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American Notes for General Circulation by Charles Dickens

Part 3 out of 6

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having constant practice), and charities of every sort and kind.
In the suburbs there is a spacious cemetery: unfinished yet, but
every day improving. The saddest tomb I saw there was 'The
Strangers' Grave. Dedicated to the different hotels in this city.'

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is no sound, but other prisoners may be near for all that.
He remembers to have heard once, when he little thought of coming
here himself, that the cells were so constructed that the prisoners
could not hear each other, though the officers could hear them.

Where is the nearest man - upon the right, or on the left? or is
there one in both directions? Where is he sitting now - with his
face to the light? or is he walking to and fro? How is he dressed?
Has he been here long? Is he much worn away? Is he very white and
spectre-like? Does HE think of his neighbour too?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * * *

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BLACK DRIVER (to the horses). 'Hi!'

Nothing happens. Insides scream again.

BLACK DRIVER (to the horses). 'Ho!'

Horses plunge, and splash the black driver.

GENTLEMAN INSIDE (looking out). 'Why, what on airth -

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

BLACK DRIVER (still to the horses). 'Jiddy! Jiddy!'

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


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

BLACK DRIVER (louder than before). 'Pill!'

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

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

Horses make a desperate struggle.

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

Horses make another effort.

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

Horses almost do it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'I expect we shall want THE BIG coach.'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Go-lang!' cries the cap'en to his company, the horses, and away we

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

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

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

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

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

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

As we were not to proceed upon our journey until the afternoon, I

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