This sounds well, coming from men who voted for M. St. C. Clarke; and proves what sound politicians they are. A ruffian, one Moore, a copperhead, (missionary,) in this office, hired, doubtless, by his brother chips, presbyterians, came very near laying violent hands on me in the public passage of the Treasury Department, in the presence of several witnesses. This is their religion. What would it be if they possessed power? The ruffian, not content with this, pursued me into the street, and threatened to put me where I ought to be; meaning, doubtless, the grave. Are these men to be retained in the government? A foreigner too! I trust Mr. Campbell, will, for the sake of appearance, at least, turn the ruffian out, or I shall begin to think he is a church and state man.
I am gratified, however, to find that other people have seen, what I long since discovered, that is, the growing merit of Peter G. Washington, Esqr.; and I could almost forgive Mr. Campbell, for this one good act in promoting Mr. Washington.
Mr. Asbury Dickens, another of my protoges, has also been promoted.
The Register, Thomas L. Smith, of New York, is one of the best appointments that have been made. He ought to be a life subscriber for my works; and the people of the United States ought to give me a pension for dragging old Nourse out of office. He, and old Auditor Lee, are under particular obligations to me, of which I hope they retain a proper sense. An anecdote of old Mrs. Nourse, her silks, her tracts, and her hypocracy, the sick sailor, and all, will be found in the First Volume of my Pennsylvania. Not long after this, she was forced to lay by her silks, and live on tracts herself. Good!— She will now know what it is to feed on tracts. One of the Nourses, however, is still in office. Is it not strange, that our people, have stooped so far below that unshrinking honor, which alone brought them into office? And what have they gained by it? Ill will from the people, and contempt from the men they retain. The retaining the brother of old long prayer 208 26(4)v 208 Nourse, is a secret, it is presumed, from the people: but it is one I am not disposed to keep. Now, this man a great Clay man, would annihilate the present administration for its kindness. So, also, would the traitor, Edwards. Mr. Smith, the Register, is a stout young looking man, of very engaging manners, and handsome appearance. He has the gentleman stamped on every feature of his face, and appears every way zealous to fulfill his trust. He is as different from the old Englishman, as day is from night. In his office are sixteen clerks, the very refuse of the earth, excepting Messrs. Mountz and Evans.— Not one turn out here! One of these ruffians said he was glad when Mrs. J—n died.
Mr. Joseph Mountz is a thin, dark eyed, middle aged, very genteel man, with much expression of countenance. Mr. French S. Evans (both fire proof room) is a very fine young man, with a handsome fair round face, rather small, very lively and facetious. They are both ingenuous deserving men, and ought to be retained.
The General Land Office, under Mr. Graham, has always been well filled, with the exception of Lord Hanson, who, very little to the credit of Mr. Graham, was taken in contrary to law, because his father, an old pauper, was in; and General Baily, another pauper, his father in law, was in the service of the Senate, and had six children, and was akin to Secretary Ingham. If Mr. Graham has so much sympathy for paupers, let him put his hands in his own pocket, and not in the pockets of the people. Hanson is a mean man, and Mr. Graham ought to lose his place for this very act. There is something wrong with him of late, for his countenance bears guilt upon it. Mr. Moore, his chief clerk, likewise, has a guilty look. Mr. Sinn, the only new clerk in the General Land Office, is one of the most amiable and promising young men in the Departments, and, because he is so, he has (agreeably to the practice of our government) the least salary.
The Pension Office, under James L. Edwards, stands as it did, except Doctor Cutting, one of the best of men, has been turned out, to make room for a blue skin friend of Mr. Edwards. And who should I find stuck up there, the other day, but old 209 27(1)r 209 Judge Belt. O, said one of the clerks, in a whisper, Mr. Hill turned him out, Mrs. Royall, and the President gave him a place here for a few days. As Belt was a pauper, it was certainly kind in the President to relieve him; but it would have been just as well to have put his hand in his own pocket, as in that of the people’s. Never was charity worse bestowed. This old palavering sycophant, would not give one cent to save the whole world from perishing. Had the President thrown as much in the fire, it would have been as well. I know this old Belt, well; an old long faced miser. He is not so poor; and he had better Belt himself off before I return to Washington.
Bounty Land Office. I do not know who has the credit, but the appointment of William Gordon, chief clerk, is no small one. I think he is of Virginia; a very gentleman—alike honorable to his country and the office he holds.
Indian Office, has escaped reform, because it needed none. In this office I, for the first time, found two worthy clerks, Messrs. Hamilton and Kurtz.
Ordnance Office, the same.
Engineer Department. Here we have General Charles Gratiot, in place of General Macomb, promoted. General Gratiot is one of the most gentlemanly officers in the army.— He certainly is the most accomplished man I have met with in the corps. He is young and stout, with handsome features, dark complexion, and open manly countenance. His eye is a soft gray, with every indication of a man of talents. He combines more ease, grace, and dignity, in his manners, than any man I have met with in the government. He has the appearance of a well bred foreigner. His hair is jet black, profuse and glossy.
Lieutenant Colonel Abert has been appointed to the Topographical Bureau, in place of Colonel Roberdeau, deceased. This, also, is a judicious appointment. The soft, easy, and modest dignity of Colonel Abert’s manners, is truly inviting.— He is in the prime of life, of fine appearance, handsome pale features, and a mild benevolent aspect.
Subsistence Department. We have no less, here, than Brigadier General Gibson, to the life. He bristled up wonderfully27 210 27(1)v 210 fully at the hits against his aunt Colonel Cely, of Carlisle. As the presbyterians seem to be taking care of themselves, he had better attend to his own fortifications. And Major Hook! I ruined him by my last puff. I repent this: He was a fine man till I praised him. Some people it appears cannot be praised. The gracious Navy Board were pleased to send a ruffian to decoy me into Captain Gardner’s room, with a view, doubtless, of trying our metal, which proved too hard for the chivalrous Captain. I sought the boy who decoyed me into the room, and my polite Major Hook screened the boy, and was privy to the plan no doubt. It is laughable to see the Major’s swells and side grins, with his servant riding behind him, since I puffed him.
Quartermaster General’s Department. General Jessup is beyond the reach of flattery or corruption. Study and serene, he is always at his bureau, and always the same industrious accomplished gentleman. Neither awed by fear, nor won by love. He is one of the most amiable men belonging to the army. Major Cross is another man of worth and weight. These are the men who deserve the people’s confidence and patronage.
The General-in-Chief, Macomb, and the Paymaster General, Colonel Towson, are, I believe, doing well. The latter withdrew from the religious party in politics, upon showing him old mother Dickinson and the old maid, Miss C. disbed up in a Comedy. May all the blue skin Colleges be dished in like manner, and may General Gibson preside at the board.— Mr. Frye remains in the Pay Department, as he ought; and Major T. P. Andrews, a very worthy young man, is Paymaster, under the Colonel.
The Surgeon General, Doctor Lovell, and Adjutant General Jones, have suspicious appearances. I wish they may have no concern with the Navy Board and Uncle Toby.
The Attorney General, Mr. Berrien, has redeemed the office he holds from ――. It will doubtless be discharged with honor to himself and to his country while it is honored by his talents.
In the Adjutant General’s Office, I met, for the first time, 211 27(2)r 211 (18191819) Brooke Williams and Lieutenant Wm. B. Davidson, very amiable and gentlemanly men. Mr. Williams is a stout manly figure; full dark face, and profuse glossy black hair. He has a firm noble manly countenance, and every way pleasant.— Equally so, is Mr. W. B. Davidson.
Whilst I was in the above office, I had the pleasure of seeing the celebrated hero, General E. W. Ripley. The pleasure was, doubtless, mutual. The General is a tall, spare, erect figure; about middle age, and the finest looking Yankee I have lately seen. His face is oval, wan, and keen, and his countenance severe and dignified. He lives in New Orleans, where I expect the pleasure once more of beholding this highly gifted man.
Amongst the clerks, heretofore overlooked, who deserved, and still deserve, the praise and patronage of their country, are, Colonel C. Andrews, S. Greshem and John Boyle. I see S. F. Chapman has been reformed out of office. I am sorry for this as they have retained much worse in.
Amongst the new clerks I find, besides those already named, C. A. Harrison, of Tennessee, Thomas Rankin, and John Davis, of New Hampshire, very deserving men.
Commodore Patterson, the naval hero of New Orleans, is added to the Navy Board, and however I might be gratified to see this hero of the West, I was sorry to find him in such company. He is a man of very distant, but genteel easy manners. Wishing to hand him in a book, the other day, for which he subscribed, I was stopped in the passage by a vagabond, in the service of the Board. I stepped into Mr. Hill’s office, to solicit his protection. Mr. Hill would scarcely believe me; and stepping down from his seat walked out, as though he were going to guard me to the door, when, seeing the ruffian, as I had stated, he stopped suddenly, and I went forward, as before, when the ruffian again breasted me, and prevented my passing. I was glad, however, that Mr. Hill saw it. Thus, the Navy has become formidable to the safety of our citizens.— This proves, incontestibly, that the Navy Board are engaged in something they do not wish to be seen; though I had no intention of going further than the door. When those men, who 212 27(2)v 212 are paid to defend us, turn their forces against us, the prospects of the American people are gloomy indeed. If these people were about good, what had they to fear? What had they, any how, from an old woman!
But the President, Mrs. Royall, we wish to hear what you say about the President, and the East Room, and the ladies, and Andrew Jackson, Jr. This was the cry. Well, then, here it is.
President Jackson, is a tall, erect, gray headed man, with a thin oval face, mild benevolent countenance, and great courtesy of manners. His aspect and features have more mildness than the paintings I have seen of him. He grants an interview with high and low, rich and poor. I was jealous, however, to hear of his intimacy with Doctor Ely, the avowed advocate of Church and State, and an enemy of course to Republicanism. Knowing the firm republican principles of General Jackson, I was astonished to see, see I did not, but hear that this insidious traitor was countenanced by him; particularly as the General was hostile to the Hartford Convention, the essence of Church and State. But in this, as in every other instance, they succeeded through the women, the fatal stumbling block of all our men, great and small.
I observed to Mrs. Donaldson, I understood that Doctor Ely was a favorite with her—indeed she thought Dr. Ely was a very fine man. This was a proof of her ignorance, to- be-sure; but at the same time it is another proof of a thousand, of the treachery of this wily priest. Some of my Adams friends quizzed me about Ely’s coming to Washington to become a good sound Secretary of the Treasury. It is not quite so bad, but next thing to it.213 27(3)r 213
Mr. Donaldson, the President’s Private Secretary, is a young diffident man, and though not yet a member of the church, his wife will, doubtless, bring him to the yoke. Mrs. Donaldson is a beautiful woman, but a great bigot.
The flower of the flock, is Andrew Jackson, Jr. Esq. He is a cousin of Mrs. Donaldson: about 20 years of age, common height, and light make, with dark, delicate features. His eye is black, and as soft as the dew-drop. His countenance is sweetness and innocence itself; whilst his face is diffused with a modest blush. He is every way a promising young man, and will, I have no doubt, shine in the annals of his country. He is the most diffident young man I have met with. I asked him how he would like to be President? He replied, not at all, Madam; I would deprecate it above all things. Both his parents are dead, and he has lived with the President since he was a child.
The East Room is neatly, but plainly furnished. Not a particle of Alabaster in it.
Judge Barry, the Postmaster General. I thought I never would like any one equal to Judge McLean, and lamented his removal, from my heart. But I am delighted with Judge Barry. He has done himself immortal honor by turning out Coyle, the greatest wild beast in human shape. A few days after his removal, by accident I stepped in his (Coyle’s) store; when the ruffian picked up a stick and would doubtless have struck me, if I had not outran him. This wretch is in the presbyterian church. His whole kindred are a specimen of Dr. Ely’s Church and State men. The people of the Union, and even the Members of Congress, so little do they know, 214 27(3)v 214 think he was the only Coyle in office. But his brother, my prosecutor, and his son, are in Mr. Ingham’s office still. The brother-in-law is in the General Post office. I hope Judge Barry will give him his walking papers.
Judge Barry has pleased the people better than any of the cabinet; and though I was sorry to part with the Bradleys, it appears they were not the clean thing. But I shall always feel grateful to them, for, like Uncle Toby, they fed me when I was hungry.
Mr. Hobbie, the successor of Dr. Bradley, is well qualified for the place, though I wanted him for another purpose. Mr. Hobbie is a small, handsome black-eyed man, of great personal endowments, and very graceful manners.
I am rather doubtful of Colonel Gardner, as he is one of the hen peck’d tribe. He is not a presbyterian himself, but his wife, sister (an old maid) and mother, all in the same house, attend the Engine-house regularly; so that if the Postmaster General was to die, these missionary Madams would have the management of the General Post Office! A fine thing indeed!!!
The Rev. O. B. Brown, the only honest parson I have met with. One of your right down good men. He has been promoted. Success to him.
Messrs. William G. Elliot and M. T. Simpson, (the latter agent) are still in, and deserve to be; also, Messrs. L. W. Ruggles, M. D. Jackson, G. D. Hanson, and Addison and Waggoman. The new clerks are, also, fine men. I should like to see John M. Overton, Esq. in place of Colonel Gardner. He is a keen business man and gentleman, and in no danger of the copperheads. I was pleased to see Samuel Gwynn, one of the brave Tennesseeans, was remembered, in distributing the loaves and fishes; and am only sorry we have not a few more of them rewarded for their bravery and hardships in defending our country.
I am also pleased to see Mr. Taylor, of Carlisle, in the Post Office. Amongst the new appointments, too, I see the poet, author of the Freedoniad, the Rev. Mr. Emmons, one of the most singular looking men in Washington. He seems to be nothing but eyes. He is spare, rather tall, with a thin 215 27(4)r 215 bony face, and large mouth and eyes; which last has much expression. His manners are plain.
I was much gratified to become acquainted with a very interesting man, a relation, I think, of Judge McLean’s, Mr. William Blair, a very amiable man, whom I have often seen, but never spoke to before.
It is quite probable there may be some copperheads in the office, but they take care to hide.
Dr. Jones, of the City Post Office, raised the wind, too, and the pale-faced Dyer went, as I said he would. Dr. Jones does not leave the letters open for every street walker to step in and finger, and should he permit it, he may expect to hear of it quite as soon as Mr. Munroe. The Doctor seems to fill the situation with dignity and trust.
Of Judge Barry, of the General Post Office, I have only to say, that, so far as I know, he has done well. He is a gentleman of very agreeable and friendly manners; of middle age and height, and light figure. His features are fair and delicate; his eye a mild blue, and lively benevolent countenance, which also depictures great depth of thought. His voice is smoothe and soft, and his manners winning and engaging. I did hope he would have retained the Messrs. Bradleys in office, and was never more surprized than when I heard they were turned out; for, after what he stated to me himself, in their favor, I was certain he did not act without good reasons—and so it has proved. There was a great outcry about their dismissal. The age and poverty of A. Bradley was urged in his favor. As to this I cannot say; but certain it is, a number of fine houses have recently started up in Washington, belonging to the Bradleys. Also, several lines of splendid coaches; and William A. Bradley, of the Patriotic Bank, rides in a fine carriage. Whatever may be my obligations to the father, which are certainly considerable, it is doing the father no injustice, to say I am under very little to his son. He is charged with asserting, that the prosecution against me, in Washington, was nothing more than I deserved. Such a man does not deserve the countenance of any one.
It has been fully ascertained, that this William A. Bradley, 216 27(4)v 216 and others, by treachery, falsehood and cunning, contrived to displace the former very worthy and highminded honorable president of the Patriotic Bank; and this same W. A. Bradley wormed himself in his seat. Pishey Thompson and the Bradleys, who had the entire controul of the General Post Office funds have been playing a capital game out of one hand into the other. No wonder then, that W. A. Bradley could set up a splendid equippage; and a fine line of coaches, now running between Washington and Baltimore. They took good care, however, to leave the counterfeit notes and other bad money in the Iron Chest!!! Gales, too, now and thenn, could come round his countryman, Pishey Thompson, for a small slice of the spoil. He shrunk from the bad money, though. No wonder he was the great friend of Pishey, to his face. The riddle has come out. What a pity it was to break up the precious partnership of Bradleys, Thompson and Gales. I wonder not at the out cry of the Intelligencer. It was a death blow indeed, to turn out the Bradleys. If the Bradleys are poor, as is asserted, it is their own fault, as they must have speculated too much. Largely have they speculated on the Post Office funds. Their refusing to produce the books, when called on, was sufficient evidence something was wrong. I am, however, not so much displeased with the Bradleys as I am with Pishey Thompson, the Henglishman, to have the fingering of the government funds. No wonder he fled to John Bull for refuge. The Bradleys and Uncle Toby, if they did make free with the cash always divided with their friends, vide Gales, &c.— But that renegade, old Nourse, never did. Pishey threw my Sketches under the counter!!!
I have understood, the late President of the Patriotic Bank, brought a suit of slander against Bradley and Company, and the bumpkin judge retarded its progress. He acts differently in this case to what he did in mine. Oh, the bumpkin. Shame on Congress to retain such unworthy officers. He, and old Greenleaf would starve then or have to go to hard work. Many a poor man is ruined by the dexterity of the bumpkin and the Leaf playing into each other’s hands, and shifting property from one to the other. If Congress does 217 28(1)r 217 not reorganize this court upon some other plan, I hope their constituents may reform them out. What the District of Columbia is to become under our present enlightened Congress, heaven only knows. At present, it appears to be a sink of oppression; a receptacle for negroes, missionaries, thieves, recreant judges, swindlers, blacklegs, old maids, and sharpers. It has been whispered among themselves, so high- toned have they got, that one of these negroes is to be nominated for the next Presidency. Whether this be true or not, certain it is that they are electioneering for Poor’s An Auctioneer on Pennsylvania Avenue. big mulatto for Congress; and Poor, (not half so genteel,) is to succeed Tobias, another negro, in the Senate. And preacher Thunder is to succeed Post, as Chaplain to Congress, when it is hoped he will roar down these long winded speeches.
I find D. Saunders, George L. Douglass, and Nicholas TasletEsqs. of the General Post Office, in my notes, but nothing more, excepting the second being a new clerk—and the last, black eyes. I expect they are all bad boys together. Lipscomb was eating crackers for his dinner, only by way of sham, that he might have his salary raised.
As principles try men, so men try principles. During my prosecution by the blue skins, in Washington, several of the citizens, of both sexes, whom I never saw before, called to know, whether I did not want their assistance; and my fraternity particularly. Mrs. R. don’t be backward; we are your friends; our purses, our hearts, and our lives are yours; command us when you please. Where were the Sunday mail men all this time? Which were the christians? Amongst those who tendered assistance, and who is never to be forgotten, was Captain Thomas Wilson, one of the most benevolent men living. One of your all-soul-men: who does good by stealth. 28 218 28(1)v 218 His countenance, like his heart, is the temple of charity and goodness. He is about middle age, of good height, and one of nature’s peculiar favorites. Blessed man, how much I owe thee! May the smiles of heaven, and the kindness of men cheer thee through life.
Mr. Dove, a master carpenter, is another of the heaven born race, and amongst the number who hears the widow’s sigh, and drys the orphan’s tear.
Mr. Brooke, wine merchant, is another new acquaintance of desert. Mr. Brooke is a youthful looking man, of genteel appearance, and worthy the patronage of the public. His mild eye, and benign countenance, speak volumes in his praise.— Nor less so is Mr. Holmead, the younger. He is a most amiable man.
Messrs. H. S. Green, Meehan, and Hume, are likewise to be added to the list. Mr. Green, the brother of the General, is a tall handsome man, of very engaging manners. Mr. Meehan, the present Librarian of Congress, is one of the most amiable men living; and the only appointment of the administration who pleases all parties. He is a small young looking man, with a countenance and manners of much sweetness and modesty. But Mr. Hume, his assistant, from Tennessee, is a perfect Adonis; and such is the charms of his person and manners, that the Library is a perfect levee of ladies. The messenger, too, deserves notice. Thus the change in the Library does the President much honor.
The Messrs. De Kraffts. It is extraordinary I never met with these gentlemen before. One is Surveyor of the City of Washington, and the other is proprietor of a Printing Establishment; and both are men of worth. They are of German descent and German honesty. Mr. E. de Krafft deserves much honor for his manly and spirited exposure of the swindling, and other dishonorable proceedings of the Bradleys, relative to the General Post Office, and the Patriotic Bank, which recent investigations have confirmed.
Another German acquaintance, my favorite nation, is Mr. Appler, of the Fountain Inn, Pennsylvania Avenue, who keeps a pleasant agreeable house.219 28(2)r 219
Since the first to the last work I have published, I have overlooked Charles H. W. Wharton, Esq. a worthy, and the only worthy magistrate in Washington City. This amiable man has remained my friend and patron since I first visited Washington, through good and evil report. He is of middle age and manly appearance, and the best of his species.
I am in arrears with Messrs. Neale and Hewitt, at the City Hall, my oldest acquaintances in Washington, and both worthy and respectable men.
Mr. William Benning and lady, whom I have often mentioned, clung to me in the hour of trial. May they find their reward. Mr. Benning is a man of wealth and enterprize, and has aided much in improving the City. He is now engaged in building a bridge over the Eastern Branch, which will, doubtless, perpetuate his name.
Nor must I forget Mr. Duncanson, who it is said was robbed by that old swindler, G――. He now pursues the calling of an humble printer.
Amongst the respectable strangers who honored me the last year with calls, I am proud to mention two gentlemen, E. and Robert Reynolds, Esqs. from Kent, England: likewise Count Arnold, of Montpelier, France.
But I have been no less pleased with Colonel Jose Tuly, of Frederick City, Virginia, the noblest of Nature’s works. The Colonel is a tall gigantic man, of perfect symmetry. His face is round and ruddy, with a bright black eye. He is manly and dignified in every moment.
Captain Weed, of Philadelphia, and General McNeale, the latter six feet seven inches in height, and stout in proportion. As a gentleman said of my inkstand, he is almighty for size. Likewise I. E. Norvall, I had the pleasure of seeing this gentleman since; also, Mr. Fitch. of Lynchburg, Virginia, and C. W. Gay, of Boston, Messrs. H. Thomson, of South Carolina, and J. M. Buchanan, of Maryland, I have seen somewhere, as I find respectable notice of them. Also, Mr. Bard, of Buffalo, New York, a very clever man.
I was, however, most pleased with the Honorable Judge 220 28(2)v 220 John Dean, of Alabama, a most gentlemanly man: but coming from the same state, perhaps, with myself, might enhance the Judge in my opinion. About the same time I met with a party at Williamson’s Tavern, from the South, Captain Carter, from Charleston, South Carolina, Captain Taylor and Colonel Ross, the latter Deputies from the Cherokee Nation. They are noble looking men, of great courtesy. Amongst them, also, was a gentleman from Kentucky and one from Arkansas, whose names I lament I have disremembered. They were pleasant high minded men, and were at Washington on public business.
I had almost overlooked Mr. Glenn, of the firm of Glenn & Co. a Druggist and Fancy Store, on Pennsylvania Avenue, an amiable deserving man. Likewise Mr. Anthony Herman, of Maryland, a promising young man, the inventor of a new machine for propelling steam boats. For the rest, I am continually harrassed with reform and turning out. He is a clever man (a 20 years’ man!) Mrs. Royall, we will keep him in.— We might as well say, that is a clever man, we will keep him out.
Missionaries and Schools.
These are one and the same thing in Washington. The Orphan Asylum, once the pride of the place, has been seized upon by those ravenous wolves. So goes on the people of America. When the fine building was finished, I stopped over to see it, and imagine my surprize, to find a haggard, vengeance- looking missionary old maid, at the head of those little innocents; and by her stood a poor little girl, with her hair standing an end, and pale pinched cheek. Both were down stairs, and after scowling at me like Richard the Third, in the play, 221 28(3)r 221 she passed through another room, and up stairs she went, without answering a single inquiry, or asking me to sit down.— This monster was standing over this poor little creature, ordering her how to cook; and it is said the poor things are pinched for food, unknown to the Directresses, and dare not complain. Whether this be true or not, I cannot say, though I saw cold victuals carrying to the Asylum. It is said the old maid gave 50 dollars to help to build Danforth’s church, though her own relations were then suffering of want. The dear creature!— She missed the figure sadly: for Danforth married another and younger missionary. It is said the old maid took to her bed upon hearing the news. Danforth has been a faithful missionary, and continues to draw the women from Post’s church, though not so many since he has been married. He has established an Infant School, too, in Washington—another presbyterian school. It may be called the golden age with them, truly. No one opposes them. They carry every thing before them. The Register is dead, but they have appeared under another Godly leader, the Chronicle. The citizens of Washington, and Congress, no doubt will become hopeful converts under the influence of such an enlightened paper: and if we never were before, we are in a fair way now, to become the most enlightened nation on earth.
Upon looking over the signers of the petitions for stopping the Sunday mails, I find the name of S. Hickok, of Burlington, the ruffian who attempted my life, and left me for dead. Now, one would suppose that we were the most enlightened nation on earth, after this. His name is in a printed pamphlet, dated New York, 18291829. The drift of the pamphlet is to impress the belief that the people, that is, any portion of them, have the right, at any time, to petition Congress to pass a law to place the power of the United States in the hands of the presbyterians for safe keeping. A modest request indeed! It would be exercised with great mercy and lenity in the hands of such men as Hickok, who broke my ancle; and old Coyle who took the pious oath! I suppose they would be hangmen general; and Dewitt of the Hartford Convention, would pray for the souls of the condemned.222 28(3)v 222
Whilst speaking of schools in Washington, one of the most heavenly sights on earth, is the school of the Sisters of Charity, under the direction of the Reverend Priest Matthews. Here are about 200 little girls, many of them orphans, educated gratis, by these angelic looking women, whose elegance of manners would grace a levee. These Sisters of Charity, are a class of females, of the Roman Catholic religion, who devote their lives to acts of charity. Like the Nuns they are unmarried, but do not, like them, seclude themselves from the world; and are free to quit the society when they please. These females are the most interesting human beings on earth, and have a sweetness of conversation, and affability of manners, unlike any of the human race. When they join the society they adopt a new name.
Commodore Hull is commandant at the Navy Yard , the Henglishman being deceased. The Commodore is a jolly, well fed, looking man, and quite the gentleman. He has the handsomest wife in Washington. She would make no inconsiderable commander herself, being a lady of talents. Her sister is the pride of the whole. But Shoebrick has no business in the Navy Yard, or in any office under the government. He is unworthy of trust, and an indignity to the nation.
George Town begins to loook up since the commencement of the Canal, and presents a lively appearance, though I have my doubts as to the ability and skill of the people of the District223 28(4)r 223 trict to carry the design into full effect, particularly on the part of the District. There is old Frederick May, as he is called, famous for pulling teeth, and the two-penny barber, Ingle, at the head of the Canal on the part of Washington!!! So much for the honor of the nation. Good men, it will be seen are scarce in the City of Washington. I wonder they did not appoint Pishey Thompson.
Amongst the contractors on the part of George Town, Captain W. W. Fenlon, deserves to be mentioned with respect; also, my friend, of Pennsylvania canal, Dr. Beaumont. I found Captain Fenlon by accident, at the house of Mrs. Hilton, in Water Street, George Town, a very affable lady, who richly deserves a place in the history of her country.
Doctor Litle, mentioned in my Sketches, was truly amusing. He bought a book very good humoredly, and said I must not call him a hog, next time.
Mr. Kurtz, once so polite to me, a German, and misnamed in the Black Book, proves, as I said, to be one of the finest men in George Town. He certainly has the finest eye, and most manly face of any man in the District.
Messrs. Hayman, Boon, Shoemaker and Adams, are still my kind friends, and are happy and prosperous. I saw the runaways! they seemed rather genteel, and kept their places.— There used to be a few Yankees along Water Street, but, excepting Crittenden and E. E. Mix, not one worth naming is to be found—having supplied George Town with horn flints, &c. they have taken to flight. A.C. Hicky, a very decent man, I believe is a native of the place.
Up Town, (as the Yankees say) there is little Thomas, rather missionary touched; Cruikshank, the Book-binder, a good fellow, a good binder, and a good man, though the presbyterians have actually taken his wife from him! Infamous!
Messrs. Mackall, I. S. Nicholls, and D. English, are also, worthy men. But one Osborn, a great quack, mixed with the negro, stood in the door, and gaped at me with his mouth open.
Alexandria is gone to the dogs. Missionaries, and old Lee, commands the pack. Messrs. Bryant and Claggett, are all that deserve the name of men. While speaking of the Navy Yard of Washington, I overlooked Doctor Mc Williams, a most amiable man. The Doctor has the greatest collection of plants and flowers I have met with in the United States. His green house is a complete museum. Here, for the first time, I saw the Night-blooming Ceres. This rare plant blooms in the night, and by morning not a vestige of it is to be seen!!! The Doctor’s green house contains every rare plant and flower on the globe, and yet it is almost unknown in Washington!!!
Many of these are mentioned in the first of this Appendix.
Senator Grundy, of Tennessee. With Mr. Grundy’s fame I was long acquainted, and sought him out with great pleasure, upon his arrival in Washington. He is a stout middle aged man, with a fair expressive face, pale gray eye, and auburn hair, but eloquence, greatness and goodness is marked in every line of his countenance.
Senator John McLean, from Illinois, is a majestic figure, and of most engaging manners. He is said to be a man of much worth and talents.
Senator Clayton, of Delaware is certainly one of the most striking exteriors in the Senate. He is a man of towering height, and very handsomely featured. His face is very fair, rather oval, and uncommonly beautiful, with a full lively eye. His address is lofty and genteel.225 29(1)r 225
Senator Brown, of North Carolina, is a tall neat figure, rather slender, and quite a young looking man. His face is thin, oval, and intelligent, with handsome black eye and dark visage. His manners are easy, gay, and familiar.
Senator Charles E. Dudley, of New York, is a stout noble figure, about middle age, round full face, large dark eye, and arched brow. He is gray for his years, and has a countenance of much sweetness and expression. His manners are mild, modest, and unaffected.
Senator Iredell, of North Carolina, succeeded the Honorable John Branch, Secretary of the Navy. Mr. Iredell is a heavy made athletic man, of middle age. His face is as round as a trencher; very fair, full, and smoothe. His eye is light blue, and his countenance (mild and humane) is neither sensible, nor the contrary. He is uniformly steady in all respects— easy and genteel in his manners. He, as well as Mr. Branch, has been governor of North Carolina.
Senator Bibb is a low blue skin, not worth naming.
House of Representatives.
I ought to remember these!!! But I will have patience. They know my allusions, and know they have grieved my very soul out; and if they ――. You understand me gentlemen: To be plain, if you do not turn out St. Clair Clarke, and all his den, I hope not one of you will be elected again.
The first, south, (I go contrary to Seth Elliot,) is the Honorable Henry G. Lamar, of Georgia. I am too partial to Georgia, perhaps, and still more to the Members from that state, to give a fair delineation of them. Mr. Lamar, I should say, in personal appearance is the flower. I was so unfortunate as not to see the Senators of this state, and but two of the Representatives. He is a tall elegant29 226 29(1)v 226 gant figure, with handsome features and a countenance unrivalled for modesty and benevolence. Every virtue is blended in his manners, and every grace shines in his countenance.
Honorable James M. Wayne, I have mentioned in Second Volume of the Black Book, under the head of Northampton, Massachusetts. He is no way behind his colleague for elegance of person or manners. These are both young men. I hope Judge W. may never again board at old Coyle’s.
Honorable Charles E. Haynes. I never was near enough to this gentleman to have an accurate view of him. He seems to be a man of genteel appearance, with a thin fair face, and steady countenance.
Honorable W. Thompson. I was too far from him to risk a description. I hope he will pay his respects a little nearer next time.
Honorable Dixon H. Lewis, of Alabama, is the largest man in Congress, and as good as he is great. He weighs upwards of 300. It is said Mr. Lewis is a young man, and has one of the finest faces in the world. His countenance is intelligent and gay, and his manners dignified and manly. He is a handsome, bold, energetic speaker.
Honorable C. C. Clay, I have mentioned in my Letters from Alabama. He is a man of talents and learning, and of very imposing appearance. His features are handsome and striking, and his manners alluring. He is tall and slender, and his hair black, profuse, and glossy. His election to Congress reflects much honor upon those who selected him. No state in the Union is more ably represented than Alabama.
Honorable Robert Emmet B. Baylor, likewise from Alabama, is also a man of respectable and dignified appearance, and commanding appearance. He is a fine spare figure.
Honorable Thomas Hinds, of Mississippi, is about middle age, and stout make. His face is round, full, and rather dark, with a lively keen black eye. His countenance is mild, steady, and winning, and his manners very engaging.
We will now step over to South Carolina. Honorable General James Blair, a new Member, is certainly one of the best men in the House. General Blair is a wealthy planter 227 29(2)r 227 from Camden District, and though not so heavy is still taller than Mr. Lewis. He is about six feet four inches. He is a young active man, with much ease and elegance of manners. His face is fair; his eyes a mild gray; and his countenance noble and manly. He is, also, a bold speaker, and has a soul as large as his body.
I had an introduction at last to Mr. McDuffie, mentioned before. I said he had a clownish look; nor was I mistaken. He is, with all, proud and haughty, and said to be of the lower order of the people.
Honorable Jesse Speight, of North Carolina, is a young man, of towering height, six feet four inches, at least. His features are fine, and visage dark, and countenance noble and commanding. I was too far from him to notice him particularly.
Honorable E. B. Dudley, is a prince in whatever light he may be taken. Whether as to manners, fortune, virtue, or enterprize, he stands unrivalled. It would be criminal to add more, though if any man deserves more, it is General Dudley. He and General Van Ransselear resemble in character, though General Dudley is much the youngest man. He succeeded my lamented friend Holmes.
Virginia is blank. I saw not one of the new Members; and the old ones ran from me, except the Speaker, Honorable Mr. Stevenson. And a few others. He certainly is the most finished gentleman, the best figure, and the best orator I ever saw or heard. His voice, his features, and his fine manly face, is one of the greatest treats. And more astonishing than all, Mr. Mercer, and I have made up!!! Major Noah will like to hear this.
My own state, Maryland, begins to be ashamed of her conduct towards me; and I am much gratified to find a redeeming quality in her. As for the broken fife, Dorsey, he is still the same; and Howard is no better. I was, however, honorably recognized by the Honorable Messrs. Spencer, Mithcchell, and Brown.
Honorable Richard Spencer is a young man, of very handsome appearance, of good size, and elevated manners. His 228 29(2)v 228 face is fair and handsome, and all the kindred virtues float in his fine blue eye. He is an honor to his state.
Honorable Silas Brown, is a tall majestic figure; also young, with a dark round face and black eye. His countenance is rather cold and distant, but his manners are dignified and manly.
Honorable George Mitchell, is a very stout man, of middle age, fine person, and very accomplished manners. Excepting the Honorable Mr. Barney, Maryland has gained by the new election.
From Tennessee we have two Members. Honorable Cave Johnson, is a tall noble figure, quite young, with handsome dark features, and lofty manners. He possesses all the high minded independence of his state. He did not vote for Clarke.
Honorable James Standifer, is certainly one of the best men in the Union: liberal, humane and good natured, with a highly improved mind and polished manners. He is a true specimen of the Tennesseeans. He is about middle age, dark features, and soft blue eye.
Honorable Judge Isaacs picked a crow with me, doubtless in jest. He said, Mrs. Isaacs would pull my hair, for the liberty I took with his person. I see little to alter in Judge Isaacs. He is certainly a handsome speaker. Steady, mild, and elevated. His action, when in debate, has a peculiar grace, and his pauses are eloquence itself.
Pennsylvania. Her delegation has forever disgraced itself, for being cajoled by St. Clair Clarke; and that proves the danger of the man. And that smoothe tongued Mr. Everett, too. You are too late with the hand-bill, Clarke is elected. But I will be revenged on that traitor, Ramsey, the first rainy day. He, I understood, headed the conspiracy.
Honorable John Gilmore, is a stout, fine farmer-like appearance; of middle age, and engaging countenance. His eye is black and piercing; his complexion dark, and manners pleasing.
Honorable John Scott, is also a plain farmer looking man, which he is. He is a middle aged, tall, slender man, with black 22929(3)r229 hair and eyes; round dark thin face, and mild gay countenance.
Honorable Peter Ihre, who comes in place of Governor Wolfe, is a young man of common height, with handsome features and a very keen black eye. He is also a gentleman of plain German manners.
Honorable Thomas H. Crawford, I have noted in the Pennsylvania. He is the most amiable of his species, and much beloved.
Honorable Mr. Hemphill is said to be a man of talents; but is a clown, compared with Mr. Seargeant, and one of those who have no soul.
Honorable Adam King, from the same state, is of young appearance, a stout figure, fair round face, blue eyes, and of plain unaffected manners.
Honorable William McCreery is a middle aged man; very stout and heavily made. I Ssee my gentleman has come out in favor of Church and State. Oh, fie. His countenance is open and manly, and his manners are sprightly, generous, and sincere. His face is round and handsome, with a soft blue eye. It is a shame this man was forced to vote against his conscience.
Honorable General Smith, of Pennsylvania, is a young man of good height, and slender make. His face is oval, fair, and thin, with a mild, intelligent blue eye, and great sweetness of manners.
Honorable George C. Leiper, is quite a little Chesterfield.
Honorable Mr. Muhtenburg. I have mentioned him in another place. I did not vote for Clarke, Mrs. Royall. But you took tea with him afterwards!!! But I ought not to blame him, when my own people, the Tennesseeans, did the same thing. I hope the people will turn out the whole of them, thus to countenance a man who is true to no party.
Honorable Mr. Sill, a new Member from Pennsylvania, is a very plain man, but I have lost the note I took of him.
New Jersey. From this state I find two new Members, Messrs. Cooper and Hughes. I saw but one. Honorable T. H. Hughes, elected by the Sunday-stop-the-mail-men. They could 230 29(3)v 230 not have done a better thing to expose their designs: he being one of the most ignorant men in Congress. I inquired of him whom did it hurt for the mail to run on Sundays? Why every one—you might as well work on Sunday! Now, had the dolt-head said it hurt, every one to kill, steal, or bear false witness, as Holy Willy did; or violate any other of the commandments, he would have showed some sense; and Mr. Swann goes with him. So much for Doctor Miller, and the Theological School of New Jersey. But they are doing their own business.
From New York we have several fine men. Honorable A. Spencer is a first rate man. I have mentioned him in my Sketches. He has filled almost every office of honor or trust in his state. He is a stout middle aged man, rather stern, but a man of learning and talents.
Honorable Robert Monell, is not so old, so stout, or, perhaps, so learned; but he makes it up in affability and firmness. He is a stout, middle aged man, of pleasant, gay manners, with handsome intelligent features, and a quick discerning black eye. His election does much honor to those who placed him in Congress.
Honorable P. L. Borst, of New York, is a young man, and a neat light figure; common height, handsome oval face, and lively black eye. His countenance is steady and severe, indicative of great good nature and benevolence, with the ease and grace of a gentleman. This choice, also, reflects much credit on New York.
Honorable J. H. Halsey, of New York, is a good figure, rather thin visaged, fair complexion, with a mild gray eye, and bright countenance. His manners are peculiarly engaging.
Honorable Colonel Isaac Finch, of the same state, served under my friend General Macomb, the last war. He is quite the Chesterfield of the House. I hope he did not vote for Clarke. He is hardly middle aged; tall and spare, with a thin fair face, of great expression; with a penetrating blue eye; to which he joins the easy grace of a gentleman.
Honorable Messrs. Powers and Rose. The first is anti- 231 29(4)r 231 Sunday mail, and the other anti-masonic. Powers is a long, showey looking man, with a blood-spilling countenance, from Auburn, the blue skin den, and would terrify Satan himself. It is said he is to have the hanging of all the heretics. He certainly has the most detestable look in the world, whilst, on the other hand, Mr. Rose, is one of the best looking, and one of the best men in Congress. As for Messrs. Martindale, Tracy, and Norton, the people of New York need not send them to Washington to expose their ignorance. We are perfectly aware of it without this sample. If they wish to put down masonry, they must send wiser men. The whole of these antimasonic men, are a laughing stock for Congress. The fools are not aware, that it is to masonry they owe the blessings of civil and religious liberty.
The Connecticut Members, cap the climax, and are still more ridiculous, with the exception of Mr. Ingersall, whom it is said will not serve any longer with such ignoramuses.— All for stopping the Sunday mail. May their breaths be stopped first.
Massachusetts holds her own.
Vermont is like Connecticut, gone to the dogs, excepting Honorable Jonathan Hunt. Mr. H. is a keen sensible man, of high attainments, and a perfect gentleman in his manners.— But the good, the gentle, and once polite E. H. has been bribed either by the Sunday mail or the anti-masonic men. It apappears they knew their man, for no gallows criminal looked more guilty.
New Hampshire and Maine are well represented. They swept the whole in New Hampshire, except Mr. Harvey. I saw, however, none but the Honorable John W. Weeks, one of the finest men in the House. He is a stout, lofty figure, middle age, and round full face; rather dark, with a noble black eye, and most engaging countenance and manners.
From Ohio, we have the honorable William Kennon with a blushing face, and intelligent countenance.
Honorable William Creighton, from same state, is likewise a high minded man.
Honorable William Armstrong, of Virginia, overlooked before,232 29(4)v 232 fore, is an amiable man. This gentleman is enough to redeem the character and conduct of the Virginia delegation. And the Honorable J. S. Barbour, too,—I met with him at the President’s, and was struck with the elegance of his person, and his fascinating manners. We parted with the most cordial friendship.
From Kentucky there are three new Members. I only saw the Honorable Dr. N. Gaither. He is a tall, majestic figure, quite young; with an intelligent oval face, fine blue eye, and dignified manners. He is said to be a man of general information and amiable character.
Honorable General John Thomson, of Ohio, overlooked in his place, is now a Major General. He is a fine, tall, manly figure, rather young looking, with an oval thin face, and keen blue eye. His countenance is firm, cool, and dignified; and displays a highly cultivated mind. His manners are stately, and rather distant.
Honorable John Test, of Indiana, in place of my friend Smith, is a middle aged sallow looking man, with a keen sensible look, and reflects much honor on this young and rising state.
Honorable Edward D. White, of Louisiana, like his namesakes from Tennessee and Florida, is a respectable Member, of plain, but dignified manners; and his countenance is intelligent and pleasing.
Honorable John Biddle, of Michigan Territory, completes all I was able to see of the new Members. Mr. Biddle is a young, sensible man, rather distant. His person is very engaging, and his manners gentlemanly and polite.
Many important matters are postponed, for no other cause than want of room. It is impossible to put the whole world in one book. I am confidant my friends will rely upon me for the faithfulness of my engagements—nor shall my friends of the Bulletin, of Boston, Colonel Watson , of Washington City, the Postmaster, of Bladensburg, &c. &c. &c. be forgotten.