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Till some sunny spot invite me,
Till some guardian bid me bide.
Shall oppose a feeble bar,
'Tis no matter then how far.
On!-I can but inake or mar;
'Tis no matter then how far."
Of the seven years” to which allusion has been made I had spent four in New England a land, which is endeared to me at this distance of time, by recollections of hospitality, virtue, and manly intelligence.
While engaged in the direction of the business above named, I had prepared the notes and materials for my first publication, in which I aimed to demonstrate the importance of an acquaintance with Chemistry and Mineralogy in the preparation and fusion of numerous substances in the mineral kingdom, which result in the different conditions of the various glasses, enamels, &c. I had, from early youth, cultivated a taste for mineralogy, long indeed it may be said, before I knew that mineralogy was a science ; and, as opportunities increased, had been led by my in quiries, (which I followed with ardour but with very slight helps,) to add to this some knowledge of elementary chemistry and experimental philos ophy, and to supply myself, from Boston and New York, with books, apparatus, and tests. I do not know that there were any public lectures on mineralogy, &c. at this time, say from 1810 to '16; certainly, there were none within my reach. I gleaned from the best sources I could, and believe that the late Professor Frederick Hall was the only person to whom I was indebted even for occasional instructions in these depariments. He was a man strongly devoted to some of the natural sciences, particularly mineralogy ; and was erudite in the old authors on the subject, whom he liked to quote ; and I may say that I continued to enjoy his confidence and friendship to the time of his death, which happened in 1843. From such sources, from the diligent reading of books, and from experiments, conducted with the advantage of having under my charge extensive works, at various times, in the states of New York, Vermont and New Hampshire, I drew the principles which formed the basis of my treatise on Vitreology. With this work in hand, I left Keene, in New Hampshire, early in the winter of 1817; and, crossing the Connecticut river at Brattleboro,' proceeded over the Green Mountains, by the route of Bennington, to Albany, and thence returned to my father's house in western New York. No time was lost in issuing proposals for the work ; and I had the satisfaction to find that the portions published, and
the entire plan and merits of it were warmly approved by the pen of the late Mr. Maynard of Utica, and by several liberal minded and intelligent persons. Before quitting New England, I had determined to go to the Mississippi valley, and had begun to study its geography; and I now resolved to proceed, without unnecessary delay.
Means constitute the first object of solicitude in all such undertakings. The ebbing tide of manufacturing prosperity to which I have referred, had left me very poor, From the fragments of former acquisitions, for which, however, I was exclusively indebted to my own industry, I raised a small sum of money-much smaller I think than most men would be willing to start with, who had resolved to go so far. I had, in truth, but sixty dollars in the world ; but I possessed a very good wardrobe, and some other personal means, such as it may be supposed will adhere to a man who has lived in abundance for many years. I put up a miniature collection of mineralogical specimens, to serve as a standard of comparison in the west, a few implements for analysis, some books which I thought it would be difficult to meet with in that region, and some drawing materials. I had connected these things in some way with
future success. In other respects, I had the means, as above hinted, of making a respectable appearance. Thus prepared, I bade adieu to my father and mother. and also to three sisters and a brother, all younger than myself, and set forward. The winter of 1818 had opened before I reached my brother's house at Geneva, in western New York. From this point I determined to leave the main track, through the Genessee county west, and to strike the head waters of the Alleghany river, so as to descend that stream with the spring flood.
My brother drove me in his own sleigh, as far as Angelica. By the time we reached that place, being no traveller and much fatigued with the intricacies and roughness of the road, he was fain to give over his undertaking, and I parted from him, sending back the sleigh from Olean, to take him home.
The Alleghany river was locked with ice when I reached it. I had an opportunity to cross it on foot, and to examine in the vicinity those evidences of the coal formation which are found in masses of bituminous shale, slaty coal and petroleum. The river began to open about the middle of March. I left Olean in the first ark for the season, borne onwards down the sweeping Alleghany at the top of the flood, often through winding channels, and once in danger of being precipitated over a mill dam, by taking the wrong channel.
On another occasion, just as we were coming to the division of the channel, at the head of a group of islands, a tall Seneca Indian, standing in the bow of a very long pine canoe, cried out, in a tone of peculiar emphasis, “ Keep to the right—I speak it.” This direction we followed, and were saved from another mishap. We tied the ark to the shore at night,
built a fire on the bank and cooked a supper. On passing the Conowonga, it was at the height of its flood, and appeared to bring in as much water as the Alleghany. We stopped at the noted chief Cornplanter's village, and also to gratify a reminiscent curiosity, at the mouth of French Creek, connected with Washington's perilous adventure in visiting Fort de Boef, now Erie.
At Kittaning, a great scow ferry boat was rowed and managed by two women or girls with a degree of muscular exertion, or rather ease, which would put to the blush many a man east or west of the Alleghanies. The tone, air, and masculine strength of these girl-boatmen, reminded me of nothing this side of Rollin's description of the Amazons -save that the same provision was not apparent for drawing the bow. Bold hills line both banks of the river along its upper parts, and continue, indeed, at farther intervals apart, to very near the junction of the Monongahela ; but long before this point, the stream is one of noble dimensions, clear, broad, and strong. After a voyage of exciting and vivid interest, I reached and landed at Pittsburgh
It is Dr. Johnson, I think, who says, that we take slight occasions to be plcased. At least, I found it so, on the present occasion; the day of my arrival was my birth day, and it required but little stretch of imagi. nation to convert the scene upon which I had now entered, into a new world. It was new to me.
:-I was now fairly in the great geological valley of the west, the object of so many anticipations.
The ark, in which I had descended the Allegany, put ashore near the point of land, which is formed by the junction of the Monongahela with this fine clear stream. The dark and slowly moving waters of the one, contrasted strongly with the sparkling velocity of the other. I felt a buoyancy of spirits as I leapt ashore, and picked up some of its clean pebbles to see what kind of geological testimony they bore to the actual character of their parent beds in the Apalachian range.
“What shall I pay you, for my passage, from Olean," said I, to the gentleman with whom I had descended, and at whose ark-table I had found a ready seat with his family. “Nothing, my dear sir,” he replied with a prompt and friendly air,—“ Your cheerful aid in the way, taking the oars whenever the case required it, has more than compensated for any claims on that score, and I only regret that you are not going further with us."
Committing my baggage to a carman, I ascended the bank of diluvial earth and pebbles with all eagerness, and walked to the point of land where Fort Pitt (old Fort Du Quesne) had stood. It is near this point that the Alleghany and Monongahela unite, and give birth to the noble Ohio. It is something to stand at the head of such a stream. The charm of novelty is beyond all others. I could realize, in thought, as I stood here, gazing on the magnificent prospect of mingling waters, and their prominent and varied shores, the idea, which is said to be embodied in the old Mingo substantive-exclamation of O-he-o! a term, be it remembered, which the early French interpreters at once rendered, and truly, it is believed, by the name of La Belle Rivière.
So far, I said to myself, all is well,-I am now west of the great spinal chain. All that I know of America is now fairly east of mebright streams, warm hearts and all. I have fairly cast myself loose
on the wide waters of the west. I have already come as many hundred miles, as there are days in the week, but I begin my travels here. I have, as it were, taken my life in my hand. Father and mother, I may never see more. God wot the result. I go to seek and fulfil an unknown destiny. Come weal or woe, I shall abide the result. All the streams run south, and I have laid in, with “time and chance” for a journey with them. I am but as a chip on their surface-nothing more! Whether my bones are to rest in this great valley, or west of the Cordilleras, or the Rocky Mountains, I know not. I shall often think of the silver losco, the farther I go from it. To use a native metaphor, My foot is on the path, and the word, is onward ! “ The spider taketh hold with her hands," Solomon says, “and is in king's palaces.” Truly, a man should accomplish, by diligence, as much as a spider.
Pittsburgh was, even then, a busy manufacturing town, filled witn working machinery, steam engines, hammers, furnaces, and coal smoke. I visited Mr. O'Hara, and several other leading manufacturers. They made glass, bar iron, nails, coarse pottery, castings, and many other articles, which filled its shops and warehouses, and gave it a city-like appearance. Every chimney and pipe, perpendicular or lateral, puffed out sooty coal smoke, and it required some dexterity to keep a clean collar half a day. I met ladies who bore this impress of the city, on their morning toilet. I took lodgings at Mrs. McCullough's, a respectable hotel on Wood street, and visited the various manufactories, for which the place was then, and is now celebrated. In these visits, I collected accurate data of the cost of raw material, the place where obtained, the expense of manufacture, and the price of the finished fabric. I had thus a body of facts, which enabled me, at least to converse understandingly on these topics, to give my friends in the east, suitable data, and to compare the advantages of manufacturing here with those possessed by the eastern and middle states. Every thing was, in the business prospects of the west, however, at a comparatively low ebb. The prostrating effects of the war, and of the peace, were alike felt. We had conquered England, in a second contest, but were well exhausted with the effort. The country had not recovered from the sacrifices and losses of a series of military operations, which fell most heavily on its western population. Its agricultural industry had been crippled. Its financial affairs were deranged. Its local banks were broken ; its manufactories were absolutely ruined. There was little confidence in business, and never was credit, public and private, at a lower ebb. There was however, one thing, in which the west held out a shining prospect.
It had abundance of the finest lands in the world, and in fact, it promised a happy home to the agricultural industry of half the world. It was literally the land of promise, to the rest of the union, if not to Europe.
Having seen whatever I wished in Pittsburgh, I hired a horse and