Part 3 out of 7
information that he would walk to the hotel. Upon receiving this
intimation the silent crowd divided itself in a very orderly
manner, leaving a space for him to walk through them. He did so,
uncovered, though the distance was considerable, and the weather
very cold; but he alone (with the exception of a few European
gentlemen who were present) was without a hat. He wore his grey
hair, carelessly, but not ungracefully arranged, and, spite of
his harsh gaunt features, he looks like a gentleman and a
soldier. He was in deep mourning, having very recently lost his
wife; they were said to have been very happy together, and I was
pained by hearing a voice near me exclaim, as he approached the
spot where I stood, "There goes Jackson, where is his wife?"
Another sharp voice, at a little distance, cried, "Adams for
ever!" And these sounds were all I heard to break the silence.
"They manage these matters better" in the East, I have no doubt,
but as yet I was still in the West, and still inclined to think,
that however meritorious the American character may be, it is not
Mr. T. and his sons joined the group of citizens who waited upon
him to the hotel, and were presented to the President in form;
that is, they shook hands with him. Learning that he intended to
remain a few hours there, or more properly, that it would be a
few hours before the steam-boat would be ready to proceed, Mr. T.
secured berths on board, and returned, to take a hasty dinner
with us. At the hour appointed by the captain, Mr. T. and his
son accompanied the General on board; and by subsequent letters I
learnt that they had conversed a good deal with him, and were
pleased by his conversation and manners, but deeply disgusted by
the brutal familiarity to which they saw him exposed at every
place on their progress at which they stopped; I am tempted to
quote one passage, as sufficiently descriptive of the manner,
which so painfully grated against their European feelings.
'There was not a hulking boy from a keel-boat who was not
introduced to the President, unless, indeed, as was the case
with some, they introduced themselves: for instance, I was at
his elbow when a greasy fellow accosted him thus:-
"General Jackson, I guess?"
'The General bowed assent.
"Why they told me you was dead."
"No! Providence has hitherto preserved my life."
"And is your wife alive too?"
'The General, apparently much hurt, signified the contrary, upon
which the courtier concluded his harangue, by saying, "Aye, I
thought it was the one or the t'other of ye."'
American Spring--Controversy between Messrs. Owen and Cambell--
Public ball--Separation of the sexes--American freedom--Execution
The American spring is by no means so agreeable as the American
autumn; both move with faultering step, and slow; but this
lingering pace, which is delicious in autumn, is most tormenting
in the spring. In the one case you are about to part with a
friend, who is becoming more gentle and agreeable at every step,
and such steps can hardly be made too slowly; but in the other
you are making your escape from a dreary cavern, where you have
been shut up with black frost and biting blasts, and where your
best consolation was being smoke-dried.
But, upon second thoughts, I believe it would be more correct,
instead of complaining of the slow pace of the American spring,
to declare that they have no spring at all. The beautiful autumn
often lingers on till Christmas, after which winter can be
trifled with no longer, and generally keeps a stubborn hold
through the months which we call spring, when he suddenly turns
his back, and summer takes his place.
The inconceivable uncertainty of the climate is, however, such,
that I will not venture to state about what time this change
takes place, for it is certain, that let me name what time I
would, it would be easy for any weather journaliser to prove me
wrong, by quoting that the thermometer was at 100 at a period
which my statement included in the winter; or 50 long after I
made the summer commence.
The climate of England is called uncertain, but it can never, I
think, be so described by any who have experienced that of the
United States. A gentleman, on whose accuracy I could depend,
told me he had repeatedly known the thermometer vary above 40
degrees in the space of twelve hours. This most unpleasant
caprice of the temperature is, I conceive, one cause of the
unhealthiness of the climate.
At length, however, after shivering and shaking till we were
tired of it, and having been half ruined in fire-wood (which,
by the way, is nearly as dear as at Paris, and dearer in many
parts of the Union), the summer burst upon us full blown,
and the ice-house, the piazza, and the jalousies were again
in full requisition.
It was in the early summer of this year (1829) that Cincinnati
offered a spectacle unprecedented, I believe, in any age or
country. Mr. Owen, of Lanark, of New Harmony, of Texas, well
known to the world by all or either of these additions, had
challenged the whole religious public of the United States to
discuss with him publicly the truth or falsehood of all the
religions that had ever been propagated on the face of the earth;
stating, further, that he undertook to prove that they were all
equally false, and nearly equally mischievous. This most
appalling challenge was conveyed to the world through the medium
of New Orleans newspapers, and for some time it remained
unanswered; at length the Reverend Alexander Campbell, from
Bethany, (not of Judaea, but of Kentucky,) proclaimed, through
the same medium, that he was ready to take up the gauntlet. The
place fixed for this extraordinary discussion was Cincinnati; the
time, the second Monday in May, 1829, being about a year from the
time the challenge was accepted; thus giving the disputants time
to prepare themselves.
Mr. Owen's preparation, however, could only have been such as
those who run may read, for, during the interval, he traversed
great part of North America, crossed the Atlantic twice, visited
England, Scotland, Mexico, Texas, and I know not how many places
Mr. Campbell, I was told, passed this period very differently,
being engaged in reading with great research and perseverance all
the theological works within his reach. But whatever confidence
the learning and piety of Mr. Campbell might have inspired in his
friends, or in the Cincinnati Christians in general, it was not,
as it appeared, sufficient to induce Mr. Wilson, the Presbyterian
minister of the largest church in the town, to permit the display
of them within its walls. This refusal was greatly reprobated,
and much regretted, as the curiosity to hear the discussion was
very general, and no other edifice offered so much accommodation.
A Methodist meeting-house, large enough to contain a thousand
persons, was at last chosen; a small stage was arranged round the
pulpit, large enough to accommodate the disputants and their
stenographers; the pulpit itself was throughout the whole time
occupied by the aged father of Mr. Campbell, whose flowing white
hair, and venerable countenance, constantly expressive of the
deepest attention, and the most profound interest, made him a
very striking figure in the group. Another platform was raised
in a conspicuous part of the building, on which were seated seven
gentlemen of the city, selected as moderators.
The chapel was equally divided, one half being appropriated to
ladies, the other to gentlemen; and the door of entrance reserved
for the ladies was carefully guarded by persons appointed to
prevent any crowding or difficulty from impeding their approach.
I suspect that the ladies were indebted to Mr. Owen for this
attention; the arrangements respecting them on this occasion were
by no means American.
When Mr. Owen rose, the building was thronged in every part; the
audience, or congregation, (I hardly know which to call them)
were of the highest rank of citizens, and as large a proportion
of best bonnets fluttered there, as the "two horned church"
itself could boast.
It was in the profoundest silence, and apparently with the
deepest attention, that Mr. Owen's opening address was received;
and surely it was the most singular one that ever Christian men
and women sat to listen to.
When I recollect its object, and the uncompromising manner in
which the orator stated his mature conviction that the whole
history of the Christian mission was a fraud, and its sacred
origin a fable, I cannot but wonder that it was so listened to;
yet at the time I felt no such wonder. Never did any one
practise the _suaviter in modo_ with more powerful effect than
Mr. Owen. The gentle tone of his voice; his mild, sometimes
playful, but never ironical manner; the absence of every
vehement or harsh expression; the affectionate interest
expressed for "the whole human family," the air of candour
with which he expressed his wish to be convinced he was wrong,
if he indeed were so--his kind smile--the mild expression of
his eyes--in short, his whole manner, disarmed zeal, and
produced a degree of tolerance that those who did not hear
him would hardly believe possible.
Half an hour was the time allotted for each haranguer; when this
was expired, the moderators were seen to look at their watches.
Mr. Owen, too, looked at his (without pausing) smiled, shook his
head, and said in a parenthesis "a moment's patience," and
continued for nearly another half hour.
Mr. Campbell then arose; his person, voice, and manner all
greatly in his favour. In his first attack he used the arms,
which in general have been considered as belonging to the other
side of the question. He quizzed Mr. Owen most unmercifully;
pinched him here for his parallelograms; hit him there for his
human perfectibility, and kept the whole audience in a roar of
laughter. Mr. Owen joined in it most heartily himself, and
listened to him throughout with the air of a man who is delighted
at the good things he is hearing, and exactly in the cue to
enjoy all the other good things that he is sure will follow.
Mr. Campbell's watch was the only one which reminded us that we
had listened to him for half an hour; and having continued
speaking for a few minutes after he had looked at it, he sat down
with, I should think, the universal admiration of his auditory.
Mr. Owen again addressed us; and his first five minutes were
occupied in complimenting Mr. Campbell with all the strength
his exceeding hearty laughter had left him. But then he changed
his tone, and said the business was too serious to permit the
next half hour to pass so lightly and so pleasantly as the last;
and then he read us what he called his twelve fundamental laws
of human nature. These twelve laws he has taken so much trouble
to circulate to all the nations of the earth, that it must be
quite unnecessary to repeat them here. To me they appear
twelve truisms, that no man in his senses would ever think of
contradicting; but how any one can have conceived that the
explanation and defence of these laws could furnish forth
occupation for his pen and his voice, through whole years of
unwearying declamation, or how he can have dreamed that they
could be twisted into a refutation of the Christian religion,
is a mystery which I never expect to understand.
From this time Mr. Owen entrenched himself behind his twelve
laws, and Mr. Campbell, with equal gravity, confined himself to
bringing forward the most elaborate theological authorities in
evidence of the truth of revealed religion.
Neither appeared to me to answer the other; but to confine
themselves to the utterance of what they had uppermost in their
own minds when the discussion began. I lamented this on the side
of Mr. Campbell, as I am persuaded he would have been much more
powerful had he trusted more to himself and less to his books.
Mr. Owen is an extraordinary man, and certainly possessed of
talent, but he appears to me so utterly benighted in the mists
of his own theories, that he has quite lost the power of looking
through them, so as to get a peep at the world as it really
exists around him.
At the conclusion of the debate (which lasted for fifteen
sittings) Mr. Campbell desired the whole assembly to sit down.
They obeyed. He then requested all who wished well to
Christianity to rise, and a very large majority were in an
instant on their legs. He again requested them to be seated, and
then desired those who believed not in its doctrines to rise, and
a few gentlemen and one lady obeyed. Mr. Owen protested against
this manoeuvre, as he called it, and refused to believe that it
afforded any proof of the state of men's minds, or of women's
either; declaring, that not only was such a result to be
expected, in the present state of things, but that it was the
duty of every man who had children to feed, not to hazard the
sale of his hogs, or his iron, by a declaration of opinions which
might offend the majority of his customers. It was said, that at
the end of the fifteen meetings the numerical amount of the
Christians and the Infidels of Cincinnati remained exactly what
it was when they began.
This was a result that might have been perhaps anticipated; but
what was much less to have been expected, neither of the
disputants ever appeared to lose their temper. I was told they
were much in each other's company, constantly dining together,
and on all occasions expressed most cordially their mutual
All this I think could only have happened in America. I am not
quite sure that it was very desirable it should have happened
In noting the various brilliant events which diversified our
residence in the western metropolis, I have omitted to mention
the Birthday Ball, as it is called, a festivity which, I believe,
has place on the 22nd of February, in every town and city
throughout the Union. It is the anniversary of the birth of
General Washington, and well deserves to be marked by the
Americans as a day of jubilee.
I was really astonished at the _coup d'oeil_ on entering, for I
saw a large room filled with extremely well-dressed company,
among whom were many very beautiful girls. The gentlemen also
were exceedingly smart, but I had not yet been long enough in
Western America not to feel startled at recognising in almost
every full-dressed _beau_ that passed me, the master or shopman
that I had been used to see behind the counter, or lolling at the
door of every shop in the city. The fairest and finest belles
smiled and smirked on them with as much zeal and satisfaction as
I ever saw bestowed on an eldest son, and I therefore could feel
no doubt of their being considered as of the highest rank. Yet
it must not be supposed that there is no distinction of classes:
at this same ball I was looking among the many very beautiful
girls I saw there for one more beautiful still, with whose lovely
face I had been particularly struck at the school examination I
have mentioned. I could not find her, and asked a gentleman why
the beautiful Miss C. was not there.
"You do not yet understand our aristocracy," he replied, "the
family of Miss C. are mechanics."
"But the young lady has been educated at the same school as
these, whom I see here, and I know her brother has a shop in the
town, quite as large, and apparently as prosperous, as those
belonging to any of these young men. What is the difference?"
"He is a mechanic; he assists in making the articles he sells;
the others call themselves merchants."
The dancing was not quite like, yet not very unlike, what we see
at an assize or race-ball in a country town. They call their
dances cotillions instead of quadrilles, and the figures are
called from the orchestra in English, which has very ludicrous
effect on European ears.
The arrangements for the supper were very singular, but eminently
characteristic of the country. The gentlemen had a splendid
entertainment spread for them in another large room of the hotel,
while the poor ladies had each a plate put into their hands, as
they pensively promenaded the ballroom during their absence; and
shortly afterwards servants appeared, bearing trays of
sweetmeats, cakes, and creams. The fair creatures then sat down
on a row of chairs placed round the walls, and each making a
table of her knees, began eating her sweet, but sad and sulky
repast. The effect was extremely comic; their gala dresses and
the decorated room forming a contrast the most unaccountable with
their uncomfortable and forlorn condition.
This arrangement was owing neither to economy nor want of a
room large enough to accommodate the whole party, but purely
because the gentlemen liked it better. This was the answer
given me, when my curiosity tempted me to ask why the ladies
and gentlemen did not sup together; and this was the answer
repeated to me afterwards by a variety of people to whom I put
the same question.
I am led to mention this feature of American manners very
frequently, not only because it constantly recurs, but because
I consider it as being in a great degree the cause of that
universal deficiency in good manners and graceful demeanour,
both in men and women, which is so remarkable.
Where there is no court, which every where else is the glass
wherein the higher orders dress themselves, and which again
reflected from them to the classes below, goes far towards
polishing, in some degree, a great majority of the population,
it is not to be expected that manner should be made so much a
study, or should attain an equal degree of elegance; but the
deficiency, and the total difference, is greater than this
cause alone could account for. The hours of enjoyment are
important to human beings every where, and we every where find
them preparing to make the most of them. Those who enjoy
themselves only in society, whether intellectual or convivial,
prepare themselves for it, and such make but a poor figure when
forced to be content with the sweets of solitude: while, on
the other hand, those to whom retirement affords the greatest
pleasure, seldom give or receive much in society. Wherever
the highest enjoyment is found by both sexes in scenes where
they meet each other, both will prepare themselves to appear
with advantage there. The men will not indulge in the luxury
of chewing tobacco, or even of spitting, and the women will
contrive to be capable of holding a higher post than that of
In America, with the exception of dancing, which is almost wholly
confined to the unmarried of both sexes, all the enjoyments of
the men are found in the absence of the women. They dine, they
play cards, they have musical meetings, they have suppers, all in
large parties but all without women. Were it not that such is
the custom, it is impossible but that they would have ingenuity
enough to find some expedient for sparing the wives and daughters
of the opulent the sordid offices of household drudgery which
they almost all perform in their families. Even in the slave
states, though they may not clear-starch and iron, mix puddings
and cakes one half of the day, and watch them baking the other
half, still the very highest occupy themselves in their household
concerns, in a manner that precludes the possibility of their
becoming elegant and enlightened companions. In Baltimore,
Philadelphia, and New York, I met with some exceptions to this;
but speaking of the country generally, it is unquestionably true.
Had I not become heartily tired of my prolonged residence in a
place I cordially disliked, and which moreover I began to fear
would not be attended with the favourable results we had
anticipated, I should have found an almost inexhaustible source
of amusement in the notions and opinions of the people I
conversed with; and as it was, I often did enjoy this in a
We received, as I have mentioned, much personal kindness; but
this by no means interfered with the national feeling of, I
believe, unconquerable dislike, which evidently lives at the
bottom of every truly American heart against the English. This
shows itself in a thousand little ways, even in the midst of the
most kind and friendly intercourse, but often in a manner more
comic than offensive.
Sometimes it was thus.--"Well, now, I think your government must
just be fit to hang themselves for that last war they cooked up;
it has been the ruin of you I expect, for it has just been the
making of us."
Then.--"Well, I do begin to understand your broken English better
than I did; but no wonder I could not make it out very well at
first, as you come from London; for every body knows that London
slang is the most dreadful in the world. How queer it is now,
that all the people that live in London should put the _h_ where
it is not, and never will put it where it is."
I was egotistical enough to ask the lady who said this, if she
found that I did so.
"No; you do not," was the reply; but she added, with a complacent
smile, "it is easy enough to see the pains you take about it: I
expect you have heard how we Americans laugh at you all for it,
and so you are trying to learn our way of pronouncing."
One lady asked me very gravely, if we had left home in order to
get rid of the vermin with which the English of all ranks were
afflicted? "I have heard from unquestionable authority," she
added, "that it is quite impossible to walk through the streets
of London without having the head filled."
I laughed a little, but spoke not a word. She coloured highly,
and said, "There is nothing so easy as to laugh, but truth is
truth, laughed at or not."
I must preface the following anecdote by observing that in
America nearly the whole of the insect tribe are classed under
the general name of bug; the unfortunate cosmopolite known by
that name amongst us is almost the only one not included in this
term. A lady abruptly addressed me with, "Don't you hate
chintzes, Mrs. Trollope?"
"No indeed," I replied, "I think them very pretty."
"There now! if that is not being English! I reckon you call that
loving your country; well, thank God! we Americans have something
better to love our country for than that comes to; we are not
obliged to say that we like nasty filthy chintzes to shew that we
are good patriots."
"Chintzes? what are chintzes?"
"Possible! do you pretend you don't know what chintzes are? Why
the nasty little stinking blood-suckers that all the beds in
London are full of."
I have since been informed that _chinche_ is Spanish for bug; but
at the time the word suggested only the material of a curtain.
Among other instances of that species of modesty so often seen in
America, and so unknown to us, I frequently witnessed one, which,
while it evinced the delicacy of the ladies, gave opportunity for
many lively sallies from the gentlemen. I saw the same sort of
thing repeated on different occasions at least a dozen times;
e.g. a young lady is employed in making a shirt, (which it would
be a symptom of absolute depravity to name), a gentleman enters,
and presently begins the sprightly dialogue with "What are you
making Miss Clarissa?"
"Only a frock for my sister's doll, sir."
"A frock? not possible. Don't I see that it is not a frock?
Come, Miss Clarissa, what is it?"
"Tis just an apron for one of our Negroes, Mr. Smith."
"How can you. Miss Clarissa! why is not the two side joined
together? I expect you were better tell me what it is."
"My! why then Mr. Smith, it is just a pillow-case."
"Now that passes. Miss Clarissa! 'Tis a pillow-case for a giant
then. Shall I guess, Miss?"
"Quit, Mr. Smith; behave yourself, or I'll certainly be affronted."
Before the conversation arrives at this point, both gentleman
and lady are in convulsions of laughter. I once saw a young
lady so hard driven by a wit, that to prove she was making a
bag, and nothing but a bag, she sewed up the ends before his
eyes, shewing it triumphantly, and exclaiming, "there now! what
can you say to that?"
One of my friends startled me one day by saying in an
affectionate, but rather compassionate tone, "How will you bear
to go back to England to live, and to bring up your children in
a country where you know you are considered as no better than
the dirt in the streets?"
I begged she would explain.
"Why, you know I would not affront you for any thing; but the
fact is, we Americans know rather more than you think for, and
certainly if I was in England I should not think of associating
with anything but lords. I have always been among the first
here, and if I travelled I should like to do the same. I don't
mean, I'm sure, that I would not come to see you, but you know
you are not lords, and therefore I know very well how you are
treated in your own country."
I very rarely contradicted statements of this kind, as I found
it less trouble, and infinitely more amusing, to let them pass;
indeed, had I done otherwise, it would have been of little avail,
as among the many conversations I held in America respecting my
own country, I do not recollect a single instance in which it
was not clear that I knew much less about it than those I
On the subject of national glory, I presume I got more than my
share of buffeting; for being a woman, there was no objection to
their speaking out. One lady, indeed, who was a great patriot,
evinced much delicacy towards me, for upon some one speaking of
New Orleans, she interrupted them, saying, "I wish you would not
talk of New Orleans;" and, turning to me, added with great
gentleness, "It must be so painful to your feelings to hear that
The immense superiority of the American to the British navy was
a constant theme, and to this I always listened, as nearly as
possible, in silence. I repeatedly heard it stated, (so often,
indeed, and from such various quarters, that I think there must
be some truth in it), that the American sailors fire with a
certainty of slaughter, whereas our shots are sent very nearly at
random. "This, " said a naval officer of high reputation, "is
the blessed effect of your game laws; your sailors never fire at
a mark; whilst our free tars, from their practice in pursuit of
game, can any of them split a hair." But the favourite, the
constant, the universal sneer that met me every where, was on our
old-fashioned attachments to things obsolete. Had they a little
wit among them, I am certain they would have given us the
cognomen of "My Grandmother, the British," for that is the tone
they take, and it is thus they reconcile themselves to the crude
newness of every thing around them.
"I wonder you are not sick of kings, chancellors, and
archbishops, and all your fustian of wigs and gowns," said a
very clever gentleman to me once, with an affected yawn,
"I protest the very sound almost sets me to sleep."
It is amusing to observe how soothing the idea seems, that they
are more modern, more advanced than England. Our classic
literature, our princely dignities, our noble institutions, are
all gone-by relics of the dark ages.
This, and the vastness of their naked territory, make up the
flattering unction which is laid upon the soul, as an antidote
to the little misgiving which from time to time arises, lest
their large country be not of quite so much importance among
the nations, as a certain paltry old-fashioned little place that
they wot of.
I was once sitting with a party of ladies, among whom were one
or two young girls, whose curiosity was greater than their
patriotism, and they asked me many questions respecting the
splendour and extent of London. I was endeavouring to satisfy
them by the best description I could give, when we were
interrupted by another lady, who exclaimed, "Do hold your
tongues, girls, about London; if you want to know what a
beautiful city is, look at Philadelphia; when Mrs. Trollope has
been there, I think she will allow that it is better worth
talking about than that great overgrown collection of nasty,
filthy, dirty streets, that they call London."
Once in Ohio, and once in the district of Columbia, I had
an atlas displayed before me, that I might be convinced by
the evidence of my own eyes what a very contemptible little
country I came from. I shall never forget the gravity with
which, on the latter occasion, a gentleman drew out his
graduated pencil-case, and shewed me past contradiction, that
the whole of the British dominions did not equal in size one of
their least important states; nor the air with which, after the
demonstration, he placed his feet upon the chimney-piece,
considerably higher than his head, and whistled Yankee Doodle.
Their glorious institutions, their unequalled freedom, were, of
course, not left unsung.
I took some pains to ascertain what they meant by their glorious
institutions, and it is with no affectation of ignorance that I
profess I never could comprehend the meaning of the phrase, which
is, however, on the lip of every American, when he talks of his
country. I asked if by their institutions they meant their
hospitals and penitentiaries. "Oh no! we mean the glorious
institutions which are coeval with the revolution." "Is it," I
asked, "your institution of marriage, which you have made purely
a civil and not a religious rite, to be performed by a justice of
peace, instead of a clergyman?"
"Oh no! we speak of our divine political institutions." Yet
still I was in the dark, nor can I guess what they mean, unless
they call incessant electioneering, without pause or interval for
a single day, for a single hour, of their whole existence, "a
Their unequalled freedom, I think, I understand better. Their
code of common law is built upon ours; and the difference between
us is this, in England the laws are acted upon, in America they
I do not speak of the police of the Atlantic cities; I
believe it is well arranged: in New York it is celebrated
for being so; but out of the range of their influence, the
contempt of law is greater than I can venture to state, with
any hope of being believed. Trespass, assault, robbery, nay,
even murder, are often committed without the slightest attempt
at legal interference.
During the summer that we passed most delightfully in Maryland,
our rambles were often restrained in various directions by the
advice of our kind friends, who knew the manners and morals of
the country. When we asked the cause, we were told, "There is a
public-house on that road, and it will not be safe to pass it,"
The line of the Chesapeak and Ohio canal passed within a few
miles of Mrs. S--'s residence. It twice happened during our
stay with her, that dead bodies were found partially concealed
near it. The circumstance was related as a sort of half hour's
wonder; and when I asked particulars of those who, on one
occasion, brought the tale, the reply was, "Oh, he was murdered
I expect; or maybe he died of the canal fever; but they say he
had marks of being throttled." No inquest was summoned; and
certainly no more sensation was produced by the occurrence than
if a sheep had been found in the same predicament.
The abundance of food and the scarcity of hanging were also
favourite topics, as proving their superiority to England. They
are both excellent things, but I do not admit the inference.
A wide and most fertile territory, as yet but thinly inhabited,
may easily be made to yield abundant food for its population: and
where a desperate villain knows, that when he has made his town
or his village "too hot to hold him," he has nothing to do but to
travel a few miles west, and be sure of finding plenty of beef
and whiskey, with no danger that the law shall follow him, it is
not extraordinary that executions should be rare.
Once during our residence at Cincinnati, a murderer of uncommon
atrocity was taken, tried, convicted, and condemned to death.
It had been shewn on his trial, that some years before he had
murdered a wife and child at New Orleans, but little notice had
been taken of it at the time. The crime which had now thrown
him into the hands of justice was the recent murder of a second
wife, and the chief evidence against him was his own son.
The day of his execution was fixed, and the sensation produced
was so great from the strangeness of the occurrence, (no white
man having ever been executed at Cincinnati,) that persons from
sixty miles' distance came to be present at it.
Meanwhile some unco' good people began to start doubts as to
the righteousness of hanging a man, and made application to the
Governor of the State* of Ohio, to commute the sentence into
imprisonment. The Governor for some time refused to interfere
with the sentence of the tribunal before which he had been tried;
but at length, frightened at the unusual situation in which he
found himself, he yielded to the importunity of the Presbyterian
party who had assailed him, and sent off an order to the sheriff
accordingly. But this order was not to reprieve him, but to ask
him if he pleased to be reprieved, and sent to the penitentiary
instead of being hanged.
*(The Governors of states have the same power over life and
(death as is vested, with us, in the crown.
The sheriff waited upon the criminal, and made his proposal, and
was answered. "If any thing could make me agree to it, it would
be the hope of living long enough to kill you and my dog of a
son: however, I won't agree; you shall have the hanging of me."
The worthy sheriff, to whom the ghastly office of executioner is
assigned, said all in his power to persuade him to sign the
offered document, but in vain; he obtained nothing but abuse for
The day of execution arrived; the place appointed was the side
of a hill, the only one cleared of trees near the town; and many
hours before the time fixed, we saw it entirely covered by an
immense multitude of men, women, and children. At length the
hour arrived, the dismal cart was seen slowly mounting the hill,
the noisy throng was hushed into solemn silence; the wretched
criminal mounted the scaffold, when again the sheriff asked him
to sign his acceptance of the commutation proposed; but he
spurned the paper from him, and cried aloud, "Hang me!"
Midday was the moment appointed for cutting the rope; the sheriff
stood, his watch in one hand, and a knife in the other; the hand
was lifted to strike, when the criminal stoutly exclaimed, "I
sign;" and he was conveyed back to prison, amidst the shouts,
laughter, and ribaldry of the mob.
I am not fond of hanging, but there was something in all this
that did not look like the decent dignity of wholesome justice.
It was in the course of this summer that I found the opportunity
I had long wished for, of attending a camp-meeting, and I gladly
accepted the invitation of an English lady and gentleman to
accompany them in their carriage to the spot where it is held;
this was in a wild district on the confines of Indiana.
The prospect of passing a night in the back woods of Indiana was
by no means agreeable, but I screwed my courage to the proper
pitch, and set forth determined to see with my own eyes, and hear
with my own ears, what a camp-meeting really was. I had heard it
said that being at a camp-meeting was like standing at the gate
of heaven, and seeing it opening before you; I had heard it said,
that being at a camp-meeting was like finding yourself within the
gates of hell; in either case there must be something to gratify
curiosity, and compensate one for the fatigue of a long rumbling
ride and a sleepless night.
We reached the ground about an hour before midnight, and the
approach to it was highly picturesque. The spot chosen was the
verge of an unbroken forest, where a space of about twenty acres
appeared to have been partially cleared for the purpose. Tents
of different sizes were pitched very near together in a circle
round the cleared space; behind them were ranged an exterior
circle of carriages of every description, and at the back of each
were fastened the horses which had drawn them thither. Through
this triple circle of defence we distinguished numerous fires
burning brightly within it; and still more numerous lights
flickering from the trees that were left in the enclosure. The
moon was in meridian splendour above our heads.
We left the carriage to the care of a servant, who was to prepare
a bed in it for Mrs. B. and me, and entered the inner circle.
The first glance reminded me of Vauxhall, from the effect of the
lights among the trees, and the moving crowd below them; but the
second shewed a scene totally unlike any thing I had ever
witnessed. Four high frames, constructed in the form of altars,
were placed at the four corners of the enclosure; on these were
supported layers of earth and sod, on which burned immense fires
of blazing pinewood. On one side a rude platform was erected to
accommodate the preachers, fifteen of whom attended this meeting,
and with very short intervals for necessary refreshment and
private devotion, preached in rotation, day and night, from
Tuesday to Saturday.
When we arrived, the preachers were silent; but we heard issuing
from nearly every tent mingled sounds of praying, preaching,
singing, and lamentation. The curtains in front of each tent
were dropped, and the faint light that gleamed through the white
drapery, backed as it was by the dark forest, had a beautiful and
mysterious effect, that set the imagination at work; and had the
sounds which vibrated around us been less discordant, harsh, and
unnatural, I should have enjoyed it; but listening at the corner
of a tent, which poured forth more than its proportion of
clamour, in a few moments chased every feeling derived from
imagination, and furnished realities that could neither be
mistaken or forgotten.
Great numbers of persons were walking about the ground, who
appeared like ourselves to be present only as spectators; some
of these very unceremoniously contrived to raise the drapery of
this tent, at one comer, so as to afford us a perfect view of
The floor was covered with straw, which round the sides was
heaped in masses, that might serve as seats, but which at
that moment were used to support the heads and the arms of the
close-packed circle of men and women who kneeled on the floor.
Out of about thirty persons thus placed, perhaps half a dozen
were men. One of these, a handsome looking youth of eighteen
or twenty, kneeled just below the opening through which I looked.
His arm was encircling the neck of a young girl who knelt beside
him, with her hair hanging dishevelled upon her shoulders, and
her features working with the most violent agitation; soon after
they both fell forward on the straw, as if unable to endure in
any other attitude the burning eloquence of a tall grim figure
in black, who, standing erect in the centre, was uttering with
incredible vehemence an oration that seemed to hover between
praying and preaching; his arms hung stiff and immoveable by
his side, and he looked like an ill-constructed machine, set
in action by a movement so violent, as to threaten its own
destruction, so jerkingly, painfully, yet rapidly, did his
words tumble out; the kneeling circle ceasing not to call in
every variety of tone on the name of Jesus; accompanied with
sobs, groans, and a sort of low howling inexpressibly painful
to listen to. But my attention was speedily withdrawn from the
preacher, and the circle round him, by a figure which knelt
alone at some distance; it was a living image of Scott's
Macbriar, as young, as wild, and as terrible. His thin arms
tossed above his head, had forced themselves so far out of the
sleeves, that they were bare to the elbow; his large eyes glared
frightfully, and he continued to scream without an instant's
intermission the word "Glory!" with a violence that seemed to
swell every vein to bursting. It was too dreadful to look upon
long, and we turned away shuddering.
We made the circuit of the tents, pausing where attention was
particularly excited by sounds more vehement than ordinary.
We contrived to look into many; all were strewed with straw, and
the distorted figures that we saw kneeling, sitting, and lying
amongst it, joined to the woeful and convulsive cries, gave to
each, the air of a cell in Bedlam.
One tent was occupied exclusively by Negroes. They were all
full-dressed, and looked exactly as if they were performing
a scene on the stage. One woman wore a dress of pink gauze
trimmed with silver lace; another was dressed in pale yellow
silk; one or two had splendid turbans; and all wore a profusion
of ornaments. The men were in snow white pantaloons, with gay
coloured linen jackets. One of these, a youth of coal-black
comeliness, was preaching with the most violent gesticulations,
frequently springing high from the ground, and clapping his
hands over his head. Could our missionary societies have heard
the trash he uttered, by way of an address to the Deity, they
might perhaps have doubted whether his conversion had much
enlightened his mind.
At midnight a horn sounded through the camp, which, we were told,
was to call the people from private to public worship; and we
presently saw them flocking from all sides to the front of the
preachers' stand. Mrs. B. and I contrived to place ourselves
with our backs supported against the lower part of this
structure, and we were thus enabled to witness the scene which
followed without personal danger. There were about two thousand
One of the preachers began in a low nasal tone, and, like all
other Methodist preachers, assured us of the enormous depravity
of man as he comes from the hands of his Maker, and of his
perfect sanctification after he had wrestled sufficiently with
the Lord to get hold of him, _et cetera_. The admiration of the
crowd was evinced by almost constant cries of "Amen! Amen!"
"Jesus! Jesus!" "Glory! Glory!" and the like. But this
comparative tranquility did not last long: the preacher told
them that "this night was the time fixed upon for anxious
sinners to wrestle with the Lord;" that he and his brethren
"were at hand to help them," and that such as needed their
help were to come forward into "the pen." The phrase forcibly
recalled Milton's lines--
"Blind mouths! that scarce themselves know how to hold
A sheep-hook, or have learned aught else, the least
That to the faithful herdsman's art belongs!
--But when they list their lean and flashy songs,
Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw;--
The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed!
But swoln with wind, and the rank mist they draw,
Rot inwardly--and foul contagion spread."
"The pen" was the space immediately below the preachers' stand;
we were therefore placed on the edge of it, and were enabled to
see and hear all that took place in the very centre of this
The crowd fell back at the mention of the _pen_, and for some
minutes there was a vacant space before us. The preachers came
down from their stand and placed themselves in the midst of it,
beginning to sing a hymn, calling upon the penitents to come
forth. As they sung they kept turning themselves round to every
part of the crowd and, by degrees, the voices of the whole
multitude joined in chorus. This was the only moment at which
I perceived any thing like the solemn and beautiful effect,
which I had heard ascribed to this woodland worship. It is
certain that the combined voices of such a multitude, heard at
dead of night, from the depths of their eternal forests, the
many fair young faces turned upward, and looking paler and
lovelier as they met the moon-beams, the dark figures of the
officials in the middle of the circle, the lurid glare thrown by
the altar-fires on the woods beyond, did altogether produce a
fine and solemn effect, that I shall not easily forget; but ere
I had well enjoyed it, the scene changed, and sublimity gave
place to horror and disgust.
The exhortation nearly resembled that which I had heard at
"the Revival," but the result was very different; for, instead
of the few hysterical women who had distinguished themselves
on that occasion, above a hundred persons,, nearly all females,
came forward, uttering howlings and groans, so terrible that I
shall never cease to shudder when I recall them. They appeared
to drag each other forward, and on the word being given, "let us
pray," they all fell on their knees; but this posture was soon
changed for others that permitted greater scope for the
convulsive movements of their limbs; and they were soon all
lying on the ground in an indescribable confusion of heads and
legs. They threw about their limbs with such incessant and
violent motions, that I was every instant expecting some serious
accident to occur.
But how am I to describe the sounds that proceeded from this
strange mass of human beings? I know no words which can convey
an idea of it. Hysterical sobbings, convulsive groans, shrieks
and screams the most appalling, burst forth on all sides. I felt
sick with horror. As if their hoarse and over strained voices
failed to make noise enough, they soon began to clap their hands
violently. The scene described by Dante was before me:-
"Quivi sospiri, pianti, ed alti guai
Risonavon per l'aere--
Parole di dolore, accenti d'ira
Voci alti e floche, e suon di man con elle."
Many of these wretched creatures were beautiful young females.
The preachers moved about among them, at once exciting and
soothing their agonies. I heard the muttered "Sister! dear
sister!" I saw the insidious lips approach the cheeks of the
unhappy girls; I heard the murmured confessions of the poor
victims, and I watched their tormentors, breathing into their
ears consolations that tinged the pale cheek with red. Had I
been a man, I am sure I should have been guilty of some rash
act of interference; nor do I believe that such a scene could
have been acted in the presence of Englishmen without instant
punishment being inflicted; not to mention the salutary
discipline of the treadmill, which, beyond all question, would,
in England, have been applied to check so turbulent and so
vicious a scene.
After the first wild burst that followed their prostration, the
meanings, in many instances, became loudly articulate; and I then
experienced a strange vibration between tragic and comic feeling.
A very pretty girl, who was kneeling in the attitude of Canova's
Magdalene immediately before us, amongst an immense quantity of
jargon, broke out thus: "Woe! woe to the backsliders! hear it,
hear it Jesus! when I was fifteen my mother died, and I
backslided, oh Jesus, I backslided! take me home to my mother,
Jesus! take me home to her, for I am weary! Oh John Mitchel!
John Mitchel!" and after sobbing piteously behind her raised
hands, she lifted her sweet face again, which was as pale as
death, and said, "Shall I sit on the sunny bank of salvation with
my mother? my own dear mother? oh Jesus, take me home, take me
home!" Who could refuse a tear to this earnest wish for death in
one so young and so lovely? But I saw her, ere I left the
ground, with her hand fast locked, and her head supported by a
man who looked very much as Don Juan might, when sent back to
earth as too bad for the regions below.
One woman near us continued to "call on the Lord," as it is
termed, in the loudest possible tone, and without a moment's
interval, for the two hours that we kept our dreadful station.
She became frightfully hoarse, and her face so red as to make
me expect she would burst a blood-vessel. Among the rest of
her rant, she said, "I will hold fast to Jesus, I never will
let him go; if they take me to hell, I will still hold him fast,
The stunning noise was sometimes varied by the preachers
beginning to sing; but the convulsive movements of the poor
maniacs only became more violent. At length the atrocious
wickedness of this horrible scene increased to a degree of
grossness, that drove us from our station; we returned to the
carriage at about three o'clock in the morning, and passed
the remainder of the night in listening to the ever increasing
tumult at the pen. To sleep was impossible. At daybreak the
horn again sounded, to send them to private devotion; and in
about an hour afterwards I saw the whole camp as joyously
and eagerly employed in preparing and devouring their most
substantial breakfasts as if the night had been passed in
dancing; and I marked many a fair but pale face, that I
recognised as a demoniac of the night, simpering beside a
swain, to whom she carefully administered hot coffee and
eggs. The preaching saint and the howling sinner seemed alike
to relish this mode of recruiting their strength.
After enjoying abundance of strong tea, which proved a
delightful restorative after a night so strangely spent, I
wandered alone into the forest, and I never remember to have
found perfect quiet more delightful.
We soon after left the ground; but before our departure we
learnt that a very _satisfactory_ collection had been made by
the preachers, for Bibles, Tracts, and _all other religious
Danger of rural excursions--Sickness
It is by no means easy to enjoy the beauties of American scenery
in the west, even when you are in a neighbourhood that affords
much to admire; at least, in doing so, you run considerable risk
of injuring your health. Nothing is considered more dangerous
than exposure to midday heat, except exposure to evening damp;
and the twilight is so short, that if you set out on an
expedition when the fervid heat subsides, you can hardly get half
a mile before "sun down," as they call it, warns you that you
must run or drive home again, as fast as possible, for fear you
should get "a chill."
I believe we braved all this more than any one else in the whole
country, and if we had not, we should have left Cincinnati
without seeing any thing of the country around it.
Though we kept steadily to our resolution of passing no more
sylvan hours in the forests of Ohio, we often spent entire days
in Kentucky, tracing the course of a "creek," or climbing the
highest points within our reach, in the hope of catching a
glimpse of some distant object. A beautiful reach of the Ohio,
or the dark windings of the pretty Licking, were indeed always
the most remarkable features in the landscape.
There was one spot, however, so beautiful that we visited it
again and again; it was by no means free from mosquitoes; and
being on the bank of a stream, with many enormous trees lying on
the half-cleared ground around, it was just such a place as we
had been told a hundred times was particularly "dangerous;"
nevertheless, we dared every thing for the sake of dining beside
our beautiful rippling stream, and watching the bright sunbeams
dancing on the grassy bank, at such a distance from our retreat
that they could not heat us. A little below the basin that
cooled our wine was a cascade of sufficient dimensions to give us
all the music of a waterfall, and all the sparkling brightness of
clear water when it is broken again and again by jutting crags.
To sit beside this miniature cascade, and read, or dream away a
day, was one of our greatest pleasures.
It was indeed a mortifying fact, that whenever we found out a
picturesque nook, where turf, and moss, and deep shade, and a
crystal stream, and fallen trees, majestic in their ruin, tempted
us to sit down, and be very cool and very happy, we invariably
found that that spot lay under the imputation of malaria.
A row upon the Ohio was another of our favourite amusements; but
in this, I believe, we were also very singular, for often, when
enjoying it, we were shouted at, by the young free-borns on the
banks, as if we had been so many monsters.
The only rural amusement in which we ever saw any of the natives
engaged was eating strawberries and cream in a pretty garden
about three miles from the town; here we actually met three or
four carriages; a degree of dissipation that I never witnessed
on any other occasion. The strawberries were tolerable
strawberries, but the cream was the vilest sky-blue, and the
charge half a dollar to each person; which being about the price
of half a fat sheep, I thought "pretty considerable much," if I
may be permitted to use an expressive phrase of the country.
We had repeatedly been told, by those who knew the land, that
the _second summer_ was the great trial to the health of
Europeans settled in America; but we had now reached the middle
of our second August, and with the exception of the fever one of
my sons had suffered from, the summer after our arrival, we had
all enjoyed perfect health; but I was now doomed to feel the
truth of the above prediction, for before the end of August I
fell low before the monster that is for ever stalking through
that land of lakes and rivers, breathing fever and death around.
It was nine weeks before I left my room, and when I did, I
looked more fit to walk into the Potter's Field, (as they call
the English burying ground) than any where else.
Long after my general health was pretty well restored, I suffered
from the effect of the fever in my limbs, and lay in bed reading
several weeks after I had been pronounced convalescent. Several
American novels were brought me. Mr. Flint's Francis Berrian is
excellent; a little wild and romantic, but containing scenes of
first-rate interest and pathos. Hope Leslie, and Redwood, by
Miss Sedgewick, an American lady, have both great merit; and I
now first read the whole of Mr. Cooper's novels. By the time
these American studies were completed, I never closed my eyes
without seeing myriads of bloody scalps floating round me; long
slender figures of Red Indians crept through my dreams with
noiseless tread; panthers flared; forests blazed; and which
ever way I fled, a light foot, a keen eye, and a long rifle
were sure to be on my trail. An additional ounce of calomel
hardly sufficed to neutralize the effect of these raw-head
and bloody-bones adventures. I was advised to plunge
immediately into a course of fashionable novels. It was a
great relief to me; but as my head was by no means very clear,
I sometimes jumbled strangely together the civilized rogues
and assassins of Mr. Bulwer, and the wild men, women, and
children slayers of Mr. Cooper; and, truly, between them, I
passed my dreams in very bad company.
Still I could not stand, nor even sit upright. What was I to
read next? A happy thought struck me. I determined upon
beginning with Waverley, and reading through (not for the first
time certainly) the whole series. And what a world did I enter
upon! The wholesome vigour of every page seemed to communicate
itself to my nerves; I ceased to be languid and fretful, and
though still a cripple, I certainly enjoyed myself most
completely, as long as my treat lasted; but this was a shorter
time than any one would believe, who has not found how such
volumes melt, before the constant reading of a long idle day.
When it was over, however, I had the pleasure of finding that I
could walk half a dozen yards at a time, and take short airings
in an open carriage; and better still, could sleep quietly.
It was no very agreeable conviction which greeted my recovery,
that our Cincinnati speculation for my son would in no way answer
our expectation; and very soon after, he was again seized with
the bilious fever of the country, which terminated in that most
distressing of all maladies, an ague. I never witnessed is
effects before, and therefore made my self extremely miserable at
what those around me considered of no consequence.
I believe this frightful complaint is not immediately dangerous;
but I never can believe that the violent and sudden prostration
of strength, the dreadfully convulsive movements which distort
the limbs, the livid hue that spreads itself over the complexion,
can take place without shaking the seat of health and life.
Repeatedly we thought the malady cured, and for a few days the
poor sufferer believed himself restored to health and strength;
but again and again it returned upon him, and he began to give
himself up as the victim of ill health. My own health was still
very infirm, and it took but little time to decide that we must
leave Cincinnati. The only impediment to this was, the fear that
Mr. Trollope, who was to join us in the Spring, might have set
out, and thus arrive at Cincinnati after we had left it.
However, as the time he had talked of leaving England was later
in the season, I decided upon running the risk; but the winter
had set in with great severity, and the river being frozen, the
steam-boats could not run; the frost continued unbroken through
the whole of February, and we were almost weary of waiting for
its departure, which was to be the signal of ours.
The breaking up of the ice, on the Licking and Ohio, formed a
most striking spectacle. At night the river presented a solid
surface of ice, but in the morning it shewed a collection of
floating icebergs, of every imaginable size and form, whirling
against each other with frightful violence, and with a noise
unlike any sound I remember.
This sight was a very welcome one, as it gave us hopes of
immediate departure, but my courage failed, when I heard that
one or two steam-boats, weary of waiting, meant to start on
the morrow. The idea of running against these floating islands
was really alarming, and I was told by many, that my fears were
not without foundation, for that repeated accidents had happened
from this cause; and then they talked of the little Miami river,
whose mouth we were to pass, sending down masses of ice that
might stop our progress; in short, we waited patiently and
prudently, till the learned in such matters told us that we might
start with safety.
Departure from Cincinnati--Society on board the Steam-boat--
Arrival at Wheeling--Bel Esprit
We quitted Cincinnati the beginning of March, 1830, and I believe
there was not one of our party who did not experience a sensation
of pleasure in leaving it. We had seen again and again all the
queer varieties of it's little world; had amused ourselves with
it's consequence, it's taste, and it's ton, till they had ceased
to be amusing. Not a hill was left unclimbed, nor a forest path
unexplored; and, with the exception of two or three individuals,
who bore heads and hearts peculiar to no clime, but which are
found scattered through the world, as if to keep us every where
in good humour with it, we left nought to regret at Cincinnati.
The only regret was, that we had ever entered it; for we had
wasted health, time, and money there.
We got on board the steam-boat which was to convey us to Wheeling
at three o'clock. She was a noble boat, by far the finest we had
seen. The cabins were above, and the deck passengers, as they
are called, were accommodated below. In front of the ladies'
cabin was an ample balcony, sheltered by an awning; chairs and
sofas were placed there, and even at that early season, nearly
all the female passengers passed the whole day there. The name
of this splendid vessel was the Lady Franklin. By the way, I was
often amused by the evident fondness which the Americans shew for
titles. The wives of their eminent men constantly receive that
of "Lady." We heard of Lady Washington, Lady Jackson, and many
other "ladies." The eternal recurrence of their militia titles
is particularly ludicrous, met with, as they are, among the
tavern-keepers, market-gardeners, &c. But I think the most
remarkable instance which we noticed of this sort of
aristocratical longing occurred at Cincinnati. Mr. T-- in
speaking of a gentleman of the neighbourhood, called him Mr. M--.
"General M--, sir," observed his companion. "I beg his pardon,"
rejoined Mr. T--, "but I was not aware of his being in the army."
"No, sir, not in the army," was the reply, "but he was surveyor-
general of the district."
The weather was delightful; all trace of winter had disappeared,
and we again found ourselves moving rapidly up the stream, and
enjoying all the beauty of the Ohio.
Of the male part of the passengers we saw nothing, excepting at
the short silent periods allotted for breakfast, dinner, and
supper, at which we were permitted to enter their cabin, and
place ourselves at their table.
In the Lady Franklin we had decidedly the best of it, for we had
our beautiful balcony to sit in. In all respects, indeed, our
accommodations were very superior to what we had found in the
boat which brought us from New Orleans to Memphis, where we were
stowed away in a miserable little chamber close aft, under the
cabin, and given to understand by the steward, that it was our
duty there to remain "till such time as the bell should ring for
The separation of the sexes, so often mentioned, is no where more
remarkable than on board the steam-boats. Among the passengers
on this occasion we had a gentleman and his wife, who really
appeared to suffer from the arrangement. She was an invalid, and
he was extremely attentive to her, as far, at least, as the
regulations permitted. When the steward opened the door of
communication between the cabins, to permit our approaching the
table, her husband was always stationed close to it to hand her
to her place; and when he accompanied her again to the door, he
always lingered for a moment or two on the forbidden threshold,
nor left his station, till the last female had passed through.
Once or twice he ventured, when all but his wife were on the
balcony, to sit down beside her for a moment in our cabin, but
the instant either of us entered, he started like a guilty thing
While mentioning the peculiar arrangements which are thought
necessary to the delicacy of the American ladies, or the comfort
of the American gentlemen, I am tempted to allude to a story
which I saw in the papers respecting the visits which it was
stated Captain Basil Hall persisted in making to his wife and
child on board a Mississippi steam-boat, after bring informed
that doing so was contrary to law. Now I happen to know that
neither himself or Mrs. Hall ever entered the ladies' cabin
during the whole voyage, as they occupied a state-room which
Captain Hall had secured for his party. The veracity of
newspaper statements is, perhaps, nowhere quite unimpeachable,
but if I am not greatly mistaken, there are more direct
falsehoods circulated by the American newspapers than by all the
others in the world, and the one great and never-failing source
of these voluminous works of imagination is England and the
English. How differently would such a voyage be managed on the
other side of the Atlantic, were such a mode of travelling
possible there. Such long calm river excursions would be
perfectly delightful, and parties would be perpetually formed to
enjoy them. Even were all the parties strangers to each other,
the knowledge that they were to eat, drink, and steam away
together for a week or fortnight, would induce something like a
social feeling in any other country.
It is true that the men became sufficiently acquainted to game
together, and we were told that the opportunity was considered as
so favourable, that no boat left New Orleans without having as
cabin passengers one or two gentlemen from that city whose
profession it was to drill the fifty-two elements of a pack of
cards to profitable duty. This doubtless is an additional reason
for the strict exclusion of the ladies from their society. The
constant drinking of spirits is another, for though they do not
scruple to chew tobacco and to spit incessantly in the presence
of women, they generally prefer drinking and gaming in their
I often used to amuse myself with fancying the different scene
which such a vessel would display in Europe. The noble length of
the gentlemen's cabin would be put into requisition for a dance,
while that of the ladies, with their delicious balcony, would be
employed for refreshments, instead of sitting down in two long
silent melancholy rows, to swallow as much coffee and beef-steak
as could be achieved in ten minutes. Then song and music would
be heard borne along by the midnight breeze; but on the Ohio,
when light failed to shew us the bluffs, and the trees, with
their images inverted in the stream, we crept into our little
cots, listening to the ceaseless churning of the engine, in hope
it would prove a lullaby till morning.
We were three days in reaching Wheeling, where we arrived at
last, at two o'clock in the morning, an uncomfortable hour to
disembark with a good deal of luggage, as the steam-boat was
obliged to go on immediately; but we were instantly supplied with
a dray, and in a few moments found ourselves comfortably seated
before a good fire, at an hotel near the landing-place; our
rooms, with fires in them, were immediately ready for us, and
refreshments brought, with all that sedulous attention which in
this country distinguishes a slave state. In making this
observation I am very far from intending to advocate the system
of slavery; I conceive it to be essentially wrong; but so far as
my observation has extended, I think its influence is far less
injurious to the manners and morals of the people than the
fallacious ideas of equality, which are so fondly cherished by
the working classes of the white population in America. That
these ideas are fallacious, is obvious, for in point of fact the
man possessed of dollars does command the services of the man
possessed of no dollars; but these services are given grudgingly,
and of necessity, with no appearance of cheerful goodwill on the
one side, or of kindly interest on the other. I never failed to
mark the difference on entering a slave state. I was immediately
comfortable, and at my ease, and felt that the intercourse
between me and those who served me, was profitable to both
parties and painful to neither.
It was not till I had leisure for more minute observation that I
felt aware of the influence of slavery upon the owners of slaves;
when I did, I confess I could not but think that the citizens of
the United States had contrived, by their political alchymy, to
extract all that was most noxious both in democracy and in
slavery, and had poured the strange mixture through every vein of
the moral organization of their country.
Wheeling is the state of Virginia, and appears to be a
flourishing town. It is the point at which most travellers from
the West leave the Ohio, to take the stages which travel the
mountain road to the Atlantic cities.
It has many manufactories, among others, one for blowing and
cutting glass, which we visited. We were told by the workmen
that the articles finished there were equal to any in the world;
but my eyes refused their assent. The cutting was very good,
though by no means equal to what we see in daily use in London;
but the chief inferiority is in the material, which is never
altogether free from colour. I had observed this also in the
glass of the Pittsburgh manufactory, the labour bestowed on it
always appearing greater than the glass deserved. They told us
also, that they were rapidly improving in the art, and I have no
doubt that this was true.
Wheeling has little of beauty to distinguish it, except the ever
lovely Ohio, to which we here bid adieu, and a fine bold hill,
which rises immediately behind the town. This hill, as well as
every other in the neighbourhood, is bored for coal. Their mines
are all horizontal. The coal burns well, but with a very black
and dirty cinder.
We found the coach, by which we meant to proceed to Little
Washington, full, and learnt that we must wait two days before it
would again leave the town. Posting was never heard of in the
country, and the mail travelled all night, which I did not
approve of; we therefore found ourselves compelled to pass two
days at the Wheeling hotel.
I know not how this weary interval would have worn away, had it
not been for the fortunate circumstance of our meeting with a
_bel esprit_ among the boarders there. We descended to the
common sitting room (for private parlours there are none) before
breakfast the morning after our arrival; several ordinary
individuals entered, till the party amounted to eight or nine.
Again the door opened, and in swam a female, who had once
certainly been handsome, and who, it was equally evident, still
thought herself so. She was tall, and well formed, dressed in
black, with many gaudy trinkets about her: a scarlet _fichu_
relieved the sombre colour of her dress, and a very smart little
cap at the back of her head set off an immense quantity of sable
hair, which naturally, or artificially, adorned her forehead.
A becoming quantity of rouge gave the finishing touch to her
figure, which had a degree of pretension about it that
immediately attracted our notice. She talked fluently, and
without any American restraint, and I began to be greatly puzzled
as to who or what she could be; a lady, in the English sense of
the word, I was sure she was not, and she was a little like an
American female of what they call good standing. A beautiful
girl of seventeen entered soon after, and called her "Ma," and
both mother and daughter chattered away, about themselves and
their concerns, in a manner that greatly increased my puzzle.
After breakfast, being much in want of amusement, I seated myself
by her, and entered into conversation. I found her nothing loth,
and in about a minute and a half she put a card into my hand,
setting forth, that she taught the art of painting upon velvet in
all its branches.
She stated to me, with great volubility, that no one but herself
and her daughter knew any thing of this invaluable branch of art;
but that for twenty-five dollars they were willing to communicate
all they knew.
In five minutes more she informed me that she was the author of
some of the most cutting satires in the language; and then she
presented me a paper, containing a prospectus, as she called it,
of a novel, upon an entirely new construction. I was strangely
tempted to ask her if it went by steam, but she left me no time
to ask any thing, for, continuing the autobiography she had so
obligingly begun, she said, "I used to write against all the
Adams faction. I will go up stairs in a moment and fetch you
down my sat-heres against that side. But oh! my dear madam! it
is really frightful to think how talent is neglected in this
country. Ah! I know what you are going to say, my dear madam,
you will tell me that it is not so in yours. I know it! but
alas! the Atlantic! However, I really must tell you how I have
been treated: not only did I publish the most biting sat-heres
against the Adams faction, but I wrote songs and odes in honour
of Jackson; and my daughter, Cordelia, sang a splendid song of
my writing, before eight hundred people, entirely and altogether
written in his praise; and would you believe it, my dear madam,
he has never taken the slightest notice of me, or made me the
least remuneration. But you can't suppose I mean to bear it
quietly? No! I promise him that is not my way. The novel
I have just mentioned to you was began as a sentimental
romance (that, perhaps, after all, is my real forte), but
after the provocation I received at Washington, I turned it
into a sat-herical novel, and I now call it _Yankee Doodle
Court_. By the way my dear madam, I think if I could make up
my mind to cross that terrible Atlantic, I should be pretty
well received, after writing Yankee Doodle Court!"
I took the opportunity of a slight pause to ask her to what party
she now belonged, since she had forsworn both Adams and Jackson.
"Oh Clay! Clay for ever! he is a real true-hearted republican;
the others are neither more nor less than tyrants."
When next I entered the sitting-room she again addressed me, to
deplore the degenerate taste of the age.
"Would you believe it? I have at this moment a comedy ready for
representation; I call it 'The Mad Philosopher.' It is really
admirable, and its success certain, if I could get it played.
I assure you the neglect I meet with amounts perfectly to
persecution. But I have found out how to pay them, and to make
my own fortune. Sat-here, (as she constantly pronounced satire)
sat-here is the only weapon that can revenge neglect, and I
flatter myself I know how to use it. Do me the favour to look
She then presented me with a tiny pamphlet, whose price, she
informed me, was twenty-five cents, which I readily paid to
become the possessor of this _chef d'oeuvre_. The composition
was pretty nearly such as I anticipated, excepting that the
English language was done to death by her pen still more than by
her tongue. The epigraph, which was subscribed "original," was
"Your popularity's on the decline:
You had your triumph! now I'll have mine."
These are rather a favourable specimen of the verses that follow.
In a subsequent conversation she made me acquainted with another
talent, informing me that she had played the part of Charlotte,
in _Love a la mode_, when General Lafayette honoured the theatre
at Cincinnati with his presence.
She now appeared to have run out the catalogue of her
accomplishments; and I came to the conclusion that my new
acquaintance was a strolling player: but she seemed to guess my
thoughts, for she presently added. "It was a Thespian corps that
played before the General."
Departure for the mountains in the Stage--Scenery of the
The weather was bleak and disagreeable during the two days we
were obliged to remain at Wheeling. I had got heartily tired of
my gifted friend; we had walked up every side of the rugged hill,
and I set off on my journey towards the mountains with more
pleasure than is generally felt in quitting a pillow before
daylight, for a cold corner in a rumbling stage-coach.
This was the first time we had got into an American stage, though
we had traversed above two thousand miles of the country, and we
had all the satisfaction in it, which could be derived from the
conviction that we were travelling in a foreign land. This
vehicle had no step, and we climbed into it by a ladder; when
that was removed I remembered, with some dismay, that the females
at least were much in the predicament of sailors, who, "in danger
have no door to creep out," but when a misfortune is absolutely
inevitable, we are apt to bear it remarkably well; who would
utter that constant petition of ladies on rough roads, "let me get
out," when compliance would oblige the pleader to make a step of
five feet before she could touch the ground?
The coach had three rows of seats, each calculated to hold three
persons, and as we were only six, we had, in the phrase of
Milton, to "inhabit lax" this exalted abode, and, accordingly, we
were for some miles tossed about like a few potatoes in a
wheelbarrow. Our knees, elbows, and heads required too much care
for their protection to allow us leisure to look out of the
windows; but at length the road became smoother, and we became
more skilful in the art of balancing ourselves, so as to meet the
concussion with less danger of dislocation.
We then found that we were travelling through a very beautiful
country, essentially different in its features from what we had
been accustomed to round Cincinnati: it is true we had left "_la
belle riviere_" behind us, but the many limpid and rapid little
streams that danced through the landscape to join it, more than
atoned for its loss.
The country already wore an air of more careful husbandry, and
the very circumstance of a wide and costly road (though not a
very smooth one), which in theory might be supposed to injure
picturesque effect, was beautiful to us, who, since we had
entered the muddy mouth of the Mississippi, had never seen any
thing except a steam-boat and the _levee_ professing to have so
noble an object as public accommodation. Through the whole of
the vast region we had passed, excepting at New Orleans itself,
every trace of the art of man appeared to be confined to the
individual effort of "getting along," which, in western phrase,
means contriving to live with as small a portion of the
incumbrances of civilized society as possible.
This road was made at the expense of the government as far as
Cumberland, a town situated among the Alleghany mountains, and,
from the nature of the ground, must have been a work of great
cost. I regretted not having counted the number of bridges
between Wheeling and Little Washington, a distance of thirty-four
miles; over one stream only there are twenty-five, all passed by
the road. They frequently occurred within a hundred yards of
each other, so serpentine is its course; they are built of stone,
and sometimes very neatly finished.
Little Washington is in Pennsylvania, across a corner of which
the road runs. This is a free state, but we were still waited
upon by Negroes, hired from the neighbouring state of Virginia.
We arrived at night, and set off again at four in the morning;
all, therefore, that we saw of Little Washington was its hotel,
which was clean and comfortable. The first part of the next
day's journey was through a country much less interesting: its
character was unvaried for nearly thirty miles, consisting of an
uninterrupted succession of forest-covered hills. As soon as we
had wearily dragged to the top of one of these, we began to
rumble down the other side as rapidly as our four horses could
trot; and no sooner arrived at the bottom than we began to crawl
up again; the trees constantly so thick and so high as to
preclude the possibility of seeing fifty yards in any direction.
The latter part of the day, however, amply repaid us. At four
o'clock we began to ascend the Alleghany mountains: the first
ridge on the western side is called Laurel Hill, and takes its
name from the profuse quantity of evergreens with which it is
covered; not any among them, however, being the shrub to which we
give the name of laurel.
The whole of this mountain region, through ninety miles of which
the road passes, is a garden. The almost incredible variety of
plants, and the lavish profusion of their growth, produce an
effect perfectly enchanting. I really can hardly conceive a
higher enjoyment than a botanical tour among the Alleghany
mountains, to any one who had science enough to profit by it.
The magnificent rhododendron first caught our eyes; it fringes
every cliff, nestles beneath every rock, and blooms around every
tree. The azalia, the shumac, and every variety of that
beautiful mischief, the kalmia, are in equal profusion. Cedars
of every size and form were above, around, and underneath us;
firs more beautiful and more various than I had ever seen, were
in equal abundance, but I know not whether they were really such
as I had never seen in Europe, or only in infinitely greater
splendour and perfection of growth; the species called the
hemlock is, I think, second to the cedar only, in magnificence.
Oak and beech, with innumerable roses and wild vines, hanging in
beautiful confusion among their branches, were in many places
scattered among the evergreens. The earth was carpeted with
various mosses and creeping plants, and though still in the month
of March, not a trace of the nakedness of winter could be seen.
Such was the scenery that shewed us we were indeed among the
far-famed Alleghany mountains.
As our noble terrace-road, the Semplon of America, rose higher
and higher, all that is noblest in nature was joined to all that
is sweetest. The blue tops of the higher ridges formed the
outline; huge masses of rock rose above us on the left, half hid
at intervals by the bright green shrubs, while to the right we
looked down upon the tops of the pines and cedars which clothed
I had no idea of the endless variety of mountain scenery. My
notions had been of rocks and precipices, of torrents and of
forest trees, but I little expected that the first spot which
should recall the garden scenery of our beautiful England would
be found among the moutains: yet so it was. From the time I
entered America I had never seen the slightest approach to what
we call pleasure-grounds; a few very worthless and scentless
flowers were all the specimens of gardening I had seen in Ohio;
no attempt at garden scenery was ever dreamed of, and it was with
the sort of delight with which one meets an old friend, that we
looked on the lovely mixture of trees, shrubs, and flowers, that
now continually met our eyes. Often, on descending into the
narrow vallies, we found a little spot of cultivation, a garden
or a field, hedged round with shumacs, rhododendrons, and
azalias, and a cottage covered with roses. These vallies are
spots of great beauty; a clear stream is always found running
through them, which is generally converted to the use of the
miller, at some point not far from the road; and here, as on the
heights, great beauty of colouring is given to the landscape, by
the bright hue of the vegetation, and the sober grey of the
The first night we passed among the mountains recalled us
painfully from the enjoyment of nature to all the petty miseries
of personal discomfort. Arrived at our inn, a forlorn parlour,
filled with the blended fumes of tobacco and whiskey, received
us; and chilled, as we began to feel ourselves with the mountain
air, we preferred going to our cold bedrooms rather than sup in
such an atmosphere. We found linen on the beds which they
assured us had only been used _a few nights_; every kind of
refreshment we asked for we were answered, "We do not happen to
have that article." We were still in Pennsylvania, and no longer
waited upon by slaves; it was, therefore, with great difficulty
that we procured a fire in our bedrooms from the surly-looking
_young lady_ who condescended to officiate as chambermaid, and
with much more, that we extorted clean linen for our beds; that
done, we patiently crept into them supperless, while she made her
exit muttering about the difficulty of "fixing English folks."
The next morning cheered our spirits again; we now enjoyed a new
kind of alpine witchery; the clouds were floating around, and
below us, and the distant peaks were indistinctly visible as
through a white gauze veil, which was gradually lifted up, till
the sun arose, and again let in upon us the full glory of these
We were told before we began the ascent, that we should find snow
four inches deep on the road; but as yet we had seen none, and
indeed it was with difficulty we persuaded ourselves that we were
not travelling in the midst of summer. As we proceeded, however,
we found the northern declivities still covered with it, and at
length, towards the summit, the road itself had the promised four
inches. The extreme mildness of the air, and the brilliant hue
of the evergreens, contrasted strangely with this appearance of
winter; it was difficult to understand how the snow could help
melting in such an atmosphere.
Again and again we enjoyed all the exhilarating sensations that
such scenes must necessarily inspire, but in attempting a
continued description of our progress over these beautiful
mountains, I could only tell again of rocks, cedars, laurels, and
running streams, of blue heights, and green vallies, yet the
continually varying combinations of these objects afforded us
unceasing pleasure. From one point, pre-eminently above any
neighbouring ridge, we looked back upon the enormous valley of
the West. It is a stupendous view; but having gazed upon it for
some moments, we turned to pursue our course, and the certainty
that we should see it no more, raised no sigh of regret.
We dined, on the second day, at a beautiful spot, which we were
told was the highest point on the road, being 2,846 feet above
the level of the sea. We were regaled luxuriously on wild turkey
and mountain venison; which latter is infinitely superior to any
furnished by the forests of the Mississippi, or the Ohio. The
vegetables also were extremely fine, and we were told by a pretty
girl, who superintended the slaves that waited on us, (for we
were again in Virginia), that the vegetables of the Alleghany
were reckoned the finest in America. She told us also, that wild
strawberries were profusely abundant, and very fine; that their
cows found for themselves, during the summer, plenty of flowery
food, which produced a copious supply of milk; that their spring
gave them the purest water, of icy coldness in the warmest
seasons; and that the climate was the most delicious in the
world, for though the thermometer sometimes stood at ninety,
their cool breeze never failed them. What a spot to turn hermit
in for a summer! My eloquent mountaineer gave me some specimens
of ground plants, far unlike any thing I had ever seen. One
particularly, which she called the ground pine, is peculiar as
she told me, to the Alleghany, and in some places runs over whole
acres of ground; it is extremely beautiful. The rooms were very
prettily decorated with this elegant plant, hung round it in
In many places the clearing has been considerable; the road
passes through several fine farms, situated in the sheltered
hollows; we were told that the wolves continue to annoy them
severely, but that panthers, the terror of the West, are never
seen, and bears very rarely. Of snakes, they confessed they had
abundance, but very few that were considered dangerous.
In the afternoon we came in sight of the Monongehala river; and
its banks gave us for several miles a beautiful succession of
wild and domestic scenery. In some points, the black rock rises
perpendicularly from its margin, like those at Chepstow; at
others, a mill, with its owner's cottage, its corn-plat, and its
poultry, present a delightful image of industry and comfort.
Brownsville is a busy looking little town built upon the banks of
this river; it would be pretty, were it not stained by the hue of
coal. I do not remember in England to have seen any spot,
however near a coal mine, so dyed in black as Wheeling and
Brownsville. At this place we crossed the Monongehala, in a flat
ferry-boat, which very commodiously received our huge coach and
On leaving the black little town, we were again cheered by
abundance of evergreens, reflected in the stream, with fantastic
piles of rock, half visible through the pines and cedars above,
giving often the idea of a vast gothic castle. It was a folly, I
confess, but I often lamented they were not such; the travelling
for thousands of miles, without meeting any nobler trace of the
ages that are passed, than a mass of rotten leaves, or a fragment
of fallen rock, produces a heavy, earthly matter-of-fact effect
upon the imagination, which can hardly be described, and for
which the greatest beauty of scenery can furnish only an
occasional and transitory remedy.
Our second night in the mountains was past at a solitary house of
rather forlorn appearance; but we fared much better than the
night before, for they gave us clean sheets, a good fire, and no
scolding. We again started at four o'clock in the morning, and
eagerly watched for the first gleam of light that should show the
same lovely spectacle we had seen the day before; nor were we
disappointed, though the show was somewhat different. The
vapours caught the morning ray, as it first darted over the
mountain top, and passing it to the scene below, we seemed
enveloped in a rainbow.
We had now but one ridge left to pass over, and as we reached the
top, and looked down on the new world before us, I hardly knew
whether most to rejoice that
"All the toil of the long-pass'd way"
was over, or to regret that our mountain journey was drawing to
The novelty of my enjoyment had doubtless added much to its
keenness. I have never been familiar with mountain scenery.
Wales has shewn me all I ever saw, and the region of the
Alleghany Alps in no way resembles it. It is a world of
mountains rising around you in every direction, and in every
form; savage, vast, and wild; yet almost at every step, some
lovely spot meets your eye, green, bright and blooming, as the
most cherished nook belonging to some noble Flora in our own
beautiful land. It is a ride of ninety miles through kalmies,
rhododendrons, azalias, vines and roses; sheltered from every
blast that blows by vast masses of various coloured rocks, on
"Tall pines and cedars wave their dark green crests."
While in every direction you have a background of blue mountain
tops, that play at bo-peep with you in the clouds.
After descending the last ridge we reached Haggerstown, a small
neat place, between a town and a village; and here by the piety
of the Presbyterian coach-masters, we were doomed to pass an
entire day, and two nights, "as the accommodation line must not
run on the sabbath."
I must, however, mention, that this day of enforced rest was
_not_ Sunday. Saturday evening we had taken in at Cumberland a
portly passenger, whom we soon discovered to be one of the
proprietors of the coach. He asked us, with great politeness, if
we should wish to travel on the sabbath, or to delay our journey.
We answered that we would rather proceed; "The coach, then, shall
go on tomorrow," replied the liberal coach-master, with the
greatest courtesy; and accordingly we travelled all Sunday, and
arrived at Haggerstown on Sunday night. At the door of the inn
our civil proprietor left us; but when we enquired of the waiter
at what hour we were to start on the morrow, he told us that we
should be obliged to pass the whole of Monday there, as the coach
which was to convey us forward would not arrive from the east,
till Tuesday morning.
Thus we discovered that the waiving the sabbath-keeping by the
proprietor, was for his own convenience, and not for ours, and
that we were to be tied by the leg for four-and-twenty hours
notwithstanding. This was quite a Yankee trick.
Luckily for us, the inn at Haggerstown was one of the most
comfortable I ever entered. It was there that we became fully
aware that we had left Western America behind us. Instead of
being scolded, as we literally were at Cincinnati, for asking for
a private sitting-room, we here had two, without asking at all.
A waiter, quite _comme il faut_, summoned us to breakfast,
dinner, and tea, which we found prepared with abundance, and even
elegance. The master of the house met us at the door of the
eating-room, and, after asking if we wished for any thing not on
the table, retired. The charges were in no respect higher than
A considerable creek, called Conococheque Creek, runs near the
town, and the valley through which it passes is said to be the
most fertile in America.
On leaving Haggerstown we found, to our mortification, that we
were not to be the sole occupants of the bulky accommodation, two
ladies and two gentlemen appearing at the door ready to share it
with us. We again started, at four o'clock, by the light of a
bright moon, and rumbled and nodded through the roads
considerably worse than those over the mountains.
As the light began to dawn we discovered our ladies to be an old
woman and her pretty daughter.
Soon after daylight we found that our pace became much slower
than usual, and that from time to time our driver addressed to
his companion on the box many and vehement exclamations. The
gentlemen put their heads out, to ask what was the matter, but
could get no intelligence, till the mail overtook us, when both
vehicles stopped, and an animated colloquy of imprecations took
place between the coachmen. At length we learnt that one of our
wheels was broken in such a manner as to render it impossible for
us to proceed. Upon this the old lady immediately became a
principal actor in the scene. She sprung to the window, and
addressing the set of gentlemen who completely filled the mail,
exclaimed "Gentlemen! can't you make room for two? only me and my
daughter?" The naive simplicity of this request set both the
coaches into an uproar of laughter. It was impossible to doubt
that she acted upon the same principle as the pious Catholic, who
addressing heaven with a prayer for himself alone, added "_pour
ne pas fatiguer ta misericorde._" Our laugh, however, never
daunted the old woman, or caused her for a moment to cease the
reiteration of her request, "only for two of us, gentlemen! can't
you find room for two?"
Our situation was really very embarrassing, but not to laugh was
impossible. After it was ascertained that our own vehicle could
not convey us, and that the mail had not even room for two, we
decided upon walking to the next village, a distance,
fortunately, of only two miles, and awaiting there the repair of
the wheel. We immediately set off, at the brisk pace that six
o'clock and a frosty morning in March were likely to inspire,
leaving our old lady and her pretty daughter considerably in the
rear; our hearts having been rather hardened by the exclusive
nature of her prayer for aid.
When we had again started upon our new wheel, the driver, to
recover the time he had lost, drove rapidly over a very rough
road, in consequence of which, our self-seeking old lady fell
into a perfect agony of terror, and her cries of "we shall be
over! oh, Lord! we shall be over! we must over! we shall be
over!" lasted to the end of the stage which with laughing,
walking, and shaking, was a most fatiguing one.
Baltimore--Catholic Cathedral--St. Mary's--College Sermons--
As we advanced towards Baltimore the look of cultivation
increased, the fences wore an air of greater neatness, the houses
began to look like the abodes of competence and comfort, and we
were consoled for the loss of the beautiful mountains by knowing
that we were approaching the Atlantic.
From the time of quitting the Ohio river, though, unquestionably,
it merits its title of "the beautiful," especially when compared
with the dreary Mississippi, I strongly felt the truth of an
observation I remembered to have heard in England, that little
rivers were more beautiful than great ones. As features in a
landscape, this is assuredly the case. Where the stream is so
wide that the objects on the opposite shore are indistinct, all
the beauty must be derived from the water itself; whereas, when
the stream is narrow, it becomes only a part of the composition.
The Monongahela, which is in size between the Wye and the Thames,
is infinitely more picturesque than the Ohio.
To enjoy the beauty of the vast rivers of this vast country you
must be upon the water; and then the power of changing the
scenery by now approaching one shore, and now the other, is very
pleasing; but travelling as we now did, by land, the wild, rocky,
narrow, rapid little rivers we encountered, were a thousand times
more beautiful. The Potapsco, near which the road runs, as you
approach Baltimore, is at many points very picturesque. The
large blocks of grey rock, now close upon its edge, and now
retiring to give room for a few acres of bright green herbage,
give great interest and variety to its course.
Baltimore is, I think, one of the handsomest cities to approach
in the Union. The noble column erected to the memory of
Washington, and the Catholic Cathedral, with its beautiful dome,
being built on a commanding eminence, are seen at a great
distance. As you draw nearer, many other domes and towers become
visible, and as you enter Baltimore-street, you feel that you are
arrived in a handsome and populous city.
We took up our quarters at an excellent hotel, where the coach
stopped, and the next day were fortunate enough to find
accommodation in the house of a lady, well known to many of my
European friends. With her and her amiable daughter, we spent a
fortnight very agreeably, and felt quite aware that if we had not
arrived in London or Paris, we had, at least, left far behind the
"half-horse, half-alligator" tribes of the West, as the
Kentuckians call themselves.
Baltimore is in many respects a beautiful city; it has several
handsome buildings, and even the private dwelling-houses have a
look of magnificence, from the abundance of white marble with
which many of them are adorned. The ample flights of steps, and
the lofty door frames, are in most of the best houses formed of
this beautiful material.
This has been called the city of monuments, from its having the
stately column erected to the memory of General Washington, and
which bears a colossal statue of him at the top; and another
pillar of less dimensions, recording some victory; I forget
which. Both these are of brilliant white marble. There are also
several pretty marble fountains in different parts of the city,
which greatly add to its beauty. These are not, it is true,
quite so splendid as that of the Innocents, or many others at
Paris, but they are fountains of clear water, and they are built
of white marble. There is one which is sheltered from the sun by
a roof supported by light columns; it looks like a temple
dedicated to the genius of the spring. The water flows into a
marble cistern, to which you descend by a flight of steps of
delicate whiteness, and return by another. These steps are never
without groups of negro girls, some carrying the water on their
heads, with that graceful steadiness of step, which requires no
aid from the hand; some tripping gaily with their yet unfilled
pitchers; many of them singing in the soft rich voice, peculiar
to their race; and all dressed with that strict attention to
taste and smartness, which seems the distinguishing
characteristic of the Baltimore females of all ranks.
The Catholic Cathedral is considered by all Americans as a
magnificent church, but it can hardly be so classed by any one
who has seen the churches of Europe; its interior, however, has
an air of neatness that amounts to elegance. The form is a Greek
cross, having a dome in the centre; but the proportions are ill-
preserved; the dome is too low, and the arches which support it
are flattened, and too wide for their height. On each side of
the high altar are chapels to the Saviour and the Virgin. The
altars in these, as well as the high altar, are of native marble
of different colours, and some of the specimens are very
beautiful. The decorations of the altar are elegant and costly.
The prelate is a cardinal, and bears, moreover, the title of
"Archbishop of Baltimore."
There are several paintings in different parts of the church,
which we heard were considered as very fine. There are two
presented by Louis XVIII; one of these is the Descent from the
Cross, by Paulin Guirin; the other a copy from Rubens, (as they
told us) of a legend of St. Louis in the Holy Land; but the
composition of the picture is so abominably bad, that I conceive
the legend of its being after Rubens, must be as fabulous as its
subject. The admiration in which these pictures are held, is an
incontestable indication of the state of art in the country.
We attended mass in this church the Sunday after our arrival, and
I was perfectly astonished at the beauty and splendid appearance
of the ladies who filled it. Excepting on a very brilliant
Sunday at the Tuilleries, I never saw so shewy a display of
morning costume, and I think I never saw any where so many
beautiful women at one glance. They all appeared to be in full
dress, and were really all beautiful.
The sermon (I am very attentive to sermons) was a most
extraordinary one. The priest began by telling us, that he was
about to preach upon a vice that he would not "mention or name"
from the beginning of his sermon to the end.
Having thus excited the curiosity of his hearers, by proposing a
riddle to them, he began.
Adam, he said, was most assuredly the first who had committed
this sin, and Cain the next; then, following the advice given by
the listener, in the Plaideurs, "Passons au deluge, je vous
prie;" he went on to mention the particular propriety of Noah's
family on this point; and then continued, "Now observe, what did
God shew the greatest dislike to? What was it that Jesus was
never even accused of? What was it Joseph hated the most? Who
was the disciple that Jesus chose for his friend?" and thus he
went on for nearly an hour, in a strain that was often perfectly
unintelligible to me, but which, as far as I could comprehend
it, appeared to be a sort of expose and commentary upon private
anecdotes which he had found, or fancied he had found in the
Bible. I never saw the attention of a congregation more strongly
excited, and I really wished, in Christian charity, that
something better had rewarded it.
There are a vast number of churches and chapels in the city, in
proportion to its extent, and several that are large and well-
built; the Unitarian church is the handsomest I have ever seen
dedicated to that mode of worship. But the prettiest among them
is a little _bijou_ of a thing belonging to the Catholic college.
The institution is dedicated to St. Mary, but this little chapel
looks, though in the midst of a city, as if it should have been
sacred to St. John of the wilderness. There is a sequestered
little garden behind it, hardly large enough to plant cabbages
in, which yet contains a Mount Calvary, bearing a lofty cross.
The tiny path which leads up to this sacred spot, is not much
wider than a sheep-track, and its cedars are but shrubs, but all
is in proportion; and notwithstanding its fairy dimensions, there
is something of holiness, and quiet beauty about it, that excites
the imagination strangely. The little chapel itself has the same
touching and impressive character. A solitary lamp, whose glare
is tempered by delicately painted glass, hangs before the altar.
The light of day enters dimly, yet richly, through crimson
curtains, and the silence with which the well-lined doors opened
from time to time, admitting a youth of the establishment, who,
with noiseless tread, approached the altar, and kneeling, offered
a whispered prayer, and retired, had something in it more
calculated, perhaps, to generate holy thoughts, than even the
swelling anthem heard beneath the resounding dome of St. Peter's.
Baltimore has a handsome museum, superintended by one of the
Peale family, well known for their devotion to natural science,
and to works of art. It is not their fault if the specimens
which they are enabled to display in the latter department are
very inferior to their splendid exhibitions in the former.
The theatre was closed when we were in Baltimore, but we were
told that it was very far from being a popular or fashionable
amusement. We were, indeed, told this every where throughout the
country, and the information was generally accompanied by the
observation, that the opposition of the clergy was the cause of
it. But I suspect that this is not the principal cause,