|Chapter Number||VOLUME II: I|
|Chapter Title||A NIGHT STEAMER ON THE POTOMAC RIVER, A VIRGINIA ROAD, AND A BLACK DRIVER, RICHMOND, BALTIMORE, THE|
|Newspaper Title||The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||American Notes for General Circulation|
BY CHARLES DICKENS.
VOLUME II.—CHAPTER I
A NIGHT STEAMER ON THE POTOMAC
RIVER. A VIRGINIA ROAR, AND A BLACK DRIVER. RICHMOND. BALTI- MORE, THE HARRISBURGH MAIL, AND A GLIMPSE OF THE CITY. A
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 expedi- tions 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 unwieldly 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 to 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 greatcoats. I valiantly resolved not to go to bed at all, but to walk up and down tho 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 de- parture, and may be two hours longer. I walk again, but it gets duller and duller ; the moon goes down ; next June seems far- ther off in the dark, and the echoes of my footsteps make me nervous. It has turned cold too, and walking up and down without any companion in such lonely circum- stances, is but poor amusement. So I break my staunch resolution, and think it may be, perhaps, as well to go to bed.
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 va- riety of slumber ; in the berths, on the chairs, on the floors, on the tables, and par- ticularly around the stove, my detested enemy. I take another step forward, and slip upon the shining face of the 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 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 un- dressed, 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 just then breaking. Every body 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 consisting 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 of yellow soap, comb and brush for the head, and nothing for the teeth. Every body 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 pass- ing Mount Vernon, where Washington lies buried ; the river is wide and rapid, and its hanks 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 pre- paring 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 steam-boat, 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 dro- vers ; for the main thing to be done in all kinds of hostleriug 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 steam-boat 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 in- side, 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 (particu- larly at the knees), grey stockings, enor- mous unblacked high-low shoes, and very short trowsers. 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 En-
glish coachman ! But somebody in autho- rity 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
By the way, whenever an Englishman would cry " All right !" an American cries " Go ahead !" which is something expres- sive of the national character of the two
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 con-
stantly 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 ; 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, till 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
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
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).
Horses make another struggle to get up the bank, and again the coach rolls back-
BLACK DRIVER, (louder than before)
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, Jiddv. Pill. Ally Loo !"
Horses almost do it.
BLACK DRIVER, (with his eyes start- ing 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 conch 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
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 through sa, like a fiddle, and hope a please you when we get you through sa. Old 'ooman at home, sir : " chuckling very much. "Outside gentle- man sa, he after remember old 'ooman at home sa," grinning again.
"Aye, aye, we'll take care of the old
woman. Don't be afraid "
The black driver guns 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 re- duced 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 there
ubouts 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 ter- minates at Fredericksburg, 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 unin- teresting 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 I 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 patch- ed and half-roofless—the log cabins (built in Virginia with external chimneys made of clay or wood,) are squalid to the last de- gree. There is no look of decent comfort any where. The miserable stations by the railway side—the great wild woodyards, 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 com- pared 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 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 a very largo and elegant estab- lishment, 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 in- struments playing to them o'nights, which it was a treat to hear again.
The next day, and the next, we rode and walked about the town, which is delight- fully 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 peach 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
The city is the seat of the local parlia- ment of Virginia ; and in its shady legis- lative 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 were 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 manu- facture for chewing ; and one would have supposed there was enough in that one storehouse to have filled even the compre- hensive jaws of America. In this form, the weed looks like the oil-cake on which we fatten cattle ; and even without refer-
ence to its consequences, is sufficiently uninviting.
Many of the workmen appear 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 were allowed to sing, a certain number at a time. The hour sinking 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 shall have something to say, presently.
On the following day, I visited a plan- tation 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 gentle- man 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 ex- quisitely refreshing after the glare and
heat without. Before the windows was
an open piazza, where, in what they called the hot weather—whatever that may be— they sling hammocks, and drink and dose luxuriously. I do not know how their cool refections may taste within the ham- mocks, 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 refresh- ments never to be thought of afterwards in summer, by those who would preserve
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 neigh- bourhood, who levies tolls upon the town's people. 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 where a
white man, of five dollars; if a negro, fifteen stripes.
The same decay and gloom that over- hang 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 resi- dences, like slavery itself going hand in hand with many lofty virtues, are deplo- rable 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 depres- sing influence, when livelier features are forgotten.
To those who are happily unaccus- tomed 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 ex- pression. But the darkness—not of skin, but mind—which meets the stranger's eye at every town ; the brutalizing and blotting out of all the 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 mid- night, and moping in his stealthy winks of sleep upon the stairs between whiles, 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
It had been my intention to proceed by James River and Chesapeake Bay to Balti-
more ; but one of the steamboats being absent from her station through some accident, and the means of conveyance being conse- quently rendered uncertain, we returned to Washmgton by the way we had come (there
were two constables on board the steam
boat, 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, 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 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 sum- mit ; 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
One, was that of a young man, who
had been tried for the murder of his
father. The evidence was entirely cir- cumstantial, 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, be- yond all doubt, been no quarrel or pro- vocation, and if he were guilty at all, he was unquestionably guilty of murder in its broadest and worst signification.
The remarkable feature in this 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 inculpate 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 unna- tural, 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 year's imprisonment. On coming out of the jail, at the expira- tion 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 com- mission of the offence, made directly against that assumption. There are only two ways of accounting for this extraor-
dinary proceeding. One is, that after undergoing so much for this copper mea- sure, he conceived he had established a sort of claim and right to it. The other that, by dint of long thinking about it, 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
After remaining here a couple of days I bound myself to a rigid adherence to the plan I had laid down so recently, and re- solved to set forward on our western jour- ney without any more delay. Accordingly, having reduced the luggage within the smallest possible compass (by sending back to New York, to be afterwards for- warded to us in Canada, so much of it as was not absolutely wanted), and having procured the necessary credentials to bank- ing 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 rail-
way, 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 ob- served under his breath, in the usual self-
communicative voice, looking the while it 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 my-
self 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 some- thing larger than two English heavy night coaches. 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 inn 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 en- durance 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 passen- ger 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 gen- tleman also inside, confirms by predicting that the attempt to introduce any more passengers "won't fit nohow."
The new passenger, without any ex- pression 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 twist-
ing the lash of his whip into a knot, and takes no more notice of the question :
clearly signifying that it is anybody's bu- siness 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 con- gratulation to the driver, for his immove- able 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 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 ahead cap'en," cries the colonel,
"Golang !" cries the cap'en to his company, the horses, and away we go.
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
The coachman 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 very 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 cold.
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 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 to- wards 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 complacent 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 Susque- hanna; 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 en-
hanced its natural interest.
We crossed this river by a wooden bridge, roofed and covered in on all sides, and nearly a mile in length. It was profound- edly 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 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, is raised above them all m my re- membrance, by having for its landlord the most obliging, considerate, and gentle- manly person, I ever had to deal with.
As we were not to proceed upon our jour-
ney until the afternoon, I walked out, after breakfast the next morning, to look about me : and was duly shown a model prison on the solitary system, just erected, and as yet without an inmate ; the trunk of an old tree to which Harris, the first settler here afterwards buried under it) was tied by hostile Indians, with his funeral pile about him, when he was saved by the
timely appearance of a friendly party on
the opposite shore of the river ; the local legislature (for there was another of those bodies here, again, in full debate) ; and
the other curiosities of the town.
I was very much interested in looking
over a number of treaties made from time to time with the poor Indians, signed by the different chiefs at the period of their ratifi- cation, and preserved in the office of the Secretary to the Commonwealth. These signatures, traced of course by their own hands, are rough drawings of the creatures or weapons they were called after. Thus, the Great Turtle makes a crooked pen-and- ink outline of a great turtle ; the Buffalo sketches a buffalo ; the War Hatchet sets a rough image of that weapon for his mark. So with the Arrow, the Fish, the Scalp, the Big Canoe, and all of them.
I could not but think—as I looked at these feeble and tremulous production of hands which could draw the longest arrow to the head in a stout elkhorn bow, or split a bend or feather with a rifle ball—of Crabbes musings over the Parish Register, and the irregular scratches made with a pen, by men who would plough a lengthy furrow straight from end to end. Nor could I help bestowing many sorrowful thoughts upon the simple warriors whose hands and hearts were set there, in all truth and honesty ; and who only learned
in course of time from white men how to
break their faith, and quibble out of forms and bonds. I wondered, too, how many times the credulous Big Turtle, or trust- ing Little Hatchet had put his mark to treaties which were falsely read to him ; and had signed away, he knew not what, until it went and cast him loose upon the new possessors of the land, a savage in-
Our host advanced, before our early dinner, that some members of the legisla- tive body proposed to do us the honour of calling. He had kindly yielded up to us his wife's own little parlour, and when I begged that he would show them in, I saw him look with painful apprehension at its pretty carpet, though being otherwise oc- cupied at the time, the cause of his un- easiness did not occur to me.
It certainly would have been more pleasant to all parties concerned, and would not, I think, have compromised their independence in any material degree, if some of these gentlemen had not only yielded to the prejudice in favour of spit- toons, but had abandoned themselves, for the moment, even to the conventional ab- surdity of pocket-handkerchiefs.
It still continued to rain heavily, and when we went down to the Canal Boat
(for that was the mode of conveyance by which we were to proceed) after dinner, the weather was as unpromising and obsti- nately wet as one would desire to see. Nor was the sight of this canal boat, in which we were to spend three or four days, by any means a cheerful one ; as it involved some uneasy speculations concerning the disposal of the passengers at night, and opened a wide field of in- quiry touching the other domestic arrange-
ments of the establishments which was sufficiently disconcerting.
However, there it was—a barge with a little house in it, viewed from the outside ; and a caravan at a fair, viewed from within : the gentlemen being accommo- dated, as the spectators usually are, in one of those locomotive museums of penny wonders ; and the ladies being partitioned off by a red curtain, after the manner of the dwarfs and giants in the same esta-
blishments, whose private lives are passed in rather close exclusiveness.
We sat here, looking silently at the row of little tables, which extended down both sides of the cabin, and listening to the rain as it dripped and pattered on the
boat, and splashed with a dismal merri- ment in the water, until the arrival of the
railway train, for whose final contribution to our stock of passengers, our departure was alone deferred. It brought a great many boxes, which were bumped and tossed upon the roof, almost as painfully as if they had been deposited on one's own head, without the intervention of a porter's knot ; and several damp gentlemen, whose clothes, on their drawing round the stove,
began to steam again. No doubt it would have been a thought more comfortable if the driving rain, which now poured down more soakingly than ever, had admitted of a window being opened, or if our number had been something less than thirty ; but there was scarcely time to think as much,
when a train of three horses was attached
to the tow-rope, the boy upon the leader smacked his whip, the rudder creaked and groaned complainingly, and we had begun our journey.