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the noblest bridges, and the best roads could have afforded. It was truly a gallant train, making their way in Indian file, through the tempest, across those rocky creeks, swelled with the fresh torrents that were pouring in on every side.' p. 54.
St. Clairsville consists of about one hundred and fifty houses. Our Author takes leave of it with the remark, that an American town is on the whole a disagreeable thing to him; and so indeed, (he adds) is an English one!' But one peculiarity strictly American, must be allowed to make some difference between the two.
In viewing the Americans, and sketching, in a rude manner, as I pass along, their striking characteristics, I have seen a deformity so general that I cannot help esteeming it national, though I know it admits of very many individual exceptions. I have written it and then erased it, wishing to pass it by: but it won't do it is the truth, and to the truth I must adhere. Cleanliness in houses and too often in person, is neglected to a degree which is very revolting to an Englssh
'America was bred in a cabin: this is not a reproach; for the origin is most honourable: but as she has exchanged her hovel of unhewn logs for a framed building, and that again for a mansion of brick, some of her cabin habits have been unconsciously retained. Many have already been quitted; and, one by one, they will all be cleared away, as I am told they are now in the cities of the eastern states.
There are, I believe, court-houses, which are also made use of as places of worship, in which filth of all kinds have been accumulating ever since they were built. What reverence can be felt for the majesty of religion, or of the laws, in such sties of abomination? The people who are content to assemble in them can scarcely respect each other. Here is a bad public example. It is said, that to clean these places is the office of no one-But why is no person appointed? Might it not be inferred that a disregard to the decencies of life prevails through such a community?' pp. 107, 8.
At length, our travellers arrive at the back woods, and at the foot of a rugged hill in Indiana, were compelled to make their first experiment of camping out.
A traveller in the woods should always carry flint, steel, tinder, and matches, a few biscuits, a half-pint phial of spirits, and a tin cup, a large knife or tomahawk; then with his two blankets, and his great coat, and umbrella, he need not be uneasy, should any unforeseen delay require his sleeping under a tree.
party having separated, the important articles of tinder and matches were in the baggage of the division which had proceeded, and as the night was rainy and excessively dark, we were for some time under some anxiety lest we should have been deprived of the comfort and security of a fire. Fortunately, my powder flask was in my saddle-bags, and we succeeded in supplying the place of tinder, by moistening a piece of paper, and rubbing it with gunpowder. We placed our touch-paper on an old cambrick handkerchief, as the most
readily combustible article in our stores. On this we scattered gunpowder pretty copiously, and our flint and steel soon enabled us to raise a flame, and collecting dry wood, we made a noble fire. There was a mattress for the lady, a bearskin for myself, and the load of the packhorse as a pallet for the boy. Thus, by means of great coats, and blankets, and our umbrellas spread over our heads, we made our quarters comfortable, and placing ourselves to the leeward of the fire, with our feet towards it, we lay more at ease than in the generality of taverns. Our horses fared rather worse, but we took care to tie them where they could browse a little, and occasionally shifted their quarters. We had a few biscuits, a small bottle of spirits, and a phial of oil with the latter we contrived, by twisting some twine very hard, and dipping it in the oil, to make torches; and after several fruitless attempts we succeeded in finding water; we also collected plenty of dry wood. "Camping out," when the tents are pitched by daylight, and the party is ready furnished with the articles which we were obliged to supply by expedients, is quite pleasant in fine weather: my companion was exceedingly ill, which was in fact, the cause of our being benighted; and never was the night's charge of a sick friend undertaken with more dismal forebodings, especially during our inef fectual efforts to obtain fire, the first blaze of which was unspeakably delightful: after this, the rain ceased, and the invalid passed the night in safety; so that the morning found us more comfortable than we could have anticipated.' pp. 95-97.
The effect of the view of a noble expanse of country, which presented itself on their reaching Mount Vernon, after having been buried for some days in deep forests, is represented as extremely delightful.
To travel day after day, among trees of a hundred feet high, without a glimpse of the surrounding country, is oppressive to a degree which those cannot conceive who have not experienced it; and it must depress the spirits of the solitary settler to pass years in this state. His visible horizon extends no farther than the tops of trees which bound his plantation-perhaps, five hundred yards. Upwards he seeks the sun, and sky, and stars, but around him an eternal forest, from which he can never hope to emerge :-not so in a thickly settled district.'
The physical effects of the perpetual incarceration of a thorough woodland life, are visible in the complexion of the backwood's man. Mr. B. saw a family of this description, who exhibited, in their appearance, one pale yellow, without the slightest tint of healthful bloom.'
In passing through a vast expanse of the backwoods, I have been so much struck with this effect, that I fancy I could determine the colour of the inhabitants, if I was apprised of the depth of their immersion; and, vice versa, I could judge of the extent of the "clearing" if I saw the people. The blood, I fancy, is not supplied with its proper dose of oxygen from their gloomy atmosphere, crowded with
vegetables growing almost in the dark, or decomposing; and, in either case, abstracting from the air this vital principle.' pp. 122, 3.
Trees are, however, most interesting objects to the American traveller. Mr. Birkbeck speaks of them as being always beautiful, and sometimes, in the rich bottoms, they exhibit a grand 'assemblage of gigantic beings, which carry the imagination back to other times, before the foot of a white man had touched the American shore.' Owing to their crowded growth, they are often very lofty, straight, and clear in their stems, rising eighty or ninety feet without a branch, and then spreading out into full luxuriance of foliage. The white oak is the glory of
the upland forest.' The sycamore, in marshy bottoms, attains an unwieldy bulk, often six or seven feet in diameter. One morning, as the party sat at breakfast, they heard a report like the discharge of a cannon. It was one of these immense trees, which had just arrived at its term, and fallen under the weight of age. Their hostess missed it instantly from a venerable group, about a quarter of a mile distant. Through an upland forest, of white oak, comprising thousands of that magnificent species, measuring fourteen or fifteen feet in circumference, a hurricane, which traversed the entire western country in a north-east direction, had, about seven years before, opened itself a passage for the space of a mile in breadth, leaving a scene of extraordinary desolation.
We pass immediately on, after viewing these massive trunks, the emblems of strength and durability, to where they lie tumbled over each other, like scattered stubble, some torn up by the roots, others broken off at different heights, or splintered only, and their tops bent over and touching the ground:-such is the irresistible force of these impetuous airy torrents.'
Mr. Birkbeck and his friend, after a very extensive survey of the country, decided at length to fix upon a locality within the south east district of Illinois, as the scene of their future operations, and constituted themselves land-owners accordingly, by the payment of one-fourth of the purchase money of fourteen hundred and forty acres each, comprising part of a beautiful and rich prairie,' bounded by timber land, about six miles distant from the Big, and the same from the Little Wabash, both navigable rivers. 'An English farmer, possessing three thousand pounds, besides the charges of removal, may,' he says, ' establish himself well as a proprietor and occupier of such an 'estate.' But those, who are not screwed up to the full pitch of enterprise, had better,' he thinks, remain in Old England, than attempt agriculture, or business of any kind, (manual operations excepted,) in the Atlantic States.'
'On these estates we hope to live much as we have been accustomed to live in England: but this is not the country for fine gentlemen, or fine ladies, of any class or description, especially for those who love state, and require abundance of attendants.
There prevails, however, so much good sense and useful knowledge, joined to a genuine warmth of friendly feeling, a disposition to promote the happiness of each other, that the man who is lonely among them is not formed for society. Such are the citizens of these new states, and my unaffected and well considered wish is to spend among them the remainder of my days.
The social compact here is not the confederacy of a few to reduce the many into subjection; but is indeed, and in truth, among these simple republicans, a combination of talents, moral and physical, by which the good of all is promoted in perfect accordance with individual interest. It is, in fact, a better, because a more simple state than was ever pourtrayed by an Utopian theorist.
But the people, like their fellow men, have their irregular and rude passions, and their gross propensities and follies; suited to their condition, as weeds to a particular soil: so that this, after all, is the real world, and no poetical Arcadia.
One agreeable fact, characteristic of these young associations, presses more and more upon my attention: there is a great amount of social feeling, much real society in new countries, compared with the number of inhabitants. Their importance to each other on many interesting occasions creates kind sentiments. They have fellow-feeling in hope and fear, in difficulty and success, and they make ten-fold more of each other than the crowded inhabitants of populous countries.' pp. 114, 5.
The Author is clear, that it would not be advisable for persons of any other description than working farmers, to remove from Great Britain to the Eastern States, in order to practise agriculBut an industrious working family might, by the amount of capital required in England as a renter, own and cultivate a much better farm, west of the Ohio. Artisans, he thinks, would generally succeed, and labourers of all sorts would improve their condition, because dear as are most of the conveniences, and even necessaries of life in America, especially east of the mountains, except the simple produce of the soil, the value of labour is more than proportionably great.
Every service performed for one man by another, must be purchased at a high rate, much higher than in England: therefore, as long as he is obliged to purchase more than he sells of this service, or labour, he is worse off than at home: but, the moment he begins to perform his part as an American, the balance will turn in his favour, and he will earn, in the plainest occupation, double his subsistence.'
Emigrants, who calculate upon living cheap before they have obtained a settlement, are frequently exposed to the greatest inconveniences, in consequence of being obliged to spend all their money before they begin to live as Americans.' The
difficulties which settlers of the poorer class have to encounter, in a country entirely new, are such as a constitution of iron, and nerves of brass, might seem to be requisite to surmount.
The land, when intended for sale, is laid out in the government surveys in quarter sections of 160 acres, being one fourth of a square mile. The whole is then offered to the public by auction, and that which remains unsold, which is generally a very large proportion, may be purchased at the land office of the district, at two dollars per acre, one fourth to be paid down, and the remaining three-fourths at several instalments, to be completed in five years.
The poor emigrant, having collected the eighty dollars, repairs to the land office, and enters his quarter section, then works his way without another "cent" in his pocket, to the solitary spot, which is to be his future abode, in a two horse waggon, containing his family, and his little all, consisting of a few blankets, a skillet, his rifle, and his axe. Suppose him arrived in the spring: after putting up a little log cabin, he proceeds to clear, with intense labour, a plot of ground for Indian corn, which is to be their next year's support; but, for the present, being without means of obtaining a supply of flour, he depends on his gun for subsistence. In pursuit of the game, he is compelled, after his day's work, to wade through the evening dews, up to the waist, in long grass, or bushes, and returning, finds nothing to lie on but a bear's skin on the cold ground, exposed to every blast through the sides, and every shower through the open roof of his wretched dwelling, which he does not even attempt to close, till the approach of winter, and often not then. Under these distresses of extreme toil and exposure, debarred from every comfort, many valuable lives have sunk, which have been charged to the climate.
The individual whose case is included in this seeming digression, escaped the ague, but he lay three weeks delirious in a nervous fever, of which he yet feels the remains, owing, no doubt, to excessive fatigue. Casualties, doubly calamitous in their forlorn estate, would sometimes assail them. He, for instance, had the misfortune to break his leg at a time when his wife was confined by sickness, and for three days they were only supplied with water, by a child of two years old, having no means of communicating with their neighbours (neighbours of ten miles off perhaps) until the fourth day. He had to carry the little grain he could procure twelve miles to be ground, and remembers once seeing at the mill, a man who had brought his, sixty miles, and was compelled to wait three days for his turn.
'Such are the difficulties which these pioneers have to encounter; but they diminish as settlements approach each other, and are only heard of by their successors. The number of emigrants who passed this way, was greater last year than in any preceding; and the present spring they are still more numerous than the last. Fourteen waggons yesterday, and thirteen to-day, have gone through this town. Myriads take their course down the Ohio. The waggons swarm with children. I heard to-day of three together, which contain forty-two of these young citizens. The wildest solitudes are to the taste of some people. General Boon, who was chiefly instrumental in the first settlement of Kentucky, is of this turn. It is said, that he is now, at