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Lands of the Slave and the Free by Henry A. Murray

Part 3 out of 10

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occupation involuntarily carried my mind across the water to a
country-house, where I had so often seen an old blind friend amusing
himself, by tearing up paper into small pieces, to make pillows for the
poor. If the gallant Colonel would only substitute this occupation for
whittling, what good might he not do in Harrisburg!

I am happy to say that my Job's comforter turned out a false prophet;
snow soon gave place to sleet, and sleet to rain, and before midnight
the muck was complete. Next morning, at three, we got into the 'bus, and
soon after four the cars came in, and we found ourselves once more _en
route_ for Pittsburg. I think this was about the most disagreeable day's
journey I ever had. The mixture of human and metallic heat, the chorus
of infantine squallers--who kept responding to one another from all
parts of the car, like so many dogs in an eastern city--and the
intervals filled up by the hissing on the stove of the Virginia juice,
were unpleasant enough; but even the elements combined against us. The
rain and the snow were fighting together, and producing that slushiness
of atmosphere which obscures all scenery; added to which, the
unfortunate foreknowledge that we were doomed to fifteen or sixteen
hours of these combinations of misery, made it indeed a wretched day. My
only resource was to open a window, which the moment I attempted, a
hulking fellow, swaddled up in coats and comforters, and bursting with
health, begged it might be closed as "It was so cold:" the thermometer,
I am sure, was ranging, within the car, from ninety to a hundred
degrees. He then tried to hector and bully, and finding that of no use,
he appealed to the guard. I claimed my right, and further pleaded the
necessity of fresh air, not merely for comfort, but for very life. As my
friend expressed the same sentiments, the cantankerous Hector was left
to sulk; and I must own to a malicious satisfaction, when, soon after,
two ladies came in, and seating themselves on the bench abreast of mine,
opened their window, and placed Hector in a thorough draught, which,
while gall and wormwood to him, was balm of Gilead to me. As I freely
criticise American habits, &c., during my travels, it is but just I
should state, that Hector was the only one of his countrymen I ever met
who was wilfully offensive and seemed to wish to insult.

The engineering on this road was so contrived, that we had to go through
an operation, which to me was quite novel--viz., being dragged by wire
ropes up one of the Alleghany hills, and eased down the other side. The
extreme height is sixteen hundred feet; and it is accomplished by five
different stationary engines, each placed on a separate inclined plane,
the highest of which is two thousand six hundred feet above the level of
the sea. The want of proper arrangement and sufficient hands made this a
most dilatory and tedious operation. Upon asking why so 'cute and
go-ahead a people had tolerated such bad engineering originally, and
such dilatory arrangements up to the present hour, I was answered, "Oh,
sir, that's easily explained; it is a government road and a monopoly,
but another road is nearly completed, by which all this will be avoided;
and, as it is in the hands of a company, there will be no delay
then."--How curious it is, the way governments mess such things when
they undertake them! I could not help thinking of the difference between
our own government mails from Marseilles to Malta, &c., and the glorious
steamers of the Peninsular and Oriental Company, that carry on the same
mails from Malta.--But to return from my digression.

I was astonished to see a thing like a piece of a canal-boat descending
one of these inclined planes on a truck; nor was my astonishment
diminished when I found that it really was part of a canal-boat, and
that the remaining portions were following in the rear. The boats are
made, some in three, some in five compartments; and, being merely
forelocked together, are easily carried across the hill, from the canal
on one side to the continuation thereof on the other.[L]

A few hours after quitting these planes, we came to the end of the
railway, and had to coach it over a ten-mile break in the line. It was
one of those wretched wet days which is said to make even an old
inhabitant of Argyleshire look despondingly,--in which county, it will
be remembered that, after six weeks' incessant wet, an English
traveller, on asking a shepherd boy whether it always rained there,
received the consoling reply of, "No, sir--it sometimes snaws." The
ground was from eight to eighteen inches deep in filthy mud; the old
nine-inside stages--of which more anon--were waiting ready; and as there
were several ladies in the cars, I thought the stages might be induced
to draw up close to the scantily-covered platform to take up the
passengers; but no such idea entered their heads. I imagine such an
indication of civilization would have been at variance with their
republican notions of liberty; and the fair ones had no alternative but
to pull their garments up to the altitude of those of a ballet-dancer,
and to bury their neat feet and well-turned ankles deep, deep, deep in
the filthy mire. But what made this conduct irresistibly
ludicrous--though painful to any gentleman to witness--was the mockery
of make-believe gallantry exhibited, in seating all the ladies before
any gentleman was allowed to enter; the upshot of which was, that they
gradually created a comparatively beaten path for the gentlemen to get
in by. One pull of the rein and one grain of manners would have enabled
everybody to enter clean and dry; yet so habituated do the better
classes appear to have become to this phase of democracy, that no one
remonstrated on behalf of the ladies or himself.

The packing completed, a jolting ride brought us again to the railway
cars; and in a few hours more--amid the cries of famishing babes and
sleepy children, the "hush-hushes" of affectionate mammas, the bustle of
gathering packages, and the expiring heat of the poisonous stove--we
reached the young Birmingham of America about 10 P.M., and soon found
rest in a comfortable bed, at a comfortable hotel.

If you wish a good idea of Pittsburg, you should go to Birmingham, and
reduce its size, in your imagination, to one-fourth the reality; after
which, let the streets of this creation of your fancy be "top-dressed"
about a foot deep with equal proportions of clay and coal-dust; then try
to realize in your mind the effect which a week's violent struggle
between Messrs. Snow and Sleet would produce, and you will thus be
enabled to enjoy some idea of the charming scene which Pittsburg
presented on the day of my visit. But if this young Birmingham has so
much in common with the elder, there is one grand feature it possesses
which the other wants. The Ohio and Monongahela rivers form the delta on
which it is built, and on the bosom of the former the fruits of its
labour are borne down to New Orleans, _via_ the Mississippi--a distance
of two thousand and twenty-five miles exactly. Coal and iron abound in
the neighbourhood; they are as handy, in reality, as the Egyptian geese
are in the legend, where they are stated to fly about ready roasted,
crying, "Come and eat me!" Perhaps, then, you will ask, why is the town
not larger, and the business not more active? The answer is simple. The
price of labour is so high, that they cannot compote with the parent
rival; and the _ad valorem_ duty on iron, though it may bring in a
revenue to the government, is no protection to the home trade. What
changes emigration from the Old World may eventually produce, time alone
can decide; but it requires no prophetic vision to foresee that the
undeveloped mineral riches of this continent must some day be worked
with telling effect upon England's trade. I must not deceive you into a
belief that the Ohio is always navigable. So far from that being the
case, I understand that, for weeks and months even, it is constantly
fordable. As late as the 23rd of November, the large passage-boats were
unable to make regular passages, owing to their so frequently getting
aground; and the consequence was, that we were doomed to prosecute our
journey to Cincinnati by railroad, to my infinite--but, as my friend
said, not inexpressible--regret.

Noon found us at the station, taking the last bite of fresh air before
we entered the travelling oven. Fortunately, the weather was rather
finer than it had been, and more windows were open. There is something
solemn and grand in traversing, with the speed of the wind, miles and
miles of the desolate forest. Sometimes you pass a whole hour without
any--the slightest--sign of animal life: not a bird, nor a beast, nor a
being. The hissing train rattles along; the trumpet-tongued whistle--or
rather horn--booms far away in the breeze, and finds no echo; the giant
monarchs of the forest line the road on either side, like a guard of
Titans, their nodding heads inquiring, as it were curiously, why their
ranks were thinned, and what strange meteor is that which, with clatter
and roar, rushes past, disturbing their peaceful solitude. Patience my
noble friends; patience, I say. A few short years more, and many of you,
like your deceased brethren, will bend your proud heads level with the
dust, and those giant limbs, which now kiss the summer sun and dare the
winter's blast, will feed that insatiate meteor's stomach, or crackle
beneath some adventurous pioneer's soup-kettle. But, never mind; like
good soldiers in a good cause, you will sacrifice yourselves for the
public good; and possibly some of you may be carved into figures of
honour, and dance triumphantly on the surge's crest in the advance post
of glory on a dashing clipper's bows, girt with a band on which is
inscribed, in letters of gold, the imperishable name of Washington or

Being of a generous disposition, I have thrown out these hints in the
hopes some needy American author may make his fortune, and immortalize
his country, by writing "The Life and Adventures of the Forest Monarch;"
or, as the public like mystery, he might make a good hit by entitling it
"The Child of the Woods that danced on the Wave." Swift has immortalized
a tub; other authors have endeavoured to immortalize a shilling, and a
halfpenny. Let that great country which professes to be able to "whip
creation" take a noble subject worthy of such high pretensions.

Here we are at Cleveland; and, "by the powers of Mercury"--this
expletive originated, I believe, with a proud barometer,--it is raining
cats and dogs and a host of inferior animals. Everybody seems very
impatient, for all are getting out, and yet we have not reached the
station,--no; and they don't mean to get there at present. Possession is
nine points of the law, and another train is ensconced there. Wood, of
course, is so dear in this country, and railroads give such low
interest--varying from six to forty per cent.--that they can't afford to
have sufficient shedding. Well, out we get. Touters from the hotels cry
out lustily. We hear the name of the house to which we are bound, and
prepare to follow. The touter carries a lantern of that ingenious size
which helps to make the darkness more visible; two steps, and you are
over the ankles in mud. "Show a light, boy." He turns round, and,
placing his lantern close to the ground, you see at a glance the horrid
truth revealed--you are in a perfect mud swamp; so, tuck up your
trowsers, and wade away to the omnibuses, about a quarter of a mile off.
Gracious me! there are two ladies, with their dresses hitched up like
kilts, sliding and floundering through the slushy road. How miserable
they must be, poor things! Not the least; they are both tittering and
giggling merrily; they are accustomed to it, and habit is second nature.
A man from the Old World of advanced civilization--in these matters of
minor comforts, at least--will soon learn to conduct himself upon the
principle, that where ignorance is bliss, wisdom becomes folly.
Laughing, like love, is catching; so these two jolly ladies put me in a
good humour, and I laughed my way to the 'bus half up to my knees in
mud. After all, it made it lighter work than growling, and go I must; so
thank you, ladies, for the cheering example.

Hot tea soon washes away from a thirsty and wearied soul the remembrance
of muddy boots, and a good Havana soothes the wounded spirit. After
enjoying both, I retired to rest, as I hoped, for we had to make an
early start in the morning. Scarce was I in bed, ere the house rang
again with laughing and romping just outside my door; black and white,
old and young, male and female, all seemed chorusing together--feet
clattered, passages echoed--it was a very Babel of noise and confusion.
What strange beings we are! Not two hours before, I had said and felt
that laughing was catching; now, although the merry chirp of youth
mingled with it, I wished the whole party at the residence of an old
gentleman whose name I care not to mention. May we not truly say of
ourselves what the housemaid says of the missing article--"Really, sir,
I don't know nothing at all about it?" A few hours before, I was
joining in the laugh as I waded nearly knee-deep in mud, and now I was
lying in a comfortable bed grinding my teeth at the same joyous sounds.

It took three messages to the proprietor, before order was restored and
I was asleep. In the morning, I found that the cause of all the rumpus
was a marriage that had taken place in the hotel; and the master and
mistress being happy, the servants caught the joyous infection, and got
the children to share it with them. I must not be understood to cast any
reflections upon the happy pair, when I say that the marriage took place
in the morning, and that the children were laughing at night, for
remember, I never inquired into the parentage of the little ducks. On
learning the truth, I was rejoiced to feel that they had not gone to the
residence of the old gentleman before alluded to, and I made resolutions
to restrain my temper in future. After a night's rest, with a cup of hot
_cafe au lait_ before you, how easy and pleasant good resolutions are.

Having finished a hasty breakfast, we tumbled into an omnibus, packed
like herrings in a barrel, for our number was "Legion," and the omnibus
was "Zoar." Off we went to the railway; such a mass of mud I never saw.
Is it from this peculiarity that the city takes its name? This, however,
does not prevent it from being a very thriving place, and destined, I
believe, to be a town of considerable importance, as soon as the grain
and mineral wealth of Michigan, Wisconsin, &c., get more fully
developed, and when the new canal pours the commerce of Lake Superior
into Lake Erie. Cleveland is situated on the slope of a hill commanding
a beautiful and extensive view; the latter I was told, for as it rained
incessantly, I had no opportunity of judging. Here we are at the
station, i.e., two hundred yards off it, which we are allowed to walk,
so as to damp ourselves pleasantly before we start. Places taken, in we
get; we move a few hundred yards, and come to a stand-still, waiting for
another train, which allows us the excitement of suspense for nearly an
hour and a half, and then we really start for Cincinnati. The cars have
the usual attractions formerly enumerated: grin and bear it is the order
of the day; scenery is shrouded in mist, night closes in with her sable
mantle, and about eleven we reach the hotel, where, by the blessing of
a happy contrast, we soon forget the wretched day's work we have gone

Here we are in the "Queen City of the West," the rapid rise whereof is
astounding. By a statistical work, I find that in 1800 it numbered only
750 inhabitants; in 1840, 46,338--1850, 115,438: these calculations
merely include its corporate limits. If the suburbs be added, the
population will reach 150,000: of which number only about 3000 are
coloured. The Americans constitute 54 per cent.; Germans, 28; English,
16; other foreigners, 2 per cent. of the population. They have 102
schools, and 357 teachers, and 20,737 pupils are yearly instructed by
these means. Of these schools 19 are free, instructing 12,240 pupils,
not in mere writing and reading, but rising in the scale to "algebra,
grammar, history, composition, declamation, music, drawing," &c. The
annual cost of these schools is between 13,000l. and 14,000l. There
is also a "Central School," where the higher branches of literature and
science are taught to those who have time and talent; in short, a "Free

According to the ordinance for the North-Western territory of 1787,
"religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government
and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall
for ever be encouraged." Congress, in pursuance of this laudable object,
"has reserved one thirty-sixth part of all public lands for the support
of education in the States in which the lands lie; besides which, it has
added endowments for numerous universities, &c." We have seen that the
public schools in this city cost 13,500l., of which sum they receive
from the State fund above alluded to 1500l., the remainder being
raised by a direct tax upon the property of the city, and increased from
time to time in proportion to the wants of the schools. One of the
schools is for coloured children, and contains 360 pupils. There are 91
churches and 4 synagogues, and the population is thus classed--Jews, 3
per cent.; Roman Catholics, 35; Protestant, 62. The Press is represented
by 12 daily and 20 weekly papers. From these statistics, dry though they
may appear, one must confess that the means of education and religious
instruction are provided for in a manner that reflects the highest
credit on this "Queen City of the West."

It is chiefly owing to the untiring perseverance of Mr. Longworth, that
they have partially succeeded in producing wine. As far as I could
ascertain, they made about fifty thousand gallons a year. The wine is
called "Catawba," from the grape, and is made both still and sparkling.
Thanks to the kind hospitality of a friend, I was enabled to taste the
best of each. I found the still wine rather thin and tart, but, as the
weather was very cold, that need not affect the truth of my friend's
assertion, that in summer it was a very pleasant beverage. The sparkling
wine was much more palatable, and reminded me of a very superior kind of
perry. They cannot afford to sell it on the spot under four shillings a
bottle, and of course the hotels double that price immediately. I think
there can be no doubt that a decided improvement must be made in it
before it can become valuable enough to find its way into the European
market; although I must confess that, as it is, I should be most happy
to see it supplant the poisonous liquids called champagne which appear
at our "suppers," and at many of our hotels.

The "Burnet House" is the principal hotel here, and afforded me every
comfort I could have expected, not the least being the satisfaction I
derived from the sight of the proprietor, who, in the spotless
cleanliness of his person and his "dimity," and surrounded by hosts of
his travelling inmates--myself among the number--stood forth in bold
relief, like a snowball in a coal-hole.

But we must now visit the great lion of the place, whence the city
obtains the _sobriquet_ of "Porkopolis," i.e., the _auto da fe_ of the
unclean animal. We will stroll down and begin at the beginning; but
first let me warn you, if your nerves are at all delicate, to pass this
description over, for, though perfectly true, it is very horrid. "Poor
piggy must die" is a very old saying; whence it came I cannot tell; but
were it not for its great antiquity, Cincinnati might claim the honour.
Let us however to the deadly work!

The post of slaughter is at the outskirts of the town, and as you
approach it, the squeaking of endless droves proceeding to their doom
fills the air, and in wet weather the muck they make is beyond
description, as the roads and streets are carelessly made, and as
carelessly left to fate. When we were within a couple of hundred yards
of the slaughter-house, they were absolutely knee-deep, and, there being
no trottoir, we were compelled to wait till an empty cart came by, when,
for a small consideration, Jonathan ferried us through the mud-pond.
Behind the house is the large pen in which the pigs are first gathered,
and hence they are driven up an inclined plane into a small partition
about twelve feet square, capable of containing from ten to fifteen pigs
at once. In this inclosure stands the executioner, armed with a
hammer,--something in shape like that used to break stones for the roads
in England--his shirt-sleeves turned up, so that nothing may impede the
free use of his brawny arms. The time arrived, down comes the hammer
with deadly accuracy on the forehead of poor piggy, generally killing
but sometimes only stunning him, in which case, as he awakes to
consciousness in the scalding caldron, his struggles are frightful to
look at, but happily very short. A trap-hatch opens at the side of this
enclosure, through which the corpses are thrust into the sticking-room,
whence the blood flows into tanks beneath, to be sold, together with the
hoofs and hair, to the manufacturers of prussiate of potash and Prussian
blue. Thence they are pushed down an inclined plane into a trough
containing a thousand gallons of boiling water, and broad enough to take
in piggy lengthways. By the time they have passed down this caldron,
they are ready for scraping, for which purpose a large table is joined
on to the lower end of the caldron, and on which they are artistically
thrown. Five men stand in a row on each side of the table, armed with
scrapers, and, as piggy passes down, he gets scraped cleaner and
cleaner, till the last polishes him as smooth as a yearling baby. Having
thus reached the lower end of the table, there are a quantity of hooks
fitted to strong wooden arms, which revolve round a stout pillar, and
which, in describing the circle, plumb the lower end of the table. On
these piggy is hooked, and the operation of cutting open and cleansing
is performed--at the rate of three a minute--by operators steeped in
blood, and standing in an ocean of the same, despite the eternal buckets
of water with which a host of boys keep deluging the floor. These
operations finished, piggy is hung up on hooks to cool, and, when
sufficiently so, he is removed thence to the other end of the building,
ready for sending to the preparing-houses, whither he and his defunct
brethren are convoyed in carts, open at the side, and containing about
thirty pigs each.

The whole of this part of the town during porking season is alive with
these carts, and we will now follow one, so that we may see how piggy is
finally disposed of. The cart ascends the hill till it comes to a line
of buildings with the canal running at the back thereof; a huge and
solid block lies ready for the corpse, and at each side appear a pair of
brawny arms grasping a long cleaver made scimitar-shape; smaller tables
are around, and artists with sharp knives attend thereat. Piggy is
brought in from the cart, and laid on the solid block; one blow of the
scimitar-shaped cleaver severs his head, which is thrown aside and sold
in the town, chiefly, I believe, to Germans, though of course a Hebrew
might purchase if he had a fancy therefor. The head off, two blows sever
him lengthways; the hams, the shoulders, and the rib-pieces fly off at a
blow each, and it has been stated that "two hands, in less than thirteen
hours, cut up eight hundred and fifty hogs, averaging over two hundred
pounds each, two others placing them on the blocks for the purpose. All
these hogs were weighed singly on the scales, in the course of eleven
hours. Another hand trimmed the hams--seventeen hundred pieces--as fast
as they were separated from the carcasses. The hogs were thus cut up and
disposed of at the rate of more than one to the minute." Knifemen then
come into play, cutting out the inner fat, and trimming the hams neatly,
to send across the way for careful curing; the other parts are put in
the pickle-barrels, except the fat, which, after carefully removing all
the small pieces of meat that the first hasty cutting may have left, is
thrown into a boiling caldron to be melted down into lard. Barring the
time taken up in the transit from the slaughter-house to these
cutting-up stores, and the time he hangs to cool, it may be safely
asserted, that from the moment piggy gets his first blow till his
carcass is curing and his fat boiling into lard, not more than five
minutes elapse.

A table of piggy statistics for one year may not be uninteresting to my
reader, or, at all events, to an Irish pig-driver:--

180,000 Barrels of Pork, 196 lbs. each 35,280,000 lbs.
Bacon 25,000,000
No. 1 Lard 16,500,000
Star Candles, made by Hydraulic pressure. 2,500,000
Bar Soap 6,200,000
Fancy Soap, &c. 8,800,000
Besides Lard Oil, 1,200,000 gallons.

Some idea of the activity exhibited may be formed, when I tell you that
the season for these labours averages only ten weeks, beginning with the
second week in November and closing in January; and that the annual
number cured at Cincinnati is about 500,000 head, and the value of these
animals when cured, &c., was estimated in 1851 at about 1,155,000l.
What touching statistics the foregoing would be for a Hebrew or a
Mussulman! The wonder to me is, that the former can locate in such an
unclean atmosphere; at all events, I hold it as a sure sign that there
is money to be made.

They are very proud of their beef here, and it is very good; for they
possess all the best English breeds, both here and across the river in
Kentucky. They stall-feed very fat, no doubt; but though generally very
good, I have never, in any part of the States, tasted beef equal to the
best in England. All the fat is on the outside; it is never marbled as
the best beef is with us. The price is very moderate, being about
fourpence a pound.

Monongahela whisky is a most important article of manufacture in the
neighbourhood, being produced annually to the value of 560,000l. There
are forty-four foundries, one-third of which are employed in the
stove-trade; as many as a thousand stoves have been made in one day. The
value of foundry products is estimated at 725,000l. annually.

If commerce be the true wealth and prosperity of a nation, there never
was a nation in the history of the world that possessed by nature the
advantages which this country enjoys. Take the map, and look at the
position of this city; nay, go two hundred miles higher up, to Marietta.
From that port, which is nearly two thousand miles from the ocean, the
"Muskingum," a barque of three hundred and fifty tons, went laden with
provisions, direct to Liverpool, in 1845, and various other vessels have
since that time been built at Cincinnati; one, a vessel of eight hundred
and fifty tons, called the "Minnesota:" in short, there is quite an
active business going on; shipbuilders from Maine coming here to carry
on their trade--wood, labour, and lodging being much cheaper than on
the Eastern coast.

It is now time to continue our journey, and as the water is high enough,
we will embark on the "Ohio," and steam away to Louisville. The place
you embark from is called the levee: and as all the large towns on the
river have a levee, I may as well explain the term at once. It is
nothing more nor less than the sloping off of the banks of a river, and
then paving them, by which operation two objects are gained:--first, the
banks are secured from the inroads of the stream; secondly, the boats
are thereby enabled at all times to land passengers and cargo with
perfect facility. These levees extend the whole length of the town, and
are lined with steamers of all kinds and classes, but all built on a
similar plan; and the number of them gives sure indication of the
commercial activity of Cincinnati. When a steamer is about to start,
book-pedlers crowd on board with baskets full of their--generally
speaking--trashy ware. Sometimes these pedlers are grown-up men, but
generally boys about twelve or fourteen years of age. On going up to one
of these latter, what was my astonishment to find in his basket, volume
after volume of publications such as Holywell-street scarce ever dared
to exhibit; these he offered and commended with the most unblushing
effrontery. The first lad having such a collection, I thought I would
look at the others, to see if their baskets were similarly supplied; I
found them all alike without exception, I then became curious to know if
these debauched little urchins found any purchasers, and, to ascertain
the fact, I ensconced myself among some of the freight, and watched one
of them. Presently a passenger came up, and these books were brought to
his notice: he looked cautiously round, and, thinking himself
unobserved, he began to examine them. The lad, finding the bait had
taken, then looked cautiously round on his side, and stealthily drew two
more books from his breast, evidently of the same kind, and it is
reasonable to suppose infinitely worse. After a careful examination of
the various volumes, the passenger pulled out his purse, paid his money,
and walked off with eight of these Holywell-street publications, taking
them immediately into his cabin. I saw one or two more purchasers,
before I left my concealment. And now I may as well observe, that the
sale of those works is not confined to one place; wherever I went on
board a steamer, I was sure to find boys with baskets of books, and
among them many of the kind above alluded to. In talking to an American
gentleman on this subject, he told me that it was indeed but too common
a practice, although by law nominally prohibited; and he further added,
that once asking a vendor why he had such blackguard books which nobody
would buy, he took up one of the worst, and said, "Why, sir, this book
is so eagerly sought after, that I have the utmost difficulty in keeping
up the requisite supply." It is a melancholy reflection, that in a
country where education is at every one's door, and poverty at no one's,
such unblushing exhibitions of immorality should exist.

We embarked in the "Lady Franklin," and were soon "floating down the
river of the O-hi-o." The banks are undulating, and prettily
interspersed with cottage villas, which peep out from the woods, and are
clotted about the more cultivated parts; but, despite this, the dreary
mantle of winter threw a cold churlishness over everything. The boat I
shall describe hereafter, when I have seen more of them, for their
general features are the same; but there was a specimen of the fair sex
on board, to whom I must introduce you, as I may never see her like

The main piece was the counterpart of a large steamer's funnel cut off
at about four feet two inches high, a most perfect cylinder, and of a
dark greyish hue: a sombre coloured riband supported a ditto coloured
apron. If asked where this was fastened, I suppose she would have
replied, "Round the waist, to be sure;" yet, if Lord Rosse's telescope
had been applied, no such break in the smooth surface of the cylinder
could have been descried. The arms hung down on either side like the
funnel of a cabin stove, exciting the greatest wonder and the liveliest
curiosity to know how the skin of the shoulder obtained the elasticity
requisite to exhibit such a phenomenon. On the top of the cylinder was
a beautifully polished ebony pedestal, about two inches high on one
side, tapering away to nothing at the other, so that whatever might be
placed thereon, would lie at an angle of forty-five degrees. This
pedestal did duty for a neck; and upon it was placed a thing which,
viewed as a whole, resembled a demijohn. The lower part was pillowed on
the cylinder, no gleam of light ever penetrating between the two. Upon
the upper surface, at a proper distance from the extremity, two lips
appeared, very like two pieces of raw beefsteak picked up off a dusty

While wrapt in admiration of this interesting spot, the owner thereof
was seized with a desire to yawn, to obtain which luxury it was
requisite to throw back the demijohn into nearly a horizontal line, so
as to relieve the lower end from its pressure on the cylinder. The aid
of both hands was called in to assist in supporting her intellectual
depository. This feat accomplished, a roseate gulf was revealed, which
would have made the stout heart of Quintus Curtius quail ere he took the
awful plunge. Time or contest had removed the ivory obstructions in the
centre, but the shores on each side of the gulf were terrifically
iron-bound, and appeared equal to crushing the hardest granite; the
shinbone of an ox would have been to her like an oyster to ordinary
mortals. She revelled in this luxurious operation so long, that I began
to fear she was suffering from the antipodes to a lockjaw, and that she
was unable to close the chasm; but at last the demijohn rose slowly and
solemnly from the horizontal, the gulf gradually closed until, obtaining
the old angle of forty-five degrees, the two dusty pieces of beefsteak
once more stood sentry over the abyss. Prosecuting my observations along
the upper surface, I next came to the proboscis, which suggested the
idea of a Bologna sausage after a passage through a cotton-press. Along
the upper part, the limits were invisible, so beautifully did it blend
with the sable cheek on each side; but the lower part seemed to have
been outside the press during the process, and therefore to have
obtained unusual rotundity, thanks to which two nostrils appeared, which
would, for size, have excited the envy of the best bred Arab that was
ever foaled; and the division between them was nearly equal to that of
the horse. I longed to hear her sneeze; it must have been something
quite appallingly grand. Continuing my examination, I was forced to the
conclusion that the poor delicate creature was bilious; for the dark
eyes gleamed from their round yellow beds like pieces of cannel-coal set
in a gum-cistus. The forehead was a splendid prairie of flat table-land,
beyond which stretched a jungle of curly locks, like horse-hair ready
picked for stuffing sofas, and being tied tightly round near the apex,
the neck of the bottle was formed, and the demijohn complete.


I was very curious to see this twenty-five stone sylph in motion, and
especially anxious to have an opportunity of examining the pedestals by
which she was supported and set in motion. After a little patience, I
was gratified to a certain extent, as the stately mass was summoned to
her duties. By careful observation, I discovered the pedestals resembled
flounders, out of which grew, from their centre, two cylinders, the
ankles deeply imbedded therein, and in no way disturbing the smooth
surface. All higher information was of course wrapt in the mystery of
conjecture; but from the waddling gait and the shoulders working to and
fro at every step, the concealed cylinders doubtless increased in size
to such an extent, that the passing one before the other was a task of
considerable difficulty; and if the motion was not dignified, it was
imposingly slow, and seemed to call all the energies of the various
members into action to accomplish its end. Even the demijohn rolled as
if it were on a pivot, nodding grandly as the mighty stewardess of the
"Franklin" proceeded to obey the summons. I watched her receding form,
and felt that I had never before thoroughly realized the meaning of an
"armsful of joy," and I could not but wonder who was the happy possessor
of this great blessing.

Ibrahim Pacha, when in England, was said to have had an intense desire
to purchase two ladies, one aristocratic, the other horticultural, the
solidity of these ladies being their great point of attraction in his
estimation. Had he but seen my lovely stewardess, I am sure he would
instantly have given up negotiations for both, could he thereby have
hoped to obtain such a massive treasure as the "Sylph of the


[Footnote J: Since I was there, General Cadwallader has taken the place
into his own hands.]

[Footnote K: In case the expression is new to the reader, I beg to
inform him that to "whittle" is to cut little chips of wood--if, when
the fit comes on, no stick is available, the table is sometimes operated

[Footnote L: I believe the plan of making the canal-boats in sections is
original; but the idea of dragging them up inclines to avoid expenses of
lockage, &c., is of old date, having been practised as far back as 1792,
upon a canal in the neighbourhood of Colebrook Dale, where the boats
were raised by stationary engines up two inclines, one of 207 feet, and
the other of 126 feet. I believe this is the first instance of the
adoption of this plan, and the engineers were Messrs. Reynolds and
Williams. The American inclines being so much greater, the dividing the
boat into sections appears to me an improvement.]


_Scenes Ashore and Afloat_.

A trip on a muddy river, whose banks are fringed with a leafless forest
resembling a huge store of Brobdignagian stable brooms, may be
favourable to reflection; but, if description be attempted, there is
danger lest the brooms sweep the ideas into the muddy water of dulness.
Out of consideration therefore to the reader, we will suppose ourselves
disembarked at Louisville, with the intention of travelling inland to
visit the leviathan wonder--the would-be rival to Niagara,--yclept "The
Mammoth Cave." Its distance from Louisville is ninety-five miles. There
is no such thing as a relay of horses to be met with--at all events, it
is problematical; therefore, as the roads were execrable, we were
informed it would take us two long days, and our informant strongly
advised us to go by the mail, which only employs twenty-one hours to
make the ninety-five miles' journey. There was no help for it; so, with
a sigh of sad expectation, I resigned myself to my fate, of which I had
experienced a short foretaste on my way to Pittsburg. I then inquired
what lions the town offered to interest a traveller. I found there was
little in that way, unless I wished to go through the pig-killing,
scalding, and cutting process again; but stomach and imagination
rebelled at the bare thought of a second edition of the bloody scene, so
I was fain to content myself with the novelty of the tobacco pressing;
and, as tobacco is the favourite _bonbon_ of the country, I may as well
describe the process which the precious vegetable goes through ere it
mingles with the human saliva.

A due admixture of whites and blacks assemble together, and, damping the
tobacco, extract all the large stems and fibres, which are then
carefully laid aside ready for export to Europe, there to be cooked up
for the noses of monarchs, old maids, and all others who aspire to the
honour and glory of carrying a box--not forgetting those who carry it in
the waistcoat-pocket, and funnel it up the nose with a goose-quill. How
beautifully simple and unanswerable is the oft-told tale, of the reply
of a testy old gentleman who hated snuff as much as a certain elderly
person is said to hate holy-water--when offered a pinch by an
"extensive" young man with an elaborate gold-box. "Sir," said the
indignant patriarch, "I never take the filthy stuff! If the Almighty had
intended my nostrils for a dust-pan, he would have turned them the other
way."--But I wander from the subject. We will leave the fibre to find
its way to Europe and its noses, and follow the leaf to America and its
mouths. In another apartment niggers and whites re-pick the fibres out
more carefully, and then roll up the pure loaf in a cylindrical shape,
according to the measure provided for the purpose. It is then taken to
another apartment, and placed in duly prepared compartments under a
strong screw-press, by which operation it is transformed from a loose
cylinder to a well squashed parallelogram. It is hard work, and the
swarthy descendants of Ham look as if they were in a vapour-bath, and
doubtless bedew the leaf with superfluous heat.

After the first pressing, it goes to a more artistic old negro, who,
with two buckets of water--one like pea-soup, the other as dark as if
some of his children had been boiled down in it--and armed with a sponge
of most uninviting appearance, applies these liquids with most
scientific touch, thereby managing to change the colour, and marble it,
darken it, or lighten it, so as to suit the various tastes. This
operation completed, and perspiring negroes screwing down frantically,
it is forced into the box prepared for its reception, which is imbedded
in a strong iron-bound outer case during the process, to prevent the
more fragile one from bursting under the pressure. All this over, and
the top fixed, a master-painter covers it with red and black paint,
recording its virtues and its charms. What a pity it could not lie in
its snug bed for ever! But, alas! fate and the transatlantic Anglo-Saxon
have decreed otherwise. Too short are its slumbers, too soon it bursts
again, to suffer fresh pressure under the molars of the free and
enlightened, and to fall in filthy showers over the length and breadth
of the land, deluging every house and every vehicle to a degree that
must be seen to be believed, and filling the stranger with much wonder,
but far more disgust. I really think it must be chewing tobacco which
makes the Americans so much more restless, so much more like armadillos
than any other nation. It often has excited my wonder, how the more
intelligent and civilized portion of the community, who do not generally
indulge in the loathsome practice, can reconcile themselves to the
annoyance of it as kindly as they do. Habit and necessity are powerful

Having finished this exhibition--which, by the way, kept me sneezing all
the time--I went next to see a steam sawing, planing, and fitting mill.
Labour being very expensive, these establishments are invaluable here;
such an establishment as I saw could supply, from the raw wood in logs,
all the doors and window-frames of "Stafford House" in three days,
barring the polish and paint. If Mr. Cubitt is not up to this machinery,
this hint may be the means of making his fortune double itself in
"quarter-less no time."[M] As we knew that our journey to-morrow must be
inexpressibly tedious, we beat an early retreat, requesting a cup of hot
tea or coffee might be ready for us half an hour before our departure.
Poor simple creatures that we were, to expect such a thing! The free and
enlightened get their breakfast after being two hours _en route_, and
can do without anything before starting--_ergo_, we must do the same:
thus, though there were literally servants enough in the house to form a
substantial militia regiment, a cup of tea was impossible to be obtained
for love or money. All we had for it was to bury our disappointment in

Soon after three the next morning we were roused from our slumbers, and,
finishing our toilet, cheered our insides with an unadulterated draught
from the Ohio. All outside the door was dark, cheerless, solitary, and
still. Presently the silence was broken by some violent puffs from a
penny trumpet. "Dat's de mayle, massa," said a nigger in the hall,
accompanying his observation with a mysterious grin, evidently meant to
convey the idea, "You'll have enough of her before you've done." Up she
came to the door--I believe, by custom if not by grammar, a man-of-war
and a mail-coach are shes--a heavy, lumbering machine, with springs,
&c., apparently intended for scaling the Rocky Mountains. The inside
was about three feet broad and five feet long, and was intended for the
convenience (?) of nine people, the three who occupied the centre seat
having a moveable leather strap to support their backs. Outside, there
was one seat by the coachman; and if the correspondence was not great,
three more might sit behind the coachman, in all the full enjoyment of a
splendidly cramped position. The sides of the carriage were made of
leather, and fitted with buttons, for the purpose of opening in summer.
Being a nasty drizzling morning, we got inside, with our two servants,
and found we had it all to ourselves. "I am sure this is comfortable
enough," observed my companion, who was one of the mildest and most
contented of human beings. "Too good to last long," thought I.

The penny trumpet sounds, and off we go--not on our journey, but all
over the town to the different hotels, to pick up live freight. I
heartily hoped they might all oversleep themselves that morning. Alas!
no such luck. Jonathan and a weasel are two animals that are very rarely
caught napping. Passengers kept coming in until we were six, and
"comfortable enough" became a misnomer. A furious blast of the tin tube,
with a few spicy impromptu variations, portended something important,
and, as we pulled up, we saw it was the post-office; but, murder of
murders! we saw four more passengers! One got up outside; another was
following; Jarvey stopped him, with--"I guess there aint no room up here
for you; the mail's a-coming here." The door opened,--the three damp
bodkins in line commenced their assault,--the last came between my
companion and myself, I could not see much of him, it was so dark;
but--woe is me!--there are other senses besides sight, and my
unfortunate nostrils drank in a most foetid polecatty odour, ever
increasing as he drew nearer and nearer. Room to sit there was none;
but, at the blast of the tube, the rattle over the pitty pavement soon
shook the obnoxious animal down between us, squeezing the poisonous
exhalation out of him at each successive jolt. As dawn rose, we saw he
was a German, and doubtless the poor fellow was very hard-up for money,
and had been feeding for some time past on putrid pork. As for his hide
and his linen, it would have been an unwarrantable tax upon his memory
to have asked him when they had last come in contact with soap and
water. My stomach felt like the Bay of Biscay in an equinoctial gale,
and I heartily wished I could have dispensed with the two holes at the
bottom of my nose. I dreaded asking how far he was going; but another
passenger--under the influence of the human nosegay he was constrained
to inhale--summed up the courage to pop the question, and received a
reply which extinguished in my breast the last flickering ray of Hope's
dim taper--"Sair, I vosh go to Nashveele." Only conceive the horror of
being squashed into such a neighbour for twenty-one long hours, and over
a road that necessarily kept jerking the unwashed and polecatty head
into your face ten times in a minute! Who that has bowels of compassion
but must commiserate me in such "untoward circumstances?"

Although we had left the hotel at four, it was five before we left the
town, and about seven before we unpacked for breakfast, nine miles out
of town. The stench of my neighbour had effectually banished all idea of
eating or drinking from my mind; so I walked up and down outside,
smoking my cigar, and thinking "What can I do?" At last, the bright idea
struck me--I will get in next time with my cigar; what if we are nine
herrings in the barrel?--everybody smokes in this country--they won't
object--and I think, by keeping the steam well up, I can neutralize a
little of the polecat. So when the time came for starting, I got my big
cigar-case, &c., out on my knees--as getting at your pockets, when once
packed, was impossible--and entering boldly with my weed at high
pressure, down I sat. We all gradually shook into our places. Very soon
a passenger looked me steadily in the face; he evidently was going to
speak; I quailed inwardly, dreading he was going to object to the smell
of smoke. Oh, joyous sight! a cigar appeared between his fingers, and
the re-assuring words came forth--"A light, sir, if you please." I never
gave one more readily in my life. Gradually, passenger after passenger
produced cigars; the aroma filled the coach, and the fragrance of the
weed triumphed over the foetor of the polecat. Six insides out of nine
hard at it, and four of them with knock-me-down Virginia tobacco, the
single human odour could not contend against such powerful odds; as well
might a musquito sneeze against thunder. I always loved a cigar; but
here I learnt its true value in a desperate emergency.

On we went, puffing, pumping, and jolting, till at last we came to a
stand on the banks of a river. As there was a reasonable probability of
the mail shooting into the stream on its descent, we were told to get
out, on doing which we found ourselves pleasantly situated about a foot
deep in mud; the mail got down safe into an open ferry-boat with two
oars, and space for passengers before the horses or behind the coach.
The ferry was but for a few minutes, and we then had to ascend another
bank of mud, at the top of which we retook our seats in the mail,
bringing with us in the aggregate, about a hundredweight of fine clay
soil, with which additional cargo we continued our journey. One o'clock
brought us to Elizabeth Town, and dinner; the latter was very primitive,
tough, and greasy.

Once more we entered our cells, and continued our route, the bad road
getting worse and worse, rarely allowing us to go out of a walk. Two of
our fellow-passengers managed to make themselves as offensive as
possible. They seemed to be travelling bagmen of the lowest class.
Conversation they had none, but by way of appearing witty, they kept
repeating over and over again some four or five stories, laughing at one
another's tales, which were either blasphemous or beastly--so much so,
that I would most willingly have compounded for two more human polecats
in lieu of them. I must say, that although all classes mix together in
public conveyances, this was the first time I had ever found people
conduct themselves in so disgusting a manner. We soon came to another
river, and getting out, enjoyed a second mud walk, bringing in with us
as before a rich cargo of clay soil; and after a continuous and
increasing jolting, which threatened momentary and universal
dislocation, we arrived, after a drive of twenty-one hours, at our
journey's end--i.e., at "Old Bell's," so called from the proprietor of
the inn. Here we were to pass the night, or rather the remainder of it,
the mail going on to Nashville, and taking our foetid bodkin on with it.
But, alas! the two more disagreeable passengers before alluded to
remained, as they had suddenly made up their minds to stay and visit the
Mammoth Cave.

Old Bell is a venerable specimen of seventy odd years of age, and has
been here, I believe, half a century nearly. One of his daughters, I am
told, is very pretty. She is married to a senator of the United States,
and keeps one of the most agreeable houses in Washington. The old
gentleman is said to be worth some money, but he evidently is determined
to die in harness. As regularly as the mail arrives, about one in the
morning, so regularly does he turn out and welcome the passengers with a
glass of mixed honey, brandy, and water. The beverage and the donor
reminded me forcibly of "Old Crerer," and the "Athole Brose," with which
he always welcomed those who visited him in his Highland cottage. Having
got beds to ourselves--after repeated requests to roost two in a nest,
as the house was small--I soon tumbled into my lair, and in the blessed
forgetfulness of sleep the miseries of the day became mingled with the
things that were. The next morning, after breakfast, we got a conveyance
to take the party over to the Cave, a distance of seven miles. One may
really say there is no road. For at least one half of the way there is
nothing but a rugged track of rock and roots of trees, ever threatening
the springs of the carriage and the limbs of the passenger with
frightful fractures. However, by walking over the worst of it, you
protect the latter and save the former, thus rendering accidents of rare

The hotel is a straggling building, chiefly ground floor, and with a
verandah all round. The air is deliriously pure, and in summer it must
be lovely. It is situated on a plateau, from the extremity of which the
bank descends to the Green River. On both sides is the wild forest, and
round the giant trunks the enamoured vine twines itself with the
affectionate pertinacity of a hungry boa-constrictor, and boars its head
in triumph to the topmost branches. But vegetable life is not like a
Venus who, "when unadorned, is adorned the most;" and, the forest having
cast off its summer attire, presents an uninviting aspect in the cold
nudity of winter. When the virgin foliage of spring appears, and ripens
into the full verdure of summer, the shade of these banks must be
delicious; the broad-leaved and loving vine extending its matrimonial
embrace as freely and universally through the forest as Joe Smith and
his brethren do theirs among the ladies at the Salt Lake; and when
autumn arrives, with those gorgeous glowing tints unknown to the Old
World, the scene must be altogether lovely; then the admirer of nature,
floating between the banks on the light-green bosom of the stream below,
and watching the ever-changing tints, as the sun dropped softly into his
couch in the west, would enjoy a feast that memory might in vain try to
exhaust itself in recalling.

There are guides appointed who provide lanterns and torches for visitors
who wish to examine the Mammoth Cave; and its interior is such a
labyrinth, that, without their aid, the task would be a dangerous one.
Rough clothing is provided at the hotel, the excursion being one of
scramble and difficulty.

Thus prepared, we started on our exploring expedition, passing at the
entry the remnants of old saltpetre works, which were established here
during the struggle at New Orleans. The extent of this cave would render
a detail tedious, as there are comparatively few objects of interest.
The greatest marvel is a breed of small white fish without eyes, several
of which are always to be seen. Like all similar places, it varies in
size in the most arbitrary manner. At one minute you are struggling for
space, and suddenly you emerge upon a Gothic-looking hall, full of
gracefully pendent stalactites. Again you proceed along corridors, at
one time lofty, at another threatening your head, if pride do not give
way to humility. Then you come to rivers, of which there are two. At one
time you are rowing under a magnificent vault, and then, anon, you are
forced to lie flat down in the boat, or leave your head behind you, as
you float through a passage, the roof whereof grazes the gunwale of the
boat. My guide informed me that there was a peculiarity in these rivers
nobody could satisfactorily account for, viz., that the more it rained,
the lower these waters fell. I expect the problem resembled that which
is attributed to King Charles, viz., "How it was, that if a dead fish
was put into a vessel full of water it immediately overflowed, but that,
if a live fish was put in, it did not do so;" and I have some suspicion
the solution is the same in both cases. Among other strange places, is
one which rejoices in the name of "Fat Man's Misery." At one minute the
feet get fixed as in the stocks; at another, the upper portion of the
body is called upon to make a right angle with the lower; even then, a
projecting point of the rock above will sometimes prod you upon the
upturned angle, in endeavouring to save which, by a too rapid act of
humility, you knock all the skin off the more vulnerable knee. Emerging
from this difficulty, and, perhaps, rising too hastily, a crack on the
head closes your eyes, filling them with a vision of forked lightning.
Recovering from this agreeable sensation, you find a gap like the edge
of a razor, in going through which, you feel the buttons of your
waistcoat rubbing against your backbone. It certainly would be no bad
half-hour's recreation to watch a rotund Lord Mayor, followed by a court
of aldermen to match, forcing their way through this pass after a turtle

The last place I shall mention is the one which, to me, afforded the
greatest pleasure: it is a large hall, in which, after being placed in a
particular position, the guide retires to a distance, taking with him
all the lights; and knowing by experience what portion of them to
conceal, bids you, when he is ready, look overhead. In a few seconds it
has the appearance of the sky upon a dark night; but, as the eye becomes
accustomed to the darkness, small spots are seen like stars; and they
keep increasing till the vaulted roof has the appearance of a lovely
star-light night. I never saw a more pleasing or perfect illusion. It
would be difficult to estimate correctly the size of the Mammoth Cave.
The American gazetteers say it extends ten or twelve miles, and has
lateral branches, which, altogether, amount to forty miles. It is, I
imagine, second in size only to the Cacuhuainilpa, in Mexico, which, if
the accounts given are accurate, would take half a dozen such as the
Mammoth inside. I fear it is almost superfluous to inform the reader,
that the Anglo-Saxon keeps up his unenviable character for disfiguring
every place he visits; and you consequently see the names of Smith,
Brown, Snooks, &c., smoked on the rocks in all directions--an
appropriate sooty record of a barbarous practice.[N]

Having enjoyed two days in exploring this "gigantic freak of Nature,"
we commenced our return about half-past four in the afternoon, so as to
get over the break-neck track before dark. Old Bell[O] welcomed us as
usual with his honey, brandy, and water. He then prepared us some
dinner, as we wished to snatch a few hours' sleep before commencing our
return to Louisville, with its twenty-one hours of pleasure. About
half-past ten at night, a blast in the breeze, mixed with a confused
slushy sound, as sixteen hoofs plashed in the mud, rang the knell in our
ears, "Your time has come!" I anxiously looked as the mail pulled up in
the middle of the road opposite to the door--they always allow the
passengers the privilege of wading through the mud to the door of the
inn--to see if by any chance it was empty, having been told that but few
people comparatively travelled the back route--no wonder, if they could
help it. Alas! the steam on the window announced, with fatal certainty,
some humanities inside. The door opened; out they came, one, two, three,
four. It was a small coach, with three seats, having only space for two
persons on each, thus leaving places inside for my friend and myself.
"Any room outside, there?"

"Room for one, sir!"

There was no help for it, and we were therefore obliged to leave one
servant behind, to follow next night.

Horses changed, honey-toddy all drank, in we got into the centre seat.
"What is this all round?" "Thick drugget, sir; they nail it round in
winter to keep the cold out."--Thank Heaven, it is only nailed at the
bottom. Suffocation began; down goes my window. Presently a
sixteen-stone kind of overgrown Pickwickian "Fat Boy," sitting opposite
me, exclaims aloud, with a polar shudder, "Ugh! it's very cold!" and
finding I was inattentive, he added, "Don't you find it very cold?" "Me,
sir? I'm nearly fainting from heat," I replied; and then, in charity, I
lent him a heavy full-sized Inverness plaid, in which he speedily
enveloped his fat carcass. What with the plaids, and his five inches
deep of fat, his bones must have been in a vapour bath. The other
_vis-a-vis_ was a source of uneasiness to me on a different score. He
kept up a perpetual expectorating discharge; and, as my open window
was the only outlet, and it did not come that way, I naturally felt
anxious for my clothes. Daylight gradually dawned upon the scene, and
then the ingenuity of my friend was made manifest in a way calculated to
move any stomach not hardened by American travelling. Whenever he had
expressed the maximum quantity of juice from the tobacco, the drugget
lining was moved sufficiently for him to discharge his cargo against the
inside of the carriage; after which, the drugget was replaced, and the
effect of the discharge concealed thereby. This drugget lining must have
been invaluable to him; for upon another occasion, it did duty for a
pocket-handkerchief. I must say, that when I saw the otherwise
respectable appearance of the culprit, his filthy practices astounded
me. Behind us were two gentlemen who were returning to Louisville, and
whom we found very agreeable.

We stopped for breakfast at a wayside pot-house sort of place; but,
before feasting, we wanted to wash ourselves. The conveniences for that
purpose were a jug, a basin, and a piece of soap, on a bench in the open
court, which, as it was raining pretty smartly, was a very ingenious
method of dissuasion, particularly as your pocket-handkerchief, or the
sleeve of your shirt, had to supply the place of a towel. The meal was
as dissuasive as the washing arrangements, and I was glad when the
trumpet summoned us to coach. I made an effort to sleep, for which
purpose I closed my eyes, but in vain; however, the expectorating
_vis-a-vis,_ who was also a chilly bird, thought he had caught me
napping, and said to his fat neighbour,--"I say, the old gentleman's
asleep, pull up the window." The fat 'un did so, and I kept perfectly
quiet. In a few minutes I began to breathe heavily, and then, awaking as
it were with a groan, I complained of suffocation, and, dashing down the
window, poked out my head and panted for fresh air: they were very civil
all the rest of the journey, and never asked for the window to be shut
again. In the course of the day, I found out that the fat boy opposite
was connected with a circus company, and from him I gleaned something of
their history, which I hope may not be uninteresting to the reader.

Each company has a puffer, or advertiser, who is sent on a week before
the company, to get bills printed, and see them posted up and
distributed to the best advantage, in the places at which the company
intend to perform. This was the fat boy's occupation, and for it he
received eight pounds a month and his travelling expenses.

His company consisted of seventy-five bipeds and one hundred and
twenty-five quadrupeds. Of the bipeds, twelve were performers, two being
women; the pay varied from sixteen pounds a month to the chief Amazonian
lady, down as low as five pounds a month to the least efficient of the
corps. They work all the year round, sucking their cents from the North
in summer, and from the South in winter. They carry everything with
them, except it may be fuel and provisions. Each has his special duty
appointed. After acting at night they retire to their tents to sleep,
and the proper people take the circus-tent down, and start at once for
the next place they are to appear at; the performers and their tent-men
rise early in the morning, and start so as to reach the ground about
eleven; they then rest and prepare, so as to be ready, after the people
of the village have dined, to give their first performance; then they
rest and refresh ready for their evening repetition. Some companies used
to make their own gas, but experience has proved that wax-lights are
sweeter and cheaper in the long run, so gas making is nearly exploded.
After this second performance they retire to rest; the circus tent-men
strike and pack the tent, then start off for the next place of
exhibition, the actors and their tents following as before mentioned:
thus they go on throughout the year, bipeds and quadrupeds scarcely ever
entering a house.

There are numbers of these circus companies in the States, of which the
largest is the one to which Van Amburgh is attached, and which, the fat
boy told me, is about three times the size of his own--Van Amburgh
taking always upwards of a dozen cages of his wild beasts. The work, he
says, is very hard, but the money comes in pretty freely, which I can
readily believe, as the bump of Inquisitiveness grows here with a
luxuriance unknown elsewhere, and is only exceeded by its sister bump of
Acquisitiveness, which two organs constitute audience and actors.

I give you no account of scenery on the road for two reasons: first,
because there are no striking features to relieve the alternations of
rude cultivation and ruder forest; and secondly, because in winter,
Nature being despoiled of the life-giving lines of herbage and foliage,
a sketch of dreariness would be all that truth could permit. I will
therefore beg you to consider the twenty-one hours past, and Louisville
reached in safety, where hot tea and "trimmings"--as the astute young
Samivel hath it--soon restored us from the fatigues of a snail-paced
journey, over the most abominable road a man can imagine, although it is
the mail route between the flourishing towns of Louisville and
Nashville. Should any ambitious spirit feel a burning desire to visit
the Mammoth Cave, let me advise him to slake the said flame with the
waters of Patience, and take for his motto--"I bide my time." Snoring
has been the order of the day in these parts for many years; but the
kettle-screaming roads of the North have at last disturbed the Southern
slumberers, and, like giants refreshed, they are now working vigorously
at their own kettle, which will soon hiss all the way from Louisville to
Nashville. Till then, I say, Patience.--One of our companions in the
stage very kindly offered to take us to the club, which is newly formed
here, and which, if not large, is very comfortable. I mention this as
one among the many instances which have occurred to me while travelling
in this country, of the desire exhibited by the better classes to show
civility and attention to any gentleman who they observe is a stranger
among them.

The following morning we were obliged to continue our route, for which
purpose it was necessary to embark two miles below the town, as the
river was not high enough to allow the steamers to pass over a kind of
bar called "The Falls." The road was one continuous bog of foot-deep
mud, but that difficulty concerned the horses, and they got over it with
perfect ease, despite the heavy drag. Once more we were floating down
the Ohio, and, curiously enough, in, another "Franklin;" but she could
not boast of such a massive cylindrical stewardess as her sister
possessed. A host of people, as usual, were gathered round the bar,
drinking, smoking, and arguing. Jonathan is "first-chop" at an argument.
Two of them were hard at it as I walked up.

Says the Colonel--"I tell you, Major, it is more than a hundred miles."

Major--"Well, but I tell you, Colonel, it aint not no such thing."

Colonel--"But, sir'ree, I know it is."

Judge--"Well, Colonel, I tell you what it is; I reckon you're wrong."

Colonel--getting evidently excited--"No, sir'ree, I aint, and,"--holding
out a brawny hand capable of scrunching a nine-pound shot into infant
pap--"darned if I wont lay you, or any other gentleman, six Kentucky
niggers to a julep I'm right."

After offering these tremendous odds, he travelled his fiery eagle eyes
from the major to the judge, and from the judge to the major, to
ascertain which of them would have it; and as they were silent, he
extended the radius of his glance to the company around, chucking his
head, and looking out of the corner of his eye, from time to time,
towards major and judge with a triumphant sneer, as much as to say,
"I've fixed you, anyhow." The argument was over; whether the major and
the judge were right about the distance, or not, I cannot decide; but if
the bet, when accepted, had to be ratified in the grasp of the muscular
hand which the colonel extended, they were decidedly right in not
accepting it, as some painful surgical operation must have followed such
a crushing and dislocation as his gripe inevitably portended. I would as
soon have put my hand between the rollers of a cane-press.

The feeding arrangements for the humanities on board were, if
disagreeable, sufficiently amusing once in a way. A table extends nearly
the whole length of the gentlemen's saloon; on each side are ranged low
wooden straight-back arm-chairs, of a breadth well suited for the ghost
_qui n'avait pas de quoi_. But the unfortunate man who happened to be
very well supplied therewith, ran considerable risk of finding the chair
a permanent appendage. At the sound of the bell, all the seats being
arranged opposite the respective places, the men rush forward and place
themselves behind the said chairs, and, like true cavaliers, stand there
till the ladies are seated. I was standing waiting among the rest, and
getting impatient as time flew on. One lady had not yet arrived. At last
the steward came with the said article on his arm, and having deposited
her in the seat nearly opposite mine, at a knowing wink from him, a
second steward sounded another bell, and the men dropped into their
seats like magic. Soup having been already served, the spoons rattled
away furiously. I was wondering who the lady--all females are ladies
here--could be, for whom we had been so long waiting, and who had
eventually come in with the steward, or gentleman--all men are gentlemen
here--in so friendly a manner. She did not appear burdened with any
refined manners, but, judge of my astonishment when, after she had got
quit of her soup-plate and was waiting for her next helping, I observed
the lady poking the point of her knife into a sweet dish near her, and
sucking off the precious morsel she had captured, which interesting
operation she kept repeating till her roast turkey arrived. There was an
air of such perfect innocence about her, as she was employed in the
sucking process, that you could not help feeling she was unconscious any
eye fixed upon her could find her occupation offensive or extraordinary.

A gentleman seated near me next attracted my attention. They had helped
him to a piece of meat the size and shape of a Holborn-hill
paving-stone. How insulted he must be at having his plate filled in that
way. Look! look! how he seizes vegetable after vegetable, building his
plate all round, like a fortification, the junk of beef in the middle
forming the citadel. It would have taken Napoleon a whole day to have
captured such a fortress; but, remember, poor Napoleon did not belong to
the nation that can "whip creation." See how Jonathan batters down
bastion after bastion! Now he stops!--his piercing eye scrutinizes
around!--a pie is seen! With raised body and lengthened arm, he pounces
on it, and drags it under the guns of his fortress. Knives and forks are
scarce--his own will do very well. A breach is made--the pastry parapet
is thrown at the foot of the half-demolished citadel; spoons are not at
hand, the knife plunges into the abyss, the fork follows--'tis a chicken
pie--pillage ensues; all the white meat is captured, the dish is raised
on high, from the horizontal it is turned to the "slantindicular," and
the citadel is deluged in the shower. "Catch who can," is not confined
to school-boys, I see. I was curious to witness the end of this attack,
and, as he had enough to occupy his ivories for half an hour--if they
did not give in before--I turned quietly to my own affairs, and began
eating my dinner; but, curiosity is impatient. In a few minutes, I
turned back to gaze on the fortress. By Jupiter Tonans! the plate lay
before him, clean as if a cat had licked it; and, having succeeded in
capturing another plate, he was organizing on this new plateau various
battalions of sweets, for which he skirmished around with incomparable

The parade-ground being full, I expected to see an instant attack; but
he was too knowing to be caught napping in that way. He looked around,
and with a masterly eye scanned apples, oranges, and nuts. The two
former he selected with great judgment; the latter he brought home in
quantities sufficient to secure plenty of good ones. Then pouncing upon
a pair of nutcrackers, and extending them like a chevaux-de-frise round
his prizes, he began his onslaught upon the battalion of sweets before

The great general now set seriously to work. Scarce had he commenced,
when an innocent young man, who had finished his sweets and was
meditating an attack on some nuts, espied the crackers lying idle before
the gastronomic general, and said, "Will you lend me the nutcrackers,
sir?" The great general raised his head, and gave the youth one of those
piercing looks with which Napoleon used to galvanize all askers of
impertinent questions. The youth, understanding the refusal conveyed in
that terrible glance, had however enough courage to add, "You don't want
them, sir!" This was too much to bear in silence; so he replied with
awful distinctness, "But I reckon I shall, sir!" Then dropping his head
to the original position, he balanced a large piece of pumpkin-pie on
the point of his knife, and gallantly charged with it down his throat.
Poor youth! a neighbour relieved his distress, and saved his ivories.

Nearly a quarter of an hour has elapsed; dinner is all over, the nuts
are all cracked and put in the pockets, and away the company go either
to the other end of the saloon, where the stove is placed, round which
they eat their nuts and smoke their cigars, or to drink at the bar. When
the smoking is over, clasp-knives are opened. Don't be alarmed; there is
no bloodshed intended, although half a dozen people strolling about with
these weapons may appear ominous. Watch their faces; the lower part of
their cheeks goes in with high-sucking pressure, then swells again, and
the active tongue sweeps with restless energy along and around the
ivory barriers within its range. In vain--in vain it strives to
dispossess the intruders; rebellious particles of nut burrow deep
between the ivories, like rabbits in an old stone dike. The knife comes
to the rescue, and, plunging fearlessly into the dark abyss, the victory
is won. Then the victors commence chewing _a l'outrance,_ and
expectorate on the red-hot stove, till it hisses like a steam-engine, or
else they deluge the floor until there is no alternative but thick shoes
or damp feet. The fumes of every known alcohol exhale from the bar, and
mix with the head-bursting fragrance of the strongest "Warginny." Some
seek safety in flight; others luxuriate in the poisonous atmosphere, and
scream out, like deeply-injured men, if any door by chance be left open.

Behold! the table is laid again for dinner; piles of food keep coming
in; the company arrive--some in coats, some in waistcoats only; some in
coloured shirts, some in red flannel shirts; one, with sleeves turned up
to the elbow. "Who on earth are these?" I ask, in my ignorance. "Oh!
those, I guess, are the officers of the ship." Truly, they are "free,"
but whether "enlightened" also I had no opportunity of ascertaining. A
short ten minutes, and they are all scattered, and the piles of food
with them. Once more I look, and, behold! the table is again preparing.
Who can this be for? Doubts are speedily solved, as a mixture of niggers
and whites sit down to the festive hoard; it is the boys--_alias_
waiters--whose turn has come at last. Their meal over, the spare leaves
of the table are removed, half a dozen square tables dot the centre line
of the saloon, and all is comparatively quiet. This process takes place
at every meal--8 A.M., 1 P.M., and 5 P.M.--with the most rigid

Fancy my distress one evening, when, on opening my cabin-door, I beheld
a fellow-creature doubled up at the entry of the door opposite. I
thought the poor sufferer had a fit of cholera, and I was expecting each
instant to hear his screams; but hearing nothing, I examined the person
in question more minutely. It was merely a gentleman, who had
dispossessed himself of his jacket, waistcoat, trousers, and boots, not
forgetting his stockings; and then deliberately planting his chair in
the open entry of the door, and gathering up one foot on the seat
thereof, was amusing himself by cutting and picking the horny
excrescences of his pedal digits, for the benefit of the passengers in
the gentlemen's saloon; and, unfortunately, you could not be sure that
his hands would be washed before he sat next to you at breakfast in the
morning,--for I can testify that I have, over and over again, sat next
to people, on these Western waters, whose hands were scarce fit to take
coals out of a scuttle.

There is nothing I have here set down but what actually passed under my
own eye. You will, of course, find gentlemen on board, and many whose
manners there is nothing to complain of, and whose conversation is both
instructive and amusing; but you evidently are liable to find others to
realize the picture I have given of scenes in the gentlemen's saloon,
and, unless you have some acquaintance among the ladies, their saloon is
as sacred from a gentleman as the Sultan's harem. And whence comes all
this, except from that famous bugbear "equality?" Is there any real
gentleman throughout the Empire State who would, in his heart, approve
of this ridiculous hustling together of well-bred and ill-bred? But it
pleases the masses, and they must submit to this incongruous herding and
feeding, like the hungry dogs of a "Dotheboys Hall" kennel.

It may be useful information for the traveller, and is only fair to the
Mississippi boat proprietors, to observe, that if you succeed in getting
a passage in a perfectly new boat, there is always more care, more
safety, better living, and better company. In all the boats there is one
brush and comb for the use of the passengers.

By the aid of steam and stream, we at last reached Cairo, which is on
the southern bank of the Ohio and the eastern of the Mississippi; its
advantageous position has not passed unnoticed, but much money has been
thrown away upon it, owing to the company's not sitting down and
counting the cost before they began. There can be no question that,
geographically, it is _par excellence_ the site for the largest inland
town of America, situated as it is at the confluence of the two giant
arteries; and not merely is its position so excellent but mountains of
coal are in its neighbourhood. The difficulty which has to be contended
against is the inundation of these rivers. Former speculators built up
levees; but either from want of pluck or purse, they were inefficiently
constructed; the Mississippi overflowed them and overwhelmed the
speculators. Latterly, however, another company has taken the task in
hand, and having sufficient capital, it embraces the coal mines as well
as the site, &c., of the new town, to which the coal will of course be
brought by rail, and thus be enabled to supply the steamers on both
rivers at the cheapest rate, and considerably less than one-third the
price of wood; and if the indefatigable Swede's calorie-engine should
ever become practicable, every steamer will easily carry sufficient coal
from Cairo to last till her return; in short, I think it requires no
prophetic eye to foresee that Cairo in fifty years, if the Union
continues, will be one of the greatest, most important, and most
flourishing inland towns in America; and curiously enough, this effect
will be essentially brought about by the British capital embarked in the

A few hours' run up the river brought us to St. Louis, whose nose, I
prophesy, is to be put out of joint by Cairo some future day.
Nevertheless, what a wonderful place is this same St. Louis; its rapid
increase is almost as extraordinary as that of Cincinnati, and perhaps
more so, when you consider, not only that it is further west by hundreds
of miles, but that it has to contend with the overflowing of the
Mississippi, which has, on more than one occasion, risen to the first
floor of the houses and stores built on the edge of the levee;
fortunately, the greater part of the town, being built on higher ground,
escapes the ruinous periodical duckings. It is situated seven hundred
and fifty miles below the falls of St. Anthony, and twelve hundred miles
above New Orleans.

Le Clede and his party appreciated the value of its position as early as
1764, and named it in honour of Louis the Fifteenth. Subsequently it was
transferred to the Spaniards, in 1768: however, it made but little
progress until it passed into the hands of the United States, in 1804.
The energy of the American character soon changed the face of affairs,
and there are now 3000 steam-boats arriving annually, which I believe to
be a greater number than there were inhabitants at the date of its
cession to them. But the more active impulse seems to have commenced in
1830, at which time the population was under 7000, since which date it
has so rapidly increased, that in 1852 its population was bordering on
100,000. The natives of the United States form about one-half of the
community, and those of Germany one-fourth; the remainder are chiefly
Irish. There are twenty newspapers, of which four are published in
German. There are forty churches, one-fourth of which are Roman
Catholic, and a liberal provision is made for education; the material
prosperity of this thriving community is evidenced by the fact, that the
annual value of the produce of their manufacturing-establishments
exceeds 3,000,000l.; flour-mills, sugar refineries, and carpenters,
contributing more largely than other occupations; after which come the
tailors, thanks probably to the Germans, who appear to have a strong
predilection for this trade, at which there are more hands employed than
at any other.


[Footnote M: Messrs. Wallis and Whitworth, in their Report on the
Industry of the United States, remark at Chapter V.--"In no branch of
manufacture does the application of labour-saving machinery produce, by
simple means, more important results than in the working of wood."]

[Footnote N: Since my return to England, I have seen it asserted, by a
correspondent in the _Morning Chronicle_, that Colonel Crogan, of
Louisville, purchased this cave for 2000l., and that, shortly after,
he was offered 20,000l. for his bargain. It is further stated that,
in his will, he tied it up in his family for two generations. If this
latter be true, it proves that entails are not quite unknown even in the
Democratic Republic.]

[Footnote O: I have heard, since my return to England, that old Mr. Bell
is dead.]


_River Scenes_.

I felt very anxious to make an excursion from St. Louis, and get a
little shooting, either to the north-west or down near Cairo, where
there are deer; but my companion was dying to get to New Orleans, and
strongly urged me not to delay, "fiddling after sport." I always looked
upon myself as a model of good-natured easiness, ever ready to sacrifice
self for a friend; but I have been told by some intimates, that such is
not my character, and some have even said, "You're a obstinate follow."
If they were wrong, I suffered enough for my easiness; if they were
right, I must have yielded the only time that I ought to have been firm;
at all events, I gave up my shooting expedition, which I had intended to
occupy the time with till a first-class boat started for New Orleans;
and, in an evil hour, I allowed myself to be inveigled on board the
"Western World." The steam was up, and we were soon bowling down the
leviathan artery of the North American continent. Why the said artery
should keep the name of the Mississippi, I cannot explain; for, not only
is the Missouri the larger river above the confluence, but the
Mississippi is a clear stream, with solid, and, in some instances,
granite-bound shores, and perfectly free from "snags;" whereas the
Missouri has muddy banks, and revels in snags, which, as many have sadly
experienced, is the case with the stream on which they are borne
throughout its whole length, thereby fully evincing its true parentage,
and painfully exhibiting its just right to be termed Missouri; but the
rights of men and women are difficult enough to settle, without entering
into the rights of rivers, although from them, as from men and women,
flow both good and evil. A truce to rights, then, especially in this
"Far West," where every one is obliged to maintain his own for himself.

This river is one of the places assigned as the scene of the
conversation between the philosopher and the boatman--a tale so old,
that it had probably died out before some of my younger readers were
born; I therefore insert it for their benefit exclusively.--A
philosopher, having arrived at a ferry, entered a boat, rowed by one of
those rare articles in this enlightened Republic--a man without any

PHILOSOPHER _(loquitur)._--Can you write?

BOATMAN.--I guess I can't.

PHILOSOPHER.--How sad! why, you've lost one-third of your life! Of
course you can read?

BOATMAN,--Well, I guess I can't that neither.

PHILOSOPHER.--Good gracious me! why, you've lost two-thirds of your

When the conversation had proceeded thus far, the boatman discovered
that, in listening to his learned passenger, he had neglected that
vigilance which the danger of the river rendered indispensable. The
stream was hurrying them into a most frightful snag; escape was
hopeless; so the boatman opened the conversation with this startling

BOATMAN.--Can you swim, sir?

PHILOSOPHER.--No, that I can't.

BOATMAN.--Then, I guess, you've lost all your life.

Ere the sentence was finished, the boat upset; the sturdy rower
struggled manfully, and reached the shore in safety. On looking round,
nought was to be seen of the philosopher save his hat, floating down to
New Orleans. The boatman sat down on the bank, reflecting on the fate of
the philosopher; and, as the beaver disappeared in the bend of the
river, he rose up and gave vent to his reflections in the following
terms: "I guess that gentleman was never taught much of the useful;
learning is a good thing in its place, but I guess swimming is the thing
on the Mississippi, fix it how you will."

As I have alluded to that _rara avis_ in the United States, a totally
uneducated man, I may as well give an amusing specimen of the production
of another Western, whose studies were evidently in their infancy. It is
a certificate of marriage, and runs thus:--

"State of Illenois Peoria County ss

"To all the world Greeting. Know ye that John Smith and Peggy Myres is
hereby certified to go together and do as old folks does, anywhere
inside coperas precinct, and when my commission comes I am to marry em
good, and date em back to _kivver accidents_.

"O---- M---- R---- [ss]

"Justice of the Peace."

Let us now return to the "Western World."

Having committed the indiscretion of taking my passage on board of her,
the next step I took--i.e., paying for it--was worse, and proclaimed
me a griffin. The old stagers know these waters too well to think of
paying before they are at, or about, the end of their journey. Having,
however, both taken and paid for my passage, and committed what old
maids and sailors would call the audacious folly of starting upon a
Friday, I may as well give you a description of the boat.

The river at many places and in many seasons being very low, these
steamers are built as light as possible; in short, I believe they are
built as light as any company can be found to insure them. Above the
natural load-line they flam out like the rim of a washing-basin, so as
to give breadth for the superstructure; on the deck is placed the engine
and appurtenances, fuel, &c.; whatever is not so occupied is for
freight. This deck is open all round, and has pillars placed at
convenient distances, about fifteen to twenty feet high, to support the
cabin deck. The cabin deck is occupied in the centre by a saloon,
extending nearly the whole length of the vessel, with sleeping
cabins--two beds in each--opening off it on both sides. The saloon is
entered from forward; about one-third of its length at the after-end is
shut off by doors, forming the ladies' sanctum, which is provided with
sofas, arm-chairs, piano, &c.; about one-fifth of the length at the
foremost-end, but not separated in any way, is the smoking-place, with
the bar quite handy, and the stove in the centre. The floor of this
place may with propriety be termed the great expectorating deposit,
owing to the inducements it offers for centralization, though, of
course, no creek or cranny of the vessel is free from this American
tobacco-tax--if I may presume so to dignify and designate it. Having
thus taken off one-third and one-fifth, the remaining portion is the
"gentlemen's share"--how many 'eenths it may be, I leave to fractional
calculators. Their average size is about sixteen feet broad, and from
seven and a half to eight and a half feet high; the centre part is
further raised about eighteen inches, having glass along the sides
thereof, to give light; they are always well painted and elaborately
gilt--in some vessels, such as the "Eclipse," of Louisville, they are
quite gorgeous. The cabins are about six feet by seven, the same height
as the saloon, and lit by a door on the outside part, the upper portion
of which is glass, protected, if required, by folding _jalousies_,
intended chiefly for summer use. Outside these cabins a gallery runs
round, covered at the top, and about four feet broad, and with entries
to the main cabin on each side. The box which covers the paddle-wheel,
&c., helps to make a break in this gallery, separating the gentlemen
from the ladies.

Some boats have a narrow passage connecting the two galleries, but
fitted with a _grille_ door, to prevent intrusion into the harem
gallery; before, the paddle-box, on one side, is the steward's pantry,
and on the other, that indispensable luxury to an American, the barber's
shop; where, at all hours of the day, the free and enlightened, mounted
on throne-like chairs and lofty footstools, stretch their carcases at
full length, to enjoy the tweaking of their noses and the scraping of
their chins, by the artistic nigger who officiates. This distinguished
official is also the solo dispenser of the luxury of oysters, upon which
fish the Anglo-Saxon in this hemisphere is intensely ravenous. It looks
funny enough to a stranger, to see a notice hung up (generally near the
bar), "Oysters to be had in the barber's saloon." Everything is saloon
in America. Above this saloon deck, and its auxiliaries of barber-shop,
gallery, &c., is the hurricane-deck, whereon is a small collection of
cabins for the captain, pilots, &c.--there are always two of the latter,
and their pay each, the captain told me, is forty pounds a month--and
towering above these cabins is the wheel-house, lit all round by large
windows, whence all orders to the engineers are readily transmitted by
the sound of a good bell. The remainder of the deck--which is, in
fact, only the roof of the saloon-cabins and gallery--is open to all
those who feel disposed to admire distant views under the soothing
influence of an eternal shower of wood-cinders and soot. These vessels
vary in breadth from thirty-five to fifty feet, and from one hundred and
fifty to--the "Eclipse"--three hundred and sixty-five feet in length;
the saloons extending the whole length, except about thirty feet at each
end. They have obtained the name of "palace-steamers," and at a _coup
d'oeil_ they appear to deserve it, for they are grand and imposing, both
outside and inside; but many an European who has travelled in them will
agree with me in the assertion, that they might, with more propriety, be
termed "palace sepulchres;" not merely from the loss of life to which
their constant disasters give rise, but also from the contrast between
the grandeur outside and the uncleanliness within, of which latter I
have already given a sketch in my trip from Louisville.

Some idea may be formed of their solidity, when I tell you they are only
calculated to last five years; but at the end of three, it is generally
admitted that they have paid for themselves, with good interest. I give
you this, on the information derived from a captain who was sole owner,
and I have also heard many others repeat the same thing; and yet the
"Eclipse" cost 120,000 dollars, or about 25,000l. In the saloon you
will always see an account of the goodness of the hull and the soundness
of the boilers hung up, and duly attested by the proper inspectors of
the same. The way these duties of the inspectors are performed makes it
a perfect farce, at least on most occasions.

The inspector comes on board; the captain and engineer see him, and, of
course, they shake hands, for here everybody shakes hands with everybody
the moment they meet, if only for the first time; the only variation
being in the words addressed: if for the first time, it may run
thus:--"Sir, I'm happy to make your acquaintance;" which may be replied
to by an additional squeeze, and perhaps a "Sir, I reciprocate."
N.B.--Hats off always the first time. If it is a previous acquaintance,
then a "Glad to see you, sir," is sufficient.--But to return from this
digression. The captain and engineer greet the inspector--"I s'pose
you're come to look at our bilers, sir?" "Yes, sir, I am." The parties
all instinctively drawing nearer and nearer to the bar. "Well, sir,
let's have a drink."--"Well, sir, let's."--"A cigar, sir?"--"Thank'ee,
sir!" Parties smoke and drink. Ingeniously enough, the required document
and pen and ink are all lying handy: the obdurate heart of the inspector
is quite melted by kindness. "Well, sir, I s'pose your bilers are all
right?"--"I guess they are that, sir, and nurthin else; you can't go and
for to bust them bilers of mine, fix it anyhow you will; you can't that,
I do assure you, sir."--What inspector can doubt such clear
evidence.--"Take another glass, sir, do."--"Thank'ee, I'll sign this
paper first." The inspection is over, all except the "glass" and the
"'bacco," which continue to flow and fume. The skippers of these boats
are rough enough; but I always found them very civil, plain spoken, and
ready to give all the information in their power; and many of them have
confessed to me that the inspection was but too often conducted in the
manner above described.

There is little to interest in the account of a trip down the river. The
style of society met with on board these vessels, I have already given
you a sketch of; it may sometimes be better, and sometimes worse. One of
my "messmates" in this boat, was a young fellow who had been second
captain of the mizen-top on board of H.M.S. "Vengeance;" but not liking
the style of discipline, especially--as he said--the irritating
substitutes for flogging which have been introduced of late years into
the Navy, to suit the mawkish sensibility of public opinion in England,
as well as the clamours of the all-ruling Press, he took the first
opportunity of running away, to seek his fortune in the Far West. He
observed to me one day, "Those chaps who kick up such a devil of a row
about flogging in the Navy, whatever their intentions may be, are no
real friends to the sailor or the service."

As a slight illustration of the truth of his remarks, I may here observe
that a purser in the American Navy, in which service they have lately
abolished flogging, told me, that soon after the paying off of a
line-of-battle ship in which he had been serving, he happened to meet
fifty of his old shipmates in the port, and asking them what they were
going to do, they told him they were about to embark for England, to
take service in the English Navy; for said they, "Since corporal
punishment has been abolished, the good men have to do all the work, and
that wont pay." Only three of the fifty had ever been in the English
service. There can be no doubt that many gentlemen of sensitive minds,
seeing the names of their brother officers dragged before the public,
through the House of Commons or the columns of an anonymous Press,
endeavour to keep up discipline by other means, which annoy Jack far
more, or else, slackening the bonds of discipline, leave all the work to
be done by the willing and the good; anything, rather than be branded as
a tyrant in every quarter of the globe by an anonymous assailant,
knowing full well that, however explicit a denial may be inserted, ten
people will read the charge for every one that reads its contradiction.
But I am wandering from my young friend, the captain of the mizen-top.

If he did not look very well "got up" in his red shirt, at all events he
was clean in his person, thus forming a pleasing contrast to a young
chap who came in the evening, and seated himself on the table, where I
was playing a game at ecarte with my companion. His hands absolutely
appeared the hands of a nigger, though his voice was the voice of a
white; travelling my eyes up to and beyond his face, I found it was all
in keeping; his hair looked like an Indian jungle. If some one could
only have caught him by the heels, and swung him round and round on a
carding machine, like a handful of hemp, it would have improved him
immensely; especially if, after going through that process, he had been
passed between two of the pigs through the scalding-trough at
Cincinnati. Among others of our fellow-voyagers, we found one or two
very agreeable and intelligent American gentlemen, who, though more
accustomed to the _desagrements_ of travel, were fully alive to it, and
expressed their disgust in the freest manner.

Let us now turn from company to scenery.--What is there to be said on
this latter subject? Truly it is nought but sameness on a gigantic
scale. What there is of grand is all in the imagination, or rather the
reflection, that you are on the bosom of the largest artery of commerce
in the world. What meets the eye is an average breadth of from half a
mile to a mile of muddy water, tenanted by uprooted trees, and bristling
with formidable snags. On either side a continuous forest confines the
view, thus depriving the scene of that solemn grandeur which the
horizonless desert or the boundless main is calculated to inspire. The
signs of human life, like angels' visits, are few and far between. No
beast is seen in the forest, no bird in the air, except from time to
time a flight of water-fowl. At times the eye is gratified by a
convocation of wild swans, geese, and ducks, assembled in conclave upon
the edge of some bank; or, if perchance at sunrise or sunset you happen
to come to some broad bend of the river, the gorgeous rays light up its
surface till it appears a lake of liquid fire, rendered brighter by the
surrounding darkness of the dense and leafless forest. Occasionally the
trumpet-toned pipe of the engine--fit music for the woods--bursts forth;
but there are no mountains or valleys to echo its strains far and wide.
The grenadier ranks of vegetable life, standing like sentries along the
margin of the stream, refuse it either an entry or an answer, and the
rude voice of mechanism finds a speedy and certain sepulture in the
muddy banks. This savage refusal of Nature to hold converse is
occasionally relieved by the sight of a log hut, surrounded with cords
of wood[P] prepared for sale to the steamers. At other times a few
straggling huts, and piles of goods ready for transport, vary the scene.
Sometimes you come to a real village, and there you generally find an
old steamer doing duty for wharf-boat and hotel, in case of passengers
landing at unseasonable hours of the night. Thanks also to the great
commercial activity of the larger towns above, the monotony of the river
is occasionally relieved by the sight of steam-boats, barges,
coal-boats, salt-boats, &c. Now and then one's heart is cheered and
one's spirits fortified by the sight of a vessel or two that has been
snagged, and which the indignant stream appears to have left there as a
gentle hint for travellers.

Thus the day passes on, and, when night closes in, you bid adieu to your
friends, not with "Pleasant dreams to you!" but with a kind of
mysterious smile, and a "I hope we sha'n't be snagged to-night!" You
then retire to your cabin, and ... what you do there depends on
yourself; but a man whose mind is not sobered when travelling on these
waters is not to be envied.

When you leave your cabin in the morning, as you enter the saloon, you
fancy a cask of spirits has burst. A little observation will show you
your mistake, and the cause of it; which is merely that the free and
enlightened are taking their morning drink at the bar. Truly they are a
wonderful race; or, as they themselves sometimes express it, "We are a
tall nation, sir; a big people." Though they drink on all occasions,
whether from sociability or self-indulgence, and at all times, from rosy
morn to dewy eve, and long after;--though breath and clothes are "alive"
with the odour of alcohol, you will scarcely ever see a passenger drunk.
Cards are also going all day long, and there is generally a
Fancy-man--or blackleg--ready to oblige a friend. These card-playings
are conducted quietly enough at present; but an old traveller told me he
remembered, some fifteen years ago, when things were very different, and
when every player came armed with a pistol and bowie-knife, by which all
little difficulties as to an odd trick or a bet were speedily settled on
the spot. In those days the sun never rose and set without witnessing
one or more of these exciting little adjustments of difficulties, with
which the bystanders were too good judges ever to interfere. In fact,
they seem to have been considered as merely pleasing little breaks in
the monotony of the trip.

As it may interest some of _my_ readers, I will endeavour to retail for
their amusement a sketch which was given me of a scene of boat-racing in
the olden time. The "Screecher" was a vessel belonging to Louisville,
having a cargo of wild Kentuckians and other passengers on board, among
whom was an old lady, who, having bought a winter stock of bacon, pork,
&c., was returning to her home on the banks of the Mississippi. The
"Burster" was a St. Louis boat, having on board a lot of wild
back-woodsmen, &c. The two rivals met at the confluence of the Ohio and
the Mississippi. Beat or burst was the alternative. Victory hung in one
scale; in the other, defeat and death. The "Screecher" was a little
ahead; gradually the "Burster" closes. The silence of a death-struggle
prevails. The Screechers put on more wood, and place more weight on the
safety-valve; she bounds ahead. Slowly, but surely, the "Burster" draws
nearer. The captain of the "Screecher" looks wistfully at the fires, for
the boilers are well-nigh worn out. The "Burster" is almost abreast. The
enraged Kentuckians gather round the captain, and, in fury, ask--"Why
don't you put more weight on?"

CAPTAIN--"Boilers are done; can't bear it nohow."

KENTUCKIANS--"Can't bear it? You chicken-hearted coward--"

Knives are drawn, pistols click, a hundred voices exclaim, "Get on it
yourself, or I'll bury this knife below your outer skin." Their eyes
gleam--their hands are raised for the deadly blow. Wild boys, these
Kentuckians; the captain knows it too well. A choice of deaths is before
him; excitement decides--he mounts the breach. The "Screecher" shoots
through the waters, quivering from head to stern. The Kentucky boys yell
with delight and defiance. Again the "Burster" closes on her rival.
Kentuckians brandish their knives, and call to the negroes, who are
already half-roasted, "Pile on the wood; pile like agony; I'll ram a
nigger into the fire for every foot the 'Burster' gains." Soon a cry of
exultation is heard on board the "Burster," as she shoots up close to
her rival. The enraged Kentuckians shout out, "Oil, I swear!--oil, by
all creation!" "I smell it!" exclaims the old lady with the store of
bacon. Her eyes flash fire; a few words to her slaves Pompey and Caesar,
and casks of bacon, smashed quick as thought, lay before the furnace. In
it all goes; the "Screecher" is wild; the captain bounds up and down
like a parched pea on a filing-pan; once more she flies ahead of her
rival "like a streak of greased lightning." Suddenly--horror of
horrors!--the river throbs beneath; the forest trees quake like aspen
leaves; the voice of many thunders rends the air; clouds of splinters
and human limbs darken the sky. The "Burster" is blown to atoms! The
captain jumps down, and joins the wild Kentucky boys in a yell of
victory, through the bass notes of which may be heard the shrill voice
of the old lady, crying, "I did it, I did it--it's all my bacon!"

The struggle over, and the excitement passed, they return and pick up
such portions of the human frame as may be found worth preserving.--To

Our captain was overtaken by a telegraphic message, requiring his
appearance on a certain day to answer a charge of libel. From what I
could glean, it seems that the captain, considering himself cheated by a
person with whom he had been transacting business, took the liberty of
saying to him, "Well, you're a darned infernal rascal, fix it anyhow you
will!" The insulted person sued for 2500 dollars damages, and the
captain was obliged to leave us, that he might go and defend his cause.
He was a good type of a "hard-a-weather-bird," and I was sorry to see
him obliged to quit the ship. I told him so, adding, that if he deserted
us, we should be sure to get snagged, or something worse. He
replied,--"Oh, no, sir; I guess you'll be safe enough; I shall leave my
clerk in charge; he's been a captain of these boats; you'll be right
enough, sir." And away he went ashore at Memphis, leaving us to continue
our course to New Orleans.

Night came on, and we all toddled off to roost. I am habitually a very
sound sleeper, dropping off the moment I turn in, and never awaking till
daylight. On this occasion, however, I awoke about two o'clock A.M.,
and, do what I would, I could not coax myself to sleep again. While
tossing from side to side, I felt the vessel strike as if gently
touching a bank; and wood being a good conductor of sound, I heard the
water, as it were, gurgling in. My first idea was, "We are snagged;"
then, remembering how slight the concussion had been, I calmed my fears
and turned over on my side, determined to bottle off a little more sleep
if possible. Scarce had the thought crossed the threshold of my mind,
when men with hasty steps rushed into the saloon, banging frantically at
the cabin-doors, and the piercing cry was heard--"Turn out! turn
out!--we're sinking!" Passengers flew from their beds, and opened their
doors to get what scanty light the lamps in the saloon might afford. A
mysterious and solemn silence prevailed; all was action; no time for
words; dress, catch up what you can, and bolt for your life. As I got to
the side of the vessel, I saw a steamer alongside, and felt the boat I
was in careening over. A neighbour, in fear and desperation, caught hold
of me as a drowning man catches at a straw; no time for compliments
this, when it is neck or nothing; so, by a right-hander in the pit of
the stomach, I got quit of his clutch, and, throwing my desk over to the
other boat, I grasped the wooden fender and slid down. Thank God, I was
safe!--my companion was already safe also.

It was about half-past four A.M., a drizzly, wet morning, quite dark,
except the flame of the torches. A plank was got on board of the sinking
boat, along which more passengers and even some luggage were saved. The
crew of the sound boat had hard work to keep people from trying to
return and save their luggage, thus risking not only their own lives but
at the same time impeding the escape of others. From the gallery above
I was looking down upon the wreck, lit up by the lurid light of some
dozen torches, when, with a crash like thunder, she went clean over and
broke into a thousand pieces; eighty head of cattle, fastened by the
horns, vainly struggled to escape a watery grave. It was indeed a
terrific and awful scene to witness. From the first striking till she
went to pieces, not a quarter of an hour had elapsed; but who was saved?
Who knew, and--alas! that I must add--who cared?

The crew worked hard enough to rescue all, and to them be every credit
for their exertions; but the indifference exhibited by those who had
been snatched from the jaws of death was absolutely appalling. The
moment they escaped, they found their way to the bar and the stove, and
there they were smoking, drinking, and passing the ribald jest, even
before the wreck had gone to pieces, or the fate of one-half of their
companions been ascertained. Yet there was a scene before their eyes
sufficient, one would have imagined, to have softened the hardest heart
and made the most thoughtless think. There, among them, at the very
stove round which they were gathered, stood one with a haggard eye and
vacant gaze, and at his feet clung two half-naked infants; a quarter of
an hour before he was a hale man, a husband, with five children; now, he
was an idiot and a widower, with two. No tear dimmed his eye, no trace
of grief was to be read in his countenance; though the two pledges of
the love of one now no more hung helplessly round his legs, he heeded
them not; they sought a father's smile--they found an idiot's stare.
They cried: was it for their mother's embrace, or did they miss their
brother and sisters? Not even the piteous cry of motherless infancy
could light one spark of emotion in the widowed husband's breast--all
was one awful blank of idiocy. A wife and three children, buried beneath
piles of freight, had found a wretched grave; his heart and his reason
had fled after them--never, apparently, to return.

Surely this was a scene pre-eminently calculated to excite in those who
wore, by their very escape, living monuments of God's mercy, the deepest
feelings of gratitude and commiseration; yet, there stood the poor
idiot, as if he had not been; and the jest, the glass, and cigar went on
with as much indifference as if the party had just come out of a
theatre, instead of having providentially escaped from a struggle
between life and death. A more perfect exhibition of heartlessness
cannot be conceived, nor do I believe any other part of the world could
produce its equal.

The immediate cause of the wreck was the steamer "H.R.W. Hill" running
into us, owing to misunderstanding the bell signal; most providentially
she caught alongside of us after striking; if she had not done so, God
alone knows who could have been saved. As far as I could ascertain, all
the first-class passengers were saved. Do not stare at the word
first-class, for although in this country of so-called equality no
difference of classes is acknowledged, poor helpless emigrants are taken
as deck-passengers, and, as freight is the great object, no space is set
apart for them; they are stowed away among the cargo as best they can
be, with no avenue of escape in case of accidents, and with the
additional prospect of being buried beneath bales and barrels. I believe
fifteen passengers perished in this way: one poor English-woman among
the deck-passengers fought her way through the freight, and, after being
nearly drowned and trampled to death under the hoofs of the cattle,
succeeded in escaping. A slave-merchant with a dozen negroes managed to
save all of them, inasmuch as, being valuable, he had them stowed away
in a better place. The moment the wreck was completed, we proceeded up
the river, wasting no time in trying to save any part of the cargo or
luggage. My own position was anything but a pleasant one, though I trust
I was truly thankful for my preservation. I found I had managed to throw
my desk between the two steamers, and it was therefore irrecoverably
lost, with all my papers, letters of credit, journal, &c. I had also
lost everything else except what T had on,--rifle, guns, clothes,--all
were gone. A few things, such as money, watch, note-book, which I always
kept in my pockets, were all my stock in trade. Fortunately, my friend
had saved his papers, and thus our identity could be established at New
Orleans. In the course of a few hours we saw a fine steamer coming down
the river, in which we embarked, and again pursued our journey south.

In the afternoon we passed several pieces of the wreck: the shores were
covered with the casks of pork and mustang liniment which had formed a
great part of our freight. At one place, a large portion of the wreck,
was made fast ashore, and being plundered by the settlers on the bank;
boxes and trunks were all broken open and cleaned out; little boats were
flying across the river full of pork and other prizes: it was an
universal scramble in all directions, and appeared to be considered as
lawful plunder by them as if they had been Cornish wreckers. It was
hopeless to try and recover anything, so we continued our journey, and
left our goods to the tender mercies of the landsharks on the banks.
Having lost all my papers, I was obliged to forego the pleasure I had
anticipated from a visit to Natchez, or rather to the gentlemen and
plantations in the neighbourhood.

As you approach the lower part of the river, signs of human life become
more frequent; the forest recedes, the banks of the river are leveed up,
and legions of Uncle Tom's Cabins stud the banks; some, clustered near
the more luxurious but still simple building wherein dwells the
proprietor, surrounded by orange groves and the rich flowers and foliage
of southern climes. These little spots appear like bright oases in the
otherwise dreary, uninteresting flats, which extend from the banks on
either side; yet it is only as a scene they are uninteresting; as a
reality, they have a peculiar interest. On these Hats the negro slave
expends his labour and closes his life, and from the bitter of his
career the white man draws the sweet luxury of his own. How few reflect
upon this, even for as many seconds as it takes to melt the clarified
lump in the smoking bohea. But here we are at La Fayette, which is the
upper or American end of New Orleans, where steamers always stop if
there are any cattle on board, which being our case, we preferred
landing and taking an omnibus, to waiting for the discharge of the
live-stock. Half an hour brought us to the St. Louis Hotel, and there
you may sit down a minute or two while I make some observations on the
steaming in Western rivers.

The whole system and management is a most grievous reproach to the
American nation. I speak not of the architecture, which is good, nor of
the absurd inconsistency in uniting such palatial appearance with such
absolute discomfort, which perhaps, with their institutions and ideas,
it would be very difficult to remedy. My observations refer more to
that by which human life is endangered, and the valuable produce of
human labour recklessly destroyed. The following extract from a
Louisville paper will more than justify any animadversions which I may

DISASTERS ON WESTERN RIVERS.--The Louisville _Courier_ has published a
list of disasters on Western waters during the year 1852. It is a
formidable one, embracing 78 steam-boats, 4 barges, 73 coal-boats, 3
salt-boats, and 4 others, flat-boats. It appears that 47 boats were
lost by being snagged, 16 by explosions, 4 were burnt, and the others
lost by collision and other mishaps. The greatest number of lives lost
by one disaster was the explosion of the "Saluda," 100. The total loss
of life exceeds 400 persons.[Q]

Here is a list of one hundred and sixty-two vessels of different kinds,
and four hundred human beings, lost in one year; of which vessels it
appears forty-six were snagged. You will naturally ask here, what
precautions are taken to avoid such frightful casualties? The answer is
short--None. They had a few boats employed once to raise the snags, but
the thirst for annexation ran them into a war, and the money was wanted
for that purpose. The Westerns say they are ridden over by the Easterns,
and that Government will do nothing for them.[R]

It is not for me to decide the reasons, but the fact is but too clear,
that in a country boasting of its wealth, its power, its resources, and
not burdened with one farthing of debt, not a cent is being expended in
making the slightest endeavours to remove the dangers of this gigantic
artery of commerce. And what would be the cost of this national object?
The captains of the boats told me that two dozen snag-boats in three
years would clear the river; and that half that number could keep it
clear; yet, rather than vote the money requisite, they exhibit a
national indifference to the safety of life and property such as, I may
confidently affirm, cannot be found in any other civilized nation. A
very small tax on the steamers would pay the expenses; but the Westerns
say, and say with truth, "This is not a local, this is a national question.
Government builds lighthouses, harbours, &c., for the eastern board, and
we are entitled to the same care for our commerce." A navigation of two
thousand miles is most certainly as thoroughly a national question as a
seaboard is. It should also be remembered that, if the navigable
tributaries be added, the total presents an unbroken highway of internal
commerce amounting to 16,700 miles--a distance which, it has been
remarked, "is sufficient to encircle Europe and leave a remnant which
would span the Atlantic."

Next on the list comes the "explosions." I have already given you an
account of how the so-called examinations are too often made. Surely
these inspections might be signed upon oath before a magistrate; and as
surely, I should hope, men might be found who would not perjure
themselves. The burnt vessels are few in number, and more than one case
has, I believe, been tried on suspicion of being set fire to

The last on the list is "collisions, &c." By the "&c.," I suppose, is
mount vessels which, having run on the river till they wore only fit for
firewood, still continued "just one more trip;" and then, of course, the
slightest concussion, either on a bank or a floating log, would break
them up like a chip basket. The examination on this point is conducted
like that of the boilers, and the same remedy might readily be applied.
I think, however, that the greater number of losses from collisions,
&c., may be chiefly ascribed to the collisions. The cause of these
collisions is easily understood, when you are informed that vessels
meeting indicate the side they intend to take by sounding a bell. They
have no fixed rule, like vessels meeting at sea. The sound of the toll
of the second bell may easily be blended with the first, if it be struck
hurriedly, which in cases of danger is more than probable; or, the sound
of a single toll may find an echo and be mistaken for two tolls. The
collision we met with was caused by this very misunderstanding; at
least, so the captains mutually explained it. The reason given me for
this unsettled system was, that, owing to banks and currents, vessels
could not always take the same side. Supposing this to be so, still, a
more correct indication of the side intended to be taken might be
obtained by lights kept burning for that purpose in a box with a
sliding front, removeable at pleasure by a line leading to the
wheel-house, in the same way as the lanyard of the bell is at present
fitted; and a further palpable advantage would be obtained by obliging
vessels meeting in the night to stop the engines and pass at "slow
speed." In addition to these precautions, a stout cork fender, extending
round the bows some ten feet on each side, and fixed every night at
dark, would materially lessen the chances of destruction, even if
collision did take place.

There is, however, another cause of accident which the Louisville paper
does not allude to, and that is overloading. We started about two and a
half feet out of the water when leaving St. Louis, and, long before we
met with our accident, we had taken in cargo till we were scarce five
inches above the river. Not only do they cram the lower or freight deck,
but the gallery outside the saloons and cabins is filled till all the
use and comfort thereof is destroyed, and scarce a passage along them to
be obtained. Seeing the accidents such reckless freighting must
necessarily give rise to, what more simple than obliging every vessel to
have a float or loading line painted from stem to stern at a certain
elevation, making the captain and owners liable to a heavy penalty if
the said line be brought below the water by the freight. There is one
other point which I may as well notice here, and that is the manner in
which these boats are allowed to carry deck-passengers. There is no
clear portion of deck for them, and they are driven by necessity among
the bales and boxes of freight, with no avenue of escape in case of
accident. These are the people who suffer in cases of snagging and
collision, &c. These hardy sons of toil, migrating with their families,
are all but penniless, and therefore, despite all vaunt of equality,
they are friendless. Had every deck-passenger that has perished in the
agony of a crushing and drowning death been a Member of Senate or
Congress, the Government would have interfered long ere this; but these
miserable wretches perish in their agony, and there is no one to re-echo
that cry in the halls of Congress. They are chiefly poor emigrants, and
plenty more will come to fill their places.

If the Government took any such steps as those above recommended, the
fear of losing insurance by neglecting them would tend greatly to make
them respected. Companies would insure at a lower rate, and all parties
would be gainers in the long run; for, if the Government obtained no
pecuniary profit, it would gain in national character by the removal of
a reproach such as no other commercial country at the present day
labours under.

There is, moreover, a moral point of view to be taken of this
question--viz., "the recklessness of human life engendered by things as
they are."

The anecdotes which one hears are of themselves sufficient to leave
little doubt on this point. Take, for instance, the following:--A vessel
having been blown up during the high pressure of a race, among the
witnesses called was one who thus replied to the questions put to him:--

EXAMINER.--"Were you on board when the accident took place?"

WITNESS.--"I guess I was, and nurthing else."

EXAMINER.--"Was the captain sober?"

WITNESS.--"Can't tell that, nohow."

EXAMINER.--"Did you not see the captain during the day?"

WITNESS.--"I guess I did."

EXAMINER.--"Then can, you not state your opinion whether he was drunk or

WITNESS.--"I guess I had not much time for observation; he was not on
board when I saw him."

EXAMINER.--"When did you see him, then?"

WITNESS.--"As I was coming down, I passed the gentleman going up."

The court, of course, was highly amused at his coolness, and called
another witness.--But let us turn from this fictitious anecdote to fact.

It was only the other day that I read in a Louisville paper of a
gentleman going into the Gait-house Hotel, and deliberately shooting at
another in the dining-saloon when full of people, missing his aim, and
the hall lodging in the back of a stranger's chair who was quietly
sitting at his dinner. Again, I read of an occurrence--at Memphis, I

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