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am willing to make a great sacrifice of present ease, were it merely for the sake of obtaining in the decline of life, an exemption from that wearisome solicitude about pecuniary affairs, from which, even the affluent find no refuge in England; and for my children, a career of enterprize, and wholesome family connections, in a society whose institutions are favourable to virtue; and at last the consolation of leaving them efficient members of a flourishing, public-spirited, ener getic community, where the insolence of wealth, and the servility of pauperism, between which, in England, there is scarcely an interval remaining, are alike unknown.' pp. 8-10.
Our Author's first impressions, on landing at Norfolk, a large town, containing 10,000 inhabitants, were by no means of the most pleasurable description.
A large market-house in the centre of the principal street, with negroes selling for their masters fine vegetables, and bad meat-the worst I ever saw, and dearer than in England. Veal, such as never was exposed in an English market, 101d. per lb. ; lamb of similar quality and price. Most wretched horses waiting, without food or shelter, to drag home the carts which had brought in the provisions ;but, worst of all, the multitudes of negroes, many of them miserable creatures, others cheerful enough; but on the whole, this first glimpse of a slave population is extremely depressing: And is it, thought I, to be a member of such a society that I have quitted England!' p. 12
'I saw two female slaves and their children sold by auction in the street, an incident of common occurrence here, though horrifying to myself and many other strangers. I could hardly bear to see them handled and examined like cattle: and when I heard their sobs, and saw the big tears roll down their cheeks at the thought of being separated, I could not refrain from weeping with them. In selling these unhappy beings little regard is had to the parting of the nearest relations. Virginia prides itself on the comparative mildness of its treatment of the slaves: and in fact they increase in numbers, many being annually supplied from this state to those farther south, where the treatment is said to be much more severe. There are regular dealers, who buy them up and drive them in gangs, chained together, to a southern market. I am informed that few weeks pass without some of them being marched through this place. A traveller told me that he saw, two weeks ago, one hundred and twenty sold by auction, in the streets of Richmond; and that they filled the air with their lamentations.' p. 21.
The condition of the slaves in Virginia under the mild "treatment they are said to experience,' and that of our English labourers, to which it has been represented as preferable, are very strikingly contrasted in the following exposure of the absurd allegation.
I know and lament the degraded state of dependent poverty, to which the latter have been gradually reduced, by the operation of laws originally designed for their comfort and protection. I know also, that many slaves pass their lives in comparative ease, and seem
to be unconscious of their bonds, and that the most wretched of our paupers might envy the allotment of the happy negro: this is not, however, instituting a fair comparison, to bring the opposite extremes of the two classes into competition. Let us take a view of some particulars which operate generally,
• In England, exertion is not the result of personal fear: in Virginia, it is the prevailing stimulus.
The slave is punished for mere indolence, at the discretion of an overseer :-The peasant is only punished by the law when guilty of a crime.
In England, the labourer and his employer are equal in the eye of the law. Here, the law affords the slave no protection, unless a white man gives testimony in his favour.
'Here, any white man may insult a black with impunity; whilst the English peasant, should he receive a blow from his employer, might and would return it with interest, and afterwards have his remedy at law for the aggression.
The testimony of a peasant weighs as much as that of a lord in a court of justice; but the testimony of a slave is never admitted at all, in a case where a white man is opposed to him.
A few weeks ago, in the streets of Richmond, a friend of mine saw a white boy wantonly throw quick-lime in the face of a negro-man. The man shook the lime from his jacket, and some of it accidentally reached the eyes of the young brute. This casual retaliation excited the resentment of the brother of the boy, who complained to the slave's owner, and actually had him punished with thirty lashes. This would not have happened to an English peasant.' pp. 22, 3.
Mr. Birkbeck states, that he heard from the Virginian slavemaster no defence of slavery. Some extenuation of the practice was attempted on the score of expediency, or necessity, but no vindication of the principle. It is an evil, he says, which all deplored, which many were anxious to fly, but for which no one could devise a remedy. Fear and indolence seem, indeed, in this respect, to counterbalance, or rather to negative each other's influence in the mind of the American. 6 On the one hand, the "accursed practice of slave-keeping' has entailed habits of indolence, which indispose a man to wait upon himself; it has also produced universally a 'bigoted aversion' to domestic service among those who must subsist by labour, and have no objection to earn their subsistence by any other species of labour; the very terms slave and servant being held synonymous. On the other hand, the mildest masters are represented as peculiarly
*I suspect,' the Author says in another place, that indolence is the epidemic evil of the Americans. If you enquire of hale young fellows, why they remain in this listless state;" We live in freefreedom," they say, "we need not work like the English." Thus they consider it their privilege and do nothing! And so life is ❝ whiled away in a painful state of yawning lassitude.'
exposed to the dangers of their slaves' resentment. One gentleman, who was suffering under the effects of a poisonous potion administered by a negro, his personal servant, to whom he had 'given indulgences and privileges unknown to the most favoured valet of an English gentleman,' merely in consequence of some slight unintentional affront, durst not, on account of the state of his health, encounter the rain, but was wretched at the thought of his family remaining for one night without his protection-from his own slaves! Thus it is that this evil, thrice accursed, curses alike him who inflicts and him who suffers it.
Perhaps it is in its depraving influence on the moral sense of both slave and master,' remarks Mr. Birkbeck, that slavery is most de plorable. Brutal cruelty, we may hope, is a rare and transient mischief; but the degradation of soul is universal, and, as it should seem, from the general character of free negroes, indelible. All America is now suffering in morals through the baneful influence of negro slavery, partially tolerated, corrupting justice at the very source.'
This broadest foulest blot' still prevails over a large portion of the United States; it has taken fast hold' of Kentucky, Tenessee, and all the new States to the south. On this account, our Author's choice, otherwise restricted by considerations relating to climate, was circumscribed within limits comparatively narrow. For if,' he says, 'political liberty be so precious, that 'to obtain it, I can forego the well earned comforts of an English home, it must not be to degrade myself, and corrupt my children by the practice of slave keeping.'
Mr. B. has occasion to animadvert on the disgraceful neglect of the public convenience and safety, manifested in respect to the state of the roads, which a few dollars, properly applied, would, in some cases, render safe and even delightful.' The perils of his ride served, however, to evince the excellence of the drivers and horses, and the wonderful strength of their 'slight-looking vehicles.' He takes leave of Virginia, confirmed in his detestation of slavery, but still with esteem for the ge'neral character of the Virginians,' among whom he found a higher tone of moral feeling than he had anticipated.
On arriving at M'Connell's Town on their route to Pittsburg, our Author's party, nine in number, found, at the end of the line of stages by which they had hitherto been travelling, one hundred and thirty miles of mountain country between them and the place of their destination. Let not our readers, while sitting over their glass of wine or their tea, imagine that this discovery occasioned any dismay or perplexity, or that it is dwelt upon by our Author as affording scope for the heroic or the romantic. No vehicles could be hired; the alternative was to stay or to walk off. Separating each his bundle
from the little they had of travelling stores, the whole party most cheerfully set forward on their mountain pilgrimage.
We have now fairly turned our backs on the old world, and find ourselves in the very stream of emigration. Old America seems to be breaking up, and moving westward. We are seldom out of sight, as we travel on this grand track, towards the Ohio, of family groups, behind and before us, some with a view to a particular spot, close to a brother perhaps, or a friend, who has gone before, and reported well of the country. Many like ourselves, when they arrive in the wilderness, will find no lodge prepared for them.
A small waggon (so light that you may almost carry it, yet strong enough to bear a good load of bedding, utensils and provisions, and a swarm of young citizens, - and to sustain marvellous shocks in its passage over these rocky heights) with two small horses; sometimes a cow or two, comprises their all; excepting a little store of hardearned cash for the land office of the district; where they may obtain a title for as many acres as they possess half dollars, being one fourth of the purchase money. The waggon has a tilt, or cover, made of a sheet, or perhaps a blanket. The family are seen before, behind, or within the vehicle, according to the road or weather, or perhaps the spirits of the party.
The New Englanders, they say, may be known by the cheerful air of the women advancing in front of the vehicle; the Jersey people by their being fixed steadily within it; whilst the Pensylvanians creep lingering behind, as though regretting the homes they have left. A cart and single horse frequently afford the means of transfer, sometimes a horse and pack-saddle. Often the back of the poor pilgrim bears all his effects, and his wife follows, naked-footed, bending under the hopes of the family.
The mountain tract we have passed is exceedingly romantic, as well as fertile, and is generally cultivated in a good style, excepting the rudest parts. It would be a delightful country to inhabit, but for the rigour of the winter.' pp. 31-83.
The Americans are great travellers, and are better acquainted in general, it is said,' with the vast expanse of country, stretching over their eighteen states, (of which Virginia alone nearly equals Great Britain in extent,) than the English with their little island.' Our Author met at Washington (in Pennsylvania) a respectable farmer and his wife, from the neighbourhood of Cincinnati, well mounted and equipped, on their way to visit their friends at New York and Philadelphia, a distance of seven hundred miles. Five hundred persons pass every summer down the Ohio from Cincinnati to New Orleans, as traders or boatmen, and return on foot. By water, the distance is seventeen hundred miles, and the walk back a thousand. Yesterday,' he says in another part of the Journal, I heard a lady mentioned fami
liarly (with no mark of admiration) who is coming from Te⚫nessee, twelve hundred miles, to Pittsburg with an infant;
'preferring horseback to boating up the river.' A complete equipment for such an expedition, consists of a pacing horse, a blanket under the saddle, another upon it, and a pair of saddle bags, with great coat and umbrella strapped behind. The nature of the accommodations to be expected, may be guessed at from the following specimen.
The taverns in the great towns east of the mountains which lay in our route, afford nothing in the least corresponding with our habits and notions of convenient accommodation: the only similarity is in the expence. At these places all is performed on the gregarious plan: every thing is public by day and by night;-for even night in an American Inn affords no privacy. Whatever may be the number of guests, they must receive their entertainment en masse, and they must sleep en masse. Three times a day the great bell rings, and a hundred persons collect from all quarters to eat a hurried meal, composed of almost as many dishes. At breakfast you have fish, flesh, and fowl, bread of every shape and kind, butter, eggs, coffee, tea-every thing, and more than you can think of. Dinner is much like the breakfast, omitting the tea and coffee; and supper is the breakfast repeated. Soon after this meal, you assemble once more, in rooms crowded with beds, like the wards of an hospital; where, after undressing in public, you are fortunate if you escape a partner in your bed, in addition to the myriads of bugs, which you need not hope to escape.
But the horrors of the kitchen from whence issue these shoals of dishes, how shall I describe, though I have witnessed them.-It is a dark and sooty hole, where the idea of cleanliness never entered, swarming with negroes of all sexes and ages, who seem as though they were bred there: without floor, except the rude stones that support a raging fire of pine logs, extending across the entire place; which forbids your approach, and which no being but a negro couldface.' pp. 38,9.
Between Beall's Tavern and Wheeling, on the banks of the Ohio, (which is here divided into two channels of five hundred yards each, by an island of three hundred acres,) our travellers experienced some inconvenience from the numerous crossings of the two creeks.' At this place they were overtaken by a drenching thunder storm, alluded to in the following note.
We took shelter from the storm in a tavern at the landing place; and having dried our clothes by a good fire, we cheerfully resumed our course, in hopes of a fine evening for our ride of ten miles to St. Clairsville, but the storm continuing, we rode nearly the whole of the way under torrents. We had sundry foaming creeks to ford, and sundry log-bridges to pass, which are a sort of commutation of danger. We had a very muddy road, over hills of clay, with thunder and rain during nearly the whole of this our first stage:-Such thunder and such rain as we hear of, but seldom witness, in England:-and thus our party, of nine cavaliers, five male and four female, made our gallant entrée into the western territory. To see the cheerful confidence which our young people opposed to difficulties, so new to them, was, to me, a more agreeable sight at that time, than the fairest weather,