The Project Gutenberg eBook of Society in America, Volume 1 (of 2)

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Title: Society in America, Volume 1 (of 2)

Author: Harriet Martineau

Release date: July 22, 2016 [eBook #52621]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Julia Miller, Martin Pettit and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
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VOL. I. (of II)


[Pg i]


"To seize a character, even that of one man, in its life and secret mechanism, requires a philosopher; to delineate it with truth and impressiveness is work for a poet. How then shall one or two sleek clerical tutors, with here and there a tedium-stricken esquire, or speculative half-pay captain, give us views on such a subject? How shall a man, to whom all characters of individual men are like sealed books, of which he sees only the title and the covers, decipher from his four-wheeled vehicle, and depict to us, the character of a nation? He courageously depicts his own optical delusions; notes this to be incomprehensible, that other to be insignificant; much to be good, much to be bad, and most of all indifferent; and so, with a few flowing strokes, completes a picture, which, though it may not resemble any possible object, his countrymen are to take for a national portrait. Nor is the[Pg ii] fraud so readily detected: for the character of a people has such a complexity of aspect, that even the honest observer knows not always, not perhaps after long inspection, what to determine regarding it. From his, only accidental, point of view, the figure stands before him like the tracings on veined marble,—a mass of mere random lines, and tints, and entangled strokes, out of which a lively fancy may shape almost any image. But the image he brings with him is always the readiest; this is tried; it answers as well as another; and a second voucher now testifies its correctness. Thus each, in confident tones, though it be with a secret misgiving, repeats his precursor; the hundred-times-repeated comes in the end to be believed; the foreign nation is now once for all understood, decided on, and registered accordingly; and dunce the thousandth writes of it like dunce the first."—Edinburgh Review, No. xlvi. p. 309.

This passage cannot but strike upon the heart of any traveller who meditates giving to the world an account of the foreign country he has visited. It is the mirror held up before his face; and he inevitably feels himself, for the moment, "dunce the thousandth." For my own part, I felt the truth contained in this picture so strongly, before I was acquainted with the passage itself, that I had again and again put away the idea of saying one word in print on the condition of society in the United States. Whenever I encountered [Pg iii]half-a-dozen irreconcilable, but respectable opinions on a single point of political doctrine; whenever half-a-dozen fair-seeming versions of a single fact were offered to me; whenever the glow of pleasure at obtaining, by some trivial accident, a piece of important knowledge passed into a throb of pain at the thought of how much must remain concealed where a casual glimpse disclosed so much; whenever I felt how I, with my pittance of knowledge and amidst my glimmerings of conviction, was at the mercy of unmanageable circumstances, wafted now here and now there, by the currents of opinion, like one surveying a continent from a balloon, with only starlight above him,—I was tempted to decline the task of generalising at all from what I saw and heard. In the intervals, however, I felt that this would be wrong. Men will never arrive at a knowledge of each other, if those who have the opportunity of foreign observation refuse to relate what they think they have learned; or even to lay before others the materials from which they themselves hesitate to construct a theory, or draw large conclusions.

In seeking for methods by which I might communicate what I have observed in my travels, without offering any pretension to teach the [Pg iv]English, or judge the Americans, two expedients occurred to me; both of which I have adopted. One is, to compare the existing state of society in America with the principles on which it is professedly founded; thus testing Institutions, Morals, and Manners by an indisputable, instead of an arbitrary standard, and securing to myself the same point of view with my readers of both nations.

In working according to this method, my principal dangers are two. I am in danger of not fully apprehending the principles on which society in the United States is founded; and of erring in the application to these of the facts which came under my notice. In the last respect, I am utterly hopeless of my own accuracy. It is in the highest degree improbable that my scanty gleanings in the wide field of American society should present a precisely fair sample of the whole. I can only explain that I have spared no pains to discover the truth, in both divisions of my task; and invite correction, in all errors of fact. This I earnestly do; holding myself, of course, an equal judge with others on matters of opinion.

My readers, on their part, will bear in mind that, in showing discrepancies between an actual condition and a pure and noble theory of[Pg v] society, I am not finding fault with the Americans, as for falling behind the English, or the French, or any other nation. I decline the office of censor altogether. I dare not undertake it. Nor will my readers, I trust, regard the subject otherwise than as a compound of philosophy and fact. If we can all, for once, allay our personal feelings, dismiss our too great regard to mutual opinion, and put praise and blame as nearly as possible out of the question, more that is advantageous to us may perhaps be learned than by any invidious comparisons and proud judgments that were ever instituted and pronounced.

The other method by which I propose to lessen my own responsibility, is to enable my readers to judge for themselves, better than I can for them, what my testimony is worth. For this purpose, I offer a brief account of my travels, with dates in full; and a report of the principal means I enjoyed of obtaining a knowledge of the country.

At the close of a long work which I completed in 1834, it was thought desirable that I should travel for two years. I determined to go to the United States, chiefly because I felt a strong curiosity to witness the actual working of republican institutions; and partly because the circumstance[Pg vi] of the language being the same as my own is very important to one who, like myself, is too deaf to enjoy anything like an average opportunity of obtaining correct knowledge, where intercourse is carried on in a foreign language. I went with a mind, I believe, as nearly as possible unprejudiced about America, with a strong disposition to admire democratic institutions, but an entire ignorance how far the people of the United States lived up to, or fell below, their own theory. I had read whatever I could lay hold of that had been written about them; but was unable to satisfy myself that, after all, I understood anything whatever of their condition. As to knowledge of them, my mind was nearly a blank: as to opinion of their state, I did not carry the germ of one.

I landed at New York on the 19th of September, 1834: paid a short visit the next week to Paterson, in New Jersey, to see the cotton factories there, and the falls of the Passaic; and passed through New York again on my way to stay with some friends on the banks of the Hudson, and at Stockbridge, Massachusetts. On the 6th of October, I joined some companions at Albany, with whom I travelled through the State of New York, seeing Trenton Falls, Auburn, and Buffalo, to the Falls[Pg vii] of Niagara. Here I remained nearly a week; then, after spending a few days at Buffalo, I embarked on Lake Erie, landing in the back of Pennsylvania, and travelling down through Meadville to Pittsburgh, spending a few days at each place. Then, over the Alleghanies to Northumberland, on the fork of the Susquehanna, the abode of Priestley after his exile, and his burial place. I arrived at Northumberland on the 11th of October, and left it, after visiting some villages in the neighbourhood, on the 17th, for Philadelphia, where I remained nearly six weeks, having very extensive intercourses with its various society. My stay at Baltimore was three weeks, and at Washington five. Congress was at that time in session, and I enjoyed peculiar opportunities of witnessing the proceedings of the Supreme Court and both houses of Congress. I was acquainted with almost every eminent senator and representative, both on the administration and opposition sides; and was on friendly and intimate terms with some of the judges of the Supreme Court. I enjoyed the hospitality of the President, and of several of the heads of departments: and was, like everybody else, in society from morning till night of every day; as the custom is at Washington. One[Pg viii] day was devoted to a visit to Mount Vernon, the abode and burial-place of Washington.

On the 18th of February I arrived at Montpelier, the seat of Mr. and Mrs. Madison, with whom I spent two days, which were wholly occupied with rapid conversation; Mr. Madison's share of which, various and beautiful to a remarkable degree, will never be forgotten by me. His clear reports of the principles and history of the Constitution of the United States, his insight into the condition, his speculations on the prospects of nations, his wise playfulness, his placid contemplation of present affairs, his abundant household anecdotes of Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson, were incalculably valuable and exceedingly delightful to me.

The intercourse which I had with Chief Justice Marshall was of the same character, though not nearly so copious. Nothing in either delighted me more than their hearty admiration of each other, notwithstanding some wide differences in their political views. They are both gone; and I now deeply feel what a privilege it is to have known them.

From Mr. Madison's I proceeded to Charlottesville, and passed two days amidst the hospitalities of the Professors of Jefferson's University, and their[Pg ix] families. I was astonished to learn that this institution had never before been visited by a British traveller. I can only be sorry for British travellers who have missed the pleasure. A few days more were given to Richmond, where the Virginia legislature was in session; and then ensued a long wintry journey though North and South Carolina to Charleston, occupying from the 2nd to the 11th of March. The hospitalities of Charleston are renowned; and I enjoyed them in their perfection for a fortnight; and then a renewal of the same kind of pleasures at Columbia, South Carolina, for ten days. I traversed the southern States, staying three days at Augusta, Georgia, and nearly a fortnight in and near Montgomery, Alabama; descending next the Alabama river to Mobile. After a short stay there, and a residence of ten days at New Orleans, I went up the Mississippi and Ohio to the mouth of the Cumberland river, which I ascended to Nashville, Tennessee. I visited the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, and spent three weeks at Lexington. I descended the Ohio to Cincinnati; and after staying there ten days, ascended the river again, landing in Virginia, visiting the Hawk's Nest, Sulphur Springs, Natural Bridge, and Weyer's Cave, arriving at New[Pg x] York again on the 14th of July, 1835. The autumn was spent among the villages and smaller towns of Massachusetts, in a visit to Dr. Channing in Rhode Island, and in an excursion to the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont. The winter was passed in Boston, with the exception of a trip to Plymouth, for "Forefather's Day." In the Spring I spent seven weeks in New York; and a month in a farmhouse at Stockbridge, Massachusetts; making an excursion, meanwhile, to Saratoga and Lake George. My last journey was with a party of friends, far into the west, visiting Niagara again, proceeding by Lake Erie to Detroit, and across the territory of Michigan. We swept round the southern extremity of Lake Michigan to Chicago: went a long day's journey down into the prairies, back to Chicago, and by the Lakes Michigan, Huron, and St. Clair to Detroit, visiting Mackinaw by the way. We landed from Lake Erie at Cleveland, Ohio, on the 13th of July; and travelled through the interior of Ohio till we joined the river at Beaver. We visited Rapp's Settlement at Economy, on the Ohio, and returned to New York from Pittsburgh, by the canal route through Pennsylvania, and the rail-road over the Alleghanies. I sailed from New York for England on the 1st of August, 1836, having then been absent just two years.

[Pg xi]

In the course of this tour, I visited almost every kind of institution. The prisons of Auburn, Philadelphia, and Nashville: the insane and other hospitals of almost every considerable place: the literary and scientific institutions; the factories of the north; the plantations of the south; the farms of the west. I lived in houses which might be called palaces, in log-houses, and in a farm-house. I travelled much in wagons, as well as stages; also on horseback, and in some of the best and worst of steam-boats. I saw weddings, and christenings; the gatherings of the richer at watering places, and of the humbler at country festivals. I was present at orations, at land sales, and in the slave market. I was in frequent attendance on the Supreme Court and the Senate; and witnessed some of the proceedings of state legislatures. Above all, I was received into the bosom of many families, not as a stranger, but as a daughter or a sister. I am qualified, if any one is, to testify to the virtues and the peace of the homes of the United States; and let it not be thought a breach of confidence, if I should be found occasionally to have spoken of these out of the fulness of my heart.

It would be nearly impossible to relate whom I knew, during my travels. Nearly every eminent[Pg xii] man in politics, science and literature, and almost every distinguished woman, would grace my list. I have respected and beloved friends of each political party; and of nearly every religious denomination; among slave-holders, colonizationists, and abolitionists; among farmers, lawyers, merchants, professors, and clergy. I travelled among several tribes of Indians; and spent months in the southern States, with negroes ever at my heels.

Such were my means of information. With regard to my power of making use of them, I have but a few words to say.

It has been frequently mentioned to me that my being a woman was one disadvantage; and my being previously heard of, another. In this I do not agree.

I am sure, I have seen much more of domestic life than could possibly have been exhibited to any gentleman travelling through the country. The nursery, the boudoir, the kitchen, are all excellent schools in which to learn the morals and manners of a people: and, as for public and professional affairs,—those may always gain full information upon such matters, who really feel an interest in them,—be they men or women. No people in the world can be more frank, confiding and [Pg xiii]affectionate, or more skilful and liberal in communicating information, than I have ever found the Americans to be. I never asked in vain; and I seldom had to ask at all; so carefully were my inquiries anticipated, and my aims so completely understood. I doubt whether a single fact that I wished to learn, or any doctrine that I desired to comprehend, was ever kept from me because I was a woman.

As for the other objection, I can only state my belief, that my friends and I found personal acquaintance so much pleasanter than any previous knowledge by hearsay, that we always forgot that we had heard of each other before. It would be preposterous to suppose that, received as I was into intimate confidence, any false appearances could be kept up on account of any preconceptions that could have been entertained of me.

I laboured under only one peculiar disadvantage, that I am aware of; but that one is incalculable. I mean my deafness. This does not endanger the accuracy of my information, I believe, as far as it goes; because I carry a trumpet of remarkable fidelity; an instrument, moreover, which seems to exert some winning power, by which I gain more in tête-à-têtes than is given to people who hear [Pg xiv]general conversation. Probably its charm consists in the new feeling which it imparts of ease and privacy in conversing with a deaf person. However this may be, I can hardly imagine fuller revelations to be made in household intercourse than my trumpet brought to me. But I am aware that there is no estimating the loss, in a foreign country, from not hearing the casual conversation of all kinds of people, in the streets, stages, hotels, &c. I am aware that the lights which are thus gathered up by the traveller for himself are often far more valuable than the most elaborate accounts of things offered to him with an express design. This was my peculiar disadvantage. It could not be helped; and it cannot be explained away. I mention it, that the value of my testimony may be lowered according to the supposed worth of this circumstance.

Much is often said about the delicacy to be observed, in the act of revealing the history of one's travels, towards the hosts and other friends of the traveller who have reposed confidence in him. The rule seems to me a very plain one, which reconciles truth, honour and utility. My rule is to speak of the public acts of public persons, precisely as if I had known them only in their public character.[Pg xv] This may be sometimes difficult, and sometimes painful, to the writer; but it leaves no just cause of complaint to any one else. Moreover, I hold it allowable and necessary to make use of opinions and facts offered in fire-side confidence, as long as no clue is offered by which they may be traced back to any particular fire-side. If any of my American friends should find in this book traces of old conversations and incidents, let them keep their own counsel, and be assured that the conversation and facts remain private between them and me. Thus far, all is safe; and further than this, no honourable person would wish to go.

This is not the place in which to speak of my obligations or of my friendships. Those who know best what I have in my heart to say meet me here under a new relation. In these pages, we meet as writer and readers. I would only entreat them to bear this distinction in mind, and not to measure my attachment to themselves by anything this book may contain about their country and their nation. The bond which unites us bears no relation to clime, birth-place, or institutions. In as far as our friendship is faithful, we are fellow-citizens of another and a better country than theirs or mine.

[Pg iii]



Introduction i
Politics 1
Parties 8
Apparatus of Government 32
   Section I. —The General Government 35
II. —The Executive 52
III. —The State Governments 64
Morals of Politics 82
   Section I. —Office 84
II. —Newspapers 109
III. —Apathy in Citizenship 115
IV. —Allegiance to Law 120
V. —Sectional Prejudice 135
VI. —Citizenship of People of Colour 144
VII. —Political Non-Existence of Women 148
Economy 155
     Solitaires 162
     Springs of Virginia 175
     New England Farm-house 193
     West Country Life 201
     Township of Gloucester 205
     South Country Life 212
     Picture of Michigan 232
     The Northern Lakes 270
Agriculture 291
   Section I. —Disposal of Land 318
II. —Rural Labour 338

[Pg 1]



" ... Those unalterable relations which Providence has ordained that everything should bear to every other. These relations, which are truth itself, the foundation of virtue, and consequently, the only measures of happiness, should be likewise the only measures by which we should direct our reasoning. To these we should conform in good earnest, and not think to force nature, and the whole order of her system, by a compliance with our pride and folly, to conform to our artificial regulations. It is by a conformity to this method we owe the discovery of the few truths we know, and the little liberty and rational happiness we enjoy." Burke.

Mr. Madison remarked to me, that the United States had been "useful in proving things before held impossible." Of such proofs, he adduced several. Others, which he did not mention, have since occurred to me; and, among them, the pursuit of the à priori method in forming a constitution:—the à priori method, as it is styled by its enemies, though its advocates, with more reason, call it the inductive method. Till the formation of the government of the United States, it had been generally supposed, and it is so still by the majority of the old world, that a sound theory of government can be constructed only out of the experience of[Pg 2] man in governments; the experience mankind has had of despotisms, oligarchies, and the mixtures of these with small portions of democracy. But the essential condition of the fidelity of the inductive method is, that all the elements of experience should be included. If, in this particular problem, of the true theory of government, we take all experience of government, and leave out all experience of man, except in his hitherto governing or governed state, we shall never reach a philosophical conclusion. The true application of the inductive method here is to test a theory of government deduced from the principles of human nature, by the results of all governments of which mankind has had experience. No narrower basis will serve for such an induction. Such a method of finding a good theory of government was considered impossible, till the United States "proved" it.

This proof can never be invalidated by anything that can now happen in the United States. It is common to say "Wait; these are early days. The experiment will fail yet." The experiment of the particular constitution of the United States may fail; but the great principle which, whether successfully or not, it strives to embody,—the capacity of mankind for self-government,—is established for ever. It has, as Mr. Madison said, proved a thing previously held impossible. If a revolution were to take place to-morrow in the United States, it remains an historical fact that, for half a century, a people has been self-governed; and, till it can be proved that the self-government is the cause of the instability, no revolution, or series of revolutions, can tarnish the lustre, any more than they can impair the soundness of the principle that mankind are capable of self-government. The United States have indeed been useful in proving these two things, before held impossible; the finding a true theory[Pg 3] of government, by reasoning from the principles of human nature, as well as from the experience of governments; and the capacity of mankind for self-government.

It seems strange that while politics are unquestionably a branch of moral science, bearing no other relation than to the duty and happiness of man, the great principles of his nature should have been neglected by politicians—with the exception of his love of power and desire of gain,—till a set of men assembled in the State House at Philadelphia, in the eighteenth century, and there throned a legitimate political philosophy in the place of a deposed king. The rationale of all preceding governments had been, "men love power, therefore there must be punishments for rulers who, having already much, would seize more. Men desire gain; therefore there must be punishments for those, rulers or ruled, who would appropriate the gains of others." The rationale of the new and "impossible" government is "that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable lights; that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure those rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."[1] This last recognizes, over and above what the former admits, the great principles of indefeasible rights; human equality in relation to these; and the obligation of universal justice.

These, then, are the principles which the statesmen in the State House at Philadelphia announced as the soul of their embryo institutions; and the rule through which they were to work was no less than that golden one which seems to have been, by some unhappy chance, omitted in the bibles of other statesmen—"Do unto others as ye would[Pg 4] that they should do unto you." Perhaps it may be reserved for their country to prove yet one more impossible thing—that men can live by the rule which their Maker has given them to live by. Meanwhile, every true citizen of that country must necessarily be content to have his self-government tried by the test of these principles, to which, by his citizenship, he has become a subscriber. He will scorn all comparisons, instituted as a test of merit, between his own government and those of other countries, which he must necessarily consider as of narrower scope and lower aim. Whether such comparisons be instituted abroad in a spirit of contempt, or at home in a spirit of complacency, he will regard them equally as irrelevant, and proving nothing to the best purposes of true citizens. He will disdain every test but that furnished by the great principles propounded in the State House at Philadelphia; and he will quarrel with no results fairly brought out by such a test, whether they inspire him with shame, or with complacency. In either case, he will be animated by them.

If the politics of a country be really derived from fundamental principles of human nature and morals, the economy, manners, and religion of that country must be designed to harmonise with these principles. The same test must be applicable to all. The inalienable right of all the human race to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, must control the economical, as well as the political arrangements of a people; and the law of universal justice must regulate all social intercourse, and direct all administration of religion.

Politics are morals, all the world over; that is, politics universally implicate the duty and happiness of man. Every branch of morals is, and ought to be considered, a universal concern. Under despotic governments, there is a pretension, more[Pg 5] or less sincere, on the part of the rulers, to moral regards; but from these the bulk of the people are, by common consent, cut off. If the bulk of the people saw the truth, that the principles of politics affect them,—are the message of their Maker as principles are to them, as well as to their rulers, they would become moral agents in regard to politics, and despotism would be at an end. As it is, they pay their taxes, and go out to war when they are bid, are thankful when they are left unmolested by their government, and sorry or angry when they feel themselves oppressed; and there they end. It is owing to their ignorance of politics being morals—i. e. matters of equal concern to all—that this truth is not made manifest in action in every country on the globe that has any government at all.

The same is the case of the unrepresented under governments which are not called despotic. According to the principles professed by the United States, there is there a rectification of this mighty error—a correction of this grand oversight. In that self-governing nation, all are held to have an equal interest in the principles of its institutions, and to be bound in equal duty to watch their workings. Politics there are universal duty. None are exempted from obligation but the unrepresented; and they, in theory, are none. However various may be the tribes of inhabitants in those States, whatever part of the world may have been their birth-place, or that of their fathers, however broken may be their language, however noble or servile their employments, however exalted or despised their state, all are declared to be bound together by equal political obligation, as firmly as under any other law of personal or social duty. The president, the senator, the governor, may take upon himself some additional responsibility, as the [Pg 6]physician and lawyer do in other departments of office; but they are under precisely the same political obligation as the German settler, whose axe echoes through the lonely forest; and the Southern planter, who is occupied with his hospitalities; and the New England merchant, whose thoughts are on the sea; and the Irishman, in his shanty on the canal-bank; and the negro, hoeing cotton in the hot field, or basking away his sabbath on the shore of the Mississippi. Genius, knowledge, wealth, may in other affairs set a man above his fellows; but not in this. Weakness, ignorance, poverty may exempt a man from other obligations; but not from this. The theory of the government of the United States has grasped and embodied the mighty principle, that politics are morals;—that is, a matter of universal and equal concern. We shall have to see whether this principle is fully acted out.

Implicated with this is the theory, that the majority will be in the right, both as to the choice of principles which are to govern particular cases, and the agents who are to work them. This theory, obviously just as it appears, as long as it is applied to matters of universal and equal concern, cannot be set aside without overthrowing all with which it is involved. We shall have to see, also, whether this principle is effectually carried out.

Implicated with this, again, is the principle that a mutable, or rather elastic form, must be given to every institution. "The majority are in the right." Such is the theory. Few individuals of this majority can act for longer than two-score years and ten; few for so long. No one can suppose that his successor will think or feel as he does, however strict may be the regard of each to the fundamental principles which are to regulate his citizenship. It is absolutely necessary, to secure permanence to the recognition of those principles, that there should[Pg 7] be liberty to change the form which contains them. Else, in the endless variety of human views and interests, there is danger lest men, being prohibited from producing a correspondence between the principles they recognise, and the forms they desire, should, because interdicted from outward change, gradually alter the spirit of their government. In such a case, men would be some time in discovering that the fair body of their constitution has become possessed, while they had supposed her inspired: and, to pass over the mischiefs which might happen during the period of her possession, the work of exorcism would be difficult and perilous.


[1] Declaration of Independence.

[Pg 8]


"For these are the men that, when they have played their parts, and had their exits, must step out, and give the moral of their scenes, and deliver unto posterity an inventory of their virtues and vices."

Sir Thomas Browne.

The first gentleman who greeted me on my arrival in the United States, a few minutes after I had landed, informed me without delay, that I had arrived at an unhappy crisis; that the institutions of the country would be in ruins before my return to England; that the levelling spirit was desolating society; and that the United States were on the verge of a military despotism. This was so very like what I had been accustomed to hear at home, from time to time, since my childhood, that I was not quite so much alarmed as I might have been without such prior experience. It was amusing too to find America so veritably the daughter of England.

I looked around me carefully, in all my travels, till I reached Washington, but could see no signs of despotism; even less of military. Except the officers and cadets at West Point, and some militia on a training day at Saugerties, higher up on the Hudson, I saw nothing that could be called [Pg 9]military; and officers, cadets, and militia, appeared all perfectly innocent of any design to seize upon the government. At Washington, I ventured to ask an explanation from one of the most honoured statesmen now living; who told me, with a smile, that the country had been in "a crisis" for fifty years past; and would be for fifty years to come.

This information was my comfort, from day to day, till I became sufficiently acquainted with the country to need such support no longer. Mournful predictions, like that I have quoted, were made so often, that it was easy to learn how they originated.

In the United States, as elsewhere, there are, and have always been, two parties in politics, whom it is difficult to distinguish on paper, by a statement of their principles, but whose course of action may, in any given case, be pretty confidently anticipated. It is remarkable how nearly their positive statements of political doctrine agree, while they differ in almost every possible application of their common principles. Close and continued observation of their agreements and differences is necessary before the British traveller can fully comprehend their mutual relation. In England, the differences of parties are so broad,—between those who would have the people governed for the convenience of their rulers; those who would have the many governed, for their good, by the will of the few; and those who would have the people govern themselves;—that it is, for some time, difficult to comprehend how there should be party differences as wide in a country where the first principle of government is that the people are to govern themselves. The case, however, becomes clear in time: and, amidst a half century of "crises," the same order and sequence become discernible which run through the whole course of human affairs.

[Pg 10]

As long as men continue as differently organized as they now are, there will be two parties under every government. Even if their outward fortunes could be absolutely equalised, there would be, from individual constitution alone, an aristocracy and a democracy in every land. The fearful by nature would compose an aristocracy, the hopeful by nature a democracy, were all other causes of divergence done away. When to these constitutional differences are added all those outward circumstances which go to increase the fear and the hope, the mutual misunderstandings of parties are no longer to be wondered at. Men who have gained wealth, whose hope is fulfilled, and who fear loss by change, are naturally of the aristocratic class. So are men of learning, who, unconsciously identifying learning and wisdom, fear the elevation of the ignorant to a station like their own. So are men of talent, who, having gained the power which is the fit recompense of achievement, dread the having to yield it to numbers instead of desert. So are many more who feel the almost universal fear of having to part with educational prejudices, with doctrines with which honoured teachers nourished the pride of youth, and prepossessions inwoven with all that has been to them most pure, lofty, and graceful. Out of these a large aristocratic class must everywhere be formed.

Out of the hopeful,—the rising, not the risen,—the aspiring, not the satisfied,—must a still larger class be everywhere formed. It will include all who have most to gain and least to lose; and most of those who, in the present state of education, have gained their knowledge from actual life, rather than, or as well as, from books. It will include the adventurers of society, and also the philanthropists. It will include, moreover,—an accession small in number, but inestimable in power,[Pg 11]—the men of genius. It is characteristic of genius to be hopeful and aspiring. It is characteristic of genius to break up the artificial arrangements of conventionalism, and to view mankind in true perspective, in their gradations of inherent rather than of adventitious worth. Genius is therefore essentially democratic, and has always been so, whatever titles its gifted ones may have worn, or on whatever subjects they may have exercised their gifts. To whatever extent men of genius have been aristocratic, they have been so in spite of their genius, not in consistency with it. The instances are so few, and their deviations from the democratic principle so small, that men of genius must be considered as included in the democratic class.

Genius being rare, and its claims but tardily allowed by those who have attained greatness by other means, it seems as if the weight of influence possessed by the aristocratic party,—by that party which, generally speaking, includes the wealth, learning, and talents of the country,—must overpower all opposition. If this is found not to be the case, if it be found that the democratic party has achieved everything that has been achieved since the United States' constitution began to work, it is no wonder that there is panic in many hearts, and that I heard from so many tongues of the desolations of the "levelling spirit," and the approaching ruin of political institutions.

These classes may be distinguished in another way. The description which Jefferson gave of the federal and republican parties of 1799 applies to the federal and democratic parties of this day, and to the aristocratic and democratic parties of every time and country. "One," says Jefferson, "fears most the ignorance of the people; the[Pg 12] other, the selfishness of rulers independent of them."

There is much reason in both these fears. The unreasonableness of party lies in entertaining the one fear, and not the other. No argument is needed to prove that rulers are prone to selfishness and narrowness of views: and no one can have witnessed the injuries that the poor suffer in old countries,—the education of hardship and insult that furnishes them with their only knowledge of the highest classes, without being convinced that their ignorance is to be feared;—their ignorance, not so much of books as of liberty and law. In old countries, the question remains open whether the many should, on account of their ignorance, be kept still in a state of political servitude, as some declare; or whether they should be gradually prepared for political freedom, as others think, by an amelioration of their condition, and by being educated in schools; or whether, as yet others maintain, the exercise of political rights and duties be not the only possible political education. In the New World, no such question remains to be debated. It has no large, degraded, injured, dangerous (white) class who can afford the slightest pretence for a panic-cry about agrarianism. Throughout the prodigious expanse of that country, I saw no poor men, except a few intemperate ones. I saw some very poor women; but God and man know that the time has not come for women to make their injuries even heard of. I saw no beggars but two professional ones, who are making their fortunes in the streets of Washington. I saw no table spread, in the lowest order of houses, that had not meat and bread on it. Every factory child carries its umbrella; and pig-drivers wear spectacles. With the exception of[Pg 13] the foreign paupers on the seaboard, and those who are steeped in sensual vice, neither of which classes can be politically dangerous, there are none who have not the same interest in the security of property as the richest merchant of Salem, or planter of Louisiana. Whether the less wealthy class will not be the first to draw out from reason and experience the true philosophy of property, is another question. All we have to do with now is their equal interest with their richer neighbours in the security of property, in the present state of society. Law and order are as important to the man who holds land for the subsistence of his family, or who earns wages that he may have land of his own to die upon, as to any member of the president's cabinet.

Nor is there much more to fear from the ignorance of the bulk of the people in the United States, than from their poverty. It is too true that there is much ignorance; so much as to be an ever-present peril. Though, as a whole, the nation is, probably, better informed than any other entire nation, it cannot be denied that their knowledge is far inferior to what their safety and their virtue require. But whose ignorance is it? And ignorance of what? If the professors of colleges have book-knowledge, which the owner of a log-house has not; the owner of a log-house has very often, as I can testify, a knowledge of natural law, political rights, and economical fact, which the college-professor has not. I often longed to confront some of each class, to see whether there was any common ground on which they could meet. If not, the one might bring the charge of ignorance as justly as the other. If a common ground could be discovered, it would have been in their equal relation to the government under which they live: in which case, the natural conclusion would be, that each understood his own interests best, and neither could[Pg 14] assume superiority over the other. The particular ignorance of the countryman may expose him to be flattered and cheated by an oratorical office-seeker, or a dishonest newspaper. But, on the other hand, the professor's want of knowledge of the actual affairs of the many, and his educational biases, are just as likely to cause him to vote contrary to the public interest. No one who has observed society in America will question the existence or the evil of ignorance there: but neither will he question that such real knowledge as they have is pretty fairly shared among them.

I travelled by wagon, with a party of friends, in the interior of Ohio. Our driver must be a man of great and various knowledge, if he questions all strangers as he did us, and obtains as copious answers. He told us where and how he lived, of his nine children, of his literary daughters, and the pains he was at to get books for them; and of his hopes from his girl of fourteen, who writes poetry, which he keeps a secret, lest she should be spoiled. He told us that he seldom lets his fingers touch a novel, because the consequence always is that his business stands still till the novel is finished; "and that doesn't suit." He recited to us, Pope's "Happy the man whose wish and care," &c. saying that it suited his idea exactly. He asked both the ladies present whether they had written a book. Both had; and he carried away the titles, that he might buy the books for his daughters. This man is fully informed of the value of the Union, as we had reason to perceive; and it is difficult to see why he is not as fit as any other man to choose the representatives of his interests. Yet, here is a specimen of his conversation with one of the ladies of the party.

"Was the book that you wrote on natural philosophy, madam?"

[Pg 15]

"No; I know nothing about natural philosophy."

"Hum! Because one lady has done that pretty well:—hit it!—Miss Porter, you know."

"What Miss Porter?"

"She that wrote 'Thaddeus of Warsaw,' you know. She did it pretty well there."

As an antagonist case, take the wailings of a gentleman of very distinguished station in a highly aristocratic section of society;—wailings over the extent of the suffrage.

"What an enormity it is that such a man as Judge ——, there, should stand on no higher level in politics than the man that grooms his horse!"

"Why should he? I suppose they have both got all they want,—full representation: and they thus bear precisely the same relation to the government."

"No; the judge seldom votes, because of his office: while his groom can, perhaps, carry nineteen men to vote as he pleases. It is monstrous!"

"It seems monstrous that the judge should omit his political duty for the sake of his office; and also that nineteen men should be led by one. But limiting the suffrage would not mend the matter. Would it not do better to teach all the parties their duty?"

Let who will choose between the wagon-driver and the scholar. Each will vote according to his own views; and the event,—the ultimate majority,—will prove which is so far the wiser.

The vagueness of the antagonism between the two parties is for some time perplexing to the traveller in America; and he does not know whether to be most amazed or amused at the apparent triviality of the circumstances which arouse the strongest party emotions. After a while, a body comes out of the mystery, and he grasps a substantial cause of dissension. From the day when the first[Pg 16] constitution was formed, there have been alarmists, who talk of a "crisis:" and from the day when the second began its operations, the alarm has, very naturally, taken its subject matter from the failure of the first. The first general government came to a stand through weakness. The entire nation kept itself in order till a new one was formed and set to work. As soon as the danger was over, and the nation proved, by the last possible test, duly convinced of the advantages of public order, the timid party took fright lest the general government should still not be strong enough; and this tendency, of course, set the hopeful party to watch lest it should be made too strong. The panic and antagonism were at their height in 1799.[2] A fearful collision of parties took place, which ended in the establishment of the hopeful policy, which has continued, with few interruptions, since. The executive patronage was retrenched, taxes were taken off, the people were re-assured, and all is, as yet, safe. While the leaders of the old federal party retired to their Essex junto, and elsewhere, to sigh for monarchy, and yearn towards England, the greater[Pg 17] number threw off their fears, and joined the republican party. There are now very few left to profess the politics of the old federalists. I met with only two who openly avowed their desire for a monarchy; and not many more who prophesied one. But there still is a federal party, and there ever will be. It is as inevitable that there will be always some who will fear the too great strength of the state governments, as that there will be many who will have the same fear about the general government. Instead of seeing in this any cause for dismay, or even regret, the impartial observer will recognise in this mutual watchfulness the best security that the case admits of for the general and state governments preserving their due relation to one another. No government ever yet worked both well and indisputably. A pure despotism works (apparently) indisputably; but the bulk of its subjects will not allow that it works well, while it wrings their heads from their shoulders, or their earnings from their hands. The government of the United States is disputed at every step of its workings: but the bulk of the people declare that it works well, while every man is his own security for his life and property.

The extreme panic of the old federal party is accounted for, and almost justified, when we remember, not only that the commerce of England had penetrated every part of the country, and that great pecuniary interests were therefore everywhere supposed to be at stake; but that republicanism, like that which now exists in America, was a thing unheard of—an idea only half-developed in the minds of those who were to live under it. Wisdom may spring, full-formed and accomplished, from the head of a god, but not from the brains of men. The Americans of the Revolution looked round[Pg 18] upon the republics of the world, tested them by the principles of human nature, found them republican in nothing but the name, and produced something, more democratic than any of them; but not democratic enough for the circumstances which were in the course of arising. They saw that in Holland the people had nothing to do with the erection of the supreme power; that in Poland (which was called a republic in their day) the people were oppressed by an incubus of monarchy and aristocracy, at once, in their most aggravated forms; and that in Venice a small body of hereditary nobles exercised a stern sway. They planned something far transcending in democracy any republic yet heard of; and they are not to be wondered at, or blamed, if, when their work was done, they feared they had gone too far. They had done much in preparing the way for the second birth of their republic in 1789, and for a third in 1801, when the republicans came into power; and from which date, free government in the United States may be said to have started on its course.

A remarkable sign of those times remains on record, which shows how different the state of feeling and opinion was then from any that could now prevail among a large and honourable body in the republic. The society of the Cincinnati, an association of officers of the revolutionary army, and other honourable persons, ordered their proceedings in a manner totally inconsistent with the first principles of republicanism; having secret correspondences, decking themselves with an order, which was to be hereditary, drawing a line of distinction between military and other citizens, and uniting in a secret bond the chiefs of the first families of the respective States. Such an association, formed on the model of some which might be more or less[Pg 19] necessary or convenient in the monarchies of the old world, could not be allowed to exist in its feudal form in the young republic; and, accordingly, the hereditary principle, and the power of adopting honorary members, were relinquished; and the society is heard of no more. It has had its use in showing how the minds of the earlier republicans were imbued with monarchical prepossessions, and how large is the reasonable allowance which must be made for the apprehensions of men, who, having gone further in democracy than any who had preceded them, were destined to see others outstrip themselves. Adams, Hamilton, Washington! what names are these! Yet Adams in those days believed the English constitution would be perfect, if some defects and abuses were remedied. Hamilton believed it would be impracticable, if such alterations were made; and that, in its then existing state, it was the very best government that had ever been devised. Washington was absolutely republican in his principles, but did not enjoy the strong faith, the entire trust in the people, which is the attendant privilege of those principles. Such men, pressed out from among the multitude by the strong force of emergency, proved themselves worthy of their mission of national redemption; but, though we may now be unable to single out any who, in these comparatively quiet times, can be measured against them, we are not thence to conclude that society, as a whole, has not advanced; and that a policy which would have appeared dangerous to them, may not be, at present, safe and reasonable.

Advantageous, therefore, as it may be, that the present federal party should be perpetually on the watch against the encroachments of the state governments,—useful as their incessant recurrence to[Pg 20] the first practices, as well as principles, of the constitution may be,—it would be for their comfort to remember, that the elasticity of their institutions is a perpetual safeguard; and, also, that the silent influence of the federal head of their republics has a sedative effect which its framers themselves did not anticipate. If they compare the fickleness and turbulence of very small republics,—Rhode Island, for instance,—with the tranquillity of the largest, or of the confederated number, it is obvious that the existence of a federal head keeps down more quarrels than ever appear.

When the views of the present apprehensive federal party are closely looked into, they appear to be inconsistent with one or more of the primary principles of the constitution which we have stated. "The majority are right." Any fears of the majority are inconsistent with this maxim, and were always felt by me to be so, from the time I entered the country till I left it.

One sunny October morning I was taking a drive, with my party, along the shores of the pretty Owasco Lake, in New York state, and conversing on the condition of the country with a gentleman who thought the political prospect less bright than the landscape. I had been less than three weeks in the country, and was in a state of something like awe at the prevalence of, not only external competence, but intellectual ability. The striking effect upon a stranger of witnessing, for the first time, the absence of poverty, of gross ignorance, of all servility, of all insolence of manner, cannot be exaggerated in description. I had seen every man in the towns an independent citizen; every man in the country a land-owner. I had seen that the villages had their newspapers, the factory girls their libraries. I had witnessed the controversies between candidates for office on some difficult [Pg 21]subjects, of which the people were to be the judges. With all these things in my mind, and with every evidence of prosperity about me in the comfortable homesteads which every turn in the road, and every reach of the lake, brought into view, I was thrown into a painful amazement by being told that the grand question of the time was "whether the people should be encouraged to govern themselves, or whether the wise should save them from themselves." The confusion of inconsistencies was here so great as to defy argument: the patronage among equals that was implied; the assumption as to who were the wise; and the conclusion that all the rest must be foolish. This one sentence seemed to be the most extraordinary combination that could proceed from the lips of a republican.

The expressions of fear vary according to the pursuits, or habits of mind of those who entertain them: but all are inconsistent with the theory that the majority are right. One fears the influence in the national councils of the "Tartar population" of the west, observing that men retrograde in civilisation when thinly settled in a fruitful country. But the representatives from these regions will be few while they are thinly settled, and will be in the minority when in the wrong. When these representatives become numerous, from the thick settlement of those regions, their character will have ceased to become Tartar-like and formidable: even supposing that a Tartar-like character could co-exist with the commerce of the Mississippi. Another tells me that the State has been, again and again, "on a lee shore, and a flaw has blown it off, and postponed the danger; but this cannot go on for ever." The fact here is true; and it would seem to lead to a directly contrary inference. "The flaw" is the will of the majority, which might be better indicated by a figure of something more [Pg 22]stable. "The majority is right." It has thus far preserved the safety of the state; and this is the best ground for supposing that it will continue to be a safeguard.

One of the most painful apprehensions seems to be that the poorer will heavily tax the richer members of society; the rich being always a small class. If it be true, as all parties appear to suppose, that rulers in general are prone to use their power for selfish purposes, there remains the alternative, whether the poor shall over-tax the rich, or whether the rich shall over-tax the poor: and, if one of these evils were necessary, few would doubt which would be the least. But the danger appears much diminished on the consideration that, in the country under our notice, there are not, nor are likely to be, the wide differences in property which exist in old countries. There is no class of hereditary rich or poor. Few are very wealthy; few are poor; and every man has a fair chance of being rich. No such unequal taxation has yet been ordained by the sovereign people; nor does there appear to be any danger of it, while the total amount of taxation is so very small as in the United States, and the interest that every one has in the protection of property is so great. A friend in the South, while eulogizing to me the state of society there, spoke with compassion of his northern fellow citizens, who were exposed to the risks of "a perpetual struggle between pauperism and property." To which a northern friend replied, that it is true that there is a perpetual struggle everywhere between pauperism and property. The question is, which succeeds. In the United States, the prospect is that each will succeed. Paupers may obtain what they want, and proprietors will keep that which they have. As a mere matter of convenience, it is shorter and easier to obtain property by enterprise[Pg 23] and labour in the United States, than by pulling down the wealthy. Even the most desponding do not consider the case as very urgent, at present. I asked one of my wealthy friends, who was predicting that in thirty years his children would be living under a despotism, why he did not remove. "Where," said he, with a countenance of perplexity, "could I be better off?"—which appeared to me a truly reasonable question.

In a country, the fundamental principle of whose politics is, that its "rulers derive their just powers from the consent of the governed," it is clear that there can be no narrowing of the suffrage. However earnestly some may desire this, no one hopes it. But it does not follow that the apprehensive minority has nothing left but discontent. The enlightenment of society remains not only matter for hope, but for achievement. The prudent speak of the benefits of education as a matter of policy, while the philanthropic promote it as a matter of justice. Security of person and property follows naturally upon a knowledge of rights. However the aristocracy of wealth, learning, and talent may differ among themselves, as to what is the most valuable kind of knowledge, all will agree that every kind will strengthen the bonds of society. In this direction must the aristocracy work for their own security. If they sufficiently provide the means of knowledge to the community, they may dismiss their fears, and rest assured that the great theory of their government will bear any test; and that "the majority will be in the right."

If the fears of the aristocracy are inconsistent with the theory of the government under which they live, so is much of the practice of the democracy. Their hopefulness is reasonable; their reliance on the majority is reasonable. But there are evils attendant on their practice of their true[Pg 24] theories which may account for the propounding of worse theories by their opponents.

Learning by experience is slow work. However sure it may be, it is slow; and great is the faith and patience required by men who are in advance of a nation on a point which they feel that they could carry, if they had not to wait the pleasure of the majority. Though the majority be right in respect of the whole of politics, there is scarcely a sensible man who may not be more in the right than the majority with regard to some one point; and no allowance can be too great for the perpetual discouragement hence arising. The majority eventually wills the best; but, in the present imperfection of knowledge, the will is long in exhibiting itself; and the ultimate demonstration often crowns a series of mistakes and failures. From this fact arises the complaint of many federalists that the democratic party is apt to adopt their measures, after railing both at those measures, and at the men who framed them. This is often true: and it is true that, if the people had only had the requisite knowledge, they would have done wisely to have accepted good measures from the beginning, without any railing at all. But the knowledge was wanting. The next best thing that can happen is, that which does happen: that the people learn, and act upon their learning. If they are not wise enough to adopt a good measure at first, it would be no improvement of the case that they should be too obstinate to accept it at last. The case proves only that out of ignorance come knowledge, conviction, and action; and the majority is ultimately in the right. Whenever there is less of ignorance to begin with, there will be less of the railing, which is childish enough, whether as a mere imputation, or as a reality.

The great theory presumes that the majority[Pg 25] not only will the best measures, but choose the best men. This is far from being true in practice. In no respect, perhaps, are the people more behind their theory than in this. The noble set of public servants with which the people were blessed in their revolutionary period seems to have inspired them at first with a somewhat romantic faith in men who profess strong attachment to whatever has been erected into a glory of the nation; and, from that time to this, the federal party has, from causes which will be hereafter explained, furnished a far superior set of men to the public service than the democratic party. I found this fact almost universally admitted by the wisest adherents of democracy; and out of it has arisen the mournful question, whether an honest man with false political principles be not more dangerous as a ruler than an unscrupulous man with true political principles. I have heard the case put thus: "There is not yet a sufficiency of real friends of the people willing to be their servants. They must take either a somewhat better set of men whose politics they disapprove, or a somewhat worse set of men to make tools of. They take the tools, use them, and throw them away."

This is true; and a melancholy truth it is; since it is certain that whenever the people shall pertinaciously require honest servants, and take due pains to ascertain their honesty, true men will be forthcoming. Under God's providence, the work never waits for the workman.

This fact, however, has one side as bright as the other is dark. It is certain that many corrupt public servants are supported under the belief that they are good and great men. No one can have attended assiduously on the course of public affairs at Washington, and afterwards listened to conversation in the stages, without being convinced of[Pg 26] this. As soon as the mistake is discovered, it is rectified. Retribution often comes sooner than it could have been looked for. Though it be long delayed, the remedy is ultimately secure. Every corrupt faction breaks up, sooner or later, and character is revealed: the people let down their favourite, to hide his head, or continue to show his face, as may best suit his convenience; and forthwith choose a better man; or one believed to be better. In such cases, the evil lies in ignorance—a temporary evil; while the principle of rectification may work, for aught we can see, eternally.

Two considerations,—one of fact, another of inference,—may reassure those who are discouraged by these discrepancies between the theories of the United States' government, and the practice of the democratic party, with regard to both measures and men. The Americans are practically acquainted with the old proverb, "What is every body's business is nobody's business." No man stirs first against an abuse which is no more his than other people's. The abuse goes on till it begins to overbear law and liberty. Then the multitude arises, in the strength of the law, and crushes the abuse. Sufficient confirmation of this will occur to any one who has known the State histories of the Union for the last twenty years, and will not be wholly contradicted by the condition of certain affairs there which now present a bad aspect. Past experience sanctions the hope that when these bad affairs have grown a little worse, they will be suddenly and completely redressed. Illustrations in abundance are at hand.

Lotteries were formerly a great inducement to gaming in Massachusetts. Prudent fathers warned their sons against lotteries; employers warned their servants; clergymen warned their flocks. Tracts, denouncing lotteries, were circulated;[Pg 27] much eloquence was expended,—not in vain, though all sober people were already convinced, and weak people were still unable to resist the seduction. At length, a young man drowned himself. A disappointment in a lottery was found to be the cause. A thrill of horror ran through the community. Every man helped to carry his horror of lotteries into the legislature; and their abolition followed in a trice.

Freemasonry was once popular in the United States; and no one seemed to think any harm of it, though, when examined, it clearly appears an institution incompatible with true republicanism. The account given of it by some friends of mine, formerly masons, is, that it is utterly puerile in itself; that it may be dignified, under a despotism, by an application to foreign objects, but that it is purely mischievous in a republic. Its object, of course, is power. It can have no other; and ought not to have this, where the making of the laws is the office of the people. Its interior obligations are also violations of the democratic principle. All this was as true of masonry twelve years ago as it is now; but masonry was allowed to spread far and wide. One Morgan, a freemason, living in the western part of the state of New York, did a remarkable deed, for which various motives are assigned. He wrote a book in exposure of masonry, its facts and tendencies. When the first part was printed and secured, some masons broke into the printing-office where it was deposited, and destroyed as much of the work as they could lay hold of. Being partly foiled, they bethought themselves of stopping the work by carrying off the author. He was arrested for a trifling debt, (probably fictitious,) conveyed hastily to a magistrate, some miles off, who committed him for want of bail. The ostensible creditor arrived at[Pg 28] the jail, in the middle of the night, and let him out; four or five men put him into a carriage, which made for the Canada frontier. On landing him on British ground, the masons there refused to have any concern in a matter which had gone so far, and Morgan was shut up in the fort at Niagara village, where the Niagara river flows into Lake Ontario. There he was fed and guarded for two days. Thus far, the testimony is express; and concerning the succeeding circumstances there is no reasonable doubt. He was put into a boat, carried out into the middle of the river, and thrown in, with a stone tied to his neck. For four years, there were attempts to bring the conspirators to justice; but little was done. The lodges subscribed funds to carry the actual murderers out of the country. Sheriffs, jurymen, constables, all omitted their duty with regard to the rest. The people were roused to action by finding the law thus overawed. Anti-masonic societies were formed. Massachusetts and other States passed laws against extra-judicial oaths. In such States, the lodges can make no new members, and are becoming deserted by the old. The anti-masonic party flourishes, having a great principle as its basis. It has the control in a few States, and powerful influence in others. Morgan's disclosures have been carried on by other hands. A bad institution is overthrown. The people have learned an important lesson; and they have gone through an honourable piece of discipline in making a stand for the law, which is the life of their body politic.

Thus end, and thus, we may trust, will end the mistakes of the people, whose professed interest is in a wise self-government. Some worse institutions even than masonry remain to be cast out. The law has been again overawed; not once, but many times; and the eyes of the world are on the[Pg 29] people of the United States, to see what they will do. The world is watching to discover whether they are still sensible of the sacred value of unviolated law; whether they are examining who it is that threatens and overbears the law, and why; and whether they are proceeding towards the re-establishment of the peace and security of their whole community, by resolutely rooting out from among their institutions every one which will not bear the test of the first principles of the whole.

The other ground of hope of which I spoke as being inferential, arises out of the imaginative political character of the Americans. They have not yet grown old in the ways of the world. Their immediate fathers have done such a deed as the world never saw; and the children have not yet passed out the intoxication of success. With far less of vanity and presumption than might have been looked for from their youth among the nations, with an extraordinary amount of shrewdness and practical talent shared among individuals, the American people are as imaginative as any nation I happen to have heard or read of. They reminded me every day of the Irish. The frank, confiding character of their private intercourses, the generous nature of their mutual services, the quickness and dexterity of their doings, their fertility of resource, their proneness to be run away with by a notion, into any extreme of absurdity—in all this, and in everything but their deficiency of moral independence, (for which a difference of circumstances will fully account,) they resemble the Irish. I regard the American people as a great embryo poet: now moody, now wild, but bringing out results of absolute good sense: restless and wayward in action, but with deep peace at his heart: exulting that he has caught the true aspect of things past, and at the depth of futurity which[Pg 30] lies before him, wherein to create something so magnificent as the world has scarcely begun to dream of. There is the strongest hope of a nation that is capable of being possessed with an idea; and this kind of possession has been the peculiarity of the Americans from their first day of national existence till now. Their first idea was loftier than some which have succeeded; but they have never lost sight of the first. It remains to be, at intervals, apprehended anew; and whenever the time shall arrive, which cannot but arrive, when the nation shall be so fully possessed of the complete idea as by a moral necessity to act it out, they will be as far superior to nations which act upon the experience and expediency of their time as the great poet is superior to common men.

This time is yet very far distant; and the American people have not only much to learn, and a painful discipline to endure, but some disgraceful faults to repent of and amend. They must give a perpetual and earnest heed to one point; to cherish their high democratic hope, their faith in man. The older they grow, the more must they "reverence the dreams of their youth." They must eschew the folly and profaneness so prevalent in the old world, of exalting man, abstractedly and individually, as a piece of God's creation, and despising men in the mass. The statesman in a London theatre feels his heart in a tumult, while a deep amen echoes through its chambers at Hamlet's adoration of humanity; but not the less, when he goes home, does he speak slightingly, compassionately, or protectingly of the masses, the population, the canaille. He is awestruck with the grandeur of an individual spirit; but feels nothing of the grandeur of a congregated million of like spirits, because they happen to be far off. This proves nothing but the short-sightedness of[Pg 31] such a man. Such shortness of sight afflicts some of the wisest and best men in the new world. I know of one who regards with a humble and religious reverence the three or four spirits which have their habitation under his roof, and close at hand; who begins to doubt and question, in the face of far stronger outward evidence of good, persons who are a hundred miles off; and has scarcely any faith left for those who happen to be over the sea. The true democratic hope cannot coexist with such distrust. Its basis is the unmeasured scope of humanity; and its rationale the truth, applicable alike to individuals and nations, that men are what they are taken for granted to be. "Countrymen," cries Brutus, dying,

"My heart doth joy that yet in all my life,
I found no man but he was true to me."

The philosophy of this fact is clear; it followed of course from Brutus always supposing that men were true. Whenever the Americans, or any other people, shall make integrity their rule, their criterion, their invariable supposition, the first principles of political philosophy will be fairly acted out, and the high democratic hope will be its own justification.


[2] Jefferson writes, September, 1798, "The most long-sighted politician could not, seven years ago, have imagined that the people of this wide extended country could have been enveloped in such delusion, and made so much afraid of themselves and their own power, as to surrender it spontaneously to those who are manœuvring them into a form of government, the principal branches of which may be beyond their control."

Again, March, 1801:—"You have understood that the revolutionary movements in Europe had, by industry and artifice, been wrought into objects of terror in this country, and had really involved a great portion of our well-meaning citizens in a panic which was perfectly unaccountable, and during the prevalence of which they were led to support measures the most insane. They are now pretty thoroughly recovered from it, and sensible of the mischief which was done, and preparing to be done, had their minds continued a little longer under that derangement. The recovery bids fair to be complete, and to obliterate entirely the line of party division, which had been so strongly drawn."—Jefferson's Correspondence, vol. iii. pp. 401, 457.

[Pg 32]


"The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen, in his person and property, and in their management. Try by this, as a tally, every provision of our constitution, and see if it hangs directly on the will of the people."


Though it be true that the principles of government are to be deduced more from experience of human nature than experience of human governments, the institutions in which those principles are to be embodied must be infinitely modified by preceding circumstances. Bentham must have forgotten this when he offered, at sixty-four, to codify for several of the United States, and also for Russia. He proposed to introduce a new set of terms. These could not, from his want of local knowledge, have been very specific; and if general, what was society to do till the lawyers had done arguing? How could even a Solomon legislate, three thousand miles off, for a republic like that of Connecticut, which set out with taking its morals and politics by handfuls, out of Numbers and Deuteronomy? or for Virginia, rank with feudal prejudices and methods? or for Delaware, with its monarchical[Pg 33] martyr spirit? or for Louisiana, compounded of Spain, France, and America? Though at the time of the framing of the constitution, the States bore a strong general resemblance in their forms of government, endless minor differences existed, mainly arising from the different tenure on which they had been held under the English crown. Some had been provinces, governed by royal commissions, according to royal convenience. These were New Hampshire, New York, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. Others had been under proprietary government; as Maryland, held under patent, by Lord Baltimore; and Pennsylvania and Delaware, held by William Penn. Others, again, were under charter governments; ruled and altogether disposed of by political corporations. Such were Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Within the memory of middle-aged men, the governor of New Hampshire used to travel in a coach and six, while the governor of the much more important Massachusetts went on a horse, with his wife on a pillion. It is within the memory of living men how Massachusetts rose up in rejection of the imposition of a clergy by England; while the colonial law of Virginia ordained parsons to be paid yearly six thousand weight of prime tobacco, in addition to marriage, burial, and birth-fees; in which days, an unholy pastor, appointed by Lord Baltimore, was seen to ride about with the church key in one hand, and a pistol in the other. It is absurd to suppose that communities, where wide differences of customs, prejudices, and manners still exist, can be, or ought to be, brought into a state of exact conformity of institutions. Diversities, not only of old custom, but of climate, productions and genealogy, forbid it; and reason does not require it. That institutions should harmonise with the same first principles, is all that is requisite. Some, who would not go so far as to[Pg 34] offer to codify for countries where they have not get their foot, are yet apt to ask the use of one or another institution, to which the Americans seem to be unreasonably attached. It is a sufficient general answer that institutions are rarely sudden and complete inventions. They have usually an historical origin, even when renovated by revolution. Their protracted existence, and the attachment of the people to them are strong presumptions of their having some use. If their purposes can be better attained in another way, they will surely be modified. If they are the result of compromise, they will be abolished, according to the invariable law by which expediency finally succumbs to principle. That this will be the fate of certain of the United States' institutions which no one yet dreams of touching, and few dare to analyze, has been clearly foreseen, for forty years past, by many of the most upright and able men in the country. Some of them entertain an agonizing alarm at the prospect of change. Others, more reasonably, trust that, where no large pecuniary interests are at stake, the work of rectifying may very quietly and safely succeed that of reconciling: and the majority have no idea of the changes which their own hands, or their children's, will have to effect. The gradual ripening for change may be an advantage in more respects than one. Political changes which are the result of full conviction in a free people, are pretty sure to be safe. Time is also allowed, meanwhile, for men to practice their new lesson of separating the idea of revolution from the horrors which have no more natural connexion with it than burning at the stake has with the firm grasp of speculative truth.

[Pg 35]


"We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

So much for the authority, and the objects of this celebrated constitution, as set forth in its preamble.

Its provisions are so well known that it is needful only to indicate them. In Europe, the difficulty is to avoid supposing the state governments to be subordinate to the general. "They are coordinate departments of one simple and integral whole." State government legislates and administers in all affairs which concern its own citizens. To the federal government are consigned all affairs which concern citizens, as foreigners from other states, or as fellow-citizens with all in certain specified relations.

The general objects of the instrument are easily stated; and an apparently clear case of separation between the general and state governments drawn out upon paper. But the application of the instrument to practice is the difficulty.

In this, there are two grand difficulties, among many of inferior importance. The one is, to construe the instrument; the other is, to bridge over its awful chasms of compromise.

[Pg 36]

There has never been a solemn instrument drawn up yet without leaving room for varieties of construction. There never can be, under our present use of abstract terms; no two men's abstractions being alike, or discoverably so. Of course, the profession in this case is, that words are to be taken according to their just and natural import; that there is to be no straining; that they are to be judged of according to common sense; and so on. The old jests against etymologists are enough to prove how far men are from agreeing what straining is. As to common sense, men respond in unison to a revelation of it; but they rarely agree, à priori, as to what it is. This difficulty is a wholly unavoidable one. The refuge under it is in the maxim "the majority are right." If the case in dispute be one of judicial import, the citizen may appeal to the Supreme Court. If it be of a different nature, it must be left to that other kind of supreme court,—the majority,—and the verdict will be given through the ballot-boxes.

The other difficulty, that of compromise, is declared to have been equally unavoidable. Concession, large mutual concession, was clearly necessary. To what extent, may be faintly conceived from the following extract from the Federalist. To some readers, who are more interested in the present workings of the government, than in the embarrassments of its inventors, this extract may appear dull. But it is useful to be presented with an outline of the difficulties incurred in legislating for a federal republic, both as a fact in political science; as a means of forming something like a just judgment of the framers of the constitution; and as a ground of hope that, so much danger having been surmounted, that which remains may be also overcome.

"This one tells us, that the proposed [Pg 37]constitution ought to be rejected, because it is not a confederation of the States, but a government over individuals. Another admits, that it ought to be a government over individuals, to a certain extent, but by no means to the extent proposed. A third does not object to the government over individuals, or to the extent proposed; but to the want of a Bill of Rights. A fourth concurs in the absolute necessity of a Bill of Rights, but contends that it ought to be declaratory, not of the personal rights of individuals, but of the rights reserved to the States in their political capacity. A fifth is of opinion that a Bill of Rights of any sort would be superfluous and misplaced; and that the plan would be unexceptionable, but for the fatal power of regulating the times and places of election. An objector in a large State exclaims loudly against the unreasonable equality of representation in the senate. An objector in a small State is equally loud against the dangerous inequality in the House of Representatives. From one quarter, we are alarmed with the amazing expense, from the number of persons who are to administer the new government. From another quarter, and sometimes from the same quarter on another occasion, the cry is that the Congress will be but the shadow of a representation; and that the government would be far less objectionable, if the number of the expenses were doubled. A patriot in a State that does not import or export, discerns insuperable objections against the power of direct taxation. The patriotic adversary, in a State of great exports and imports, is not less dissatisfied that the whole burthen of taxes may be thrown on consumption. This politician discovers in the constitution a direct and irresistible tendency to monarchy. That, is equally sure that it will end in aristocracy. Another is puzzled to say which of these shapes it will [Pg 38]ultimately assume, but sees clearly it must be one or other of them. While a fourth is not wanting, who, with no less confidence, affirms, that the constitution is so far from having a bias towards either of these dangers, that the weight on that side will not be sufficient to keep it upright and firm against its opposite propensities. With another class of adversaries to the constitution, the language is, that the legislative, executive, and judiciary departments are intermixed in such a manner as to contradict all the ideas of regular government, and all the requisite precautions in favour of liberty. Whilst this objection circulates in vague and general expressions, there are not a few who lend their sanction to it. Let each one come forward with his particular explanation, and scarcely any two are exactly agreed on the subject. In the eyes of one, the junction of the senate with the president, in the responsible function of appointing to offices, instead of vesting this power in the executive alone, is the vicious part of the organisation. To another, the exclusion of the House of Representatives, whose numbers alone could be a due security against corruption and partiality in the exercise of such a power, is equally obnoxious. With a third, the admission of the president into any share of a power, which must ever be a dangerous engine in the hands of the executive magistrate, is an unpardonable violation of the maxims of republican jealousy. No part of the arrangement, according to some, is more inadmissible than the trial of impeachments by the Senate, which is alternately a member both of the legislative and executive departments, when this power so evidently belonged to the judiciary department. We concur fully, reply others, in the objection to this part of the plan; but we can never agree that a reference of impeachments to the judiciary authority would be[Pg 39] an amendment of the error: our principal dislike to the organisation arises from the extensive powers already lodged in that department. Even among the zealous patrons of a council of state, the most irreconcilable variance is discovered, concerning the mode in which it ought to be constituted. The demand of one gentleman is, that the council should consist of a small number, to be appointed by the most numerous branch of the legislature. Another would prefer a larger number, and considers it a fundamental condition, that the appointment should be made by the president himself."[3]

It must have cost Mr. Madison some trouble to vary the mode of expression in putting this host of objections. We cannot but admire the ingenuity with which he has brought them into view. But what should we say to the management which should reconcile the differences themselves? Concessions, various and large, were obviously necessary. I am not about to give a catalogue of what these actually were. They may be learned from any history of the period. Suffice it that the general and state governments not only urged and established claims, but admitted a set of prohibitions on themselves.

In all this there appears no fatal compromise. But there were some which made the wisest men of the time tremble for the stability of their noble work. There seems peril enough in the liability to the occurrence of new questions, which could not be foreseen, and for which an opening might, or might not, happen to be left. When, in addition to such, there were some questions left to be settled by a future government, from the inability of the statesmen of 1787 to agree upon[Pg 40] them, these statesmen might well be uneasy about the stability of their work. Of the first order of questions is that which is now debated with great animosity,—whether Congress has power to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia: a disputed point of construction, on which it seems to me that no plain person can be blamed for not anticipating any difference of opinion. Of the second class is that great question, or nest of questions, respecting Reserved Rights. It was agreed that all unforeseen questions which might arise with regard to the respective powers of the general and state governments, should be settled by the state governments; but then, there was an indefinite limitation introduced in the clause, that the general government should have all powers necessary for the prosecution of such and such purposes. This vague clause has been the occasion of the Union being shaken to its centre; and it may be thus shaken again, before the questions arising out of it are all settled.

Even these, being open questions, are less formidable than the compromise of the true republican principle which is apparent in some provisions of the constitution, and in some of the most important institutions of the country. The northern States, which had abolished, on principle, a far milder slavery than that of the cotton and sugar-growing south, agreed to admit slavery in the south as a basis for direct taxation, and for representation. They did worse. They agreed to act in behalf of their southern fellow-citizens in the capture and restitution of runaway slaves, and in the defence of masters against rebellious slaves. What bitter sorrows of conscience and of feeling this compromise has cost their children, it is impossible fully to describe. Of course, the law, being against conscience, i. e. the law of man coming into collision with the law of God, is [Pg 41]constantly broken; and causes of dissension hence arise. I know that slavery is only recognised by the constitution as a matter of fact; and that it is only twice mentioned; in connexion with representation, and with the restitution to their masters of "persons held to labour escaping into another State:" but the fact remains that a man who abhors slavery is compellable by the law which his fathers made, to deliver up to the owner a slave whose act of absconding he approves. It is impossible to estimate the evils which have proceeded from, and which will yet arise out of this guilty but "necessary" compromise.

There was difficulty in bringing the greater and smaller States into union. The smaller States could not agree to such an unequal representation as should render them liable to be swallowed up by the larger; while the larger could not consent to be reduced to an equality with the smaller. The Senate was established to afford an equal state representation; while the House of Representatives affords a fair representation of the nation in the aggregate, according to numbers. But the principle of the general government is, that it governs the entire people as one nation, and not as a league of States. There ought, in consistency with this, to be no state representation at all; and the Senate is an anomaly. An anomalous institution cannot be very long-lived. A second chamber, on a more consistent principle, will probably be established in its place, to fulfil its functions as a Court of Review, and as a check upon the precipitation of the other house, and, if need be, upon the encroachments of the executive. There is yet more of compromise involved in this institution of the Senate; as might be expected, since there is no end of compromise when principle is once departed from; yet there are statesmen who defend[Pg 42] it on other grounds than that its establishment was necessary to the foundation of any federal government at all. One observed to me, "Some things look well in theory, and fail in practice. This may not be justifiable in theory; but it works well." If this last sentence be true, the well-working of the Senate is only a temporary affair; an accident. Its radical change becomes a question of time merely; and the recent agitation of the question of Instructions seems to indicate that the time is not very far distant.

The appointment of the judges for life is another departure from the absolute republican principle. There is no actual control over them. Theirs is a virtually irresponsible office. Much can be and is said in defence of this arrangement; and whatever is said, is most powerfully enforced by the weight of character possessed by the judiciary, up to this day. But all this does not alter the fact that irresponsible offices are an inconsistency in a republic. With regard to all this compromise, no plea of expediency can alter the fact that, while the House of Representatives is mainly republican, the Senate is only partially so, being anomalous in its character, and its members not being elected immediately by the people; and that the judiciary is not republican at all, since the judges are independent of the nation, from the time of their appointment.

I was told, on high authority, that the assent of the first nine States to the constitution, in 1788, was obtained by means not absolutely fair. What devices were used to procure an apparent majority, I was not informed; but it is generally supposed that if there had been no legislatures active on the occasion, if it had been put to the vote throughout the nation, the ratification would not have taken place when it did. Chief Justice Marshall gives testimony to this effect in his Life of Washington.[Pg 43] "So small, in many instances, was the majority in favour of the constitution, as to afford strong ground for the opinion that, had the influence of character been removed, the intrinsic merits of the instrument would not have secured its adoption. Indeed, it is scarcely to be doubted that, in some of the adopting States, a majority of the people were in opposition."

That a constitution, so framed, and so carried, should have worked as well as it has done, seems to point out two very encouraging things; that we may, without rashness, speak of it as Washington did, when he said, "I was convinced it approached nearer to perfection than any government hitherto instituted among men;" and that the world may quietly and hopefully await the further proceedings of the American people, in their advances towards an uncompromising democracy. There will be changes, but not therefore convulsion. There will be the change which Jefferson foresaw, and provided for without dread. "Still," says he, so lately as June, 1824, "we consider our constitutions not otherwise changeable than by the authority of the people, on a special election of representatives for that very purpose: they are, until then, the lex legum. But can they be made unchangeable? Can one generation bind another, and all others, in succession for ever? I think not. The Creator has made the earth for the living, not the dead."—"A generation may bind itself as long as its majority continues in life; when that has disappeared, another majority is in place, holds all the rights and powers their predecessors once held, and may change their laws and institutions to suit themselves. Nothing then is unchangeable but the inherent and inalienable rights of man."[4]

[Pg 44]

Nothing can be more striking to a stranger than the experience gained, after some residence in the United States, of the ultimate ascendency of the will of the majority—i. e. of the right—in defiance of all appearances to the contrary. The review of what I witnessed of this kind, in the course of two years, with regard to the conduct of Congress alone, surprises and cheers me. It is true that I see several wrongs unredressed; several wounds inflicted on the people's liberties yet unhealed; but these are cases in which the people do not yet understand what has been done; or have not yet roused themselves to show that they do.

In the Senate, the people's right of petition is invaded. Last session, it was ordained that all petitions and memorials relating to a particular subject—slavery in the District of Columbia—should be laid on the table unread, and never recurred to. Of course, the people will not long submit to this. What has been already achieved in Congress on this topic is a security that the rest will follow. When I entered the United States, there was an absolute and most ominous silence in Congress about slavery. Almost every leading man there told me in conversation that it was the grand question of all; that every member's mind was full of it; that nearly all other questions were much affected, or wholly determined by it; yet no one even alluded to it in public. Before I left, it had found its way into both houses. The houses had, in some sort, come to a vote upon it, which showed the absolute abolition strength in the House of Representatives to be forty-seven. The entering wedge having been thus far driven, it is inconceivable that the nation will allow it to be withdrawn by surrendering their right of petition. When I left, however, the people had virtually no right of petition with regard to the [Pg 45]District over which they—i. e. their Congress—have an exclusive jurisdiction.

Again. There were loud and extensive complaints, last session, of the despotism of the chair in the House of Representatives, chiefly in connexion with the subject of slavery. No members, it was said, were allowed a fair hearing but those who sat in a particular part of the house. If this complaint arises out of the peevishness of political disappointment, it will soon be contradicted by facts. If it is true, it is a grave injury. In either case, the chair will not long possess this power of despotism. If the favoured are few, as the complaint states, the injured many will demand and obtain the power to make themselves heard in turn; and no spirit of party can long stand in the way of a claim so just.

Again. After the gentlemen of Charleston had disgraced their city and country, by breaking into the post-office, and burning the contents of the mail-bags, in their dread of abolition papers, a post-master wrote to a member of the cabinet, desiring his approbation for having examined and refused to forward certain papers mailed at his office. The member of the cabinet, Kendall, gave the desired sanction to this audacious stoppage of the post-office function, declaring that the good of the community (as judged of by the individual) is a consideration above the law. The strangers in the land knew not what to make of the fool-hardiness of hazarding such a declaration, in a man of Kendall's wit. It was known that he desired the office of post-master-general; that the president wished him to have it, and that the doubt was whether the Senate would confirm the appointment. Soon after this apparently fatal declaration, he was nominated, and the Senate confirmed his appointment. The declaration, no doubt,[Pg 46] seated him in office. The southern members were won by it. Kendall calculated rightly for his immediate object. What is to become of him when the people shall at length recognise the peril and insult to themselves of one of their favoured servants declaring the will of an individual to be occasionally subversive of the law—i. e. of the will of the majority—remains to be seen. Meantime, the continuance in office of the person whose declaration to the above effect remains unretracted, may be regarded as one of the deepest wounds which has been inflicted on the liberties of the nation.

Another attempt, brought on, no doubt, by Kendall's success, to derange or stop the functions of the post-office, has failed. Mr. Calhoun's Bill, commonly called the Gag Bill, prohibiting postmasters from receiving and forwarding any papers whatsoever containing anything relating to slavery, actually was brought to a third reading by the casting vote of the president of the Senate. There was fear, at the time, that this casting vote might ensure the success of the bill, from the popularity of the vice-president. But the bill was thrown out on the third reading; and the effect of the casting vote has been, not to aid the bill, but to injure materially the popularity of the vice-president. This is so far well. It shows that the people are preparing to grapple honestly with the great, the hideous question, out of which arise these minor encroachments upon their liberties.

Out of the slavery question arose the last monstrous usurpation of Congress, for which the emphatic rebuke of the nation awaits the sinning members. The story deserves to be told at length, on account both of its peculiarities, and of its furnishing a fair illustration of certain relations between the state and general governments.

[Pg 47]

Great Britain was not very learned in the geography of the new world, in the early days of her colonies there. She gave Virginia a patent for lands, including what is now Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, and on to the Pacific. Other colonies obtained grants of equal moderation as to size, and wisdom as to disposition. This absurd partition, it was found, must occasion irreconcilable quarrels among the members of the confederation; and Washington proposed that all, after fixing their own boundaries, should throw into the common stock the huge unoccupied domain. Virginia led the way in making this honourable sacrifice. She fixed her own boundary; and the articles of compact between the United States and the people of the territory north-west of the Ohio river, declared that the territory should be divided into not more than five, nor less than three States. This was in 1787. The boundary prescribed for Ohio and Michigan, was found to be "not convenient." That is, Ohio found it so; and Michigan was not in a situation, at the time when Ohio was admitted into the Union, to insist upon the ancient boundary, prescribed at the time of the cession of land by Virginia. When Ohio was made a State, the boundary she desired was, among other particulars, ratified by Congress.

In 1816, another portion of land, lying within what Michigan supposed to be her own territory, was taken from her, and added to Indiana, on the latter being made a State. An equivalent is offered to Michigan in a portion of land, to be taken out of Wisconsin, on the western side of Lake Michigan, which is the natural boundary of the territory. Michigan alleges that the inconvenience of a part of her territory lying on the other side of the lake would be so great, that the inhabitants would prefer belonging to Wisconsin; and the land would be[Pg 48] ceded, as soon as Wisconsin becomes a State. The decision of the right of this case is the proper business of the Supreme Court, whenever the contesting parties shall have all come into the Union. Meantime, all parties are interested in bearing down the claims of Michigan. Ohio and Indiana desire to keep the lands Congress has authorised them to take. The slave States are anxious to hinder the increase in number of the free States; and by the ordinance of 1787, slavery is prohibited for ever, north-west of the Ohio. The slave States hope, by giving to Michigan a slice of Wisconsin, to make Wisconsin too small to be hereafter divided into two States. In this object, the south will be foiled. Even if slavery should exist till Wisconsin is ready for admission into the Union, there are two ways by which the desire of the south may and will be foiled. By the re-cession of the inconvenient portion by Michigan, as mentioned above; and by the willingness of these northern States to make themselves smaller, and add one to their number, as, by a proviso in the original compact, they have power to do, than let themselves be overborne by the south. This part of the contest, for "a balance of power," arises altogether out of the slavery question.

Soon after I entered the country, Michigan became qualified to request admission into the Union. She did so, declaring her discontent with the boundaries prescribed to her by Congress, and her intention to demand, in the Supreme Court, on her admission, the re-establishment of the old ones. I was amused with the different views of the affair presented to me in different parts of the country. At Cincinnati, in June, 1835, I was told that the President had just transmitted a threat to Ohio, that if she did not yield the boundary claimed by Michigan, he would send the United States troops[Pg 49] to fight it out. It was added that the vice-president had thus far prevailed with the President; it being of importance to Mr. Van Buren, that Michigan, which he considered in his interest, should be admitted into the Union in time to vote for him in the presidential election of 1836. There was much talk at Cincinnati of the resources of Ohio. The people would turn out, to a man. The legislature had instantly voted 300,000 dollars to raise troops; and one hundred and fifty thousand men would immediately be in the field: while Michigan had neither men nor money;—had absolutely nothing to depend upon but the six thousand United States' soldiers. This seemed to me to be too clear a case to be a very true one: and the event belied the story in almost every particular. Michigan did raise men; (though there was no war:) she had not the United States' troops: she is not in the interest of Van Buren; and Ohio could bring no troops into the field.

Michigan proceeded to organise her state government, and sent her senators to Washington, during the session of 1835 and 1836. They were allowed to witness the proceedings, but not, of course, to vote. When I arrived at Detroit, the capital of Michigan, in the middle of June, 1836, the Governor told me that the Michiganians were in the singular position of having a state government in full operation, while they were excluded from the Union. The general opinion seemed to be that some concession must be made about the boundary line; in which case, Michigan would be admitted, in time to vote at the presidential election. I pursued my travels through and around the Territory; and when I returned to Detroit, a month afterwards, I found the place in a state of high excitement: an excitement fully warranted by the circumstances which had occurred.

[Pg 50]

Congress had acknowledged Michigan to be a sovereign State; and had offered to admit her into the Union, on condition of her surrendering all claim to the disputed portions of territory.

A grosser usurpation of power can hardly be conceived. Congress here usurped the function of the Supreme Court in passing sentence against Michigan: passing sentence, too, without hearing, or having a right to listen to, evidence on the case. Congress here required of Michigan to lay down her rights on the threshold of the Union, if she meant to be admitted. Mr. Adams intrepidly declared in the House of Representatives, that Michigan had more cause to ply the Nullification doctrine than South Carolina ever had. A South Carolina nullifier declared in conversation, that he believed the Michiganians' claims to be just: but that, sooner than give her the means of summoning another sovereign State before the Supreme Court, he would vote for her exclusion from the Union as long as he lives. A strange posture of affairs, where all justice seemed to be set aside, and the constitution to have become a dead letter!

The anxiety next was to know what Michigan would do. There seemed too many symptoms of yielding. It was mournful to those who felt that now was the time, now the opportunity, so often sighed for in the best moments of the best men, for making a heroic stand for the right, to hear the forebodings about the canal shares, the lake trade, the probable pecuniary loss in various ways, if there should be delay in the admission of Michigan into the Union. If we spoke of the constitution, we were answered with the canal. If we spoke of patriotism, we were answered with the surplus revenue—the share of it that would be lost. Then, there were fears of war. We were told that the alternative was—admission, with its advantages, and a[Pg 51] surrender of the contested lands; and exclusion, with war between infant Michigan and Ohio, backed by the United States. The alternative was rather, admission, with submission to unconstitutional force; or exclusion, with the lonely enjoyment of an honest sovereignty. But this was not the only alternative. Remaining out of the Union did not involve war. Michigan might remain out of the Union, peaceably, and under protest, till the people of the United States should become fully possessed of her case, and aroused to do her justice. It was with heartfelt delight that I found, at length, that this last honest course is that which Michigan has determined to pursue. It is so common for communities, as for individuals, to miss the moment for doing the greatest of their deeds, to have the bright object of their preceding worship eclipsed at the critical moment, to pray incessantly that they may be honest, and then stand aghast, after all, at an honest deed, that the meeting of the Convention which was to consider of this affair, was watched with deep anxiety by the friends of Michigan. We, their visitors, gathered hope from the tone of the Governor, and others with whom we conversed; from the aspect of the legislators who were assembled to discuss the Governor's message;—men with earnest and sensible faces, who looked as if they were aware that their liberties were at stake; and from the spirited conduct of Michigan from the beginning of the quarrel. Still, we were doubtful whether the canal, the surplus revenue, and the probable war, would not be too much for the fortitude of so young a people. They have shamed our fears, and made a stand for constitutional liberty, which will secure to them the gratitude of the Union, to the latest day of its existence. They have refused to enter the Union on the unconstitutional terms [Pg 52]proposed. The people will see that they are honourably admitted, and that Congress is duly rebuked.


The principle which is professed in the appointment of a chief magistrate in the United States is, that his removal is to be as easy as possible, and effected without disturbing for a moment the proceedings of government. Under the idea that this last must be impossible, some of the patriots of 1789 were opposed to the institution of the office of President altogether; and there are now some who desire that the chief magistrate should be, as nearly as possible, a cipher; that, for this purpose, his election should be annual; and that, if this cannot be, the term should continue to be four years, but without renewal. Such declare that the office was made for the man, Washington, who was wanted, to reconcile all parties. They maintain that, though it was, for a considerable time, well filled, it must become, sooner or later, dangerous to the public welfare: that it comprehends too much power for a citizen of a republic to hold, presents too high a stake, occupies too much thought, and employs too much endeavour, to the exclusion of better objects.

Some desire that the office should have a duration of six years, without renewal.

No one dreams of an attempt to hold the office[Pg 53] for a third term; and there is every prospect that, if any President should be ambitious enough to desire a second re-election, he would fail, and descend from his high station with a total loss of honour.

Some think so highly of the dignity of the chief magistracy, as to propose that ex-presidents should be debarred from holding lower offices. This looks too like an approximation to the monarchical principle to be, or to become, a popular way of viewing the subject. It is a proposition of the high federalists. I was far more gratified than amused at seeing Mr. Adams daily in his seat in the House of Representatives, while the history of his administration was perpetually referred to by those who discussed the politics of the country with me. I am aware that two interpretations may be put upon the fact of an ex-president desiring a lower office. It may occur from a patriotism which finds its own dignity in the welfare of its country, or from a restless ambition to be in the public eye. In either case, it seems to be no matter for a fixed rule. The republican principle supposes every man to be at all times ready to serve his country, when called upon. The rest must be left to the character of the man, and the views of his constituents.

Others think so much more highly of the dignity of the Senate than of the executive, as to desire that senators should be ineligible for the office of President. The object here is two-fold: to exalt the Senate; and, by making half a hundred offices higher in honour than that of President, to drain off some of the eager ambition which flows in the direction of the executive function. But power is more alluring than honour; and executive offices will always be objects of choice, in preference to legislative, except with a very small class of men. Besides, the Senate is already further removed[Pg 54] from the control of the people, than consistency with the true republican principle allows: and if the people are to be precluded from choosing their chief magistrate from among the fifty wisest men (as the senators are in theory) that the States can choose for the guardianship of their interests, the dignity of both functions would be much lowered. In theory, the people's range of choice for their chief magistrate is to extend from the vice-president's chair to the humblest abode which nestles in the rocks of their eastern coasts, or overlooks the gulf of Mexico. The honour in which the Senate is held must depend on its preserving the character, which, on the whole, it has hitherto maintained. A nobler legislative body, for power and principle, has probably never been known. Considering the number of individuals of whom it is composed, its character has, perhaps, been as remarkable as that of the noble array of Presidents, of which the United States have to boast. If, amidst its indirect mode of election, and long term of office, it should prove equally stable in principle, and flexible in its methods of progress, it may yet enjoy a long term of existence, as honourable as could be secured by any exclusion of its members from other offices in the commonwealth.

By far the greatest apprehension connected with the President's office, relates to the extent of his patronage. It was highly alarming, at first, to hear all that was said about the country being ridden with administration-officers, and office-expectants. A little arithmetic, however, proved very cheering. The most eminent alarmist I happened to converse with, stated the number of persons directly and indirectly interested in the bestowment of office by the executive, to be 150,000. No exact calculation can be made, since no one can do more than conjecture how many persons at a[Pg 55] time are likely to be in expectation of any one office. But the above may be taken as the widest exaggeration which an honest alarmist can put forth. This class of interested persons is, after all, but a small section of the population. There is every reason to fear that official corruption is abundant under all governments; and, for some reasons which will be easily apprehended, remarkably so under the government of the United States; but, when it is considered how small a proportion of the people is, at any time, interested in office, and how many persons in office are to be, in fairness, supposed honest, the evil of executive patronage diminishes to the imagination so rapidly as to induce a suspicion that many who say the most about it are throwing a tub to the whale. The watchfulness on the executive power thus induced is a benefit which will set off against a great amount of alarm. It will assist the people to find the true mean between their allowing the President too much power over the servants who are to transact their business, and their assuming too much control over the servants who are to transact his.

Difficult as it is to resist impressions on the spot, from all that is said about the power of the executive, and the character of the President of the time, the worst alarms are derided by the event. It does not appear as if the President could work any permanent effect upon the mind and destiny of the nation. It is of great consequence to the morals and prosperity of the season, that the chief magistrate should be a man of principle, rather than expediency; a frank friend of the people, rather than their cunning flatterer; a man of sense and temper, rather than an angry bigot; a man of business, rather than a blunderer. But the term of an unworthy or incapable President is pretty sure to be the shortest; and, if permitted to serve[Pg 56] his eight years, he can do little unless he acts, on the whole, in accordance with the mind of the people. If he has any power, it is because the people are with him: in which case, he cannot be very destructive to their interests. If he does not proceed in accordance with public sentiment, he has no power. A brief review of the course of the American Presidents seems to show that their influence subsides into something very weak and transitory; always excepting that immeasurable and incalculable influence which is breathed forth through the remotest generations, by the personal character of conspicuous individuals.

Washington's influence is a topic which no one is ever hardy enough to approach, in the way of measurement or specification. Within the compass of his name lies more than other words can tell of his power over men. When the British officers were passing up the Potomac, in the last war, to perpetrate as dastardly a deed of spoliation at the capital as ever it was the cruel fate of soldiers to be ordered to do, they desired to be told when they were passing the burial place of Washington, and stood uncovered on deck as long as they were within sight of Mount Vernon. Any in England who happen to know how deeply disgraced their country was by the actors in this expedition, will feel what the power must have been which, breathing from that shore, humanised for the hour the cowardly plunderers as they floated by. But it was Washington, the man, not the President, who moved them to uncover their heads. It is Washington, the man, not the President, whose name is lovingly spoken, whose picture smiles benignly in every inhabited nook of his own congregation of republics. It is even Washington, the man, not the President, whose name is sacred above all others, to men of all political parties. It was[Pg 57] Washington, the man, who united the votes of all parties in his presidentship, since, so far from pretending to agree with all, he took and left, without fear or favour, what convictions he could or could not adopt from each. The one impression which remains of his presidentship is its accordance with himself. Had it been, in any respect, a lower self, there would have been little left of Washington in the people now.

Adams came in by the strength of the federal party. Supported by the slave States, and all the federalism of the north, he had the means, if any President ever had, of leaving a strong and permanent impression on the face of affairs. He filled up his offices with federalists. Everything during his term of office favoured the influence of the federalists. The nation was almost beside itself with panic at the political convulsions of Europe. Yet, notwithstanding all this, and Mr. Adams's great weight of character, giving influence to his partialities, the people revealed themselves, in the choice of his successor, staunchly republican.

Jefferson's influence was greater than that of any other President, except Washington; and the reason is, that his convictions went along with the national mind. If Jefferson, with the same love of the people, the same earnestness of temper, and grace of manners, had been in any considerable degree less democratic, he might have gone creditably through his term, and have been well spoken of now; but he would not have been the honourable means of two successors of the same principles with himself, being brought in; nor would he have lain, as he now does, at the very heart of the people. At the outset, his state-rights principle secured him the south, and his philanthropic, democratic principles, the north. He was popular, almost beyond example. His popularity could[Pg 58] scarcely be increased; but it has never declined. The common charges against him, of irreligion, of oppression in the management of his patronage, of disrespect to his predecessors, are falling into oblivion, while his great acts remain. As to his religion, whatever might be his creed, its errors or deficiencies, these are still matters of disagreement among the wise and good; and it is certain that Jefferson viewed all the realities that came within his ken, with that calm earnestness which is the true religious spirit. As to the removals from office, which are still complained of, it should be remembered that his predecessor had filled as many offices as possible with high federalists, many of whom provoked their own discharge by their activity against the government they professed to serve. There is no evidence that Jefferson went beyond his own principle; and a principle is no matter of reproach, though it may be of controversy. He says, "Mr. Adams's last appointment, when he knew he was naming counsellors and aids for me and not for himself, I shall set aside as far as depends on me. Officers who have been guilty of gross abuses of office, such as marshals packing juries, &c., I shall now remove, as my predecessor ought in justice to have done. The instances will be few, and governed by strict rule, and not party passion. The right of opinion shall suffer no invasion from me."—"The remonstrance laments that a change in the administration must produce a change in the subordinate officers; in other words, that it should be deemed necessary for all officers to think with their principal. But on whom does this imputation bear? On those who have excluded from office every shade of opinion which was not their's? or on those who have been so excluded? I lament sincerely that unessential differences of opinion should ever have been deemed sufficient to[Pg 59] interdict half the society from the rights and blessings of self-government, to proscribe them as unworthy of every trust. It would have been to me a circumstance of great relief, had I found a moderate participation of office in the hands of the majority. I would gladly have left to time and accident to raise them to their just share. But their total exclusion calls for prompter corrections. I shall correct the procedure: but, that done, return with joy to that state of things, when the only questions concerning a candidate shall be, Is he honest? Is he capable? Is he faithful to the constitution?"[5]

As to his disrespect to Washington and Adams, it should be remembered what the party heats of the day were; how Washington's cabinet was divided between France, war, and general liberty; and neutrality, peace, and care of the people at home. With such a theme of quarrel, it would have been a wonder if hasty words had not been sometimes spoken on all sides. Jefferson's ultimate opinion of Washington, written in confidence to a friend, in 1814, has happily come to light. At the close, he says, "These are my opinions of General Washington, which I would vouch at the judgment-seat of God, having been formed on an acquaintance of thirty years." One extract is enough: "On the whole, his character was, in its mass, perfect; in nothing bad, in few things indifferent; and it may truly be said, that never did nature and fortune combine more perfectly to make a man great, and to place him in the same constellation with whatever worthies have merited from man an everlasting remembrance."[6] The friendship in old age between himself and Mr. Adams, and the moral and intellectual beauty of their close [Pg 60]correspondence, are a spectacle in sight of which all prior party misunderstandings should be forgotten. There is one infallible test by which to try old men who have had much to do in the world. If their power and privilege of admiration survive their knowledge of the world, they are true-hearted; and they occasion as much admiration as they enjoy. Jefferson stands this test.

His great acts are much heard of. The reduction of taxes and correction of abuses with which he began his administration; his having actually done something against slavery; his invariable decision for advocacy or opposition, in accordance with the true democratic principle, are now spoken of more frequently than things less worthy to be remembered. His influence has been greater than that of any other President since Washington, exactly in proportion to his nearer approach to the national idea of a chief magistrate.

No great change took place during the administration of his two successors, Madison and Monroe. They were strong in the strength of his principles, and of their own characters. Madison's term of office would have been memorable in history, if he had not immediately followed his friend Jefferson. Their identity of views, put into practice by Madison, with the simplest honesty and true modesty, caused less observation than the same conduct immediately succeeding a federal administration would have done. Hence the affectation, practised by some, of calling Madison a tool of Jefferson. Those who really knew Mr. Madison and his public life, will be amused at the idea of his being anybody's tool.

The reason why John Quincy Adams's administration is little notorious is somewhat of the same nature. He was a pure President; a strictly moral man. His good morality was shown in the [Pg 61]devotion of his fine powers to the faithful conduct of evanescent circumstances. His lot was that of all good Presidents in the quiet days of the republic. He would not use his small power for harm; and possessed no very great power for political good.

General Jackson was brought into office by an overpowering majority, and after a series of strong party excitements. If ever there was a possibility of a President marking his age, for good or for evil, it would have been done during Jackson's administration. He is a man made to impress a very distinct idea of himself on all minds. He has great personal courage, much sagacity, though frequently impaired by the strength of his prejudices, violent passions, an indomitable will, and that devotion to public affairs in which no President has ever failed. He had done deeds of war which flattered the pride of the people; and in doing them, he had acquired a knowledge of the people, which has served him instead of much other knowledge in which he is deficient. He has known, however, how to obtain the use, though not the reputation, of the knowledge which he does not possess. Notwithstanding the strength of his passions, and the awkward positions in which he has placed himself by the indulgence of his private resentments, his sagacity has served him well in keeping him a little way a-head of the popular convictions. No physician in the world ever understood feeling the pulse, and ordering his practice accordingly, better than President Jackson. Here are all the requisites for success in a tyrannical administration. Even in England, we heard rumours in 1828, and again in 1832, about the perils of the United States, under the rule of a despotic soldier. The cry revived with every one of his high-handed deeds; with every exercise of the veto,—which he has used oftener than all the other Presidents put together,[Pg 62]—with every appointment made in defiance of the Senate; with the removal of the deposites; with his messages of menace to the French government. Yet to what amounts the power now, at the close of his administration, of this idol of the people, this man strong in war, and subtle in council, this soldier and statesman of indomitable will, of insatiable ambition, with the resources of a huge majority at his disposal? The deeds of his administration remain to be justified in as far as they are sound, and undone if they are faulty. Meantime, he has been able to obtain only the barest majority in the Senate, the great object of his wrath: he has been unable to keep the slavery question out of Congress,—the introduction of which is by far the most remarkable event of his administration. One of the most desponding complaints I heard of his administration was, not that he had strengthened the general government—not that his government had tended to centralisation—not that he had settled any matters to his own satisfaction, and left the people to reconcile themselves to his pleasure as they best might,—but that every great question is left unsettled; that it is difficult now to tell any party by its principles; that the principles of such affairs as the currency, land, slavery, internal improvements, &c. remain to be all argued over again. Doubtless, this will be tiresome to such public men as have entirely and finally made up their minds on these subjects. To such, nothing can well be more wearisome than discussion and action, renewed from year to year. But the very fact that these affairs remain unsettled, that the people remain unsatisfied about them, proves that the people have more to learn, and that they mean to learn it. No true friend of his country would wish that the questions of slavery and currency should remain in any position that they have ever[Pg 63] yet occupied in the United States; and towards the settlement of the latter of the two, as far as light depends on collision of opinions, it is certain that no man has done so much, whether he meant it or not, as President Jackson. The occasional breaking up and mingling of parties is a necessary circumstance, whether it be considered an evil or a good. It may be an evil, in as far as it affords a vantage-ground to unprincipled adventurers; it is a good, in as far as it leads to mutual understanding, and improves the candour of partisans. For the rest, there is no fear but that parties will soon draw asunder, with each a set of distinctive principles as its badge. Meantime, men will have reason to smile at their fears of the formidable personage, who is now descending from the presidential chair; and their enthusiasm will have cooled down to the temperature fixed by what the event will prove to have been his merits. They will discuss him by their firesides with the calmness with which men speak of things that are past; while they keep their hopes and fears to be chafed up at public meetings, while the orator points to some rising star, or to some cloud no bigger than a man's hand. Irish emigrants occasionally fight out the battle of the Boyne in the streets of Philadelphia; but native Americans bestow their apprehensions and their wrath upon things future; and their philosophy upon things past. While they do this, it will not be in the power of any President to harm them much or long.

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Never, perhaps, did statesmen begin their task of constitution-making with so much aid from preceding circumstances as the great men of the Revolution. A social neighbourhood of colonies, all suffering under colonial grievances, and all varying in their internal government, afforded a broad hint of the present system, and fine facilities for putting it in practice. There was much less speculation in the case than might appear from a distance; and this fact so far takes away from the superhuman character of the wisdom which achieved the completion of the United States' constitution, as to bring the mind down from its state of amazement into one of very wholesome admiration.

The state governments are the conservative power, enabling the will of the majority to act with freedom and convenience. Though the nation is but an aggregation of individuals, as regards the general government, their division into States, for the management of their domestic affairs, precludes a vast amount of confusion and discord. Their mutual vigilance is also a great advantage to their interests, both within each State, and abroad. No tyrant, or tyrannical party, can remain unwatched and unchecked. There is, in each State, a people ready for information and complaint, when necessary; a legislature ready for deliberation; and an executive ready to act. Many States, in other ages and regions, have been lost through the necessity of creating their instruments when they[Pg 65] should have been acting. State organisation is never managed without dispute; and it makes the entire difference in the success of resistance to aggression whether the necessary apparatus has to be created in haste and confusion, or whether everything is in readiness for executing the will of the majority.

Under no other arrangement, perhaps, could the advantage be secured of every man being, in his turn, a servant of the commonwealth. If the general government managed everything, the public service would soon become the privilege of a certain class, or a number of classes of men; as is seen to be the case elsewhere. The relation and gradation of service which are now so remarkable a feature in the United States commonwealth, could never then happen naturally, as they now do. Almost every man serves in his township in New England, and in the corresponding ward or section elsewhere; and has his capability tried; and, if worthy, he serves his county, his State, and finally the Union, in Congress. Such is the theory: and if not followed up well in practice, if some of the best men never get beyond serving their township, and some of the worst now and then get into Congress, the people are unquestionably better served than if the selection of servants depended on accident, or the favour of men in power. Whatever extraneous impediments may interfere with the true working of the theory, every citizen feels, or ought to feel, what a glorious career may lie before him. In his country, every road to success is open to all. There are no artificial disqualifications which may not be surmounted. All humbug, whether of fashion and show, of sanctimoniousness, of licentiousness, or of anything else, is there destined to speedy failure and retribution. There is no hereditary humbug in the United States. If the[Pg 66] honest, wise man, feels himself depressed below the knave, he has, if he did but know it, only to wait patiently a little while, and he will have his due. Though truth is equally great everywhere, and equally sure ultimately to prevail, men of other countries have often to wait till they reach the better country than all, before they witness this ultimate prevalence, except with the eye of faith. The young nation over the Atlantic, is indulged, for the encouragement, with a speedier retribution for her well or ill doings; and almost every one of her citizens, if he be truly honourable, may trust to be fitly honoured before he dies.

Another conservative effect of the state governments is the facilities they afford for the correction of solecisms, the renovation of institutions as they are outgrown, and the amendment of all unsuitable arrangements. If anything wants to be rectified in any State, it can be done on the mere will of the people concerned. There is no imploring of an uninterested government at a distance—a government so occupied with its foreign relations as to have little attention to spare for domestic grievances which it does not feel. There is no waiting any body's pleasure; nobody's leave to ask. The remedy is so close at hand, those who are to give it are so nearly concerned, that it may always, and, for the most part, speedily, be obtained, upon good cause being shown. No external observance is needed, except of the few and express prohibitions which the general and state governments have interchanged.

It is amusing to look over the proceedings of the state legislatures for any one year. Maine amends her libel law, decreeing that proof of truth shall be admitted as justification. Massachusetts decrees a revision and consolidation of her laws, and the annihilation of lotteries. Rhode[Pg 67] Island improves her quarantine regulations. Connecticut passes an act for the preservation of corn-fields from crows. Vermont decrees the protection of the dead in their graves. New York prohibits the importation of foreign convicts. New Jersey incorporates a dairy company. Pennsylvania mitigates the law which authorises imprisonment for debt. Maryland authorises a geological survey. Georgia enlarges her law of divorce. Alabama puts children, in certain circumstances, under the protection of chancery. Mississippi decrees a census. Tennessee interdicts barbacues in the neighbourhood of camp meetings. Ohio regulates the care of escheated lands. Indiana prohibits a higher rate of interest than ten percent. Missouri authorises the conveyance of real estate by married women. And so on. It seems difficult to imagine how many abuses can reach an extreme, or be tardy of cure, where the will of the majority is not only speedily made known, but where the division of employment is so skilfully arranged that the majority may be trusted to understand the case on which they are to decide.

It has always appeared to me that much misapprehension is occasioned by its being supposed that the strength of the general government lies in the number of its functions; and its weakness in the extent of its area. To me it appears directly the reverse. A government which has the management of all the concerns of a people, the greater and the smaller, preserves its stability by the general interest in its more important functions. If you desire to weaken it, you must withdraw from its guardianship the more general and important of its affairs. If you desire to shield it from cavil and attack, you must put the more local and partial objects of its administration under other management. If the general government of[Pg 68] the United States had to manage all legislation and administration within their boundaries, it could hardly hold together one year. If it had only one function, essential to all, and impossible to be otherwise fulfilled, there seems no reason why it should not work prosperously till there are fifty States around it, and longer. The importance of the functions of the general government depends partly upon the universality of the interest in them; and partly upon the numbers included under them. So far, therefore, from the enlargement of the area of the United States being perilous to the general government, by making it "cumbrous," as many fear, it seems to me likely to work a directly contrary effect. There are strong reasons why an extension of her area would be injurious to her, but I cannot regard this as one. A government which has to keep watch over the defence, foreign policy, commerce, and currency, of from twenty-five to fifty small republics, is safer in the guardianship of its subjects than if it had to manage these same affairs for one large republic, with the additional superintendence of its debtors, its libellers, and the crows of its corn-fields.

Little or no room for rebellion seems to be left under the constitution of the United States. In the progress of human affairs, familiar evils expire with worn-out institutions, and new dangers arise out of the midst of renovated arrangements. Assassinations are the form which resistance to government assumes in pure despotisms. Rebellion is the name it bears under governments somewhat more liberal. In the United States, nothing worse than professed Nullification has yet been heard of—unless Colonel Burr's secret schemes were indeed treasonable. A brief account of the South Carolina Nullification may exhibit the relations, and occasional enmities of the general and states [Pg 69]government in a clearer way than could be done, otherwise than by a narrative of facts. This little history shows, among many other things, that America follows the rest of the world in quoting the constitution as a sanction of the most opposite designs and proceedings: what different sympathies respond to the word "patriotism;" and of how little avail is the letter of the constitution, when there is variance as to its spirit.

Georgia laid claim, some years ago, to the Cherokee territory, on the ground that the United States had no right to make the laws and treaties by which the Cherokees were protected; that such legislation was inconsistent with the reserved rights of the sovereign state of Georgia. Georgia thus acted upon the supposition, that she was to construe the federal compact in her own way, and proceed according to her own construction. Congress checked her in this assumption, and rejected her pretensions by an almost unanimous vote. Soon after the accession of General Jackson to the presidentship, Georgia, either presuming upon his favour, or wishing to test his dispositions, began to encroach upon the Cherokee lands. The Cherokees appealed to the federal government for protection, under the laws and treaties framed for that very purpose. The President replied, that Georgia was right in annulling those laws and treaties, and that the executive could not interfere. The Indian cause was brought before the Supreme Court. There was difficulty about the character in which the plaintiffs were to sue, and as to whether they could sue at all, under that provision of the constitution which authorises foreign nations to demand justice from the federal tribunals. The court expressed a strong, opinion however, that the Cherokees were entitled to protection from the Executive.

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The Supreme Court and Georgia were thus brought into opposition, while the Executive took the part of Georgia. Compassion for the Cherokees was now swallowed up in anxiety about the decision of the question of state rights. The Executive had, as yet, only negatively declared himself, however; and the Supreme Court had not been driven on to deliver a verdict against the Georgian laws, by which the Cherokees were oppressed. The topic of the right of a State to annul the laws and treaties of the federal government was meantime generally discussed; and reconsideration was forced upon the President.

South Carolina presently followed the example of Georgia. She annulled the acts of Congress, which regarded such revenue laws as she considered contrary to general principles, and to her own interests. The President now perceived that if every State proceeded to nullify the acts of Congress, upon its own construction of the federal constitution, the general government could not be secure of its existence for a day. While the Executive was still in a position of observation, the Supreme Court pronounced, in another case, a verdict against the unconstitutional laws of Georgia. In 1829, the legislature of Virginia asserted the right of each State to construe the federal constitution for itself: and thus there appeared to be three States already in the course of withdrawing from the Union.

Congress went on legislating about the tariff, without regard to this opposition; and the protests of certain States against their proceedings were quietly laid on the table, as impertinences. The South Carolina advocates of Nullification worked diligently in their own State to ripen the people sufficiently to obtain a convention which should proclaim their doctrine as the will of the[Pg 71] State: in which case, they doubted not that they should secure the countenance and co-operation of most or all of the southern States. A convention in favour of free trade met at Philadelphia; another in favour of the tariff met at New York; and the nullifiers saw reason to turn the discussion of the quarrel as much as possible from the principle of Nullification to the principle of free trade. They perceived the strength of the latter ground, whether or not they saw the weakness of the former; and by their skilful movement upon it, they eventually caused a greater benefit to the nation, than their discontent did harm to themselves.

The President was invited to dine at Charleston on the 4th of July, 1831; and in his answer, he thought fit to announce that he should do his duty in case of any attempt to annul the laws of the Union. This was a virtual retractation of his encouragement to Georgia. A committee of the legislature of South Carolina reported the letter to be at variance with the duties of the President, and the rights of the States. The heat was rising rapidly. The nullifiers were loud in their threats, and watchful in observing the effect of those threats abroad. North Carolina repudiated the whole doctrine of Nullification: other neighbouring States showed a reluctance to sanction it. The President's next message recommended a modification of the tariff, which was known to be no favorite of his; but the modification he proposed had no other bearing than upon the amount of the revenue.

During the session of Congress of 1832, various alterations were made in the duties, which it was hoped would be to the satisfaction of South Carolina: but the complaint of her representatives was, that the reductions which were ordained were on those articles in which she had no interest; while her burdens were actually increased. These [Pg 72]representatives met at Washington, and drew up an address to the people of South Carolina, in which they declared their wrongs, and inquired whether they were to be tamely submitted to.

The legislature of South Carolina, after the next election, exhibited a large majority in both houses in favour of Nullification. A convention was called at Columbia, in consequence of whose proceedings an ordinance was prepared, and speedily passed through the legislature, declaring all the acts of Congress imposing duties on imported goods, to be null and void within the state of South Carolina. It prohibited the levying of all such duties within the State, and all appeals on the subject to the Supreme Court. A number of minor provisions were made to hinder the levy of import duties. The governor was empowered to call the militia into service against any opposition which might be made by the general government to this bold mode of proceeding. The entire military force of the State, and the services of volunteers, were also placed at his disposal. Arms and ammunition were ordered to be purchased.

This was too much for the President's anxiety about consistency. He ordered all the disposable military force to assemble at Charleston; sent a sloop of war to that port, to protect the federal officers in the discharge of their duties; and issued a vigorous proclamation, stating the constitutional doctrine, about the mutual relations of the general and state governments, and exhorting the citizens of South Carolina not to forfeit their allegiance. Governor Hayne issued a counter proclamation, warning the citizens of the State against being seduced from their state allegiance by the President. This was at the close of 1832.

Everything being thus ready for an explosion, South Carolina, appeared willing to wait the result[Pg 73] of another session. This was needful enough; for she was as yet uncertain whether she was to have the assistance of any of her sister States. Mr. Calhoun, the vice-president, resigned his office, and became a senator in the room of governor Hayne: and thus the nullification cause was in powerful hands in the senate. Its proceedings were watched with the most intense anxiety by the whole Union. The crisis of the Union was come.

In the discontented State, the union party, which was strong, though excluded from the government, was in great sorrow and fear. Civil war seemed inevitable; and they felt themselves oppressed and insulted by the imposition of the oath of allegiance to the State. The nullifiers justified this requisition by saying that many foreigners resident in Charleston, who did not understand the case, believed that their duty to the general government required them to support it, while its vessels of war and troops were in port; however well they might be disposed to the nullification cause. It was merely as a method of enlightenment, it was protested, that this oath was imposed.

The ladies, meanwhile, had a State Rights ball at the arsenal, and contributed their jewels for the support of the expected war. I could not learn that they made lint—the last test of woman's earnestness for war; but I was told by a leading nullifier that the ladies were "chock full of fight." The expectation of war was so nearly universal that I could hear of only one citizen of Charleston who discouraged the removal of his wife and children from the city, in the belief that a peaceful settlement of the quarrel would take place.

The legislatures of the States passed resolutions, none of them advocating nullification; (even Georgia forsaking that ground;) many condemned the proceedings of South Carolina; but some, while[Pg 74] doing so, made strong remonstrances against the tariff. Five of the States, in which manufactures had been set up, declared their opposition to any alteration of the tariff. It is amusing now to read the variety of terms in which the South Carolina proceedings were condemned; though, at the time, the reports of these resolutions must have carried despair to the hearts of the citizens of the solitary discontented State. The effect of these successive shocks is still spoken of in strong and touching language by those who had to sustain them.

While the South Carolina militia were training, and the munitions of war preparing, the senators and representatives of the State were wearing stern and grave faces at Washington. The session was passing away, and nothing but debate was yet achieved. Their fellow legislators looked on them with grief, as being destined to destruction in the field, or on the scaffold. They were men of high spirit and gallantry; and it was clear that they had settled the matter with themselves and with each other. They would never submit to mere numbers; and would oppose force to force, till all of their small resources was spent. No one can estimate their heroism, or desperation, whichever it may be called, who has not seen the city and State which would have been the theatre of the war. The high spirit of South Carolina is of that kind which accompanies fallen, or inferior fortunes. Pride and poverty chafe the spirit. They make men look around for injury, and aggravate the sense of injury when it is real. In South Carolina, the black population outnumbers the white. The curse of slavery lies heavy on the land, and its inhabitants show the usual unwillingness of sufferers to attribute their maladies to their true cause. Right as the South Carolinians may be as to the principle of free trade, no tariff ever yet occasioned[Pg 75] such evils as they groan under. If not a single import duty had ever been imposed, there would still have been the contrasts which they cannot endure to perceive between the thriving States of the north and their own. Now, when they see the flourishing villages of New England, they cry "We pay for all this." When the north appears to receive more favour from the general government, in its retrospective recompenses for service in war, the greater proportion of which service was rendered by the north, the south again cries, "We pay for all this." It is true that the south pays dearly; but it is for her own depression, not for others' prosperity. When I saw the face of the nullifiers' country, I was indeed amazed at their hardihood. The rich soil, watered by full streams, the fertile bottoms, superintended by the planters' mansions, with their slave quarter a little removed from the house, the fine growth of trees, and of the few patches of pasturage which are to be seen, show how nourishing this region ought to be. But its aspect is most depressing to the traveller. Roads nearly impassable in many parts, bridges carried away and not restored, lands exhausted, and dwellings forsaken, are spectacles too common in South Carolina. The young men, whose patrimony has deteriorated, migrate westward with their 'force;' selling their lands, if they can; if not, forsaking them. There are yet many plantations of unsurpassed fertility; but there are many exhausted: and it is more profitable to remove to a virgin soil than to employ slave labour in renovating the fertility of the old. There is an air of rudeness about the villages, and languor about the towns, which promise small resource in times of war and distress. And then, the wretched slave population is enough to paralyse the arm of the bravest community, and to ensure defeat to the best cause. I saw[Pg 76] the soldiers and the preparations for war at Charleston, two years after the crisis was past. When I was to be shown the arms and ammunition, it appeared that "the gentleman that had the key was not on the premises." This showed that no immediate invasion was expected; but it was almost incredible what had been threatened with such resources. The precautionary life of the community, on account of the presence of so large a body of slaves, may be, in some sort, a training for war; but it points out the impediments to success. If South Carolina had, what some of her leading men seem to desire, a Lacedemonian government, which should make every free man a soldier, she would be farther from safety in peace, and success in war, than any quaker community, exempt from the curse of a debased and wronged servile class. One glance over the city of Charleston is enough to show a stranger how helpless she is against a foreign foe, if unsupported. The soldiers met, at every turn, the swarms of servile blacks, the very luxuries and hospitalities of the citizens, grateful as these luxuries are to the stranger, and honourable as these hospitalities are to his entertainers, betoken a state of society which has no strength to spare from the great work of self-renovation. Those who remained at home during the winter of 1832 and 1833, might be hopeful about the conflict, from being unaware of the depressed condition of their State, in comparison with others: but the leaders at Washington might well look stern and grave. It is no impeachment of their bravery, if their hearts died within them, day by day.

The session was within fourteen days of its close, when Mr. Clay brought in a bill which had been carefully prepared as a compromise between the contending parties. It provided that all import duties exceeding twenty per cent. should be[Pg 77] gradually reduced, till, in 1842, they should have declined to that amount; leaving liberty to augment the duties again, in case of war. This bill, with certain amendments, not affecting its principle, was passed, as was the Enforcing Bill,—for enforcing the collection imposed by act of Congress. A convention was held in South Carolina: the obnoxious ordinance was repealed; the Enforcing Bill was, indeed, nominally nullified; but no powers were offered to the legislature for enforcing the nullification; and the quarrel was, to all intents and purposes, at an end.

The triumph remained,—if triumph there were,—with South Carolina. This was owing to the goodness of her principle of free trade; and in no degree, to the reasonableness of her nullifying practices. The passage of the Compromise Bill was a wise and fortunate act. Its influence on the planting and manufacturing interests is a subject to be considered in another connexion. Its immediate effect in honourably reconciling differences which had appeared irreconcileable, was a blessing, not only to the United States, but to the world. The lustre of democratic principles would have been shrouded to many eyes by a civil war among the citizens of the Union; while now, the postponement of a danger so imminent, the healing of a breach so wide, has confirmed the confidence of many who feared that the States remained united only for want of a cause of separation.

Some ill effects remain,—especially in the irritation of South Carolina. There is still an air of mystery and fellowship about the leading nullifiers, and of disquiet among the Union men of Charleston. But there is cause enough for restlessness in Charleston, as I have before said; and much excuse for pique.

Meanwhile, these events have proved to thousands of republicans the mischief of compromise[Pg 78] conveyed in vague phraseology, in so solemn an instrument as a written constitution.

There could not have been a doubt on this case, if the question of construction had not had place, from the unfortunate clause ordaining that the general government shall have all powers necessary for the fulfilment of certain declared purposes. While this provision, thus worded, remains, the nullification theory will be played off, from time to time. The good consequence will arise from this liability, that a habit will be formed of construing the constitution liberally, with regard to the States, wherever there is a doubt as to the exercise of its powers; but this collateral good is no justification of the looseness of language by which the peace and integrity of the Union have been made to hang on a point of construction. The people of the United States will probably show their wisdom in henceforth accepting the benefit by shunning the evil.

In the privacy of their houses, many citizens have lamented to me, with feelings to which no name but grief can be given, that the events of 1832—3 have suggested the words "use" or "value of the Union." To an American, a calculation of the value of the Union would formerly have been as offensive, as absurd, as an estimate of the value of religion would be to a right-minded man. To Americans of this order, the Union has long been more than a matter of high utility. It has been idealised into an object of love and veneration. In answer to this cui bono, many have cried in their hearts, with Lear, "O reason not the need!" I was struck with the contrast in the tone of two statesmen, a chief nullifier and one of his chief opponents. The one would not disguise from me that the name of the Union had lost much of its charm in the south, since 1830. The other, in a glow, protested that he never would hear of the Union losing its charm.

[Pg 79]

But the instances of carelessness, of levity about the Union, are very rare; and this is the reason why more show of attachment to it is not made. The probabilities of the continuance of the Union are so overwhelming, that no man, not in a state of delusion, from some strong prejudice, can seriously entertain the idea of a dissolution within any assignable period. I met with one gentleman in the north, a clergyman, who expects and desires a dissolution of the Union, saying that the north bore all the expense of the war, and has had nothing but obstruction and injury from the south. I saw, also, one gentleman in South Carolina, who sees no use in the Union, but much expense and trouble. He declares the only effect of it to be the withdrawing of the best men from each State to dawdle away their time at Washington. Another, who desponds about the condition of England, and whose views are often embellished, and sometimes impaired, by his perceptions of analogy, expressed his fears that his own country, an offset from mine, would share the fate of offsets, and perish with the parent. But these are examples of eccentricity.

There are many among the slave-holders of the south who threaten secession. Such of these as are in earnest are under the mistake into which men fall when they put everything to the hazard of one untenable object. The untenable object once relinquished, the delusion will clear away with the disappearance of its cause, and the Union will be to them, with good reason, dearer than it has ever been. The southern States could not exist, separately, with their present domestic institutions, in the neighbourhood of any others. They would have thousands of miles of frontier, over which their slaves would be running away, every day of the year. In case of war, they might be only too happy if their slaves did run away, instead of rising up[Pg 80] against them at home. If it was necessary to purchase, Florida because it was a retreat for runaways; if it was necessary, first to treat with Mexico for the restitution of runaways, and then to steal Texas, the most high-handed theft of modern times; if it is necessary to pursue runaways into the northern States, and to keep magistrates and jails in perpetual requisition for the restitution of southern human property, how would the southern States manage by themselves? Only by ridding themselves of slavery; in which case, their alleged necessity of separation is superseded. As for their resources,—the shoe-business of New York State is of itself larger and more valuable than the entire commerce of Georgia,—the largest and richest of the southern States.

The mere act of separation could not be accomplished. In case of war against the northern States, it would be necessary to employ half the white population to take care of the black; and of the remaining half, no one would undertake to say how many are at heart sick and weary of slavery, and would be, therefore, untrustworthy. The middle slave States, now nearly ready to discard slavery, would seize so favourable an opportunity as that afforded them by the peril of the Union. The middle free States, from Pennsylvania to the Mississippi, having everything to lose by separation, and nothing to gain, would treat the first overt act as rebellion; proceeding against it, and punishing it as such. The case is so palpable as scarcely to need even so brief a statement as this. The fact which renders such a statement worth making is, that most of those who threaten the dissolution of the Union, do it in order to divert towards this impracticable object the irritation which would otherwise, and which will, ere long, turn against the institution of slavery. The gaze of the world[Pg 81] is fixed upon this institution. The world is shouting the one question about this anomaly which cannot be answered. The dwellers in the south would fain be unconscious of that awful gaze. They would fain not hear the reverberation of that shout. They would fain persuade themselves and others, that they are too busy in asserting their rights and their dignity as citizens of the Union, to heed the world beyond.

This self and mutual deception will prove a merely temporary evil. The natural laws which regulate communities, and the will of the majority, may be trusted to preserve the good, and to remove the bad elements from which this dissension arises. It requires no gift of prophecy to anticipate the fate of an anomaly among a self-governing people. Slavery was not always an anomaly; but it has become one. Its doom is therefore sealed; and its duration is now merely a question of time. Any anxiety in the computation of this time is reasonable; for it will not only remove a more tremendous cause than can ever again desolate society, but restore the universality of that generous attachment to their common institutions which has been, and will be, to the American people, honour, safety, and the means of perpetual progress.


[3] The Federalist, vol. i. p. 277.

[4] Correspondence, vol. iv. p. 396.

[5] Jefferson's Correspondence, vol. iii. pp. 467-476.

[6] Jefferson's Correspondence, vol. iv. p. 236.

[Pg 82]


"'Tis he whose law is reason; who depends
Upon that law as on the best of friends;
Whence, in a state where men are tempted still
To evil for a guard against worse ill,
And what in quality or act is best,
Doth seldom on a right foundation rest,
He fixes good on good alone, and owes
To virtue every triumph, that he knows."

Under a pure despotism, the morals of politics would make but a very short chapter. Mercy in the ruler; obedience in his officers, with, perhaps, an occasional stroke of remonstrance; and taxpaying in the people, would comprehend the whole. Among a self-governing people, who profess to take human equality for their great common principle, and the golden rule for their political vow, a long chapter of many sections is required.

The morals of politics are not too familiar anywhere. The clergy are apt to leave out its topics from their list of subjects for the pulpit. Writers on morals make that chapter as brief as if they lived under the pure despotism, supposed above. An honest newspaper, here and there, or a newspaper honest for some particular occasion, and therefore uninfluential in its temporary honesty, are the only speakers on the morals of politics. The only speakers; but not the only exhibitors. Scattered[Pg 83] here and there, through a vast reach of ages, and expanse of communities, there may be found, to bless his race, an honest statesman. Statesmen, free from the gross vices of peculation, sordid, selfish ambition, cruelty and tergiversation, are not uncommon. But the last degree of honesty has always been, and is still, considered incompatible with statesmanship. To hunger and thirst after righteousness has been naturally, as it were, supposed a disqualification for affairs; and a man, living for truth, and in a spirit of love, "pure in the last recesses of the mind," who should propose to seek truth through political action, and exercise love in the use of political influence, and refine his purity by disinfecting the political atmosphere of its corruptions, would hear it reported on every hand that he had a demon. Yet one who is aware of the enthusiasm with which the Germans hail the words of Posa at every representation of Don Carlos; one who has seen how American officials are supported by the people, on the supposition that they are great men, (however small such men may really be,) one who has watched the acceleration, within our own time, of the retribution which overtakes untrustworthy public men, whatever may be their talents and their knowledge, in contrast with the comparative stability of less able, but more honest men, can doubt no longer that the time is at hand for the advent of political principle. The hour is come when dwellers in the old world should require integrity of their rulers; and dwellers in the new world, each in his turn a servant of society, should require it of each other and of themselves. The people of the United States are seeking after this, feebly and dimly. They have retained one wise saying of the fathers to whom they owe so much; that the letter of laws and constitutions is a mere instrument; with no vitality; no[Pg 84] power to protect and bless; and that the spirit is all in all. They have been far from acting upon this with such steadiness as to show that they understand and believe it. But the saying is in their minds; and, like every other true thing that lies there, it will in time exhibit itself in the appointed mode—the will of the majority.


I was told two things separately, last year, which, if put together, seem to yield an alarming result. I was told that almost every man holds office, some time during his life; and that holding one is the ruin of moral independence. The case is not, however, nearly so bad as this. There is a kind of public life which does seem to injure the morals of all who enter it; but very few are affected by this. Office in a man's own neighbourhood, where his character and opinions are known, and where the honour and emolument are small, is not very seductive: and these are the offices filled by the greater number of citizens who serve society. The temptation to propitiate opinion becomes powerful when a citizen desires to enter the legislature, or to be the chief magistrate of the State. The peril increases when he becomes a candidate for Congress; and there seems to be no expectation whatever that a candidate for the presidentship, or his partizans, should retain any simplicity of speech, or regard to equity in the distribution of places and promises. All this is dreadfully wrong. It originates in a grand mistake, which cannot be[Pg 85] rectified but by much suffering. It is obvious that there must be mistake; for it can never be an arrangement of Providence that men cannot serve each other in their political relations without being corrupted.

The primary mistake is in supposing that men cannot bear to hear the truth. It has become the established method of seeking office, not only to declare a coincidence of opinion with the supposed majority, on the great topics on which the candidate will have to speak and act while in office, but to deny, or conceal, or assert anything else which it is supposed will please the same majority. The consequence is, that the best men are not in office. The morally inferior who succeed, use their power for selfish purposes, to a sufficient extent to corrupt their constituents, in their turn. I scarcely knew, at first, how to understand the political conversations which I heard in travelling. If a citizen told another that A. had voted in a particular manner, the other invariably began to account for the vote. A. had voted thus to please B., because B.'s influence was wanted for the benefit of C., who had promised so and so to A.'s brother, or son, or nephew, or leading section of constituents. A reason for a vote, or other public proceeding, must always be found; and any reason seemed to be taken up rather than the obvious one, that a man votes according to the decision of his reason and conscience. I often mentioned this to men in office, or seeking to be so; and they received it with a smile or a laugh which wrung my heart. Of all heart-withering things, political scepticism in a republic is one of the most painful. I told Mr. Clay my observations in both kinds. "Let them laugh!" cried he, with an honourable warmth: "and do you go on requiring honesty; and you will find it." He is right: but those who[Pg 86] would find the highest integrity had bettor not begin their observations on office-holders, much less on office-seekers, as a class. The office-holder finds, too often, that it may be easier to get into office than to have power to discharge its duties when there: and then the temptation to subservience, to dishonest silence, is well nigh too strong for mortal man. The office-seeker stands committed as desiring something for which he is ready to sacrifice his business or profession, his ease, his leisure, and the quietness of his reputation. He stands forth as either an adventurer, a man of ambition, or of self-sacrificing patriotism. Being once thus committed, failure is mortifying, and the allurement to compromise, in order to success, is powerful. Once in public life, the politician is committed for ever, whether he immediately perceives this, or not. Almost every public man of my acquaintance owned to me the difficulty of retiring,—in mind, if not in presence,—after the possession of a public trust. This painful hankering is part of the price to be paid for the honours of public service: and I am disposed to think that it is almost universal; that scarcely any man knows quiet and content, from the moment of the success of his first election. The most modest men shrink from thus committing themselves. The most learned men, generally speaking, devote themselves, in preference, to professions. The most conscientious men, generally speaking, shun the snares which fatally beset public life, at present, in the United States.

A gentleman of the latter class, whose talents and character would procure him extensive and hearty support, if he desired it, told me, that he would never serve in office, because he believes it to be the destruction of moral independence: he pointed out to me three friends of his, men of[Pg 87] remarkable talent, all in public life. "Look at them," said he, "and see what they might have been! Yet A. is a slave, B. is a slave, and C. is a worm in the dust." Too true.

Here is a grievous misfortune to the republic! My friend ascribes it to the want of protection from his neighbours, to which a man is exposed from the want of caste. This will never do. A crown and sceptre would be about as desirable in a republic as caste. If men would only try the effect of faith in one another, I believe they would take rank, and yield protection, with more precision and efficacy than by any manifestation of the exclusive spirit that was ever witnessed. Of course, this proposal will be called "Quixotic;" that convenient term which covers things the most serious and the most absurd, the wisest and the wildest. I am strengthened in my suggestion by a recurrence to the first principles of society in the United States, according to which I find that "rulers derive their just powers from the consent of the governed;" and that the theory is, that the best men are chosen to serve. Both these pre-suppose mutual faith. Let the governed once require honesty as a condition of their consent; let them once choose the best men, according to their most conscientious conviction, and there will be an end of this insulting and disgusting political scepticism. Adventurers and ambitious men there will still be; but they will not taint the character of the class. Better men, who will respect their constituents, without fearing or flattering them, will foster the generous mutual faith which is now so grievously wanting; and the spirit of the constitution, now drooping in some of its most important departments, will revive.

I write more in hope than in immediate expectation. I saw much ground for hope, but very[Pg 88] much also for grief. Scarcely anything that I observed in the United States caused me so much sorrow as the contemptuous estimate of the people entertained by those who were bowing the knee to be permitted to serve them. Nothing can be more disgusting than the contrast between the drawing-room gentleman, at ease among friends, and the same person courting the people, on a public occasion. The only comfort was a strong internal persuasion that the people do not like to be courted thus. They have been so long used to it, that they receive it as a matter of course; but, I believe, if a candidate should offer, who should make no professions but of his opinions, and his honest intentions of carrying them out; if he should respect the people as men, not as voters, and inform them truly of his views of their condition and prospects, they would recognise him at once as their best friend. He might, notwithstanding, lose his election; for the people must have time to recover, or to attain simplicity; but he would serve them better by losing his election thus, than by the longest and most faithful service in public life.

I have often wondered whether a gentleman at Laporte, in Indiana, who advertised his desire to be sheriff, gained his election. He declared in his advertisement that he had not been largely solicited, but that it was his own desire that he should be sheriff: he would not promise to do away with mosquitoes, ague, and fever, but only to do his duty. This candidate has his own way of flattering his constituents.

A gentleman of considerable reputation offered, last year, to deliver a lecture, in a Lyceum, in Massachusetts. It was upon the French Revolution; and on various accounts curious. There was no mention of the causes of the Revolution, except[Pg 89] in a parenthesis of one sentence, where he intimated that French society was not in harmony with the spirit of the age. He sketched almost every body concerned, except the Queen. The most singular part, perhaps, was his estimate of the military talents of Napoleon. He exalted them much, and declared him a greater general than Wellington, but not so great as Washington. The audience was large and respectable. I knew a great many of the persons present, and found that none of them liked the lecture.

I attended another Lyceum lecture in Massachusetts. An agent of the Colonisation Society lectured; and, when he had done, introduced a clergyman of colour, who had just returned from Liberia, and could give an account of the colony in its then present state. As soon as this gentleman came forward, a party among the audience rose, and went out, with much ostentation of noise. Mr. Wilson broke off till he could be again heard, and then observed in a low voice, "that would not have been done in Africa;" upon which, there was an uproar of applause, prolonged and renewed. All the evidence on the subject that I could collect, went to prove that the people can bear, and do prefer to hear, the truth. It is a crime to withhold it from them; and a double crime to substitute flattery.

The tone of the orations was the sole, but great drawback from the enjoyment of the popular festivals I witnessed. I missed the celebration of the 4th of July,—both years; being, the first year, among the Virginia mountains, (where the only signs of festivity which I saw, were some slaves dressing up a marquee, in which their masters were to feast, after having read, from the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created free and equal, and that rulers derive their just[Pg 90] powers from the consent of the governed;) and the second year on the lakes, arriving at Mackinaw too late in the evening of the great day for any celebration that might have taken place. But I was at two remarkable festivals, and heard two very remarkable orations. They were represented to me as fair or favourable specimens of that kind of address; and, to judge by the general sum of those which I read and heard, they were so.

The valley of the Connecticut is the most fertile valley in New England; and it is scarcely possible that any should be more beautiful. The river, full, broad, and tranquil as the summer sky, winds through meadows, green with pasture, or golden with corn. Clumps of forest trees afford retreat for the cattle in the summer heats; and the magnificent New England elm, the most graceful of trees, is dropped singly, here and there, and casts its broad shade upon the meadow. Hills of various height and declivity bound the now widening, now contracting valley. To these hills, the forest has retired; the everlasting forest, from which, in America, we cannot fly. I cannot remember that, except in some parts of the prairies, I was ever out of sight of the forest in the United States and I am sure I never wished to be so. It was like the "verdurous wall of Paradise," confining the mighty southern and western rivers to their channels. We were, as it appeared, imprisoned in it for many days together, as we traversed the south-eastern States. We threaded it in Michigan; we skirted it in New York and Pennsylvania; and throughout New England it bounded every landscape. It looked down upon us from the hill-tops; it advanced into notice from every gap and notch in the chain. To the native it must appear as indispensable in the picture-gallery of nature as the sky. To the English traveller it is a special[Pg 91] boon, an added charm, a newly-created grace, like the infant planet that wanders across the telescope of the astronomer. The English traveller finds himself never weary by day of prying into the forest, from beneath its canopy: or, from a distance drinking in its exquisite hues: and his dreams, for months or years, will be of the mossy roots, the black pine, and silvery birch stems, the translucent green shades of the beech, and the slender creeper, climbing like a ladder into the topmost boughs of the dark holly, a hundred feet high. He will dream of the march of the hours through the forest; the deep blackness of night, broken by the dun forest-fires, and startled by the showers of sparks, sent abroad by the casual breeze from the burning stems. He will hear again the shrill piping of the whip-poor-will, and the multitudinous din from the occasional swamp. He will dream of the deep silence which precedes the dawn; of the gradual apparition of the haunting trees, coming faintly out of the darkness; of the first level rays, instantaneously piercing the woods to their very heart, and lighting them up into boundless ruddy colonnades, garlanded with wavy verdure, and carpeted with glittering wild-flowers. Or, he will dream of the clouds of gay butterflies, and gauzy dragon-flies, that hover above the noon-day paths of the forest, or cluster about some graceful shrub, making it appear to bear at once all the flowers of Eden. Or the golden moon will look down through his dream, making for him islands of light in an ocean of darkness. He may not see the stars but by glimpses; but the winged stars of those regions,—the gleaming fire-flies,—radiate from every sleeping bough, and keep his eye in fancy busy in following their glancing, while his spirit sleeps in the deep charms of the summer night. Next to the solemn and various beauty of the sea and[Pg 92] the sky, comes that of the wilderness. I doubt whether the sublimity of the vastest mountain-range can exceed that of the all-pervading forest, when the imagination becomes able to realise the conception of what it is.

In the valley of the Connecticut, the forest merely presides over the scene, giving gravity to its charm. On East Mountain, above Deerfield, in Massachusetts, it is mingled with grey rocks, whose hue mingles exquisitely with its verdure. We looked down from thence on a long reach of the valley, just before sunset, and made ourselves acquainted with the geography of the catastrophe which was to be commemorated in a day or two. Here and there, in the meadows, were sinkings of the soil, shallow basins of verdant pasturage, where there had probably once been small lakes, but where cattle were now grazing. The unfenced fields, secure within landmarks, and open to the annual inundation which preserves their fertility, were rich with unharvested Indian corn; the cobs left lying in their sheaths, because no passer-by is tempted to steal them; every one having enough of his own. The silvery river lay among the meadows; and on its bank, far below us, stretched the avenue of noble trees, touched with the hues of autumn, which shaded the village of Deerfield. Saddleback bounded our view opposite, and the Northampton hills and Green Mountains on the left. Smoke arose, here and there, from the hills' sides, and the nearer eminences were dotted with white dwellings, of the same order with the homesteads which were sprinkled over the valley. The time is past when a man feared to sit down further off than a stone's throw from his neighbours, lest the Indians should come upon him. The villages of Hadley and Deerfield are a standing memorial of those times, when the whites clustered together[Pg 93] around the village church, and their cattle were brought into the area, every night, under penalty of their being driven off before morning. These villages consist of two rows of houses, forming a long street, planted with trees; and the church stands in the middle. The houses, of wood, were built in those days with the upper story projecting; that the inhabitants, in case of siege, might fire at advantage upon the Indians, forcing the door with tomahawks.

I saw an old house of this kind at Deerfield,—the only one which survived the burning of the village by the French and Indians, in 1704, when all the inhabitants, to the number of two hundred and eighty, being attacked in their sleep, were killed or carried away captive by the Indians. The wood of the house was old and black, and pierced in many parts with bullet-holes. One had given passage to a bullet which shot a woman in the neck, as she rose up in bed, on hearing the tomahawk strike upon the door. The battered door remains, to chill one's blood with the thought that such were the blows dealt by the Indians upon the skulls of their victims, whether infants or soldiers.

This was not the event to commemorate which we were assembled at Deerfield. A monument was to be erected on the spot where another body of people had been murdered, by savage foes of the same race. Deerfield was first settled in 1671; a few houses being then built on the present street, and the settlers being on good terms with their neighbours. King Philip's war broke out in 1675, and the settlers were attacked more than once. There was a large quantity of grain stored up at Deerfield; and it was thought advisable to remove it for safety to Hadley, fifteen miles off. Captain Lothrop, with eighty men, and some teams, marched from Hadley to remove the grain; his men [Pg 94]being the youth and main hope of the settlements around. On their return from Deerfield, on the 30th of September 1675, about four miles and a half on the way to Hadley, the young men dispersed to gather the wild grapes that were hanging ripe in the thickets, and were, under this disadvantage, attacked by a large body of Indians. It was afterwards discovered that the only way to encounter the Indians is in phalanx. Captain Lothrop did not know this; and he posted his men behind trees, where they were, almost to a man, picked off by the enemy. About ninety-three, including the teamsters, fell. When all was over, help arrived. The Indians were beaten; but they appeared before the village, some days after, shaking the scalps and bloody garments of the slain captain and his troop, before the eyes of the inhabitants. The place was afterwards abandoned by the settlers, destroyed by the Indians, and not rebuilt for some years.

This was a piteous incident in the history of the settlement; but it is not easy to see why it should be made an occasion of commemoration, by monument and oratory, in preference to many others which have a stronger moral interest attaching to them. Some celebrations, like that of Forefather's Day, are inexpressibly interesting and valuable, from the glorious recollections by which they are sanctified. But no virtue was here to be had in remembrance; nothing but mere misery. The contemplation of mere misery is painful and hurtful; and the only salutary influence that I could perceive to arise from this occasion was a far-fetched and dubious one,—thankfulness that the Indians are not now at hand to molest the white inhabitants. Then occurs the question about the Indians,—"where are they?" and the answer leaves one less sympathy than one would wish to[Pg 95] have with the present security of the settler. The story of King Philip, who is supposed to have headed, in person, the attack on Lothrop's troop, is one of the most melancholy in the records of humanity; and sorrow for him must mingle with congratulations to the descendants of his foes, who, in his eyes, were robbers. With these thoughts in my mind, I found it difficult to discover the philosophy of this celebration. A stranger might be pardoned for being so slow.

One of the then candidates for the highest office in the State, is renowned for his oratory. He is one of the most accomplished scholars and gentlemen that the country possesses. It was thought, "by his friends," that his interest wanted strengthening in the western part of the State. The people were pleased when any occasion procured them the éclat of bringing a celebrated orator over to address them. The commemoration of an Indian catastrophe was thought of as an occasion capable of being turned to good electioneering purposes.—Mr. Webster was invited to be the orator, it being known that he would refuse. "Not I," said he. "I won't go and rake up old bloody Indian stories." The candidate was next invited, and, of course, took the opportunity of "strengthening his interest in the western part of the State." I was not aware of this till I sometime after heard it, on indisputable authority. I should have enjoyed it much less than I did, if I had known that the whole thing was got up, or its time and manner chosen, for electioneering objects; that advantage was taken of the best feelings of the people for the political interest of one.

The afternoon of the 29th we went to Bloody Brook, the fearfully-named place of disaster. We climbed the Sugar-loaf; a high, steep hill, from whose precipitous sides is obtained a view of the[Pg 96] valley which pleases me more than the celebrated one from Mount Holyoke, a few miles off. Each, however, is perfect in its way; and both so like heaven, when one looks down upon the valley in the light of an autumn afternoon,—such a light as never yet burnished an English scene,—that no inclination is left to make comparisons. The ox team was in the fields, the fishers on the banks of the grey river,—banks and fishers reflected to the life,—all as tranquil as if there was to be no stir the next day.

On descending, we went to the Bloody Brook Inn, and saw the strange and horrible picture of the slaughter of Lothrop's troop; a picture so bad as to be laughable; but too horrible to be laughed at. Every man of the eighty exactly alike, and all looking scared at being about to be scalped. We saw, also, the long tables spread for the feast of to-morrow. Lengths of unbleached cotton for table cloths, plates and glasses, were already provided. Some young men were bringing in long trails of the wild vine, clustered with purple grapes, to hang about the young maple trees which overshadowed the tables; others were trying the cannon. We returned home in a state of high expectation.

The morning of the 30th was bright, but rather cold. It was doubtful how far prudence would warrant our sitting in an orchard for several hours, in such a breeze as was blowing. It was evident, however, that persons at a distance had no scruples on the subject, so thickly did they throng to the place of meeting. The wagon belonging to the band passed my windows, filled with young ladies from the High School at Greenfield. They looked as gay as if they had been going to a fair. By half-past eight, our party set off, accompanied by a few, and passing a great number of strangers from distant villages.

[Pg 97]

After having accomplished our drive of three or four miles, we warmed ourselves in a friendly house, and repaired to the orchard to choose our seats, while the ceremony of laying the first stone of the monument was proceeding at some distance. The platform from which the orator was to address the assemblage was erected under a rather shabby walnut-tree, which was rendered less picturesque by its lower branches being lopped off, for the sake of convenience. Several men had perched themselves on the tree; and I was beginning to wonder how they would endure their uncomfortable seat, in the cold wind, for three hours, when I saw them called down, and dismissed to find places among the rest of the assemblage, as they sent down bark and dust upon the heads of those who sat on the platform. Long and deep ranges of benches were provided; and on these, with carriage cushions and warm cloaks, we found ourselves perfectly well accommodated. Nothing could be better. It was a pretty sight. The wind rustled fitfully in the old walnut-tree. The audience gathered around, it were sober, quiet; some would have said dull. The girls appeared to me to be all pretty, after the fashion of American girls. Every body was well-dressed; and such a thing as ill-behaviour in any village assemblage in New England, is, I believe, unheard of. The soldiers were my great amusement; as they were on the few other occasions when I had the good fortune to see any. Their chief business, on the present occasion, was to keep clear the seats which were reserved for the band, now absent with the procession. These seats were advantageously placed; and new-comers were every moment taking possession of them, and had to be sent, disappointed, into the rear. It was moving to behold the loving entreaties of the soldiers that these seats might be [Pg 98]vacated. I saw one, who had shrunk away from his uniform, (probably from the use of tobacco, of which his mouth was full,) actually put his arm round the neck of a gentleman, and smile imploringly in his face. It was irresistible, and the gentleman moved away. It is a perfect treat to the philanthropist to observe the pacific appearance of the militia throughout the United States. It is well known how they can fight, when the necessity arises: but they assuredly look, at present, as if it was the last thing in their intentions:—as I hope it may long be.

The band next arrived, leading the procession of gentlemen, and were soon called into action by the first hymn. They did their best; and, if no one of their instruments could reach the second note of the German Hymn, (the second note of three lines out of four,) it was not for want of trying.

The oration followed. I strove, as I always did, not to allow difference of taste, whether in oratory, or in anything else, to render me insensible to the merit, in its kind, of what was presented to me: but, upon this occasion, all my sympathies were baffled, and I was deeply disgusted. It mattered little what the oration was in itself, if it had only belonged in character to the speaker. If a Greenfield farmer or mechanic had spoken as he believed orators to speak, and if the failure had been complete, I might have been sorry or amused, or disappointed; but not disgusted. But here was one of the most learned and accomplished gentlemen in the country, a candidate for the highest office in the State, grimacing like a mountebank before the assemblage whose votes he desired to have, and delivering an address, which he supposed level to their taste and capacity. He spoke of the "stately tree," (the poor walnut,) and the "mighty assemblage," (a little flock in the middle of an orchard,)[Pg 99] and offered them shreds of tawdry sentiment, without the intermixture of one sound thought, or simple and natural feeling, simply and naturally expressed. It was equally an under estimate of his hearers, and a degradation of himself.

The effect was very plain. Many, I know, were not interested, but were unwilling to say so of so renowned an orator. All were dull; and it was easy to see that none of the proper results of public speaking followed. These very people are highly imaginative. Speak to them of what interests them, and they are moved with a word. Speak to those whose children are at school, of the progress and diffusion of knowledge, and they will hang upon the lips of the speaker. Speak to the unsophisticated among them of the case of the slave, and they are ready to brave Lynch-law on his behalf. Appeal to them on any religious or charitable enterprise, and the good deed is done, almost as soon as indicated. But they have been taught to consider the oratory of set persons on set occasions as a matter of business or of pastime. They listen to it, make their remarks upon it, vote, perhaps, that it shall be printed, and go home, without having been so much moved as by a dozen casual remarks, overheard upon the road.

All this would be of little importance, if these orations consisted of narrative,—or of any mere matter of fact. The grievance lies in the prostitution of moral sentiment, the clap-trap of praise and pathos, which is thus criminally adventured. This is one great evil. Another, as great, both to orators and listeners, is the mis-estimate of the people. No insolence and meanness can surpass those of the man of sense and taste who talks beneath himself to the people, because he thinks it suits them. No good parent ventures to do so to his youngest child; and a candidate for office who will do it,[Pg 100] shows himself ignorant of that which it is most important he should know,—what fidelity of deference every man owes to every other man. Is such a one aware that he is perpetually saying in his heart, "God! I thank thee that I am not as other men are?"

The other festival, to which I have alluded, was the celebration of Forefathers' Day;—of the landing of the Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock. I trust that this anniversary will be hailed with honour, as long as Massachusetts overlooks the sea. A more remarkable, a nobler enterprise, was never kept in remembrance by a grateful posterity, than the emigration of the Pilgrim Fathers; and their posterity are, at least, so far worthy of them as that they all, down to the young children, seem to have a clear understanding of the nature of the act, and the character of the men. I never beheld the popular character in a more cheering light than on this occasion; and, if I happened to be acquainted with a misanthrope, I would send him to Plymouth, to keep Forefathers' Day. Every fact that I review, every line that I write, brings back delightful feelings towards some of the affectionate and hospitable friends through whose kindness I saw and learned whatever I learned of their country; but to none am I more thankful than to those who took me to Plymouth, and those who welcomed me there. It was an occasion when none could be on any other terms than pure brotherhood with all the rest. It was the great birth-day of the New England people; and none could fail to wish the people joy.

My party and I reached Plymouth from Hingham the day before the celebration. As we drew near the coast, I anxiously watched the character of the scenery, trying to view it with the eyes of the first emigrants. It must have struck a chill to their[Pg 101] hearts;—so bare, so barren, so wintry. The firs grew more and more stunted, as we approached the sea; till, as one of my companions observed, they were ashamed to show themselves any smaller, and so turned into sand. Mrs. Hemans calls it, in her fine lyric, a rock-bound coast; naturally enough, as she was told that the pilgrims set their feet on a rock, on landing; but that rock was the only one. The coast is low and sandy. The aspect of the bay was, this day, most dreary. We had travelled through snow, all the way behind; snowy fields, with here and there a solitary crow stalking in the midst; and now, there was nothing but ice before us. Dirty, grey ice, some sheeted, some thrown up by the action of the sea into heaps, was all that was to be seen, instead of the blue and glittering sea. A friend assured me, however, that all would be bright and cheering the next morning; informing me, with a smile, that in the belief of the country people, it never did rain or snow, and never would rain or snow, on Forefathers' Day. This is actually a superstition firmly held in the neighbourhood. This friend pointed out to me, in the course of the afternoon, how the green grass was appearing through the snow on Burial Hill, on whose slope the descending sun, warm for December, was shining. We mounted Burial Hill; and when I trod the turf, after some weeks' walking over crisp snow, I began to feel that I might grow superstitious too, if I lived at Plymouth.

Upwards of half the pilgrim company died the first winter. Fifty-one dropped in succession; and the graves of most of them are on this hill. Burial Hill was probably chosen to be a memento mori to the pious pilgrims; its elevation, bristling with grave-stones, being conspicuous from every part of the town. But, lest it should exhibit their tale of disaster to their foes, the Indians, the colonists[Pg 102] sowed the place of their dead with corn; making it, for honest purposes, a whited sepulchre. From this eminence, we saw the island in the harbour where the fathers landed for service on the first Sunday after their arrival; also, the hill on which stood a wigwam, from whence issued an Indian to hold the first parley. A brook flowed between the two hills, on which stood the Indian and the chief of the intruders. Governor Winslow descended to the brook; bridged it with stepping-stones, in sight of the Indian; laid down his arms, and advanced. The meeting was friendly; but there was so little feeling of security, for long after, that when half the colonists had perished, the rest were paraded round and round a hut on Burial Hill, to conceal the smallness of their numbers from the vigilant Indians.

We went to the Registry Office, and saw the earliest records of the colony,—as far back as 1623,—in the handwriting of the fathers. Among them is a record of the lots of land appointed to those who came over in the Mayflower. (Little did the builders of that ship dream how they were working for immortality!) Sometimes a cow is appointed, with a lot, to six families. Sometimes a black goat. The red cow is ordained to be kept for the poor, to calve.

The rock on which the pilgrims first landed, has been split, and the top part, in order to its preservation, removed within an iron railing, in front of Pilgrim Hall. The memorable date of the landing, 1620, is painted upon it; and the names of the fathers, in cast-iron, are inserted into the railing which surrounds the rock.

Within the Hall, a plain, spacious building, erected within ten years, to serve as the scene of the festivities of Forefathers' Day, and also as a Museum of Pilgrim curiosities, is a picture, by[Pg 103] Sargent, of the Landing of the Pilgrims. Samosat, the Indian chief, is advancing, with English words of greeting,—"Welcome, Englishmen!" Elder Brewster, and the other fathers, with their apprehensive wives and wondering children, form an excellent group; and the Mayflower is seen moored in the distance. The greatest defect in the picture is the introduction of the blasted tree, which needlessly adds to the desolation of the scene, and gives a false idea, as far as it goes. I could not have anticipated the interest which these memorials would inspire. I felt as if in a dream, the whole time that I was wandering about with the rejoicing people, among the traces of the heroic men and women who came over into the perilous wilderness, in search of freedom of worship.

Forefathers' Day rose bright and mild. I looked out towards the harbour. Every flake of ice was gone, and the deep blue sea rippled and sparkled in the sun. The superstition was fated to endure another year, at least. All Plymouth was in a joyous bustle, with lines of carriages, and groups of walkers. After breakfast, we proceeded to the church, to await the orator of the day. We were detained on the steps for a few minutes, till the doors should be opened; and I was glad of it, for the sun was warm, and the coup d'œil was charming. There was one long descent from the church down to the glittering sea; and on the slope were troops of gay ladies, and lines of children; with here and there a company of little boys, playing soldiers to the music of the band, which came faintly from afar. Of real soldiers, I saw two during the day. There might be more; but none were needed. The strangest association of all was of a Pilgrim Ode sung to the tune of "God save the King!" an air which I should have supposed no more likely to be chosen for such an occasion[Pg 104] than as an epilogue to the Declaration of Independence. It did very well, however. It set us all singing so as to drown the harmony of the violins and horns which acted as instigation.

The oration was by an ex-senator of the United States. It consisted wholly of an elaboration of the transcendent virtues of the people of New England. His manner was more quiet than that of any other orator I heard; and I really believe that there was less of art than of weakness and bad taste in his choice of his mode of address. Nothing could be imagined worse,—more discordant with the fitting temper of the occasion,—more dangerous to the ignorant, if such there were,—more disgusting to the wise, (as I know, on the testimony of such,)—more unworthy of one to whom the ear of the people was open. He told his hearers of the superiority of their physical, intellectual, and moral constitution to that of their brethren of the middle and southern States, to that of Europeans, and all other dwellers in the earth; a superiority which forbade their being ever understood and appreciated by any but themselves. He spoke especially of the intensity of the New England character, as being a hidden mystery from all but natives. He contrasted the worst circumstances of European society, (now in course of correction,) with the best of New England arrangements, and drew the obvious inferences. He excused the bigotry of the Pilgrim Fathers, their cruel persecution of the Quakers, and other such deeds, on the ground that they had come over to have the colony to themselves, and did not want interlopers. He extenuated the recent mobbing practices in New England, on the ground of their rarity and small consequences, and declared it impossible that the sons of the pilgrims should trust to violence for the maintenance of opinion. This[Pg 105] last sentiment, the only sound one that I perceived in the oration, was loudly cheered. The whole of the rest, I rejoice to say, fell dead.

The orator was unworthy of his hearers. He had been a senator of the United States, and had, I was told, discharged his duty there; but he was little fit for public life, if he did not know that it is treason to republicanism to give out lower morals in public than are held in private; to smile or sigh over the vanity of the people by the fireside, and pamper it from the rostrum; to use the power of oratory to injure the people, instead of to save. In this case, the exaggeration was so excessive as to be, I trust, harmless. No man of common sense could be made to believe that any community of mortal men has ever been what the orator described the inhabitants of New England to have attained. I was deeply touched by the first remark I heard upon this oration. A lady, who had been prevented from attending, asked me, on my return, home, how I liked the address. Before I could open my lips to reply, her daughter spoke. "I am heart-sick of this boasting. When I think of our forefathers, I want to cry, 'God be merciful to us sinners!'" If the oration awakened in others, as I believe it did, by force of contrast, feelings as healthful, as faithful to the occasion as this, it was not lost, and our pity must rest upon the orator.

I am aware,—I had but too much occasion to observe,—how this practice of flattering the people from the rostrum is accounted for, and, as a matter of fact, smiled at by citizens of the United States. I know that it is considered as a mode, inseparable from the philosophy of politics there. I dissent from this view altogether. I see that the remedy lies, not wholly where remedies for the oppression of severe natural laws lie,—in a new combination of outward circumstances,—but in the individual[Pg 106] human will. The people may have honest orators if they choose to demand to hear the truth. The people will gladly hear the truth, if the appointed orator will lay aside selfish fears and desires, and use his high privilege of speaking from the bottom of his soul. If, in simplicity, he delivers to the people his true and best self, he is certain to gain the convictions of many, and the sympathies of all; and his soul will be clear of the guilt of deepening the pit under the feet of the people, while trying to persuade them that they are treading on firm ground. What is to be said of guides who dig pitfalls?

The day closed delightfully. Almost everybody went to pay respect to an aged lady, then eighty-eight, a regular descendant of one of the pilgrims. She was confined to the sofa, but retained much beauty, and abundant cheerfulness. She was delighted to receive us, and to sympathise in those pleasures of the day which she could not share. I had the honour of sitting in the chair which her ancestor brought over from England, and of feeling the staple by which it was fastened in the Mayflower.

The dinner being over, the gentlemen returned to their several abodes, to escort the ladies to the ball in Pilgrim Hall. I went, with a party of seven others, in a stage coach; every carriage, native and exotic, being in requisition to fill the ball-room, from which no one was excluded. It was the only in-door festival, except the President's levee, where I witnessed an absolutely general admission; and its aspect and conduct were, in the highest degree, creditable to the intelligence and manners of the community. There were families from the islands in the bay, and other country residences, whence the inhabitants seldom emerge, except for this festival. The dress of some of the young ladies was [Pg 107]peculiar, and their glee was very visible; but I saw absolutely no vulgarity. There was much beauty, and much elegance among the young ladies, and the manners of their parents were unexceptionable. There was evidence in the dancing, of the "intensity" of which we had heard so much in the morning. The lads and lasses looked as if they meant never to tire; but this enjoyment of the exercise pleased me much more than the affectation of dancing, which is now fashionable in the large cities. I never expect to see a more joyous and unexceptionable piece of festivity than the Pilgrim ball of 1835.

The next day, the harbour was all frozen over; and the memory of the blue, rippling sea of Plymouth, is therefore, with me, sacred to Forefathers' Day.

I was frequently reminded by friends of what is undoubtedly very true, the great perils of office in the United States, as an excuse for the want of honesty in officials. It is perfectly true that it is ruin to a professional man without fortune, to enter public life for a time, and then be driven back into private life. I knew a senator of the United States who had served for nearly his twice six years, and who then had to begin life again, as regarded his profession. I knew a representative of the United States, a wealthy man, with a large family, who is doubting still, as he has been for a few years past, whether he shall give up commerce or public life, or go on trying to hold them both. He is rich enough to devote himself to public life; but at the very next election after he has relinquished his commercial affairs, he may be thrown out of politics. I see what temptations arise in such cases, to strain a few points, in order to remain in the public eye; and I am willing to allow for the strength of the temptation.

But the part for honest men to take is to expose[Pg 108] the peril, to the end that the majority may find a remedy; and not to sanction it by yielding to it. Let the attention of the people be drawn towards the salaries of office, that they may discover whether they are too low; which is best, that adventurers of bad character should now and then get into office, because they have not reputation enough to obtain a living by other means, or that honest and intelligent men should be kept out, because the prizes of office are engrossed by more highly educated men; and whether the rewards of office are kept low by the democratic party, for the sake of putting in what their opponents call 'adventurers,' or by the aristocratic, with the hope of offices being engrossed by the men of private fortune. Let the true state of the case, according to each official's view of it, be presented to the people, rather than any countenance be given to the present dreadful practice of wheedling and flattery; and the perils of office will be, by some means, lessened.

The popular scandal against the people of the United States, that they boast intolerably of their national institutions and character, appears to me untrue: but I see how it has arisen. Foreigners, especially the English, are partly to blame for this. They enter the United States with an idea that a republic is a vulgar thing: and some take no pains to conceal their thought. To an American, nothing is more venerable than a republic. The native and the stranger set out on a misunderstanding. The English attacks, the American defends, and, perhaps, boasts. But the vain-glorious flattery of their public orators is the more abundant source of this reproach; and it rests with the people to redeem themselves from it. For my own part, I remember no single instance of patriotic boasting, from man, woman, or child, except from the rostrum; but from thence there was poured enough[Pg 109] to spoil the auditory for life, if they had been simple enough to believe what they were told. But they were not.


Side by side with the sinners of the rostrum, stand the sinners of the newspaper press. The case is clear, and needs little remark or illustration. The profligacy of newspapers, wherever they exist, is a universal complaint; and, of all newspaper pressed I never heard any one deny that the American is the worst. Of course, this depravity being so general throughout the country, it must be occasioned by some overpowering force of circumstances. The causes are various; and it is a testimony to the strength and purity of the democratic sentiment in the country, that the republic has not been overthrown by its newspapers.

While the population is so scattered as it now is, throughout the greater part of the Union, nothing is easier than to make the people know only one side of a question; few things are easier than to keep from them altogether the knowledge of any particular affair; and, worse than all, on them may easily be practised the discovery that lies may work their intended effect, before the truth can overtake them.

It is hard to tell which is worst; the wide diffusion of things that are not true, or the suppression of things that are true. It is no secret that some able personage at Washington writes letters on the politics and politicians of the general [Pg 110]government, and sends them to the remotest corners of the Union, to appear in their newspapers; after which, they are collected in the administration newspaper at Washington, as testimonies of public opinion in the respective districts where they appear. It is no secret that the newspapers of the south keep out of their columns all information which might enlighten their readers, near and afar, as to the real state of society at home. I can testify to the remarkable events which occur in the southern States, unnoticed by any press, and transpiring only through accident. Two men were burned alive, without trial, by the gentlemen of Mobile, just before my arrival there; and no newspaper even alluded to the circumstance, till, many months after, a brief and obscure paragraph, in a northern journal, treated it as a matter of hearsay.

It is no secret that the systematic abuse with which the newspapers of one side assail every candidate coming forward on the other, is the cause of many honourable men, who have a regard to their reputation, being deterred from entering public life; and of the people being thus deprived of some better servants than any they have. Though a faithful public servant should be able to endure all the consequences of faithful service, yet there are many cases where men, undecided as to their choice of public and private life, are fixed in favour of the latter by this one circumstance. It is the one obstacle too much. A public man in New England gave me the history of an editor of a newspaper, who began his professional course by making an avowed distinction between telling lies in conversation and in a newspaper, where every body looks for them. Of course, he has sunk deeper and deeper in falsehood; but retribution has not yet overtaken him. My informant told me, that this editor has made some thousands of dollars[Pg 111] by his abuse of one man; and jocosely proposed, that persons who are systematically railed at by any newspaper, should lay claim to a proportion of the profits arising out of the use of their names and characters.

The worst of it is, that the few exceptions to this depravity,—the few newspapers conducted by men of truth and superior intelligence, are not yet encouraged in proportion to their merits. It is easy to see how a youth, going into the wilds, to set up a newspaper for the neighbouring villages, should meet with support, however vicious or crude his production maybe; but it is discouraging to perceive how little preference is given, in the Atlantic cities, to the best journals over the worst. Still, there is a preference; and it appears to be on the increase; and that increase, again, is in proportion to the intrepidity of the paper in discussing affairs as they arise.

There will be no great improvement in the literary character of the American newspapers till the literature of the country has improved. Their moral character depends upon the moral taste of the people. This looks like a very severe censure. If it be so, the same censure applies elsewhere, and English morals must be held accountable for the slanders and captiousness displayed in the leading articles of British journals, and for the disgustingly jocose tone of their police reports, where crimes are treated as entertainments, and misery as a jest. Whatever may be the exterior causes of the Americans having been hitherto ill-served in their newspapers, it is now certain that there are none which may not be overpowered by a sound moral taste. In their country, the demand lies with the many. Whenever the many demand truth and justice in their journals, and reject falsehood and calumny, they will be served according to their desire.

[Pg 112]

This desire is beginning to awaken. Some months before I left the United States, a man of colour was burned alive, without trial, at St. Louis, in Missouri; a large assemblage of the "respectable" inhabitants of the city being present. No one supposed that anybody out of the State of Missouri was any further implicated with this deed, than as men have an interest in every outrage done to man. The interest which residents in other States had in this deed, was like that which an Englishman has in a man being racked in the Spanish Inquisition; or a Frenchman, in a Turk being bastinadoed at Constantinople. He is not answerable for it, or implicated in it, as a fellow-citizen; and he speaks his humane reprobation as a fellow-man. Certain American citizens, out of Missouri, contrived, however, to implicate themselves in the responsibility for this awful outrage, which, one would have thought, any man would have been thankful to avoid. The majority of newspaper editors made themselves parties to the act, by refusing, from fear, to reprobate it. The state of the case was this, as described to me by some inhabitants of St. Louis. The gentlemen of the press in that city dared not reprobate the outrage, for fear of the consequences from the murderers. They merely announced the deed, as a thing to be regretted, and recommended that the veil of oblivion should be drawn over the affair. Their hope was widely different from their recommendation. They hoped that the newspapers throughout the Union would raise such a chorus of execration as would annihilate the power of the executioners. But the newspapers of the Union were afraid to comment upon the affair, because they saw that the St. Louis editors were afraid. The really respectable inhabitants of that disgraced city were thrown almost into despair by this [Pg 113]dastardly silence, and believed all security of life and property in their State to be at an end. A few journals were honest enough to thunder the truth in the ears of the people; and the people awoke to perceive how their editors had involved themselves in this crime, by a virtual acquiescence,—like the unfaithful mastiff, if such a creature there be, which slinks away from its master's door, to allow a passage to a menacing thief. The influence of the will of the awakening people is already seen in the improved vigour in the tone of the newspapers against outrage. On occasion of the more recent riots at Cincinnati, the editorial silence has been broken by many voices.

There is a spirited newspaper at Louisville which has done its duty well, on occasions when it required some courage to do it; informing the Cincinnati people of the meanness of their conduct in repressing the expression of opinion, lest it should injure the commerce between Ohio and Kentucky; and also, justifying Judge Shaw of Massachusetts, against the outcries of the South, for a judgment he lately gave in favour of the release of a slave, voluntarily carried into a free State. Two New York papers, the New York American and the Evening Post, have gained themselves honour by intrepidity of the same kind, and by the comparative moderation and friendliness of their spirit. I hope that there may be many more, and that their number may be perpetually on the increase.

The very best newspaper that I saw in the United States was a single number of the Cleveland Whig, which I picked up at an hotel in the interior of Ohio. I had seen spirited extracts from it in various newspapers. The whole of this particular number was valuable for the excellence of its spirit, and for its good sense. It had very important, and some very painful subject matter,[Pg 114]—instances of overbearing the law,—to treat of. It was so done as nearly to beguile me, hungry traveller as I was, of my dinner, and of all thought of my journey.

One other remarkable paper lies before me: remarkable for its professing to be conducted on principles of exact justice, and for its accordance with its principles to a degree which has hardly been dreamed of in a publication of its kind. There is something heroic in the enterprise, which inspires a strong hope of its success. If the ability be but sufficient to sustain it,—of which there seems no reason to doubt,—there can be no question of its acceptableness. The just and gentle construction of human actions, and the cheerful and trustful mood in surveying natural events, are more congenial with the general mind, than captiousness and distrust towards men, and despondency under the government of God. Such men as the editor of the Boston Reformer are sure to command the sympathies of men, however they may appear to run counter to the supposed tastes of newspaper readers. The following notice to correspondents is a novelty in its place,—more striking than any announcements in the news columns.

"To correspondents.—Our paper is no vehicle of vulgar abuse, or spiteful attacks on persons or institutions. Our design is to avoid everything which appeals to or pleases any bad propensity in our nature. Doubtless there are a thousand petty annoyances somewhat grievous to be borne; but we cannot go about to redress them. The best way is to forgive and forget them. We cannot waste our strength on little matters. We know no way to do good to man, to make society really better, but to suppress our anger, keep our temper, show an elevated mind and a good heart. We must look for the good, not for the bad in men,[Pg 115] and always put the best construction we can on all their doings."—Boston Reformer.


In England the idea of an American citizen is of one who is always talking politics, canvassing, bustling about to make proselytes abroad, buried in newspapers at home, and hurrying to vote on election days.

There is another side to the object. A learned professor of a western college told me abundance of English news, but declared himself ignorant of everything that had passed in the home portion of the political world. He never took any interest in politics. What would be the use of his disturbing himself? How far does one man's vote go? He does more good by showing himself above such affairs.

It was communicated to me that there are more modes of political action than one: and that, though this professor does not vote, he uses his utmost influence with the students of his college, in favour of his own political opinions; and with entire success. If this be true, the gentleman falls short of his duty in one respect, and exceeds it in another.

A clergyman in the north was anxious to assure me that elections are merely personal matters, and do not affect the happiness of the people. It matters not to him, for instance, who is in office, and what party in politics is uppermost: life goes on the same to him. This gentleman had probably never heard of the old lady who said that she did[Pg 116] not care what revolutions happened, as long as she had her roast chicken, and her little game at cards. But that old lady did not live in a republic, or perhaps even she might have perceived that there would have been no security for roast chickens and cards, if all were to neglect political action but those who want political power and profit. In a democracy, every man is supposed to be his own security for life and property: and, if a man devolves his political charge upon others, he must lay his accounts for not being so well taken care of as he might be. So much for the selfish aspect of the case;—the view which might have been presented, with illustrations, to the old lady, if she had happened to live in a republic.

The clergyman ought to see further. He ought to see, in virtue of his office, how public morals must suffer under the neglect of public duty by respectable men. If such men were to perform the duties of citizens as conscientiously as they do those of husbands, fathers, and pastors, and leave it to the knaves to neglect the duties of citizenship, the republic might go on as well as a republic with knaves in it can go on. But if the case is reversed,—if the knaves are eager to use their political rights for selfish purposes, and the conscientious in other respects are remiss in the duties of citizenship, the pastors may almost as well leave off preaching. All good pastoral influence will be borne down by the spread of corruption. The clergy may preach themselves hoarse to little purpose, if they live, and encourage others to live, in the avowed neglect of the first duty of any one relation; and the exercise of the suffrage is the first duty of republican citizenship.

A naval officer, a man of an otherwise sound head and heart, told me, very coolly, that he had never voted more than twice in his life. His [Pg 117]defence, in answer to my remonstrance, was, that he had served his country in other ways. In as far as this might be meant to convey that he could not vote at New York when in India, the excuse must be admitted as valid: but, if it was meant to apply to elections going on before his eyes, it was much the same as if he had said, "there is no occasion for me to be a good father, because I have been a good son."

A member of Congress gave me instances of what would have been the modifications of certain public affairs, but for the apathy of the minority about the use of their suffrage. If citizens regulate their exertions by the probabilities of immediate success, instead of by their faith in their own convictions, it is indeed no wonder if the minority leave everything to their adversaries; but this is not the way for men to show themselves worthy of the possession of political rights. This is not the way that society has advanced. This is not the way that security for life and property has been obtained for those idle citizens who are now leaving that security to the mercy of those whom they believe to be the enemies of society.

A public man told me that it would be a great point gained, if every citizen could be induced to vote, at least once a year. So far is it from being true that all Americans are the bustling politicians the English have been apt to suppose. If such political bustle should be absurd, the actual apathy is something worse. If it were only borne in mind that rulers derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, surely all conscientious men would see the guilt of any man acquiescing in the rule of governors whom he disapproves, by not having recorded his dissent. Or, if he should be in the majority, the case is no better. He has omitted to bear his testimony to what he [Pg 118]esteems the true principles of government. He has not appointed his rulers; and, in as far as he accepts their protection, he takes without having given, he reaps without having sown; he deprives his just rulers of a portion of the authority which is their due—of a portion of the consent of the governed.

There is another cause for the reluctance to vote which is complained of by the best friends of the people; but it is almost too humbling and painful to be discussed. Some are afraid to vote!

This happens not in the country, nor among the strength of the population in the towns: but among the feeble aristocracy. There is not, in the United States, as with us, a system of intimidation exercised by the rich over the poor. In the country, there are no landlords and tenants at will. In the towns, the tradesmen do not stand in need of the patronage of the rich. Though they vote by ballot, and any man who chooses it may vote secretly, (and many do upon occasion,) there is rarely any need of such protection. But there is no reason why the gentry, who may be afraid of hurting one another's feelings, should not use their power of secret voting, rather than neglect the duty of giving their suffrage. If the educated and principled men of the community, as they are esteemed, fall back into idleness and silence, when the time comes for a struggle for principles, and there is a danger of disappointing expectations, and hurting feelings, their country has little to thank them for. They are the men from whom the open discharge of duty is looked for; they are the men who should show that political obligation is above private regards. If they have not the virtue to do this, and take the consequences, let them avail themselves of the secrecy of the ballot-box, which in England is desired for the [Pg 119]protection of those whom bad arrangements have made dependent for bread on the rich and powerful. At all events, let them vote, or be ashamed to accept the privileges of citizenship without having discharged the duties.

The fear of opinion sometimes takes the form of an almost insane dread of responsibility. There are occasions when public men, unable to judge for themselves of particular classes of circumstances, are obliged to ask advice of their friends and supporters. Happy he who obtains a full and true answer from any one! The chances against this are in proportion to the importance of the case. I knew of one such instance, the result of which more than one is, I trust, now grieving over in his inmost heart. An eminent statesman was hesitating whether to offer himself as a candidate for a very high office. He requested the opinion and advice of a number of gentlemen in public life, his supporters. All were of the same opinion; that he should not stand. No one of them chose to take the responsibility of telling him so. Some of them wrote ambiguous answers, hoping that he would infer that they thought ill of his chance. Others rather encouraged the enterprise. The illustrative details which might be given,—showing the general uniformity, with particular diversity, of the conduct of the advisers,—would be amusing if they were not too sad. Suffice it that no one, as far as I could learn, could get over his fear of responsibility so as to be faithful. They allowed their idol to make a fool of himself. If he should henceforth be sunk in political scepticism, perhaps these gentlemen may find that in shunning one kind of responsibility, they have incurred another, far heavier.

It is felt, and understood, in the United States, that their near future in politics is indiscernible.[Pg 120] Odd, unexpected circumstances, determining the present, are perpetually turning up. Almost every man has his convictions as to what the state of affairs will be, in the gross, a century hence. Scarcely any man will venture a conjecture as to what will have happened next spring. This is the very condition, if the people could but see it, for the exercise of faith in principles. With a dark and shifting near future, and a bright and fixed ultimate destiny, what is the true, the only wisdom? Not to pry into the fogs and thickets round about, or to stand still for fear of what may next occur in the path; but to look from Eden gate behind to heaven gate before, and press on to the certain future. In his political as in his moral life, man should, in the depth of his ignorance and the fallibility of his judgment, throw himself, in a full sense of security, upon principles; and then he is safe from being depressed by opposition, or scared by uncertainty, or depraved by responsibility.


It is notorious that there is a remarkable failure in this department of political morals among certain parties in the United States. The mobbing events of the last few years are celebrated; the abolition riots in New York and Boston; the burning of the Charleston Convent; the bank riots at Baltimore; the burning of the mails at Charleston; the hangings by Lynch-law at Vickesburgh; the burning alive of a man of colour at St. Louis; the subsequent proceedings there towards[Pg 121] the students of Marion College; and the abolition riots at Cincinnati. Here is a fearful list!

The first question that arises is, who has done these things? Whose hands have lighted green fagots round a living man? and strung up a dozen or twenty citizens on the same gallows? and fired and razed houses; and sent a company of trembling nuns flying for their lives at midnight? Here is evidence enough of ignorance,—of desperate, brutal ignorance. Whose ignorance?

In Europe, the instantaneous and natural persuasion of men who hear the tidings is, that the lowest classes in America have risen against the higher. In Europe, desperate, brutal ignorance is the deepest curse in the cursed life of the pauper and the serf. In Europe, mobbing is usually the outbreak of exasperated misery against laws which oppress, and an aristocracy which insults humanity. Europeans, therefore, naturally assume that the gentry of the United States are the sinned against, and the poor the sinners, in their social disturbances. They draw conclusions against popular government, and suppose it proved that universal suffrage dissolves society into chaos. They picture to themselves a rabble of ragged, desperate workmen, with torches in their hands; while the gentry look on in dismay, or tremble within their houses.

It is not so. I was informed, twenty times over, by gentlemen, that the Boston mob of last year was wholly composed of gentlemen. The only working man in it was the truck-man who saved the victim. They were the gentlemen of St. Louis who burned the black man, and banished the students of Marion College. They were the gentlemen of Cincinnati who denounced the abolitionists, and raised the persecution against them. They were the magistrates and gentry of [Pg 122]Vickesburgh who hanged way-farers, gamblers, and slaves in a long row. They were the gentlemen of Charleston who broke open the Post Office, and violated its sacred function, to the insult and injury of the whole country.

The case is plain. There are no paupers to rise against oppressive laws in a country, where the laws are made by all, and where pauperism is thereby excluded. There is no degraded class, subject to insults from the highest, which can be resented only by outrage. The assumption is a false one, that ignorance and poverty, knowledge and wealth, go together. Mobbing for European causes, and in European modes, is absolutely precluded where political rights are universal, and political power equally diffused through all classes.

The very few European causes which are in analogy with United States mobbing, are those riots for opinion, which bear only a subordinate relation to politics; such as the Birmingham riots, and the attempt of the Liverpool merchants to push Clarkson into the dock. The cases are very similar. The mobs of America are composed of high churchmen, (of whatever denomination,) merchants and planters, and lawyers.

One complete narrative of a riot, for the fidelity of which I can vouch, will expose the truth of the case better than a list of deeds of horror which happened beyond my sight. It is least revolting, too, to treat of a case whose terror lies in its existence, more than in its consequences. The actors in the riot, which it was my fortune to understand, were scarcely less guilty than if they had bathed their hands in blood; but it is easier to examine, undisturbed by passion, the case of those whose hands are, to the outward eye, clean.

A very few years ago, certain citizens in New England began to discover that the planters of the[Pg 123] south were making white slaves in the north, nearly as successfully as they were propagating black slavery in the territories of the south and west. Charleston and Boston were affectionate friends in old times, and are so still, notwithstanding the hard words that passed between them in nullification days: that is, the merchants and professional men of Boston are fond of Charleston, on account of their commercial relations. This attachment has been carried to such an extreme as to be almost fatal to the liberties of some of the best citizens of the northern city. They found their brothers dismissed from their pastoral charges, their sons expelled from colleges, their friends excluded from professorships, and themselves debarred from literary and social privileges, if they happened to entertain and express opinions unfavourable to the peculiar domestic institution by which Charleston declares it to be her intention to abide. Such is the plea of those citizens of Boston who have formed associations for the purpose of opposing, by moral influence, an institution which they feel to be inconsistent with the first principles of morals and politics. For a considerable time before my visit to that part of the country, they had encountered petty persecutions of almost every conceivable kind. There is no law in Massachusetts by which the free expression of opinion on moral subjects is punishable. I heard many regret the absence of such law. Everything was done that could be done to make up for its absence. Books on any subject, written by persons who avow by association their bad opinion of slavery, are not purchased: clergymen are no longer invited to preach: the proprietors of public rooms will not let them to members of such associations; and the churches are shut against them. Their notices of public meetings are torn in the pulpits, while all[Pg 124] notices of other public meetings are read. The newspapers pour contempt and wrath upon them in one continued stream. Bad practices are imputed to them, and their denial is drowned in clamour. As a single instance of this last; I was told so universally in the south and west that the abolitionists of Boston and New York were in the habit of sending incendiary tracts among the slaves, that it never occurred to me to doubt the fact; though I was struck with surprise at never being able to find any one who had seen any one who had actually seen one of these tracts. Nor did it occur to me that as slaves cannot read, verbal messages would be more to the purpose of all parties, as being more effectual and more prudent. Mr. Madison made the charge, so did Mr. Clay, so did Mr. Calhoun, so did every slave-holder and merchant with whom I conversed. I chose afterwards to hear the other side of the whole question; and I found, to my amazement, that this charge was wholly groundless. No Abolition Society of New York or Massachusetts has ever sent any anti-slavery paper south of Washington, except the circulars, addressed to public officers in the States, which were burnt at Charleston. The abolitionists of Boston have been denying this charge ever since it was first made, and offering evidence of its groundlessness; yet the calumny is persisted in, and, no doubt, honestly believed, to this hour, throughout the south, whither the voice of the condemned, stifled by their fellow-citizens, cannot reach.

Only mortal things, however, can be really suffocated; and there has never yet been an instance of a murder of opinion. There seemed, in 1835, so much danger of the abolitionists making themselves heard, that an emphatic contradiction was got up, it was hoped in good time.

[Pg 125]

The abolitionists had been, they believe illegally, denied by the city authority the use of Faneuil Hall; (called, in memory of revolutionary days, the "Cradle of Liberty.") Certain merchants and lawyers of Boston held a meeting there, in August, 1835, for the purpose of reprobating the meetings of the abolitionists, and denouncing their measures, while approving of their principles. The less that is said of this meeting,—the deepest of all the disgraces of Boston,—the better. It bears its character in its face. Its avowed object was to put down the expression of opinion by opprobrium, in the absence of gag laws. Of the fifteen hundred who signed the requisition for this meeting, there are many, especially among the younger and more thoughtless, who have long repented of the deed. Some signed in anger; some in fear; many in mistake; and of each of these there are some, who would fain, if it were possible, efface their signatures with their blood.

It is an invariable fact, and recognized as such, that meetings held to supply the deficiency of gag laws are the prelude to the violence which supplies the deficiency of executioners under such laws. Every meeting held to denounce opinion is followed by a mob. This was so well understood in the present case that the abolitionists were warned that if they met again publicly, they would be answerable for the disorders that might ensue. The abolitionists pleaded that this was like making the rich man answerable for the crime of the thief who robbed him, on the ground that if the honest man had not been rich, the thief would not have been tempted to rob him. The abolitionists also perceived how liberty of opinion and of speech depended on their conduct in this crisis; and they resolved to yield to no threats of illegal violence; but to hold their legal meeting, pursuant to [Pg 126]advertisement, for the despatch of their usual business. One remarkable feature of the case was that this heavy responsibility rested upon women. It was a ladies' meeting that was in question. Upon consultation, the ladies agreed that they should never have sought the perilous duty of defending liberty of opinion and speech at the last crisis; but, as such a service seemed manifestly appointed to them, the women were ready.

On the 21st of October, they met, pursuant to advertisement, at the office of their association, No. 46, Washington Street. Twenty-five reached their room, by going three-quarters of an hour before the appointed time. Five more made their way up with difficulty through the crowd. A hundred more were turned back by the mob.

They knew that a hand-bill had been circulated on the Exchange, and posted on the City Hall, and throughout the city, the day before, which declared that Thompson, the abolitionist, was to address them; and invited the citizens, under promise of pecuniary reward, to "snake Thompson out, and bring him to the tar-kettle before dark." The ladies had been warned that they would be killed, "as sure as fate," if they showed themselves on their own premises that day. They therefore informed the mayor that they expected to be attacked. The reply of the city marshal was, "You give us a great deal of trouble."

The committee-room was surrounded, and gazed into by a howling, shrieking mob of gentlemen, while the twenty-five ladies sat perfectly still, awaiting the striking of the clock. When it struck, they opened their meeting. They were questioned as to whether Thompson was there in disguise; to which they made no reply.

They began, as usual, with prayer; the mob shouting "Hurra! here comes Judge Lynch!"[Pg 127] Before they had done, the partition gave way, and the gentlemen hurled missiles at the lady who was presiding. The secretary having risen, and begun to read her report, rendered inaudible by the uproar, the mayor entered, and insisted upon their going home, to save their lives. The purpose of their meeting was answered: they had asserted their principle; and they now passed out, two and two, amidst the execration of some thousands of gentlemen;—persons who had silver shrines to protect. The ladies, to the number of fifty, walked to the house of one of their members, and were presently struck to the heart by the news that Garrison was in the hands of the mob. Garrison is the chief apostle of abolition in the United States. He had escorted his wife to the meeting; and, after offering to address the ladies, and being refused, out of regard to his safety, had left the room, and, as they supposed, the premises. He was, however, in the house when the ladies left it. He was hunted for by the mob; dragged from behind some planks where he had taken refuge, and conveyed into the street. Here his hat was trampled under-foot, and brick-bats were aimed at his bare head; a rope was tied round him, and thus he was dragged through the streets. His young wife saw all this. Her exclamation was, "I think my husband will be true to his principles. I am sure my husband will not deny his principles." Her confidence was just. Garrison never denies his principles.

He was saved by a stout truckman, who, with his bludgeon, made his way into the crowd, as if to attack the victim. He protected the bare head, and pushed on towards a station house, whence the mayor's officers issued, and pulled in Garrison, who was afterwards put into a coach. The mob tried to upset the coach, and throw down the horses; but the driver laid about him with his whip, and[Pg 128] the constables with their staves, and Garrison was safely lodged in jail: for protection; for he had committed no offence.

Before the mayor ascended the stairs to dismiss the ladies, he had done a very remarkable deed;—he had given permission to two gentlemen to pull down and destroy the anti-slavery sign, bearing the inscription, "Anti-Slavery Office,"—which had hung for two years, as signs do hang before public offices in Boston. The plea of the mayor is, that he hoped the rage of the mob would thus be appeased: that is, he gave them leave to break the laws in one way, lest they should in another. The citizens followed up this deed of the mayor with one no less remarkable. They elected these two rioters members of the State legislature, by a large majority, within ten days.

I passed through the mob some time after it had begun to assemble. I asked my fellow-passengers in the stage what it meant. They supposed it was a busy foreign-post day, and that this occasioned an assemblage of gentlemen about the post-office. They pointed out to me that there were none but gentlemen. We were passing through from Salem, fifteen miles north of Boston, to Providence, Rhode Island; and were therefore uninformed of the events and expectations of the day. On the morrow, a visitor who arrived at Providence from Boston told us the story; and I had thenceforth an excellent opportunity of hearing all the remarks that could be made by persons of all ways of thinking and feeling, on this affair.

It excited much less attention than it deserved; less than would be believed possible by those at a distance who think more seriously of persecution for opinion, and less tenderly of slavery than a great many of the citizens of Boston. To many in the city of Boston the story I have told would be news:[Pg 129] and to yet more in the country, who know that some trouble was caused by abolition meetings in the city, but who are not aware that their own will, embodied in the laws, was overborne to gratify the mercenary interests of a few, and the political fears of a few more.

The first person with whom I conversed about this riot was the president of a university. We were perfectly agreed as to the causes and character of the outrage. This gentleman went over to Boston for a day or two; and when he returned, I saw him again. He said he was happy to tell me that we had been needlessly making ourselves uneasy about the affair: that there had been no mob, the persons assembled having been all gentlemen.

An eminent lawyer at Boston was one of the next to speak upon it. "O, there was no mob," said he. "I was there myself, and saw they were all gentlemen. They were all in fine broad-cloth."

"Not the less a mob for that," said I.

"Why, they protected Garrison. He received no harm. They protected Garrison."

"From whom, or what?"

"O, they would not really hurt him. They only wanted to show that they would not have such a person live among them."

"Why should not he live among them? Is he guilty under any law?"

"He is an insufferable person to them."

"So may you be to-morrow. If you can catch Garrison breaking the laws, punish him under the laws. If you cannot, he has as much right to live where he pleases as you."

Two law pupils of this gentleman presently entered. One approved of all that had been done, and praised the spirit of the gentlemen of Boston. I asked whether they had not broken the law. Yes. I asked him if he knew what the law was.[Pg 130] Yes; but it could not be always kept. If a man was caught in a house setting it on fire, the owner might shoot him; and Garrison was such an incendiary. I asked him for proof. He had nothing but hearsay to give. The case, as I told him, came to this. A. says Garrison is an incendiary. B. says he is not. A. proceeds on his own opinion to break the law, lest Garrison should do so.

The other pupil told me of the sorrow of heart with which he saw the law, the life of the republic, set at naught by those who should best understand its nature and value. He saw that the time was come for the true men of the republic to oppose a bold front to the insolence of the rich and the powerful, who were bearing down the liberties of the people for a matter of opinion. The young men, he saw, must brace themselves up against the tyranny of the monied mob, and defend the law; or the liberties of the country were gone. I afterwards found many such among the young men of the wealthier classes. If they keep their convictions, they and their city are safe.

No prosecutions followed. I asked a lawyer, an abolitionist, why. He said there would be difficulty in getting a verdict; and, if it was obtained, the punishment would be merely a fine, which would be paid on the spot, and the triumph would remain with the aggressors. This seemed to me no good reason.

I asked an eminent judge the same question; and whether there was not a public prosecutor who might prosecute for breach of the peace, if the abolitionists would not, for the assault on Garrison. He said it might be done; but he had given his advice against it. Why? The feeling was so strong against the abolitionists,—the rioters were so respectable in the city,—it was better to let the whole affair pass over without notice.

[Pg 131]

Of others, some knew nothing of it, because it was about such a low set of people; some could not take any interest in what they were tired of hearing about; some had not heard anything of the matter; some thought the abolitionists were served quite right; some were sure the gentlemen of Boston would not do anything improper; and some owned that there was such bad taste and meddlesomeness in the abolitionists, that people of taste kept out of the way of hearing anything about them.

Notwithstanding all this, the body of the people are sound. Many of the young lawyers are resolved to keep on the watch, to maintain the rights of the abolitionists in the legislature, and in the streets of the city. Many hundreds of the working men agreed to leave their work on the first rumour of riot, get sworn in as special constables, and keep the peace against the gentry; acting vigorously against the mob ringleaders, if such should be the magistrates of Boston themselves. I visited many of the villages in Massachusetts; and there everything seemed right. The country people are abolitionists, by nature and education, and they see the iniquity of mob-law. A sagacious gentleman told me that it did him good to hear, in New York, of this mob, because it proved the rest of Massachusetts to be in a sound state. It is always 'Boston versus Massachusetts;' and when the city, or the aristocracy there, who think themselves the city, are very vehemently wrong, it is a plain proof that the country people are eminently right. This may, for the humour of the thing, be strongly put; but there is much truth in it.

The philosophy of the case is very easy to understand; and supremely important to be understood.

The law, in a republic, is the embodiment of[Pg 132] the will of the people. As long as the republic is in a natural and healthy state, containing no anomaly, and exhibiting no gross vices, the function of the law works easily, and is understood and reverenced. Its punishments bear only upon individuals, who have the opposition of society to contend with for violating its will, and who are helpless against the righteous visitations of the law.

If there be any anomaly among the institutions of a republic, the function of the law is certain to be disturbed, sooner or later: and that disturbance is usually the symptom by the exhibition of which the anomaly is first detected, and then cured. It was so with free-masonry. It will be so with slavery; and with every institution inconsistent with the fundamental principles of democracy. The process is easily traceable. The worldly interests of the minority,—of perhaps a single class,—are bound up with the anomaly:—of the minority, because, if the majority had been interested in any anti-republican institution, the republic would not have existed. The minority may go on for a length of time in apparent harmony with the expressed will of the many,—the law. But the time comes when their anomaly clashes with the law. For instance, the merchants of the north trade in products which are, as they believe, created out of a denial that all men are born free and equal, and that the just powers of rulers are derived from the consent of the governed; while the contrary principles are the root which produces the law. Which is to be given up, when both cannot be held? If the pecuniary interest of merchants is incompatible with freedom of speech in fellow-citizens, which is to suffer?—The will of the majority, the lawmaker, is to decide. But it takes some time to awaken the will of the majority; and till it awakes, the interest of the faction is active, and overbears[Pg 133] the law. The retribution is certain; the result is safe. But the evils meanwhile are so tremendous, that no exertion should be spared to open the eyes of the majority to the insults offered to its will. There is no fear that the majority will ultimately succumb to the minority,—the harmonious law to the discordant anomaly: but it is a fearful thing, meantime, that the brave should be oppressed by the mercenary, and oppressed in proportion to their bravery; that the masters of black slaves in the south should be allowed to make white slaves in the north; that power and wealth should be used to blind the people to the nature and dignity of the law, and to seduce them into a preference of brute force. These evils are so tremendous as to make it the duty of every citizen to bring every lawbreaker, high or low, to punishment; to strike out of the election list every man who tampers with the will of the majority; to teach every child what the law is, and why it must be maintained; to keep his eye on the rostrum, the bench, the bar, the pulpit, the press, the lyceum, the school, that no fallacy, no compromise with an anomaly, no surrender of principle be allowed to pass unexposed and unstigmatized.

One compound fallacy is allowed daily to pass unexposed and unstigmatized. "You make no allowance," said a friend who was strangely bewildered by it,—"you make no allowance for the great number of excellent people who view the anomaly and the law as you do, but who keep quiet, because they sincerely believe that by speaking and acting they should endanger the Union." This explains the conduct of a crowd of "excellent people," neither merchants, nor the friends of slave-holders, nor approving slavery, or mobbing, or persecution for opinion; but who revile or satirize the abolitionists, and, for the rest, hold their tongues.[Pg 134] But is it possible that such do not see that if slavery be wrong, and if it be indeed bound up with the Union, the Union must fall? Is it possible that they do not see that if the question be really this,—that if the laws of God and the arrangements of man are incompatible, man's arrangements must give way?—I regard it as a false and mischievous assumption that slavery is bound up with the Union: but if I believed the dictum, I should not be for "putting off the evil day." Every day which passes over the unredressed wrongs of any class which a republic holds in her bosom; every day which brings persecution on those who act out the principles which all profess; every day which adds a sanction to brute force, and impairs the sacredness of law; every day which prolongs impunity to the oppressor and discouragement to the oppressed, is a more evil day than that which should usher in the work of renovation.

But the dictum is not true. This bitter satire upon the constitution, and upon all who have complacently lived under it, is not true. The Union is not incompatible with freedom of speech. The Union does not forbid men to act according to their convictions. The Union has never depended for its existence on hypocrisy, insult, and injury; and it never will.

Let citizens but take heed individually to respect the law, and see that others do,—that no neighbour transgresses it, that no statesman despises it unrebuked, that no child grows up ignorant or careless of it; and the Union is as secure as the ground they tread upon. If this be not done, everything is in peril, for the season; not only the Union, but property, home, life and integrity.

[Pg 135]


It is the practice at Washington to pay the Members of Congress, not only a per diem allowance, but their travelling expenses; at so much per twenty miles. Two Members of Congress from Missouri made charges widely different in amount. Complaints were made that the Members were not confined to a mail route, and that the country had to pay for any digressions the honourable gentlemen might be in the humour to make. Upon this, a Member observed that, so far from wishing to confine the congressional travellers to a mail route, he would, if possible, prescribe the condition that they should travel, both in coming and going, through every State of the Union. Any money thus expended, would be, he considered, a cheap price to pay for the conquest of prejudices and dispersion of unfriendly feelings, which would be the consequence of the rambles he proposed.

The Members of Congress from the north like to revert to the day when there were only two universities, Harvard and Yale, to which all the youth of the Union repaired for education. The southern members love to boast of the increase of colleges, so that every State will soon be educating its own youth. The northern men miss the sweet sounds of acknowledgment which used to meet their ears, as often as past days were referred to—the grateful mention of the New England retreats where the years of preparation for active life were spent. The southern men are mortified at the supposition that everything intellectual must come out of New [Pg 136]England. When they boast that Virginia has produced almost all their Presidents, they are met by the boast that New England has furnished almost all the school-masters, professors, and clergy of the country. While the north is still fostering a reverence for the Union, the south loses no opportunity of enlarging lovingly on the virtue of passionate attachment to one's native state.

There is much nature and much reason in all this. It is true that there is advantage in the youth of the whole country being brought together within college walls, at the age when warm friendships are formed. They can hardly quarrel very desperately in Congress, after having striven, and loved, and learned together, in their bright early days. The cadets at West Point spoke warmly to me of this. They told me that when a youth is coming from afar, the youths who have arrived from an opposite point of the compass prepare to look cold upon him and quiz him, and receive him frigidly enough; but the second Sunday seldom comes round before they wonder at him and themselves, and acknowledge that he might almost have been born in their own State. On the other hand, it is true that it would be an absurdity and a hardship to the dwellers in the south and west to have no means of educating their youth at home; but to be obliged to send them a thousand miles in pursuit of necessary learning. It is also true that medical colleges should abound; that peculiar diseases, incident to climate and locality, may be studied on the spot. In this, as in many other cases, some good must be sacrificed for the attainment of a greater good.

The question is, need sectional prejudices increase under the new arrangements? Are there no means of counteracting this great evil, except the ancient methods? Is West Point the last spot [Pg 137]whereon common interests may rally, and whence state jealousies may be excluded?

I should be sorry if the answer were unfavourable; for this Sectional Prejudice, carried beyond the point of due political vigilance, is folly,—childish folly. Events prove it to be so. Deadly political enemies meet at Washington, and snarl and declaim at one another with mighty fierceness. They find themselves, some sunny day, lying on the grass under the shade of a tree, at the country-house of an acquaintance; they rise up cordial friends. They have actually discussed the question of questions, the American System and Nullification; and yet they rise up cordial friends. Again; a Boston gentleman and his lady travel for health through the south and west. They hear abuse of their State and city in abundance by the roadside; but their hearts are touched by the hospitality and friendliness they meet under every roof. Again; the planter carries his family to a Rhode Island bathing place, for the hot season: and there he finds some to whom he can open his heart about his domestic troubles, caused by slavery; he gains their sympathy, and carries away their esteem. The sectional hatred, if not an abstraction, is founded mainly on abstractions, and gives way at once when the parties are confronted. Does it not deserve to be called childish folly?

Yet "hatred" is not too strong a term for this sectional prejudice. Many a time in America have I been conscious of that pang and shudder which are felt only in the presence of hatred. I question whether the enmity between the British and the Americans, at the most exasperating crisis of the war, could ever have been more intense than some that I have seen flashing in the eyes, and heard from the lips, of Americans against fellow-citizens in distant sections of their country. I have scarcely[Pg 138] known whether to laugh or to mourn when I have been told that the New England people are all pedlars or canting priests; that the people of the south are all heathens; and those of the west all barbarians. Nay, I was even told in New York that the Rhode Island people were all heathens, and the New Jersey folks no better. Some Baltimore ladies told me that the Philadelphia ladies say that no Baltimore lady knows how to put on a bonnet: but that the Philadelphians have something worse the matter with them than that; for that they do not know how to be hospitable to strangers. Without stopping to settle which is the gravest of these heavy charges, I am anxious to bear my testimony against the correctness of either. I saw some pretty bonnets, most becomingly worn, at Baltimore; and I can speak confidently to the hospitality of Philadelphia.

Trifling as some instances appear of the manifestation of this puerile spirit, it sometimes, it always, issues in results which are no trifle;—always, because the spirit of jealousy is a deadly curse to him who is possessed by it, whether it be founded on fact, or no. It cannot co-exist with a generous patriotism, one essential requisite of which is an enlarged faith in fellow-citizens. All republicans are patriotic, more or less frequently and loftily. If every American will look into himself at the moment he is glowing with patriotism, he will find his sectional prejudices melted away and gone, for the season. The Americans feel this in their travels abroad, when their country is attacked. They yearn towards the remotest dwellers in their country as if they were the nearest and dearest. Would they could always feel thus at home, and in the absence of provocation!

The most mortifying instance that I witnessed of this sectional prejudice was at Cincinnati. It was[Pg 139] the most mortifying, on two accounts; because it did not give way before intercourse; and because its consequences are likely to be very serious to the city, and, if it spreads, to the whole west. One may laugh at the untravelled citizen of the south who declares that he knows the New Englanders very well. "How should you know the New Englanders?" "O, they drive about in our parts sometimes:"—"they" meaning the Yankee pedlars with wooden clocks for sale. One may laugh at the simple youth on board a steam-boat on Lake Erie, who warned me not to believe anything the Huron people might tell me against the Sandusky people, because he could tell me beforehand that it was all false, and that the Sandusky people are far better than the Huron people. One may laugh at the contemptuous amazement of the Boston lady at my declaration that I liked Cincinnati; that wild western place, where she believed people did not sit down to dinner like Christians. All mistakes of this kind, it is clear, might be rectified by a little travelling. But it is a serious matter to see the travelled gentlemen, the professional men of such a place as Cincinnati, setting up their sectional prejudices in one another's way.

Cincinnati is a glorious place. Few things can be conceived finer than the situation of this magnificent city, and the beauty by which she is surrounded. She is enthroned upon a high platform,—one of the rich bottoms occurring on the Ohio, which expand the traveller's notions of what fertility is. Behind her are hills, opening and closing, receding and advancing; here glowing with the richest green pasturage, and there crested and ribbed by beeches which seem transplanted from some giant land. Wherever we went among these hills, we found them rounding away from us in some new form of beauty; in steep grassy slopes, with a running stream at the bottom; in shadowy precipices,[Pg 140] bristling with trees; in quiet recesses, pierced by sunset lights, shining in among the beechen stems, which spring, unencumbered by undergrowth, from the rich elastic turf. These hill-sides reminded me of the Castle of Indolence, of the quiet paths of Eden, of the shades that Una trod, of Windsor Forest,—of all that my memory carried about undulating wood-lands: but nothing would do; no description that I am acquainted with is rich enough to answer to what I saw on the Ohio,—its slopes, and clumps, and groves. At the foot of these hills runs the river, broad and full, busy with the commerce of the wide West. A dozen steam-boats lie abreast at the wharf, and many more are constantly passing; some stealing along, unheard so far off, under the opposite bank; others puffing and ploughing along the middle of the stream. Fine, level turnpike-roads branch off from the city among the hills, which open so as to allow a free circulation of air over the entire platform. Cincinnati is the most healthy large city in the United States. The streets are wide; and the terraces afford fine situations for houses. The furnishing of the dwellings is as magnificent as the owners may choose to make it; for commerce with the whole world is carried on from their port. Their vineyards, their conservatories, their fruit and flower gardens delight the eye in the gorgeous month of June. They have a native artist of great genius who has adorned the walls of their houses with, perhaps, the best pictures I saw in the country. I saw their streets filled with their thousands of free-school children. "These," said a lady to me, "are our populace." I thought it a populace worthy of such a city. There is no need to speak of its long ranges of furnaces, of its shipping, of its incredible commerce in pork, of its wealth and prospects. Suffice it that one of its most respected inhabitants tells that[Pg 141] when he landed in Ohio, less than fifty years ago, it contained fewer than a hundred whites; and buffalo lodged in a cane brake where the city now stands; while the State at present contains upwards of a million of inhabitants, the city between thirty and forty thousand; and Cincinnati has four daily, and five or six weekly, newspapers, besides a variety of other periodicals.

The most remarkable circumstance, and the most favourable, with regard to the peopling of Cincinnati is, that its population contains contributions of almost every element that goes to constitute society; and each in its utmost vigour. There are here few of the arbitrary associations which exist among the members of other societies. Young men come with their wives, in all directions, from afar; with no parents, cousins, sects, or parties about them. Here is an assemblage from almost every nation under heaven,—a contribution from the resources of almost every country; and all unburdened, and ready for natural association and vigorous action. Like takes to like, and friendships are formed from congeniality, and not from accident or worldly design. Yet is there a tempering of prejudices, a mutual enlightenment, from previous differences of education and habits,—difference even of country and language. Great force is thus given to any principle carried out into action by the common convictions of differing persons; and life is deep and rapid in its course. Such is the theory of society in Cincinnati; and such is, in some degree, its practice. But here it is that sectional prejudice interferes, to set up arbitrary associations where, of all places, they should be shunned.

The adventurers who barbarize society in new places, have gone westward; and, of the full population that remains, above one-fifth are Germans. Their function seems to be, everywhere in the[Pg 142] United States, to develope the material resources of the infant places in which they settle; and the intellectual ones at a more advanced stage. They are the farmers and market-gardeners here. There are many English, especially among the artizans. I saw two handsome white houses, on the side of a hill above the river, with rich ground lots, and extensive garden walls. These are the property of two English artizans, brothers, who emigrated a very few years ago. An Englishman, servant to a physician in Cincinnati in 1818, turned pork-butcher; was worth 10,000 dollars when I was there, and is rapidly growing rich. There are many New Englanders among the clergy, lawyers, and merchants; and this is the portion of society that will not freely mix with the westerners. It is no wonder if the earliest settlers of the place, westerners, are proud of it, and are careful to cherish its primitive emblems and customs. The New Englanders should not take this as an affront to themselves. It is also natural enough that the New Englanders should think and speak alike, and be fond of acting together; and the westerners should not complain of their being clannish. I was at a delightful party at the house of one of the oldest inhabitants, where a sprig of the distinctive buck-eye was hung up in the hall, and a buck-eye bowl of lemonade stood on the table. This was peevishly commented upon by some of eastern derivation: but I thought it would have been wiser to adopt the emblem than to find fault with it. Cincinnati has not gone to the eastern people: the eastern people have gone to her. If they have adopted her for their city, they may as well adopt her emblems too, and make themselves westerners at heart, as well as in presence. These discontents may appear trifling; but they are not so while they impede the furtherance of great objects. I was told on the spot that they would be[Pg 143] very transient; but I fear it is not so. And yet they would be very transient if the spirited and choice inhabitants of that magnificent city could see their position as it is viewed by people at a distance. When I was one day expressing my admiration, and saying that it was a place for people of ambition, worldly or philanthropic, to live in, one of its noblest citizens said, "Yes, we have a new creation going on here; won't you come and dabble in the mud?" If they will but remember that it is a new creation that is going on, and not a fortuitous concourse of atoms; that the human will is, or may be, the presiding intelligence; that centuries hence, their posterity will either bless their memories with homage like that which is paid to the Pilgrim Fathers, or suffer the retribution which follows the indulgence of human passions, all petty jealousies will surely subside, in the prospect which lies before every good man. In a place like Cincinnati, where every man may gratify his virtuous will, and do, with his own hands, the deeds of a generation, feelings should be as grand as the occasion. If the merchants of Genoa were princes, the citizens of Cincinnati, as of every first city of a new region, are princes and prophets at once. They can foresee the future, if they please; and shape it, if they will: and petty personal regards are unworthy of such a destiny. It is melancholy to see how the crusading chiefs quarrelled for precedence on the soil of the Holy Land: it would be more so to see the leaders of this new enterprise desecrating their higher mission by a like contention.

[Pg 144]


Before I entered New England, while I was ascending the Mississippi, I was told by a Boston gentleman that the people of colour in the New England States were perfectly well-treated; that the children were educated in schools provided for them; and that their fathers freely exercised the franchise. This gentleman certainly believed he was telling me the truth. That he, a busy citizen of Boston, should know no better, is now as striking an exemplification of the state of the case to me as a correct representation of the facts would have been. There are two causes for his mistake. He was not aware that the schools for the coloured children in New England are, unless they escape by their insignificance, shut up, or pulled down, or the school-house wheeled away upon rollers over the frontier of a pious State, which will not endure that its coloured citizens should be educated. He was not aware of a gentleman of colour, and his family, being locked out of their own hired pew in a church, because their white brethren will not Worship by their side. But I will not proceed with an enumeration of injuries, too familiar to Americans to excite any feeling but that of weariness; and too disgusting to all others to be endured. The other cause of this gentleman's mistake was, that he did not, from long custom, feel some things to be injuries, which he would call anything but good treatment, if he had to bear them himself. Would he think it good treatment to be forbidden to eat with fellow-citizens; to be assigned to a particular gallery in his church; to be excluded from[Pg 145] college, from municipal office, from professions, from scientific and literary associations? If he felt himself excluded from every department of society, but its humiliations and its drudgery, would he declare himself to be "perfectly well-treated in Boston?" Not a word more of statement is needed.

A Connecticut judge lately declared on the bench that he believed people of colour were not considered citizens in the laws. He was proved to be wrong. He was actually ignorant of the wording of the acts by which people of colour are termed citizens. Of course, no judge could have forgotten this who had seen them treated as citizens: nor could one of the most eminent statesmen and lawyers in the country have told me that it is still a doubt, in the minds of some high authorities, whether people of colour are citizens. He is as mistaken as the judge. There has been no such doubt since the Connecticut judge was corrected and enlightened. The error of the statesman arose from the same cause; he had never seen the coloured people treated as citizens. "In fact," said he, "these people hold an anomalous situation. They are protected as citizens when the public service requires their security; but not otherwise treated as such," Any comment would weaken this intrepid statement.

The common argument, about the inferiority of the coloured race, bears no relation whatever to this question. They are citizens. They stand, as such, in the law, and in the acknowledgment of every one who knows the law. They are citizens, yet their houses and schools are pulled down, and they can obtain no remedy at law. They are thrust out of offices, and excluded from the most honourable employments, and stripped of all the best benefits of society by fellow-citizens who, once a year, [Pg 146]solemnly lay their hands on their hearts, and declare that all men are born free and equal, and that rulers derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.

This system of injury is not wearing out. Lafayette, on his last visit to the United States, expressed his astonishment at the increase of the prejudice against colour. He remembered, he said, how the black soldiers used to mess with the whites in the revolutionary war. The leaders of that war are gone where principles are all,—where prejudices are nothing. If their ghosts could arise, in majestic array, before the American nation, on their great anniversary, and hold up before them the mirror of their constitution, in the light of its first principles, where would the people hide themselves from the blasting radiance? They would call upon their holy soil to swallow them up, as unworthy to tread upon it. But not all. It should ever be remembered that America is the country of the best friends the coloured race has ever had. The more truth there is in the assertions of the oppressors of the blacks, the more heroism there is in their friends. The greater the excuse for the pharisees of the community, the more divine is the equity of the redeemers of the coloured race. If it be granted that the coloured race are naturally inferior, naturally depraved, disgusting, cursed,—it must be granted that it is a heavenly charity which descends among them to give such solace as it can to their incomprehensible existence. As long as the excuses of the one party go to enhance the merit of the other, the society is not to be despaired of, even with this poisonous anomaly at its heart.

Happily, however, the coloured race is not cursed by God, as it is by some factions of his children. The less clear-sighted of them are [Pg 147]pardonable for so believing. Circumstances, for which no living man is answerable, have generated an erroneous conviction in the feeble mind of man, which sees not beyond the actual and immediate. No remedy could ever have been applied, unless stronger minds than ordinary had been brought into the case. But it so happens, wherever there is an anomaly, giant minds rise up to overthrow it: minds gigantic, not in understanding, but in faith. Wherever they arise, they are the salt of their earth, and its corruption is retrieved. So it is now in America. While the mass of common men and women are despising, and disliking, and fearing, and keeping down the coloured race, blinking the fact that they are citizens, the few of Nature's aristocracy are putting forth a strong hand to lift up this degraded race out of oppression, and their country from the reproach of it. If they were but one or two, trembling and toiling in solitary energy, the world afar would be confident of their success. But they number hundreds and thousands; and if ever they feel a passing doubt of their progress, it is only because they are pressed upon by the meaner multitude. Over the sea, no one doubts of their victory. It is as certain as that the risen sun will reach the meridian. Already are there overflowing colleges, where no distinction of colour is allowed;—overflowing, because no distinction of colour is allowed. Already have people of colour crossed the thresholds of many whites, as guests, not as drudges or beggars. Already are they admitted to worship, and to exercise charity, among the whites.

The world has heard and seen enough of the reproach incurred by America, on account of her coloured population. It is now time to look for the fairer side The crescent streak is brightening towards the full, to wane no more. Already is the[Pg 148] world beyond the sea beginning to think of America, less as the country of the double-faced pretender to the name of Liberty, than as the home of the single-hearted, clear-eyed Presence which, under the name of Abolitionism, is majestically passing through the land which is soon to be her throne.


One of the fundamental principles announced in the Declaration of Independence is, that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. How can the political condition of women be reconciled with this?

Governments in the United States have power to tax women who hold property; to divorce them from their husbands; to fine, imprison, and execute them for certain offences. Whence do these governments derive their powers? They are not "just," as they are not derived from the consent of the women thus governed.

Governments in the United States have power to enslave certain women; and also to punish other women for inhuman treatment of such slaves. Neither of these powers are "just;" not being derived from the consent of the governed.

Governments decree to women in some States half their husbands' property; in others one-third. In some, a woman, on her marriage, is made to yield all her property to her husband; in others, to retain a portion, or the whole, in her own hands. Whence do governments derive the unjust power[Pg 149] of thus disposing of property without the consent of the governed?

The democratic principle condemns all this as wrong; and requires the equal political representation of all rational beings. Children, idiots, and criminals, during the season of sequestration, are the only fair exceptions.

The case is so plain that I might close it here; but it is interesting to inquire how so obvious a decision has been so evaded as to leave to women no political rights whatever. The question has been asked, from time to time, in more countries than one, how obedience to the laws can be required of women, when no woman has, either actually or virtually, given any assent to any law. No plausible answer has, as far as I can discover, been offered; for the good reason, that no plausible answer can be devised. The most principled democratic writers on government have on this subject sunk into fallacies, as disgraceful as any advocate of despotism has adduced. In fact, they have thus sunk from being, for the moment, advocates of despotism. Jefferson in America, and James Mill at home, subside, for the occasion, to the level of the author of the Emperor of Russia's Catechism for the young Poles.

Jefferson says,[7] "Were our State a pure democracy, in which all the inhabitants should meet together to transact all their business, there would yet be excluded from their deliberations,

"1. Infants, until arrived at years of discretion;

"2. Women, who, to prevent depravation of morals, and ambiguity of issue, could not mix promiscuously in the public meetings of men;

"3. Slaves, from whom the unfortunate state of things with us takes away the rights of will and of property."

[Pg 150]

If the slave disqualification, here assigned, were shifted up under the head of Women, their case would be nearer the truth than as it now stands. Woman's lack of will and of property, is more like the true cause of her exclusion from the representation, than that which is actually set down against her. As if there could be no means of conducting public affairs but by promiscuous meetings! As if there would be more danger in promiscuous meetings for political business than in such meetings for worship, for oratory, for music, for dramatic entertainments,—for any of the thousand transactions of civilized life! The plea is not worth another word.

Mill says, with regard to representation, in his Essay on Government, "One thing is pretty clear; that all those individuals, whose interests are involved in those of other individuals, may be struck off without inconvenience.... In this light, women may be regarded, the interest of almost all of whom is involved, either in that of their fathers or in that of their husbands."

The true democratic principle is, that no person's interests can be, or can be ascertained to be, identical with those of any other person. This allows the exclusion of none but incapables.

The word "almost," in Mr. Mill's second sentence, rescues women from the exclusion he proposes. As long as there are women who have neither husbands nor fathers, his proposition remains an absurdity.

The interests of women who have fathers and husbands can never be identical with theirs, while there is a necessity for laws to protect women against their husbands and fathers. This statement is not worth another word.

Some who desire that there should be an equality of property between men and women, oppose[Pg 151] representation, on the ground that political duties would be incompatible with the other duties which women have to discharge. The reply to this is, that women are the best judges here. God has given time and power for the discharge of all duties; and, if he had not, it would be for women to decide which they would take, and which they would leave. But their guardians follow the ancient fashion of deciding what is best for their wards. The Emperor of Russia discovers when a coat of arms and title do not agree with a subject prince. The King of France early perceives that the air of Paris does not agree with a free-thinking foreigner. The English Tories feel the hardship that it would be to impose the franchise on every artizan, busy as he is in getting his bread. The Georgian planter perceives the hardship that freedom would be to his slaves. And the best friends of half the human race peremptorily decide for them as to their rights, their duties, their feelings, their powers. In all these cases, the persons thus cared for feel that the abstract decision rests with themselves; that, though they may be compelled to submit, they need not acquiesce.

It is pleaded that half of the human race does acquiesce in the decision of the other half, as to their rights and duties. And some instances, not only of submission, but of acquiescence, there are. Forty years ago, the women of New Jersey went to the poll, and voted, at state elections. The general term, "inhabitants," stood unqualified;—as it will again, when the true democratic principle comes to be fully understood. A motion was made to correct the inadvertence; and it was done, as a matter of course; without any appeal, as far as I could learn, from the persons about to be injured. Such acquiescence proves nothing but the degradation of the injured party. It inspires the same[Pg 152] emotions of pity as the supplication of the freed slave who kneels to his master to restore him to slavery, that he may have his animal wants supplied, without being troubled with human rights and duties. Acquiescence like this is an argument which cuts the wrong way for those who use it.

But this acquiescence is only partial; and, to give any semblance of strength to the plea, the acquiescence must be complete. I, for one, do not acquiesce. I declare that whatever obedience I yield to the laws of the society in which I live is a matter between, not the community and myself, but my judgment and my will. Any punishment inflicted on me for the breach of the laws, I should regard as so much gratuitous injury: for to those laws I have never, actually or virtually, assented. I know that there are women in England who agree with me in this—I know that there are women in America who agree with me in this. The plea of acquiescence is invalidated by us.

It is pleaded that, by enjoying the protection of some laws, women give their assent to all. This needs but a brief answer. Any protection thus conferred is, under woman's circumstances, a boon bestowed at the pleasure of those in whose power she is. A boon of any sort is no compensation for the privation of something else; nor can the enjoyment of it bind to the performance of anything to which it bears no relation. Because I, by favour, may procure the imprisonment of the thief who robs my house, am I, unrepresented, therefore bound not to smuggle French ribbons? The obligation not to smuggle has a widely different derivation.

I cannot enter upon the commonest order of pleas of all;—those which relate to the virtual influence of woman; her swaying the judgment and will of man through the heart; and so forth. One[Pg 153] might as well try to dissect the morning mist. I knew a gentleman in America who told me how much rather he had be a woman than the man he is;—a professional man, a father, a citizen. He would give up all this for a woman's influence. I thought he was mated too soon. He should have married a lady, also of my acquaintance, who would not at all object to being a slave, if ever the blacks should have the upper hand; "it is so right that the one race should be subservient to the other!" Or rather,—I thought it a pity that the one could not be a woman, and the other a slave; so that an injured individual of each class might be exalted into their places, to fulfil and enjoy the duties and privileges which they despise, and, in despising, disgrace.

The truth is, that while there is much said about "the sphere of woman," two widely different notions are entertained of what is meant by the phrase. The narrow, and, to the ruling party, the more convenient notion is that sphere appointed by men, and bounded by their ideas of propriety;—a notion from which any and every woman may fairly dissent. The broad and true conception is of the sphere appointed by God, and bounded by the powers which he has bestowed. This commands the assent of man and woman; and only the question of powers remains to be proved.

That woman has power to represent her own interests, no one can deny till she has been tried. The modes need not be discussed here: they must vary with circumstances. The fearful and absurd images which are perpetually called up to perplex the question,—images of women on wool-sacks in England, and under canopies in America, have nothing to do with the matter. The principle being once established, the methods will follow, easily, naturally, and under a remarkable[Pg 154] transmutation of the ludicrous into the sublime. The kings of Europe would have laughed mightily, two centuries ago, at the idea of a commoner, without robes, crown, or sceptre, stepping into the throne of a strong nation. Yet who dared to laugh when Washington's super-royal voice greeted the New World from the presidential chair, and the old world stood still to catch the echo?

The principle of the equal rights of both halves of the human race is all we have to do with here. It is the true democratic principle which can never be seriously controverted, and only for a short time evaded. Governments can derive their just powers only from the consent of the governed.


[7] Correspondence vol. iv. p. 295.

[Pg 155]


"That thou givest them they gather. Thou openest thine hand; they are filled with good."

104th Psalm.

The traveller from the Old World to the New is apt to lose himself in reflection when he should be observing. Speculations come in crowds in the wilderness. He finds himself philosophizing with every step he takes, as luxuriously as by his study fireside, or in his rare solitary walk at home.

In England, everything comes complete and finished under notice. Each man may be aware of some one process of formation, which it is his business to conduct; but all else is presented to him in its entireness. The statesman knows what it is to compose an act of parliament; to proceed from the first perception of the want of it, through the gathering together of facts and opinions, the selection from these, the elaborating, adjusting, moulding, specifying, excluding, consolidating, till it becomes an entire something, which he throws down for parliament to find fault with. When it is passed, the rest of society looks upon it as a[Pg 156] whole, as a child does upon a table or a doll, without being aware of any process of formation. The shoemaker, thus, takes his loaf of bread, and the clock that ticks behind his door, as if they came down from the clouds as they are, in return for so much of his wages; and he analyzes nothing but shoes. The baker and watchmaker receive their shoes in the same way, and analyze nothing but bread and clocks. Too many gentlemen and ladies analyze nothing at all. If better taught, and introduced at an early age into the world of analysis, nothing, in the whole course of education, is probably so striking to their minds. They begin a fresh existence from the day when they first obtain a glimpse into this new region of discovery.

Such an era is the traveller's entrance upon the wilder regions of America. His old experience is all reversed. He sees nothing of art in its entireness; but little of nature in her instrumentality. Nature is there the empress, not the handmaid. Art is her inexperienced page, and no longer the Prospero to whom she is the Ariel.

It is an absorbing thing to watch the process of world-making:—both the formation of the natural and the conventional world. I witnessed both in America; and when I look back upon it now, it seems as if I had been in another planet. I saw something of the process of creating the natural globe in the depths of the largest explored cave in the world. In its depths, in this noiseless workshop, was Nature employed with her blind and dumb agents, fashioning mysteries which the earthquake of a thousand years hence may bring to light, to give man a new sense of the shortness of his life. I saw something of the process of world-making behind the fall of Niagara, in the thunder cavern, where the rocks that have stood for ever tremble[Pg 157] to their fall amidst the roar of the unexhausted floods. I stood where soon human foot shall stand no more. Foot-hold after foot-hold is destined to be thrown down, till, after more ages than the world has yet known, the last rocky barrier shall be overpowered, and an ocean shall overspread countries which are but just entering upon civilized existence. Niagara itself is but one of the shifting scenes of life, like all of the outward that we hold most permanent. Niagara itself, like the systems of the sky, is one of the hands of Nature's clock, moving, though too slowly to be perceived by the unheeding,—still moving, to mark the lapse of time. Niagara itself is destined to be as the traditionary monsters of the ancient earth—a giant existence, to be spoken of to wondering ears in studious hours, and believed in from the sole evidence of its surviving grandeur and beauty. While I stood in the wet whirlwind, with the crystal roof above me, the thundering floor beneath, and the foaming whirlpool and rushing flood before me, I saw those quiet, studious hours of the future world when this cataract shall have become a tradition, and the spot on which I stood shall be the centre of a wide sea, a new region of life. This was seeing world-making. So it was on the Mississippi, when a sort of scum on the waters betokened the birth-place of new land. All things help in this creation. The cliffs of the upper Missouri detach their soil, and send it thousands of miles down the stream. The river brings it, and deposits it, in continual increase, till a barrier is raised against the rushing waters themselves. The air brings seeds, and drops them where they sprout, and strike downwards, so that their roots bind the soft soil, and enable it to bear the weight of new accretions. The infant forest, floating, as it appeared, on the surface of the turbid and [Pg 158]rapid waters, may reveal no beauty to the painter; but to the eye of one who loves to watch the process of world-making, it is full of delight. These islands are seen in every stage of growth. The cotton-wood trees, from being like cresses in a pool, rise breast-high; then they are like the thickets, to whose shade the alligator may retreat; then, like groves that bid the sun good-night, while he is still lighting up the forest; then like the forest itself, with the wood-cutter's house within its screen, flowers springing about its stems, and the wild-vine climbing to meet the night breezes on its lofty canopy. This was seeing world-making. Here was strong instigation to the exercise of analysis.

One of the most frequent thoughts of a speculator in these wildernesses, is the rarity of the chance which brings him here to speculate. The primitive glories of nature have, almost always since the world began, been dispensed to savages; to men who, dearly as they love the wilderness, have no power of bringing into contrast with it the mind of man, as enriched and stimulated by cultivated society. Busy colonists, pressed by bodily wants, are the next class brought over the threshold of this temple: and they come for other purposes than to meditate. The next are those who would make haste to be rich; selfish adventurers, who drive out the red man, and drive in the black man, and, amidst the forests and the floods, think only of cotton and of gold. Not to such alone should the primitive glories of nature be dispensed; glories which can never be restored. The philosopher should come, before they are effaced, and find combinations and proportions of life and truth which are not to be found elsewhere. The painter should come, and find combinations and proportions of visible beauty which are not to be found elsewhere. The architect should come, and[Pg 159] find suggestions and irradiations of his art which are not to be found elsewhere. The poet should come, and witness a supremacy of nature such as he imagines in the old days when the world's sires came forth at the tidings of the rainbow in the cloud. The chance which opens to the meditative the almost untouched regions of nature, is a rare one; and they should not be left to the vanishing savage, the busy and the sordid.

I watched also the progress of conventional life. I saw it in every stage of advancement, from the clearing in the woods, where the settler, carrying merely his axe, makes his very tools, his house, his fireplace, his bed, his table; carves out his fields, catches from among wild or strayed animals his farm stock, and creates his own food, warmth, and winter light,—from primitive life like this, to that of the highest finish, which excludes all thought of analysis.

The position or prospects of men in a new country may best be made intelligible by accounts of what the traveller saw and heard while among them. Pictures serve the purpose better than reports. I will, therefore, give pictures of some of the many varieties of dwellers that I saw, amidst their different localities, circumstances, and modes of living. No one of them is aware how vivid an idea he impresses on the mind of humanity; nor how distinct a place he fills in her records. No one of them, probably, is aware how much happier he is than Alexander, in having before him more worlds to conquer.

My narratives, or pictures, must be but a few selected from among a multitude. My chapter would extend to a greater length than any old novel, if I were to give all I possess.

The United States are not only vast in extent: they are inestimably rich in material wealth. There[Pg 160] are fisheries and granite quarries along the northern coasts; and shipping from the whole commercial world within their ports. There are tanneries within reach of their oak woods, and manufactures in the north from the cotton growth of the south. There is unlimited wealth of corn, sugar-cane and beet, hemp, flax, tobacco, and rice. There are regions of pasture land. There are varieties of grape for wine, and mulberries for silk. There is salt. There are mineral springs. There is marble, gold, lead, iron, and coal. There is a chain of mountains, dividing the great fertile western valley from the busy eastern region which lies between the mountains and the Atlantic. These mountains yield the springs by which the great rivers are to be fed for ever, to fertilize the great valley, and be the vehicle of its commerce with the world. Out of the reach of these rivers, in the vast breadth of the north, lie the great lakes, to be likewise the servants of commerce, and to afford in their fisheries the means of life and luxury to thousands. These inland seas temper the climate, summer and winter, and insure health to the heart of the vast continent. Never was a country more gifted by nature.

It is blessed also in the variety of its inhabitants. However it may gratify the pride of a nation to be descended from one stock, it is ultimately better that it should have been compounded from many nations. The blending of qualities, physical and intellectual, the absorption of national prejudices, the increase of mental resources, will be found in the end highly conducive to the elevation of the national character. America will find herself largely blessed in this way, however much she may now complain of the immigration of strangers. She complains of some for their poverty; but such bring a will to work, and a capacity for labour. She[Pg 161] complains of others for their coming from countries governed by a despotism; but it is the love of freedom which they cannot enjoy at home, that brings such. She complains of others that they keep up their national language, manners, and modes of thinking, while they use her privileges of citizenship. This may appear ungracious; but it proceeds from that love of country and home institutions which will make staunch American patriots of their children's children. It is all well. The New England States may pride themselves on their population being homogeneous, while that of other States is mongrel. It is well that stability should thus have been temporarily provided for in one part of the Union, which should, for the season, be the acknowledged superior over the rest: but, this purpose of the arrangement having been fulfilled, New England may perhaps hereafter admit, what some others see already, that, if she inherits many of the virtues of the Pilgrims, she requires fortifying in others; and that a large reinforcement from other races would help her to throw off the burden of their inherited faults.

There can scarcely be a finer set of elements for the composition of a nation than the United States now contain. It will take centuries to fuse them; and by that time, pride of ancestry,—vanity of physical derivation,—will be at an end. The ancestry of moral qualities will be the only pedigree preserved: and of these every civilized nation under heaven possesses an ample, and probably an equal, share. Let the United States then cherish their industrious Germans and Dutch; their hardy Irish; their intelligent Scotch; their kindly Africans, as well as the intellectual Yankee, the insouciant Southerner, and the complacent Westerner. All are good in their way; and augment the [Pg 162]moral value of their country, as diversities of soil, climate, and productions, do its material wealth.

Among the most interesting personages in the United States, are the Solitaries;—solitary families, not individuals. Europeans, who think it much to lodge in a country cottage for six weeks in the summer, can form little idea of the life of a solitary family in the wilds. I did not see the most sequestered, as I never happened to lose my way in the forests or on the prairies: but I witnessed some modes of life which realized all I had conceived of the romantic, or of the dismal.

One rainy October day, I saw a settler at work in the forest, on which he appeared to have just entered. His clearing looked, in comparison with the forest behind him, of about the size of a pincushion. He was standing, up to the knees in water, among the stubborn stumps, and charred stems of dead trees. He was notching logs with his axe, beside his small log hut and stye. There was swamp behind, and swamp on each side;—a pool of mud around each dead tree, which had been wont to drink the moisture. There was a semblance of a tumble-down fence: no orchard yet; no grave-yard; no poultry; none of the graces of fixed habitation had grown up. On looking back to catch a last view of the scene, I saw two little boys, about three and four years old, leading a horse home from the forest; one driving the animal behind with an armful of bush, and the other reaching up on tiptoe to keep his hold of the halter; and both looking as if they would be drowned in the swamp. If the mother was watching from the hut, she must have thought this strange dismal play for her little ones. The hard-working father must be toiling for his children; for the success of his after life can hardly atone to[Pg 163] him for such a destitution of comfort as I saw him in the midst of. Many such scenes are passed on every road in the western parts of the States. They become cheering when the plough is seen, or a few sheep are straggling on the hill side, seeming lost in space.

One day, at Niagara, I had spent hours at the Falls, till, longing for the stillness of the forest, I wandered deep into its wild paths, meeting nothing but the belled heifer, grazing, and the slim, clean swine which live on the mast and roots they can find for themselves. I saw some motion in a thicket, a little way from the path, and went to see what it was. I found a little boy and girl, working away, by turns, with an axe, at the branches of a huge hickory, which had been lately felled. "Father" had felled the hickory the day before, and had sent the children to make faggots from the branches. They were heated and out of breath. I had heard of the toughness of hickory, and longed to know what the labour of wood-cutting really was. Here was an irresistible opportunity for an experiment I made the children sit down on the fallen tree, and find out the use of my ear-trumpet, while I helped to make their faggot. When I had hewn through one stout branch, I was quite sufficiently warmed, and glad to sit down to hear the children's story. Their father had been a weaver and a preacher in England. He had brought out his wife and six children. During the week, he worked at his land, finding some employment or another for all of his children who could walk alone; and going some distance on Sundays to preach. This last particular told volumes. The weaver has not lost heart over his hard field-labour. His spirit must be strong and lively, to enable him to spend his seventh day thus, after plying the axe for six. The children did not seem[Pg 164] to know whether they liked Manchester or the forest best; but they looked stout and rosy.

They, however, were within reach of church and habitation; buried, as they appeared, in the depths of the woods. I saw, in New Hampshire, a family who had always lived absolutely alone, except when an occasional traveller came to their door, during the summer months. The old man had run away with his wife, forty-six years before, and brought her to the Red Mountain, near the top of which she had lived ever since. It was well that she married for love, for she saw no one but her husband and children, for many a long year after she jumped out of her window, in her father's house, to run away.

Our party, consisting of four, was in the humour to be struck with the romance of the domestic history of the old man of the mountain, as the guide is called. We had crossed Lake Winnepisseogee, the day before, and watched from our piazza, at Centre Harbour, the softening of the evening light over the broad sheet of water, and the purple islands that rested upon it. After dark, fires blazed forth from the promontories, and glimmered in the islands; every flaming bush and burning stem being distinctly reflected in the grey mirror of the waters. These fires were signs of civilization approaching the wild districts on which we were entering. Land on the lake shores has become very valuable; and it is being fast cleared.

We were to have set off very early on our mountain expedition, next day; but the morning was misty, and we did not leave Centre Harbour till near eight;—nearly an hour and a half after breakfast. We were in a wagon, drawn by the horses on which the two ladies were to ascend the mountain from the guide's house. The sky was grey, but promising; for its curtains were rising at the other[Pg 165] end of the lake, and disclosing ridge after ridge of pines on the mountain side. The road became very rough as we began to ascend; and it was a wonder to me how the wagon could be lifted up, as it was, from shelf to shelf of limestone. One shelf sloped a little too much, even for our wagon. Its line of direction was no longer within the base, as children are taught at school that it should be. All the party, except myself, rolled out. The driver, sprawling on his back on a terribly sharp eminence of limestone, tugged manfully at the reins, and shouted, "Whoi-ee" as cheerfully as if he had been sitting on a cushion, in his proper place. He was not a man to desert his duty in an extremity. He was but little hurt, and nobody else at all.

The wagon was left here, and we ascended a mile, a steep path, among woods and rocks, to the guide's little farm; plunging into a cloud, just before we reached the house. It was baking day; and we found the old dame, with a deaf and dumb daughter,—one of three deaf,—busy among new bread, pies, and apples. Strings of apples hung against the walls; and there was every symptom of plenty and contentment within and without doors. The old dame might have been twin sister to Juliet's nurse. She was delighted to have an opportunity of using her tongue, and was profuse in her invitations to us to stay,—to come again,—to be sociable. The exercise she takes in speaking must be one cause of her buxom health. Out of a pantomime, I never saw anything so energetic as her action; the deafness of her children being no doubt the cause of this. She seemed heartily proud of them; the more, evidently, on account of their singularity. She told us that the daughter now at home had never left it. "Her father could not spare her to school; but I could have spared her." What a life of little incidents magnified must their's be! As[Pg 166] one of my companions observed, the bursting of a shoe, or the breaking of a plate, must furnish talk for a week. The welcome discovery was made that we had a mutual acquaintance. A beloved friend of mine had ascended the mountain some weeks before, and had followed her usual practice of carrying away all the hearts she found there. The old dame spoke lovingly of her as "that Liza;" and she talked about her till she had seen my foot into the stirrup, and given me her blessing up the mountain.

The path was steep, and the summit bare. There was an opening for a single moment on our arrival; the mist parted and closed again, having shown us what a view there was beneath us of green mountains, and blue ponds, and wooded levels. We were entertained for some time with such glimpses; more beautiful perhaps than an unrestricted vision. Such revelations take away one's breath. When all was misty again, we amused ourselves with gathering blue-berries, which grew profusely under foot. The old man, too, was ready with any information we desired about himself; and with abundance of anecdotes of summer travellers, to whom he had acted as guide.

He was a soldier of the revolution; and at its close, retired hither, with his bride, among bears and deer. There are no deer left; and he killed nineteen bears with his own hand: the last, thirty-five years before. One of them was nearly the death of him. A shot which he intended to be mortal was not so. The wounded bear chased him; and there was nothing to be done but to run round and round a tree, loading his gun, while the bear was at his heels, blowing foam and blood upon him. He fired over his shoulder, and dispatched his pursuer. He told us, when the curtain of mist finally drew up, the opinions of learned men whom he had[Pg 167] conducted hither, about this mountain having once been an island in the midst of a vast lake. He pointed out how it is, even now, nearly surrounded by waters; Long Pond, Lake Winnepisseogee, and Squam Lake. The two last are so crowded with islands that the expression of the water is broken up. The islands lie in dark slips upon the gleamy surface, dividing it into too many pond-like portions. But the mountain horizon was altogether beautiful. Some had sharp peaks, some notched; the sides of some were bare, with traces of tremendous slides: others, green as the spring, with wandering sun gleams and cloud shadows. I found myself much mistaken in my fancy that I did not care for bird's-eye views.

The dame was looking out for us when we descended, anxious to detain us for more talk, and to make us bearers of a present to "that Liza." She hung some strings of her drying apples over the arm of a gentleman of the party, with the utmost faith that he would take care of them all the way to Boston. He kindly received them; and I can testify that he did his best to make them reach their destination. It was kindness well bestowed; for no doubt it was a winter luxury of the good dame's to fancy our mutual friend enjoying her Red Mountain applesauce. The sending a present to Boston must be a rare event to dwellers in such a solitude.

Not many miles from this place, stands a deserted dwelling whose inhabitants lived in a deeper solitude, and perished all in one night, far from human aid. No house stands within many miles of it, even now. I had heard the story before I saw the place; but I had no idea of the difference between listening to a sad tale, and seeing the spot of which it is told. In a deep narrow valley among the White Mountains, lived a family of the name of Willey. Their dwelling was a comfortable [Pg 168]log-house, on a green platform, at the foot of one of the steepest mountains. There were but few travellers among these mountains in their day; but those few were kindly welcomed: and the cheerful host and hostess, and their comely children, were always well spoken of. On a stormy August night, 1826, a tremendous slide came crashing down the mountain side, at the rear of the house. If the family had remained in their chambers, they would have been safe: a rock at the edge of the green platform, behind the dwelling, parted the slide, so that the grassy plot remained untouched,—a bright island in the midst, of the desolation. The family, to the number of nine, were overwhelmed, and all perished. The bodies of seven were found. The bones of the other two are doubtless buried under the slide, where rank verdure and young trees are growing up, as if trying to efface the horrors of the wreck. The scene must have been dreadful to those who first arrived at the spot, after the event. The house, safe on its grass plot; its door standing wide; the beds and clothes of the family showing that they had sprung up from sleep, and so fled from the only place where they would have been safe; no one there; a deadly silence brooding over the quiet spot, and chaotic desolation around;—it is no wonder that the house remains deserted, and the valley untenanted.

Some miles further on, the traveller may witness what comfortable cheer may be afforded by dwellers in the wilderness. All travellers in the White Mountains know Ethan A. Crawford's hospitality. He cannot be said to live in solitude, inasmuch as there is another house in the valley: but everybody is aware how little sociability there is between two dwellers in a lonely place. One may enjoy life there; and several may get on well; but two never: and Ethan Crawford's is a virtual solitude, except[Pg 169] for three months in the year. The fate of the Willeys was uppermost in our minds when we arrived; and we were little prepared for such entertainment as we found. After a supper of fine lake trout, a son of our host played to us on a nameless instrument, made by the joiners who put the house together, and highly creditable to their ingenuity. It was something like the harmonica in form, and the bagpipes in tone; but, well-played as it was by the boy, it was highly agreeable. Then Mr. Crawford danced an American jig, to the fiddling of a relation of his. The dancing was somewhat solemn; but its good faith made up for any want of mirth. He had other resources for the amusement of his guests: a gun wherewith he was wont to startle the mountain echoes, till, one day, it burst: (leaving nothing for us to do but to look at the fragments:) also, a horn, which, blown on a calm day, brings a chorus of sweet responses from the far hill sides. Retirement in such a valley, and with such resources as Ethan Crawford's, is attractive enough to the passing traveller; and, to judge by the countenance of the host, anything but dispiriting to those who have made trial of it.

No solitude can be more romantic than that at the mouth of the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky; so called, not because any mammoth-bones have been found there, but because it is the largest explored cave in the world. I was told, not only by the guides, but by a gentleman who is learned in caves, that it can be travelled through, in different directions, to the extent of sixty miles. We could not think of achieving the entire underground journey; but we resolved to see all we could; and, for that purpose, preferred devoting the half of two days to the object, to one entire day, the weariness of which would probably curtail our rambles. After a most interesting and exciting journey of nearly two nights[Pg 170] and a day from Nashville, Tennessee, our party, consisting of four, arrived at Bell's hotel, twelve miles from the cave, at half-past seven, on a bright May morning. We slept till one o'clock, and then set off in a stage and four for the cave. My expectations had been so excited, that every object on the road seemed to paint itself on my very spirit; and I now feel as if I saw the bright hemp fields, the oak copses, the gorgeous wild flowers, and clear streams, running over their limestone beds, that adorned our short journey.

The house at the cave stands on the greenest sward that earth and dews can produce; and it grows up to the very walls of the dwelling. The well, with its sweep,—a long pole, with a rope and bucket at one end, laid across the top of a high post,—this primitive well, on the same plot of turf, and the carriage in which two travellers—young men—had just arrived, were the only occupiers of the grass, besides the house. We lost no time in proceeding to the cave. The other party of travellers and the guides carried lamps, and grease to trim them with; an ample supply of both; for the guides know something of the horrors of being left in darkness in the mazes of a cave. We went down a steep path into a glen, from which the golden sunlight seemed reflected, as from water; so bright was the May verdure. The guides carried our cloaks; which seemed to us very ridiculous; for we were panting with the heat. But, when we had wound down to the yawning, shadowy cave, with its diamond drips and clustering creepers about the entrance, a blast of wintry wind gushed from it, and chilled our very hearts. I found it possible to stand on one foot, and be in the midst of melting heat; and leaning forward on the other, to feel half frozen. The humming birds must be astonished, when they flit across the entrance, to meet winter in the middle[Pg 171] of the glen, and emerge into summer again on the other side.

The entrance of the cave serves as an ice-house to the family of the guide. They keep their meat there, and go to refresh themselves when relaxed by the heat. The temperature is delightful, after the first two or three minutes; and we were glad to leave our cloaks by the way side. The ladies tied handkerchiefs over their heads, and tucked up their gowns for the scramble over the loose limestone; looking thereby very picturesque, and not totally unlike the witches in Macbeth. The gloom, the echo of the footsteps, the hollow sound of voices, the startling effect of lights seen unexpectedly in a recess, in a crevice, or high overhead,—these impressions may be recalled in those who have wandered in caves, but can never be communicated to those who have not. It is in vain to describe a cave. Call it a chaos of darkness and rocks, with wandering and inexplicable sounds and motions, and all is done. Everything appears alive: the slowly growing stalactites, the water ever dropping into the plashing pool, the whispering airs,—all seem conscious. The coolness, vastness, suggestions of architecture, and dim disclosures, occasion different feelings from any that are known under the lights of the sky. The air in the neighbourhood of the waterfall was delicious to breathe; and the pool was so clear that I could not, for some time, see the water, in a pretty full light. That Rembrandt light on the drip of water, on the piled rocks, and on our figures,—light swallowed up before it could reach the unseen canopy under which we stood, can never be forgotten. Milton's lake of fire might have brought the roof into view:—nothing less.

The young guides, brothers, were fine dashing youths, as Kentucky youths are. They told us some horrible tales, and one very marvellous story[Pg 172] about darkness and bewilderment in the labyrinth of the cave. They told us (before they knew that any of us were English) that "all the lords and lights of England had been to see the cave, except the king." While they were about it, they might as well have included his majesty. Perhaps they have, by this time; good stories being of very rapid growth. They reported that ladies hold on in the cave better than gentlemen. One of the party supposed this was because they were lighter; but the guide believed it was owing to their having more curiosity.

I was amused at their assurances about the number of miles that we had walked; and thought it as good a story as any they had told us: but, to my utter amazement, I found, on emerging from the cave, that the stars were shining resplendently down into the glen, while the summer lightning was quivering incessantly over the "verdurous wall" which sprang up to a lofty height on either hand. There seemed to be none of the coolness of night abroad. A breathless faintness came over us on quitting the freshness of the cave, and taught us the necessary caution of resting awhile at the entrance.

Supper was ready when we returned; and then the best room was assigned to the three ladies, while the gentlemen were to have the loft. We saw the stars through chinks in our walls; but it was warm May, and we feared no cold. Shallow tin-pans,—milk-pans, I believe,—were furnished to satisfy our request for ewer and basin. The windows had blinds of paper-hanging; a common sort of window-blind at hotels, and in country places. Before it was light, I was wakened by a strong cold breeze blowing upon me; and at dawn, I found that the entire lower half of the window was absent. A deer had leaped through it, a few weeks before; and there had been no opportunity of mending it. But everything was[Pg 173] clean; everybody was obliging; the hostess was motherly; and the conclusion that we came to in the morning was that we had all slept well, and were ready for a second ramble in the cave.

We saw, this day, the Grotto and the Deserted Chamber. Few visitors attempt the grotto, the entrance to it being in one part only a foot and a half high. We were obliged, not only to go on hands and knees, but to crawl lying flat. It is a sensation worth knowing, to feel oneself imprisoned in the very heart of a mountain, miles from the sun-light, and with no mode of escape but the imperceptible hole which a child might block up in five minutes. Never was there a more magnificent prison or sepulchre. Whether the singularity of our mode of access magnified to our eyes the beauties we had thereby come into the midst of, or whether Nature does work most con amore in retired places, this grotto seemed to us all by far the most beautiful part of the cave. The dry sandy floor was pleasant to the tread, after the loose limestone; the pillars were majestic; the freaks of nature most wild and elegant. The air was so fresh and cool that, if only a Rosicrucian lamp could be hung in this magnificent chamber, it would be the place of all others in which to spend the sultry summer's day,—entering when the beauties of the sunrise had given place to glare, and issuing forth at the rising of the evening star.

On our way to the Deserted Chamber, we cut off half a mile by a descent through a crevice, and a re-ascent by another. We were presently startled by the apparition of two yellow stars, at what appeared an immeasurable distance. In this cave, I was reminded, after a total forgetfulness of many years, of the night-mare visitations of my childhood; especially of the sense of infinite distance, which used to terrify me indescribably. Here, too, the[Pg 174] senses and the reason were baulked. Those two yellow stars might have been worlds, many millions of miles off in space, or,—what they were,—two shabby lamps, fifty yards off. A new visitor had arrived; and the old man of the solitary house had brought him down, in hopes of meeting our larger party. One of the gentlemen presently slipped on the loose stones, and fell into a hole, with his back against a sharp rock; and he seemed at first unable to rise. This was the only misadventure we had; and it did not prove a serious one. He was somewhat shaken and bruised, and rendered unwilling to go with the rest to the Bottomless Pit: but there was no eventual injury. He and I staid in the Deserted Chamber, while our companions disappeared, one by one, through a crevice, on their way to the pit. The dead silence, and the glimmer of our single lamp, were very striking; and we were more disposed to look round upon the low-roofed apartment, piled with stones as far as the eye could reach, than to talk. I tried to swallow a piece of bread or cake, very like a shoe-sole, and speculated upon these piles of stones;—by whose hand they were reared, and how long ago. There is much cane—doubtless, once used for fuel—scattered about the deeper recesses of the cave; and these stones were evidently heaped up by human hands: and those not Indian. It is supposed that this cave was made use of by that mysterious race which existed before the Indians, and of which so many curious traces remain in the middle States of the West; a race more civilized, to judge by the works of their hands, than the Indians have ever been; but of which no tradition remains.

Our party returned safe, and refreshed by a draught of water, better worth having than my luncheon of bread. When we left the cave, our guides insisted upon it that we had walked, this[Pg 175] morning, ten or eleven miles. I pronounced it four. Others of the party said seven; and the point remains unsettled. We all agreed that it was twice as much as we could have accomplished in the heat above ground; and perhaps the most remarkable walk we had ever taken in our lives. Our hostess was with us the whole time; and it was amusing to see in her the effect of custom. She trod the mazes of this cave just as people do the walks of their own garden.

The gush of sun-light pouring in at the mouth of the cave, green and soft, as we emerged from the darkness, was exquisitely beautiful. So was the foliage of the trees, after the rigid forms which had been printing themselves upon our eye-sight for so many hours. As we sat at the entrance, to accustom ourselves to the warm outward air, I saw, growing high in the steep woods, the richest of kalmias, in full bloom. One of the gentlemen ran to bring me some; and when it came, it was truly a feast to the eye. How apt are we to look upon all things as made for us! How many seasons has this kalmia bloomed?

We were truly sorry to bid farewell to our motherly hostess, and her "smart" sons. Theirs is a singular mode of life; and it left nearly as vivid an impression on our minds as their mighty neighbour, the cave. If any of us should ever happen to be banished, and to have a home to seek, I fancy we should look out for a plot of green sward, among flowering kalmias, near the mouth of an enormous cave, with humming birds flitting about it by day, and fire-flies and summer lightning by night.

In strong contrast in my mind with such a scene as this, stands a gay encampment in the wilderness, at which I soon after arrived. The watering places among the Virginia mountains are as new and[Pg 176] striking a spectacle as the United States can afford. The journeyings of those who visit them are a perpetual succession of contrasts. I may as well give the whole journey from Cincinnati to the eastern base of the Alleghanies.

We left Cincinnati at noon on the 25th of June: as sultry a summer's day as ever occurs on the Ohio. The glare was reflected from the water with a blinding and scorching heat; and feather fans were whisking all day in the ladies' cabin of our steam-boat. Hot as it was, I could not remain in the shady cabin. The shores of the Ohio are so beautiful, that I could not bear to lose a single glimpse between the hills. It is holiday-travelling to have such a succession of pictures as I saw there made to pass noiselessly before one's eyes. There were the children running among the gigantic trees on the bank, to see the boat pass; the girl with her milk-pail, half way up the hill; the horseman on the ridge, or the wagoner with his ox-team pausing on the slope. Then there was the flitting blue jay under the cool shadow of the banks; the butterflies crossing the river in zig-zag flight; the terrapins (small turtle) floundering in the water, with their pert little heads above the surface; and the glancing fire-flies every night.

On the afternoon of this day, we were met by the storm which swept over the whole country, and which will be remembered as having caused the death of the son of Chief-Justice Marshall, at Baltimore, on his way to his dying father. I watched, from the deck, the approach of the storm. First, the sky, above the white clouds, was of a dark grey, which might have been mistaken for the deep blue of twilight. Then a mass of black clouds came hurrying up below the white. Then a flash escaped from out of the upper grey, darting perpendicularly into the forest; and then another, exploding like[Pg 177] the four rays of a star. I saw the squall coming in a dark line, straight across the river. Our boat was hurried under the bank to await it. The burst was furious: a roaring gust, and a flood of rain, which poured in under our cabin door, close shut as it was. All was nearly as dark as night for a while, and all silent but the elements. Then the day seemed to dawn again; but loud peals of thunder lasted long, and the lightning was all abroad in the air. Faint flashes now wandered by; and now a brilliant white zig-zag quivered across the sky. One splendid violet-coloured shaft shot straight down into the forest; and I saw a tall tree first blaze and then smoulder at the touch. A noble horse floated by, dead and swollen. When we drew out into the middle of the river, it was as if spring had come in at the heels of the dog-days; all was so cool and calm.

The company on board were of the lowest class we ever happened to meet with in our travels. They were obliging enough; as everybody is throughout the country, as far as my experience goes; but otherwise they were no fair specimens of American manners. One woman excited my curiosity from the beginning; but I entertained a much more agreeable feeling towards her when we parted, after several days' travelling in company. Her first deed was to ask where we were going; and her next, to take my book out of my lap, and examine it. Much of the rest of her time was occupied in dressing her hair, which was, notwithstanding, almost as rough as a negro's. She wore in her head a silver comb, another set with brilliants, and a third, an enormous tortoiseshell, so stuck in, on one side, as to remind the observer, irresistibly, of a unicorn. She pulled down her hair in company, and put it up again, many times in a day, whenever, as it seemed to me, she could not think of anything else to be[Pg 178] doing. Her young companion, meantime, sat rubbing her teeth with dragon-root. The other cabin company seemed much of the same class. I was dressing in my state room between four and five the next morning, when an old lady, who was presently going ashore, burst in, and snatched the one tumbler glass from my hand. She was probably as much amazed at my having carried it out of sight as I was at her mode of recovering it.

I loved the early morning on the great rivers, and therefore rose at dawn. I loved the first grey gleams that came from between the hills, and the bright figures of people in white, (the men all in linen jackets in hot weather,) on the banks. I loved to watch the river craft; the fussy steamer making rapid way; the fairy canoe shooting silently across; the flat-boat, with its wreath of blue smoke, stealing down in the shadow of the banks, her navigators helping her along in the current by catching at the branches as they passed: and the perilous looking raft, with half-a-dozen people on it, under their canopy of green boughs, their shapeless floor bending and walloping in the middle of the stream. I loved the trees, looking as if they stood self-poised, their roots were washed so bare. I loved the dwellings that stood behind their screen, those on the eastern bank seeming fast asleep; those on the western shore gay with the flickering shadows cast on them by the breezy sunrise through the trees.

On passing Catletsburgh we bade adieu to glorious Kentucky. At that point, our eyes rested on three sovereign States at one glance, Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia. We landed at Guyandot, and proceeded by stage the next morning to Charleston, on the Kanawha river. The road, all the way to the Springs, is marvellously good for so wild a part of the country. The bridges over the streams are, some of them,[Pg 179] prettily finished; and the accommodations by the road side are above the average. The scenery is beautiful the whole way. We were leaving the great Western Valley; and the road offered a succession of ascents and levels. There were many rivulets and small waterfalls; the brier-rose was in full bloom along the ground; the road ran half way up the wooded hills, so that there were basins of foliage underneath, the whole apparently woven into so compact a mass by the wild vine, that it seemed as if one might walk across the valley on the tree tops. The next day's dawn broke over the salt works and coal pits, or rather caverns of coal, on the hill sides. The corn was less tall and rich, the trees were less lofty, and it was apparent that we were mounting to a higher region. It occurred to me, in a careless kind of way, that we were now not very far from the Hawk's Nest. Some ladies in the Guyandot Hotel had said to me, "Be sure you see the Hawk's Nest." "What is that?" "A place that travellers can see if they choose; the driver always stops a few minutes to let them see the Hawk's Nest." I had never heard of it before, and I never heard of it again. The world is fairly awakened to Niagara; but it is still drowsy about two scenes which moved me—the one more than Niagara, the other nearly as much; the platform at Pine Orchard House, on the top of the Catshills, and the Hawk's Nest.

The last of the Kanawha River, as we bade adieu to it on the 28th of June, was smooth and sweet, with its islets of rocks, and the pretty bridge by which we crossed the Gauley, and entered upon the ascent above New River. The Gauley and the New River join to make the Kanawha. The ascent of the mountains above New River is trying to weak nerves. The horses have to stop, here and there, to rest; and it appears that if they were to[Pg 180] back three steps, it would be death. The road, however, is really broad, though it appears a mere ledge when the eye catches the depth below, where the brown river is rushing and brawling in its rocky bed. A passenger dropped his cap in the steepest part, and the driver made no difficulty about stopping to let him recover it. What a depth it was! like the dreamy visions of one's childhood of what winged messengers may first learn of man's dwelling-place, when they light on a mountain-top; like Satan's glimpses from the Mount of Soliloquy; like any unusual or forbidden peep from above into the retirements of nature, or the arrangements of man. On our left rose the blasted rocks which had been compelled to yield us a passage; but their aspect was already softened by the trails of crimson and green creepers which were spreading over their front. The unmeasured pent-house of wild vine was still below us on the right, with rich rhododendron blossoms bursting through, and rock-plants shooting up from every ledge and crevice at the edge of the precipice. After a long while, (I have nothing to say of time or distance, for I thought of neither,) a turn in the road shut out the whole from our sight. I leaned out of the stage, further and further, to catch, as I supposed, a last glimpse of the tremendous valley; and when I drew in again, it was with a feeling of deep grief that such a scene was to be beheld by me no more. I saw a house, a comfortable homestead, in this wild place, with its pasture and corn-fields about it; and I longed to get out, and ask the people to let me live with them.

In a few minutes the stage stopped. "If any of the passengers wish to go to the Hawk's Nest ..." shouted the driver. He gave us ten minutes, and pointed with his whip to a beaten path in the wood to the right. It seems to me now that[Pg 181] I was unaccountably cool and careless about it. I was absorbed by what I had seen, or I might have known, from the direction we were taking, that we were coming out above the river again. We had not many yards to go. We issued suddenly from the covert of the wood, upon a small platform of rock;—a Devil's Pulpit it would be called, if its present name were not so much better;—a platform of rock, springing from the mountain side, without any visible support, and looking sheer down upon an angle of the roaring river, between eleven and twelve hundred feet below. Nothing whatever intervenes. Spread out beneath, shooting up around, are blue mountain peaks, extending in boundless expanse. No one, I believe, could look down over the edge of this airy shelf, but for the stunted pines which are fast rooted in it. With each arm clasping a pine-stem, I looked over, and saw more, I cannot but think, than the world has in reserve to show me.

It is said that this place was discovered by Chief Justice Marshall, when, as a young man, he was surveying among the mountains. But how many Indians knew it before? How did it strike the mysterious race who gave place to the Indians? Perhaps one of these may have stood there to see the summer storm careering below; to feel that his foothold was too lofty to be shaken by the thunderpeals that burst beneath; to trace the quiverings of the lightnings afar, while the heaven was clear above his own head. Perhaps this was the stand chosen by the last Indian, from which to cast his lingering glance upon the glorious regions from which the white intruders were driving his race. If so, here he must have pined and died, or hence he must have cast himself down. I cannot conceive that from this spot any man could turn away, to go into exile. But it cannot be that Marshall was more than the earliest of Saxon race who discovered[Pg 182] this place. Nature's thrones are not left to be first mounted by men who can be made Chief Justices. We know not what races of wild monarchs may have had them first.

We travelled the rest of the day through an Alpine region, still full of beauty. The road is so new that the stopping places seemed to have no names. The accommodations were wonderfully good. At eleven we reached a place where we were allowed, not only to sup, but to lie down for two hours; a similar mercy to that afforded us the night before. Those who are impatient of fatigue should not attempt this method of reaching the Virginia Springs, though they are much to be pitied if they adopt any other. Our first re-entrance upon the world was at Lewisburg, at noon, on the 29th. It appears to be a neat village. The militia were parading: very respectable men, I do not doubt, but not much like soldiers. In a quarter of an hour we were off for the White Sulphur Springs, nine miles (of dusty road) from Lewisburg, and arrived there at half-past two, just as the company were dispersing about the walks, after dinner.

Nothing could be more striking than the contrast between our stage-coach society and that which was thronging the green area into which we were driven. We were heated, wearied, shabby, and all of one dust colour, from head to foot, and, I doubt not, looking very sheepish under the general stare. Every body else was gay and spruce, and at full leisure to criticise us. Gentlemen in the piazza in glossy coats and polished pumps; ladies in pink, blue, and white, standing on green grass, shading their delicate faces and gay head-dresses under parasols; never was there a more astonishing contrast than all this presented with what we had been seeing of late. The friends who were[Pg 183] expecting us, however, were not ashamed of us, and came bounding over the green to welcome us, and carry us within reach of refreshment.

It was doubtful whether "a cabin" could be spared to us. We were fortunate in being so favoured as to be put in possession of one in the course of the afternoon. Several carriages full of visitors arrived within a few days, each with its load of trunks, its tin pail dangling behind (wherewith to water the horses in the wilderness) and its crowd of expecting and anxious faces at the windows, and were turned back to seek a resting-place elsewhere. That we were accommodated at all, I believe to this day to be owing to some secret self-denying ordinance on the part of our friends.

On one side of the green, are the large rooms, in which the company at the Springs dine, play cards, and dance. Also, the bar-room, and stage, post, and superintendent's offices. The cabins are disposed round the other sides, and dropped down, in convenient situations behind. These cabins consist of one, two, or more rooms, each containing a bed, a table, a looking-glass, and two or three chairs. All company is received in a room with a bed in it: there is no help for it. The better cabins have a piazza in front; and all have a back door opening upon the hill side; so that the attendants, and their domestic business, are kept out of sight.

The sulphur fountain is in the middle of the southern end of the green; and near it is the sulphur bathing-house. The fountain rises in the midst of a small temple, which is surmounted by a statue of Hygeia, presented to the establishment by a grateful visitor from New Orleans.

The water, pure and transparent, and far more agreeable to the eye than to the taste, forms a pool in its octagon-shaped cistern; and hither the[Pg 184] visitors lounge, three times a day, to drink their two or three half-pint tumblers of nauseousness.

I heard many complaints, from new-comers, of the drowsiness caused by drinking the water. Some lay down to sleep more than once in the day; and others apologised for their dulness in society; but this is only a temporary effect, if one may judge by the activity visible on the green from morning till night. One of the greatest amusements was to listen to the variety of theories afloat about the properties and modes of application of the waters.

These springs had been visited only about fifteen years. No philosophising on cases appears to have been instituted: no recording, classifying, inferring, and stating. The patients come from distances of a thousand miles in every direction, with a great variety of complaints; they grow better or do not; they go away, and nobody is the wiser for their experience. It would be difficult to trace them, and to make a record of anything more than their experience while on the spot. The application of these waters will probably continue for a long time to be purely empirical. All that is really known to the patients themselves is, that they are first sleepy, then ravenous; that they must then leave the White Sulphur Spring, and go to the Warm Springs, to be bathed; then to the Sweet Springs, to be braced; and then home, to send all their ailing friends into Virginia next year.

Upwards of two hundred visitors were accommodated when I was in the White Sulphur Valley; and cabins were being built in all directions. The valley, a deep basin among the mountains; presents such beauties to the eye, as perhaps few watering-places in the world can boast. There has been no time yet to lay them open, for the benefit of the invalids; but there are plans for the formation of walks and drives through the woods, and along the[Pg 185] mountain sides. At present, all is wild, beyond the precincts of the establishment; and, for the pleasure of the healthy, for those who can mount, and ramble, and scramble, it seems a pity that it should not remain so. The mocking-bird makes the woods ring with its delicious song; and no hand has bridged the rapid streams. If you want to cross them, you must throw in your own stepping-stones. If you desire to be alone, you have only to proceed from the gate of the establishment to the first turn in the road, force your way into the thicket, and look abroad from your retreat upon as sweet and untouched a scene of mountain and valley as the eye of the red man loves to rest upon. The gentlemen who are not invalids go out shooting in the wilderness. A friend of mine returned from such an expedition, the day after my arrival. He brought home a deer; had been overtaken by a storm in the mountains, and had, with his companions, made a house and a fire. Such amusements would diversify the occupations of Bath and Cheltenham very agreeably.

The morning after our arrival, we were too weary to be roused by the notice bell, which rings an hour before every meal; and we were ready only just in time for the last bell. Breakfast is carried to the cabins, if required; but every person who is able prefers breakfasting in company. On rainy mornings, it is a curious sight to see the company scudding across the green to the public-room, under umbrellas, and in cloaks and india-rubber shoes. Very unlike the slow pace, under a parasol, in a July sun.

There was less meat on the table at breakfast and tea than I was accustomed to see. The bread and tea were good. For the other eatables there is little to be said. It is a table spread in the wilderness; and a provision of tender meat and juicy[Pg 186] vegetables for two or three hundred people is not to be had for the wishing. The dietary is sure to be improved, from year to year; the most that is to be expected at present is, that there should be enough for everybody. The sum paid for board per week is eight dollars; and other charges may make the expenses mount up to twelve. Pitchers of water and of milk may be seen, at every meal, all down the tables; little or no wine.

The establishment is under the management of the proprietor, who has been offered 500,000 dollars for it, that it may be conducted by a company of share-holders, who would introduce the necessary improvements. When I was there, the proprietor was still holding off from this bargain, the company not being willing to continue to him the superintendence of the concern. I hope that arrangements, satisfactory to all parties, may have been made by this time. The average gross receipts of a season were reported to be 50,000 dollars. It was added that these might easily be doubled, if all were done that might be.

Rheumatism and liver complaints seemed the most common grievances. Two little girls, perhaps four and five years old, sat opposite to me, who were sufferers from rheumatism. But the visitors who came for pleasure seemed to outnumber considerably those who came for health.

After breakfast, we sauntered about the green, and visited various new acquaintances in their piazzas. Then we went home for our bonnets, and rambled through the woods, till we were sent back by the rain, and took shelter beside the fountain. The effect was strange of seeing there a family of emigrants, parents and nine children, who were walking from North Carolina into Illinois. There must have been twins among these children, so many of them looked just alike. The contrast between this[Pg 187] group of way-worn travellers, stopping out of curiosity to taste the waters, and the gay company among whom they very properly held up their independent heads, was striking to a stranger.

We dined at two; and afterwards found that a fire would be comfortable, though it was the last day of June. As many friends as our room would hold came home with us, and sat on the bed, table, and the few chairs we could muster, while one made the wood fire, and another bought ice-creams, which a country lad brought to the door. These ice-creams seemed to be thin custard, with a sprinkling of snow in it; but the boy declared that they were ice-creams when he left home. When we had finished our dessert, washed and returned the glasses, and joked and talked till the new-comers of our party grew ashamed of their drowsiness, we crossed the green to diversify the afternoon amusements of certain of our friends. Some were romping with their dogs; some reading books brought by themselves; (for there is no library yet;) some playing at chess or backgammon; all deploring the rain.

After tea, we stormed the great scales, and our whole party were individually weighed. It must be an interesting occupation to the valetudinarians of the place to watch their own and each others' weight, from day to day, or from week to week. For my part, I found my weight just what it always has been, the few times in my life that I have remembered to ascertain it. Such unenviable persons can never make a pursuit of the scales, as others can whose gravity is more discriminating.—From the scales, we adjourned to the ball-room, where I met friends and acquaintances from Mobile and New Orleans; saw new-comers from the Carolinas and Georgia; was introduced to personages of note from Boston; recognized some whom I had[Pg 188] known at Philadelphia; and sat between two gentlemen who had fought a duel. There was music, dancing, and refreshments; laughing and flirting here; grave conversation there;—all the common characteristics of a ball, with the added circumstances that almost every State in the Union was here represented; and that we were gathered together in the heart of the mountains.

One more visit remained to be paid this day. We had promised to look in upon some friends who were not at the ball, in order to try the charms and virtues of egg-nogg, which had been lauded to us by an eminent statesman, who has had opportunity, during his diplomatic missions, to learn what there is best in this world. The egg-nogg having been duly enjoyed, we at length went home, to write letters as long as we could hold up our heads, after so extremely busy a day:—a day which may be considered a fair specimen of life at the White Sulphur Springs.

One of the personages whom I referred to as low company, at the beginning of my story, declared himself in the stage-coach to be a gambler, about to visit the Springs for professional purposes. He said to another man, who looked fit company for him, that he played higher at faro than any man in the country but one. These two men slept while we were mounting to the Hawk's Nest. People who pursue their profession by night, as such people do, must sleep in the day, happen what may. They were rather self-important during the journey; it was a comfort to see how poor a figure they cut at the Springs. They seemed to sink into the deepest insignificance that could be desired. Such persons are the pests of society in the south and west; and they are apt to boast that their profession is highly profitable in the eastern cities. I fear this is no empty vaunt.

[Pg 189]

We left the White Sulphur Springs, a party of six, in "an extra exclusive return stage," and with two saddle horses. Nothing could be more promising. The stage was perfectly new, having been used only to bring General C—— and his lady from Philadelphia to the Springs. We had a shrewd and agreeable Yankee driver, for the whole way. The weather was as fine as July weather ought to be; and as cool as is its wont near the tops of mountains: the very weather for the saddle, or for having the stage open on all sides; or for walking. The alternations were frequently tried. Roses and mountain laurels adorned our road; the breezy woods cast their shadows over us; and we remembered what waters were springing beneath us;—that we were passing over the sources of the mighty rivers of the West, which we had lately navigated with deep awe and delight. The few dwellings we passed were almost all houses of entertainment; but nothing could be more quiet than their air, nestling as they did in the most enviable situations, and resembling more the lodges in the avenues of the parks of English gentry than the hotels of the high road.

We reached the Sweet Springs, twelve miles, I believe, from the White Sulphur, at half-past two. We were as hungry as mountain travellers should be, and dinner was over. However, we were soon set down to hot stewed venison, beet, hominy, ham, and fruit pies; and, thus reinforced, we issued forth to examine the place. The spring at the bathhouse looked so tempting, that I resolved to bathe at sun-down, which, in this valley, would be at five o'clock. The establishment here is inferior to the one we had left. The green was not paled in; the cabins were more shabby; the dining-room smaller. We had it almost to ourselves. The season had not begun, few having been yet sufficiently sulphured and bathed elsewhere to come here to be[Pg 190] braced. The water is a little warm; it has a slight briskness; and bubbles up prettily in its well under the piazza. The luxury is to have nothing to do with its disagreeable taste, but to bathe in it, as it gushes, tepid, from its spout. It would be worth while, if there were nothing but trouble in crossing the mountains to get to it. The Sweet Springs lie in one of the highest valleys of the Alleghanies, and one of the fairest. Five times that afternoon did I climb the steep breezy slope behind our cabin, bringing first one of our party, then another, to look abroad; and then returning to enjoy the sun-set alone. The crowds of blue peaks, the bright clearings, the clumps of forest trees, lilac in the sunset with the shepherds lying in their shadow, and the sheep grazing on the sunny slopes, the cluster of cabins below, with their thin smokes rising straight into the golden air,—the whole looked as if the near heavens had opened to let down a gush of their inner light upon this high region. Never shall I forget those tufty purple hills. Cold twilight came on; and we sat round a blazing wood fire, telling ghost and murder stories till we could have declared it was a Christmas night.

At supper, I observed a hale, brisk, intellectual-looking gentleman who satisfied himself with a basin of liquid; as he did at breakfast the next morning; and as he may be seen to do at every meal he takes. He told us his story. Twenty years before, he nearly closed his œsophagus by taking too powerful an emetic. For twenty years, he has had no illness; he rises at dawn all the year round, and has never been known to be low-spirited for two minutes. We all began to think of living upon liquids; but I have not heard of any of the party having proceeded beyond the suggestion.

We rose at five, the next morning, having thirty[Pg 191] mountain miles to go during the day, with the same horses. It must not be supposed that this mountain travelling is scrambling among craggy peaks, piercing through dark defiles, and so forth. The roads wind so gently among the slopes, that a sleeping or blind traveller would not discover that the carriage was not, for the greater part of the time, proceeding on level ground. Woody slopes at hand, and a crowd of blue summits afar, are the most characteristic features of the scenery. A white speck of a house, on its tiny green clearing, comes into sight, high up among the hills, from a turn in the road, and the traveller says to himself, "What a perch to live on!" In two hours, he stops at that very house to dine, not being aware how he has got up to it, and looking round with wonder on the snug comforts of the homestead.

Our thirty miles of this day were delicious. Having breakfasted, we bade adieu, at half-past six, to the Sweet Springs, steaming in the bitter cold morning air, and followed a gentleman of our party who had proceeded on foot to the top of the first ridge. There we found him, sitting under a tree, having succeeded in warming himself by the walk. Up the second ridge, the whole party walked, I having started off, ahead of the rest. It was warm, and I stopped, here and there, to rest and gather wild flowers. The rhododendrons and kalmias grew in profusion; and there were plenty of roses, the fine orange columbine of the hills, vetches, and a few splendid scarlet lilies. The peeps down into abysses of foliage were glorious; and, yet more, the cloudlike expanse of mountain tops, growing bluer and fainter till they faded quite away. A steep road on an opposite mountain was the only sign of humanity being near. On the summit, however, there was a small farm. In it lived an elderly woman, who had never been further from[Pg 192] the spot than eight miles. If she was born to travel no further than eight miles, no better dwelling place could have been assigned her; for hence she sees more at a glance, any sunset, than some, with all means of locomotion, have ever beheld.

It was a strange feeling, the beginning to descend. It was strange to cross, soon after, the path of the tornado. I had seen something of its ravages before, on the banks of the Cumberland river: the stoutest forest-trees wrenched and twisted, like red-hot iron in the vice of the blacksmith; and snapped off, all at the same height; so that the forest looked like a gigantic scorched stubble-field. Here, a similar desolation was seen in immediate contrast with the rich fertility of the little valley beneath. The hurricane had seared a path for itself up the mountain side, passing over the lowly roofs in the depths. We arrived to dinner at a house on Barber Creek, where we entreated to be fed without delay, on anything whatsoever that was eatable; as time was precious, this day. Yet were we kept waiting two hours and a half. I found much to do by the creek side watching the minnows making their way up against the current; watching two girls who had set up their washing establishment in pretty style under a tree beside the water; their wood fire, black cauldron, and stand of tubs; while the bushes stood round about to be used as drying horses. I also actually saw a hog voluntarily walk three times through the clear water; and the delay of the dinner afforded time for speculation whether the race was not improving. When the dinner was on the table, no one of us could tell what it consisted of. The dish from which I ate was, according to some, mutton; to others, pork: my own idea is that it was dog. Whatever it was, it was at last done with, and paid for, and I was in my saddle, listening to the creek as it rattled under[Pg 193] the grey rocks. Having crossed one mountain top on foot, in the morning, I was about to pass another on my horse this afternoon. There is no describing what it is to be pacing upwards, on the extreme edge of the steep road, with one's feet hanging over the green abyss; the shadowy mountains retreating, advancing, interlacing, opening, to disclose a low far-off bit of meadow, with a diminutive dwelling, quiet as a lonely star. What blessed work road-making must be in such places! It was with no little pleasure that, after fourteen miles from Barber Creek, I saw a fine house on an eminence; and then the town of Fincastle, spread out below us, on some rising grounds.

The scenes of the day left me little disposed for sociability in the evening. We were kept waiting long for supper, by the arrival of a party of New Yorkers; to avoid an introduction to whom, some of us pretended to read, and some to be asleep, while others did our duty, talk. The night closed in worthily. From the balcony of my chamber, I saw how modestly the young moon eyed with me the region which will be spread before her for ever, but which I was looking back upon for the last time.

Here I must break off; and, instead of adding another description of the Natural Bridge to the hundred which exist, bring into contrast with life at the Virginia Springs, life in a New England farm-house.

Nothing can he quieter or more refreshing, after a winter's visiting at Boston or New York, than such an abode in a country village as I made trial of last May. The weeks slipped away only too fast. Dr. and Mrs. F., their little boy, six years old, and myself, were fortunate enough to prevail with a farmer's widow at Stockbridge, [Pg 194]Massachusetts, to take us into her house. The house was conspicuous from almost every part of the sweet valley into which it looked; the valley of the Housatonic. It was at the top of a steep hill; a sort of air palace. From our parlour windows we could see all that went on in the village; and I often found it difficult to take off my attention from this kind of spying. It was tempting to trace the horseman's progress along the road, which wound among the meadows, and over the bridge. It was tempting to watch the neighbours going in and out, and the children playing in the courts, or under the tall elms; all the people looking as small and busy as ants upon a hillock. On week-days there was the ox-team in the field; and on Sundays the gathering at the church-door. The larger of the two churches stood in the middle of a green, with stalls behind it for the horses and vehicles which brought the churchgoers from a distance. It was a pretty sight to see them converging from every point in the valley, so that the scene was all alive; and then disappear for the space of an hour and a half, as if an earthquake had swallowed up all life; and then pour out from the church door, and, after grouping on the green for a few minutes, betake themselves homewards. Monument Mountain reared itself opposite to us, with its thick woods, and here and there a grey crag protruding. Other mountains closed in the valley, one of which treated us for some nights with the spectacle of a spreading fire in its woods. From the bases of these hills, up to our very door-step, there was one bright carpet of green. Everything, houses, trees, churches, were planted down into this green, so that there was no interruption but the one road, and the blue mazy Housatonic. The softness of the scene, early in a May morning, or when the sun was withdrawing,[Pg 195] could not be surpassed by anything seen under a Greek or Italian sky. Sometimes I could scarcely believe it real: it looked air-painted, cloud-moulded.

It was as a favour that the widow Jones[8] took us in. She does not let lodgings. She opened her house to us, and made us a part of her family. Two of her daughters were at home, and a married son lived at hand. We had a parlour, with three windows, commanding different views of the valley: two good-sized chambers, conveniently furnished, and a large closet between; our board with the family, and every convenience that could be provided: and all for two dollars per week each, and half price for the child. She was advised to ask more, but she refused, as she did not wish to be "grasping." It was a merry afternoon when we followed the wagon up the hill to our new abode, and unpacked, and settled ourselves for our long-expected month of May. Never was unpacking a pleasanter task.

The blossomy cherry-tree beside my chamber window was the first object I saw in the morning when I threw up the sash; and beneath it was a broad fallow, over which the blue jay flitted. By this window there was an easy chair and a light table, a most luxurious arrangement for reading. We breakfasted at half-past seven on excellent bread, potatoes, hung beef, eggs, and strong tea. We admitted no visitors during the forenoon, as our theory was that we were very busy people. Writing and reading did occupy much of our time, but it was surprising how much was left for the exercise of our tongues. Then there were visits to be made to the post-office, and the crockery store, and the cobbler; and Charley found occasion to burst in, a dozen times a-day, with a bunch of[Pg 196] violets, or news of the horse or cow, or of the ride he had had, or of the oxen in the field.

We all dined together at two. One of the daughters absented herself at breakfast, that she might arrange our rooms; but both were present at dinner, dressed, and ready for their afternoon's occupation of working and reading. One was fond of flowers, and had learned a great deal about them. She was skilful in drying them, and could direct us to the places in the woods and meadows where they grew. Some members of the family, more literary than the rest, were gone westward; but there was a taste for books among them all. I often saw a volume on the table of the widow's parlour, with her spectacles in it. She told me, one day, of her satisfaction in her children, that they were given to good pursuits, and all received church members. All young people in these villages are more or less instructed. Schooling is considered a necessary of life. I happened to be looking over an old almanack one day, when I found, among the directions relating to the preparations for winter on a farm, the following: "Secure your cellars from frost. Fasten loose clap-boards and shingles. Secure a good school-master." It seemed doubtful, at the first glance, whether some new farming utensil had not been thus whimsically named; as the brass plate which hooks upon the fender, or upper bar of the grate, is called "the footman;" but the context clearly showed that a man with learning in his head was the article required to be provided before the winter. The only respect, as far as I know, in which we made our kind hostess uneasy, was in our neglect of Charley's book-studies. Charley's little head was full of knowledge of other kinds; but the widow's children had all known more of the produce of the press at his age than he; and she had a few anxious thoughts about him.

[Pg 197]

In the afternoon we rambled abroad, if the weather was fine; if rainy, we lighted our wood fire, and pursued our employments of the morning, not uncheered by a parting gleam from the west; a bar of bright yellow sky above the hill tops, or a gush of golden light burnishing the dewy valley at the last. Our walks were along the hill road to the lake, on the way to Lenox, or through the farmyard and wood to a tumbling brook in a small ravine. We tried all manner of experiments with moss, stones, and twigs, among its sunny and shadowy reaches, and tiny falls. We hunted up marsh flowers, wood anemones, and violets, and unfolded the delicate ferns, still closely buttoned up, and waiting for the full power of the summer sun. It was some trouble to me, in America, that I could not get opportunity to walk so much as I think necessary to health. It is not the custom there: partly owing to the climate, the extreme heat of summer, and cold of winter; and partly to the absence of convenient and pretty walks in and about the cities; a want which, I trust, will be supplied in time. In Stockbridge much pedestrian exercise may be and is accomplished; and I took the opportunity of indulging in it, much to the surprise of some persons, who were not aware how English ladies can walk. One very warm afternoon, we were going on a visit to Lenox, five miles off. My friends went in a wagon; I preferred walking. The widow's son watched me along the road, and then remarked, "You will see no more of her till you get to Lenox. I would not walk off at that rate, if they gave me Lenox when I got there."

In the evenings, we made a descent upon the village, or the village came up to us. In the latter case, our hostess was always ready with a simple and graceful welcome, and her best endeavours to provide seats for our many friends. If we staid[Pg 198] below till after nine, the family had gone to rest on our return. We had only to lift the latch, light our candles, and make our way to the milk-pans, if we were thirsty. For twenty-five years, the widow has lived on the top of her hill, with only a latch to her door. She sleeps undefended, for she has no enemies; and in her village there are no thieves.

One night, when we were visiting some friends in the valley, it was brought home to us what it is to live in a place where there are no hackney coaches, or other travelling shelter. When we should have been going home, it was a tremendous spring-storm; wind, thunder and lightning, and rain in floods. We waited long; but it seemed to have no intention of abating. When at length we did set out, we were a remarkable looking troop; a gentlemanly young lawyer in a pea jacket; the other gentlemen in the roughest coats that could be found; the ladies leaving bonnets and caps behind, with handkerchiefs over their heads, India-rubbers on their feet, their dresses tucked up, and cloaks swathed round them. Our party were speeded up the hill by the fear that Charley would be wakened and alarmed by the storm; but it was a breathless sort of novelty to be working our way through one continued pond to the foot of the hill, and then up the slippery ascent, unbonneted, with the strangling gust in our faces, and no possibility of our finding our way in the pitchy darkness but by the flashes of blue lightning. Well clad as we were, we felt, I believe, something like being paupers, or gentry of the highway, or some such houseless personages exposed to the pelting of the pitiless storm. Charley was found to be sound asleep, and we ourselves no worse off than being steeped over the ankles.

The time came too soon when I must leave the[Pg 199] beloved village, when I must see no longer the morning baking and the evening milking; and the soap cauldron boiling in the open air behind the house, with Charley mounted on a log, peeping into it; and the reading and working, and tying up of flowers in the afternoon. The time was come when the motherly and sisterly kiss were ready for me, and my country life in New England was at an end. It is well for us that our best pleasures have an immortality like our own; that the unseen life is a glorification of the seen. But for this, no one with a human heart would travel abroad, and attach himself to scenes and persons which he cannot but love, but which he must leave.

It was not always that the villagers of New England could place themselves on hill tops, and leave their doors unfastened. There is a striking contrast between their present security and the fears of their forefathers, in the days when the nursling went to church, because it was unsafe at home, in the absence of its father. Father, mother, and children, all went on one horse to meet the total population within the walls of the church; the one parent armed, the other prying about for traces of the fearful red man. Those were the days when the English regicides had fled to the colonies, and were there secreted. Those were the days when anything that was to be made known to all was announced in church, because everybody was sure to be there; and a fast-day was ordained if anything very remarkable was to be done, or conveyed. Sometimes formal announcements were made; sometimes intimations were so interwoven with the texture of the discourse, as that unfriendly ears, if such should be present, should not apprehend the meaning. When any emissary of Charles the Second was prowling in search of a concealed regicide, the pastor preached from some such text[Pg 200] as, "Hide the outcasts. Bewray not him that wandereth;"[9] and the flock understood that they were to be on their guard against spies. Charles the Second could never get hold of one of his enemies who had taken refuge in these colonies.

On looking abroad over the valley of the Connecticut, from the top of Mount Holyoke, I saw the village of Hadley, seated in the meadows, and extending across a promontory, formed by the winding of the river. This promontory afforded a secure grazing ground for the cattle by day, which were driven by night into the area of the village, where the church stood. Goffe, the regicide, was concealed for many years in the parsonage at Hadley; all the people in the village, except two or three, being, in this instance, unaware of an outcast being among them. One Sunday, the Indians attacked the village while the people were all in church. The women and children were left in the church, while their husbands, fathers, and brothers went out to do battle with the cruel foe. It went hard with the whites; the Indians were fast bearing them down, when an unknown figure appeared in their ranks, with flowing robes, streaming white hair, and a glittering sword. The cry was raised that the angel Gabriel had been sent in answer to the prayers of the women in the church. Every spirit was cheered, every arm was nerved, and the Indians were beaten off, with great slaughter. Upon this, Gabriel vanished; but tradition long preserved the memory of his miraculous appearance. The very few who recognized in him Goffe, with his undressed hair, and in his morning gown, kept the secret faithfully. How blessed a change has come over rural life in Massachusetts since those days! Never may its peace and security be invaded by those social abuses which are more hateful than foreign spies;[Pg 201] more cruel and treacherous than the injured and exasperated red man of the wilderness!

The contrast is also striking between the country life of New England and that of the west. I staid for some weeks in the house of a wealthy land-owner in Kentucky. Our days were passed in great luxury; and some of hottest of them very idly. The house was in the midst of grounds, gay with verdure and flowers, in the opening month of June; and our favourite seats were the steps of the hall, and chairs under the trees. From thence we could watch the play of the children on the grass-plat, and some of the drolleries of the little negroes. The red bird and the blue bird flew close by; and the black and white woodpecker with crimson head, tapped at all the tree-trunks, as if we were no interruption. We relished the table fare, after that with which we had been obliged to content ourselves on board the steam-boats. The tender meat, fresh vegetables, good claret and champagne, with the daily piles of strawberries and towers of ice-cream, were welcome luxuries. There were thirty-three horses in the stables, and we roved about the neighbouring country accordingly. There was more literature at hand than time to profit by it. Books could be had at home; but not the woods of Kentucky;—clear, sunny woods, with maple and sycamore springing up to a height which makes man feel dwarfish. The glades, with their turf so clean, every fallen leaf having been absorbed, reminded me of Ivanhoe, I almost looked for Gurth in my rambles. All this was, not many years ago, one vast canebrake, with a multitude of buffalo and deer: the pea-vine spreading everywhere, and the fertility far greater than even now.

One morning I took a lesson in rifle-shooting;[Pg 202] the gentlemen having brought out their weapons for a few hours' sport among the squirrels. A rifle does not bounce like a musket, and affords, therefore, an easy beginning. I took aim at twenty-five paces, and hitting within an inch, thought it best to leave off with credit. A child of eighteen months stood in the middle of the gravel-walk, very composedly, while the rifles were popping off; and his elder brothers were busy examining the shots. Children seem born to their future pursuits, in new countries. Negro children seem all born riders and drivers. It was an amusement to see little children that in England could not hold themselves on a large horse, playing pranks with a whole equipage that they were leading to water.

In the afternoon of this day we took a long drive in search of buffalo; the only herd of those hideous animals now to be seen in Kentucky. None of the family liked to be left behind, so we filled the barouche and the phaeton, and Master H., eight years old, in his garden costume, mounted the mare, whose foal could not be induced to remain at home, and frolicked beside us all the way. We rattled on through lanes, over open ground above a pond, beneath locust groves, and beechen shades, seeing herds of mules, and the finest of cattle within the verge of the woods. The mules are raised for exportation to the fields of Louisiana. Then we reached the hill-side where eight buffalo were grazing, four of the pure and four of a mixed breed. The creatures stood looking at us as if they had been turned into stone at the sight of us. Their sidelong gaze, as they stood motionless beside a stump, or beneath a tree, was horrid. I never saw an eye and attitude of which I should be so much afraid. As they appeared to have no intention of moving a hair of their tails or huge necks while we halted, a little slave, named Oliver,[Pg 203] was sent up the hill to put them in motion; there being no danger whatever in the operation. Oliver disappeared, and no result of his exertions was visible. When the buffalo and we had mutually stared for another five minutes, Oliver's master called to him to know what he was about. He replied that the buffalo looked too hard at him. At last, however, he went near enough to put them in motion; and then they moved all at once, each seeming more clumsy than the others in its headlong run. I am glad to have seen buffalo, but there is nothing to be said for their beauty or grace.

In the evening we repaired to the cool grass-plat, to amuse ourselves with the pretty sport of trying which should find out the first star. It was then ascertained that two gentlemen present were well qualified to entertain us with stories of horrible western murders,—more fearful than any other murders. So we sat till late at night, amidst summer lightning and the glancing of fire-flies, listening to the most harrowing and chilling set of tales of human misdeeds and their retributions, that it ever was my fortune to listen to. The Christmas firesides of England yield no impressions of horror like the plain facts of a life in the wilderness, told under the trees, in a sultry night, while the pale lightning is exploding on the horizon.

We had tidings of a camp-meeting to be held at some distance, the next day. I had never seen a camp-meeting; but the notice was too short, and the distance too great, and I missed the chance.

One of the slaves of a neighbouring gentleman came and asked his master what he would give him for two bee-holes. "You are a pretty fellow," said his master, "to ask me to pay for my own trees." The negro urged that his master would never have found out the bee-holes for himself;[Pg 204] which was very true. He was referred to his mistress; and it was finally arranged that three of us English strangers should see the felling of a bee-tree; a spectacle we had all heard of, but not seen. A large party dined at this gentleman's house; and, presently after dinner, all set out in carriages, or on horseback, for the spot in the woods where the bee-tree stood. It was a shabby black walnut, which seemed scarcely fit company for the noble array of trees around it. It was of so respectable a circumference near the ground, however, and the negroes were making such slow progress into its interior, that it was plain we should have time for a drive in the woods before the catastrophe; so my host mounted the box of our barouche, and we wound hither and thither under the trees, over the rich grass; and, seldom having to stoop to avoid the branches, catching bright glimpses of a hundred glades. It was a full hour before the tree fell. We arrived just when it was chopped into the middle, and some minutes before the event. It is a pretty sight to see the top branches of the falling glory quiver, its canopy shake, and its huge bulk come crashing down, while everybody runs away at the shout which tells that it is coming. This tree fell on the wrong side, and destroyed several yards of fence, snapping the stakes, and setting them flying in all directions.

Straw and sulphur were burned in the hollow of the trunk. A few little startled bees flew out, and wreaked their vengeance on our host and myself; but most of them perished very quietly. I was asked whether I should like to look into the cleft; and when I was stepping over the bristling branches for the purpose, a bough was put into my hand, with directions to wave it before me. I returned, stung, but having seen what I wanted; and then I was told that if I had not waved a bough, I should[Pg 205] have escaped the bees. Mine was the common fate of persons who follow unasked advice. Our host capered among the trees, with a bee or two under his cravat and hair. It was impossible to help laughing. A stout gentleman of the party did the same, under the mere idea of bees being upon him; and, while tossing his head and arms about, he ran up, with a great shock, against his own horse; on which sat a little negro, grinning from ear to ear. The result of the whole was,—half a tumbler glass full of blackened honey, and the high gratification of the spectators, native and foreign, unharmed and stung.

Such is a fair specimen of our life in the West. Contrasts rise up before my mind's eye, as the scenes of my journeying present themselves; contrasts in the face of the country, as striking as in the modes of living.

When I was at Salem, in Massachusetts, the friends whose hospitality I was enjoying proposed an excursion to Cape Ann, (the northern point of Massachusetts' bay,) and round the peninsula which constitutes the township of Gloucester. This excursion impressed me strongly, from the peculiar character of the scenery: but I know not whether it is an impression which can be conveyed by description. Whether it be or not, I would recommend all strangers to go and visit this peninsula; and, if convenient, in fine autumn weather, when the atmosphere lends its best aid to the characteristic charms of the landscape.

It was the 19th of October, a foggy morning, when we mounted the carry-all,—a carriage which holds four,—and drove merrily out of Salem, upon a carpet of fallen leaves. I love streets that have trees in them; Summer Street in Boston; State Street in Albany; and Chesnut Street in Salem.[Pg 206] We passed through Beverley, where, as in most of the small New England towns, the population has a character of its own. At Marblehead, on the bay, near Salem, the people are noisy, restless, high-spirited, and democratic. At Beverley, in the near neighbourhood, they are quiet, economical, sober, and whig. Such, at least, is the theory: and one fact in this connexion is, that the largest sums in the Boston savings' banks are from Beverley. We passed over a long bridge,—a respectable toll-bridge. The Americans are not fond of tolls of above a certain age,—for fear of monopoly. There is a small bridge, called Spite Bridge, because it spites the Beverley toll, which is much used in preference. Seven miles further is Manchester;—how unlike the English Manchester! A mere with pond-lilies! woods with the glorious magnolia flourishing in the midst! This is the only place in New England where the magnolia grows. In summer, parties are formed to visit the woods; and children make much money as guides and gatherers. Cabinet-making is the great business of the place. We saw logs of mahogany lying outside the houses; and much furniture in pieces standing up against the walls, ready to be packed for New Orleans. The furniture of the southern cities is almost entirely derived from this neighbourhood. One manufacturer, who makes the furniture here, and sells it from his warehouse at New Orleans, has an income of 150,000 dollars. The inhabitants of Manchester are very prosperous. The houses were all good, except, here and there, the abode of a drunkard, known by its unpainted walls, loose shingles, broken shutters, and decayed door-step, in striking contrast with the neat white or yellow painted houses of the neighbours, with their bright windows, and spruce Venetian blinds.

Seven miles further, stands Gloucester; the road[Pg 207] to it winding among wooded rocks; sometimes close down to the shore; and sometimes overhanging the rippling waters of Massachusetts Bay. The gay autumn copses harmonized well with the grey granite, out of which they seemed to grow; and with the pearly sea, sinning out from beneath the dissolving mist.

We crossed a little canal which opens into the bay, near Gloucester; and hastened onto the most interesting ground we had to traverse, stopping only a few minutes at Gloucester, to consult a map which indicated almost every rock and house in the peninsula.

The population of the peninsula is homogeneous. There is probably no individual beyond Gloucester whose parentage may not be referred to a particular set of people, at a particular date in English history. It has great wealth of granite and fish. It is composed of granite; and almost its only visitors are fish.

It is a singular region. If a little orchard plot is seen, here and there it seems rescued by some chance from being grown over with granite. It was pleasant to see such a hollow, with its apple tree, the ladder reared against it, the basket beneath, and the children picking up the fallen fruit. The houses look as if they were squeezed in among the rocks. The granite rises straight behind a house, encroaches on each side, and overhangs the roof, leaving space only for a sprinkling of grass about the door, for a red shrub or two to wave from a crevice, and a drip of water to flow down among gay weeds. Room for these dwellings is obtained by blasting the rocks. Formerly, people were frightened at fragments falling through the roof after a blasting: but now, it has become too common an occurrence to alarm any body. One precaution is enforced: no one is allowed to keep more than[Pg 208] twenty-eight pounds of powder in one town or village; and the powder-houses may be seen, insulated on rocks, and looking something like watch-boxes, at some distance from every settlement. The school-houses are also remarkable buildings. The school-house may always be known at a glance: a single square room, generally painted white or pale green, and reared on a grassy eminence, with a number of small heads to be seen through the windows, or little people gathered about the door. There are twenty-one school-houses in this township of Gloucester, the population of which is nine thousand.

We dined at Sandy Bay, in a neat little hotel, whose windows bloomed with chrysanthemums, nasturtium, and geraniums; and where we feasted on chowder, an excellent dish when well cooked. It consists of fish, (in this instance haddock,) stewed in milk, with potatoes. The parlour table was graced with a fair collection of books; as was almost every parlour I saw, throughout the country. Sandy Bay is a thriving place. It has a pretty, and very conspicuous church, and a breakwater, built by the people, at an expense of 40,000 dollars, but now too small for their purposes. The Atlantic rolls in upon their coast fiercely in winter: and the utility of a harbour hereabouts for all vessels, is a sufficient ground for an application to Congress for an appropriation of 100,000 dollars, to make a larger breakwater. If the application has succeeded, Sandy Bay will soon be an important place. While dinner was preparing, we went down to the little harbour, and saw the dancing fishing-vessels, the ranges and piles of mackarel barrels, and an immense display of the fish drying. The mackarel fishery begins in June, and continues almost through the year. There are three orders of mackarel, to which the unfortunate[Pg 209] individuals which are detained in their summer excursion are assigned, according to their plumpness; one dollar per barrel being the superiority of price of one over another.

After dinner, we proceeded on our travels, first visiting Cape Ann, the extreme north end of Massachusetts Bay. We had the bay before us, and the great Atlantic on our left. We ought to have seen Boston; but the fog had not quite cleared away in the distance. Thatcher's Island was near, with its two lighthouses, and a bright, green sea playing about it. Then we turned and drove northward along the shore, with busy and most picturesque quarries to our left. There were tall poles in the quarries, with stretched ropes, the pulleys by which the blocks of stone were raised: there were ox-teams and sleds: there were groups of workmen in the recesses of the rocks, and beside the teams, and about the little bays and creeks, where graceful sloops were riding under the lee of tiny breakwaters, where the embarkation of the stone for foreign parts goes on. Blocks of granite lay by the road-side, marked, either in reference to its quality, if for sale; or to its proportion among the materials which are being prepared to order for some great building in New York, or Mobile, or New Orleans. Some may wonder how granite should be exposed for sale in such a district; and who would be likely to buy it. I saw, this afternoon, gate-posts, corner-posts, and foundations of common houses, of undressed granite; and, also, an entire house, the abode of the blacksmith. The friend who sat beside me told me that he hoped to see many more such mechanics' dwellings before he dies. Stone becomes cheaper, and wood dearer, continually; and there is no question which is the more desirable material for those who can afford it. With regard to beauty merely, I know of no [Pg 210]building material to equal granite; dressed in the city; undressed in the country. We went into a quarry, and saw an untold wealth of fissured stone. The workmen contrive to pursue their business even in the winter. When the snow is on the ground, and the process of drilling is stopped, they remove ordinary pieces out of the way, and make all clear for their spring labours. They "turn out" 250,000 dollars'-worth a-year; and the demand is perpetually on the increase.

Along the north side of the peninsula the road was very pretty. The grey, distant coast of New Hampshire bounded the sea view. Groups of children were playing on the sands of a deep cove; and the farmers were collecting or spreading their manure of sea-weed and fish-heads. Squam river, which forms the peninsula, flowed out into the sea, and the village of Annisquam spread along its bank. We crossed the bridge, close by the only tide mill I ever saw. It works for six hours, and stops for six, while the flow of the tide fills the pond above. The gates are then shut, and a water-power is obtained till the tide again flows.

We saw what we could of Gloucester, on our return to that little town, before sunset. There are some very good houses, newly-built; and the place has the air of prosperity that gladdens the eye wherever it turns, in New England. We ran down to the shore. It is overlooked by a windmill, from whose grassy platform we beheld the scene in the singular light which here succeeds an autumn sunset. The sky and sea were, without exaggeration, of a deep scarlet: Ten Pound Island sat black upon the waters, with its yellow beacon just lighted. Fishing vessels lay still, every rope being reflected in the red mirror; and a boat, in which a boy was sculling across the harbour, was the only moving object.

[Pg 211]

After tea, a clergyman and his wife called; and then a long succession of the hospitable inhabitants of Gloucester came to bid us welcome: from which it appeared that small articles of intelligence circulate as rapidly here as in other country-places. In another respect, Gloucester resembled all the villages and small towns I passed through: in the pretty attention of presenting flowers. In some of the larger cities, bouquets of rich and rare flowers were sent to me, however severe might have been the frost, or however dreary the season. In the smallest villages, I had offerings, quite as welcome, in bunches of flowers from the woods and meadows. Many of these last were new to me, and as gladly received as the luscious hyacinths which greeted me every morning at Charleston. At Lenox, in Massachusetts, where I spent one night, my table was covered with meadow-flowers, and with fine specimens of Jack-in-the-pulpit, and the moccassin-flower, or lady's slipper: and at Gloucester, when I returned from my early visit to the beach, where I had been to see the fishermen go out, I found a gorgeous bouquet of autumn flowers; dahlias more various and rich than could have been supposed to grow in such a region.

On our return to Salem, we diverged a little from our road, near Manchester, to see a farm, whose situation would make an envious person miserable. The house lies under the shelter of a wooded hill, and enjoys a glorious view of Massachusetts Bay. The property lies between two bays, and has a fine fishing-station off the point. The fields look fertile, and a wide range of pasturage skirts the bay. A woman and children were busy in the orchard, with a cart and barrels, taking in a fine crop of apples; and we could only hope that they were sensible of their privilege in living in such a place. These are the region,[Pg 212] teeming with the virtues of the Pilgrims, and as yet uninfected by the mercenary and political cowardice of the cities, where the most gladdening aspects of human life are to be seen.

The newly-settled districts of the southern States are as unlike as possible to all this. They are extreme opposite cases. If human life presents its fairest aspects in the retired townships of New England,—some of its very worst, perhaps, are seen in the raw settlements of Alabama and Mississippi.

When we drew near to Columbus, Georgia, we were struck with amazement at the stories that were told, and the anecdotes that were dropped, in the stage, about recent attempts on human life in the neighbourhood; and at the number of incidents of the same kind which were the news of the day along the road. Our driver from Macon had been shot at, in attempting to carry off a young lady. A gentleman, boarding in the hotel at Columbus, was shot in the back, in the street, and laid by for months. No inquiry was made, or nothing came of it. The then present governor of the State of Mississippi had recently stood over two combatants, pistol in hand, to see fair play. This was stated as a remarkable fact. The landlord of the house where we stopped to breakfast on the day we were to reach Columbus, April 9th, 1835, was, besides keeping a house of entertainment, a captain of militia, and a member of the legislature of Georgia. He was talking over with his guests a late case of homicide in a feud between the Myers and Macklimore families. He declared that he would have laws like those of the Medes and Persians against homicide; and, in the same breath, said that if he were a Myers, he would shoot Mr. Macklimore and all his sons.

We arrived at Columbus before sunset, and [Pg 213]determined to stay a day to see how the place had got on since Captain Hall saw it cut out of the woods, ten years before. During the evening, I could do nothing but watch the Indians from my window. The place swarmed with them; a few Choctaws, and the rest Creeks. A sad havoc has taken place among them since; and this neighbourhood has been made the scene of a short but fierce war. But all looked fair and friendly when we were there. Groups of Indians were crouching about the entries of the stores, or looking in at the windows. The squaws went by, walking one behind another, with their hair, growing low on the forehead, loose, or tied at the back of the head, forming a fine contrast with the young lady who had presided at our breakfast-table at five that morning, with her long hair braided and adorned with brilliant combs, while her fingers shone in pearl and gold rings. These squaws carried large Indian baskets on their backs, and shuffled along, bare-footed, while their lords paced before them, well mounted; or, if walking, gay with blue and red clothing and embroidered leggings, with tufts of hair at the knees, while pouches and white fringes dangled about them. They looked like grave merry-andrews; or, more still, like solemn fanatical harvest men going out for largess. By eight o'clock they had all disappeared; but the streets were full of them again the next morning.

Our hostess was civil, and made no difficulty about giving us a late breakfast by ourselves, in consideration of our fatigues. Before one o'clock we dined, in company with seventy-five persons, at one long table. The provisions were good, but ill-cooked; and the knives so blunt that it was a mystery to me how the rest of the company obtained so quick a succession of mouthfuls as they did.

[Pg 214]

The Chattahoochee, on whose banks Columbus stands, is unlike any river I saw in the United States, unless it be some parts of the Susquehanna. Its rapids, overhung by beech and pine woods, keep up a perpetual melody, grateful alike to the ear of the white and the red man. It is broad and full, whirling over and around the rocks with which it is studded, and under the frail wooden foot-bridge which spans a portion of its width, between the shore and a pile of rocks in the middle of the channel. On this foot-bridge I stood, and saw a fish caught in a net laid among the eddies. A dark fisherman stood on each little promontory; and a group was assembled about some canoes in a creek on the opposite Alabama shore, where the steepness of the hills seemed scarcely to allow a foothold between the rushing water and the ascent. The river is spanned by a long covered bridge, which we crossed the same night on our way into Alabama.

There are three principal streets in Columbus, with many smaller, branching out into the forest. Some pretty bits of greensward are left, here and there, with a church, or a detached house upon each—village-like. There are some good houses, five hotels, and a population of above 2,000,—as nearly as I could make out among the different accounts of the accession of inhabitants since the census. The stores looked creditably stocked; and a great many gentlemanly men were to be seen in the streets. It bears the appearance of being a thriving, spacious, handsome village, well worth stopping to see.

We left it, at seven in the evening, by the long bridge, at the other end of which we stopped for the driver to hold a parley, about a parcel, with a woman, who spoke almost altogether in oaths. A gentleman in the stage remarked, that we must[Pg 215] have got quite to the end of the world. The roads were as bad as roads could be; and we rolled from side to side so incessantly, as to obviate all chance of sleeping. The passengers were very patient during the hours of darkness; but, after daylight, they seemed to think they had been long enough employed in shifting their weight to keep the coach on its four wheels. "I say, driver," cried one, "you won't upset us, now daylight is come?" "Driver," shouted another, "keep this side up." "Gentlemen," replied the driver, "I shall mind nothing you say till the ladies begin to complain." A reply equally politic and gallant.

At half past five, we stopped to breakfast at a log dwelling, composed of two rooms, with an open passage between. We asked for water and towel. There was neither basin nor towel; but a shallow tin dish of water was served up in the open passage where all our fellow-travellers were standing. We asked leave to carry our dish into the right-hand room. The family were not all dressed. Into the left-hand room. A lady lodged there!

We travelled till sunset through the Creek Territory, the roads continuing to be extremely bad. The woods were superb in their spring beauty. The thickets were in full leaf; and the ground was gay with violets, may-apple, buck-eye, blue lupin, iris, and crow-poison. The last is like the white lily, growing close to the ground. Its root, boiled, mixed with corn, and thrown out into the fields, poisons crows. If eaten by cattle, it injures but does not destroy them. The sour-wood is a beautiful shrub. To-day it looked like a splendid white fuchsia, with tassels of black butterflies hanging from the extremities of the twigs. But the grandest flower of all, perhaps the most exquisite I ever beheld, is the honeysuckle of the southern woods. It bears little resemblance to the ragged flower which has the same name elsewhere.[Pg 216] It is a globe of blossoms, larger than my hand, growing firmly at the end of an upright stalk, with the richest and most harmonious colouring, the most delicate long anthers, and the flowers exquisitely grouped among the leaves. It is the queen of flowers. I generally contrived, in my journeys through the southern States, to have a bunch of honeysuckles in the stage before my eyes; and they seemed to be visible wherever I turned, springing from the roots of the forest trees, or dangling from their topmost boughs, or mixing in with the various greens of the thickets.

We saw to-day, the common sight of companies of slaves travelling westwards; and the very uncommon one of a party returning into South Carolina. When we overtook such a company proceeding westwards, and asked where they were going, the answer commonly given by the slaves was, "Into Yellibama."—Sometimes these poor creatures were encamped under the care of the slave-trader, on the banks of a clear stream, to spend a day in washing their clothes. Sometimes they were loitering along the road; the old folks and infants mounted on the top of a wagon-load of luggage; the able-bodied, on foot, perhaps silent, perhaps laughing; the prettier of the girls, perhaps with a flower in the hair, and a lover's arm around her shoulder. There were wide differences in the air and gait of these people. It is usual to call the most depressed of them brutish in appearance. In some sense they are so; but I never saw in any brute an expression of countenance so low, so lost, as in the most degraded class of negroes. There is some life and intelligence in the countenance of every animal; even in that of "the silly sheep," nothing so dead as the vacant, unheeding look of the depressed slave is to be seen. To-day, there was a spectacle by the roadside which showed that this has nothing to do with negro[Pg 217] nature; though no such proof is needed by those who have seen negroes in favourable circumstances, and know how pleasant an aspect those grotesque features may wear. To-day we passed, in the Creek Territory, an establishment of Indians who held slaves. Negroes are anxious to be sold to Indians, who give them moderate work, and accommodations as good as their own. Those seen to-day among the Indians, were sleek, intelligent, and cheerful-looking, like the most favoured house-slaves, or free servants of colour, where the prejudice is least strong.

We were on the look-out for Indians, all the way through this Creek Territory. Some on horseback gave us a grave glance as we passed. Some individuals were to be seen in the shadow of the forest, leaning against a tree or a fence. One lay asleep by the roadside, overcome with "whiskey too much," as they style intoxication. They are so intent on having their full bargain of whiskey, that they turn their bottle upside down, when it has been filled to the cork, to have the hollow at the bottom filled. The piazza at the post-office was full of solemn Indians. Miserable-looking squaws were about the dwellings, with their naked children, who were gobbling up their supper of hominy from a wooden bowl.

We left the Creek Territory just as the full moon rose, and hoped to reach Montgomery by two hours before midnight. We presently began to ascend a long hill; and the gentlemen passengers got out, according to custom, to walk up the rising ground. In two minutes, the driver stopped, and came to tell us ladies that he was sorry to trouble us to get out; but that an emigrant's wagon had blocked up the ford of a creek which we had to cross; and he feared we might be wetted if we remained in the stage while he took it through a deeper part. A[Pg 218] gentleman was waiting, he said, to hand us over the log which was to be our bridge. This gentleman, I believe, was the emigrant himself. I made for what seemed to me the end of the log; but was deceived by the treacherous moonlight, which made wood, ground, and water, look all one colour. I plunged up to the waist into the creek; and, when I was out again, could hardly keep upon the log for laughing. There was time, before we overtook the rest of the party, to provide against my taking cold; and there remained only the ridiculous image of my deliberate walk into the water.

It must not be supposed a common circumstance that an emigrant's wagon was left in a creek. The "camping out" is usually done in a sheltered, dry spot in the woods, not far from some little stream, where the kettle may be filled, and where the dusty children may be washed. Sleepy as I might be, in our night journeys, I was ever awake to this picture, and never tired of contemplating it. A dun haze would first appear through the darkness; and then gleams of light across the road. Then the whole scene opened. If earlier than ten at night, the fire would be blazing, the pot boiling, the shadowy horses behind, at rest, the groups fixed in their attitudes to gaze at us, whether they were stretching their sailcloth on poles to windward, or drawing up the carts in line, or gathering sticks, or cooking. While watching us, they little thought what a picture they themselves made. If after midnight, the huge fire was flickering and smouldering; figures were seen crouching under the sailcloth, or a head or two was lifted up in the wagon. A solitary figure was seen in relief against the fire; the watch, standing to keep himself awake; or, if greeted by our driver, thrusting a pine slip into the fire, and approaching with his blazing torch to ask or to give information. In the morning, the places where such [Pg 219]encampments have been cannot be mistaken. There is a clear, trodden space, strewed with chips and refuse food, with the bare poles which had supported the sailcloth, standing in the midst, and a scorched spot where the fire had been kindled. Others, besides emigrants, camp out in the woods. Farmers, on their way to a distant market, find it cheaper to bring food, and trust otherwise to the hospitality of dame Nature, than to put up at hotels. Between the one and the other, we were amply treated with the untiring spectacle.

We had bespoken accommodations for the night at the hotel at Montgomery, by a friend who had preceded us. On our arrival at past eleven o'clock, we found we were expected; but no one would have guessed it. In my chamber, there was neither water, nor sheets, nor anything that afforded a prospect of my getting to rest, wet as my clothes were. We were hungry, and tired, and cold; and there was no one to help us but a slave, who set about her work as slaves do. We ate some biscuits that we had with us, and gave orders, and made requests with so much success as to have the room in tolerable order by an hour after midnight. When I awoke in the morning, the first thing I saw was, that two mice were running after one another round my trunk, and that the floor of the room seemed to contain the dust of a twelvemonth. The breakfast was to atone for all. The hostess and another lady, three children, and an array of slaves, placed themselves so as to see us eat our breakfast; but it seemed to me that the contents of the table were more wonderful to look at than ourselves. Besides the tea and coffee, there were corn bread, buns, buck-wheat cakes, broiled chicken, bacon, eggs, rice, hominy, fish, fresh and pickled, and beef-steak. The hostess strove to make us feel at home, and recommended her plentiful meal by her hearty[Pg 220] welcome to it. She was anxious to explain that her house was soon to be in better order. Her husband was going to Mobile to buy furniture; and, just now, all was in confusion, from her head slave having swallowed a fish bone, and being unable to look after the affairs of the house. When our friends came to carry us to their plantation, she sent in refreshments, and made herself one of the party, in all heartiness.

It was Sunday, and we went to the Methodist church, hoping to hear the regular pastor, who is a highly-esteemed preacher. But a stranger was in the pulpit, who gave us an extraordinary piece of doctrine, propounded with all possible vehemence. His text was the passage about the tower of Siloam; and his doctrine was that great sinners would somehow die a violent death. Perhaps this might be thought a useful proposition in a town where life is held so cheap as in Montgomery; but we could not exactly understand how it was derived from the text. The place was intensely light and hot, there being no blinds to the windows, on each side of the pulpit: and the quietness of the children was not to be boasted of.

On the way to our friends' plantation, we passed a party of negroes, enjoying their Sunday drive. They never appear better than on such occasions, as they all ride and drive well, and are very gallant to their ladies. We passed a small prairie, the first we had seen; and very serene and pretty it looked, after the forest. It was green and undulating, with a fringe of trees.

Our friends, now residing seven miles from Montgomery, were from South Carolina; and the lady, at least, does not relish living in Alabama. It was delightful to me to be a guest in such an abode as theirs. They were about to build a good house: meantime, they were in one which I liked[Pg 221] exceedingly: a log-house, with the usual open passage in the middle. Roses and honeysuckles, to which humming-birds resort, grew before the door. Abundance of books, and handsome furniture and plate, were within the house, while daylight was to be seen through its walls. In my well furnished chamber, I could see the stars through the chinks between the logs. During the summer, I should be sorry to change this primitive kind of abode for a better.

It is not difficult to procure the necessaries and comforts of life. Most articles of food are provided on the plantation. Wine and groceries are obtained from Mobile or New Orleans; and clothing and furniture from the north. Tea is twenty shillings English per lb.; brown sugar, threepence-halfpenny; white sugar, sixpence-halfpenny. A gentleman's family, where there are children to be educated, cannot live for less than from seven hundred pounds to one thousand pounds per annum. The sons take land and buy slaves very early; and the daughters marry almost in childhood; so that education is less thought of, and sooner ended, than in almost any part of the world. The pioneers of civilisation, as the settlers in these new districts may be regarded, care for other things more than for education; or they would not come. They are, from whatever motive, money-getters; and few but money-getting qualifications are to be looked for in them. It was partly amusing, and partly sad, to observe the young people of these regions; some, fit for a better mode of life, discontented; some youths pedantic, some maidens romantic, to a degree which makes the stranger almost doubt the reality of the scenes and personages before his eyes. The few better educated who come to get money, see the absurdity, and feel the wearisomeness of this kind of literary cultivation; but the[Pg 222] being in such society is the tax they must pay for making haste to be rich.

I heard in Montgomery of a wealthy old planter in the neighbourhood, who has amassed millions of dollars, while his children can scarcely write their names. Becoming aware of their deficiencies, as the place began to be peopled from the eastward, he sent a son of sixteen to school, and a younger one to college; but they proved "such gawks," that they were unable to learn, or even to remain in the society of others who were learning; and their old father has bought land in Missouri, whither he was about to take his children, to remove them from the contempt of their neighbours. They are doomed to the lowest office of social beings; to be the mechanical, unintelligent pioneers of man in the wilderness. Surely such a warning as this should strike awe into the whole region, lest they should also perish to all the best purposes of life, by getting to consider money, not as a means, but an end.

I suppose there must be such pioneers; but the result is a society which it is a punishment to its best members to live in. There is pedantry in those who read; prejudice in those who do not; coxcombry among the young gentlemen; bad manners among the young ladies; and an absence of all reference to the higher, the real objects of life. When to all this is added that tremendous curse, the possession of irresponsible power, (over slaves,) it is easy to see how character must become, in such regions, what it was described to me on the spot, "composed of the chivalric elements, badly combined:" and the wise will feel that, though a man may save his soul anywhere, it is better to live on bread and water where existence is most idealized, than to grow suddenly rich in the gorgeous regions where mind is corrupted or starved amidst[Pg 223] the luxuriance of nature. The hard-working settler of the north-west, who hews his way into independence with his own hands, is, or may be, exempt from the curse of this mental corruption or starvation; but it falls inevitably and heavily upon those who fatten upon the bounty of Nature, in the society of money-getters like themselves, and through the labours of degraded fellow-men, whom they hold in their injurious power.

We saw several plantations while we were in this neighbourhood. Nothing can be richer than the soil of one to which we went, to take a lesson in cotton-growing. It will never want more than to have the cotton seed returned to it. We saw the plough, which is very shallow. Two throw up a ridge, which is wrought by hand into little mounds. After these are drilled, the seed is put in by hand. This plantation consists of nine hundred and fifty acres, and is flourishing in every way. The air is healthy, as the situation is high prairie land. The water is generally good; but, after rain, so impregnated with lime, as to be disagreeable to the smell and taste. Another grievance is, a weed which grows on the prairie, which the cows like in summer, but which makes the milk so disagreeable, that cream, half-an-inch thick, is thrown to the pigs. They only can estimate this evil who know what the refreshment of milk is in hot climates. Another grievance is, that no trees can be allowed to grow near the house, for fear of the mosquitoes. Everything else is done for coolness; there are wide piazzas on both sides of the house; the rooms are lofty, and amply provided with green blinds; but all this does not compensate to the eye for the want of the shade of trees. The bareness of the villages of the south is very striking to the eye of a stranger, as he approaches them. They lie scorching and glaring on the rising grounds, or on the plain, hazy[Pg 224] with the heat, while the forest, with its myriads of trees, its depth of shade, is on the horizon. But the plague of mosquitoes is a sufficient warrant for any sacrifice of the pleasures of the eye; for they allow but little enjoyment of anything in their presence.

On this, and many other estates that we saw, the ladies make it their business to cut out all the clothes for the negroes. Many a fair pair of hands have I seen dyed with blue, and bearing the marks of the large scissars. The slave women cannot be taught, it is said, to cut out even their scanty and unshapely garments economically. Nothing can be more hideous than their working costume. There would be nothing to lose on the score of beauty, and probably much gained, if they could be permitted to clothe themselves. But it is universally said that they cannot learn. A few ladies keep a woman for this purpose, very naturally disliking the coarse employment.

We visited the negro quarter; a part of the estate which filled me with disgust, wherever I went. It is something between a haunt of monkeys and a dwelling-place of human beings. The natural good taste, so remarkable in free negroes, is here extinguished. Their small, dingy, untidy houses, their cribs, the children crouching round the fire, the animal deportment of the grown-up, the brutish chagrins and enjoyments of the old, were all loathsome. There was some relief in seeing the children playing in the sun, and sometimes fowls clucking and strutting round the houses; but otherwise, a walk through a lunatic asylum is far less painful than a visit to the slave quarter of an estate. The children are left, during working hours, in the charge of a woman; and they are bright, and brisk, and merry enough, for the season, however slow and stupid they may be destined to become.

[Pg 225]

My next visit was to a school—the Franklin Institute, in Montgomery, established by a gentleman who has bestowed unwearied pains on its organization, and to whose care it does great credit. On our approach, we saw five horses walking about the enclosure, and five saddles hung over the fence: a true sign that some of the pupils came from a distance. The school was hung with prints; there was a collection of shells; many books and maps; and some philosophical apparatus. The boys, and a few girls, were steadily employed over their books and mapping; and nothing could exceed the order and neatness of the place. If the event corresponds with the appearance, the proprietor must be one of the most useful citizens the place has yet been honoured with.

I spent some days at a plantation a few miles from Montgomery, and heard there of an old lady who treats her slaves in a way very unusual, but quite safe, as far as appears. She gives them knowledge, which is against the law; but the law leaves her in peace and quiet. She also commits to them the entire management of the estate, requiring only that they should make her comfortable, and letting them take the rest. There is an obligation by law to keep an overseer; to obviate insurrection. How she manages about this, I omitted to inquire: but all goes on well; the cultivation of the estate is creditable, and all parties are contented. This is only a temporary ease and contentment. The old lady must die; and her slaves will either be sold to a new owner, whose temper will be an accident; or, if freed, must leave the State: but the story is satisfactory in as far as it gives evidence of the trust-worthiness of the negroes.

Our drives about the plantation and neighbouring country were delicious. The inundations[Pg 226] from the rivers are remarkable; a perfect Eden appears when they subside. At the landing place of this plantation, I saw a board nailed near the top of a lofty tree, and asked what it could be for. It was the high-water mark. The river, the Alabama, was now upwards of twenty feet higher than usual; and logs, corn-stalks, and green boughs were being carried down its rapid current, as often as we went to the shore. There were evidences of its having laid even houses under water; but, on its subsiding, it would be found to have left a deposit of two inches and a half of fine new soil on the fields on either side of its channel. I never stood on the banks of the southern rivers without being reminded of Daniell's Views in India and Ceylon: the water level, shadowy and still, and the thickets actually springing out of it, with dark-green recesses, with the relief of a slender white stem, or dangling creeper here and there. Some creepers rise like a ladder, straight from the water to a bough one hundred and twenty feet high. As for the softness of the evening light on the water, it is indescribable. It is as if the atmosphere were purified from all mortal breathings, it is so bright, and yet not dazzling; there is such a profusion of verdure.

There were black women ploughing in the field, with their ugly, scanty, dingy dresses, their walloping gait, and vacant countenance. There were scarlet and blue birds flitting over the dark fallows. There was persimon sprouting in the woods, and the young corn-plants in the field, with a handful of cotton-seed laid round each sprout. There was a view from a bluff which fully equalled all my expectations of what the scenery of the southern States would be; yet, tropical as it was in many respects, it reminded me strongly of the view from Richmond Hill. We were standing on the verge of a precipice, of a height which I dare not specify.[Pg 227] A deep fissure to our right was spanned by a log which it made one shudder to think of crossing. Behind us lay a cotton-field of 7,000 acres within one fence. All this, and the young aloes, and wild vines, were little enough like Richmond; and so was the faint blue line of hills on the horizon; but it was the intervening plain, through which the river ran, and on which an infinite variety of noble trees grew, as it appeared, to an interminable distance. Here their tops seemed woven into compactness; there they were so sprinkled as to display the majesty and grace of their forms. I looked upon this as a glorification of the Richmond view.

It was now the middle of April. In the kitchen garden the peas were ripening, and the strawberries turning red, though the spring of 1835 was very backward. We had salads, young asparagus, and radishes.

The following may be considered a pretty fair account of the provision for a planter's table, at this season; and, except with regard to vegetables, I believe it does not vary much throughout the year. Breakfast at seven; hot wheat bread, generally sour; corn bread, biscuits, waffles, hominy, dozens of eggs, broiled ham, beef-steak or broiled fowl, tea and coffee. Lunch at eleven; cake and wine, or liqueur. Dinner at two; now and then soup (not good,) always roast turkey and ham; a boiled fowl here, a tongue there; a small piece of nondescript meat, which generally turns out to be pork disguised; hominy, rice, hot corn-bread, sweet potatoes; potatoes mashed with spice, very hot; salad and radishes, and an extraordinary variety of pickles. Of these, you are asked to eat everything with everything else. If you have turkey and ham on your plate, you are requested to add tongue, pork, hominy, and pickles. Then succeed pies of apple,[Pg 228] squash, and pumpkin; custard, and a variety of preserves as extraordinary as the preceding pickles: pine-apple, peach, limes, ginger, guava jelly, cocoa-nut, and every sort of plums. These are almost all from the West-Indies. Dispersed about the table are shell almonds, raisins, hickory, and other nuts; and, to crown the whole, large blocks of ice-cream. Champagne is abundant, and cider frequent. Ale and porter may now and then be seen; but claret is the most common drink. During dinner a slave stands at a corner of the table, keeping off the flies by waving a large bunch of peacock's feathers fastened into a handle,—an ampler fan than those of our grandmothers.

Supper takes place at six, or seven. Sometimes the family sits round the table; but more commonly the tray is handed round, with plates which must be held in the lap. Then follow tea and coffee, waffles, biscuits, sliced ham or hung-beef, and sweet cake. Last of all, is the offer of cake and wine at nine or ten.

The profits of cotton-growing, when I was in Alabama, were thirty-five per cent. One planter whom I knew had bought fifteen thousand dollars' worth of land within two years, which he could then have sold for sixty-five thousand dollars. He expected to make, that season, fifty or sixty thousand dollars of his growing crop. It is certainly the place to become rich in; but the state of society is fearful. One of my hosts, a man of great good-nature, as he shows in the treatment of his slaves, and in his family relations, had been stabbed in the back in the reading-room of the town, two years before, and no prosecution was instituted. Another of my hosts carried loaded pistols for a fortnight, just before I arrived, knowing that he was lain in wait for by persons against whose illegal practices he had given [Pg 229]information to a magistrate, whose carriage was therefore broken in pieces, and thrown into the river. A lawyer with whom we were in company one afternoon, was sent for to take the deposition of a dying man who had been sitting with his family in the shade, when he received three balls in the back from three men who took aim at him from behind trees. The tales of jail-breaking and rescue were numberless; and a lady of Montgomery told me that she had lived there four years, during which time no day, she believed, had passed without some one's life having been attempted, either by duelling or assassination. It will be understood that I describe this region as presenting an extreme case of the material advantages and moral evils of a new settlement, under the institution of slavery. The most prominent relief is the hospitality,—that virtue of young society. It is so remarkable, and to the stranger so grateful, that there is danger of its blinding him to the real state of affairs. In the drawing-room, the piazza, the barouche, all is so gay and friendly, there is such a prevailing hilarity and kindness, that it seems positively ungrateful and unjust to pronounce, even in one's own heart, that all this way of life is full of wrong and peril. Yet it is impossible to sit down to reflect, with every order of human beings filling an equal space before one's mental eye, without being struck to the soul with the conviction that the state of society, and no less of individual families, is false and hollow, whether their members are aware of it or not; that they forget that they must be just before they can be generous. The severity of this truth is much softened to sympathetic persons on the spot; but it returns with awful force when they look back upon it from afar.

In the slave quarter of a plantation hereabouts[Pg 230] I saw a poor wretch who had run away three times, and been re-captured. The last time he was found in the woods, with both legs frost-bitten above the knees, so as to render amputation necessary. I passed by when he was sitting on the door-step of his hut, and longed to see him breathe his last. But he is a young man, likely to drag out his helpless and hopeless existence for many a dreary year. I dread to tell the rest; but such things must be told sometimes, to show to what a pass of fiendish cruelty the human spirit may be brought by merely witnessing the exercise of irresponsible power over the defenceless. I give the very words of the speaker, premising that she is not American by birth or education, nor yet English.

The master and mistress of this poor slave, with their children, had always treated him and his fellow-slaves very kindly. He made no complaint of them. It was not from their cruelty that he attempted to escape. His running away was therefore a mystery to the person to whom I have alluded. She recapitulated all the clothes that had been given to him; and all the indulgences, and forgivenesses for his ingratitude in running away from such a master, with which he had been blessed. She told me that she had advised his master and mistress to refuse him clothes, when he had torn his old ones with trying to make his way through the woods; but his master had been too kind, and had again covered his nakedness. She turned round upon me, and asked what could make the ungrateful wretch run away a third time from such a master?

"He wanted to be free."

"Free! from such a master!"

"From any master."

"The villain! I went to him when he had had his legs cut off, and I said to him, it serves you right...."

[Pg 231]

"What! when you knew he could not run away any more?"

"Yes, that I did; I said to him, you wretch! but for your master's sake I am glad it has happened to you. You deserve it, that you do. If I were your master I would let you die; I'd give you no help nor nursing. It serves you right; it is just what you deserve. It's fit that it should happen to you ...!"

"You did not—you dared not so insult the miserable creature!" I cried.

"Oh, who knows," replied she, "but that the Lord may bless a word of grace in season!"

Some readers may conceive this to be a freak of idiotcy. It was not so. This person is shrewd and sensible in matters where rights and duties are not in question. Of these she is, as it appears, profoundly ignorant; in a state of superinduced darkness; but her character is that of a clever, and, with some, a profoundly religious woman. Happily, she has no slaves of her own: at least, no black ones.

I saw this day, driving a wagon, a man who is a schoolmaster, lawyer, almanack-maker, speculator in old iron, and dealer in eggs, in addition to a few other occupations. His must be a very active existence.

This little history of a portion of my southern journey may give an idea of what life is in the wilder districts of the south. I will offer but one more sketch, and that will exemplify life in the wilder districts of the north. The picture of my travels in and around Michigan will convey the real state of things there, at present.

Our travelling party consisted of Mr. and Mrs. L., the before-mentioned Charley, his father and mother, and myself. We were prepared to see everything to advantage; for there was strong[Pg 232] friendship among us all; and a very unusual agreement of opinion on subjects which education, temperament, or the circumstances of the time, made most interesting to us. The great ornament of the party—our prince of Denmark—was Charley; a boy of uncommon beauty and promise, and fully worthy of the character given him by one of our drivers, with whom the boy had ingratiated himself by his chatter on the box;—"An eternal smart boy, and the greatest hand at talk I ever came across."

We landed at Detroit, from Lake Erie, at seven o'clock in the morning of the 13th of June, 1836. We reached the American just in time for breakfast. At that long table, I had the pleasure of seeing the healthiest set of faces that I had beheld since I left England. The breakfast was excellent, and we were served with much consideration; but the place was so full, and the accommodations of Detroit are so insufficient for the influx of people who are betaking themselves thither, that strangers must patiently put up with much delay and inconvenience till new houses of entertainment are opened. We had to wait till near one o'clock before any of us could have a room in which to dress; but I had many letters to write, and could wait; and before I had done, Charley came with his shining face and clean collar, to show me that accommodation had been provided. In the afternoon, we saw what we could of the place, and walked by the side of the full and tranquil river St. Clair. The streets of the town are wide and airy; but the houses, churches, and stores, are poor for the capital city of a Territory or State. This is a defect which is presently cured, in the stirring northern regions of the United States. Wooden planks, laid on the grass, form the pavement, in all the outskirts of the place. The deficiency is of stone, not of labour. Thousands of settlers are[Pg 233] pouring in every year; and of these, many are Irish, Germans, or Dutch, working their way into the back country, and glad to be employed for a while at Detroit, to earn money to carry them further. Paving-stones will be imported here, I suppose, as I saw them at New Orleans, to the great improvement of the health and comfort of the place. The block-wood pavement, of which trial has been made in a part of Broadway, New York, is thought likely to answer better at Detroit than any other kind, and is going to be tried.

The country round Detroit is as flat as can be imagined; and, indeed, it is said that the highest mountain in the State boasts only sixty feet of elevation. A lady of Detroit once declared, that if she were to build a house in Michigan, she would build a hill first. The Canada side of the river looks dull enough from the city; but I cannot speak from a near view of it, having been disappointed in my attempts to get over to it. On one occasion, we were too late for the ferry-boat; and we never had time again for the excursion.

A cool wind from the northern lakes blows over the whole face of the country, in the midst of the hottest days of summer; and in the depth of winter, the snow never lies deep, nor long. These circumstances may partly account for the healthiness of the row of faces at the table of the American.

The society of Detroit is very choice; and, as it has continued so since the old colonial days, through the territorial days, there is every reason to think that it will become, under its new dignities, a more and more desirable place of residence. Some of its interior society is still very youthful; a gentleman, for instance, saying in the reading-room, in the hearing of one of our party, that,[Pg 234] though it did not sound well at a distance, Lynching[10] was the only way to treat Abolitionists: but the most enlightened society is, I believe, equal to any which is to be found in the United States. Here we began to see some of the half-breeds, of whom we afterwards met so many at the north. They are the children of white men who have married squaws; and may be known at a glance, not only by the dark complexion, but by the high cheekbones, straight black hair, and an indescribable mischievous expression about the eyes. I never saw such imps and Flibbertigibbets as the half-breed boys that we used to see rowing or diving in the waters, or playing pranks on the shores of Michigan.

We had two great pleasures this day; a drive along the quiet Lake St. Clair, and a charming evening party at General Mason's. After a pilgrimage through the State of New York, a few exciting days at Niagara, and a disagreeable voyage along Lake Erie, we were prepared to enjoy to the utmost the novelty of a good evening party; and we were as merry as children at a ball. It was wholly unexpected to find ourselves in accomplished society on the far side of Lake Erie; and there was something stimulating in the contrast between the high civilisation of the evening, and the primitive scenes that we were to plunge into the next day. Though[Pg 235] we had to pack up and write, and be off very early in the morning, we were unable to persuade ourselves to go home till late; and then we talked over Detroit as if we were wholly at leisure.

The scenery of Lake St. Clair was new to me. I had seen nothing in the United States like its level green banks, with trees slanting over the water, festooned with the wild vine; the groups of cattle beneath them; the distant steam-boat, scarcely seeming to disturb the grey surface of the still waters. This was the first of many scenes in Michigan which made me think of Holland; though the day of canals has not yet arrived.

15th. An obliging girl at the American provided us with coffee and biscuits at half-past five, by which time our "exclusive extra" was at the door. Charley had lost his cap. It was impossible that he should go bare-headed through the State; and it was lucky for us that a store was already open where he was furnished in a trice with a willow-hat. The brimming river was bright in the morning sun; and our road was, for a mile or two, thronged with Indians. Some of the inhabitants of Detroit, who knew the most about their dark neighbours, told me that they found it impossible to be romantic about these poor creatures. We, however, could not help feeling the excitement of the spectacle, when we saw them standing in their singularly majestic attitudes by the road-side, or on a rising ground: one, with a bunch of feathers tied at the back of the head; another, with his arms folded in his blanket; and a third, with her infant lashed to a board, and thus carried on her shoulders. Their appearance was dreadfully squalid.

As soon as we had entered the woods, the roads became as bad as, I suppose, roads ever are. Something snapped, and the driver cried out that we were "broke to bits." The team-bolt had given[Pg 236] way. Our gentlemen, and those of the mail-stage, which happened to be at hand, helped to mend the coach; and we ladies walked on, gathering abundance of flowers, and picking our way along the swampy corduroy road. In less than an hour, the stage took us up, and no more accidents happened before breakfast. We were abundantly amused while our meal was preparing at Danversville. One of the passengers of the mail-stage took up a violin, and offered to play to us. Books with pictures were lying about. The lady of the house sat by the window, fixing her candle-wicks into the moulds. In the piazza, sat a party of emigrants, who interested us much. The wife had her eight children with her; the youngest, puny twins. She said she had brought them in a wagon four hundred miles; and if they could only live through the one hundred that remained before they reached her husband's lot of land, she hoped they might thrive; but she had been robbed, the day before, of her bundle of baby things. Some one had stolen it from the wagon. After a good meal, we saw the stage-passengers stowed into a lumber wagon; and we presently followed in our more comfortable vehicle.

Before long, something else snapped. The splinter-bar was broken. The driver was mortified; but it was no fault of his. Juggernaut's car would have been "broke to bits" on such a road. We went into a settler's house, where we were welcomed to rest and refresh ourselves. Three years before, the owner bought his eighty acres of land for a dollar an acre. He could now sell it for twenty dollars an acre. He shot, last year, a hundred deer, and sold them for three dollars a-piece. He and his family need have no fears of poverty. We dined well, nine miles before reaching Ypsilanti. The log-houses,—always [Pg 237]comfortable when well made, being easily kept clean, cool in summer, and warm in winter,—have here an air of beauty about them. The hue always harmonizes well with the soil and vegetation. Those in Michigan have the bark left on, and the corners sawn off close; and are thus both picturesque and neat.

At Ypsilanti, I picked up an Ann Arbor newspaper. It was badly printed; but its contents were pretty good; and it could happen nowhere out of America, that so raw a settlement as that at Ann Arbor, where there is difficulty in procuring decent accommodations, should have a newspaper.

It was past seven before we left the inn at Ypsilanti, to go thirteen miles further. We departed on foot. There was a bridge building at Ypsilanti; but, till it was ready, all vehicles had to go a mile down the water-side to the ferry, while the passengers generally preferred crossing the foot-bridge, and walking on through the wood. We found in our path, lupins, wild geraniums, blue-eye grass, blue iris, wild sunflower, and many others. The mild summer night was delicious, after the fatigues of the day. I saw the youngest of golden moons, and two bright stars set, before we reached Wallace's Tavern, where we were to sleep. Of course, we were told that there was no room for us; but, by a little coaxing and management, and one of the party consenting to sleep on the parlour-floor, everything was made easy.

16th. We were off by half-past six; and, not having rested quite enough, and having the prospect of fourteen miles before breakfast, we, with one accord, finished our sleep in the stage. We reached Tecumseh by half-past nine, and perceived that its characteristic was chair-making. Every other house seemed to be a chair manufactory. One bore the inscription, "Cousin George's Store:" the meaning[Pg 238] of which I do not pretend to furnish. Perhaps the idea is, that purchasers may feel free and easy, as if dealing with cousin George. Everybody has a cousin George. Elsewhere, we saw a little hotel inscribed, "Our House;" a prettier sign than "Traveller's Rest," or any other such tempting invitation that I am acquainted with. At Tecumseh, I saw the first strawberries of the season. All that I tasted in Michigan, of prairie growth, were superior to those of the west, grown in gardens.

Charley was delighted to-day by the sight of several spotted fawns, tamed by children. If a fawn be carried a hundred yards from its bush, it will follow the finder, and remain with him, if kindly treated. They are prettiest when very young, as they afterwards lose their spots.

We fairly entered the "rolling country" to-day: and nothing could be brighter and more flourishing than it looked. The young corn was coming up well in the settlers' fields. The copses, called "oak-openings," looked fresh after the passing thunder-showers; and so did the rising grounds, strewed with wild flowers and strawberries. "The little hills rejoiced on every side." The ponds, gleaming between the hills and copses, gave a park-like air to the scenery. The settlers leave trees in their clearings; and from these came the song of the wood-thrush; and from the dells the cry of the quail. There seemed to be a gay wood-pecker to every tree.

Our only accident to-day was driving over a poor hog: we can only hope it died soon. Wherever we stopped, we found that the crowds of emigrants had eaten up all the eggs; and we happened to think eggs the best article of diet of all on a journey. It occurred to me that we might get some by the way, and carry them on to our [Pg 239]resting-place. All agreed that we might probably procure them: but how to carry them safely over such roads was the question. This day we resolved to try. We made a solemn stir for eggs in a small settlement; and procured a dozen. We each carried one in each hand,—except Charley, who was too young to be trusted. His two were wrapped up each in a bag. During eight miles of jolting, not one was hurt; and we delivered them to our host at Jonesville with much satisfaction. We wished that some of our entertainers had been as rich as a Frenchman at Baltimore, who, talking of his poultry-yard, informed a friend that he had "fifty head of hen."

At Jonesville, the ladies and Charley were favoured with a large and comfortable chamber. The gentlemen had to sleep with the multitude below; ranged like walking-sticks, or umbrellas, on a shop-counter.

17th. The road was more deplorable than ever to-day. The worst of it was, that whenever it was dangerous for the carriage, so that we were obliged to get out, it was, in proportion, difficult to be passed on foot. It was amusing to see us in such passes as we had to go through to-day. I generally acted as pioneer, the gentlemen having their ladies to assist; and it was pleasant to stand on some dry perch, and watch my companions through the holes and pools that I had passed. Such hopping and jumping; such slipping and sliding; such looks of despair from the middle of a pond; such shifting of logs, and carrying of planks, and handing along the fallen trunks of trees! The driver, meantime, was looking back provokingly from his box, having dragged the carriage through; and far behind stood Charley, high and dry, singing or eating his bit of bread, till his father could come back for him. Three times this day was such a[Pg 240] scene enacted; and, the third time, there was a party of emigrant ladies to be assisted, too. When it was all over, and I saw one with her entire feet cased in mud, I concluded we must all be very wet, and looked at my own shoes: and lo! even the soles were as dry as when they were made! How little the worst troubles of travelling amount to, in proportion to the apprehension of them! What a world of anxiety do travellers suffer lest they should get wet, or be without food! How many really faint with hunger, or fall into an ague with damp and cold? I was never in danger of either the one or the other, in any of the twenty-three States which I visited.

At one part of our journey to-day, where the road was absolutely impassable, we went above a mile through the wood, where there was no track, but where the trees are blazed, to serve as guide-posts, summer and winter. It was very wild. Our carriage twisted and wound about to avoid blows against the noble beech-stems. The waters of the swamp plashed under our wheels, and the boughs crunched overhead. An overturn would have been a disaster in such a place. We travelled only forty-two miles this long day; but the weariness of the way was much beguiled by singing, by a mock oration, story-telling, and other such amusements. The wit and humour of Americans, abundant under ordinary circumstances, are never, I believe, known to fail in emergencies, serious or trifling. Their humour helps themselves and their visitors through any Sloughs of Despond, as charitably as their infinite abundance of logs through the swamps of their bad roads.

We did not reach Sturgis's Prairie till night. We had heard so poor an account of the stage-house, that we proceeded to another, whose owner has the reputation of treating his guests [Pg 241]magnificently, or not at all. He treated us on juste milieu principles. He did what he could for us; and that could not be called magnificent. The house was crowded with emigrants. When, after three hours waiting, we had supper, two full-grown persons were asleep on some blankets in the corner of the room, and as many as fifteen or sixteen children on chairs and on the floor. Our hearts ached for one mother. Her little girl, two years old, had either sprained or broken her arm, and the mother did not know what to do with it. The child shrieked when the arm was touched, and wailed mournfully at other times. We found in the morning, however, that she had had some sleep. I have often wondered since how she bore the motion of the wagon on the worst parts of the road. It was oppressively hot. I had a little closet, whose door would not shut, and which was too small to give me room to take off the soft feather-bed. The window would not keep open without being propped by the tin water-jug; and though this was done, I could not sleep for the heat. This reminds me of the considerate kindness of an hotel-keeper in an earlier stage of our journey. When he found that I wished to have my window open, there being no fastening, he told me he would bring his own tooth-brush for a prop,—which he accordingly did.

18th. Our drive of twelve miles to breakfast was very refreshing. The roads were the best we had travelled since we left New York State. We passed through a wilderness of flowers; trailing roses, enormous white convolvulus, scarlet lilies, and ground-ivy, with many others, being added to those we had before seen. Milton must have travelled in Michigan before he wrote the garden parts of "Paradise Lost." Sturgis's and White Pigeon Prairies are highly cultivated, and look just like any other rich and perfectly level land.[Pg 242] We breakfasted at White Pigeon Prairie, and saw the rising ground where the Indian chief lies buried, whose name has been given to the place.

The charms of the settlement, to us, were a kind landlady, an admirable breakfast, at which eggs abounded, and a blooming garden. Thirty-seven miles further brought us to Niles, where we arrived by five in the afternoon. The roads were so much improved that we had not to walk at all; which was well, as there was much pelting rain during the day.

Niles is a thriving town on the river St. Joseph, on the borders of the Potowatomie territory. Three years ago, it consisted of three houses. We could not learn the present number of inhabitants; probably because the number is never the same two days together. A Potowatomie village stands within a mile; and we saw two Indians on horseback, fording the rapid river very majestically, and ascending the wooded hills on the other side. Many Indian women were about the streets; one with a nose-ring; some with plates of silver on the bosom, and other barbaric ornaments. Such a tremendous storm of thunder and lightning came on, with a deluge of rain, that we were prevented seeing anything of the place, except from our windows. I had sent my boots to a cobbler, over the way. He had to put on India rubbers, which reached above the knee, to bring his work home; the street was so flooded. We little imagined for the hour the real extent and violence of this storm, and the effect it would have on our journeying.

The prairie strawberries, at breakfast this morning, were so large, sweet, and ripe, that we were inclined for more in the course of the day. Many of the children of the settlers were dispersed near the road-side, with their baskets, gathering strawberries; they would not sell any: they did not[Pg 243] know what mother would say if they went home without any berries for father. But they could get enough for father, too, they were told, if they would sell us what they had already gathered. No; they did not want to sell. Our driver observed, that money was "no object to them." I began to think that we had, at last, got to the end of the world; or rather, perhaps, to the beginning of another and a better.

19th. No plan could be more cleverly and confidently laid than ours was for this day's journey. We were to travel through the lands of the Potowatomies, and reach the shores of the glorious Lake Michigan, at Michigan City, in time for an early supper. We were to proceed on the morrow round the southern extremity of the lake, so as, if possible, to reach Chicago in one day. It was wisely and prettily planned: and the plan was so far followed, as that we actually did leave Niles some time before six in the morning. Within three minutes, it began to rain again, and continued, with but few and short intervals, all day.

We crossed the St. Joseph by a rope ferry, the ingenious management of which, when stage-coaches had to be carried over, was a perpetual study to me. The effect of crossing a rapid river by a rope-ferry, by torch-light, in a dark night, is very striking; and not the less so for one's becoming familiarized with it, as the traveller does in the United States. As we drove up the steep bank, we found ourselves in the Indian territory. All was very wild; and the more so for the rain. There were many lodges in the glades, with the red light of fires hanging around them. The few log huts looked drenched; the tree-stems black in the wet; and the very wild flowers were dripping. The soil was sandy; so that the ugliest features of a rainy day, the mud and puddles, were obviated. The[Pg 244] sand sucked up the rain, so that we jumped out of the carriage as often as a wild-flower of peculiar beauty tempted us. The bride-like, white convolvulus, nearly as large as my hand, grew in trails all over the ground.

The poor, helpless, squalid Potowatomies are sadly troubled by squatters. It seems hard enough that they should be restricted within a narrow territory, so surrounded by whites that the game is sure soon to disappear, and leave them stripped of their only resource. It is too hard that they should also be encroached upon by men who sit down, without leave or title, upon lands which are not intended for sale. I enjoyed hearing of an occasional alarm among the squatters, caused by some threatening demonstrations by the Indians. I should like to see every squatter frightened away from Indian lands, however advantageous their squatting may be upon lands which are unclaimed, or whose owners can defend their own property. I was glad to hear to-day that a deputation of Potowatomies had been sent to visit a distant warlike tribe, in consequence of the importunities of squatters, who wanted to buy the land they had been living upon. The deputation returned, painted, and under other hostile signals, and declared that the Potowatomies did not intend to part with their lands. We stopped for some milk, this morning, at the "location" of a squatter, whose wife was milking as we passed. The gigantic personage, her husband, told us how anxious he was to pay for the land which repaid his tillage so well; but that his Indian neighbours would not sell. I hope that, by this time, he has had to remove, and leave them the benefit of his house and fences. Such an establishment in the wild woods is the destruction of the game,—and of those who live upon it.

At breakfast, we saw a fine specimen of a [Pg 245]settler's family. We had observed the prosperity and cheerfulness of the settlers, all along the road; but this family exceeded the best. I never saw such an affectionate set of people. They, like many others, were from one of the southern States: and I was not surprised to find all emigrants from North and South Carolina well satisfied with the change they had made. The old lady seemed to enjoy her pipe, and there was much mirth going on between the beautiful daughter and all the other men and maidens. They gave us an excellent breakfast in one of the two lower rooms; the table being placed across the foot of the two beds. No pains were spared by them to save us from the wet in the stage; but the rain was too pelting and penetrating for any defence to avail long. It streamed in at all corners, and we gave the matter up for the day. We were now entering Indiana; and one of our intentions had been to see the celebrated Door Prairie; so called from exquisite views into it being opened through intervals in the growth of wood with which it is belted. I did obtain something like an idea of it through the reeking rain, and thought that it was the first prairie that I had seen that answered to my idea of one. But I dare say we formed no conception of what it must be in sunshine, and with the cloud shadows, which adorn a prairie as they do still water.

We reached Laporte, on the edge of the Door Prairie, at three o'clock, and were told that the weather did not promise an easy access to Michigan City. We changed horses, however, and set forward again on a very bad road, along the shore of a little lake, which must be pretty in fine weather. Then we entered a wood, and jolted and rocked from side to side, till, at last, the carriage leaned three parts over, and stuck. We all jumped out into the rain, and the gentlemen literally put[Pg 246] their shoulders to the wheel, and lifted it out of its hole. The same little incident was repeated in half an hour. At five or six miles from Laporte, and seven from Michigan City, our driver stopped, and held a long parley with somebody by the road side. The news was that a bridge in the middle of a marsh had been carried away by a tremendous freshet; and with how much log-road on either side, could not be ascertained till the waters should subside. The mails, however, would have to be carried over, by some means, the next day; and we must wait where we were till we could profit by the post-office experiment. The next question was, where were we to be harboured? There was no house of entertainment near. We shrank from going back to Laporte over the perilous road which was growing worse every minute. A family lived at hand, who hospitably offered to receive us; and we were only too ready to accept their kindness. The good man stopped our acknowledgments by saying, in the most cheerful manner, "You know you would not have staid with me, if you could have helped it; and I would not have had you, if I could have helped it: so no more words about it; but let us make ourselves comfortable."

We perceived by a glance at the beard and costume of our host, that there was something remarkable about him. He was of the Tunker sect of Baptists, (from Tunken, to dip,) a very peculiar sect of religionists. He explained, without any reserve, his faith, and the reasons on which it was founded.

It was all interesting, as showing how the true and the fanciful, the principle and the emblem, the eternal truth and the supposed type, may become all mixed together, so as to be received alike as articles of faith. This man might almost compare with Origen in his mystical divinations of scripture.[Pg 247] The most profitable and delightful part of his communication related to the operation upon his life and fortunes of his peace principles. He had gone through life on the non-resistance principle; and it was animating to learn how well it had served him; as every high exercise of faith does serve every one who has strength and simplicity of heart to commit himself to it. It was animating to learn, not only his own consistency, but the force of his moral power over others; how the careless had been won to thoughtfulness of his interests, and the criminal to respect of his rights. He seemed to have unconsciously secured the promise and the fruit of the life that now is, more effectually than many who think less of that which is to come. It was done, he said, by always supposing that the good was in men. His wife won our hearts by the beauty of her countenance, set off by the neat plain dress of her sect. She was ill; but they made us thoroughly comfortable, without apparently discomposing themselves. Sixteen out of seventeen children were living; of whom two sons and five daughters were absent, and six sons and three daughters at home: the youngest was three years old.

Their estate consists of eight hundred acres, a large portion of which is not yet broken up. The owner says he walks over the ground once a year, to see the huckleberries grow. He gave the upset price for the land; a dollar and a-quarter an acre. He is now offered forty dollars an acre, and says the land is worth fifty, its situation being very advantageous; but he does not wish to sell. He has thus become worth 40,000 dollars in the three years which have elapsed since he came out of Ohio. His sons, as they grow up, settle at a distance; and he does not want money, and has no inducement to sell. I have no idea, however, that the huckleberries will be long permitted to grow in peace and[Pg 248] quiet, in so busy a district as this is destined to become. The good man will be constrained by the march and pressure of circumstances, either to sell or cultivate.

The house, log-built, consisted of three rooms; two under one roof; and another apparently added afterwards. There were also out-houses. In one of these three rooms, the cooking and eating went on; another was given up to us ladies, with a few of the little children; and in the other, the rest of the family, the gentlemen of our party, and another weather-bound traveller, slept. Huge fires of logs blazed in the chimneys; two or three of the little ones were offered us as hand-maidens; and the entire abode was as clean as could be conceived. Here was comfort!

As we warmed and dried ourselves in the chimney corners, and looked upon the clear windows, the bright tin water-pails, and the sheets and towels as white as snow, we had only one anxiety. It was necessary for Mr. and Mrs. L. to be at home, a thousand miles off, by a particular day. We had already met with some delays; and there was no seeing the end of the present adventure. There was some doubt whether we should not have done better to cross the southern end of Lake Michigan, from Niles to Chicago, by a little steam-boat, the Delaware, which was to leave Niles a few hours after our stage. It had been thought of at Niles; but there was some uncertainty about the departure of the boat; and we all anxiously desired to skirt the extremity of this great inland sea, and to see the new settlements on its shores. Had we done right in incurring this risk of detention? Right or wrong, here we were; and here we must wait upon events.

Our sleep, amidst the luxury of cleanliness and hospitality, was most refreshing. The next morning it was still raining, but less vehemently. After[Pg 249] breakfast, we ladies employed ourselves in sweeping and dusting our room, and making the beds; as we had given our kind hostess too much trouble already. Then there was a Michigan City newspaper to be read; and I sat down to write letters. Before long, a wagon and four drove up to the door, the driver of which cried out that if there was any getting to Michigan City, he was our man. We equipped ourselves in our warmest and thickest clothing, put on our india rubber shoes, packed ourselves and our luggage in the wagon, put up our umbrellas, and wondered what was to be our fate. When it had come to saying farewell, our hostess put her hands on my shoulders, kissed me on each cheek, and said she had hoped for the pleasure of our company for another day. For my own part, I would willingly take her at her word, if my destiny should ever carry me near the great lakes again.

We jolted on for two miles and a half through the woods, admiring the scarlet lilies, and the pink and white moccasin flower, which was brilliant. Then we arrived at the place of the vanished bridge. Our first prospect was of being paddled over, one by one, in the smallest of boats. But, when the capabilities of the place were examined, it was decided that we should wait in a house on the hill, while the neighbours, the passengers of the mail-stage, and the drivers, built a bridge. We waited patiently for nearly three hours, watching the busy men going in and out, gathering tidings of the freshet, and its effects, and being pleased to see how affectionate the woman of the house was to her husband, while she was cross to everybody else. It must have been vexatious to her to have her floor made wet and dirty, and all her household operations disturbed by a dozen strangers whom she had never invited. She let us have some dough nuts, and gave us a gracious glance or two at parting.

[Pg 250]

We learned that a gentleman who followed us from Niles, the preceding day, found the water nine feet deep, and was near drowning his horses, in a place which we had crossed without difficulty. This very morning, a bridge which we had proved and passed, gave way with the stage, and the horses had to be dug and rolled out of the mud, when they were on the point of suffocation. Such a freshet had never been known to the present inhabitants.

Our driver was an original; and so were some of the other muddy gentlemen who came in to dry themselves, after their bridge making. One asked if such an one was not a "smart fellow." "He! he can't see through a ladder." Our driver informed us, "when they send a man to jail here, they put him abroad into the woods. Only, they set a man after him, that they may knew where he is." A pretty expensive method of imprisonment, though there be no bills for jail building. This man conversed with his horses in much the same style as with us, averring that they understood him as well. On one occasion, he boxed the ears of one of the leaders, for not standing still when bidden, declaring, "If you go on doing so, I'll give you something you can't buy at the grocer's shop." I was not before aware that there was anything that was not to be bought at a back-country grocer's shop.

At half-past two, the bridge was announced complete, and we re-entered our wagon, to lead the cavalcade across it. Slowly, anxiously, with a man at the head of each leader, we entered the water, and saw it rise to the nave of the wheels. Instead of jolting, as usual, we mounted and descended each log individually. The mail-wagon followed, with two or three horsemen. There was also a singularly benevolent personage, who jumped from the other wagon, and waded through all the doubtful places, to prove them. He leaped and splashed[Pg 251] through the water, which was sometimes up to his waist, as if it was the most agreeable sport in the world. In one of these gullies, the fore part of our wagon sank and stuck, so as to throw us forward, and make it doubtful in what mode we should emerge from the water. Then the rim of one of the wheels was found to be loose; and the whole cavalcade stopped till it was mended. I never could understand how wagons were made in the back-country; they seemed to be elastic, from the shocks and twisting they would bear without giving way. To form an accurate idea of what they have to bear, a traveller should sit on a seat without springs, placed between the hind wheels, and thus proceed on a corduroy road. The effect is less fatiguing and more amusing, of riding in a wagon whose seats are on springs, while the vehicle itself is not. In that case, the feet are dancing an involuntary jig, all the way; while the rest of the body is in a state of entire repose.

The drive was so exciting and pleasant, the rain having ceased, that I was taken by surprise by our arrival at Michigan City. The driver announced our approach by a series of flourishes on one note of his common horn, which made the most ludicrous music I ever listened to. How many minutes he went on, I dare not say; but we were so convulsed with laughter that we could not alight with becoming gravity, amidst the groups in the piazza of the hotel. The man must be first cousin to Paganini.

Such a city as this was surely never before seen. It is three years since it was begun; and it is said to have one thousand five hundred inhabitants. It is cut out of the forest, and curiously interspersed with little swamps, which we no doubt saw in their worst condition after the heavy rains. New, good houses, some only half finished, stood in the midst[Pg 252] of the thick wood. A large area was half cleared. The finished stores were scattered about; and the streets were littered with stumps. The situation is beautiful. The undulations of the ground, within and about it, and its being closed in by lake or forest on every side, render it unique. An appropriation has been made by Government for a harbour; and two piers are to be built out beyond the sand, as far as the clay soil of the lake. Mr. L—— and I were anxious to see the mighty fresh water sea. We made inquiry in the piazza; and a sandy hill, close by, covered with the pea vine, was pointed out to us. We ran up it, and there beheld what we had come so far to see. There it was, deep, green, and swelling on the horizon, and whitening into a broad and heavy surf as it rolled in towards the shore. Hence, too, we could make out the geography of the city. The whole scene stands insulated in my memory, as absolutely singular; and, at this distance of time, scarcely credible. I was so well aware on the spot that it would be so, that I made careful and copious notes of what I saw: but memoranda have nothing to do with such emotions as were caused by the sight of that enormous body of tumultuous waters, rolling in apparently upon the helpless forest,—everywhere else so majestic.

The day was damp and chilly, as we were told every day is here. There is scarcely ever a day of summer in which fire is not acceptable. The windows were dim; the metals rusted, and the new wood about the house red with damp. We could not have a fire. The storm had thrown down a chimney; and the house was too full of workmen, providing accommodation for future guests, to allow of the comfort of those present being much attended to. We were permitted to sit round a flue in a chamber, where a remarkably pretty and graceful girl was sewing. She has a widowed mother to[Pg 253] support, and she "gets considerable" by sewing here, where the women lead a bustling life, which leaves no time for the needle. We had to wait long for something to eat; that is, till supper time; for the people are too busy to serve up anything between meals. Two little girls brought a music book, and sang to us; and then we sang to them; and then Dr. F. brought me two harebells.—one of the rarest flowers in the country. I found some at Trenton Falls; and in one or two other rocky and sandy places; but so seldom as to make a solitary one a great treasure.

Our supper of young pork, good bread, potatoes, preserves, and tea, was served at two tables, where the gentlemen were in proportion to the ladies as ten to one. In such places, there is a large proportion of young men who are to go back for wives when they have gathered a few other comforts about them. The appearance of health was as striking as at Detroit, and everywhere on this side of Lake Erie.

Immediately after supper we went for a walk, which, in peculiarity, comes next to that in the Mammoth Cave; if, indeed, it be second to it. The scene was like what I had always fancied the Norway coast, but for the wild flowers, which grew among the pines on the slope, almost into the tide. I longed to spend an entire day on this flowery and shadowy margin of the inland sea. I plucked handfuls of pea-vine and other trailing flowers, which seemed to run over all the ground. We found on the sands an army, like Pharaoh's drowned host, of disabled butterflies, beetles, and flies of the richest colours and lustre, driven over the lake by the storm. Charley found a small turtle alive. An elegant little schooner, "the Sea Serpent of Chicago," was stranded, and formed a beautiful object as she lay dark between the sand and the surf. The sun was[Pg 254] going down. We watched the sunset, not remembering that the refraction above the fresh waters would probably cause some remarkable appearance. We looked at one another in amazement at what we saw. First, there were three gay, inverted rainbows between the water and the sun, then hidden behind a little streak of cloud. Then the sun emerged from behind this only cloud, urn-shaped; a glistering golden urn. Then it changed, rather suddenly, to an enormous golden acorn. Then to a precise resemblance, except being prodigiously magnified, of Saturn with his ring. This was the most beautiful apparition of all. Then it was quickly narrowed and elongated till it was like the shaft of a golden pillar; and thus it went down square. Long after its disappearance, a lustrous, deep crimson dome, seemingly solid, rested steadily on the heaving waters. An inexperienced navigator might be pardoned for making all sail towards it; it looked so real. What do the Indians think of such phenomena? Probably as the child does of the compass, the upas tree, and all the marvels of Madame Genlis' story of Alphonso and Dalinda; that such things are no more wonderful than all other things. The age of wonder from natural appearances has not arrived in children and savages. It is one of the privileges of advancing years. A grave Indian, who could look with apathy upon the cataract and all the tremendous shows of the wilderness, found himself in a glass-house at Pittsburg. He saw a glassblower put a handle upon a pitcher. The savage was transported out of his previous silence and reserve. He seized and grasped the hand of the workman, crying out that it was now plain that he had had intercourse with the Great Spirit. I remember in my childhood, being more struck with seeing a square box made in three minutes out of a piece of writing-paper, than with all that I[Pg 255] read about the loadstone and the lunar influence upon the tides. In those days I should have looked upon this Indiana sunset with the same kind of feeling as upon a cloud which might look "very like a whale."

We walked briskly home, beside the skiey sea, with the half-grown moon above us, riding high. Then came the struggling for room to lie down, for sheets and fresh water. The principal range of chambers could have been of no manner of use to us, in their present state. There were, I think, thirty, in one range along a passage. A small bed stood in the middle of each, made up for use; but the walls were as yet only scantily lathed, without any plaster; so that everything was visible along the whole row. They must have been designed for persons who cannot see through a ladder.

When I arose at daybreak, I found myself stiff with cold. No wonder: the window, close to my head, had lost a pane. I think the business of a perambulating glazier might be a very profitable one, in most parts of the United States. When we seated ourselves in our wagon, we found that the leathern cushions were soaked with wet; like so many sponges. They were taken in to a hot fire, and soon brought out, each sending up a cloud of steam. Blankets were furnished to lay over them; and we set off. We were cruelly jolted through the bright dewy woods, for four miles, and then arrived on the borders of a swamp where the bridge had been carried away. A man waded in; declared the depth to be more than six feet; how much more he could not tell. There was nothing to be done but to go back. Back again we jolted, and arrived at the piazza of the hotel just as the breakfast-bell was ringing. All the "force" that could be collected on a hasty summons,—that is, almost every able-bodied man in the city and [Pg 256]neighbourhood, was sent out with axes to build us a bridge. We breakfasted, gathered and dried flowers, and wandered about till ten o'clock, when we were summoned to try our fortune again in the wagon. We found a very pretty scene at the swamp. Part of the "force" was engaged on our side of the swamp, and part on the other. As we sat under the trees, making garlands and wreaths of flowers and oakleaves for Charley, we could see one lofty tree-top after another, in the opposite forest, tremble and fall; and the workmen cluster about it, like bees, lop off its branches, and, in a trice, roll it, an ugly log, into the water, and pin it down upon the sleepers. Charley was as busy as anybody, making islands in the water at the edge of the marsh. The moccasin flower grew here in great profusion and splendour. We sat thus upwards of two hours; and the work done in that time appeared almost incredible. But the Americans in the back country seem to like the repairing of accidents—a social employment—better than their regular labour; and even the drivers appeared to prefer adventurous travelling to easy journeys. A gentleman in a light gig made the first trial of the new bridge: our wagon followed, plunging and rocking, and we scrambled in safety up the opposite bank.

There were other bad places in the road, but none which occasioned further delay. The next singular scene was an expanse of sand, before reaching the lake-shore,—sand, so extensive, hot, and dazzling, as to realise very fairly one's conceptions of the middle of the Great Desert; except for the trailing roses which skirted it. I walked on, a-head of the whole party, till I had lost sight of them behind some low sand-hills. Other such hills hid the lake from me; and, indeed, I did not know how near it was. I had ploughed my way[Pg 257] through the ankle-deep sand till I was much heated, and turned in hope of meeting a breath of wind. At the moment, the cavalcade came slowly into view from behind the hills; the labouring horses, the listless walkers, and smoothly rolling vehicles, all painted absolutely black against the dazzling sand. It was as good as being in Arabia. For cavalcade, one might read caravan. Then the horses were watered at a single house on the beach; and we proceeded on the best part of our day's journey; a ride of seven miles on the hard sand of the beach, actually in the lapsing waves. We saw another vessel ashore, with her cargo piled upon the beach. The sight of the clear waters suggested thoughts of bathing. Charley dearly loves bathing. He follows the very natural practice of expressing himself in abstract propositions when his emotions are the strongest. He heard the speculations on the facilities for bathing which might offer at our resting-place; and besought his mother to let him bathe. He was told that it was doubtful whether we should reach our destination before sunset, and whether any body would be able to try the water. Might he ask his father?—Yes: but he would find his father no more certain than the rest of us. "Mother," cried the boy, in an agony of earnestness, "does not a father know when his child ought to bathe?"—There was no bathing. The sun had set, and it was too cold.

The single house at which we were to stop for the night, while the mail-wagon, with its passengers, proceeded, promised well, at first sight. It was a log-house on a sand-bank, perfectly clean below stairs, and prettily dressed with green boughs. We had a good supper, (except that there was an absence of milk,) and we concluded ourselves fortunate in our resting-place. Never was there a greater mistake. We walked out, after supper,[Pg 258] and when we returned, found that we could not have any portion of the lower rooms. There was a loft, which I will not describe, into which, having ascended a ladder, we were to be all stowed. I would fain have slept on the soft sand, out of doors, beneath the wagon; but rain came on. There was no place for us to put our heads into but the loft. Enough. I will only say that this house was, as far as I remember, the only place in the United States where I met with bad treatment. Everywhere else, people gave me the best they had,—whether it was bad or good.

On our road to Chicago, the next day,—a road winding in and out among the sand-hills, we were called to alight, and run up a bank to see a wreck. It was the wreck of the Delaware;—the steamer in which it had been a question whether we should not proceed from Niles to Chicago. She had a singular twist in her middle, where she was nearly broken in two. Her passengers stood up to the neck in water, for twenty-four hours before they were taken off; a worse inconvenience than any that we had suffered by coming the other way. The first thing the passengers from the Delaware did, when they had dried and warmed themselves on shore, was to sign a letter to the captain, which appeared in all the neighbouring newspapers, thanking him for the great comfort they had enjoyed on board his vessel. It is to be presumed that they meant previously to their having to stand up to their necks in water.

In the wood which borders the prairie on which Chicago stands, we saw an encampment of United States' troops. Since the rising of the Creeks in Georgia, some months before, there had been apprehensions of an Indian war along the whole frontier. It was believed that a correspondence had taken place among all the tribes, from the Cumanches, who were engaged to fight for the[Pg 259] Mexicans in Texas, up to the northern tribes among whom we were going. It was believed that the war-belt was circulating among the Winnebagoes, the warlike tribe who inhabit the western shores of Lake Michigan; and the government had sent troops to Chicago, to keep them in awe. It was of some consequence to us to ascertain the real state of the case; and we were glad to find that alarm was subsiding so fast, that the troops were soon allowed to go where they were more wanted. As soon as they had recovered from the storm which seemed to have incommoded everybody, they broke up their encampment, and departed.

Chicago looks raw and bare, standing on the high prairie above the lake-shore. The houses appeared insignificant, and run up in various directions, without any principle at all. A friend of mine who resides there had told me that we should find the inns intolerable, at the period of the great land sales, which bring a concourse of speculators to the place. It was even so. The very sight of them was intolerable; and there was not room for our party among them all. I do not know what we should have done, (unless to betake ourselves to the vessels in the harbour,) if our coming had not been foreknown, and most kindly provided for. We were divided between three families, who had the art of removing all our scruples about intruding on perfect strangers. None of us will lose the lively and pleasant associations with the place, which were caused by the hospitalities of its inhabitants.

I never saw a busier place than Chicago was at the time of our arrival. The streets were crowded with land speculators, hurrying from one sale to another. A negro, dressed up in scarlet, bearing a scarlet flag, and riding a white horse with housings of scarlet, announced the times of sale. At[Pg 260] every street-corner where he stopped, the crowd flocked round him; and it seemed as if some prevalent mania infected the whole people. The rage for speculation might fairly be so regarded. As the gentlemen of our party walked the streets, store-keepers hailed them from their doors, with offers of farms, and all manner of land-lots, advising them to speculate before the price of land rose higher. A young lawyer, of my acquaintance there, had realised five hundred dollars per day, the five preceding days, by merely making out titles to land. Another friend had realised, in two years, ten times as much money as he had before fixed upon as a competence for life. Of course, this rapid money-making is a merely temporary evil. A bursting of the bubble must come soon. The absurdity of the speculation is so striking, that the wonder is that the fever should have attained such a height as I witnessed. The immediate occasion of the bustle which prevailed, the week we were at Chicago, was the sale of lots, to the value of two millions of dollars, along the course of a projected canal; and of another set, immediately behind these. Persons not intending to game, and not infected with mania, would endeavour to form some reasonable conjecture as to the ultimate value of the lots, by calculating the cost of the canal, the risks from accident, from the possible competition from other places, &c., and, finally, the possible profits, under the most favourable circumstances, within so many years' purchase. Such a calculation would serve as some sort of guide as to the amount of purchase-money to be risked. Whereas, wild land on the banks of a canal, not yet even marked out, was selling at Chicago for more than rich land, well improved, in the finest part of the valley of the Mohawk, on the banks of a canal which is already the medium of an almost inestimable[Pg 261] amount of traffic. If sharpers and gamblers were to be the sufferers by the impending crash at Chicago, no one would feel much concerned: but they, unfortunately, are the people who encourage the delusion, in order to profit by it. Many a high-spirited, but inexperienced, young man; many a simple settler, will be ruined for the advantage of knaves.

Others, besides lawyers and speculators by trade, make a fortune in such extraordinary times. A poor man at Chicago had a pre-emption right to some land, for which he paid in the morning one hundred and fifty dollars. In the afternoon, he sold it to a friend of mine for five thousand dollars. A poor Frenchman, married to a squaw, had a suit pending, when I was there, which he was likely to gain, for the right of purchasing some land by the lake for one hundred dollars, which would immediately become worth one million dollars.

There was much gaiety going on at Chicago, as well as business. On the evening of our arrival a fancy fair took place. As I was too much fatigued to go, the ladies sent me a bouquet of prairie flowers. There is some allowable pride in the place about its society. It is a remarkable thing to meet such an assemblage of educated, refined, and wealthy persons as may be found there, living in small, inconvenient houses on the edge of a wild prairie. There is a mixture, of course. I heard of a family of half-breeds setting up a carriage, and wearing fine jewellery. When the present intoxication of prosperity passes away, some of the inhabitants will go back to the eastward; there will be an accession of settlers from the mechanic classes; good houses will have been built for the richer families, and the singularity of the place will subside. It will be like all the other new and thriving lake and river ports of America. [Pg 262]Meantime, I am glad to have seen it in its strange early days.

We dined one day with a gentleman who had been Indian agent among the Winnebagoes for some years. He and his lady seem to have had the art of making themselves as absolutely Indian in their sympathies and manners as the welfare of the savages among whom they lived required. They were the only persons I met with who, really knowing the Indians, had any regard for them. The testimony was universal to the good faith, and other virtues of savage life of the unsophisticated Indians; but they were spoken of in a tone of dislike, as well as pity, by all but this family; and they certainly had studied their Indian neighbours very thoroughly. The ladies of Indian agents ought to be women of nerve. Our hostess had slept for weeks with a loaded pistol on each side her pillow, and a dagger under it, when expecting an attack from a hostile tribe. The foe did not, however, come nearer than within a few miles. Her husband's sister was in the massacre when the fort was abandoned, in 1812. Her father and her husband were in the battle, and her mother and young brothers and sisters sat in a boat on the lake near. Out of seventy whites, only seventeen escaped, among whom were her family. She was wounded in the ankle, as she sat on her horse. A painted Indian, in warlike costume, came leaping up to her, and seized her horse, as she supposed, to murder her. She fought him vigorously, and he bore it without doing her any injury. He spoke, but she could not understand him. Another frightful savage came up, and the two led her horse to the lake, and into it, in spite of her resistance, till the water reached their chins. She concluded that they meant to drown her; but they contented themselves with holding her on her[Pg 263] horse till the massacre was over, when they led her out in safety. They were friendly Indians, sent by her husband to guard her. She could not but admire their patience when she found how she had been treating her protectors.

We had the fearful pleasure of seeing various savage dances performed by the Indian agent and his brother, with the accompaniments of complete costume, barbaric music, and whooping. The most intelligible to us was the Discovery Dance, a highly descriptive pantomime. We saw the Indian go out armed for war. We saw him reconnoitre, make signs to his comrades, sleep, warm himself, load his rifle, sharpen his scalping-knife, steal through the grass within rifle-shot of his foes, fire, scalp one of them, and dance, whooping and triumphing. There was a dreadful truth about the whole, and it made our blood run cold. It realised hatred and horror as effectually as Taglioni does love and grace.

We were unexpectedly detained over the Sunday at Chicago; and Dr. F. was requested to preach. Though only two hours' notice was given, a respectable congregation was assembled in the large room of the Lake House; a new hotel then building. Our seats were a few chairs and benches, and planks laid on trestles. The preacher stood behind a rough pine-table, on which a large Bible was placed. I was never present at a more interesting service; and I know that there were others who felt with me.

From Chicago, we made an excursion into the prairies. Our young lawyer-friend threw behind him the five hundred dollars per day which he was making, and went with us. I thought him wise; for there is that to be had in the wilderness which money cannot buy. We drove out of the town at ten o'clock in the morning, too late by two[Pg 264] hours; but it was impossible to overcome the introductions to strangers, and the bustle of our preparations, any sooner. Our party consisted of seven, besides the driver. Our vehicle was a wagon with four horses.

We had first to cross the prairie, nine miles wide, on the lake edge of which Chicago stands. This prairie is not usually wet so early in the year; but at this time the water stood almost up to the nave of the wheels: and we crossed it at a walking pace. I saw here, for the first time in the United States, the American primrose. It grew in profusion over the whole prairie, as far as I could see; not so large and fine as in English greenhouses, but graceful and pretty. I now found the truth of what I had read about the difficulty of distinguishing distances on a prairie. The feeling is quite bewildering. A man walking near looks like a Goliath a mile off. I mistook a covered wagon without horses, at a distance of fifty yards, for a white house near the horizon: and so on. We were not sorry to reach the belt of trees, which bounded the swamp we had passed. At a house here, where we stopped to water the horses, and eat dough nuts, we saw a crowd of emigrants; which showed that we had not yet reached the bounds of civilisation. A little further on we came to the river Aux Plaines, spelled on a sign board "Oplain." The ferry here is a monopoly, and the public suffers accordingly. There is only one small flat boat for the service of the concourse of people now pouring into the prairies. Though we happened to arrive nearly first of the crowd of to-day, we were detained on the bank above an hour; and then our horses went over at two crossings, and the wagon and ourselves at the third. It was a pretty scene, if we had not been in a hurry; the country wagons and teams in the wood by the side[Pg 265] of the quiet clear river; and the oxen swimming over, yoked, with only their patient faces visible above the surface. After crossing, we proceeded briskly till we reached a single house, where, or nowhere, we were to dine. The kind hostess bestirred herself to provide us a good dinner of tea, bread, ham, potatoes, and strawberries, of which a whole pailful, ripe and sweet, had been gathered by the children in the grass round the house, within one hour. While dinner was preparing, we amused ourselves with looking over an excellent small collection of books, belonging to Miss Cynthia, the slaughter of the hostess.

I never saw insulation, (not desolation,) to compare with the situation of a settler on a wide prairie. A single house in the middle of Salisbury Plain would be desolate. A single house on a prairie has clumps of trees near it, rich fields about it; and flowers, strawberries, and running water at hand. But when I saw a settler's child tripping out of home-bounds, I had a feeling that it would never get back again. It looked like putting out into Lake Michigan in a canoe. The soil round the dwellings is very rich. It makes no dust, it is so entirely vegetable. It requires merely to be once turned over to produce largely; and, at present, it appears to be inexhaustible. As we proceeded, the scenery became more and more like what all travellers compare it to,—a boundless English park. The grass was wilder, the occasional footpath not so trim, and the single trees less majestic; but no park ever displayed anything equal to the grouping of the trees within the windings of the blue, brimming river Aux Plaines.

We had met with so many delays that we felt doubts about reaching the place where we had intended to spend the night. At sunset, we found[Pg 266] ourselves still nine miles from Joliet;[11] but we were told that the road was good, except a small "slew" or two; and there was half a moon shining behind a thin veil of clouds; so we pushed on. We seemed latterly to be travelling on a terrace overlooking a wide champaign, where a dark, waving line might indicate the winding of the river, between its clumpy banks. Our driver descended, and went forward, two or three times, to make sure of our road; and at length, we rattled down a steep descent, and found ourselves among houses. This was not our resting-place, however. The Joliet hotel lay on the other side of the river. We were directed to a foot-bridge by which we were to pass; and a ford below for the wagon. We strained our eyes in vain for the foot-bridge; and our gentlemen peeped and pryed about for some time. All was still but the rippling river, and everybody asleep in the houses that were scattered about. We ladies were presently summoned to put on our water-proof shoes, and alight. A man showed himself who had risen from his bed to help us in our need. The foot-bridge consisted, for some way, of two planks, with a hand-rail on one side: but, when we were about a third of the way over, one half of the planks, and the hand-rail, had disappeared. We actually had to cross the rushing, deep river on a line of single planks, by dim moonlight, at past eleven o'clock at night. The great anxiety was about Charley; but between his father and the guide, he managed very well. This guide would accept nothing but thanks. He "did not calculate to take any pay." Then we waited some time for the wagon to come up from the[Pg 267] ford. I suspected it had passed the spot where we stood, and had proceeded to the village, where we saw a twinkling light, now disappearing, and now re-appearing. It was so, and the driver came back to look for us, and tell us that the light we saw was a signal from the hotel-keeper, whom we found, standing on his door-step, and sheltering his candle with his hand. We sat down and drank milk in the bar, while he went to consult with his wife what was to be done with us, as every bed in the house was occupied. We, meanwhile, agreed that the time was now come for us to enjoy an adventure which we had often anticipated; sleeping in a barn. We had all declared ourselves anxious to sleep in a barn, if we could meet with one that was air-tight, and well-supplied with hay. Such a barn was actually on these premises. We were prevented, however, from all practising the freak by the prompt hospitality of our hostess. Before we knew what she was about, she had risen and dressed herself, put clean sheets on her own bed, and made up two others on the floor of the same room; so that the ladies and Charley were luxuriously accommodated. Two sleepy personages crawled down stairs to offer their beds to our gentlemen. Mr. L. and our Chicago friend, however, persisted in sleeping in the barn. Next morning, we all gave a very gratifying report of our lodgings. When we made our acknowledgments to our hostess, she said she thought that people who could go to bed quietly every night ought to be ready to give up to tired travellers. Whenever she travels, I hope she will be treated as she treated us. She let us have breakfast as early as half-past five, the next morning, and gave Charley a bun at parting, lest he should be too hungry before we could dine.

The great object of our expedition, Mount[Pg 268] Joliet, was two miles distant from this place. We had to visit it, and perform the journey back to Chicago, forty miles, before night. The mount is only sixty feet high; yet it commands a view which I shall not attempt to describe, either in its vastness, or its soft beauty. The very spirit of tranquillity resides in this paradisy scene. The next painter who would worthily illustrate Milton's Morning Hymn, should come and paint what he sees from Mount Joliet, on a dewy summer's morning, when a few light clouds are gently sailing in the sky, and their shadows traversing the prairie. I thought I had never seen green levels till now; and only among mountains had I before known the beauty of wandering showers. Mount Joliet has the appearance of being an artificial mound, its sides are so uniformly steep, and its form so regular. Its declivity was bristling with flowers; among which were conspicuous the scarlet lily, the white convolvulus, and a tall, red flower of the scabia form. We disturbed a night-hawk, sitting on her eggs, on the ground. She wheeled round and round over our heads, and, I hope, returned to her eggs before they were cold.

Not far from the mount was a log-house, where the rest of the party went in to dry their feet, after having stood long in the wet grass. I remained outside, watching the light showers, shifting in the partial sunlight from clump to level, and from reach to reach of the brimming and winding river. The nine miles of prairie, which we had traversed in dim moonlight last night, were now exquisitely beautiful, as the sun shone fitfully upon them.

We saw a prairie wolf, very like a yellow dog, trotting across our path, this afternoon. Our hostess of the preceding day, expecting us, had an excellent dinner ready for us. We were detained a shorter time at the ferry, and reached the belt[Pg 269] of trees at the edge of Nine-mile Prairie, before sunset. Here, in common prudence, we ought to have stopped till the next day, even if no other accommodation could be afforded us than a roof over our heads. We deserved an ague for crossing the swamp after dark, in an open wagon, at a foot pace. Nobody was aware of this in time, and we set forward: the feet of our wearied horses plashing in water at every step of the nine miles. There was no road; and we had to trust to the instinct of driver and horses to keep us in the right direction. I rather think the driver attempted to amuse himself by exciting our fears. He hinted more than once at the difficulty of finding the way; at the improbability that we should reach Chicago before midnight; and at the danger of our wandering about the marsh all night, and finding ourselves at the opposite edge of the prairie in the morning. Charley was bruised and tired. All the rest were hungry and cold. It was very dreary. The driver bade us look to our right hand. A black bear was trotting alongside of us, at a little distance. After keeping up his trot for some time, he turned off from our track. The sight of him made up for all,—even if ague should follow, which I verily believed it would. But we escaped all illness. It is remarkable that I never saw ague but once. The single case that I met with was in autumn, at the Falls of Niagara.

I had promised Dr. F. a long story about English politics, when a convenient opportunity should occur. I thought the present an admirable one; for nobody seemed to have anything to say, and it was highly desirable that something should be said. I made my story long enough to beguile four miles; by which time, some were too tired, and others too much disheartened, for more conversation. Something white was soon after visible. Our driver[Pg 270] gave out that it was a house, half a mile from Chicago. But no: it was an emigrant encampment, on a morsel of raised, dry ground; and again we were uncertain whether we were in the right road. Presently, however, the Chicago beacon was visible, shining a welcome to us through the dim, misty air. The horses seemed to see it, for they quickened their pace; and before half-past ten, we were on the bridge.

The family, at my temporary home, were gone up to their chambers; but the wood-fire was soon replenished, tea made, and the conversation growing lively. My companions were received as readily at their several resting-places. When we next met, we found ourselves all disposed to place warm hospitality very high on the list of virtues.

While we were at Detroit, we were most strongly urged to return thither by the Lakes, instead of by either of the Michigan roads. From place to place, in my previous travelling, I had been told of the charms of the Lakes, and especially of the Island of Mackinaw. Every officer's lady who has been in garrison there, is eloquent upon the delights of Mackinaw. As our whole party, however, could not spare time to make so wide a circuit, we had not intended to indulge ourselves with a further variation in our travels than to take the upper road back to Detroit; having left it by the lower. On Sunday, June 27th, news arrived at Chicago that this upper road had been rendered impassable by the rains. A sailing vessel, the only one on the Lakes, and now on her first trip, was to leave Chicago for Detroit and Buffalo, the next day. The case was clear: the party must divide. Those who were obliged to hasten home must return by the road we came: the rest must proceed by water. On Charley's account,[Pg 271] the change of plan was desirable; as the heats were beginning to be so oppressive as to render travelling in open wagons unsafe for a child. It was painful to break up our party at the extreme point of our journey; but it was clearly right. So Mr. and Mrs. L. took their chance by land; and the rest of us went on board the Milwaukee, at two o'clock on the afternoon of the 28th.

Mrs. F. and I were the only ladies on board; and there was no stewardess. The steward was obliging, and the ladies' cabin was clean and capacious; and we took possession of it with a feeling of comfort. Our pleasant impressions, however, were not of long duration. The vessel was crowded with persons who had come to the land sales at Chicago, and were taking their passage back to Milwaukee; a settlement on the western shore of the lake, about eighty miles from Chicago. Till we should reach Milwaukee, we could have the ladies' cabin only during a part of the day. I say a part of the day, because some of the gentry did not leave our cabin till near nine in the morning; and others chose to come down, and go to bed, as early as seven in the evening, without troubling themselves to give us five minutes' notice, or to wait till we could put up our needles, or wipe our pens. This ship was the only place in America where I saw a prevalence of bad manners. It was the place of all others to select for the study of such; and no reasonable person would look for anything better among land-speculators, and settlers in regions so new as to be almost without women. None of us had ever before seen, in America, a disregard of women. The swearing was incessant; and the spitting such as to amaze my American companions as much as myself.

Supper was announced presently after we had sailed; and when we came to the table, it was full,[Pg 272] and no one offered to stir, to make room for us. The captain, who was very careful of our comfort, arranged that we should be better served henceforth; and no difficulty afterwards occurred. At dinner, the next day, we had a specimen of how such personages as we had on board are managed on an emergency. The captain gave notice, from the head of the table, that he did not choose our party to be intruded on in the cabin; and that any one who did not behave with civility at table should be turned out. He spoke with decision and good-humour; and the effect was remarkable. Everything on the table was handed to us; and no more of the gentry came down into our cabin to smoke, or throw themselves on the cushions to sleep, while we sat at work.

Our fare was what might be expected on Lake Michigan. Salt beef and pork, and sea-biscuit; tea without milk, bread, and potatoes. Charley throve upon potatoes and bread: and we all had the best results of food,—health and strength.

A little schooner which left Chicago at the same time with ourselves, and reached Milwaukee first, was a pretty object. On the 29th, we were only twenty-five miles from the settlement; but the wind was so unfavourable that it was doubtful whether we should reach it that day. Some of the passengers amused themselves by gaming, down in the hold; others by parodying a methodist sermon, and singing a mock hymn. We did not get rid of them till noon on the 30th, when we had the pleasure of seeing our ship disgorge twenty-five into one boat, and two into another. The atmosphere was so transparent as to make the whole scene appear as if viewed through an opera-glass; the still, green waters, the dark boats with their busy oars, the moving passengers, and the struggles of one to recover his hat, which had fallen overboard. We[Pg 273] were yet five miles from Milwaukee; but we could see the bright, wooded coast, with a few white dots of houses.

While Dr. F. went on shore, to see what was to be seen, we had the cabin cleaned out, and took, once more, complete possession of it, for both day and night. As soon as this was done, seven young women came down the companion-way, seated themselves round the cabin, and began to question us. They were the total female population of Milwaukee; which settlement now contains four hundred souls. We were glad to see these ladies; for it was natural enough that the seven women should wish to behold two more, when such a chance offered. A gentleman of the place, who came on board this afternoon, told me that a printing-press had arrived a few hours before; and that a newspaper would speedily appear. He was kind enough to forward the first number to me a few weeks afterwards; and I was amused to see how pathetic an appeal to the ladies of more thickly-settled districts it contained; imploring them to cast a favourable eye on Milwaukee, and its hundreds of bachelors. Milwaukee had been settled since the preceding November. It had good stores, (to judge by the nature and quality of goods sent ashore from our ship;) it had a printing-press and newspaper, before the settlers had had time to get wives. I heard these new settlements sometimes called "patriarchal;" but what would the patriarchs have said to such an order of affairs?

Dr. F. returned from the town, with apple-pies, cheese, and ale, wherewith to vary our ship-diet. With him arrived such a number of towns-people, that the steward wanted to turn us out of our cabin once more; but we were sturdy, appealed to the captain, and were confirmed in possession. From this time began the delights of our voyage.[Pg 274] The moon, with her long train of glory, was magnificent to-night; the vast body of waters on which she shone being as calm as if the winds were dead.

The navigation of these lakes is, at present, a mystery. They have not yet been properly surveyed. Our captain had gone to and fro on Lake Huron, but had never before been on Lake Michigan; and this was rather an anxious voyage to him. We had got aground on the sand-bar before Milwaukee harbour; and on the 1st of July, all hands were busy in unshipping the cargo, to lighten the vessel, instead of carrying her up to the town. An elegant little schooner was riding at anchor near us; and we were well amused in admiring her, and in watching the bustle on deck, till some New-England youths, and our Milwaukee acquaintance, brought us, from the shore, two newspapers, some pebbles, flowers, and a pitcher of fine strawberries.

As soon as we were off the bar, the vessel hove round, and we cast anchor in deeper water. Charley was called to see the sailors work the windlass, and to have a ride thereon. The sailors were very kind to the boy. They dressed up their dog for him in sheep-skins and a man's hat; a sight to make older people than Charley laugh. They took him down into the forecastle to show him prints that were pasted up there. They asked him to drink rum and water with them: to which Charley answered that he should be happy to drink water with them, but had rather not have any rum. While we were watching the red sunset over the leaden waters, betokening a change of weather, the steamer "New York" came ploughing the bay, three weeks after her time; such is the uncertainty in the navigation of these stormy lakes. She got aground on the sand-bank, as we had done; and boats were going from her to the shore and back, as long as we could see.

[Pg 275]

The next day there was rain and some wind. The captain and steward went off to make final purchases: but the fresh meat which had been bespoken for us had been bought up by somebody else; and no milk was to be had; only two cows being visible in all the place. Ale was the only luxury we could obtain. When the captain returned, he brought with him a stout gentleman, one of the proprietors of the vessel, who must have a berth in our cabin as far as Mackinaw; those elsewhere being too small for him. Under the circumstances, we had no right to complain; so we helped the steward to partition off a portion of the cabin with a counterpane, fastened with four forks. This gentleman, Mr. D., was engaged in the fur trade at Mackinaw, and had a farm there, to which he kindly invited us.

On Sunday, the 3rd, there was much speculation as to whether we should be at Mackinaw in time to witness the celebration of the great day. All desired it; but I was afraid of missing the Manitou Isles in the dark. There was much fog; the wind was nearly fair; the question was whether it would last. Towards evening, the fog thickened, and the wind freshened. The mate would not believe we were in the middle of the lake, as every one else supposed. He said the fog was too warm not to come from near land. Charley caught something of the spirit of uncertainty, and came to me in high, joyous excitement, to drag me to the side of the ship, that I might see how fast we cut through the waves, and how steadily we leaned over the water, till Charley almost thought he could touch it. He burst out about the "kind of a feeling" that it was "not to see a bit of land," and not to know where we were; and to think "if we should upset!" and that we never did upset:—it was "a good and a bad feeling at once;" and he should never be able to[Pg 276] tell people at home what it was like. The boy had no fear: he was roused, as the brave man loves to be. Just as the dim light of the sunset was fading from the fog, it opened, and disclosed to us, just at hand, the high, sandy shore of Michigan. It was well that this happened before dark. The captain hastened up to the mast-head, and reported that we were off Cape Sable, forty miles from the Manitou Isles.

Three bats and several butterflies were seen to-day, clinging to the mainsail,—blown over from the shore. The sailors set their dog at a bat, of which it was evidently afraid. A flock of pretty pigeons flew round and over the ship; of which six were shot. Four fell into the water; and the other two were reserved for the mate's breakfast; he being an invalid.

We were up before five, on the morning of the 4th of July, to see the Manitou Isles, which were then just coming in sight. They are the Sacred Isles of the Indians, to whom they belong. Manitou is the name of their Great Spirit, and of everything sacred. It is said that they believe these islands to be the resort of the spirits of the departed. They are two: sandy and precipitous at the south end; and clothed with wood, from the crest of the cliffs to the north extremity, which slopes down gradually to the water. It was a cool, sunny morning, and these dark islands lay still, and apparently deserted, on the bright green waters. Far behind, to the south, were two glittering white sails, on the horizon. They remained in sight all day, and lessened the feeling of loneliness which the navigators of these vast lakes cannot but have, while careering among the solemn islands and shores. On our right lay the Michigan shore, high and sandy, with the dark eminence, called the Sleeping Bear, conspicuous on the ridge. No land speculators have set foot here yet. A few Indian[Pg 277] dwellings, with evergreen woods and sandy cliffs, are all. Just here, Mr. D. pointed out to us a schooner of his which was wrecked, in a snowstorm, the preceding November. She looked pretty and forlorn, lying on her side in that desolate place, seeming a mere plaything thrown in among the cliffs. "Ah!" said her owner, with a sigh, "she was a lovely creature, and as stiff as a church." Two lives were lost. Two young Germans, stout lads, could not comprehend the orders given them to put on all their clothing, and keep themselves warm. They only half-dressed themselves: "the cold took them," and they died. The rest tried to make fire by friction of wood; but got only smoke. Some one found traces of a dog in the snow. These were followed for three miles, and ended at an Indian lodge, where the sailors were warmed, and kindly treated.

During the bright morning of this day we passed the Fox and Beaver Islands. The captain was in fine spirits, though there was no longer any prospect of reaching Mackinaw in time for the festivities of the day. This island is chiefly known as a principal station of the great north-western fur trade. Others know it as the seat of an Indian mission. Others, again, as a frontier garrison. It is known to me as the wildest and tenderest little piece of beauty that I have yet seen on God's earth. It is a small island, nine miles in circumference, being in the strait between the Lakes Michigan and Huron, and between the coasts of Michigan and Wisconsin.

Towards evening the Wisconsin coast came into view, the strait suddenly narrowed, and we were about to bid farewell to the great Lake whose total length we had traversed, after sweeping round its southern extremity. The ugly light-ship, which looked heavy enough, came into view about six[Pg 278] o'clock; the first token of our approach to Mackinaw. The office of the light-ship is to tow vessels in the dark through the strait. We were too early for this; but perhaps it performed that office for the two schooners whose white specks of sails had been on our southern horizon all day. Next we saw a white speck before us; it was the barracks of Mackinaw, stretching along the side of its green hills, and clearly visible before the town came into view.

The island looked enchanting as we approached, as I think it always must, though we had the advantage of seeing it first steeped in the most golden sunshine that ever hallowed lake or shore. The colours were up on all the little vessels in the harbour. The national flag streamed from the garrison. The soldiers thronged the walls of the barracks; half-breed boys were paddling about in their little canoes, in the transparent waters; the half-French, half-Indian population of the place were all abroad in their best. An Indian lodge was on the shore, and a picturesque dark group stood beside it. The cows were coming down the steep green slopes to the milking. Nothing could be more bright and joyous.

The houses of the old French village are shabby-looking, dusky, and roofed with bark. There are some neat yellow houses, with red shutters, which have a foreign air, with their porches and flights of steps. The better houses stand on the first of the three terraces which are distinctly marked. Behind them are swelling green knolls; before them gardens sloping down to the narrow slip of white beach, so that the grass seems to grow almost into the clear rippling waves. The gardens were rich with mountain ash, roses, stocks, currant bushes, springing corn, and a great variety of kitchen vegetables. There were two small piers[Pg 279] with little barks alongside, and piles of wood for the steam-boats. Some way to the right stood the quadrangle of missionary buildings, and the white mission church. Still further to the right was a shrubby precipice down to the lake; and beyond, the blue waters. While we were gazing at all this, a pretty schooner sailed into the harbour after us, in fine style, sweeping round our bows so suddenly as nearly to swamp a little fleet of canoes, each with its pair of half-breed boys.

We had been alarmed by a declaration from the captain that he should stay only three hours at the island. He seemed to have no intention of taking us ashore this evening. The dreadful idea occurred to us that we might be carried away from this paradise, without having set foot in it. We looked at each other in dismay. Mr. D. stood our friend. He had some furs on board which were to be landed. He said this should not be done till the morning; and he would take care that his people did it with the utmost possible slowness. He thought he could gain us an additional hour in this way. Meantime, thunder-clouds were coming up rapidly from the west, and the sun was near its setting. After much consultation, and an assurance having been obtained from the captain that we might command the boat at any hour in the morning, we decided that Dr. F. and Charley should go ashore, and deliver our letters, and accept any arrangements that might be offered for our seeing the best of the scenery in the morning.

Scarcely any one was left in the ship but Mrs. F. and myself. We sat on deck, and gazed as if this were to be the last use we were ever to have of our eyes. There was growling thunder now, and the church bell, and Charley's clear voice from afar: the waters were so still. The Indians lighted a fire before their lodge; and we saw their shining[Pg 280] red forms as they bent over the blaze. We watched Dr. F. and Charley mounting to the garrison; we saw them descend again with the commanding officer, and go to the house of the Indian agent. Then we traced them along the shore, and into the Indian lodge; then to the church; then, the parting with the commandant on the shore, and lastly, the passage of the dark boat to our ship's side. They brought news that the commandant and his family would be on the watch for us before five in the morning, and be our guides to as much of the island as the captain would allow us time to see.

Some pretty purchases of Indian manufactures were brought on board this evening; light matting of various colours, and small baskets of birch-bark, embroidered with porcupine-quills, and filled with maple sugar.

The next morning all was bright. At five o'clock we descended the ship's side, and from the boat could see the commandant and his dog hastening down from the garrison to the landing-place. We returned with him up the hill, through the barrack-yard; and were joined by three members of his family on the velvet green slope behind the garrison. No words can give an idea of the charms of this morning walk. We wound about in a vast shrubbery, with ripe strawberries under foot, wild flowers all around, and scattered knolls and opening vistas tempting curiosity in every direction. "Now run up," said the commandant, as we arrived at the foot of one of these knolls. I did so, and was almost struck backwards by what I saw. Below me was the Natural Bridge of Mackinaw, of which I had heard frequent mention. It is a limestone arch, about one hundred and fifty feet high in the centre, with a span of fifty feet; one pillar resting on a rocky projection in the lake, the other[Pg 281] on the hill. We viewed it from above, so that the horizon line of the lake fell behind the bridge, and the blue expanse of waters filled the entire arch. Birch and ash grew around the bases of the pillars, and shrubbery tufted the sides, and dangled from the bridge. The soft rich hues in which the whole was dressed seemed borrowed from the autumn sky.

But even this scene was nothing to one we saw from the fort, on the crown of the island; old Fort Holmes, called Fort George when in the possession of the British. I can compare it to nothing but to what Noah might have seen, the first bright morning after the deluge. Such a cluster of little paradises rising out of such a congregation of waters, I can hardly fancy to have been seen elsewhere. The capacity of the human eye seems here suddenly enlarged, as if it could see to the verge of the watery creation. Blue, level waters appear to expand for thousands of miles in every direction; wholly unlike any aspect of the sea. Cloud shadows, and specks of white vessels, at rare intervals, alone diversify it. Bowery islands rise out of it; bowery promontories stretch down into it; while at one's feet lies the melting beauty which one almost fears will vanish in its softness before one's eyes; the beauty of the shadowy dells and sunny mounds, with browsing cattle, and springing fruit and flowers. Thus, and no otherwise, would I fain think did the world emerge from the flood. I was never before so unwilling to have objects named. The essential unity of the scene seemed to be marred by any distinction of its parts. But this feeling, to me new, did not alter the state of the case; that it was Lake Huron that we saw stretching to the eastward; Lake Michigan opening to the west; the island of Bois Blanc, green to the brink in front; and Round Island and others interspersed. I stood now at[Pg 282] the confluence of those great northern lakes, the very names of which awed my childhood; calling up, as they did, images of the fearful red man of the deep pine-forest, and the music of the moaning winds, imprisoned beneath the ice of winter. How different from the scene, as actually beheld, dressed in verdure, flowers, and the sunshine of a summer's morning!

It was breakfast-time when we descended to the barracks; and we despatched a messenger to the captain to know whether we might breakfast with the commandant. We sat in the piazza, and overlooked the village, the harbour, the straits, and the white beach, where there were now four Indian lodges. The island is so healthy that, according to the commandant, people who want to die must go somewhere else. I saw only three tombstones in the cemetery. The commandant has lost but one man since he has been stationed at Mackinaw; and that was by drowning. I asked about the climate; the answer was, "We have nine months winter, and three months cold weather."

It would have been a pity to have missed the breakfast at the garrison, which afforded a strong contrast with any we had seen for a week. We concealed, as well as we could, our glee at the appearance of the rich cream, the new bread and butter, fresh lake trout, and pile of snow-white eggs.

There is reason to think that the mission is the least satisfactory part of the establishment on this island. A great latitude of imagination or representation is usually admitted on the subject of missions to the heathen. The reporters of this one appear to be peculiarly imaginative. I fear that the common process has here been gone through of attempting to take from the savage the venerable and the true which he possessed, and to force upon[Pg 283] him something else which is to him neither venerable nor true.

The Indians have been proved, by the success of the French among them, to be capable of civilisation. Near Little Traverse, in the north-west part of Michigan, within easy reach of Mackinaw, there is an Indian village, full of orderly and industrious inhabitants, employed chiefly in agriculture. The English and Americans have never succeeded with the aborigines so well as the French; and it may be doubted whether the clergy have been a much greater blessing to them than the traders.

It was with great regret that we parted with the commandant and his large young family, and stepped into the boat to return to the ship. The captain looked a little grave upon the delay which all his passengers had helped to achieve. We sailed about nine. We were in great delight at having seen Mackinaw, at having the possession of its singular imagery for life: but this delight was at present dashed with the sorrow of leaving it. I could not have believed how deeply it is possible to regret a place, after so brief an acquaintance with it. We watched the island as we rapidly receded, trying to catch the aspect of it which had given it its name—the Great Turtle. Its flag first vanished: then its green terraces and slopes, its white barracks, and dark promontories faded, till the whole disappeared behind a headland and light-house of the Michigan shore.

Lake Huron was squally, as usual. Little remarkable happened while we traversed it. We enjoyed the lake trout. We occasionally saw the faint outline of the Manitouline Islands and Canada. We saw a sunset which looked very like the general conflagration having begun: the whole western sky and water being as if of red flame and molten lead. This was succeeded by paler fires.[Pg 284] A yellow planet sank into the heaving waters to the south; and the northern lights opened like a silver wheat-sheaf, and spread themselves half over the sky. It is luxury to sail on Lake Huron, and watch the northern lights.

On the 7th we were only twenty miles from the river St. Clair: but the wind was "right ahead," and we did not reach the mouth of the river till the evening of the 8th. The approach and entrance kept us all in a state of high excitement, from the captain down to Charley. On the afternoon of the 8th, Fort Gratiot and the narrow mouth of the St. Clair, became visible. Our scope for tacking grew narrower, every turn. The captain did not come to dinner; he kept the lead going incessantly. Two vessels were trying with us for the mouth of the river. The American schooner got in first, from being the smallest. The British vessel and ours contested the point stoutly for a long while, sweeping round and crossing each other, much as if they were dancing a minuet. A squall came, and broke one of our chains, and our rival beat us. In the midst of the struggle, we could not but observe that the sky was black as night to windward; and that the captain cast momentary glances thither, as if calculating how soon he must make all tight for the storm. The British vessel was seen to have come to an anchor. Our sails were all taken in, our anchor dropped, and a grim, silence prevailed. The waters were flat as ice about the ship. The next moment, the sky-organ began to blow in our rigging. Fort Gratiot was blotted out; then the woods; then the other ship; then came the orderly march of the rain over the myrtle-green waters; then the storm seized us. We could scarcely see each others' faces, except for the lightning; the ship groaned, and dragged her anchor, so that a second was dropped.

[Pg 285]

In twenty minutes, the sun gilded the fort, the woods, and the green, prairie-like, Canada shore. On the verge of this prairie, under the shelter of the forest, an immense herd of wild horses were seen scampering, and whisking their long tails. A cloud of pigeons, in countless thousands, was shadowing alternately the forests, the lake, and the prairie; and an extensive encampment of wild Indians was revealed on the Michigan shore. It was a dark curtain lifted up on a scene of wild and singular beauty.

Then we went to the anxious work of tacking again. We seemed to be running aground on either shore, as we approached each. Our motions were watched by several gazers. On the Canada side, there were men on the sands, and in a canoe, with a sail which looked twice as big as the bark. The keepers of the Gratiot light-house looked out from the lantern. A party of squaws, in the Indian encampment, seated on the sands, stopped their work of cleaning fish, to see how we got through the rapids. A majestic personage, his arms folded in his blanket, stood on an eminence in the midst of the camp; and behind him, on the brow of the hill, were groups of unclothed boys and men, looking so demon-like, as even in that scene to remind me of the great staircase in the ballet of Faust. Our ship twisted round and round in the eddies, as helplessly as a log, and stuck, at last, with her stem within a stone's throw of the Indians. Nothing more could be done that night. We dropped anchor, and hoped the sailors would have good repose after two days of tacking to achieve a progress of twenty miles. Two or three of them went ashore, to try to get milk. While they were gone, a party of settlers stood on the high bank, to gaze at us; and we were sorry to see them, even down to the little children, whisking[Pg 286] boughs without ceasing. This was a threat of mosquitoes which was not to be mistaken. When the sailors returned, they said we were sure to have a good watch kept, for the mosquitoes would let no one sleep. We tried to shut up our cabin from them; but they were already there: and I, for one, was answerable for many murders before I closed my eyes. In the twilight, I observed something stirring on the high bank; and on looking closely, saw a party of Indians, stepping along, in single file, under the shadow of the wood. Their simplest acts are characteristic; and, in their wild state, I never saw them without thinking of ghosts or demons.

In the morning, I found we were floating down the current, stern foremost, frequently swinging round in the eddies, so as to touch the one shore or the other. There seemed to be no intermission of settlers' houses; all at regular distances along the bank. The reason of this appearance is a good old French arrangement, by which the land is divided into long, narrow strips, that each lot may have a water frontage. We were evidently returning to a well-settled country. The more comfortable houses on the Canada side were surrounded by spacious and thriving fields: the poorer by dreary enclosures of swamp. We saw a good garden, with a white paling. Cows were being milked. Cow-bells, and the merry voices of singing children, were heard from under the clumps; and piles of wood for the steam-boats, and large stocks of shingles for roofing were laid up on either hand. The Gratiot steamer puffed away under the Michigan bank. Canoes shot across in a streak of light; and a schooner came down the clear river, as if on the wing between the sky and the water. I watched two horsemen on the shore, for many miles, tracing the bay pony and the white horse[Pg 287] through the woody screen, and over the brooks, and along the rickety bridges. I could see that they were constantly chatting, and that they stopped to exchange salutations with every one they met or overtook. These, to be sure, were few enough. I was quite sorry when the twilight drew on, and hid them from me. I saw a little boy on a log, with a paddle, pushing himself off from a bank of wild roses, and making his way in the sunshine, up the river. It looked very pretty, and very unsafe; but I dare say he knew best. The captain and mate were both ill to-day. The boat was sent ashore for what could be had. The men made haste, and rowed bravely; but we were carried down four miles before we could "heave to," for them to overtake us. They brought brandy for the captain; and for us, butter just out of the churn. The mosquitoes again drove us from the deck, soon after dark.

The next morning, the 10th, the deck was in great confusion. The captain was worse: the mate was too ill to command; and the second mate seemed to be more efficient in swearing, and getting the men to swear, than at anything else. After breakfast, there was a search made after a pilferer, who had abstracted certain small articles from our cabin; among which was Charley's maple-sugar basket, which had been seen in the wheel-house, with a tea-spoon in it. This seemed to point out one of the juniors in the forecastle as the offender; the steward, however, offered to clear himself by taking an oath, "on a bible as big as the ship," that he knew nothing of the matter. As we did not happen to have such a bible on board, we could not avail ourselves of his offer. A comb and tooth-brush, which had been missing, were found, restored to their proper places: but Charley's pretty basket was seen no more.

[Pg 288]

It was a comfortless day. We seemed within easy reach of Detroit; but the little wind we had was dead ahead; the sun was hot; the mosquitoes abounded; the captain was downcast, and the passengers cross. There was some amusement, however. Dr. F. went ashore, and brought us milk, of which we each had a draught before it turned sour. He saw on shore a sight which is but too common. An hotel-keeper let an Indian get drunk; and then made a quarrel between him and another, for selfish purposes. The whites seem to have neither honour nor mercy towards the red men.

A canoe full of Indians,—two men and four children,—came alongside, this afternoon, to offer to traffic. They had no clothing but a coarse shirt each. The smallest child had enormous ear-ornaments of blue and white beads. They were closely packed in their canoe, which rocked with every motion. They sold two large baskets for a quarter dollar and two loaves of bread. Their faces were intelligent, and far from solemn. The children look merry, as children should. I saw others fishing afar off, till long after dark. A dusky figure stood, in a splendid attitude, at the bow of a canoe, and now paddled with one end of his long lance, now struck at a fish with the other. He speared his prey directly through the middle; and succeeded but seldom. At dark, a pine torch was held over the water; and by its blaze, I could still see something of his operations.

The groaning of our ship's timbers told us, before we rose, that we were in rapid motion. The wind was fair; and we were likely to reach Detroit, forty miles, to dinner. Lake St. Clair, with its placid waters and low shores, presents nothing to look at. The captain was very ill, and unable to leave his berth. No one on board knew the channel of the[Pg 289] Detroit river but himself; and, from the time we entered it, the lead was kept going. When we were within four miles of Detroit, hungry, hot, tired of the disordered ship, and thinking of friends, breezes, and a good dinner at the city, we went aground,—grinding, grinding, till the ship trembled in every timber. The water was so shallow that one might have touched the gravel on either side with a walking-stick. There was no hope of our being got off speedily. The cook applied himself to chopping wood, in order to lighting a fire, in order to baking some bread, in order to give us something to eat; for not a scrap of meat, or an ounce of biscuit, was left on board.

It occurred to me that our party might reach the city, either by paying high for one of the ship's boats, or by getting the mate to hail one of the schooners that were in the river. The boats could not be spared. The mate hoisted a signal for a schooner; and one came alongside, very fully laden with shingles. Fifteen of us, passengers, with our luggage, were piled on the top of the cargo, and sailed gently up to the city. The captain was too ill, and the mate too full of vexation, to bid us farewell; and thus we left our poor ship. We were glad, however, to pass her in the river, the next day, and to find that she had been got off the shoal before night.

As we drew near, Charley, in all good faith, hung out his little handkerchief to show the people of Detroit that we were come back. They did not seem to know us, however. "What!" cried some men on a raft, to the master of our schooner, "have you been robbing a steam-boat?" "No," replied the master, gravely; "it is a boat that has gone to the bottom in the lakes." We expected that some stupendous alarm would arise out of this. When we reached New York, a fortnight after, we[Pg 290] found that our friends there had been made uneasy by the news that a steam-boat had sunk on the Lakes, and that eight hundred passengers were drowned. Catastrophes grow as fast as other things in America.

Though our friends did not happen to see Charley's pocket-handkerchief from the river, they were soon about us, congratulating us on having made the circuit of the Lakes. It was indeed matter of congratulation.

I have now given sketches of some of the most remarkable parts of the country, hoping that a pretty distinct idea might thus be afforded of their primary resources, and of the modes of life of their inhabitants. I have said nothing of the towns, in this connection; town-life in America having nothing very peculiar about it, viewed in the way of general survey. The several departments of industry will now be particularly considered.


[8] I know not why I should suppress a name that I honour.

[9] Isaiah xvi. 3.

[10] It is possible that this term may not yet be familiar to some of my English readers. It means summary punishment. The modes now in use among those who take the law into their own hands in the United States, are tarring and feathering, scourging with a cow-hide, banishing, and hanging. The term owes its derivation to a farmer of the name of Lynch, living on the Mississippi, who, in the absence of court and lawyers, constituted himself a judge, and ordered summary punishment to be inflicted on an offender. He little foresaw the national disgrace which would arise from the extension of the practice to which he gave his name.

[11] I preserve the original name, which is that of the first French missionary who visited these parts. The place is now commonly called Juliet; and a settlement near has actually been named Romeo: so that I fear there is little hope of a restoration of the honourable primitive name.

[Pg 291]


"Plus un peuple nombreux se rapproche, moins le gouvernement peut usurper sur le Souverain. L'avantage d'un gouvernement tyrannique est donc en ceci, d'agir à grandes distances. A l'aide des points d'appui qu'il se donne, sa force augmente au loin, comme celle des léviers. Celle du peuple, au contraire, n'agit que concentrée: elle s'évapore et se perd en s'étendant, comme l'effet de la poudre éparse à terre, et qui ne prend feu que grain à grain. Les pays les moins peuplés sont ainsi les plus propres à la tyrannie. Les bêtes féroces ne règnent que dans les déserts."


The pride and delight of Americans is in their quantity of land. I do not remember meeting with one to whom it had occurred that they had too much. Among the many complaints of the minority, this was never one. I saw a gentleman strike his fist on the table in an agony at the country being so "confoundedly prosperous:" I heard lamentations over the spirit of speculation; the migration of young men to the back country; the fluctuating state of society from the incessant movement westwards; the immigration of labourers from Europe; and the ignorance of the sparse population. All these grievances I heard perpetually complained of; but in the same breath I was told in triumph of the[Pg 292] rapid sales of land; of the glorious additions which had been made by the acquisition of Louisiana and Florida, and of the probable gain of Texas. Land was spoken of as the unfailing resource against over manufacture; the great wealth of the nation; the grand security of every man in it.

On this head, the two political parties seem to be more agreed than on any other. The federalists are the great patrons of commerce; but they are as proud of the national lands as the broadest of the democrats. The democrats, however, may be regarded as the patrons of agriculture, out of the slave States. There seems to be a natural relation between the independence of property and occupation enjoyed by the agriculturist, and his watchfulness over State Rights and the political importance of individuals. The simplicity of country life, too, appears more congenial with the workings of democratic institutions, than the complex arrangements of commerce and manufactures.

The possession of land is the aim of all action, generally speaking, and the cure for all social evils, among men in the United States. If a man is disappointed in politics or love, he goes and buys land. If he disgraces himself, he betakes himself to a lot in the west. If the demand for any article of manufacture slackens, the operatives drop into the unsettled lands. If a citizen's neighbours rise above him in the towns, he betakes himself where he can be monarch of all he surveys. An artisan works, that he may die on land of his own. He is frugal, that he may enable his son to be a landowner. Farmers' daughters go into factories that they may clear off the mortgage from their fathers' farms; that they may be independent landowners again. All this is natural enough in a country colonised from an old one, where land is so restricted in quantity as to be apparently the same thing as[Pg 293] wealth. It is natural enough in a young republic, where independence is of the highest political value. It is natural enough in a country where political economy has never been taught by its only effectual propounder—social adversity. And, finally, it falls out well for the old world, in prospect of the time when the new world must be its granary.

The democratic party are fond of saying that the United States are intended to be an agricultural country. It seems to me that they are intended to be everything. The Niagara basin, the Mississippi valley, and the South, will be able to furnish the trading world with agricultural products for ever,—for aught we can see. But it is clear that there are other parts of the country which must have recourse to manufactures and commerce.

The first settlers in New England got land, and thought themselves rich. Their descendants have gone on to do the same; and they now find themselves poor. With the exception of some Southerners, ruined by slavery, who cannot live within their incomes, I met with no class in the United States so anxious about the means of living as the farmers of New England. In the seventeenth century, curious purchases of land were made, and the fathers were wealthy. In those days, a certain farmer Dexter bought the promontory of Nahant, which stretches out into Massachusetts Bay, of Black Willey, an Indian chief, for a suit of clothes; the part of the promontory called Great Nahant measuring a mile and a half in circuit. Others, who held land in similar or larger quantities, divided it equally among their children, whose portions had not been subdivided below the point of comfort, when the great west on the one hand, and the commerce of the seas on the other, opened new resources. From this time, the consolidation of estates has gone on, nearly as fast as the previous[Pg 294] division. The members of a family dispose of their portions of land to one, and go to seek better fortunes elsewhere than the rocky soil of New England can afford. Still, while the population of Massachusetts is scarcely above half that of London, its number of landowners is greater than that of all England.

The Massachusetts farmers were the first to decline; but now the comparative adversity of agriculture has extended even into Vermont. A few years ago, lenders of money into Vermont received thirty per cent. interest from farmers: now they are glad to get six per cent.; and this does not arise from the farmers having saved capital of their own. They have but little property besides their land. Their daughters, and even their sons, resort to domestic service in Boston for a living. Boston used to be supplied from Vermont with fowls, butter, and eggs: but the supply has nearly ceased. This is partly owing to an increased attention to the growth of wool for the manufacturers; but partly also to the decrease of capital and enterprise among the farmers.

In Massachusetts the farmers have so little property besides their land, that they are obliged to mortgage when they want to settle a son or daughter, or make up for a deficient crop. The great Insurance Company at Boston is the formidable creditor to many. This Company will not wait a day for the interest. If it is not ready, loss or ruin ensues. Many circumstances are now unfavourable to the old-fashioned Massachusetts farmer. Domestic manufactures, which used to employ the daughters, are no longer worth while, in the presence of the factories. The young men, who should be the daughters' husbands, go off to the west. The idea of domestic service is not liked. There is an expensive family at home, without sufficient [Pg 295]employment; and they may be considered poor. These are evils which may be shaken off any day. I speak of them, not as demanding much compassion, but as indicating a change in the state of affairs; and especially that New England is designed to be a manufacturing and commercial region. It is already common to see agriculture joined with other employments. The farmers of the coast are, naturally, fishermen also. They bring home fish, manure their land with the offal; sow their seed, and go out again to fish while it is growing. Shoemaking is now joined with farming. In the long winter evenings, all the farmers' families around Lynn are busy shoe-making; and in the spring, they turn out into the fields again. The largest proportion of factory girls too is furnished by country families.

The traveller may see, by merely passing through the country, without asking information, how far New England ought to be an agricultural country, if the object of its society be to secure the comfort of its members, rather than the continuance of old customs. The valleys, like that of the Connecticut river, whose soil is kept rich by annual inundations, and whose fields have no fences, gladden the eye of the observer. So it is with particular spots elsewhere, where, it may be remarked, the fences are of the ordinary, slovenly kind, and too much care does not seem to have been bestowed on the arrangements and economy of the estate. Elsewhere, may be seen stony fields, plots of the greenest pasture, with grey rocks standing up in the midst, and barberry bushes sprinkled all about: trim orchards, and fences on which a great deal of spare time must have been bestowed. Instead of the ugly, hasty snake-fence, there is a neatly built wall, composed of the stones which had strewed the fields: sometimes the neatest fence of all; a wall of stones and sods, regularly laid, with a single rail[Pg 296] along the top: sometimes a singular fence, which would be perfect, but for the expense of labour required; roots of trees, washed from the soil, and turned side upwards, presenting a complete chevaux-de-frise, needing no mending, and lasting the "for ever" of this world. About these farm-houses, a profusion of mignonette may be seen; and in the season, the rich major convolvulus, or scarlet runners, climbing up to the higher windows. The dove-cotes are well looked to. There has evidently been time and thought for everything. This is all very pretty to look at,—even bewitching to those who do not see beneath the surface, nor know that hearts may be aching within doors about perilous mortgages, and the fate of single daughters; but, it being known that such worldly anxieties do exist, it is not difficult to perceive that these are the places in which they abide.

There is, of course, a knowledge of the difficulty on the spot; but not always a clear view of coming events, which include a remedy. The commonest way of venting any painful sensibility on the subject, is declamation against luxury; or rather, against the desire for it in those who are supposed unable to afford it. This will do no good. If the Pilgrim Fathers themselves had had luxury before their eyes, they would have desired to have it; and they would have been right. Luxury is, in itself, a great good. Luxury is delicious fare,—of any and every kind: and He who bestowed it meant all men to have it. The evil of luxury is in its restriction; in its being made a cause of separation between men, and a means of encroachment by some on the rights of others. Frugality is a virtue only when it is required by justice and charity. Luxury is vicious only when it is obtained by injustice, and carried on into intemperance. It is a bad thing that a Massachusetts farmer should mortgage his[Pg 297] farm, in order that his wife and daughters may dress like the ladies of Boston; but the evil is not in the dress; it is rather in his clinging to a mode of life which does not enable him to pay his debts. The women desire dress, not only because it is becoming, but because they revolt from sinking, even outwardly, into a lower station of life than they once held: and this is more than harmless; it is honourable. What they have to do is to make up their minds to be consistent. They must either go down with their farm, for love of it, and the ways which belong to it: or they must make a better living in some other manner. They cannot have the old farm and its ways, and luxury too. Nobody has a right to decide for them which they ought to choose; and declaiming against luxury will therefore do no good. It is, however, pretty clear which they will choose, while luxury and manufactures are growing before their eyes; and, in that case, declaiming against luxury can do little but harm: it will only destroy sympathy between the declaimers and those who may find the cap fit.

One benevolent lady strongly desires and advises that manufactures should be put down; and the increased population all sent away somewhere, that New England may be as primitive and sparsely peopled as in days when it was, as she supposes, more virtuous than now. Whenever she can make out what virtue is, so as to prove that New England was ever more virtuous than now, her plans may find hearers; but not till then. I mention these things merely to show how confirmed is the tendency of New England to manufactures, in preference to agriculture.

There is one certain test of the permanent fitness of any district of country for agricultural purposes; the settlement of any large number of Germans in it. The Germans give any price for good land, and[Pg 298] use it all. They are much smiled at by the vivacious and enterprising Americans for their plodding, their attachment to their own methods, and the odd direction taken by their pride.[12] The part of Pennsylvania where they abound is called the Bœotia of America. There is a story current against them that they were seen to parade with a banner, on which was inscribed "No schools," when the State legislature was about establishing a school system. On the other hand, it is certain that they have good German newspapers prepared among themselves: that their politics do them high honour, considering the very short political education they have had: and that they know more of political economy than their native neighbours. They show by their votes that they understand the tariff and bank questions; and they are staunch supporters of democratic principles.

Nothing can be more thriving than the settlements of Germans, when they have once been brought into order. Their fields are well fenced; their implements of the most substantial make; and their barns a real curiosity. While the family of the farmer is living in a poor log-house, or a shabby, unpainted frame-house, the barn has all the pains of its owner lavished upon it. I saw several, freshly painted with red, with eleven glass windows, with venetian blinds, at each end, and[Pg 299] twelve in front. They keep up the profitable customs of their country. The German women are the only women seen in the fields and gardens in America, except a very few Dutch, and the slaves in the south. The stores of pumpkins, apples, and onions in the stoup (piazza) are edifying to behold. Under them sits the old dame of the house, spinning at her large wheel; and her grand-children, all in grey homespun, look as busy as herself.

The German settlers always contrive to have a market, either by placing themselves near one, or bestirring themselves to make one. They have no idea of sitting down in a wilderness, and growing wild in it. A great many of them are market-gardeners near the towns.[13]

It is scarcely possible to foresee, with distinctness, the destination of the southern States, east of the Alleghanies, when the curse of slavery shall be removed. Up to that period, continual deterioration is unavoidable. Efforts are being made to compensate for the decline of agriculture by pushing the interests of commerce. This is well; for the "opening" of every new rail-road, of every new pier, is another blow given to slavery. The agriculture of Virginia continues to decline; and her revenue is chiefly derived from the rearing of slaves as stock for the southern market. In the north and west parts of this State, where there is more farming than planting, it has long been found that slavery is[Pg 300] ruinous; and when I passed through, in the summer of 1835, I saw scarcely any but whites, for some hundreds of miles along the road, except where a slave trader was carrying down to the south the remains that he had bought up. Unless some new resource is introduced, Virginia will be almost impoverished when the traffic in slaves comes to an end; which, I have a strong persuasion, will be the case before very long. The Virginians themselves are, it seems, aware of their case. I saw a factory at Richmond, worked by black labour, which was found, to the surprise of those who tried the experiment, to be of very good quality.

The shores of the south, low and shoaly, are unfavourable to foreign commerce. The want of a sufficiency of good harbours will probably impel the inhabitants of the southern States to renew their agricultural pursuits, and merely confine themselves to internal commerce. The depression of agriculture is only temporary, I believe. It began from slavery, and is aggravated by the opening of the rich virgin soils of the south-west. But the time will come when improved methods of tillage, with the advantage of free labour, will renew the prosperity of Virginia, and North and South Carolina.

No mismanagement short of employing slaves will account for the deterioration of the agricultural wealth of these States. When the traveller observes the quality of some of the land now under cultivation, he wonders how other estates could have been rendered so unprofitable as they are. The rich Congaree bottoms, in South Carolina, look inexhaustible; but some estates, once as fine, now lie barren and deserted. I went over a plantation, near Columbia, South Carolina, where there were four thousand acres within one fence, each acre worth fifteen hundred dollars. This land has been cropped yearly with cotton since 1794, and is now[Pg 301] becoming less productive; but it is still very fine. The cotton seed is occasionally returned to the soil; and this is the only means of renovation used. Four hundred negroes work this estate. We saw the field trenched, ready for sowing. The sowing is done by hand, thick, and afterwards thinned. I saw the cotton elsewhere, growing like twigs. I saw also some in pod. There are three or four pickings of pods in a season; of which the first gathering is the best. Each estate has its cotton press. In the gin, the seed is separated from the cotton; and the latter is pressed and packed for sale.

There seems nothing to prevent the continuance or renovation of the growth of this product, under more favourable circumstances. Whether the rice swamps will have to be given up, or whether they may be tilled by free black labour, remains to be seen. The Chinese grow rice; and so do the Italians, without the advantage of free black labour. If, in the worst case, the rice swamps should have to be relinquished, the loss would be more than compensated by the improvement which would take place in the farming districts; land too high for planting. The western, mountainous parts of these States would thus become the most valuable.

It was amusing to hear the praises of corn (Indian corn) in the midst of the richest cotton, rice, and tobacco districts. The Indian looks with silent wonder upon the settler, who becomes visibly a capitalist in nine months, on the same spot where the red man has remained equally poor, all his life. In February, both are alike bare of all but land, and a few utensils. By the end of the next November, the white settler has his harvest of corn; more valuable to him than gold and silver. It will procure him many things which they could not. A man who has corn, may have everything. He can sow his land with it; and, for the rest, everything[Pg 302] eats corn, from slave to chick. Yet, in the midst of so much praise of corn, I found that it cost a dollar a bushel; that every one was complaining of the expenses of living; that, so far from mutton being despised, as we have been told, it was much desired, but not to be had; and that milk was a great rarity. Two of us, in travelling, asked for a draught of milk. We had each a very small tumbler-full, and were charged a quarter-dollar. The cultivation of land is as exclusively for exportable products, as in the West Indies, in the worst days of their slavery; when food, and even bricks for building, were imported from England. The total absence of wise rural economy, under the present system, opens great hope of future improvement. The forsaken plantations are not so exhausted of their resources as it is supposed, from their producing little cotton, that they must be. The deserted fields may yet be seen, some day, again fruitful in cotton, with corn-fields, pasturage, and stock, (not human,) flourishing in appropriate spots.

Adversity is the best teacher of economy here, as elsewhere. In the first flush of prosperity, when a proprietor sits down on a rich virgin soil, and the price of cotton is rising, he buys bacon and corn for his negroes, and other provisions for his family, and devotes every rod of his land to cotton-growing. I knew of one in Alabama, who, like his neighbours, paid for his land and the maintenance of his slaves with the first crop, and had a large sum over, wherewith to buy more slaves and more land. He paid eight thousand dollars for his land, and all the expenses of the establishment, and had, at the end of the season, eleven thousand dollars in the bank. It was thought, by a wise friend of this gentleman's, that it was a great injury, instead of benefit to his fortune, that his labourers were not[Pg 303] free. To use this wise man's expression, "it takes two white men to make a black man work;" and he was confident that it was not necessary, on any pretence whatever, to have a single slave in Alabama. Where all the other elements of prosperity exist, as they do in that rich new State, any quality and amount of labour might be obtained, and the permanent prosperity of the country might be secured. If matters go on as they are, Alabama will in time follow the course of the south-eastern States, and find her production of cotton declining; and she will have to learn a wiser husbandry by vicissitude. But matters will not go on as they are to that point. Cotton-growing is advancing rapidly in other parts of the world where there is the advantage of cheap, free labour; and the southern States of America will find themselves unable to withstand the competition of rivals whom they now despise, but by the use of free labour, and of the improved management which will accompany it. There is already a great importation of mules for field work from the higher western States. Who knows but that in time there may be cattle-shows, (like those of the more prosperous rural districts of the north,) where there are now slave markets; or at least agricultural societies, whereby the inhabitants may be put in the way of obtaining tender "sheep's meat," while cotton may be grown more plentifully than even at present?

I saw at Charleston the first great overt act of improvement that I am aware of in South Carolina. One step has been taken upwards; and when I saw it, I could only wish that the slaves in the neighbourhood could see, as clearly as a stranger could, the good it portended to them. It is nothing more than that an enterprising gentleman has set up a rice-mill, and that he avails himself to the utmost of its capabilities; but this is made much of in that[Pg 304] land of small improvement; as it ought to be. The chaff is used to enrich the soil: and the proprietor has made lot after lot of bad land very profitable for sale with it, and is thus growing rapidly rich. The sweet flour, which lies between the husk and the grain, is used for fattening cattle. The broken rice is sold cheap; and the rest finds a good market. There are nine persons employed in the mill, some white and some black; and many more are busy in preparing the lots of land, and in building on them. Clusters of houses have risen up around the mill.

Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, present the extreme case of the fertility of the soil, the prosperity of proprietors, and the woes of slaves. I found the Virginians spoke with sorrow and contempt of the treatment of slaves in North and South Carolina: South Carolina and Georgia, of the treatment of slaves in the richer States to the west: and, in these last, I found the case too bad to admit of aggravation. It was in these last that the most heart-rending disclosures were made to me by the ladies, heads of families, of the state of society, and of their own intolerable sufferings in it. As I went further north again, I found an improvement. There was less wealth in the hands of individuals, a better economy, more intelligent slaves, and more discussion how to get rid of slavery. Tennessee is, in some sort, naturally divided on the question. The eastern part of the State is hilly, and fit for farming; for which slave labour does not answer. The western part is used for cotton-planting; and the planters will not yet hear of free labour. The magnificent State of Kentucky has no other drawback to its prosperity than slavery; and its inhabitants are so far convinced of this that they will, no doubt, soon free themselves from it. They cannot look across the river, and witness the [Pg 305]prosperity of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, without being aware that, with their own unequalled natural advantages, they could not be so backward as they are, from any other cause.

Kentucky is equally adapted for agriculture and commerce. She may have ports on the rivers, along her whole northern and western boundary; and she has already roads superior to almost any in the United States. She is rich in stone, and many other minerals; in mineral waters, and in a soil of unsurpassed fertility. The State is more thickly settled than is evident to the passing traveller; and the effect will appear when more markets, or roads to existing markets, are opened. In one small county which I visited, my host and his brother had farms of fifteen hundred acres each; and there were two hundred and fifty other farms in the county. Sometimes these farms are divided among the children. More commonly, all the sons but one go elsewhere to settle. In this case, the homestead is usually left to the youngest son, who is supposed likely to be the most attached to the surviving parent.

The estates of the two brothers, mentioned above, comprising three thousand acres, were bought of the Indians for a rifle. We passed a morning in surveying the one which is a grazing farm. There is a good red-brick house for the family: and the slave-quarter is large. Nothing can be more beautiful than the aspect of the estate, from the richness of its vegetation, and the droves of fine cattle that were to be seen everywhere. I never saw finer cattle. The owner had just refused sixty dollars apiece for fourteen of them. Fifteen acres of the forest are left for shade; and there, and under single oaks in the cleared pasture, were herds of horses and mules, and three donkeys; the only ones I saw in the United States.

[Pg 306]

We passed an unshaded meadow, where the grass had caught fire every day at eleven o'clock, the preceding summer. This demonstrates the necessity of shade.

We passed "a spontaneous rye-field." I asked what "spontaneous" meant here; and found that a fine crop of rye had been cut the year before; and that the nearly equally fine one now before us had grown up from the dropped seed.

We enjoyed the thought of the abundance of milk here, after the dearth we had suffered in the South. Forty cows are milked for the use of the family and the negroes, and are under the care of seven women. The proprietor declared to me that he believed his slaves would drive him mad. Planters, who grow but one product, suffer much less from the incapacity and perverse will of their negroes: the care of stock is quite another matter; and for any responsible service, slaves are totally unfit.

Instead of living being cheaper on country estates, from the necessaries of life being raised on them, it appears to be much more expensive. This is partly owing to the prevailing pride of having negroes to show. One family, of four persons, of my acquaintance, in South Carolina, whose style of living might be called homely, cannot manage to live for less than three thousand dollars a year. They have a carriage and eleven negroes. It is cheaper in Kentucky. In the towns, a family may live in good style for two thousand five hundred dollars a year; and for no great deal more in the country. A family entered upon a good house, near a town, with one hundred and twenty acres of land, a few years ago, at a rent of three hundred dollars. They bought house and land, and brought their slaves, and now live, exclusive of rent and hire of servants, for two thousand dollars a year, in[Pg 307] greater numbers and much higher style than the South Carolina family.

The prospects of agriculture in the States north-west of the Ohio are brilliant. The stranger who looks upon the fertile prairies of Illinois and Indiana, and the rich alluvions of Ohio, feels the iniquity of the English corn laws as strongly as in the alleys of Sheffield and Manchester. The inhuman perverseness of taxing food is there evident in all its enormity. The world ought never to hear of a want of food,—no one of the inhabitants of its civilised portions ought ever to be without the means of obtaining his fill, while the mighty western valley smiles in its fertility. If the aristocracy of England, for whom those laws were made, and by whom they are sustained, could be transported to travel, in open wagons, the boundless prairies, and the shores of the great rivers which would bring down the produce, they would groan to see from what their petty, selfish interests had shut out the thousands of half-starved labourers at home. If they could not be convinced of the very plain truth, of how their own fortunes would be benefited by allowing the supply and demand of food to take their natural course, they would, for the moment, wish their rent-rolls at the bottom of the sea, rather than that they should stand between the crowd of labourers and the supply of food which God has offered them. The landlords of England do not go and see the great western valley; but, happily, some of the labourers of England do. Far off as that valley is, those labourers will make themselves heard from thence, by those who have driven them there; and will teach the brethren whom they have left behind where the blame of their hunger lies. Every British settler who ploughs a furrow in the prairie, helps to plough up the foundations of the British Corn Laws.

[Pg 308]

There is a prospect, not very uncertain or remote, of these prairie lands bringing relief to a yet more suffering class than either English labourers or landlords; the sugar-growing slaves of the south. Rumours of the progress of sugar-making from beet in France have, for some time past, been interesting many persons in the United States; especially capitalists inclined to speculate, and the vigilant friends of the slave. Information has been obtained, and some trials made. Individuals have sown ten acres and upwards each, and manufactured sugar with a small apparatus. The result has been encouraging; and a large manufactory was to be opened in Philadelphia on the 1st of November last. Two large joint-stock companies have been founded, one in New Jersey and the other in Illinois. Their proceedings have been quickened by the frosts of several successive seasons, which have so cut off the canes in the south, as that it cannot supply one quarter of the domestic consumption: whereas it had previously supplied half. Some of the southern newspapers have recommended the substitution of beet for canes. However soon this may be done, the northern sugar planters, with their free labour, will surely overpower the south in the competition. This is on the supposition that beet will answer as well as canes; a supposition which will have Bern granted whenever the south begins to grow beet in preference to canes.

A heavy blow would be inflicted on slavery by the success of the beet companies. The condition of the cane-growing slaves cannot be made worse than it is. I believe that even in the West Indies it has never been so dreadful as at present in some parts of Louisiana. A planter stated to a sugar-refiner in New York, that it was found the best economy to work off the stock of negroes once in seven years.

[Pg 309]

The interest excited by this subject of beet-growing is very strong throughout the United States. Some result must ensue which will be an instigation to further action. The most important would be the inducing in the south either the use of free labour in sugar-growing, or the surrender of an object so fatal to decent humanity.

The prettiest amateur farm I saw was that of the late Dr. Hosack, at Hyde Park, on the Hudson. Dr. Hosack had spared no pains to improve his stock, and his methods of farming, as well as the beauty of his pleasure-grounds. His merits in the former departments the agricultural societies in England are much better qualified to appreciate than I; and they seem to have valued his exertions; to judge by the medals and other honourable testimonials from them which he showed to me. As for his pleasure-grounds, little was left for the hand of art to do. The natural terrace above the river, green, sweeping, and undulating, is surpassingly beautiful. Dr. Hosack's good taste led him to leave it alone, and to spend his pains on the gardens and conservatory behind. Of all the beautiful country-seats on the Hudson, none can, I think, equal Hyde Park; though many bear a more imposing appearance from the river.

Though I twice traversed the western part of the State of New York, I did not see the celebrated farm of Mr. Wadsworth; the finest, by all accounts, in the United States. The next best thing to seeing it was hearing Mr. Wadsworth talk about it,—especially of its hospitable capabilities. This only increased my regret at being unable to visit it.

The most remarkable order of land-owners that I saw in the United States was that of the Shakers and the Rappites; both holding all their property in common, and both enforcing celibacy. The interest which would be felt by the whole of society[Pg 310] in watching the results of a community of property is utterly destroyed by the presence of the other distinction; or rather of the ignorance and superstition of which it is the sign.

The moral and economical principles of these societies ought to be most carefully distinguished by the observer. This being done, I believe it will be found that whatever they have peculiarly good among them is owing to the soundness of their economical principles; whatever they have that excites compassion, is owing to the badness of their moral arrangements.

I visited two Shaker communities in Massachusetts. The first was at Hancock, consisting of three hundred persons, in the neighbourhood of another at Lebanon, consisting of seven hundred persons. There are fifteen Shaker establishments or "families" in the United States, and their total number is between five and six thousand. There is no question of their entire success, as far as wealth is concerned. A very moderate amount of labour has secured to them in perfection all the comforts of life that they know how to enjoy, and as much wealth besides as would command the intellectual luxuries of which they do not dream. The earth does not show more flourishing fields, gardens, and orchards, than theirs. The houses are spacious, and in all respects unexceptionable. The finish of every external thing testifies to their wealth, both of material and leisure. The floor of their place of worship, (the scene of their peculiar exercises,) the roofs of their houses, their stair-carpets, the feet of their chairs, the springs of their gates, and their spitting-boxes,—for even these neat people have spitting-boxes—show a nicety which is rare in America. Their table fare is of the very best quality. We had depended on a luncheon among them, and were rather alarmed[Pg 311] at the refusal we met, when we pleaded our long ride and the many hours that we should have to wait for refreshment, if they would not furnish us with some. They urged, reasonably enough, that a steady rule was necessary, subject as the community was to visits from the company at Lebanon Springs. They did not want to make money by furnishing refreshments, and did not desire the trouble. For once, however, they kindly gave way; and we were provided with delicious bread, molasses, butter, cheese and wine; all homemade, of course. If happiness lay in bread and butter, and such things, these people have attained the summum bonum. Their store shows what they can produce for sale. A great variety of simples, of which they sell large quantities to London; linen-drapery, knitted wares, sieves, baskets, boxes, and confectionary; palm and feather fans, pin-cushions, and other such trifles; all these may be had in some variety, and of the best quality. If such external provision, with a great amount of accumulated wealth besides, is the result of co-operation and community of property among an ignorant, conceited, inert society like this, what might not the same principles of association achieve among a more intelligent set of people, stimulated by education, and exhilarated by the enjoyment of all the blessings which Providence has placed within the reach of man?

The wealth of the Shakers is not to be attributed to their celibacy. They are receiving a perpetual accession to their numbers from among the "world's people," and these accessions are usually of the most unprofitable kind. Widows with large families of young children, are perpetually joining the community, with the view of obtaining a plentiful subsistence with very moderate labour. The increase of their numbers does not[Pg 312] lead to the purchase of more land. They supply their enlarged wants by the high cultivation of the land they have long possessed; and the superfluity of capital is so great that it is difficult to conceive what will be done with it by a people so nearly dead to intellectual enjoyments. If there had been no celibacy among them, they would probably have been far more wealthy than they are; the expenses of living in community being so much less, and the produce of co-operative labour being so much greater than in a state of division into families. The truth of these last positions can be denied by none who have witnessed the working of a co-operative system. The problem is to find the principle by which all shall be induced to labour their share. Any such principle being found, the wealth of the community follows of course.

Whether any principle to this effect can be brought to bear upon any large class of society in the old world, is at present the most important dispute, perhaps, that is agitating society. It will never now rest till it has been made matter of experiment. If a very low principle has served the purpose, for a time at least, in the new world, there seems much ground for expectation that a far higher one may be found to work as well in the more complicated case of English society. There is, at least, every encouragement to try. While there are large classes of people here whose condition can hardly be made worse; while the present system (if such it may be called) imposes care on the rich, excessive anxiety on the middle classes, and desperation on the poor: while the powerful are thus, as it were, fated to oppress; the strivers after power to circumvent and counteract; and the powerless to injure, it seems only reasonable that some section, at least, of this warring population should make trial of the peaceful principles which[Pg 313] are working successfully elsewhere. The co-operative methods of the Shakers and Rappites might be tried without any adoption of their spiritual pride and cruel superstition. These are so far from telling against the system, that they prompt the observer to remark how much has been done in spite of such obstacles.

There must be something sound in the principles on which these people differ from the rest of the world, or they would not work at all; but the little that is vital is dreadfully encumbered with that which is dead. Like all religious persuasions from which one differs, that of the Shakers appears more reasonable in conversation, and in their daily actions, than on paper and at a distance. In actual life, the absurd and peculiar recedes before the true and universal; but, I own, I have never witnessed more visible absurdity than in the way of life of the Shakers. The sound part of their principle is the same as that which has sustained all devotees; and with it is joined a spirit of fellowship which makes them more in the right than the anchorites and friars of old. This is all. Their spiritual pride, their insane vanity, their intellectual torpor, their mental grossness, are melancholy to witness. Reading is discouraged among them. Their thoughts are full of the one subject of celibacy: with what effect, may be easily imagined. Their religious exercises are disgustingly full of it. It cannot be otherwise: for they have no other interesting subject of thought beyond their daily routine of business; no objects in life, no wants, no hopes, no novelty of experience whatever. Their life is all dull work and no play.

The women, in their frightful costume, close opaque caps, and drab gowns of the last degree of tightness and scantiness, are nothing short of disgusting. They are averse to the open air and [Pg 314]exercise; they are pallid and spiritless. They look far more forlorn and unnatural than the men. Their soulless stare at us, before their worship began, was almost as afflicting as that of the lowest order of slaves; and, when they danced, they were like so many galvanised corpses. I had been rather afraid of not being able to keep my countenance during this part of their worship; but there was no temptation to laugh. It was too shocking for ridicule. Three men stood up, shouting a monotonous tune, and dangling their crossed hands, with a pawing motion, to keep time, while the rest danced, except some old women and young children, who sat out. The men stamped, and the women jerked, with their arms hanging by their sides; they described perpetually the figure of a square; the men and boys on one side, the women and girls on the other. There were prayers besides, and singing, and a sermon. This last was of a better quality than usual, I understood. It was (of all improbable subjects) on religious liberty, and contained nothing outrageously uncommon, except the proposition that the American revolution had drawn the last of the teeth of the red dragon.

It is not to be supposed that the children who are carried in by their widowed, or indolent, or poor, or superstitious parents, are always acquiescent in their destination. I saw many a bright face within the prim cap-border, which bore a prophecy of a return to the world; and two of the boys stamped so vigorously in the dance, that it was impossible to imagine their feelings to be very devotional. The story of one often serves as an index to the hearts of many. I knew of a girl who was carried into a Shaker community by her widowed mother, and subjected early to its discipline. It was hateful to her. One Sunday, when she was, I believe, about sixteen, she feigned illness, to avoid[Pg 315] going to worship. When she believed every one else gone, she jumped out of a low window, and upon the back of a pony which happened to be in the field. She rode round and round the enclosure, without saddle or bridle, and then re-entered the house. She had been observed, and was duly reprimanded. She left the community in utter weariness and disgust. A friend of mine, in a neighbouring village, took the girl into her service. She never settled well in service, being too proud for the occupation; and she actually went back to the same community, and is there still, for no better reason than the saving of her pride. Her old teachers had, it thus appeared, obtained an influence over her, notwithstanding the tyranny of their discipline; and it had not been of a wholesome moral nature. But no more words are necessary to show how pride, and all other selfishness, must flourish in a community which religiously banishes all the tenderest charities of life.

The followers of Mr. Rapp are settled at Economy, on the Ohio, eighteen miles below Pittsburgh. Their number was five hundred when I was there; and they owned three thousand acres of land. Much of their attention seems to be given to manufactures. They rear silkworms, and were the earliest silk-weavers in the United States. At my first visit they were weaving only a flimsy kind of silk handkerchief; last summer I brought away a piece of substantial, handsome black satin. They have sheep-walks, and a large woollen manufactory. Their factory was burnt down in 1834; the fire occasioning a loss of sixty thousand dollars; a mere trifle to this wealthy community. Their vineyards, corn-fields, orchards, and gardens gladden the eye. There is an abundance so much beyond their need that it is surprising that they work; except for want of something else to do. The[Pg 316] Dutch love of flowers was visible in the plants that were to be seen in the windows, and the rich carnations and other sweets that bloomed in the garden and green-house. The whole place has a superior air to that of either of the Shaker "families" that I saw. The women were better dressed; more lively, less pallid; but, I fear, not much wiser. Mr. Rapp exercises an unbounded influence over his people. They are prevented learning any language but German, and are not allowed to converse with strangers. The superintendent keeps a close watch over them in this respect. Probationers must serve a year before they can be admitted: and the managers own that they dread the entrance of young people, who might be "unsettled;" that is, not sufficiently subservient.

I was curious to learn how five hundred persons could be kept in the necessary subjection by one. Mr. Rapp's means are such that his task is not very difficult. He keeps his people ignorant; and he makes them vain. He preaches to them their own superiority over the rest of the world so incessantly that they fully believe it; and are persuaded that their salvation is in his hands. At first I felt, with regard both to them and the Shakers, a strong respect for the self-conquest which could enable them to endure the singularity,—the one community, of its non-intercourse with strangers; the other, of its dancing exhibitions; but I soon found that my respect was misplaced. One and all, they glory in the singularity. They feel no awkwardness in it, from first to last. This vanity is the handle by which they are worked.

Mr. Rapp is now very old. His son is dead. It remains to be seen what will become of his community, with its immense accumulation of wealth, when it has lost its dictator. It does not appear that they can go on in their present state without a[Pg 317] dictator. They smile superciliously upon Mr. Owen's plan, as admitting "a wrong principle,"—marriage. The best hope for them is that they will change their minds on this point, admitting the educational improvements which will arise out of the change, and remaining in community with regard to property. This is the process now in action among the seceders from their body, settled on the opposite bank of the river, a short distance below Economy.

These seceders were beguiled by Count Leon, a stranger, who told the people a great deal that was true about Mr. Rapp, and a great deal that was false about himself. It is a great pity that Count Leon was a swindler; for he certainly opened the eyes of the Economy people to many truths, and might have done all that was wanted, if he had himself been honest. He drew away seventy of the people, and instigated them to demand of Mr. Rapp their share of the accumulated property. It was refused: and a suit was instituted against Mr. Rapp, in whose name the whole is invested. The lawyers compromised the affair, and Mr. Rapp disbursed 120,000 dollars. Count Leon obtained, and absconded with almost the whole, and died in Texas; the burial-place of many more such men. With the remnant of their funds, the seventy seceders purchased land, and settled themselves opposite to Beaver, on the Ohio. They live in community, but abjuring celibacy; and have been joined by some thorough-bred Americans. It will be seen how they prosper.

Though the members of these remarkable communities are far from being the only agriculturists in whom the functions of proprietor and labourer are joined, the junction is in them so peculiar as to make them a separate class, holding a place between the landowners of whom I have before spoken, and the labourers of whom I shall have to treat.

[Pg 318]


The political economists of England have long wondered why the Americans have not done what older nations would be glad to do, if the opportunity had not gone by;—reserved government lands, which, as it is the tendency of rent to rise, might obviate any future increase of taxation. There are more good reasons than one why this cannot be done in America.

The expenses of the general government are so small that the present difficulty is to reduce the taxation so as to leave no more than a safe surplus revenue in the treasury; and there is no prospect of any increase of taxation; as the taxpayers are likely to grow much faster than the expenses of the government.

The people of the United States choose to be proprietors of land, not tenants. No one can yet foresee the time when the relation of landlord and tenant (except in regard to house property) will be extensively established in America. More than a billion of acres remain to be disposed of first.

The weightiest reason of all is that, in the United States, the people of to-day are the government of to-day; the people of fifty years hence will be the government of fifty years hence; and it would not suit the people of to-day to sequestrate their property for the benefit of their successors, any better than it would suit the people of fifty years hence to be legislated for by those of to-day. A democratic government must always be left free to be operated[Pg 319] upon by the will of the majority of the time being. All that the government of the day can do is to ascertain what now appears to be the best principle by which to regulate the disposal of land, and then to let the demand and supply take their natural course.

The methods according to which the disposal of land is carried on are as good as the methods of government almost invariably are in America. The deficiency is in the knowledge of the relation which land bears to other capital and to labour.[14] A few clear-headed men have foreseen the evil of so great a dispersion of the people as has taken place, and have consistently advocated a higher price being set upon land than that at which it is at present sold. Such men are now convinced that evils which seem to bear no more relation to the price of land than the fall of an apple to the motions of the planets, are attributable to the reduction in the price of government lots: that much political blundering, and religious animosity; much of the illegal violence, and much of the popular apathy on the slave question, which have disgraced the country, are owing to the public lands being sold at a minimum price of a dollar and a-quarter per acre. Many excellent leaders of the democratic party think the people at large less fit to govern themselves wisely than they were five-and-twenty years ago. This seems to me improbable; but I believe there is no doubt that the dispersion has hitherto been too great; and that the intellectual and moral, and, of course, the political condition of the people has thereby suffered.

The price of the public lands was formerly two dollars per acre, with credit. It was found to be a[Pg 320] bad plan for the constituents of a government to be its debtors; and there was a reduction of the price to a dollar and a quarter, without credit. In forty years, above forty millions of acres have been sold. The government cannot arbitrarily raise the price. If any check is given to the process of dispersion, it must arise from the people perceiving the true state of their own case, and acting accordingly.

Some circumstances seem at present to favour the process of enlightenment; others are adverse to it. Those which are favourable are, the high prosperity of manufactures and commerce, the essential requisite of which is the concentration of labourers: the increasing immigration of labourers from Europe, and the happy experience which they force upon the back settler of the advantage of an increased proportion of labour to land; and the approaching crisis of the slavery question; when every one will see the necessity of measures which will keep the slaves where they are. Of the extraordinary, and I must think, often wilful error of taking for granted that all the slaves must be removed, in order to the abolition of slavery, I shall have to speak elsewhere.

The circumstances unfavourable to an understanding of the true state of the case about the disposal of land are, the deep-rooted persuasion that land itself is the most valuable wealth, in all places, and under all circumstances: and the complication of interests connected with the late acquisition of Louisiana and Florida, and the present usurpation of Texas.

Louisiana was obtained from the French, not on account of the fertile new land which it comprehended, but because it was essential to the very existence of the United States that the mouth of the Mississippi should not be in the possession of another people. The Americans obtained the[Pg 321] mouth of the Mississippi; and with it, unfortunately, large tracts of the richest virgin soil, on which slavery started into new life, and on which "the perspiration of the eastern States" (as I have heard the settlers of the west called) rested, and grew barbarous while they grew rich. A fact has lately transpired in the northern States which was already well known in the south,—that the purchase of Florida was effected for the sake of the slave-holders. It is now known that the President was overwhelmed with letters from slave-owners, complaining that Florida was the refuge of their runaways; and demanding that this retreat should be put within their power. Florida was purchased. Many and great evils have already arisen out of its acquisition. To cover these, and blind the people to the particular and iniquitous interests engaged in the affair, the sordid faction benefited raises a perpetual boast in the ears of the people about their gain of new territory, and the glory and profit of having added so many square miles to their already vast possessions.

In the eyes of those of the people who do not yet see the whole case, the only evil which has arisen out of the possession of Florida, is the Seminole warfare. They breathe an intense hatred against the Seminole Indians; and many fine young men have gone down into Florida, and lost their lives in battle, without being aware that they were fighting for oppressors against the oppressed. Probably few of the United States troops who fell in the late Seminole war knew how the strife arose. According to the laws of the slave States, the children of the slaves follow the fortunes of the mother. It will be seen, at a glance, what consequences follow from this; how it operates as a premium upon licentiousness among white men; how it prevents any but mock [Pg 322]marriages among slaves; and also what effect it must have upon any Indians with whom slave women have taken refuge. The late Seminole war arose out of this law. The escaped slaves had intermarried with the Indians. The masters claimed the children. The Seminole fathers would not deliver them up. Force was used to tear the children from their parents' arms, and the Indians began their desperate, but very natural work of extermination. They have carried on the war with eminent success, St. Augustine, the capital, being now the only place in Florida where the whites can set their foot. Of course, the poor Indians will ultimately succumb, however long they may maintain the struggle: but, before that, the American people may possibly have learned enough of the facts of the case to silence those who boast of the acquisition of Florida, as an increase of the national glory.

It would be a happy thing for them if they should know all soon enough to direct their national reprobation upon the Texan adventurers, and wash their hands of the iniquity of that business. This would soon be done, if they could look upon the whole affair from a distance, and see how the fair fame of their country is compromised by the avarice and craft of a faction. The probity of their people, their magnanimity in money matters, have always been conspicuous, from the time of the cession of their lands by the States to the General Government, till now: and, now they seem in danger of forfeiting their high character through the art of the few, and the ignorance of the many. The few are obtaining their end by flattering the passion of the many for new territory, as well as by engaging their best feelings on behalf of those who are supposed to be fighting for their rights against oppressors. There is yet hope. The knowledge of the real state of the case is spreading; and, if only time can[Pg 323] be gained, the Americans will yet be saved from the eternal disgrace of adding Texas to their honourable Union.

The brief account which I shall give of what is prematurely called the acquisition of Texas, is grounded partly on historical facts, open to the knowledge of all; and partly on what I had the opportunity of learning at New Orleans, from some leaders and agents in the Texan cause, who did what they could to enlist my judgment and sympathies on behalf of their party. I went in entire ignorance of the whole matter. My first knowledge of it was derived from the persons above-mentioned, whose objects were to obtain the good-will of such English as they could win over; to have their affairs well spoken of in London; and to get the tide of respectable English emigration turned in their direction. With me they did not succeed: with some others they did. Several English are already buried in Texas; and there are others whose repentance that they ever were beguiled into aiding such a cause will be far worse than death. The more I heard of the case from the lips of its advocates, the worse I thought of it: and my reprobation of the whole scheme has grown with every fact which has come out since.

Texas, late a province of Mexico, and then one of its confederated States, lies adjacent to Louisiana. The old Spanish government seem to have had some foresight as to what might happen, to judge by the jealousy with which they guarded this part of their country from intrusion by the Americans. The Spanish Captain-general of the internal provinces, Don Nemisio Salcedo, used to say that he would, if he could, stop the birds from flying over the boundary between Texas and the United States. Prior to 1820, however, a few adventurers, chiefly Indian traders, had dropped over the boundary line[Pg 324] and remained unmolested in the eastern corner of Texas. In 1820, Moses Austin, of Missouri, was privileged by the Spanish authorities to introduce three hundred orderly, industrious families, professing the Catholic religion, as settlers into Texas. Moses Austin died; and his son Stephen prosecuted the scheme. Before possession of the land was obtained, the Mexican Revolution occurred; but the new government confirmed the privilege granted by the old one, with some modifications. The chief of the settlers and his followers were liberally enriched with lands, gratis; on the conditions of their occupying them; of their professing the Catholic religion; and of their being obedient to the laws of the country.

Other persons were tempted by Austin's success to apply for grants. Many obtained them, and disposed of their grants to joint stock companies; so that Texas became the scene of much land-speculation. The companies began to be busy about "stock" and "scrip," which they proffered as preparatory titles to land; and a crowd of ignorant and credulous persons, and of gamblers, thus became greedy after lands which no more belonged to any Americans than Ireland.

Leave was given to the actual settlers by the Mexican Government to introduce, for ten years, duty free, all articles, not contraband, that were necessary for their use and comfort. Under this permission, much smuggling went on: and many adventurers settled in Texas for the very purpose of supplying the neighbouring Indian tribes with contraband articles. Arms and ammunition were plentifully furnished to the savages; and slaves to the settlers; though slavery had been abolished in the country, by whose laws the settlers had engaged to live.

The next step was, an offer on the part of the[Pg 325] United States Government to purchase Texas, in order to incorporate it with the Union. The offer was instantly and indignantly rejected by the Mexicans. It may seem surprising that even with the passion for territory that the people of the United States have, they should desire to purchase Texas, while above a billion of acres of land at home were still unoccupied. Slavery is found to be the solution of this, as of almost every other absurdity and unpleasant mystery there. Slavery answers only on a virgin soil, and under certain conditions of the supply of labour. It is destined to die out of the States which it has impoverished, and which come most closely into contrast with those which are flourishing under free labour. It is evidently destined soon to be relinquished by Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware; and not very long afterwards, by the Carolinas, and perhaps Tennessee. The proprietors of slaves have a double purpose in acquiring new territory: to obtain a fresh field for the labour of the slaves they possess; and, (what is at least as important,) to keep up the equality of the representation of the slave and free States in Congress. We have before seen that there is a provision against the introduction of slavery into the lands north-west of the Ohio. When to the representation of the new States of this region, shall be joined that of the old States which relinquish slavery, the remaining slave States will be in a hopeless minority in Congress, unless a representation from new slave regions can be provided. Texas is to be obtained first; and, if desirable, to be divided into several States; and afterwards, the aggressions on the Mexican territory will doubtless be repeated, as often as a new area for slave labour is wanted; and an accession of representation, for the support of slavery, is needed in Congress. Thus it happens that a host of [Pg 326]land-speculators, adventurers and slave-owners have, for a long series of years, been interested in the acquisition of Texas.

On the refusal of the Mexican Government to sell Texas, the newspapers of the slave-holding portion of the United States began to indicate methods of obtaining the territory, and to advocate the use of any means for so desirable an object. The agent of the United States at the Mexican capital is believed to have been instigated by his government to intrigue for the purpose which could not be obtained by negotiation. The settlers in Texas made it known along the Mississippi that they might soon be strong enough to establish slavery openly, in defiance of Mexico. This brought in an accession of slave-holding settlers, who evaded the Mexican laws, by calling their slaves "apprentices for ninety-nine years." The Mexicans took alarm; decreed in the State Legislature of Texas that no apprenticeship should, on any pretence, be for a longer term than ten years; forbade further immigration from the United States; and sent a small body of troops to enforce the prohibition. This was in 1829 and 1830.

In 1832, the Mexican troops were unfortunately wanted near the capital, and called in from the frontiers and colonies. The settlers shut up the custom-houses in their part of the country, and defied the laws as much as they pleased. Then a great number of restless, bad spirits began to pour into Texas from the whole of the United States; men who had to fly from their creditors, or from the pursuit of justice. There was probably never seen a more ferocious company of ruffians than Texas contains at this moment. These men, who had nothing to lose, now set to work to wrench the territory from the hands of the Mexicans. They actually proceeded, in 1833, to organize a State[Pg 327] Government; opposed earnestly but feebly by the honest, original settlers, who were satisfied with the contract under which they had settled, and had everything to lose by the breach of it. A Convention was called, to prepare a State Constitution, which Stephen Austin had the audacity to carry to the Mexican capital, to pray for its ratification by the Mexican Congress. After some time, he was committed to prison on a charge of treasonable conspiracy. He was still in prison when I was at New Orleans, in May, 1835; and no one of the persons who conversed with me on Texan affairs alluded to the fact. They spoke of him as if living and acting among the settlers. He wrote to the colonists from his prison, advising strict obedience to the Mexican laws; and, finally, gave his promise to the government to promote order in the colonies; and was dismissed, by the clemency of the administration, without further punishment than an imprisonment of nearly two years.

The wilder adventurers among the settlers had chafed at his advice, but found it necessary to be quiet for a time. The Mexican government put too much trust in them on this account, and restored, during Austin's imprisonment, the freedom of immigration, on the old conditions. The liberty was again shamelessly abused. Slaves were imported from Africa, via Cuba, and illegal land speculations were carried on with more vigour than ever. Troops were again sent from the capital to re-open the custom-houses, and enforce their regulations. But it was now too late.

It had long been a settled agreement between the Texan adventurers and many slave-holders of the south, that if slavery could no otherwise be perpetuated in Texas, it should be done by the seizure of that province; all possible aid being given by the residents in the United States, who[Pg 328] were a party to the agreement. This was avowed by the adventurers in Texas; and the avowal has been justified by the subscriptions of money, arms, and stores, which have been sent through New Orleans; the companies of volunteers that have given their strength to the bad cause; and the efforts of members of Congress from the south to hurry on the recognition of the independence of Texas by the United States Government. It was with shame and grief that I heard, while I was in New York, last spring, of the public meeting there, which had been got up by men who should have put the influence of their names to a better use,—a public meeting in behalf of the Texan adventurers, where high-sounding common-places had been played off about patriotism, fighting for the dearest rights of man, and so forth. The purpose was, I believe, answered for the time. The price of stock rose; and subscriptions were obtained. The Texan cause was then in the lowest state of depression. It soon revived, in consequence of an unfortunate defeat of the Mexicans, and the capture of the President of their republic, Santa Anna. This, again, was made to serve as the occasion of a public dinner at New York, when some eminent members of Congress were passing through, to the Springs, in the summer. The time will come when those gentlemen will look back upon their speeches at that dinner as among the deeds which, dying, they would most wish to blot. By this time, however, the true character of the struggle was beginning to be extensively recognised: and, day by day, the people of the United States have been since awakening to the knowledge of how they have been cheated in having their best sympathies called forth in behalf of the worst of causes. The great fear is, lest this should prove to be too late; lest, the United States having furnished the means[Pg 329] by which the usurpation of Texas has been achieved, the people of the Union should be persuaded that they must follow their common, and otherwise fair rule, of acknowledging the independence of all States that are de facto independent, without having anything to do with the question de jure.

What has been the national conduct of the United States on this great question? The government has been very nearly impartial. It must be allowed that factions and individuals were already doing so much that, if the government wished all possible success to the Texans, it could hardly do better than be quiet while they were receiving the aid of its constituents. While the theft of Texas has been achieved, (if it be achieved,) by United States men, money and arms, the general government has been officially regarding it as ostensibly and actually a foreign affair. However much may be true of the general belief in the interest of its members in the success of the Texan aggression, the government has preserved a cool and guarded tone throughout; and the only act that I know of for which it can be blamed is for not removing General Gaines from his command on the frontier, on his manifestation of partisanship on the Texan side. General Gaines was ordered to protect the settlers on the south-western frontier, who might be in danger from the Mexicans, and from the fierce Indians who were engaged on the Mexican side of the quarrel. General Gaines wrote to head quarters of his intentions of crossing, to attack the Mexicans, not only the inner bounds of the United States territory, but the disputed boundary, claimed by the United States, and disallowed by Mexico. Immediate orders were despatched to him to do no such thing; to confine himself, except in a strong emergency, to the inner boundary; and on no account whatever to cross the disputed line. This[Pg 330] was not enough. An officer who had shown himself so indisposed to the neutrality professed by his government, should have been sent where he could indulge his partialities with less hazard to the national honour.

Some senators from the south pressed, last session, with indecent haste, for the recognition of the independence of Texas. The speech of Ex-President Adams remains as an eternal rebuke to such.[15] This speech was the most remarkable individual act of the session; and no session has been distinguished by one more honourable. There was no attempt at a reply to it, in or out of either House. Mr. Adams left no resource to the advocates of the Texan cause but abuse of himself: the philosophy of which he, no doubt, understood as well as other people. Various public men, in various public assemblies, have declared their desire for the success of the Texans; and have joined with this the avowal that the value of slaves will rise fifty per cent, as soon as the independence of Texas is acknowledged.

The war is not yet over. The vicissitudes have been so great,—each party has appeared at times in so hopeless a condition, that the friends of American honour, and the foes of slavery, do not yet despair of the ultimate expulsion of the aggressors, and the restoration of Texas to Mexico. If these hopes must be surrendered,—if slavery is to be re-established on a constitutional basis, in a vast territory where it had been actually abolished,—if a new impulse is thus to be given to the traffic in native Africans,[16]—if the fair fame of the [Pg 331]Anglo-Americans is to be thus early, and thus deeply stained, good men must rouse themselves the more to enlighten the ignorance through which the misfortune has happened. They must labour to exhibit the truth, keeping unshaken their faith in the theory of their constitution that "the majority will be in the right."

It is much to be feared that, even if Texas were acknowledged to-morrow to be a Mexican State, an injury would be found to have been done to the American people, which it will take a long time and much experience to repair. No pains have been spared to confirm the delusion, that the possession of more and more land is the only thing to be desired, alike by the selfish and the patriotic; by those who would hastily build up their own fortunes, and by those who desire the aggrandisement of their country. No one mourned with me more earnestly over this popular delusion than a member of Congress, who has since been one of the most vehement advocates of the Texan cause, and has thereby done his best to foster the delusion. He told me that the metaphysics of society in the south[Pg 332] afford a curious study to the observer; and that they are humbling to a resident. He told me that, so far from the honour and happiness of any region being supposed to lie in the pursuit of the higher objects of life, any man would be pronounced "imbecile" who, having enough for his moderate wants, should prefer the enjoyment of his patrimony, his family relations, and intercourse with the society in which he was brought up, to wandering away in pursuit of more land. He complained that he was heart-sick when he heard of American books: that there was no character of permanence in anything;—all was fluctuation, except the passion for land, which, under the name of enterprise, or patriotism; or something else that was creditable, would last till his countrymen had pushed their out-posts to the Pacific. He insisted that the only consolation arose from what was to be hoped when pioneering must, perforce, come to a stop. He told me of one and another of his intelligent and pleasant young neighbours, who were quitting their homes and civilised life, and carrying their brides "as bondwomen" into the wilderness, because fine land was cheap there. If all this be true of the young gentry of the south, as I believe it is, what hope is there that the delusion will not long remain among those who have no other guides than Experience;—that slowest of all teachers?

The people of the United States have, however, kept their eyes open to one great danger, arising from this love of land. They have always had in view the disadvantage of rich men purchasing tracts larger than they could cultivate. They saw that it was contrary to the public interest that individuals should be allowed to interpose a desert between other settlers whose welfare depends much on their having means of free communication, and a peopled neighbourhood; and that it is inconsistent with [Pg 333]republican modes that overgrown fortunes should arise by means of an early grasping of large quantities of a cheap kind of property, which must inevitably become of the highest value in course of time. The reduction in the price of land would probably have been greater, but for the temptation which the cheapening would hold out to capitalists. Another reason assigned for not still further lowering the price is, the danger of depreciating a kind of property held by the largest proportion of the people. This is obviously unsound; since the property held by this large proportion of the people is improved land, whose relation in value to other kinds of property is determined by quite other circumstances than the amount of the original purchase-money. The number of people who sell again unimproved land is so small as not to be worthy to enter into the account.

Large grants of land have been made to schools and colleges. Upwards of eight millions of acres have, I believe, been thus disposed of. There seems no objection to this, at the time it was done; as there can be no doubt that grants will be cultivated that have such an interest hanging on their cultivation. These grants were made while there was a national debt. Now, there is a surplus revenue; and appropriations of this kind had better be made henceforth from the money which has arisen from the sale of land than in a way which would force more land into the market. It is to be hoped, too, that no more recompenses for public service will be offered in land, like the large grants which were made to soldiers after the revolutionary war. The soldiers have disposed of their lands much under the governmental price, in order to obtain a sale; and the hurtful dispersion of settlers, and the sale of tracts too large to be well-cultivated, have been thereby assisted.

[Pg 334]

The great question incessantly repeated throughout the United States is, what is to be done with the immense amount of land remaining unsold; and with the perpetually increasing revenue arising from the sale, as it proceeds? Various propositions are afloat,—none of which appear to me so wise as some which remain to be offered. One proposition is to divide the lands again among the States, apportioning the amount according to the representation in Congress, or to the population as given by the last census. Besides the difficulty of making the apportionment fairly, this plan would afford fatal inducements to a greater dispersion of people than has yet taken place. It is also argued that no constitutional power exists by which the cession of 1787 can be reversed.

Another proposition is, to let the sale of lands go on as it does now, and divide the proceeds among the several States, for purposes of Education, Colonisation of the coloured race, and Internal Improvements. Under such a plan, there would be endless disputes about the amounts to be paid over to the different States. The general government would have a new and dangerous function assigned to it. Besides, as much of the surplus revenue is derived from duties, it seems a shorter and more natural method to leave off levying money that is not wanted, than to levy it, use it, and make a distribution of other funds among the States. This subject will, however, come under consideration hereafter.

Others propose that nothing should be done: that the lands should go on being sold according to the present demand, and the proceeds to accumulate, till some accident happens,—a war, or other expensive adventure,—to help to dissipate them. The first part of the proposition will probably stand good: for it seems a difficult thing to raise[Pg 335] the price of land again:—an impossible thing, till the people shall show that they understand the case by demanding an increase of price: but the second part of the proposition cannot be acceded to. It is inconsistent with the first principles of democracy that large sums of money should accumulate in the hands of the general government. The accumulation must be disposed of, and the sources of revenue restrained.

There are modes of advantageously disposing of the surplus revenue which are obvious to those whose economical experience is precisely the reverse of that of the people of the United States. They are not likely to be at present assented to,—perhaps even to be tolerated by the inhabitants of the new world. Such as they are, they will be presented in the next section.

The lowest price given of late for land, that I heard of, was a quarter-dollar per acre; (for these are not times when three thousand acres are to be had for a rifle; and a whole promontory for a suit of clothes.) Some good land may be still had, at a distance from roads and markets, from those who want to turn their surplus land into money, for a quarter-dollar per acre. Some that I saw in New Hampshire under these circumstances has advanced in five years to a dollar and a half per acre: and some of about equal quality, about fifteen miles nearer to a market, sold at the same time for ten dollars per acre. I saw some low land, on the banks of the river, near Pittsburg, which would not sell at any price a few years ago, when salt was brought over the mountains on pack-horses, and sold at a dollar a quart. Now salt is obtained in any quantity by digging near this land; and the meadow is parted into lots of ten acres each, which sell at the rate of one thousand dollars per acre. This is, no doubt, in prospect of the salt-works[Pg 336] which are destined to flourish here. The highest price I heard of being given (unless in a similar case in New York) was for street lots in Mobile; one hundred and ten dollars per foot frontage.

For agricultural purposes, the price of land varies, according to its fertility, and, much more, to its vicinity to a market, in a manner which cannot easily be specified. I think the highest price I heard of was fifteen hundred dollars per acre. This was in the south. In the north and west, I heard of prices varying from thirty to one hundred dollars, even in somewhat retired situations. One thing seems to be granted on all hands: that a settler cannot fail of success, if he takes good land, in a healthy situation, at the government price. If he bestows moderate pains on his lot, he may confidently reckon on its being worth at least double at the end of the year: much more, if there are growing probabilities of a market.

The methods according to which the sales of the public lands in the United States are conducted are excellent. The lots are so divided as to preclude all doubt and litigation about boundaries. There is a general land-office at Washington, and a subordinate one in each district, where all business can be transacted with readiness and exactitude. Periodical sales are made of lands which it is desirable to bring into the market. These are disposed of to the highest bidder. The advance of the population into the wilderness is thus made more regular than it would be if there were not a rendezvous in each district, where it could be ascertained how the settlement of the neighbouring country was going on; titles are made more secure; and less impunity is allowed to fraud.

The pre-emption laws, originally designed for the benefit of poor settlers, have been the greatest provocatives to fraud. It seemed hard that a [Pg 337]squatter, who had settled himself on unoccupied land, and done it nothing but good, should be turned off without remuneration, or compelled to purchase his own improvements; and in 1830, a bill was therefore passed, granting a pre-emption right to squatters who had taken such possession of unsold lands. It provided that when two individuals had cultivated a quarter section of land, (one hundred and sixty acres,) each should have a pre-emption right with regard to half the cultivated portion: and each also to a pre-emption of eighty acres anywhere else in the same land district. Of course, abundance of persons took advantage of this law to get the best land very cheap. Two men, by merely cutting down, or blazing a few trees, or "camping out" for a night or two, on a good quarter-section, have secured it at the minimum price. A Report to Congress states that there is reason to believe that "large companies have been founded, who procure affidavits of improvements to be made, get the warrants issued upon them, and whenever a good tract of land is ready for sale, cover it over with their floats, (warrants of the required habitation,) and thus put down competition. The frauds upon the public, within the past year, (1835,) from this single source, have arisen to many millions of dollars." Such errors in matters of detail are sure to be corrected soon after being discovered. The means will speedily be found of showing a due regard to the claims of squatters, without precipitating the settlement of land by unfairly reducing its price in the market. Whatever methods may tend to lessen rather than to increase the facilities for occupying new land, must, on the whole, be an advantage, while the disproportion between land and labour is so great as it now is in the western regions of the United States.

[Pg 338]


English farmers settling in the United States used to be a joke to their native neighbours. The Englishman began with laughing, or being shocked, at the slovenly methods of cultivation employed by the American settlers: he was next seen to look grave on his own account; and ended by following the American plan.

The American ploughs round the stumps of the trees he has felled, and is not very careful to measure the area he ploughs, and the seed he sows. The Englishman clears half the quantity of land,—clears it very thoroughly; ploughs deep, sows thick, raises twice the quantity of grain on half the area of land, and points proudly to his crop. But the American has, meantime, fenced, cleared, and sown more land, improved his house and stock, and kept his money in his pocket. The Englishman has paid for the labour bestowed on his beautiful fields more than his fine crop repays him. When he has done thus for a few seasons, till his money is gone, he learns that he has got to a place where it answers to spend land to save labour; the reverse of his experience in England; and he soon becomes as slovenly a farmer as the American, and begins immediately to grow rich.

It would puzzle a philosopher to compute how long some prejudices will subsist in defiance of, not only evidence, but personal experience. These same Americans, who laugh (reasonably enough) at the prejudiced English farmer, seem themselves incapable of being convinced on a point quite as[Pg 339] plain as that between him and themselves. The very ground of their triumph over him is their knowledge of the much smaller value of land, and greater value of labour, in America than in England: and yet there is no one subject on which so many complaints are to be heard from every class of American society as the immigration of foreigners. The incapacity of men to recognise blessings in disguise has been the theme of moralists in all ages: but it might be expected that the Americans, in this case, would be an exception. It is wonderful, to a stranger, to see how they fret and toil, and scheme and invent, to supply the deficiency of help, and all the time quarrel with the one means by which labour is brought to their door. The immigration of foreigners was the one complaint by which I was met in every corner of the free States; and I really believe I did not converse with a dozen persons who saw the ultimate good through the present apparent evil.

It is not much to be wondered at that gentlemen and ladies, living in Boston and New York, and seeing, for the first time in their lives, half-naked and squalid persons in the street, should ask where they come from, and fear lest they should infect others with their squalor, and wish they would keep away. It is not much to be wondered at that the managers of charitable institutions in the maritime cities should be weary of the claims advanced by indigent foreigners: but it is surprising that these gentlemen and ladies should not learn by experience that all this ends well, and that matters are taking their natural course. It would certainly be better that the emigrants should be well clothed, educated, respectable people; (except that, in that case, they would probably never arrive;) but the blame of their bad condition rests elsewhere, while their arrival is, generally speaking,[Pg 340] almost a pure benefit. Some are intemperate and profligate; and such are, no doubt, a great injury to the cities where they harbour; but the greater number show themselves decent and hardworking enough, when put into employment. Every American acknowledges that few or no canals or railroads would be in existence now, in the United States, but for the Irish labour by which they have been completed: and the best cultivation that is to be seen in the land is owing to the Dutch and Germans it contains. What would housekeepers do for domestic service without foreigners? If the American ports had been barred against immigration, and the sixty thousand foreigners per annum, with all their progeny, had been excluded, where would now have been the public works of the United States, the agriculture, the shipping?

The most emphatic complainers of the immigration of foreigners are those who imagine that the morals of society suffer thereby. My own conviction is that the morals of society are, on the whole, thereby much improved. It is candidly allowed, on all hands, that the passion of the Irish for the education of their children is a great set-off against the bad qualities some of them exhibit in their own persons; and that the second and third generations of Irish are among the most valuable citizens of the republic. The immigrant Germans are more sober and respectable than the Irish; but there is more difficulty in improving them and their children. The Scotch are in high esteem. My own opinion is that most of the evils charged upon the immigrants are chargeable upon the mismanagement of them in the ports. The atrocious corruption of the New York elections, where an Irishman, just landed, and employed upon the drains, perjures himself, and votes nine times over, is chargeable, not upon immigration, nor yet upon universal [Pg 341]suffrage, but upon faults in the machinery of registration. Again, if the great pauper-palace, over the Schuylkill, near Philadelphia, be half full of foreigners; if it be true that an Irish woman was seen to walk round it, and heard to observe that she should immediately write over for all her relations; the evil is chargeable upon there being a pauper-palace, with the best of food and clothing, and no compulsion to work, in a country where there is far more work and wages than there are hands to labour and earn. There is in New York a benevolent gentleman who exercises a most useful and effectual charity. He keeps a kind of registry office for the demand and supply of emigrant labour; takes charge of the funds of such emigrants as are fortunate enough to have any; and befriends them in every way. He declares that he has an average of six situations on his list ready for every sober, able-bodied man and woman that lands at New York.

The bad moral consequences of a dispersion of agricultural labour, and the good moral effects of an adequate combination, are so serious as to render it the duty of good citizens to inform themselves fully of the bearings of this question before they attempt to influence other minds upon it. Those who have seen what are the morals and manners of families who live alone in the wilds, with no human opinion around them, no neighbours with whom to exchange good offices, no stimulus to mental activity, no social amusements, no church, no life, nothing but the pursuit of the outward means of living,—any one who has witnessed this will be ready to agree what a blessing it would be to such a family to shake down a shower of even poor Irish labourers around them. To such a family no tidings ought to be more welcome than of the arrival of ship-load after ship-load of immigrants at the ports, some[Pg 342] few of whom may wander hitherwards, and by entering into a combination of labour to obtain means of living, open a way to the attainment of the ends. Sixty thousand immigrants a-year! What are these spread over so many thousand square miles? If the country could be looked down upon from a balloon, some large clusters of these would be seen detained in the cities, because they could not be spared into the country; other clusters would be seen about the canals and railroads; and a very slight sprinkling in the back country, where their stations would be marked by the prosperity growing up around them.

The expedients used in the country settlements to secure a combination of labour when it is absolutely necessary, show how eminently deficient it is. Every one has heard of the "frolic" or "bee," by means of which the clearing of lots, the raising of houses, the harvesting of crops is achieved. Roads are made, and kept by contributions of labour and teams, by settlers. For the rest, what can be done by family labour alone is so done, with great waste of time, material, and toil. The wonderful effects of a "frolic," in every way, should serve, in contrast with the toil and difficulty usually expended in producing small results, to incline the hearts of settlers towards immigrants, and to plan how an increase of them may be obtained.

Minds are, I hope, beginning to turn in this direction. In New England, where there is the most combination of labour, and the poorest land, it is amusing to see the beginning of discoveries on this head. I find, in the United States' Almanack for 1835, an article on agricultural improvements, (presupposing a supply of labour as the primary requisite,) which bears all the marks of freshness and originality, of having been a discovery of the writer's.

[Pg 343]

"If such improvements as are possible, or even easy," (where there is labour at hand,) "were made in the husbandry of this country, many and great advantages would be found to arise. As twice the number of people might be supported on the same quantity of land, all our farming towns would become twice as populous as they are likely to be in the present state of husbandry. There would be, in general, but half the distance to travel to visit one's friends and acquaintances. Friends might oftener see and converse with each other. Half the labour would be saved in carrying the corn to mill, and the produce to market; half the journeying saved in attending our courts; and half the expense in supporting government, and in making and repairing roads; half the distance saved in going to the smith, weaver, clothier, &c.; half the distance saved in going to public worship, and most other meetings; for where steeples are four miles apart, they would be only two or three. Much time, expense and labour would, on these accounts, be saved; and civilisation, with all the social virtues, would, perhaps, be proportionally promoted and increased."

Before this can be done, there must be hands to do it. Steeples must remain four or fourteen miles apart, till there are beings enough in the intervening space to draw them together. I saw, on the Mississippi, a woman in a canoe, paddling up against the stream; probably, as I was told, to visit a neighbour twenty or thirty miles off. The only comfort was that the current would bring her back four times as quickly as she went up. What a blessing would a party of emigrant neighbours be to a woman who would row herself twenty miles against the stream of the Mississippi for companionship!

Instead of complaining of the sixty thousand[Pg 344] emigrants per annum, and lowering the price of land, so as to induce dispersion, it would be wise, if it were possible, in the people of the United States to bring in sixty thousand more labourers per annum, and raise the price of land. This last cannot, perhaps, be done: but why should not the other? With a surplus revenue that they do not know what to do with, and a scarcity of the labour which they do not know how to do without, why not use the surplus funds accruing from the lands in carrying labour to the soil?

It is true, Europeans have the same passion for land as the Americans; and such immigrants would leave their employers, and buy for themselves, as soon as they had earned the requisite funds: but these, again, would supply the means of bringing over more labour; and the intermediate services of the labourers would be so much gained. If the arrangements were so made as to bring over sober, respectable labourers, without their being in any way bound to servitude, (as a host of poor Germans once were made white slaves of,) if, the land and labour being once brought together, and repayment from the benefited parties being secured, (if desired,) things were then left to take their natural course, a greater blessing could hardly befal the United States than such an importation of labourers.

I was told, in every eastern city, that it was a common practice with parish officers in England to ship off their paupers to the United States. I took some pains to investigate the grounds of this charge, and am convinced that it is a mistake; that the accusation has arisen out of some insulated case. I was happy to be able to show my American friends how the supposed surplus population of the English agricultural counties has shrunk, and in most cases disappeared, under the operation of the[Pg 345] new Poor Law, so that, even if the charge had ever been true, it could not long remain so. By the time that we shall be enabled to say the same of the parishes of Ireland, the Americans will, doubtless, have discovered that they would be glad of all the labourers we had ever been able to spare; if only we could send them in the form of respectable men and women, instead of squalid paupers, looking as if they were going from shore to shore, to rouse the world to an outcry against the sins and sorrows of our economy.

It will scarcely be credited by those who are not already informed on the subject, that a proposition has been made to send out of the country an equal number of persons to the amount brought into it; ship loads of labourers going to and fro, like buckets in a well: that this proposition has been introduced into Congress, and has been made the basis of appropriations in some State legislatures: that itinerant lecturers are employed to advocate the scheme: that it is preached from the pulpit, and subscribed for in the churches, and that in its behalf are enlisted members of the administration, a great number of the leading politicians, clergy, merchants, and planters, and a large proportion of the other citizens of the United States. It matters little how many or how great are the men engaged in behalf of a bad scheme, which is so unnatural that it cannot but fail:—it matters little, as far as the scheme itself is concerned; but it is of incalculable consequence as creating an obstruction. For itself, the miserable abortion—the Colonisation scheme—might be passed over; for its active results will be nothing; but it is necessary to refer to it in its passive character of an obstruction. It is necessary to refer thus to it, not only as a matter of fact, but because, absurd and impracticable as[Pg 346] the scheme clearly is, when viewed in relation to the whole state of affairs in America, it is not so easy on the spot to discern its true character. So many perplexing considerations are mixed up with it by its advocates; so many of those advocates are men of earnest philanthropy, and well versed in the details of the scheme, while blind to its general bearing, that it is difficult to have general principles always in readiness to meet opposing facts; to help adopting the partial views of well-meaning and thoroughly persuaded persons; and to know where to doubt, and what to disbelieve. I went to America extremely doubtful about the character of this institution. I heard at Baltimore and Washington all that could be said in its favour, by persons conversant with slavery, which I had not then seen. Mr. Madison, the President of the Colonisation Society, gave me his favourable views of it. Mr. Clay, the Vice-President, gave me his. So did almost every clergyman and other member of society whom I met for some months. Much time, observation, and reflection were necessary to form a judgment for myself, after so much prepossession, even in so clear a case as I now see this to be. Others on the spot must have the same allowance as was necessary for me: and, if any pecuniary interest be involved in the question, much more. But, I am firmly persuaded that any clear-headed man, shutting himself up in his closet for a day's study of the question, or taking a voyage, so as to be able to look back upon the entire country he has left,—being careful to take in the whole of its economical aspect, (to say nothing, at present, of the moral,) can come to no other conclusion than that the scheme of transporting the coloured population of the United States to the coast of Africa is absolutely absurd; and, if it were not so, would be absolutely pernicious. But, in matters of economy,[Pg 347] the pernicious and the absurd are usually identical.

No one is to be blamed for the origin of slavery. Because it is now, under conviction, wicked, it does not follow that it was instituted in wickedness. Those who began it, knew not what they did. It has been elsewhere[17] ably shown how slavery has always, and, to all appearance, unavoidably existed, in some form or other, wherever large new tracts of land have been taken possession of by a few agricultural settlers. Let it be granted that negro slavery was begun inadvertently in the West India islands, and continued, by an economical necessity, in the colonies of North America.

What is now the state of the case? Slavery, of a very mild kind, has been abolished in the northern parts of the Union, where agricultural labour can be carried on by whites, and where such employments bear a very reduced proportion to manufacturing and commercial occupations. Its introduction into the north-western portions of the country has been prohibited by those who had had experience of its evils. Slavery, generally of a very aggravated character, now subsists in thirteen States out of twenty-six, and those thirteen are the States which grow the tobacco, rice, cotton and sugar; it being generally alleged that rice and sugar cannot be raised by white labour, while some maintain that they may. I found few who doubted that tobacco and cotton may be grown by white labour, with the assistance from brute labour and machinery which would follow upon the disuse of human capital; The amount of the slave population is now above two millions and a half. It increases rapidly in the States which have been impoverished by slavery; and is killed off; but not with equal rapidity, on the virgin soils[Pg 348] to which alone it is, in any degree, appropriate. It has become unquestionably inappropriate in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and Kentucky. To these I should be disposed to add Missouri, and North Carolina, and part of Tennessee and South Carolina. The States which have more slave labour than their deteriorated lands require, sell it to those which have a deficiency of labour to their rich lands. Virginia, now in a very depressed condition, derives her chief revenue from the rearing of slaves, as stock, to be sent to Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The march of circumstance has become too obvious to escape the attention of the most short-sighted. No one can fail to perceive that slavery, like an army of locusts, is compelled to shift its place, by the desolation it has made. Its progress is southwards; and now, having reached the sea there, south-westwards. If there were but an impassable barrier there, its doom would be certain, and not very remote. This doom was apparently sealed a while ago, by the abolition of slavery in Mexico, and the fair chance there seemed of Missouri and Arkansas being subjected to a restriction of the same purport with that imposed on the new States, north-west of the Ohio. This doom has been, for the present, cancelled by the admission of slavery into Missouri and Arkansas, and by the seizure of Texas by American citizens. The open question, however, only regards its final limits. Its speedy abolition in many of the States may be, and is, regarded as certain.

The institution of slavery was a political anomaly at the time of the Revolution. It has now become an economical one also. Nothing can prevent the generality of persons from seeing this, however blind a few, a very few persons on the spot may be to the truth.[18]

[Pg 349]

It has thus obviously become the interest of all to whom slavery still is, or is believed to be, a gain; of those who hold the richest lands; of those who rear slaves for such lands; of all who dread change; of all who would go quietly through life, and leave it to a future generation to cope with their difficulty,—it has become the interest of all such to turn their own attention and that of others from the fact that the time has come when the slaves ought to be made free labourers. They cannot put down the fact into utter silence. Some sort of compromise must be made with it. A tub must be thrown to the whale. A tub has been found which will almost hold the whale.

It is proposed by the Colonisation Society that free persons of colour shall be sent to establish and conduct a civilised community on the shores of Africa. The variety of prospects held out by this proposition to persons of different views is remarkable. To the imaginative, there is the picture of the restoration of the coloured race to their paternal soil: to the religious, the prospect of evangelising Africa. Those who would serve God and Mammon are delighted at being able to work their slaves during their own lives, and then leave them to the Colonisation Society with a bequest of money, (when money must needs be left behind,) to carry them over to Africa. Those who would be doing, in a small way, immediately, let certain of their slaves work for wages which are to carry them[Pg 350] over to Africa. Those who have slaves too clever or discontented to be safe neighbours, can ship them off to Africa. Those who are afraid of the rising intelligence of their free coloured neighbours, or suffer strongly under the prejudice of colour, can exercise such social tyranny as shall drive such troublesome persons to Africa. The clergy, public lecturers, members of legislatures, religious societies, and charitable individuals, both in the north and south, are believed to be, and believe themselves to be, labouring on behalf of slaves, when they preach, lecture, obtain appropriations, and subscribe, on behalf of the Colonisation Society. Minds and hearts are laid to rest,—opiated into a false sleep.

Here are all manner of people associated for one object, which has the primary advantage of being ostensibly benevolent. It has had Mr. Madison for its chief officer: Mr. Clay for its second. It has had the aid, for twenty years, of almost all the presses and pulpits of the United States, and of most of their politicians, members of government, and leading professional men and merchants, and almost all the planters of twelve states, and all the missionary interest. Besides the subscriptions arising from so many sources, there have been large appropriations made by various legislatures. What is the result?—Nothing. Ex nihilo nihil fit. Out of a chaos of elements no orderly creation can arise but by the operation of a sound principle: and sound principle here, there is none.

In twenty years, the Colonisation Society has removed to Africa between two and three thousand persons;[19] while the annual increase of the slave population is, by the lowest computation,[Pg 351] sixty thousand; and the number of free blacks is upwards of three hundred and sixty-two thousand.

The chief officers of the Colonisation Society look forward to being able, in a few years, to carry off the present annual increase, and a few more; by which time the annual increase will amount to many times more than the Society will have carried out from the beginning.

The leading Colonisation advocates in the south object to abolition, invariably on the ground that they should be left without labourers: whereas it is the Colonisation scheme which would carry away the labourers, and the abolition scheme which would leave them where they are. To say nothing of the wilfulness of this often-confuted objection, it proves that those who urge it are not in earnest in advocating Colonisation as ultimate emancipation.

As far as I could learn, no leading member of the Colonisation Society has freed any of his slaves. Its president had sold twelve, the week before I first saw him. Its vice-president is obsédé by his slaves; but retains them all. And so it is, through the whole hierarchy.

The avowal of a southern gentleman,—"We have our slaves, and we mean to keep them,"—is echoed on political occasions by the same gentlemen of the Colonisation Society, who, on politic or religious occasions, treat of colonisation as ultimate emancipation.

While labourers are flocking into other parts of the country, at the rate of sixty thousand per annum, and are found to be far too few for the wants of society, the Colonisation scheme proposes to carry out more than this number; and fails of all its ostensible objects till it does so. A glance at the causes of slavery, and at the present economy of the United States, shows such a scheme to be a bald fiction.

[Pg 352]

It alienates the attention and will of the people, (for the purposes of the few,) from the principle of the abolition of slavery, which would achieve any honest objects of the Colonisation Society, and many more. Leaving, for the present, the moral consideration of the case, abolition would not only leave the land as full of labourers as it is now, but incalculably augment the supply of labour by substituting willing and active service, and improved methods of husbandry, for the forced, inferior labour, and wasteful arrangements which are always admitted to be co-existent with slavery.

The greater number of eminent Abolitionists,—eminent for talents, zeal and high principle,—are converted Colonisationists.

This is surely enough.

It appears to me that the Colonisation Society could never have gained any ground at all, but for the common supposition that the blacks must go somewhere. It was a long while before I could make anything of this. The argument always ran thus.

"Unless they remain as they are, Africa is the only place for them.—It will not do to give them a territory; we have seen enough of that with the Indians. We are heart-sick of territories: the blacks would all perish.—Then, the climate of Canada would not suit them: they would perish there. The Haytians will not take them in: they have a horror of freed slaves.—There is no rest for the soles of their feet, anywhere but in Africa!"

"Why should they not stay where they are?"

"Impossible. The laws of the States forbid freed negroes to remain."

"At present,—on account of the slaves who remain. In case of abolition, such laws would be repealed, of course: and then, why should not the blacks remain where they are?"

[Pg 353]

"They could never live among the whites in a state of freedom."

"Why? You are begging the question."

"They would die of vice and misery."

"Why more than the German labourers?"

"They do in the free States. They are dying out there constantly."

"What makes them more vicious than other people?"

"The coloured people always are."

"You mean because their colour is the badge of slavery?"


"Then, when it is no longer so, the degradation, for aught you know, will cease."

This is the circle, described by those who pity the slaves. There is another, appropriate to those who pity the masters.

"What is to become of the planters, without any labourers? They must shut up and go away; for they cannot stay in their houses, without any labourers on the plantations."

"Are the slaves to be all buried? Or are they to evaporate? or what?"

"O, you know, they would all go away. Nothing would make them stay when they were once free."

"They would change masters, no doubt. But as many would remain in the area as before. Why not?"

"The masters could not possibly employ them. They could never manage them, except as slaves."

"So you think that the masters could not have the labourers, because they would go away: and the labourers must go away, because the masters would not have them."

To prevent any escape by a nibble in this circle, the other is brought up round it, to prove that there[Pg 354] is no other place than Africa for the blacks to go to: and thus, the alternative of slavery or colonisation is supposed to be established.

All action, and all conversation, on behalf of this institution, bears the same character,—of arguing in a circle. A magic ring seems drawn round those who live amidst slavery; and it gives a circular character to all they think and say and do upon the subject. There are but few who sit within it who distinctly see anything beyond it. If there were but any one moral giant within, who would heave a blow at it with all the force of a mighty principle, it would be shattered to atoms in a moment; and the white and black slaves it encloses would be free at once. This will be done when more light is poured in under the darkness which broods over it: and the time cannot now be far off.

Whenever I am particularly strongly convinced of anything, in opposition to the opinion of any or many others, I entertain a suspicion that there is more evidence on the other side than I see. I felt so, even on this subject of slavery, which has been clear to English eyes for so long. I went into the slave States with this suspicion in my mind; and I preserved it there as long as possible. I believe that I have heard every argument that can possibly be adduced in vindication or palliation of slavery, under any circumstances now existing; and I declare that, of all displays of intellectual perversion and weakness that I have witnessed, I have met with none so humbling and so melancholy as the advocacy of this institution. I declare that I know the whole of its theory;—a declaration that I dare not make with regard to, I think, any other subject whatever: the result is that I believe there is nothing rational to be said in vindication or palliation of the protraction of slavery in the United States.—Having made this avowal; it will not be[Pg 355] expected that I should fill my pages with a wide superficies of argument which will no more bear a touch than pond-ice, on the last day of thaw. As I disposed in my mind the opposite arguments of slave-holders, I found that they ate one another up, like the two cats that Sheridan told of; but without leaving so much as an inch of tail.

One mistake, perhaps, deserves notice. Restless slave-holders, whose uneasiness has urged them to struggle in their toils, and find themselves unable to get out but by the loss of everything, (but honour and conscience,) pointed out to me the laws of their States, whereby the manumission of slaves is rendered difficult or impossible to the master, remaining on the spot, and prospectively fatal to the freed slave;—pointed out to me these laws as rendering abolition impossible. To say nothing of the feebleness of the barriers which human regulations present to the changes urged on by the great natural laws of society,—it is a sufficient answer that these State laws present no obstacle to general, though they do to particular, emancipation. They will be cancelled or neglected by the same will which created them, when the occasion expires with which they sprang up, or which they were designed to perpetuate. The institution of slavery was not formed in accordance with them: they arose out of the institution. They are an offset; and, to use the words of one of their advocates, spoken in another connexion, "they will share the fate of offsets, and perish with the parent."

It is obvious that all laws which encourage the departure of the blacks must be repealed, when their slavery is abolished. The one thing necessary, in the economical view of the case, is that efficient measures should be taken to prevent an unwise dispersion of these labourers: measures, I mean, which should in no way interfere with their [Pg 356]personal liberty, but which should secure to them generally greater advantages on the spot than they could obtain by roaming. It has been distinctly shown that slavery originated from the difficulty of concentrating labour in the neighbourhood of capitalists. Where the people are few in proportion to the land, they are apt to disperse themselves over it; so that personal coercion has been supposed necessary, in the first instance, to secure any efficient cultivation of the land at all. Though the danger and the supposed necessity are past, in all but the rawest of the slave States, the ancient fact should be so borne in mind as that what legislation there is should tend to cause a concentration, rather than a dispersion of the labourers. Any such tendency will be much aided by the strong local attachments for which negroes are remarkable. It is not only that slaves dread all change, from the intellectual and moral dejection to which they are reduced; fearing even the removal from one plantation to another, under the same master, from the constant vague apprehension of something dreadful. It is not only this, (which, however, it would take them some time to outgrow,) but that all their race show a kind of feline attachment to places to which they are accustomed, which will be of excellent service to kind masters when the day of emancipation comes. For the rest, efficient arrangements can and will doubtless be made to prevent their wandering further than from one master to another. The abolition of slavery must be complete and immediate: that is to say, as a man either is or is not the property of another, as there can be no degrees of ownership of a human being, there must be an immediate and complete surrender of all claim to negro men, women, and children as property: but there may and will doubtless be arrangements made to protect, guide, and teach these degraded beings, till they[Pg 357] have learned what liberty is, and how to use it. Liberty to change their masters must, under certain reasonable limitations, be allowed; the education of their children must be enforced. The amount of wages will be determined by natural laws, and cannot be foreseen, further than that they must necessarily be very ample for a long time to come. It will probably be found desirable to fix the price of the government lands, with a view to the coloured people, at that amount which will best obviate squatting, and secure the respectable settlement of some who may find their way to the west.

Suggestions of this kind excite laughter among the masters of slaves, who are in the habit of thinking that they know best what negroes are, and what they are capable of. I have reasons for estimating their knowledge differently, and for believing that none know so little of the true character and capabilities of negroes as their owners. They might know more, but for the pernicious and unnatural secrecy about some of the most important facts connected with slave-holding, which is induced partly by pride, partly by fear, partly by pecuniary interest. If they would do themselves and their slaves the justice of inquiring with precision what is the state of Hayti; what has taken place in the West Indies; what the emancipation really was there; what its effects actually are, they would obtain a clearer view of their own prospects. So they would, if they would communicate freely about certain facts nearer home: not only conversing as individuals, but removing the restrictions upon the press by which they lose far more than they gain, both in security and fortune,—to say nothing of intelligence. Of the many families in which I enjoyed intercourse, there was, I believe, none where I was not told of some one slave of unusual value,[Pg 358] for talent or goodness, either in the present or a former generation. A collection of these alone, as they stand in my journal, would form no mean testimony to the intellectual and moral capabilities of negroes: and if to these were added the tales which I could tell, if I also were not bound under the laws of mystery of which I have been complaining, many hearts would beat with the desire to restore to their human rights those whose fellow-sufferers have given ample proof of their worthiness to enjoy them. The consideration which binds me to silence upon a rich collection of facts, full of moral beauty and promise, is regard to the safety of many whose heroic obedience to the laws of God has brought them into jeopardy under the laws of slave-holders, and the allies of slave-holders. Nor would I, by any careless revelations, throw the slightest obstacle in the way of the escape of any one of the slaves who may be about to shirk their masters, by methods with which I happen to be acquainted.

It can, however, do nothing but good to proclaim the truth that slaves do run away in much greater numbers than is supposed by any but those who lose them, and those who help them. By which I mean many others besides the abolitionists par excellence. Perhaps I might confine the knowledge to these last; for I believe no means exist by which the yearly amount of loss of this kind may be verified and published in the south. Everybody who has been in America is familiar with the little newspaper picture of a black man, hieing with his stick and bundle, which is prefixed to the advertisements of runaways. Every traveller has probably been struck with the number of these which meets his eye; but unless he has more private means of information, he will remain unaware of the streams of fugitives continually passing out of the States. There is much reserve about this in the south, from pride;[Pg 359] and among those elsewhere who could tell, from far other considerations. The time will come when the whole story, in its wonder and beauty, may be told by some who, like myself, have seen more of the matter, from all sides, than it is easy for a native to do. Suffice it, that the loss by runaways, and the generally useless attempts to recover them, is a heavy item in the accounts of the cotton and sugar-growers of the south; and one which is sure to become heavier till there shall be no more bondage to escape from. It is obvious that the slaves who run away are among the best: an escape being usually the achievement of a project early formed; concealed, pertinaciously adhered to, and endeared by much toil and sacrifice undergone for its sake, for a long course of years. A weak mind is incapable of such a series of acts, with a unity of purpose. They are the choicest slaves who run away. Of the cases known to me, the greater number of the men, and some of the women, have acted throughout upon an idea; (called by their owners "a fancy,"—a very different thing;) while some few of the men have started off upon some sudden infliction of cruelty; and many women on account of intolerable outrage, of the grossest kind. Several masters told me of leave given to their slaves to go away, and of the slaves refusing to avail themselves of it. If this was meant to tell in favour of slavery, it failed of its effect. The argument was too shallow to impose upon a child. Of course, they were the least valuable slaves to whom this permission was given: and their declining to depart proved nothing so much as the utter degradation of human beings who could prefer receiving food and shelter from the hand of an owner to the possession of themselves.

Amidst the mass of materials which accumulated on my hands during the process of learning from all[Pg 360] parties their views on this question, I hardly know where to turn, and what to select, that will most briefly and strongly show that the times have outgrown slavery. This is the point at which every fact and argument issue, whatever may be the intention of those who adduce it. The most striking, perhaps, is the treatment of the Abolitionists: a subject to be adverted to hereafter. The insane fury which vents itself upon the few who act upon the principles which the many profess, is a sign of the times not to be mistaken. It is always the precursor of beneficial change. Society in America seems to be already passing out of this stage into one even more advanced. The cause of abolition is spreading so rapidly through the heart of the nation; the sound part of the body politic is embracing it so actively, that no disinterested observer can fail to be persuaded that even the question of time is brought within narrow limits. The elections will, ere long, show the will of the people that slavery be abolished in the District of Columbia. Then such truckling politicians, mercenary traders, cowardly clergy, and profligate newspaper corps, as are now too blind to see the coming change, will have to choose their part; whether to shrink out of sight, or to boast patriotically of the righteous revolution which they have striven to retard, even by the application of the torture to both the bodies and the minds of their more clear-eyed fellow-citizens.

After giving one or two testimonies to the necessity of a speedy change of system, I will confine myself to relating a few signs of the times which I encountered in my travels through the south.

In 1782, Virginia repealed the law against manumission; and in nine years, there were ten thousand slaves freed in that State. Alarmed for the institution, her legislature re-enacted the law. What has been the consequence?—Let us take the [Pg 361]testimony of the two leading newspapers of the capital of Virginia, given at a time when the Virginian legislature was debating the subject of slavery; and when there was, for once, an exposure of the truth from those best qualified to reveal it. In 1832, the following remarks appeared in the "Richmond Enquirer."

"It is probable, from what we hear, that the committee on the coloured population will report some plan for getting rid of the free people of colour. But is this all that can be done? Are we for ever to suffer the greatest evil which can scourge our land not only to remain, but to increase in its dimensions? 'We may shut our eyes and avert our faces, if we please,' (writes an eloquent South Carolinian, on his return from the north a few weeks ago,) 'but there it is, the dark and growing evil, at our doors: and meet the question we must at no distant day. God only knows what it is the part of wise men to do on that momentous and appalling subject. Of this I am very sure, that the difference—nothing short of frightful—between all that exists on one side of the Potomac, and all on the other, is owing to that cause alone. The disease is deep seated; it is at the heart's core; it is consuming, and has all along been consuming, our vitals; and I could laugh, if I could laugh on such a subject, at the ignorance and folly of the politician who ascribes that to an act of the government, which is the inevitable effect of the eternal laws of nature. What is to be done? O my God, I don't know; but something must be done.'

"Yes, something must be done; and it is the part of no honest man to deny it; of no free press to affect to conceal it. When this dark population is growing upon us; when every new census is but gathering its appalling numbers upon us; when[Pg 362] within a period equal to that in which this federal constitution has been in existence, those numbers will increase to more than two millions within Virginia; when our sister States are closing their doors upon our blacks for sale; and when our whites are moving westwardly in greater numbers than we like to hear of; when this, the fairest land on all this continent, for soil and climate and situation combined, might become a sort of garden spot if it were worked by the hands of white men alone, can we, ought we to sit quietly down, fold our arms, and say to each other, 'well, well, this thing will not come to the worst in our day? We will leave it to our children and our grand-children and great-grand-children to take care of themselves, and to brave the storm. Is this to act like wise men? Heaven knows we are no fanatics. We detest the madness which actuated the Amis des Noirs. But something ought to be done. Means, sure but gradual, systematic but discreet, ought to be adopted for reducing the mass of evil which is pressing upon the south, and will still more press upon her the longer it is put off. We ought not to shut our eyes, nor avert our faces. And though we speak almost without a hope that the committee or the legislature will do anything, at the present session, to meet this question, yet we say now, in the utmost sincerity of our hearts, that our wisest men cannot give too much of their attention to this subject, nor can they give it too soon."

The other paper, the "Richmond Whig," had the same time, the following:

"We affirm that the great mass of Virginia herself triumphs that the slavery question has been agitated, and reckons it glorious that the spirit of her sons did not shrink from grappling with the monster. We affirm that, in the heaviest slave districts of the State, thousands have hailed the [Pg 363]discussion with delight, and contemplate the distant, but ardently desired result, as the supreme good which Providence could vouchsafe to their country."

This is doubtless true. One of the signs of the times which struck me was the clandestine encouragement received by the abolitionists of the north from certain timid slave-holders of the south, who send money for the support of abolition publications, and an earnest blessing. They write, "For God's sake go on! We cannot take your publications; we dare not countenance you; but we wish you God speed! You are our only hope." There is nothing to be said for the moral courage of those who feel and write thus, and dare not express their opinions in the elections. Much excuse may be made for them by those who know the horrors which await the expression of anti-slavery sentiments in many parts of the south. But, on the other hand, the abolitionists are not to be blamed for considering all slave-holders under the same point of view, as long as no improved state of opinion is manifested in the representation; the natural mirror of the minds of the represented.

Chief Justice Marshall, a Virginian, a slave-holder, and a member of the Colonisation Society, (though regarding this society as being merely a palliative, and slavery incurable but by convulsion,) observed to a friend of mine, in the winter of 1834, that he was surprised at the British for supposing that they could abolish slavery in their colonies by act of parliament. His friend believed it would be done. The Chief Justice could not think that such economical institutions could be done away by legislative enactment. His friend pleaded the fact that the members of the British House of Commons were pledged, in great numbers, to their constituents on the question. When it was done, the Chief Justice remarked on his having been[Pg 364] mistaken; and that he rejoiced in it. He now saw hope for his beloved Virginia, which he had seen sinking lower and lower among the States. The cause, he said, was that work is disreputable in a country where a degraded class is held to enforced labour.[20] He had seen all the young, the flower of the State, who were not rich enough to remain at home in idleness, betaking themselves to other regions, where they might work without disgrace. Now there was hope; for he considered that in this act of the British, the decree had gone forth against American slavery, and its doom was sealed.

There was but one sign of the times which was amusing to me; and that was the tumult of opinions and prophecies offered to me on the subject of the duration of slavery, and the mode in which it would be at last got rid of; for I never heard of any one but Governor M'Duffie who supposed that it can last for ever. He declared last year, in his message to the legislature of South Carolina, that he considers slavery as the corner-stone of their republican liberties: and that, if he were dying, his latest prayer should be that his children's children should live nowhere but amidst the institutions of slavery. This message might have been taken as a freak of eccentricity merely, if it had stood alone. But a committee of the legislature, with Governor Hamilton in the chair, thought proper to endorse every sentiment in it. This converts it into an indication of the perversion of mind commonly prevalent in a class when its distinctive pecuniary interest is in imminent peril. I was told, a few months prior to the appearance of[Pg 365] this singular production, that though Governor M'Duffie was a great ornament to the State of South Carolina, his opinions on the subject of slavery were ultra, and that he was left pretty nearly alone in them. Within a year, those who told me so went, in public, all lengths with Governor M'Duffie.

I believe I might very safely and honourably give the names of those who prophesied to me in the way I have mentioned; for they rather court publicity for their opinions, as it is natural and right that they should, as long as they are sure of them. But it may suffice to mention that they are all eminent men, whose attention has been strongly fixed, for a length of years, upon the institution in question.

A. believes that slavery is a necessary and desirable stage in civilisation: not on the score of the difficulty of cultivating new lands without it, but on the ground of the cultivation of the negro mind and manners. He believes the Haytians to have deteriorated since they became free. He believes the white population destined to absorb the black, though holding that the two races will not unite after the third mixture. His expectation is that the black and mulatto races will have disappeared in a hundred and fifty years. He has no doubt that cotton and tobacco may be well and easily grown by whites.

B. is confident that the condition of slaves is materially improved, yet believes that they will die out, and that there will be no earlier catastrophe. He looks to colonisation, however, as a means of lessening the number. This same gentleman told me of a recent visit he had paid to a connexion of his own, who had a large "force," consisting chiefly of young men and women: not one child had been born on the estate for three years. This looks very[Pg 366] like dying out; but does it go to confirm the materially improved condition of the slaves?

C. allows slavery to be a great evil; and, if it were now non-existent, would not ordain it, if he could. But he thinks the slaves far happier than they would have been at home in Africa, and considers that the system works perfectly. He pronounces the slaves "the most contented, happy, industrious peasantry in the world." He believes this virtue and content would disappear if they were taught anything whatever; and that if they were free, they would be, naturally and inevitably, the most vicious and wretched population ever seen. His expectation is that they will increase to such a degree as to make free labour, "which always supersedes slave labour," necessary in its stead; that the coloured race will wander off to new regions, and be ultimately "absorbed" by the white. He contemplates no other than this natural change, which he thinks cannot take place in less than a century and a half. A year later, this gentleman told a friend of mine that slavery cannot last above twenty years. They must be stringent reasons which have induced so great a change of opinion in twelve months.

D. thinks slavery an enormous evil, but doubts whether something as bad would not arise in its stead. He is a colonisationist, and desires that the general government should purchase the slaves, by annual appropriations, and ship them off to Africa, so as to clear the country of the coloured people in forty or fifty years. If this is not done, a servile war, the most horrible that the world has seen, is inevitable. Yet he believes that the institution, though infinitely bad for the masters, is better for the slaves than those of any country in Europe for its working classes. He is convinced that the tillage of all the crops could be better carried on[Pg 367] by whites, with the assistance of cattle and implements, than by negroes.

E. writes, (October 1835,) "Certain it is that if men of property and intelligence in the north have that legitimate influence which that class has here, nothing will come of this abolition excitement. All we have to say to them is, 'Hands off!' Our political rights[21] are clear, and shall not be invaded. We know too much about slavery to be slaves ourselves. But I repeat, nothing will come of the present, or rather recent excitement, for already it is in a great degree passed. And the time is coming when a struggle between pauperism and property, or, if you choose, between labour and capital in the north, stimulated by the spirit of Jacksonism, will occupy the people of that quarter to the exclusion of our affairs. If any external influence is ever to affect the institution of slavery in the south, it will not be the vulgar and ignorant fanaticism of the northern States, intent upon a cheap charity which is to be done at our expense;[Pg 368] but that influence will be found in English literature, and the gradual operation of public opinion. Slavery, so to speak, may be evaporated;—it cannot be drawn off. If it were, the whole land would be poisoned and desolated."

The best reply to this letter will be found in the memorable speech of Mr. Preston, one of the South Carolina senators, delivered in Congress, last spring. It may be mentioned, by the way, that the writer of the above is mistaken in supposing that there is at present, or impending, any unhappy struggle in the north between pauperism and property, or labour and capital. It is all property there, and no pauperism, (except the very little that is superinduced;) and labour and capital were, perhaps, never before seen to jog on so lovingly together. The "cheap charity" he speaks of is the cheap charity of the first Christians, with the addition of an equal ability and will to pay down money for the abolition of the slaves, for whose sake the abolitionists have already shown themselves able to bear,—some, hanging;—some, scourging, and tarring and feathering; some, privation of the means of living; and all, the being incessantly and deeply wounded in their social relations and tenderest affections. Martyrdom is ever accounted a "cheap devotion," or "cheap charity," to God or man, by those who exact it of either religious or philanthropic principle.

Mr. Preston's speech describes the spread of abolition opinions as being rapid and inevitable. He proves the rapidity by citing the number of recently-formed abolition societies in the north; and the inevitableness, by exhibiting the course which such convictions had run in England and France. He represents the case as desperate. He advises,—not yielding, but the absolute exclusion of opinion on the subject,—exclusion from[Pg 369] Congress, and exclusion from the slave States. This is well. The matter may be considered to be given up, unless this is merely the opinion of an individual. The proposal is about as hopeful as it would be to draw a cordon round the Capitol to keep out the four winds; or to build a wall up to the pole-star to exclude the sunshine.

One more sample of opinions. A gentleman who edits a highly-esteemed southern newspaper, expresses himself thus. "There is a wild fanaticism at work to effect the overthrow of the system, although in its fall would go down the fortunes of the south, and to a great extent those of the north and east;—in a word, the whole fabric of our Union, in one awful ruin. What then ought to be done? What measures ought to be taken to secure the safety of our property and our lives? We answer, let us be vigilant and watchful to the last degree over all the movements of our enemies both at home and abroad. Let us declare through the public journals of our country, that the question of slavery is not, and shall not be open to discussion;—that the system is deep-rooted amongst us, and must remain for ever;—that the very moment any private individual attempts to lecture us upon its evils and immorality, and the necessity of putting measures into operation to secure us from them, in the same moment his tongue shall be cut out and cast upon the dung-hill. We are freemen, sprung from a noble stock of freemen, able to boast as noble a line of ancestry as ever graced this earth;—we have burning in our bosoms the spirit of freemen—live in an age of enlightened freedom, and in a country blessed with its privileges—under a government that has pledged itself to protect us in the enjoyment of our peculiar domestic institutions in peace, and undisturbed. We hope for a long continuance of these high [Pg 370]privileges, and have now to love, cherish, and defend, property, liberty, wives and children, the right to manage our own matters in our own way, and, what is equally dear with all the rest, the inestimable right of dying upon our own soil, around our own firesides, in struggling to put down all those who may attempt to infringe, attack, or violate any of these sacred and inestimable privileges."

If these opinions of well-prepared persons, dispersed through the slave States, and entrusted with the public advocacy of their interests, do not betoken that slavery is tottering to its fall, there are no such things as signs of the times.

The prohibition of books containing anything against slavery, has proceeded to a great length. Last year, Mrs. Barbauld's works were sent back into the north by the southern booksellers, because the "Evenings at Home" contain a "Dialogue between Master and Slave." Miss Sedgwick's last novel, "The Linwoods," was treated in the same way, on account of a single sentence about slavery. The "Tales of the Woods and Fields," and other English books, have shared the same fate. I had a letter from a Southern lady, containing some regrets upon the necessity of such an exclusion of literature, but urging that it was a matter of principle to guard from attacks "an institution ordained by the favour of God for the happiness of man:" and assuring me that the literary resources of South Carolina were rapidly improving.—So they had need; for almost all the books already in existence will have to be prohibited, if nothing condemnatory of slavery is to be circulated. This attempt to nullify literature was followed up by a threat to refuse permission to the mails to pass through South Carolina: an arrangement which would afflict its inhabitants more than it could injure any one else.

[Pg 371]

The object of all this is to keep the children in the dark about how the institution is regarded abroad. This was evident to me at every step: and I received an express caution not to communicate my disapprobation of slavery to the children of one family, who could not, their parents declare, even feel the force of my objections. One of them was "employed, the whole afternoon, in dressing out little Nancy for an evening party; and she sees the slaves much freer than herself." Of course, the blindness of this policy will be its speedy destruction. It is found that the effect of public opinion on the subject upon young men who visit the northern States, is tremendous, when they become aware of it: as every student in the colleges of the north can bear witness. I know of one, an heir of slaves, who declared, on reading Dr. Channing's "Slavery," that if it could be proved that negroes are more than a link between man and brute, the rest follows of course, and he must liberate all his. Happily, he is in the way of evidence that negroes are actually and altogether human.

The students of Lane Seminary, near Cincinnati, of which Dr. Beecher is the president, became interested in the subject, three or four years ago, and formed themselves into an Abolition Society, debating the question, and taking in newspapers. This was prohibited by the tutors, but persevered in by the young men, who conceived that this was a matter with which the professors had no right to meddle. Banishment was decreed; and all submitted to expulsion but fourteen. Of course, each of the dispersed young men became the nucleus of an Abolition Society, and gained influence by persecution. It was necessary for them to provide means to finish their education. One of them, Amos Dresser, itinerated, (as is usual in the[Pg 372] sparsely-peopled west,) travelling in a gig, and selling Scott's Bible, to raise money for his educational purposes. He reached Nashville, in Tennessee; and there fell under suspicion of abolition treason; his baggage being searched, and a whole abolition newspaper, and a part of another being found among the packing-stuff of his stock of bibles. There was also an unsubstantiated rumour of his having been seen conversing with slaves. He was brought to trial by the Committee of Vigilance; seven elders of the presbyterian church at Nashville being among his judges. After much debate as to whether he should be hanged, or flogged with more or fewer lashes, he was condemned to receive twenty lashes, with a cow-hide, in the market-place of Nashville. He was immediately conducted there, made to kneel down on the flint pavement, and punished according to his sentence; the mayor of Nashville presiding, and the public executioner being the agent. He was warned to leave the city within twenty-four hours: but was told, by some charitable person who had the bravery to take him in, wash his stripes, and furnish him with a disguise, that it would not be safe to remain so long. He stole away immediately, in his dreadful condition, on foot; and when his story was authenticated, had heard nothing of his horse, gig, and bibles, which he values at three hundred dollars. Let no one, on this, tremble for republican freedom. Outrages upon it, like the above, are but extremely transient signs of the times. They no more betoken the permanent condition of the republic, than the shivering of one hour of ague exhibits the usual state of the human body.

The other young men found educational and other assistance immediately; and a set of noble institutions has grown out of their persecution. There were professors ready to help them; and a[Pg 373] gentleman gave them a farm in Ohio, on which to begin a manual labour college, called the Oberlin Institute. It is on a most liberal plan young women who wish to become qualified for "Christian teaching" being admitted; and there being no prejudice of colour. They have a sprinkling both of Indians and of negroes. They do all the farm and house work, and as much study besides as is good for them. Some of the young women are already fair Hebrew and Greek scholars. In a little while, the estate was so crowded, and the new applications were so overpowering, that they were glad to accept the gift of another farm. When I left the country, within three years from their commencement, they had either four or five flourishing institutions in Ohio and Michigan, while the Lane Seminary drags on feebly with its array of tutors, and dearth of pupils. A fact so full of vitality as this will overbear a hundred less cheering signs of the times. A very safe repose may be found in the will of the majority, wherever it acts amidst light and freedom.

Just before I reached Mobile, two men were burned alive there, in a slow fire, in the open air, in the presence of the gentlemen of the city generally. No word was breathed of the transaction in the newspapers: and this is the special reason why I cite it as a sign of the times; of the suppression of fact and repression of opinion which, from the impossibility of their being long maintained, are found immediately to precede the changes they are meant to obviate. Some months afterwards, an obscure intimation of something of the kind having happened appeared in a northern newspaper; but a dead silence was at the time preserved upon what was, in fact, the deed of a multitude. The way that I came to know it was this. A lady of Mobile was opening her noble and true heart to me on the[Pg 374] horrors and vices of the system under which she and her family were suffering in mind, body, and estate. In speaking of her duties as head of a family, she had occasion to mention the trouble caused by the licentiousness of the whites, among the negro women. It was dreadful to hear the facts which had occurred in her own household; and the bare imagination of what is inflicted on the negro husbands and fathers was almost too much to be borne. I asked the question, "Does it never enter the heads of negro husbands and fathers to retaliate?" "Yes, it does." "What follows?" "They are murdered,—burned alive." And then followed the story of what had lately happened. A little girl, and her still younger brother, one day failed to return from school, and never were seen again. It was not till after all search had been relinquished, that the severed head of the little girl was found in a brook, on the borders of a plantation. Circumstances were discovered that left no doubt that the murders were committed to conceal violence which had been offered to the girl. Soon after, two young ladies of the city rode in that direction, and got off their horses to amuse themselves. They were seized upon by two slaves of the neighbouring plantation; but effected their escape in safety, though with great difficulty. Their agitation prevented their concealing the fact; and the conclusion was immediately drawn that these men were the murderers of the children. The gentlemen of Mobile turned out; seized the men; heaped up faggots on the margin of the brook, and slowly burned them to death. No prudish excuses for the suppression of this story will serve any purpose with those who have been on the spot, any more than the outcry about "amalgamation," raised against the abolitionists by those who live in the deepest sinks of a licentiousness of which the foes of slavery do[Pg 375] not dream. No deprecatory plea regarding propriety or decency will pass for anything but hypocrisy with those who know what the laws against the press are in the south-west, and what are the morals of slavery in its palmy state. I charge the silence of Mobile about this murder on its fears; as confidently as I charge the brutality of the victims upon its crimes.

Notwithstanding the many symptoms of an unmanly and anti-republican fear which met my observation in these regions, it was long before I could comprehend the extent of it; especially as I heard daily that the true enthusiastic love of freedom could exist in a republic, only in the presence of a servile class. I am persuaded that the southerners verily believe this; that they actually imagine their northern brethren living in an exceedingly humdrum way, for fear of losing their equality. It is true that there is far too much subservience to opinion in the northern States: particularly in New England. There is there a self-imposed bondage which must be outgrown. But this is no more like the fear which prevails in the south than the apprehensiveness of a court-physician is like the terrors of Tiberius Cæsar.

I was at the French theatre at New Orleans. The party with whom I went determined to stay for the after-piece. The first scene of the after-piece was dumb-show; so much noise was made by one single whistle in the pit. The curtain was dropped, and the piece re-commenced. The whistling continued; and, at one movement, the whole audience rose and went home. I was certain that there was something more in this than was apparent to the observation of a stranger. I resolved to find it out, and succeeded. The band was wanted from the orchestra, to serenade a United States senator who was then in the city; and one or two young men were [Pg 376]resolved to break up our amusement for the purpose of releasing the band. But why were they allowed to do this? Why was the whole audience to submit to the pleasure of one whistler? Why, in New Orleans it is thought best to run no risk of any disturbance. People there always hie home directly when things do not go off quite quietly.

It is the same, wherever the blacks outnumber the whites, or their bondage is particularly severe. At Charleston, when a fire breaks out, the gentlemen all go home on the ringing of the alarm-bell; the ladies rise and dress themselves and their children. It may be the signal of insurrection: and the fire burns on, for any help the citizens give, till a battalion of soldiers marches down to put it out.

When we were going to church, at Augusta, Georgia, one Sunday afternoon, there was smoke in the street, and a cry of fire. When we came out of church, we were told that it had been very trifling, and easily extinguished. The next day, I heard the whole. A negro girl of sixteen, the property of a lady from New England, had set her mistress's house on fire in two places, by very in-artificially lighting heaps of combustible stuff piled against the partitions. There were no witnesses, and all that was known came from her own lips. She was desperately ignorant; laws having been fully enforced to prevent the negroes of Georgia being instructed in any way whatever. The girl's account was, that she was "tired of living there," and had therefore intended to burn the house in the morning, but was prevented by her mistress having locked her up for some offence: so she did it in the afternoon. She was totally ignorant of the gravity of the deed, and was in a state of great horror when told that she was to be hanged for it. I asked whether it was possible that, after her being prevented by law from being taught, she was[Pg 377] to be hanged for her ignorance, and merely on her own confession? The clergyman with whom I was conversing sighed, and said it was a hard case; but what else could be done, considering that Augusta was built of wood? He told me that there was great excitement among the negroes in Augusta; and that many had been saying that "a mean white person" (a white labourer) would not have been hanged; and that the girl could not help it, as it must have been severity which drove her to it. In both these sayings, the slaves were partly wrong. A white would have been hanged; but a white would have known that she was committing crime. It did not appear that the girl's mistress was harsh. But what does not the observation convey? I have never learned, nor ever shall, whether the hanging took place or not. The newspapers do not insert such things.

This burning would be a fearful art for the blacks to learn. There were four tremendous fires in Charleston, during the summer of 1835; and divers residents reported to the north that these were supposed to be the work of slaves.

Wherever I went, in the south, in whatever town or other settlement I made any stay, some startling circumstance connected with slavery occurred, which I was assured was unprecedented. No such thing had ever occurred before, or was likely to happen again. The repetition of this assurance became, at last, quite ludicrous.

The fear of which I have spoken as prevalent, does not extend to the discussion of the question of slavery with strangers. My opinions of slavery were known, through the press, before I went abroad: the hospitality which was freely extended to me was offered under a full knowledge of my detestation of the system. This was a great advantage, in as much as it divested me entirely of the[Pg 378] character of a spy, and promoted the freest discussion, wherever I went. There was a warm sympathy between myself and very many, whose sufferings under the system caused me continual and deep sorrow, though no surprise. Neither was I surprised at their differing from me as widely as they do about the necessity of immediate action, either by resistance or flight, while often agreeing, nearly to the full, in my estimate of the evils of the present state of things. They have been brought up in the system. To them, the moral deformity of the whole is much obscured by its nearness; while the small advantages, and slight prettinesses which it is very easy to attach to it, are prominent, and always in view. These circumstances prevented my being surprised at the candour with which they not only discussed the question, but showed me all that was to be seen of the economical management of plantations; the worst as well as the best. Whatever I learned of the system, by express showing, it must be remembered, was from the hands of the slave-holders themselves. Whatever I learned, that lies deepest down in my heart, of the moral evils, the unspeakable vices and woes of slavery, was from the lips of those who are suffering under them on the spot.

It was there that I heard of the massacre in Southampton county, which has been little spoken of abroad. It happened a few years ago; before the abolition movement began; for it is remarkable that no insurrections have taken place since the friends of the slave have been busy afar off. This is one of the most eloquent signs of the times,—that, whereas rebellions broke out as often as once a month before, there have been none since. Of this hereafter. In the Southampton massacre, upwards of seventy whites, chiefly women and children, were butchered by slaves who fancied [Pg 379]themselves called, like the Jews of old, to "slay and spare not."

While they were in full career, a Virginian gentleman, who had a friend from the north staying with him, observed upon its being a mistaken opinion that planters were afraid of their slaves; and offered the example of his own household as a refutation. He summoned his confidential negro, the head of the house establishment of slaves, and bade him shut the door.

"You hear," said he, "that the negroes have risen in Southampton."

"Yes, massa."

"You hear that they have killed several families, and that they are coming this way."

"Yes, massa."

"You know that, if they come here, I shall have to depend upon you all to protect my family."

The slave was silent.

"If I give you arms, you will protect me and my family, will you not?"

"No, massa."

"Do you mean, that if the Southampton negroes come this way, you will join them?"

"Yes, massa."

When he went out of the room, his master wept without restraint. He owned that all his hope, all his confidence was gone. Yet, who ever deserved confidence more than the man who spoke that last "No" and "Yes?" The more confidence in the man, the less in the system. This is the philosophy of the story.

I have mentioned the fact that no insurrections have for a long time taken place. In some parts of the slave regions, the effect has been to relax the laws relating to slaves; and such relaxation was always pointed out to me as an indication[Pg 380] that slavery would go out of itself, if it were let alone. In other parts, new and very severe laws were being passed against the slaves; and this was pointed out to me as a sign that the condition of the negro was aggravated by the interference of his friends; and that his best chance lay in slavery being let alone. Thus the opposite facts were made to yield the same conclusion. A friend of mine, a slave-holder, observed to me, that both the relaxation and the aggravation of restrictions upon slaves were an indication of the tendency of public opinion: the first being done in sympathy with it, the other in fear of it.

There was an outcry, very vehement, and very general among the friends of slavery, in both north and south, against the cruelty of abolitionists in becoming the occasion of the laws against slaves being made more severe. In my opinion, this affords no argument against abolition, even if the condition of the slaves of to-day were aggravated by the stir of opinion. The negroes of the next generation are not to be doomed to slavery for fear of somewhat more being inflicted on their parents: and, severe as the laws already are, the consequence of straining them tighter still would be that they would burst. But the fact is, that so far from the condition of the slave being made worse by the efforts of his distant friends, it has been substantially improved. I could speak confidently of this as a necessary consequence of the value set upon opinion by the masters; but I know it also from what I myself saw; and from the lips of many slave-holders. The slaves of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana, have less liberty of communication with each other; they are deprived of the few means of instruction that they had; they are shut in earlier in the evening, and precluded from supping and dancing for half[Pg 381] the night, as they used to do; but they are substantially better treated; they are less worked by hard masters; less flogged; better fed and clothed. The eyes of the world are now upon the American slave and his master: the kind master goes on as he did before: the hard master dares not be so unkind as formerly. He hates his slave more than ever, for slavery is more troublesome than ever; but he is kept in order, by the opinion of the world abroad and the neighbours around; and he dares not vent his hatred on his human property, as he once could. A slave-holder declared in Congress, that the slaves of the south knew that Dr. Channing had written a book on their behalf. No doubt. The tidings of the far-off movement in their favour come to them on every wind that blows, calming their desperation, breathing hope into their souls; making the best of their masters thoughtful and sad, and the worst, desperate and cruel, though kept within bounds by fear.

The word 'hatred' is not too strong for the feeling of a large proportion of slave-holders towards particular slaves; or, as they would call them, (the word 'slave' never being heard in the south,) their 'force,' their 'hands,' their 'negroes,' their 'people.' I was frequently told of the 'endearing relation' subsisting between master and slaves; but, at the best, it appeared to me the same 'endearing relation' which subsists between a man and his horse, between a lady and her dog. As long as the slave remains ignorant, docile, and contented, he is taken good care of, humoured, and spoken of with a contemptuous, compassionate kindness. But, from the moment he exhibits the attributes of a rational being,—from the moment his intellect seems likely to come into the most distant competition with that of whites, the most, deadly hatred springs up;—not in the black, but[Pg 382] in his oppressors. It is a very old truth that we hate those whom we have injured. Never was it more clear than in this case. I had, from time to time in my life, witnessed something of human malice; I had seen some of the worst aspects of domestic service in England; of village scandal; of political rivalship; and other circumstances provocative of the worst passions; but pure, unmitigated hatred, the expression of which in eye and voice makes one's blood run cold, I never witnessed till I became acquainted with the blacks of America, their friends and oppressors: the blacks and their friends the objects; their oppressors the far more unhappy subjects. It so happens that the most remarkable instances of this that I met with were clergymen and ladies. The cold livid hatred which deformed, like a mask, the faces of a few, while deliberately slandering, now the coloured race, and now the abolitionists, could never be forgotten by me, as a fearful revelation, if the whole country were to be absolutely christianized to-morrow. Mr. Madison told me, that if he could work a miracle, he knew what it should be. He would make all the blacks white; and then he could do away with slavery in twenty-four hours. So true it is that all the torturing associations of injury have become so connected with colour, that an institution which hurts everybody and benefits none, which all rational people who understand it dislike, despise, and suffer under, can with difficulty be abolished, because of the hatred which is borne to an irremovable badge.

This hatred is a sign of the times; and so are the alleged causes of it; both are from their nature so manifestly temporary. The principal cause alleged is the impossibility of giving people of colour any idea of duty, from their want of natural affection. I was told in the same breath of their[Pg 383] attachment to their masters, and devotion to them in sickness; and of their utter want of all affection to their parents and children, husbands and wives. For "people of colour," read "slaves," and the account is often correct. It is true that slaves will often leave their infants to perish, rather than take any trouble about them; that they will utterly neglect a sick parent or husband; while they will nurse a white mistress with much ostentation. The reason is obvious. Such beings are degraded so far below humanity that they will take trouble, for the sake of praise or more solid reward, after they have become dead to all but grossly selfish inducements. Circumstances will fully account for a great number of cases of this sort: but to set against these, there are perhaps yet more instances of domestic devotion, not to be surpassed in the annals of humanity. Of these I know more than I can here set down; partly from their number, and partly from the fear of exposing to injury the individuals alluded to.

A friend of mine was well acquainted at Washington with a woman who had been a slave; and who, after gaining her liberty, worked incessantly for many years, denying herself all but absolute necessaries, in order to redeem her husband and children. She was a sick-nurse, when my friend knew her; and, by her merits, obtained good pay. She had first bought herself; having earned, by extra toil, three or four hundred dollars. She then earned the same sum, and redeemed her husband; and had bought three, out of her five, children when my friend last saw her. She made no boast of her industry and self-denial. Her story was extracted from her by questions; and she obviously felt that she was doing what was merely unavoidable. It is impossible to help instituting a comparison between this woman and the gentlemen[Pg 384] who, by their own licentiousness, increase the number of slave children whom they sell in the market. My friend formerly carried an annual present from a distant part of the country to this poor woman: but it is not known what has become of her, and whether she died before she had completed her object, of freeing all her family.

There is a woman now living with a lady in Boston, requiring high wages, which her superior services, as well as her story, enable her to command. This woman was a slave, and was married to a slave, by whom she had two children. The husband and wife were much attached. One day, her husband was suddenly sold away to a distance; and her master, whose object was to increase his stock as fast as possible, immediately required her to take another husband. She stoutly refused. Her master thought her so far worthy of being humoured, that he gave her his son,—forced him upon her, as her present feelings show. She had two more children, of much lighter complexion than the former. When the son left the estate, her master tried again to force a negro husband upon her. In desperation, she fled, carrying one of her first children with her. She is now working to redeem the other, a girl; and she has not given up all hope of recovering her husband. She was asked whether she thought of doing anything for her two mulatto children. She replied that, to be sure, they were her children; but that she did not think she ever could tell her husband that she had had those two children. If this be not chastity, what is? Where are all the fairest natural affections, if not in these women?

At a very disorderly hotel in South Carolina, we were waited upon by a beautiful mulatto woman and her child, a pretty girl of about eight. The woman entreated that we would buy her child.[Pg 385] On her being questioned, it appeared that it was "a bad place" in which she was: that she had got her two older children sold away, to a better place; and now, her only wish was for this child to be saved. On being asked whether she really desired to be parted from her only remaining child, so as never to see her again, she replied that "it would be hard to part," but for the child's sake she did wish that we would buy her.

A kind-hearted gentleman in the south, finding that the laws of his State precluded his teaching his legacy of slaves according to the usual methods of education, bethought himself, at length, of the moral training of task-work. It succeeded admirably. His negroes soon began to work as slaves are never, under any other arrangement, seen to work. Their day's task was finished by eleven o'clock. Next, they began to care for one another: the strong began to help the weak:—first, husbands helped their wives; then parents helped their children; and, at length, the young began to help the old. Here was seen the awakening of natural affections which had lain in a dark sleep.

Of the few methods of education which have been tried, none have succeeded so well as this task-work. As its general adoption might have the effect of enabling slavery to subsist longer than it otherwise could, perhaps it is well that it can be employed only to a very small extent. Much of the work on the plantations cannot be divided into tasks. Where it can, it is wise in the masters to avail themselves of this means of enlisting the will of the slave in behalf of his work.

No other mode of teaching serves this purpose in any degree. The shutting up of the schools, when I was in the south, struck me as a sign of the times,—a favourable sign, in as far as it showed the crisis to be near; and it gave me little regret[Pg 386] on account of the slave children. Reading and writing even (which are never allowed) would be of no use to beings without minds,—as slaves are prior to experience of life; and religious teaching is worse than useless to beings who, having no rights, can have no duties. Their whole notion of religion is of power and show, as regards God; of subjection to a new sort of reward and punishment, as regards themselves; and invisible reward and punishment have no effect on them. A negro, conducting worship, was heard to pray thus; and broad as the expressions are, they are better than an abject, unintelligent adoption of the devotional language of whites. "Come down, O Lord, come down,—on your great white horse, a kickin' and snortin'." An ordinary negro's highest idea of majesty is of riding a prancing white horse. As for their own concern in religion, I know of a "force" where a preacher had just made a strong impression. The slaves had given up dancing, and sang nothing but psalms: they exhibited the most ludicrous spiritual pride, and discharged their business more lazily than ever, taunting their mistress with, "You no holy. We be holy. You no in state o' salvation." Such was the effect upon the majority. Here is the effect upon a stronger head.

"Harry," said his master, "you do as badly as ever. You steal and tell lies. Don't you know you will be punished in hell?"

"Ah, massa, I been thinking 'bout that. I been thinking when Harry's head is in the ground, there'll be no more Harry,—no more Harry."

"But the clergyman, and other people who know better than you, tell you that if you steal you will go to hell, and be punished there."

"Been thinking 'bout that too. Gentlemen be wise, and so they tell us 'bout being punished, that we may not steal their things here: and then we go and find out afterwards how it is."[Pg 387] Such is the effect of religion upon those who have no rights, and therefore no duties. Great efforts are being now made by the clergy of four denominations[22] to obtain converts in the south. The fact, pointed out to me by Mr. Madison, that the "chivalrous" south is growing strict, while the puritanic north is growing genial, is a very remarkable sign of the times, as it regards slavery. All sanctions of the institution being now wanted, religious sanctions are invoked among others. The scene has been acted before, often enough to make the catastrophe clearly discernible. There are no true religious sanctions of slavery. There will be no lack of Harrys to detect the forgeries put forth as such: and, under the most corrupt presentments of religion, there lives something of its genuine spirit,—enough to expand, sooner or later, and explode the institution with which it can never combine. Though I found that the divines of the four denominations were teaching a compromising Christianity, to propitiate the masters, and gross superstitions to beguile the slaves,—vying with each other in the latter respect, that they might outstrip one another in the number of their converts,—I rejoiced in their work. Anything is better for the slaves than apathetic subjection; and, under all this falsification, enough Christian truth has already come in to blow slavery to atoms.

The testimony of slave-holders was most explicit as to no moral improvement having taken place, in consequence of the introduction of religion. There was less singing and dancing; but as much lying, drinking, and stealing as ever: less docility, and a vanity even transcending the common vanity of slaves,—to whom the opinion of others is all which they have to gain or lose. The houses are as dirty as ever, (and I never saw a clean room[Pg 388] or bed but once, within the boundaries of the slave States;) the family are still contented with their "clean linen, as long as it does not smell badly." A new set of images has been presented to the slaves; but there still remains but one idea, by and for which any of them live; the idea of freedom.

Not for this, however, is the present zeal for religion a less remarkable sign of the times.

Another is, a proposition lately made in Charleston to remove the slave-market further from public observation. This acknowledgment, in such a place, that there is something distasteful, or otherwise uncomfortable, in the sale of human beings, is portentous. I was in that Charleston slave-market; and saw the sale of a woman with her children. A person present voluntarily assured me that there was nothing whatever painful in the sight. It appears, however, that the rest of Charleston thinks differently.

I was witness to the occasional discussion of the question whether Congress has power to prohibit the internal slave trade; and found that some very eminent men had no doubt whatever of such power being possessed by Congress, through the clause which authorises it to "regulate commerce among the several States." Among those who held this opinion were Mr. Madison and Mr. Webster.

The rapid increase of the suffrage in the north, compared with the south, affords an indication of some speedy change of circumstances. Three fifths of the slave population is represented; but this basis of representation is so narrow in contrast with that of the populous States where every man has the suffrage, that the south must decrease and the north increase, in a way which cannot long be borne by the former. The south has no remedy but in abolishing the institution by which her [Pg 389]prosperity is injured, and her population comparatively confined. She sees how it is in the two contiguous States of Missouri and Illinois: that new settlers examine Illinois, pass on into Missouri, where land is much cheaper, and return to Illinois to settle, because there is no slavery there: so that the population is advancing incalculably faster in Illinois than in Missouri. Missouri will soon and easily find her remedy, in abolishing slavery; when the whites will rush in, as they now do into the neighbouring States. In the south, the case is more difficult. It will be long before white labour becomes so reputable there as elsewhere; and the present white residents cannot endure the idea of the suffrage being freely given, within any assignable time, to those who are now their slaves, or to their dusky descendants. Yet this is what must be done, sooner or later, with more or fewer precautions, if the south means to hold an important rank in Congress. It is in contemplation of this difficulty that the loudest threats are heard of secession from the Union; a movement which, as I have before said, would be immediately prevented, or signally punished. The abolition of slavery is the only resource.

Upon the most remarkable of all the signs of the times relating to slavery, it is not necessary to say much. Those which I have mentioned are surely enough to show, as plainly as if a ghost had come from the grave to tell us, that the time is at hand for the destruction of this monstrous anomaly. What the issue of the coming change will be is, to my mind, decided by a consideration on which almost every man is vociferating his opinion,—the character of the abolitionists.

It is obvious enough why this point is discussed so widely and so constantly, that I think I may say I heard more upon it, while I was in America, than[Pg 390] upon all other American matters together. It is clearly convenient to throw so weighty a question as that of abolition back upon the aggregate characters of those who propose it; convenient to slave-holders, convenient to those in the north whose sympathies are with slave-holders, or who dread change, or who want an excuse to themselves for not acting upon the principles which all profess. The character of the abolitionists of the United States has been the object of attack for some years,—of daily and hourly attack; and, as far as I know, there has been no defence; for the plain reason that this is a question on which there can be no middle party. All who are not with the abolitionists are against them; for silence and inaction are public acquiescence in things as they are. The case is, then, that everybody is against them but their own body, whose testimony would, of course, go for nothing, if it were offered; which it never is.—I know many of them well; as every stranger in the country ought to take pains to do. I first heard everything that could be said against them: and afterwards became well acquainted with a great number of them.

I think the abolitionists of the United States the most reasonable set of people that I ever knew to be united together for one object. Among them may be enjoyed the high and rare luxury of having a reason rendered for every act performed, and every opinion maintained. The treatment they have met with compels them to be more thoroughly informed, and more completely assured on every point on which they commit themselves, than is commonly considered necessary on the right side of a question, where there is the strength of a mighty principle to repose upon. The commonest charge against them is that they are fanatical. I think them, [Pg 391]generally speaking, the most clear-headed, right-minded class I ever had intercourse with. Their accuracy about dates, numbers, and all such matters of fact, is as remarkable as their clear perception of the principles on which they proceed. They are, however, remarkably deficient in policy,—in party address. They are artless to a fault; and probably, no party, religious, political, or benevolent, in their country, ever was formed and conducted with so little dexterity, shrewdness, and concert. Noble and imperishable as their object is, it would probably, from this cause, have slipped through their fingers for the present, if it had not been for some other qualities common among them. It is needless to say much of their heroism; of the strength of soul with which they await and endure the inflictions with which they are visited, day by day. Their position indicates all this. Animating as it is to witness, it is less touching than the qualities to which they owe the success which would otherwise have been forfeited through their want of address and party organisation. A spirit of meekness, of mutual forbearance, of mutual reverence, runs through the whole body; and by this are selfish considerations put aside, differences composed, and distrusts obviated, to a degree which I never hoped to witness among a society as various as the sects, parties and opinions which are the elements of the whole community. With the gaiety of heart belonging to those who have cast aside every weight; with the strength of soul proper to those who walk by faith; with the child-like unconsciousness of the innocent; living from hour to hour in the light of that greatest of all purposes,—to achieve a distant object by the fulfilment of the nearest duty,—and therefore rooting out from among themselves all aristocratic tendencies and usages, rarely speaking[Pg 392] of their own sufferings and sacrifices, but in honour preferring one another, how can they fail to win over the heart of society,—that great heart, sympathising with all that is lofty and true?[23]

As was said to me, "the Searcher of hearts is passing through the land, and every one must come forth to the ordeal." This Searcher of hearts comes now in the form of the mighty principle of human freedom. If a glance is cast over the assemblage called to the ordeal, how mean and trivial are the vociferations in defence of property, the threats of revenge for light, the boast of physical force, the appeal to the compromises which constitute the defects of human law! How low and how sad appear the mercenary interests, the social fears, the clerical blindness or cowardice, the morbid fastidiousness of those who, professing the same principles with the abolitionists, are bent upon keeping those principles for ever an abstraction! How inspiring is it to see that the community is, notwithstanding all this, sound at the core, and that the soundness is spreading so fast that the health of the whole community may be ultimately looked for! When a glance shows us all this, and that the abolitionists are no more elated by their present success than they were depressed by their almost hopeless degradation, we may fairly consider the[Pg 393] character of the abolitionists a decisive sign of the times,—a peculiarly distinct prophecy that the coloured race will soon pass from under the yoke. The Searcher of hearts brings prophecies in his hand, which those who will may read.[24]

I cannot give much space to the theories which are current as to what the issue will be if the abolition of slavery should not take place. To me it seems pretty clear, when the great amount of the mulatto population is considered. Within an almost calculable time, the population would be wholly mulatto; and the southern States would be in a condition so far inferior to the northern, that they would probably separate, and live under a different form of government. A military despotism might probably be established when the mixture of colours had become inconvenient, without being universal: slavery would afterwards die out, through the general degradation of society; and then the community would begin again to rise, from a very low point. But it will be seen that I do not anticipate that there will be room or time for this set of circumstances to take place. I say this in the knowledge of the fact that a very perceptible tinge of negro blood is visible in some of the first families of Louisiana; a fact learned from residents of high quality on the spot.

[Pg 394]

How stands the case, finally?—A large proportion of the labour of the United States is held on principles wholly irreconcilable with the principles of the constitution: whatever may be true about its origin, it is now inefficient, wasteful, destructive, to a degree which must soon cause a change of plan: some who see the necessity of such a change, are in favour of reversing the original policy;—slavery having once been begun in order to till the land, they are now for usurping a new territory in order to employ their slaves: others are for banishing the labour which is the one thing most needful to their country, in every way. While all this confusion and mismanagement exist, here is the labour, actually on the land, ready to be employed to better purpose; and in the treasury are the funds by which the transmutation of slave into free labour might be effected,—at once in the District of Columbia; and by subsequent arrangements in the slave States. Many matters of detail would have to be settled: the distribution would be difficult; but it is not impossible. Virginia, whose revenue is derived from the rearing of slaves for the south, whose property is the beings themselves, and not their labour, must, in justice, receive a larger compensation than such States as Alabama and Louisiana, where the labour is the wealth, and which would be therefore immediately enriched by the improvement in the quality of the labour which would follow upon emancipation. Such arrangements may be difficult to make; but "when there's a will there's a way;" and when it is generally perceived that the abolition of slavery must take place, the great principle will not long be allowed to lie in fetters of detail. The Americans have done more difficult things than this; though assuredly none greater. The restoration of two millions and a half of people to their human rights[Pg 395] will be as great a deed as the history of the world will probably ever have to exhibit. In none of its pages are there names more lustrous than those of the clear-eyed and fiery-hearted few who began and are achieving the virtuous revolution.


[12] I might add their matter-of-fact credulity, strongly resembling romance. As a specimen of the quizzing common with regard to the Germans, I give an anecdote. At the time when the struggle between Adams and Jackson was very close, a supporter of Adams complained to Mr. W. that it was provoking that somebody had persuaded the Germans in Pennsylvania that Mr. Adams had married a daughter of George III.; a report which would cost him all their votes. Mr. W. said, "Why do not you contradict it?" "O," replied his friend, "you know nothing of those people. They will believe everything, and unbelieve nothing. No: instead of contradicting the report, we must allow that Adams married a daughter of George III.; but add that Jackson married two."

[13] I heard some interesting facts about the Germans in Pennsylvania from Mr. Gallatin, who lived among them for some time. A fact regarding this gentleman shows what the obscurity of country life in the United States may be. His estate was originally in Virginia. By a new division, it was thrown into the back of Pennsylvania. He ceased to be heard of, for some years, in the interval of his engaging in public affairs. During this time, an advertisement appeared in a newspaper, asking for tidings of "one Albert Gallatin" and adding that if he were still living, he might, on making a certain application, hear of something to his advantage.

[14] I need hardly mention that I read "England and America" before I set out on my travels. It will appear that I am under obligations to that valuable work for much guidance.

[15] See Appendix A.

[16] The Texans pretend to deny that the slave-trade will receive, or is receiving, an impulse from them. The case is this. In the Texan constitution, the importation of slaves, except from the United States, is declared piracy. A most wealthy slave-owner of Louisiana told me, in 1835, that the annual importation of native Africans (by smuggling) was from thirteen thousand to fifteen thousand. This has much increased since. As long as there is a market for slaves, there will be the slave-trade, though there were a preventive cruiser to every mile of the ocean.

An official gentleman, from the British West Indies, informed me that much mischief has ensued from the withdrawing of two or three small British schooners, which used to cruise about the islands, and were broken up on the plea of economy;—it being supposed that vessels so small could do no good which would compensate for their expense. This is a mistake. If a slave ship surrenders on summons, the ship and cargo are forfeited, and that is all. If a gun is fired, in defence, the captain and crew become thereby liable to be hanged as pirates. Of course, those who man a slave ship are ready to surrender to a cock-boat, with two men in it, rather than become liable to hanging for property in which they can have, at most, but a very small interest. Thus a schooner renders as good aid, and is as much an object of dread, in this kind of service, as a larger vessel.

[17] England and America.

[18] It may surprise some that I speak of those who are blind to slavery being an anomaly in economy as 'few.' Among the many hundreds of persons in the slave States, with whom I conversed on the subject of slavery, I met with only one, a lady, who defended the institution altogether: and with perhaps four or five who defended it as necessary to a purpose which must be fulfilled, and could not be fulfilled otherwise. All the rest who vindicated its present existence did so on the ground of the impossibility of doing it away. A very large number avowed that it was indefensible in every point of view.

[19] With the condition of the African colony, we have here nothing to do. We are now considering the Colonisation Society in its professed relation to American slavery.

[20] Governor M'Duffie's message to the legislature of South Carolina contains the proposition that freedom can be preserved only in societies where either work is disreputable, or there is an hereditary aristocracy, or a military despotism. He prefers the first, as being the most republican.

[21] The dispute between the abolitionists and their adversaries is always made to turn on the point of distinction between freedom of discussion and political interference. With the views now entertained by the south, she can never be satisfied on this head. She requires nothing short of a dead silence upon the subject of human rights. This demand is made by her state governors of the state governors of the north. It will, of course, never be granted. The course of the abolitionists seems to themselves clear enough; and they act accordingly. They labour politically only with regard to the District of Columbia, over which Congress holds exclusive jurisdiction. Their other endeavour is to promote the discussion of the moral question throughout the free States. They use no direct means to this end in the slave States;—in the first place, because they have no power to do so; and in the next, because the requisite movement there is sure to follow upon that in the north. It is wholly untrue that they insinuate their publications into the south. Their only political transgression (and who will call it a moral one?) is, helping fugitive slaves. The line between free discussion and political interference has never yet been drawn to the satisfaction of both parties, and never will be.

[22] Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists and Baptists.

[23] It may, at the first glance, appear improbable that such a character as this should belong to any collection of individuals. But let it be remembered what the object is; an object which selects for its first supporters the choicest spirits of society. These choice spirits, again, are disciplined by what they have to undergo for their object, till they come out such as I have described them. Their's is not a common charitable institution, whose committees meet, and do creditable business, and depart homewards in peace. They are the confessors of the martyr-age of America. As a matter of course, their character will be less distinctive as their numbers increase. Many are coming in, and more will come in, who had not strength, or light, or warmth enough to join them in the days of their insignificance.

[24] While I write, confirmation comes in the shape of Governor M'Duffie's message to the legislature of South Carolina, in which he speaks of the vast and accelerated spread of abolition principles; of the probability that slavery in the District of Columbia will be soon abolished; and of the pressing occasion that thence arises for South Carolina to resolve what she shall do, rather than part with her domestic institutions. He recommends her to declare her intention of peaceably withdrawing from the Union, in such a case. Time will show whether the majority of her citizens will prefer sacrificing their connexion with the Union, or their slavery; whether the separation will be allowed by the other States to take place; or, if it be, whether South Carolina will not speedily desire a readmission.