Letters of a Traveller
William Cullen Bryant

Part 2 out of 6

monkey-song, probably of African origin, in which the principal singer
personated a monkey, with all sorts of odd gesticulations, and the other
negroes bore part in the chorus, "Dan, dan, who's de dandy?" One of the
songs, commonly sung on these occasions, represents the various animals of
the woods as belonging to some profession or trade. For example--

De cooter is de boatman--

The cooter is the terrapin, and a very expert boatman he is.

De cooter is de boatman.
John John Crow.
De red-bird de soger.
John John Crow.
De mocking-bird de lawyer.
John John Crow.
De alligator sawyer.
John John Crow.

The alligator's back is furnished with a toothed ridge, like the edge of a
saw, which explains the last line.

When the work of the evening was over the negroes adjourned to a spacious
kitchen. One of them took his place as musician, whistling, and beating
time with two sticks upon the floor. Several of the men came forward and
executed various dances, capering, prancing, and drumming with heel and
toe upon the floor, with astonishing agility and perseverance, though all
of them had performed their daily tasks and had worked all the evening,
and some had walked from four to seven miles to attend the corn-shucking.
From the dances a transition was made to a mock military parade, a sort of
burlesque of our militia trainings, in which the words of command and the
evolutions were extremely ludicrous. It became necessary for the commander
to make a speech, and confessing his incapacity for public speaking, he
called upon a huge black man named Toby to address the company in his
stead. Toby, a man of powerful frame, six feet high, his face ornamented
with a beard of fashionable cut, had hitherto stood leaning against the
wall, looking upon the frolic with an air of superiority. He consented,
came forward, demanded a bit of paper to hold in his hand, and harangued
the soldiery. It was evident that Toby had listened to stump-speeches in
his day. He spoke of "de majority of Sous Carolina," "de interests of de
state," "de honor of ole Ba'nwell district," and these phrases he
connected by various expletives, and sounds of which we could make
nothing. A length he began to falter, when the captain with admirable
presence of mind came to his relief, and interrupted and closed the
harangue with an hurrah from the company. Toby was allowed by all the
spectators, black and white, to have made an excellent speech.

The blacks of this region are a cheerful, careless, dirty race, not hard
worked, and in many respects indulgently treated. It is, of course, the
desire of the master that his slaves shall be laborious; on the other hand
it is the determination of the slave to lead as easy a life as he can. The
master has power of punishment on his side; the slave, on his, has
invincible inclination, and a thousand expedients learned by long
practice. The result is a compromise in which each party yields something,
and a good-natured though imperfect and slovenly obedience on one side, is
purchased by good treatment on the other. I have been told by planters
that the slave brought from Africa is much more serviceable, though more
high-spirited and dangerous than the slave born in this country, and early
trained to his condition.

I have been impatiently waiting the approach of spring, since I came to
this state, but the weather here is still what the inhabitants call
winter. The season, I am told, is more than three weeks later than usual.
Fields of Indian corn which were planted in the beginning of March, must
be replanted, for the seed has perished in the ground, and the cotton
planting is deferred for fine weather. The peach and plum trees have stood
in blossom for weeks, and the forest trees, which at this time are usually
in full foliage, are as bare as in December. Cattle are dying in the
fields for want of pasture.

I have thus had a sample of the winter climate of South Carolina. If
never more severe or stormy than I have already experienced, it must be an
agreeable one. The custom of sitting with open doors, however, I found a
little difficult to like at first. A door in South Carolina, except
perhaps the outer door of a house, is not made to shut. It is merely a
sort of flapper, an ornamental appendage to the opening by which you enter
a room, a kind of moveable screen made to swing to and fro, but never to
be secured by a latch, unless for some purpose of strict privacy. A door
is the ventilator to the room; the windows are not raised except in warm
weather, but the door is kept open at all seasons. On cold days you have a
bright fire of pine-wood blazing before you, and a draught of cold air at
your back. The reason given for this practice is, that fresh air is
wholesome, and that close rooms occasion colds and consumptions.

Letter XII.


Picolata, East Florida, _April 7, 1843._

As I landed at this place, a few hours since, I stepped into the midst of
summer. Yesterday morning when I left Savannah, people were complaining
that the winter was not over. The temperature which, at this time of the
year, is usually warm and genial, continued to be what they called chilly,
though I found it agreeable enough, and the showy trees, called the _Pride
of India_, which are planted all over the city, and are generally in bloom
at this season, were still leafless. Here I find every thing green, fresh,
and fragrant, trees and shrubs in full foliage, and wild roses in flower.
The dark waters of the St. John's, one of the noblest streams of the
country, in depth and width like the St. Lawrence, draining almost the
whole extent of the peninsula, are flowing under my window. On the
opposite shore are forests of tall trees, bright in the new verdure of the
season. A hunter who has ranged them the whole day, has just arrived in a
canoe, bringing with him a deer, which he has killed. I have this moment
returned from a ramble with my host through a hammock, he looking for his
cows, and I, unsuccessfully, for a thicket of orange-trees. He is
something of a florist, and gathered for me, as we went, some of the
forest plants, which were in bloom. "We have flowers here," said he,
"every month in the year."

I have used the word hammock, which here, in Florida, has a peculiar
meaning. A hammock is a spot covered with a growth of trees which require
a richer soil than the pine, such as the oak, the mulberry, the gum-tree,
the hickory, &c. The greater part of East Florida consists of pine
barrens--a sandy level, producing the long leaved pine and the dwarf
palmetto, a low plant, with fan-like leaves, and roots of a prodigious
size. The hammock is a kind of oasis, a verdant and luxuriant island in
the midst of these sterile sands, which make about nine-tenths of the soil
of East Florida. In the hammocks grow the wild lime, the native orange,
both sour and bitter-sweet, and the various vines and gigantic creepers of
the country. The hammocks are chosen for plantations; here the cane is
cultivated, and groves of the sweet orange planted. But I shall say more
of Florida hereafter, when I have seen more of it. Meantime let me speak
of my journey hither.

I left Charleston on the 30th of March, in one of the steamers which ply
between that city and Savannah. These steamers are among the very best
that float--quiet, commodious, clean, fresh as if just built, and
furnished with civil and ready-handed waiters. We passed along the narrow
and winding channels which divide the broad islands of South Carolina from
the main-land--islands famed for the rice culture, and particularly for
the excellent cotton with long fibres, named the sea-island cotton. Our
fellow-passengers were mostly planters of these islands, and their
families, persons of remarkably courteous, frank, and agreeable manners.
The shores on either side had little of the picturesque to show us.
Extensive marshes waving with coarse water-grass, sometimes a cane-brake,
sometimes a pine grove or a clump of cabbage-leaved palmettoes; here and
there a pleasant bank bordered with live-oaks streaming with moss, and at
wide intervals the distant habitation of a planter--these were the
elements of the scenery. The next morning early we were passing up the
Savannah river, and the city was in sight, standing among its trees on a
high bank of the stream.

Savannah is beautifully laid out; its broad streets are thickly planted
with the Pride of India, and its frequent open squares shaded with trees
of various kinds. Oglethorpe seems to have understood how a city should be
built in a warm climate, and the people of the place are fond of reminding
the stranger that the original plan of the founder has never been departed
from. The town, so charmingly embowered, reminded me of New Haven, though
the variety of trees is greater. In my walks about the place I passed a
large stuccoed building of a dull-yellow color, with broad arched windows,
and a stately portico, on each side of which stood a stiff looking
palmetto, as if keeping guard. The grim aspect of the building led me to
ask what it was, and I was answered that it was "the old United States
Bank," It was the building in which the Savannah branch of that bank
transacted business, and is now shut up until the time shall come when
that great institution shall be revived. Meantime I was pained to see that
there exists so little reverence for its memory, and so little gratitude
for its benefits, that the boys have taken to smashing the windows, so
that those who have the care of the building have been obliged to cover
them with plank. In another part of the city I was shown an African
church, a neat, spacious wooden building, railed in, and kept in excellent
order, with a piazza extending along its entire front. It is one of the
four places of worship for the blacks of the town, and was built by negro
workmen with materials purchased by the contributions of the whites.

South of the town extends an uninclosed space, on one side of which is a
pleasant grove of pines, in the shade of which the members of a quoit-club
practice their athletic sport. Here on a Saturday afternoon, for that is
their stated time of assembling, I was introduced to some of the most
distinguished citizens of Savannah, and witnessed the skill with which
they threw the discus. No apprentices were they in the art; there was no
striking far from the stake, no sending the discus rolling over the green;
they heaped the quoits as snugly around the stakes as if the amusement
had been their profession.

In the same neighborhood, just without the town, lies the public cemetery
surrounded by an ancient wall, built before the revolution, which in some
places shows the marks of shot fired against it in the skirmishes of that
period. I entered it, hoping to find some monuments of those who founded
the city a hundred and ten years ago, but the inscriptions are of
comparatively recent date. Most of them commemorate the death of persons
born in Europe, or the northern states. I was told that the remains of the
early inhabitants lie in the brick tombs, of which there are many without
any inscription whatever.

At a little distance, near a forest, lies the burial-place of the black
population. A few trees, trailing with long moss, rise above hundreds of
nameless graves, overgrown with weeds; but here and there are scattered
memorials of the dead, some of a very humble kind, with a few of marble,
and half a dozen spacious brick tombs like those in the cemetery of the
whites. Some of them are erected by masters and mistresses to the memory
of favorite slaves. One of them commemorates the death of a young woman
who perished in the catastrophe of the steamer Pulaski, of whom it is
recorded, that during the whole time that she was in the service of her
mistress, which was many years, she never committed a theft, nor uttered a
falsehood. A brick monument, in the shape of a little tomb, with a marble
slab inserted in front, has this inscription:

"In memory of Henrietta Gatlin, the infant stranger, born in East
Florida, aged 1 year 3 months."

A graveyard is hardly the place to be merry in, but I could not help
smiling at some of the inscriptions. A fair upright marble slab
commemorates the death of York Fleming, a cooper, who was killed by the
explosion of a powder-magazine, while tightening the hoops of a keg of
powder. It closes with this curious sentence:

"This stone was erected by the members of the Axe Company, Coopers and
Committee of the 2nd African Church of Savannah for the purpose of
having a Herse for benevolent purposes, of which he was the first

A poor fellow, who went to the other world by water, has a wooden slab to
mark his grave, inscribed with these words:

"Sacred to the memory of Robert Spencer who came to his Death by A Boat,
July 9th, 1840, aged 21 years.

Reader as you am now so once I
And as I am now so Mus you be Shortly.

Another monument, after giving the name of the dead, has this sentence:

"Go home Mother dry up your weeping tears. Gods will be done."

Another, erected to Sarah Morel, aged six months, has this ejaculation:

"Sweet withered lilly farewell."

One of the monuments is erected to Andrew Bryan, a black preacher, of the
Baptist persuasion. A long inscription states that he was once imprisoned
"for preaching the Gospel, and, without ceremony, severely whipped;" and
that, while undergoing the punishment, "he told his persecutors that he
not only rejoiced to be whipped, but was willing to suffer death for the
cause of Christ." He died in 1812, at the age of ninety-six; his funeral,
the inscription takes care to state, was attended by a large concourse of
people, and adds:

"An address was delivered at his death by the Rev. Mr. Johnson, Dr.
Kollock, Thomas Williams, and Henry Cunningham."

While in Savannah, I paid a visit to Bonaventure, formerly a country seat
of Governor Tatnall, but now abandoned. A pleasant drive of a mile or two,
through a budding forest, took us to the place, which is now itself almost
grown up into forest. Cedars and other shrubs hide the old terraces of the
garden, which is finely situated on the high bank of a river. Trees of
various kinds have also nearly filled the space between the noble avenues
of live-oaks which were planted around the mansion. But these oaks--never
saw finer trees--certainly I never saw so many majestic and venerable
trees together. I looked far down the immense arches that overshadowed the
broad passages, as high as the nave of a Gothic cathedral, apparently as
old, and stretching to a greater distance. The huge boughs were clothed
with gray moss, yards in length, which clung to them like mist, or hung in
still festoons on every side, and gave them the appearance of the vault of
a vast vapory cavern. The cawing of the crow and the scream of the jay,
however, reminded us that we were in the forest. Of the mansion there are
no remains; but in the thicket of magnolias and other trees, among
rosebushes and creeping plants, we found a burial-place with monuments of
some persons to whom the seat had belonged.

Savannah is more healthy of late years than it formerly was. An
arrangement has been made with the owners of the plantations in the
immediate vicinity by which the culture of rice has been abandoned, and
the lands are no longer allowed to be overflowed within a mile from the
city. The place has since become much less subject to fevers than in
former years.

I left, with a feeling of regret, the agreeable society of Savannah. The
steamboat took us to St. Mary's, through passages between the sea-islands
and the main-land, similar to those by which we had arrived at Savannah.
In the course of the day, we passed a channel in which we saw several huge
alligators basking on the bank. The grim creatures slid slowly into the
water at our approach. We passed St. Mary's in the night, and in the
morning we were in the main ocean, approaching the St. John's, where we
saw a row of pelicans standing, like creatures who had nothing to do, on
the sand. We entered the majestic river, the vast current of which is
dark with the infusion of the swamp turf, from which it is drained. We
passed Jacksonville, a little town of great activity, which has sprung up
on the sandy bank within two or three years. Beyond, we swept by the mouth
of the Black Creek, the water of which, probably from the color of the mud
which forms the bed of its channel, has to the eye an ebony blackness, and
reflects objects with all the distinctness of the kind of looking-glass
called a black mirror. A few hours brought us to Picolata, lately a
military station, but now a place with only two houses.

Letter XIII.

St. Augustine.

St. Augustine, East Florida, _April 2, 1843._

When we left Picolata, on the 8th of April, we found ourselves journeying
through a vast forest. A road of eighteen miles in length, over the level
sands, brings you to this place. Tall pines, a thin growth, stood wherever
we turned our eyes, and the ground was covered with the dwarf palmetto,
and the whortleberry, which is here an evergreen. Yet there were not
wanting sights to interest us, even in this dreary and sterile region. As
we passed a clearing, in which we saw a young white woman and a boy
dropping corn, and some negroes covering it with their hoes, we beheld a
large flock of white cranes which rose in the air, and hovered over the
forest, and wheeled, and wheeled again, their spotless plumage glistening
in the sun like new-fallen snow. We crossed the track of a recent
hurricane, which had broken off the huge pines midway from the ground, and
whirled the summits to a distance from their trunks. From time to time we
forded little streams of a deep-red color, flowing from the swamps,
tinged, as we were told, with the roots of the red bay, a species of
magnolia. As the horses waded into the transparent crimson, we thought of
the butcheries committed by the Indians, on that road, and could almost
fancy that the water was still colored with the blood they had shed.

The driver of our wagon told us many narratives of these murders, and
pointed out the places where they were committed. He showed us where the
father of this young woman was shot dead in his wagon as he was going from
St. Augustine to his plantation, and the boy whom we had seen, was wounded
and scalped by them, and left for dead. In another place he showed us the
spot where a party of players, on their way to St. Augustine, were
surprised and killed. The Indians took possession of the stage dresses,
one of them arraying himself in the garb of Othello, another in that of
Richard the Third, and another taking the costume of Falstaff. I think it
was Wild Cat's gang who engaged in this affair, and I was told that after
the capture of this chief and some of his warriors, they recounted the
circumstances with great glee. At another place we passed a small thicket
in which several armed Indians, as they afterward related, lay concealed
while an officer of the United States army rode several times around it,
without any suspicion of their presence. The same men committed,
immediately afterward, several murders and robberies on the road.

At length we emerged upon a shrubby plain, and finally came in sight of
this oldest city of the United States, seated among its trees on a sandy
swell of land where it has stood for three hundred years. I was struck
with its ancient and homely aspect, even at a distance, and could not help
likening it to pictures which I had seen of Dutch towns, though it wanted
a windmill or two, to make the resemblance perfect. We drove into a green
square, in the midst of which was a monument erected to commemorate the
Spanish constitution of 1812, and thence through the narrow streets of the
city to our hotel.

I have called the streets narrow. In few places are they wide enough to
allow two carriages to pass abreast. I was told that they were not
originally intended for carriages, and that in the time when the town
belonged to Spain, many of them were floored with an artificial stone,
composed of shells and mortar, which in this climate takes and keeps the
hardness of rock, and that no other vehicle than a hand-barrow was allowed
to pass over them. In some places you see remnants of this ancient
pavement, but for the most part it has been ground into dust under the
wheels of the carts and carriages, introduced by the new inhabitants. The
old houses, built of a kind of stone which is seemingly a pure concretion
of small shells, overhang the streets with their wooden balconies, and the
gardens between the houses are fenced on the side of the street with high
walls of stone. Peeping over these walls you see branches of the
pomegranate and of the orange-tree, now fragrant with flowers, and, rising
yet higher, the leaning boughs of the fig, with its broad luxuriant
leaves. Occasionally you pass the ruins of houses--walls of stone, with
arches and staircases of the same material, which once belonged to stately
dwellings. You meet in the streets with men of swarthy complexions and
foreign physiognomy, and you hear them speaking to each other in a strange
language. You are told that these are the remains of those who inhabited
the country under the Spanish dominion, and that the dialect you have
heard is that of the island of Minorca.

"Twelve years ago," said an acquaintance of mine, "when I first visited
St. Augustine, it was a fine old Spanish town. A large proportion of the
houses, which you now see roofed like barns, were then flat-roofed, they
were all of shell-rock, and these modern wooden buildings were not yet
erected. That old fort, which they are now repairing, to fit it for
receiving a garrison, was a sort of ruin, for the outworks had partly
fallen, and it stood unoccupied by the military, a venerable monument of
the Spanish dominion. But the orange-groves were the ornament and wealth
of St. Augustine, and their produce maintained the inhabitants in comfort.
Orange-trees, of the size and height of the pear-tree, often rising higher
than the roofs of the houses, embowered the town in perpetual verdure.
They stood so close in the groves that they excluded the sun and the
atmosphere was at all times aromatic with their leaves and fruit, and in
spring the fragrance of the flowers was almost oppressive."

These groves have now lost their beauty. A few years since, a severe
frost killed the trees to the ground, and when they sprouted again from
the roots, a new enemy made its appearance--an insect of the _coccus_
family, with a kind of shell on its back, which enables it to withstand
all the common applications for destroying insects, and the ravages of
which are shown by the leaves becoming black and sere, and the twigs
perishing. In October last, a gale drove in the spray from the ocean,
stripping the trees, except in sheltered situations, of their leaves, and
destroying the upper branches. The trunks are now putting out new sprouts
and new leaves, but there is no hope of fruit for this year at least.

The old fort of St. Mark, now called Fort Marion, a foolish change of
name, is a noble work, frowning over the Matanzas, which flows between St.
Augustine and the island of St. Anastasia, and it is worth making a long
journey to see. No record remains of its original construction, but it is
supposed to have been erected about a hundred and fifty years since, and
the shell-rock of which it is built is dark with time. We saw where it had
been struck with cannon-balls, which, instead of splitting the rock,
became imbedded and clogged among the loosened fragments of shell. This
rock is, therefore, one of the best materials for a fortification in the
world. We were taken into the ancient prisons of the fort--dungeons, one
of which was dimly lighted by a grated window, and another entirely
without light; and by the flame of a torch we were shown the
half-obliterated inscriptions scrawled on the walls long ago by prisoners.
But in another corner of the fort, we were taken to look at two secret
cells, which were discovered a few years since, in consequence of the
sinking of the earth over a narrow apartment between them. These cells are
deep under ground, vaulted overhead, and without windows. In one of them a
wooden machine was found, which some supposed might have been a rack, and
in the other a quantity of human bones. The doors of these cells had been
walled up and concealed with stucco, before the fort passed into the hands
of the Americans.

"If the Inquisition," said the gentleman who accompanied us, "was
established in Florida, as it was in the other American colonies of Spain,
these were its secret chambers."

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, and in the morning I attended the services in
the Catholic church. One of the ceremonies was that of pronouncing the
benediction over a large pile of leaves of the cabbage-palm, or palmetto,
gathered in the woods. After the blessing had been pronounced, the priest
called upon the congregation to come and receive them. The men came
forward first, in the order of their age, and then the women; and as the
congregation consisted mostly of the descendants of Minorcans, Greeks, and
Spaniards, I had a good opportunity of observing their personal
appearance. The younger portion of the congregation had, in general,
expressive countenances. Their forms, it appeared to me, were generally
slighter than those of our people; and if the cheeks of the young women
were dark, they had regular features and brilliant eyes, and finely formed
hands. There is spirit, also, in this class, for one of them has since
been pointed out to me in the streets, as having drawn a dirk upon a young
officer who presumed upon some improper freedoms of behavior.

The services were closed by a plain and sensible discourse in English,
from the priest, Mr. Rampon, a worthy and useful French ecclesiastic, on
the obligation of temperance; for the temperance reform has penetrated
even hither, and cold water is all the rage. I went again, the other
evening, into the same church, and heard a person declaiming, in a
language which, at first, I took to be Minorcan, for I could make nothing
else of it. After listening for a few minutes, I found that it was a
Frenchman preaching in Spanish, with a French mode of pronunciation which
was odd enough. I asked one of the old Spanish inhabitants how he was
edified by this discourse, and he acknowledged that he understood about an
eighth part of it.

I have much more to write about this place, but must reserve it for
another letter.

Letter XIV.

St. Augustine.

St. Augustine, _April 24, 1843_

You can not be in St. Augustine a day without hearing some of its
inhabitants speak of its agreeable climate. During the sixteen days of my
residence here, the weather has certainly been as delightful as I could
imagine. We have the temperature of early June, as June is known in New
York. The mornings are sometimes a little sultry, but after two or three
hours, a fresh breeze comes in from the sea, sweeping through the broad
piazzas and breathing in at the windows. At this season it comes laden
with the fragrance of the flowers of the Pride of India, and sometimes of
the orange-tree, and sometimes brings the scent of roses, now in full
bloom. The nights are gratefully cool, and I have been told, by a person
who has lived here many years, that there are very few nights in the
summer when you can sleep without a blanket.

An acquaintance of mine, an invalid, who has tried various climates and
has kept up a kind of running fight with Death for many years, retreating
from country to country as he pursued, declares to me that the winter
climate of St. Augustine is to be preferred to that of any part of
Europe, even that of Sicily, and that it is better than the climate of the
West Indies. He finds it genial and equable, at the same time that it is
not enfeebling. The summer heats are prevented from being intense by the
sea-breeze, of which I have spoken. I have looked over the work of Dr.
Forry on the climate of the United States, and have been surprised to see
the uniformity of climate which he ascribes to Key West. As appears by the
observations he has collected, the seasons at that place glide into each
other by the softest gradations, and the heat never, even in midsummer,
reaches that extreme which is felt in higher latitudes of the American
continent. The climate of Florida is in fact an insular climate; the
Atlantic on the east and the Gulf of Mexico on the west, temper the airs
that blow over it, making them cooler in summer and warmer in winter. I do
not wonder, therefore, that it is so much the resort of invalids; it would
be more so if the softness of its atmosphere and the beauty and serenity
of its seasons were generally known. Nor should it be supposed that
accommodations for persons in delicate health are wanting; they are in
fact becoming better with every year, as the demand for them increases.
Among the acquaintances whom I have made here, I remember many who, having
come hither for the benefit of their health, are detained for life by the
amenity of the climate. "It seems to me," said an intelligent gentleman of
this class, the other day, "as if I could not exist out of Florida. When
I go to the north, I feel most sensibly the severe extremes of the
weather; the climate of Charleston itself, appears harsh to me."

Here at St. Augustine we have occasional frosts in the winter, but at
Tampa Bay, on the western shore of the peninsula, no further from this
place than from New York to Albany, the dew is never congealed on the
grass, nor is a snow-flake ever seen floating in the air. Those who have
passed the winter in that place, speak with a kind of rapture of the
benignity of the climate. In that country grow the cocoa and the banana,
and other productions of the West Indies. Persons who have explored
Florida to the south of this, during the past winter, speak of having
refreshed themselves with melons in January, growing where they had been
self-sown, and of having seen the sugar-cane where it had been planted by
the Indians, towering uncropped, almost to the height of the forest trees.

I must tell you, however, what was said to me by a person who had passed a
considerable time in Florida, and had journeyed, as he told me, in the
southern as well as the northern part of the peninsula, "That the climate
is mild and agreeable," said he, "I admit, but the annoyance to which you
are exposed from insects, counterbalances all the enjoyment of the
climate. You are bitten by mosquitoes and gallinippers, driven mad by
clouds of sand-flies, and stung by scorpions and centipedes. It is not
safe to go to bed in southern Florida without looking between the sheets,
to see if there be not a scorpion waiting to be your bed-fellow, nor to
put on a garment that has been hanging up in your room, without turning it
wrong side out, to see if a scorpion has not found a lodging in it." I
have not, however, been incommoded at St. Augustine with these "varmint,"
as they call them at the south. Only the sand-flies, a small black midge,
I have sometimes found a little importunate, when walking out in a very
calm evening.

Of the salubrity of East Florida I must speak less positively, although it
is certain that in St. Augustine emigrants from the north enjoy good
health. The owners of the plantations in the neighborhood, prefer to pass
the hot season in this city, not caring to trust their constitutions to
the experiment of a summer residence in the country. Of course they are
settled on the richest soils, and these are the least healthy. The pine
barrens are safer; when not interspersed with marshes, the sandy lands
that bear the pine are esteemed healthy all over the south. Yet there are
plantations on the St. John's where emigrants from the north reside
throughout the year. The opinion seems everywhere to prevail, and I
believe there is good reason for it, that Florida, notwithstanding its low
and level surface, is much more healthy than the low country of South
Carolina and Georgia.

The other day I went out with a friend to a sugar plantation in the
neighborhood of St. Augustine. As we rode into the inclosure we breathed
the fragrance of young orange-trees in flower, the glossy leaves of
which, green at all seasons, were trembling in the wind. A troop of negro
children were at play at a little distance from the cabins, and one of
them ran along with us to show us a grove of sour oranges which we were
looking for. He pointed us to a copse in the middle of a field, to which
we proceeded. The trees, which were of considerable size, were full of
flowers, and the golden fruit was thick on the branches, and lay scattered
on the ground below. I gathered a few of the oranges, and found them
almost as acid as the lemon. We stopped to look at the buildings in which
the sugar was manufactured. In one of them was the mill where the cane was
crushed with iron rollers, in another stood the huge cauldrons, one after
another, in which the juice was boiled down to the proper consistence; in
another were barrels of sugar, of syrup--a favorite article of consumption
in this city--of molasses, and a kind of spirits resembling Jamaica rum,
distilled from the refuse of the molasses. The proprietor was absent, but
three negroes, well-clad young men, of a very respectable appearance and
intelligent physiognomy, one of whom was a distiller, were occupied about
the buildings, and showed them to us. Near by in the open air lay a pile
of sugar cane, of the ribbon variety, striped with red and white, which
had been plucked up by the roots, and reserved for planting. The negroes
of St. Augustine are a good-looking specimen of the race, and have the
appearance of being very well treated. You rarely see a negro in ragged
clothing, and the colored children, though slaves, are often dressed with
great neatness. In the colored people whom I saw in the Catholic church, I
remarked a more agreeable, open, and gentle physiognomy than I have been
accustomed to see in that class. The Spanish race blends more kindly with
the African, than does the English, and produces handsomer men and women.

I have been to see the quarries of coquina, or shell-rock, on the island
of St. Anastasia, which lies between St. Augustine and the main ocean. We
landed on the island, and after a walk of some distance on a sandy road
through the thick shrubs, we arrived at some huts built of a frame-work of
poles thatched with the radiated leaves of the dwarf palmetto, which had a
very picturesque appearance. Here we found a circular hollow in the earth,
the place of an old excavation, now shaded with red-cedars, and the
palmetto-royal bristling with long pointed leaves, which bent over and
embowered it, and at the bottom was a spring within a square curb of
stone, where we refreshed ourselves with a draught of cold water. The
quarries were at a little distance from this. The rock lies in the ridges,
a little below the surface, forming a stratum of no great depth. The
blocks are cut out with crowbars thrust into the rock. It is of a delicate
cream color, and is composed of mere shells and fragments of shells,
apparently cemented by the fresh water percolating through them and
depositing calcareous matter brought from the shells above. Whenever
there is any mixture of sand with the shells, rock is not formed.

Of this material the old fort of St. Mark and the greater part of the city
are built. It is said to become harder when exposed to the air and the
rain, but to disintegrate when frequently moistened with sea-water. Large
blocks were lying on the shore ready to be conveyed to the fort, which is
undergoing repairs. It is some consolation to know that this fine old work
will undergo as little change in the original plan as is consistent with
the modern improvements in fortification. Lieutenant Benham, who has the
charge of the repairs, has strong antiquarian tastes, and will preserve as
much as possible of its original aspect. It must lose its battlements,
however, its fine mural crown. Battlements are now obsolete, except when
they are of no use, as on the roofs of churches and Gothic cottages.

In another part of the same island, which we visited afterward, is a
dwelling-house situated amid orange-groves. Closely planted rows of the
sour orange, the native tree of the country, intersect and shelter
orchards of the sweet orange, the lemon, and the lime. The trees were all
young, having been planted since the great frost of 1835, and many of them
still show the ravages of the gale of last October, which stripped them of
their leaves.

"Come this way," said a friend who accompanied me. He forced a passage
through a tall hedge of the sour orange, and we found ourselves in a
little fragrant inclosure, in the midst of which was a tomb, formed of
the artificial stone of which I have heretofore spoken. It was the
resting-place of the former proprietor, who sleeps in this little circle
of perpetual verdure. It bore no inscription. Not far from this spot, I
was shown the root of an ancient palm-tree, the species that produces the
date, which formerly towered over the island, and served as a sea-mark to
vessels approaching the shore. Some of the accounts of St. Augustine speak
of dates as among its fruits; but I believe that only the male tree of the
date-palm has been introduced into the country.

On our return to the city, in crossing the Matanzas sound, so named
probably from some sanguinary battle with the aborigines on its shores; we
passed two Minorcans in a boat, taking home fuel from the island. These
people are a mild, harmless race, of civil manners and abstemious habits.
Mingled with them are many Greek families, with names that denote their
origin, such as Geopoli, Cercopoli, &c., and with a cast of features
equally expressive of their descent. The Minorcan language, the dialect of
Mahon, _el Mahones_, as they call it, is spoken by more than half of the
inhabitants who remained here when the country was ceded to the United
States, and all of them, I believe, speak Spanish besides. Their children,
however, are growing up in disuse of these languages, and in another
generation the last traces of the majestic speech of Castile, will have
been effaced from a country which the Spaniards held for more than two
hundred years.

Some old customs which the Minorcans brought with them from their native
country are still kept up. On the evening before Easter Sunday, about
eleven o'clock, I heard the sound of a serenade in the streets. Going out,
I found a party of young men, with instruments of music, grouped about the
window of one of the dwellings, singing a hymn in honor of the Virgin in
the Mahonese dialect. They began, as I was told, with tapping on the
shutter. An answering knock within had told them that their visit was
welcome, and they immediately began the serenade. If no reply had been
heard they would have passed on to another dwelling. I give the hymn as it
was kindly taken down for me in writing by a native of St. Augustine. I
presume this is the first time that it has been put in print, but I fear
the copy has several corruptions, occasioned by the unskillfulness of the
copyist. The letter _e_, which I have put in italics, represents the
guttural French _e_, or perhaps more nearly the sound of _u_ in the word
but. The _sh_ of our language is represented by _sc_ followed by an _i_ or
an _e_; the _g_ both hard and soft has the same sound as in our language.

Disciarem lu dol,
Cantarem anb' alagria,
Y n'arem a da
Las pascuas a Maria.
O Maria!

Sant Grabiel,
Qui portaba la anbasciada;
Des nostre rey del cel
Estarau vos prenada.
Ya omiliada,
Tu o vais aqui serventa,
Fia del Deu contenta,
Para fe lo que el vol.
Disciarem lu dol, &c.

Y a milla nit,
Pariguero vos regina;
A un Deu infinit,
Dintra una establina.
Y a millo dia,
Que los Angles van cantant
Pau y abondant
De la gloria de Deu sol.
Disciarem lu dol, &c.

Y a Libalam,
Alla la terra santa,
Nu nat Jesus,
Anb' alagria tanta.
Infant petit
Que tot lu mon salvaria;
Y ningu y bastaria,
Nu mes un Deu tot sol.
Disciarem lu dol, &c.

Cuant d'Orien lus
Tres reys la stralla veran,
Deu omnipotent,
Adora lo vingaran.
Un present inferan,
De mil encens y or,
A lu beneit Seno,
Que conesce cual se vol.
Disciarem lu dol, &c.

Tot fu gayant
Para cumpli lu prumas;
Y lu Esperit sant
De un angel fan gramas.
Gran foc ences,
Que crama lu curagia;
Deu nos da lenguagia,
Para fe lo que Deu vol.
Disciarem lu dol, &c.

Cuant trespasa
De quest mon nostra Senora,
Al cel s'empugia
Sun fil la matescia ora.
O emperadora,
Que del cel sou eligida!
Lu rosa florida,
Me resplanden que un sol.
Disciarem lu dol, &c.

Y el tercer giorn
Que Jesus resunta,
Deu y Aboroma,
Que la mort triumfa.
De alli se balla
Para perldra Lucife,
An tot a seu peuda,
Que de nostro ser el sol.
Disciarem lu dol, &c[1]

After this hymn, the following stanzas, soliciting the customary gift of
cakes or eggs, are sung:

Ce set sois que vain cantant,
Regina celastial!
Dunus pan y alagria,
Y bonas festas tingau.
Yo vos dou sus bonas festas,
Danaus dines de sus nous;
Sempre tarem lus mans llestas
Para recibi un grapat de ous.

Y el giorn de pascua florida
Alagramos y giuntament;
As qui es mort par darnos vida
Ya viu gloriosament.

Aquesta casa esta empedrada,
Bien halla que la empedro;
Sun amo de aquesta casa
Baldria duna un do.
Furmagiada, o empanada,
Cucutta o flao;
Cual se vol cosa me grada,
Sol que no me digas que no[2].

The shutters are then opened by the people within, and a supply of
cheese-cakes, or other pastry, or eggs, is dropped into a bag carried by
one of the party, who acknowledge the gift in the following lines, and
then depart:

Aquesta casa esta empedrada,
Empedrada de cuatro vens;
Sun amo de aquesta casa,
_Es_ omo de compliment[3].

If nothing is given, the last line reads thus:

No _es_ omo de compliment.

Letter XV.

A Voyage from St. Augustine to Savannah.

Savannah, _April_ 28, 1843.

On the morning of the 24th, we took leave of our good friends in St.
Augustine, and embarked in the steamer for Savannah. Never were softer or
more genial airs breathed out of the heavens than those which played
around us as we ploughed the waters of the Matanzas Sound, passing under
the dark walls of the old fort, and leaving it behind us, stood for the
passage to the main ocean.

It is a common saying in St. Augustine, that "Florida is the best poor
man's country in the world," and, truly, I believe that those who live on
the shores of this sound find it so. Its green waters teem with life, and
produce abundance of the finest fish,

"------ of shell or fin,
And exquisitest name."

Clams are dug up on the pure sands along the beach, where the fishermen
drag their boats ashore, and wherever the salt water dashes, there is an
oyster, if he can find aught upon which to anchor his habitation. Along
the edge of the marshes, next to the water, you see a row--a wall I
should rather say--of oysters, apparently sprouting one out of another, as
high as the tide flows. They are called here, though I do not know why,
ratoon oysters. The abundance of fish solves the problem which has puzzled
many, how the Minorcan population of St. Augustine live, now that their
orange-trees, upon which they formerly depended, are unproductive.

In the steamboat were two or three persons who had visited Florida with a
view of purchasing land. Now that the Indian war is ended, colonization
has revived, and people are thronging into the country to take advantage
of the law which assigns a hundred and sixty acres to every actual
settler. In another year, the influx of population will probably be still
greater, though the confusion and uncertainty which exists in regard to
the title of the lands, will somewhat obstruct the settlement of the
country. Before the Spanish government ceded it to the United States, they
made numerous grants to individuals, intended to cover all the best land
of the territory. Many of the lands granted have never been surveyed, and
their situation and limits are very uncertain. The settler, therefore, if
he is not very careful, may find his farm overlaid by an old Spanish

I have said that the war is ended. Although the Seminole chief, Sam Jones,
and about seventy of his people remain, the country is in profound peace
from one end to the other, and you may traverse the parts most distant
from the white settlements without the least danger or molestation from
the Indians. "How is it," I asked one day of a gentleman who had long
resided in St. Augustine, "that, after what has happened, you can think it
safe to let these people remain?"

"It is perfectly safe," he answered. "Sam Jones professes, and I believe
truly, to have had less to do with the murders which have been committed
than the other chiefs, though it is certain that Dr. Perrine, whose death
we so much lament, was shot at Indian Key by his men. Besides, he has a
quarrel with one of the Seminole chiefs, whose relative he has killed, and
if he were to follow them to their new country, he would certainly be put
to death. It is his interest, therefore, to propitiate the favor of the
whites by the most unexceptionable behavior, for his life depends upon
being allowed to remain.

"There is yet another reason, which you will understand from what I am
about to say. Before the war broke out, the Indians of this country, those
very men who suddenly became so bloodthirsty and so formidable, were a
quiet and inoffensive race, badly treated for the most part by the whites,
and passively submitting to ill treatment without any appearance of
feeling or spirit. When they at length resolved upon war, they concealed
their families in the islands of the Everglades, whither they supposed the
whites would never be able to follow them. Their rule of warfare was
this, never to endanger the life of one of their warriors for the sake of
gaining the greatest advantage over their enemies; they struck only when
they felt themselves in perfect safety. If they saw an opportunity of
destroying twenty white men by the sacrifice of a single Indian, the
whites were allowed to escape. Acting on this principle, if their retreat
had been as inaccessible as they supposed it, they would have kept up the
warfare until they had driven the whites out of the territory.

"When, however, General Worth introduced a new method of prosecuting the
war, following up the Indians with a close and perpetual pursuit, chasing
them into their great shallow lake, the Everglades, and to its most secret
islands, they saw at once that they were conquered. They saw that further
hostilities were hopeless, and returned to their former submissive and
quiet demeanor.

"It is well, perhaps," added my friend in a kind of postscript, "that a
few Indians should remain in Florida. They are the best hunters of runaway
slaves in the world, and may save us from a Maroon war."

The Indian name of the Everglades, I am told, signifies Grass-water, a
term which well expresses its appearance. It is a vast lake, broader by
thousands of acres in a wet than in a dry season, and so shallow that the
grass everywhere grows from the bottom and overtops its surface The bottom
is of hard sand, so firm that it can be forded almost everywhere on
horseback, and here and there are deep channels which the traveller
crosses by swimming his horse.

General Worth's success in quelling the insurrection of the Seminoles, has
made him very popular in Florida, where the energy and sagacity with which
the closing campaign of the war was conducted are spoken of in the highest
terms. He has lately fixed his head-quarters at St Augustine.

In the afternoon, our steamer put in between two sandy points of land and
we arrived at St Mary's, formerly a buccaneer settlement, but now so
zealous for good order that our captain told us the inhabitants objected
to his taking in wood for his steamboat on Sunday. The place is full of
groves of the orange and lime--young trees which have grown up since 1835,
and which, not having suffered, like those of St. Augustine, by the gale,
I found beautifully luxuriant. In this place, it was my fate to experience
the plague of sand-flies. Clouds of them came into the steamboat alighting
on our faces and hands and stinging wherever they alighted. The little
creatures got into our hair and into our eyes, and crawled up our sleeves
and down our necks, giving us no rest, until late in the night the vessel
left the wharf and stood out into the river, where the current of air
swept most of our tormentors away.

The next morning, as we were threading the narrow channels by which the
inland passage is made from St. Mary's to Savannah, we saw, from time to
time, alligators basking on the banks. Some of our fellow-passengers took
rifles and shot at them as we went by. The smaller ones were often
killed, the larger generally took the rifle-balls upon their impenetrable
backs, and walked, apparently unhurt, into the water. One of these
monstrous creatures I saw receive his death-wound, having been fired at
twice, the balls probably entering at the eyes. In his agony he dashed
swiftly through the water for a little distance, and turning rushed with
equal rapidity in the opposite direction, the strokes of his strong arms
throwing half his length above the surface. The next moment he had turned
over and lay lifeless, with his great claws upward. A sallow-complexioned
man from Burke county, in Georgia, who spoke a kind of negro dialect, was
one of the most active in this sport, and often said to the bystanders. "I
hit the 'gator that time, I did." We passed where two of these huge
reptiles were lying on the bank among the rank sedges, one of them with
his head towards us. A rifle-ball from the steamer, struck the ground just
before his face, and he immediately made for the water, dragging, with his
awkward legs, a huge body of about fifteen feet in length. A shower of
balls fell about him as he reached the river, but he paddled along with as
little apparent concern as the steamboat we were in.

The tail of the alligator is said to be no bad eating, and the negroes are
fond of it. I have heard, however, that the wife of a South Carolina
cracker once declared her dislike of it in the following terms:

"Coon and collards is pretty good fixins, but 'gator and turnips I can't
go, no how."

Collards, you will understand, are a kind of cabbage. In this country, you
will often hear of long collards, a favorite dish of the planter.

Among the marksmen who were engaged in shooting alligators, were two or
three expert chewers of the Indian weed--frank and careless spitters--who
had never been disciplined by the fear of woman into any hypocritical
concealment of their talent, or unmanly reserve in its exhibition. I
perceived, from a remark which one of them let fall, that somehow they
connected this accomplishment with high breeding. He was speaking of four
negroes who were hanged in Georgia on a charge of murdering their owner.

"One of them," said he, "was innocent. They made no confession, but held
up their heads, chawed their tobacco, and spit about like any gentlemen."

You have here the last of my letters from the south. Savannah, which I
left wearing almost a wintry aspect, is now in the full verdure of summer.
The locust-trees are in blossom; the water-oaks, which were shedding their
winter foliage, are now thick with young and glossy leaves; the Pride of
India is ready to burst into flower, and the gardens are full of roses in

Letter XVI.

An Excursion to Vermont and New Hampshire.

Addison County, Vermont, _July_ 10, 1843.

I do not recollect that I ever heard the canal connecting the Hudson with
Lake Champlain praised for its beauty, yet it is actually beautiful--that
part of it at least which lies between Dunham's Basin and the lake, a
distance of twenty-one miles, for of the rest I can not speak. To form the
canal, two or three streams have been diverted a little from their
original course, and led along a certain level in the valley through which
they flowed to pour themselves into Champlain. In order to keep this
level, a perpetually winding course has been taken, never, even for a few
rods, approaching a straight line. On one side is the path beaten by the
feet of the horses who drag the boats, but the other is an irregular bank,
covered sometimes with grass and sometimes with shrubs or trees, and
sometimes steep with rocks. I was delighted, on my journey to this place,
to exchange a seat in a stage-coach, driven over the sandy and dusty road
north of Saratoga by a sulky and careless driver, for a station on the top
of the canal-packet. The weather was the finest imaginable; the air that
blew over the fields was sweet with the odor of clover blossoms, and of
shrubs in flower. A canal, they say, is but a ditch; but this was as
unlike a ditch as possible; it was rather a gentle stream, winding in the
most apparently natural meanders. Goldsmith could find no more picturesque
epithet for the canals of Holland, than "slow;"

"The slow canal, the yellow blossomed vale--"

but if the canals of that country had been like this, I am sure he would
have known how to say something better for them. On the left bank, grassed
over to the water's edge, I saw ripe strawberries peeping out among the
clover, and shortly afterward a young man belonging to the packet leaped
on board from the other side with a large basket of very fine
strawberries. "I gathered them," said he "down in the swamp; the swamp is
full of them." We had them afterward with our tea.

Proceeding still further, the scenery became more bold. Steep hills rose
by the side of the canal, with farm-houses scattered at their feet; we
passed close to perpendicular precipices, and rocky shelves sprouting with
shrubs, and under impending woods. At length, a steep broad mountain rose
before us, its sides shaded with scattered trees and streaked with long
horizontal lines of rock, and at its foot a cluster of white houses. This
was Whitehall; and here the waters of the canal plunge noisily through a
rocky gorge into the deep basin which holds the long and narrow Lake

There was a young man on board who spoke English imperfectly, and whose
accent I could not with certainty refer to any country or language with
which I was acquainted. As we landed, he leaped on shore, and was
surrounded at once by half a dozen persons chattering Canadian French. The
French population of Canada has scattered itself along the shores of Lake
Champlain for a third of the distance between the northern boundary of
this state and the city of New York, and since the late troubles in
Canada, more numerously than ever. In the hotel where I passed the night,
most of the servants seemed to be emigrants from Canada.

Speaking of foreigners reminds me of an incident which occurred on the
road between Saratoga Springs and Dunham's Basin. As the public coach
stopped at a place called Emerson, our attention was attracted by a
wagon-load of persons who had stopped at the inn, and were just resuming
their journey. The father was a robust, healthy-looking man of some forty
years of age; the mother a buxom dame; the children, some six or seven, of
various ages, with flaxen hair, light-blue eyes, and broad ruddy cheeks.
"They are Irish," said one of my fellow-passengers. I maintained on the
contrary that they were Americans. "Git ap," said the man to his horses,
pronouncing the last word very long. "Git ap; go 'lang." My antagonist in
the dispute immediately acknowledged that I was right, for "git ap," and
"go 'lang" could never have been uttered with such purity of accent by an
Irishman. We learned on inquiry that they were emigrants from the
neighborhood, proceeding to the Western Canal, to take passage for
Michigan, where the residence of a year or two will probably take somewhat
from the florid ruddiness of their complexions.

I looked down into the basin which contains the waters of the Champlain,
lying considerably below the level on which Whitehall is built, and could
not help thinking that it was scooped to contain a wider and deeper
collection of waters. Craggy mountains, standing one behind the other,
surround it on all sides, from whose feet it seems as if the water had
retired; and here and there, are marshy recesses between the hills, which
might once have been the bays of the lake. The Burlington, one of the
model steamboats for the whole world, which navigates the Champlain, was
lying moored below. My journey, however, was to be by land.

At seven o'clock in the morning we set out from Whitehall, in a strong
wagon, to cross the mountainous country lying east of the lake. "Git ap,"
said our good-natured driver to his cattle, and we climbed and descended
one rugged hill after another, passing by cottages which we were told were
inhabited by Canadian French. We had a passenger from Essex county, on the
west side of the lake, a lady who, in her enthusiastic love of a
mountainous country, seemed to wish that the hills were higher; and
another from the prairies of the western states, who, accustomed for many
years to the easy and noiseless gliding of carriages over the smooth
summer roads of that region, could hardly restrain herself from exclaiming
at every step against the ruggedness of the country, and the roughness of
the ways. A third passenger was an emigrant from Vermont to Chatauque
county, in the state of New York, who was now returning on a visit to his
native county, the hills of Vermont, and who entertained us by singing
some stanzas of what he called the Michigan song, much in vogue, as he
said, in these parts before he emigrated, eight years ago. Here is a

"They talk about Vermont,
They say no state's like that:
'Tis true the girls are handsome,
The cattle too are fat.
But who amongst its mountains
Of cold and ice would stay,
When he can buy paraira
In Michigan-_i-a_?"

By "paraira" you must understand prairie. "It is a most splendid song,"
continued the singer. "It touches off one state after another.
Connecticut, for example:"

"Connecticut has blue laws,
And when the beer, on Sunday,
Gets working in the barrel,
They flog it well on Monday."

At Benson, in Vermont, we emerged upon a smoother country, a country of
rich pastures, fields heavy with grass almost ready for the scythe, and
thick-leaved groves of the sugar-maple and the birch. Benson is a small,
but rather neat little village, with three white churches, all of which
appear to be newly built. The surrounding country is chiefly fitted for
the grazing of flocks, whose fleeces, however, just at present, hardly pay
for the shearing.

Letter XVII.

An Excursion to Vermont and New Hampshire.

Keene, New Hampshire, _July_ 13, 1843.

I resume my journey where I stopped short in my last, namely, on reaching
Benson, in Vermont, among the highlands west of Lake Champlain. We went on
through a pastoral country of the freshest verdure, where we saw large
flocks of sheep grazing. From time to time we had glimpses of the summits
of a long blue ridge of mountains to the east of us, and now and then the
more varied and airy peaks of the mountains which lie to the west of the
lake. They told me that of late years this part of the country had
suffered much from the grasshoppers, and that last summer, in particular,
these insects had made their appearance in immense armies, devouring the
plants of the ground and leaving it bare of herbage. "They passed across
the country," said one person to me, "like hail storms, ravaging it in
broad stripes, with intervals between in which they were less numerous."

At present, however, whether it was the long and severe winter which did
not fairly end till the close of April, or whether it was the uncommonly
showery weather of the season hitherto, that destroyed these insects, in
some early stage of their existence, I was told that there is now scarce a
grasshopper in all these meadows and pastures. Everywhere the herbage was
uncommonly luxuriant, and everywhere I saw the turf thickly sprinkled with
the blossoms of the white clover, on the hill, in the valley, among rocks,
by streams, by the road-side, and whenever the thinner shade of the woods
allowed the plants of the field to take root. We might say of the white
clover, with even more truth than Montgomery says of the daisy:--

"But this bold floweret climbs the hill,
Hides in the forest, haunts the glen,
Plays on the margin of the rill,
Peeps o'er the fox's den."

All with whom I spoke had taken notice of the uncommon abundance of the
white clover this year, and the idea seemed to prevail that it has its
regular periods of appearing and disappearing,--remaining in the fields
until it has taken up its nutriment in the soil, and then giving place to
other plants, until they likewise had exhausted the qualities of the soil
by which they were nourished. However this may be, its appearance this
season in such profusion, throughout every part of the country which I
have seen, is very remarkable. All over the highlands of Vermont and New
Hampshire, in their valleys, in the gorges of their mountains, on the
sandy banks of the Connecticut, the atmosphere for many a league is
perfumed with the odor of its blossoms.

I passed a few days in the valley of one of those streams of northern
Yermont, which find their way into Champlain. If I were permitted to draw
aside the veil of private life, I would briefly give you the singular, and
to me most interesting history of two maiden ladies who dwell in this
valley. I would tell you how, in their youthful days, they took each other
as companions for life, and how this union, no less sacred to them than
the tie of marriage, has subsisted, in uninterrupted harmony, for forty
years, during which they have shared each other's occupations and
pleasures and works of charity while in health, and watched over each
other tenderly in sicknesss; for sickness has made long and frequent
visits to their dwelling. I could tell you how they slept on the same
pillow and had a common purse, and adopted each other's relations, and how
one of them, more enterprising and spirited in her temper than the other,
might be said to represent the male head of the family, and took upon
herself their transactions with the world without, until at length her
health failed, and she was tended by her gentle companion, as a fond wife
attends her invalid husband. I would tell you of their dwelling, encircled
with roses, which now in the days of their broken health, bloom wild
without their tendance, and I would speak of the friendly attentions which
their neighbors, people of kind hearts and simple manners, seem to take
pleasure in bestowing upon them, but I have already said more than I fear
they will forgive me for, if this should ever meet their eyes, and I must
leave the subject.

One day I had taken a walk with a farmer of the place, over his extensive
and luxuriant pastures, and was returning by the road, when a well-made
young fellow in a cap, with thick curly hair, carrying his coat on his
arm, wearing a red sash round his waist, and walking at a brisk pace,
overtook us. "Etes-vous Canadien?"--are you a Canadian? said my companion.
"Un peu"--a little--was the dry answer. "Where are you going?" asked the
farmer again, in English. "To Middlebury," replied he, and immediately
climbed a fence and struck across a field to save an angle in the road, as
if perfectly familiar with the country

"These Canadian French," said the farmer, "come swarming upon us in the
summer, when we are about to begin the hay-harvest, and of late years they
are more numerous than formerly. Every farmer here has his French laborer
at this season, and some two or three. They are hardy, and capable of long
and severe labor; but many of them do not understand a word of our
language, and they are not so much to be relied upon as our own
countrymen; they, therefore, receive lower wages."

"What do you pay them?"

"Eight dollars a month, is the common rate. When they leave your service,
they make up their packs, and bring them for your inspection, that you
may see that they have taken nothing which does not belong to them. I have
heard of thefts committed by some of them, for I do not suppose that the
best of the Canadians leave their homes for work, but I have always
declined to examine their baggage when they quit my house."

A shower drove us to take shelter in a farm-house by the road. The family
spoke with great sympathy of John, a young French Canadian, "a gentlemanly
young fellow," they called him, who had been much in their family, and who
had just come from the north, looking quite ill. He had been in their
service every summer since he was a boy. At the approach of the warm
weather, he annually made his appearance in rags, and in autumn he was
dismissed, a sprucely-dressed lad, for his home.

On Sunday, as I went to church, I saw companies of these young Frenchmen,
in the shade of barns or passing along the road; fellows of small but
active persons, with thick locks and a lively physiognomy. The French have
become so numerous in that region, that for them and the Irish, a Roman
Catholic church has been erected in Middlebury, which, you know, is not a
very large village.

On Monday morning, we took the stage-coach at Middlebury for this place.
An old Quaker, in a broad-brimmed hat and a coat of the ancient cut,
shaped somewhat like the upper shell of the tortoise, came to hand in his
granddaughter, a middle-aged woman, whom he had that morning accompanied
from Lincoln, a place about eighteen miles distant, where there is a
Quaker neighborhood and a Quaker meeting-house. The denomination of
Quakers seems to be dying out in the United States, like the Indian race;
not that the families become extinct, but pass into other denominations.
It is very common to meet with neighborhoods formerly inhabited by
Quakers, in which there is not a trace of them left. Not far from
Middlebury, is a village on a fine stream, called Quaker Village, with not
a Quaker in it. Everywhere they are laying aside their peculiarities of
costume, and in many instances, also, their peculiarities of speech, which
are barbarous enough as they actually exist, though, if they would but
speak with grammatical propriety, their forms of discourse are as
commodious as venerable, and I would be content to see them generally
adopted. I hope they will be slow to lay aside their better
characteristics: their abhorrence of violence, and the peaceful and
wholesome subjection in which, of all religious denominations, they seem
to have best succeeded in holding the passions. In such remote and
secluded neighborhoods as Lincoln, their sect will probably make the
longest stand against the encroachments of the world. I perceived,
however, that the old gentleman's son, who was with him, and, as I
learned, was also a Quaker, had nothing peculiar in his garb.

Before sunset we were in sight of those magnificent mountain summits, the
Pico, Killington Peak, and Shrewsbury Peak, rising in a deep ultra-marine
blue among the clouds that rolled about them, for the day was showery. We
were set down at Rutland, where we passed the night, and the next morning
crossed the mountains by the passes of Clarendon and Shrewsbury. The
clouds were clinging to the summits, and we travelled under a curtain of
mist, upheld on each side by mountain-walls. A young woman of uncommon
beauty, whose forefinger on the right hand was dotted all over with
punctures of the needle, and who was probably a mantua-maker, took a seat
in the coach for a short distance. We made some inquiries about the
country, but received very brief, though good-natured answers, for the
young lady was a confirmed stammerer. I thought of an epigram I had
somewhere read, in which the poet complimented a lady who had this defect,
by saying that the words which she wished to utter were reluctant to leave
so beautiful a mouth, and lingered long about the pearly teeth and rosy

We passed through a tract covered with loose stones, and the Quaker's
granddaughter, who proved to be a chatty person, told us a story which you
may possibly have heard before. "Where did you get all the stones with
which you have made these substantial fences?" said a visitor to his host,
on whose grounds there appeared no lack of such materials. "Look about you
in the fields, and you will see," was the answer. "I have looked,"
rejoined the questioner, "and do not perceive where a single stone is
missing, and that is what has puzzled me."

Soon after reaching the highest elevation on the road, we entered the
state of New Hampshire. Our way led us into a long valley formed by a
stream, sometimes contracted between rough woody mountains, and sometimes
spreading out, for a short distance, into pleasant meadows; and we
followed its gradual descent until we reached the borders of the
Connecticut. We crossed this beautiful river at Bellows Falls, where a
neat and thriving village has its seat among craggy mountains, which, at a
little distance, seem to impend over it. Here the Connecticut struggles
and foams through a narrow passage of black rocks, spanned by a bridge. I
believe this is the place spoken of in Peters's History of Connecticut,
where he relates that the water of the river is so compressed in its
passage between rocks, that an iron bar can not be driven into it.

A few miles below we entered the village of Walpole, pleasantly situated
on the knolls to the east of the meadows which border the river. Walpole
was once a place of some literary note, as the residence of Dennie, who,
forty years since, or more, before he became the editor of the Port Folio,
here published the Farmer's Museum, a weekly sheet, the literary
department of which was amply and entertainingly filled.

Keene, which ended our journey in the stage-coach, is a flourishing
village on the rich meadows of the Ashuelot, with hills at a moderate
distance swelling upward on all sides. It is a village after the New
England pattern, and a beautiful specimen of its kind--broad streets
planted with rock-maples and elms, neat white houses, white palings, and
shrubs in the front inclosures.

During this visit to New Hampshire, I found myself in a hilly and rocky
region, to the east of this place, and in sight of the summit of
Monadnock, which, at no great distance from where I was, begins to upheave
its huge dark mass above the surrounding country. I arrived, late in the
evening, at a dwelling, the door of which was opened to me by two damsels,
all health and smiles. In the morning I saw a third sister of the same
florid bloom and healthful proportions. They were none of those slight,
frail figures, copies of the monthly plates of fashion, with waists of
artificial slenderness, which almost force you to wonder how the different
parts of the body are kept together--no pallid faces, nor narrow chests,
nor lean hands, but forms which might have satisfied an ancient statuary,
with a well-formed bust, faces glowing with health, rounded arms, and
plump fingers. They are such women, in short, as our mothers, fifty years
ago, might have been. I had not observed any particular appearance of
health in the females of the country through which I had passed; on the
contrary, I had been disappointed in their general pallidness and look of
debility. I inquired of my host if there was any cause to which this
difference could be traced.

"I have no doubt of the cause," replied he. "These girls are healthy,
because I have avoided three great errors. They have neither been brought
up on unwholesome diet, nor subjected to unwholesome modes of dress, nor
kept from daily exercise in the open air. They have never drunk tea or
coffee, nor lived upon any other than plain and simple food. Their
dress--you know that even the pressure of the easiest costume impedes the
play of the lungs somewhat--their dress has never been so tight as to
hinder free respiration and the proper expansion of the chest. Finally,
they have taken exercise every day in the open air, assisting me in
tending my fruit trees and in those other rural occupations in which their
sex may best take part. Their parents have never enjoyed very good health;
nor were the children particularly robust in their infancy, yet by a
rational physical education, they have been made such as you see them."

I took much pleasure in wandering through the woods in this region, where
the stems of the primeval forest still stand--straight trunks of the
beech, the maple, the ash, and the linden, towering to a vast height. The
hollows are traversed by clear, rapid brooks. The mowing fields at that
time were full of strawberries of large size and admirable flavor, which
you could scarce avoid crushing by dozens as you walked. I would gladly
have lingered, during a few more of these glorious summer days, in this
wild country, but my engagements did not permit it, and here I am, about
to take the stage-coach for Worcester and the Western Railroad.

Letter XVIII.


Manchester, England, _May_ 30, 1845.

I suppose a smoother passage was never made across the Atlantic, than ours
in the good ship Liverpool. For two-thirds of the way, we slid along over
a placid sea, before the gentlest zephyrs that ever swept the ocean, and
when at length the winds became contrary, they only impeded our progress,
without making it unpleasant. The Liverpool is one of the strongest,
safest, and steadiest of the packet-ships; her commander prudent,
skillful, always on the watch, and as it almost seemed to me, in every
part of the vessel at once; the passengers were good-tempered and quiet,
like the sea on which we were sailing; and with all these advantages in
our favor, I was not disposed to repine that we were a week longer in
crossing the Atlantic, than some vessels which left New York nearly the
same time.

It was matter of rejoicing to all of us, however, when we saw the Irish
coast like a faint cloud upon the horizon, and still more were we
delighted, when after beating about for several days in what is called the
Chops of the Channel, we beheld the mountains of Wales. I could hardly
believe that what I saw were actually mountain summits, so dimly were
their outlines defined in the vapory atmosphere of this region, the nearer
and lower steeps only being fully visible, and the higher and remoter ones
half lost in the haze. It seemed to me as if I were looking at the
reflection of mountains in a dull mirror, and I was ready to take out my
pocket-handkerchief to wipe the dust and smoke from its surface. About
thirty miles from Liverpool we took on board a pilot, whose fair
complexion, unbronzed by the sun, was remarked by the ladies, and soon
after a steamer arrived and took us in tow. At twelve o'clock in the
night, the Liverpool by the aid of the high tide cleared the sand-bar at
the mouth of the port, and was dragged into the dock, and the next morning
when I awoke, I found myself in Liverpool in the midst of fog and rain.

"Liverpool," said one of its inhabitants to me, "is more like an American
than an English city; it is new, bustling, and prosperous." I saw some
evidences of this after I had got my baggage through the custom-house,
which was attended with considerable delay, the officers prying very
closely into the contents of certain packages which I was taking for
friends of mine to their friends in England, cutting the packthread,
breaking the seals, and tearing the wrappers without mercy. I saw the
streets crowded with huge drays, carrying merchandise to and fro, and
admired the solid construction of the docks, in which lay thousands of
vessels from all parts of the globe. The walls of these docks are built of
large blocks of red sandstone, with broad gateways opening to the river
Mersey, and when the tide is at its height, which I believe is about
thirty feet from low water, the gates are open, and vessels allowed to
enter and depart. When the tide begins to retire, the gates are closed,
and the water and the vessels locked in together. Along the river for
miles, the banks are flanked with this massive masonry, which in some
places I should judge to be nearly forty feet in height. Meantime the town
is spreading into the interior; new streets are opened; in one field you
may see the brickmakers occupied in their calling, and in the opposite one
the bricklayers building rows of houses. New churches and new public
buildings of various kinds are going up in these neighborhoods.

The streets which contain the shops have for the most part a gay and showy
appearance; the buildings are generally of stucco, and show more of
architectural decoration than in our cities. The greater part of the
houses, however, are built of brick which has a rough surface, and soon
acquires in this climate a dark color, giving a gloomy aspect to the
streets. The public buildings, which are rather numerous, are of a
drab-colored freestone, and those which have been built for forty or fifty
years, the Town Hall, for example, and some of the churches, appear almost
of a sooty hue. I went through the rooms of the Town Hall and was shown
the statue of Canning, by Chantry, an impressive work as it seemed to me.
One of the rooms contains a portrait of him by Lawrence, looking very much
like a feeble old gentleman whom I remember as not long since an appraiser
in the New York custom-house. We were shown a lofty saloon in which the
Common Council of Liverpool enjoy their dinners, and very good dinners the
woman who showed us the rooms assured us they were. But the spirit of
corporation reform has broken in upon the old order of things, and those
good dinners which a year or two since were eaten weekly, are now eaten
but once a fortnight, and money is saved.

I strolled to the Zoological Gardens, a very pretty little place, where a
few acres of uneven surface have been ornamented with plantations of
flowering shrubs, many of which are now in full bloom, artificial ponds of
water, rocks, and bridges, and picturesque buildings for the animals.
Winding roads are made through the green turf, which is now sprinkled with
daisies. It seems to be a favorite place of resort for the people of the
town. They were amused by the tricks of an elephant, the performances of a
band of music, which among other airs sang and played "Jim along Josey,"
and the feats of a young fellow who gave an illustration of the
centrifugal force by descending a _Montagne Russe_ in a little car, which
by the help of a spiral curve in the railway, was made to turn a somerset
in the middle of its passage, and brought him out at the end with his cap
off, and his hair on end.

One of the most remarkable places in Liverpool, is St. James's Cemetery.
In the midst of the populous and bustling city, is a chasm among the black
rocks, with a narrow green level at the bottom. It is overlooked by a
little chapel. You enter it by an arched passage cut through the living
rock, which brings you by a steep descent to the narrow level of which I
have spoken, where you find yourself among graves set with flowers and
half concealed by shrubbery, while along the rocky sides of the hollow in
which you stand, you see tombs or blank arches for tombs which are yet to
be excavated. We found the thickets within and around this valley of the
dead, musical with innumerable birds, which build here undisturbed. Among
the monuments is one erected to Huskisson, a mausoleum with a glass door
through which you see his statue from the chisel of Gibson. On returning
by the passage through the rock, we found preparations making for a
funeral service in the chapel, which we entered. Four men came staggering
in under the weight of a huge coffin, accompanied by a clergyman of
imposing stature, white hair, and florid complexion. Four other coffins
were soon after brought in and placed in the church, attended by another
clergyman of less pre-possessing appearance, who, to my disappointment,
read the service. He did it in the most detestable manner, with much
grimace, and with the addition of a supernumerary syllable after almost
every word ending with a consonant. The clerk delivered the responses in
such a mumbling tone, and with so much of the Lancashire dialect, as to
be almost unintelligible. The other clergyman looked, I thought, as if,
like myself, he was sorry to hear the beautiful funeral service of his
church so profaned.

In a drive which we took into the country, we had occasion to admire the
much talked of verdure and ornamental cultivation of England. Green
hedges, rich fields of grass sprinkled with flowers, beautiful residences,
were on every side, and the wheels of our carriage rolled over the
smoothest roads in the world. The lawns before the houses are kept
smoothly shaven, and carefully leveled by the roller. At one of these
English houses, to which I was admitted by the hospitality of its opulent
owner, I admired the variety of shrubs in full flower, which here grow in
the open air, rhododendrons of various species, flushed with bloom,
azaleas of different hues, one of which I recognized as American, and
others of various families and names. In a neighboring field stood a plot
of rye-grass two feet in height, notwithstanding the season was yet so
early; and a part of it had been already mown for the food of cattle. Yet
the people here complain of their climate. "You must get thick shoes and
wrap yourself in flannel," said one of them to me. "The English climate
makes us subject to frequent and severe colds, and here in Lancashire you
have the worst climate of England, perpetually damp, with strong and
chilly winds."

It is true that I have found the climate miserably chilly since I landed,
but I am told the season is a late one. The apple-trees are just in bloom,
though there are but few of them to be seen, and the blossoms of the
hawthorn are only just beginning to open. The foliage of some of the
trees, rich as it is, bears the appearance in some places of having felt
the late frosts, and certain kinds of trees are not yet in leaf.

Among the ornaments of Liverpool is the new park called Prince's Park,
which a wealthy individual, Mr. Robert Yates, has purchased and laid out
with a view of making it a place for private residences. It has a pretty
little lake, plantations of trees and shrubs which have just began to
strike root, pleasant nooks and hollows, eminences which command extensive
views, and the whole is traversed with roads which are never allowed to
proceed from place to place in a straight line. The trees are too newly
planted to allow me to call the place beautiful, but within a few years it
will be eminently so.

I have followed the usual practice of travellers in visiting the ancient
town of Chester, one of the old walled towns of England, distant about
fifteen miles from Liverpool--rambled through the long galleries open to
the street, above the ground-story of the houses, entered its crumbling
old churches of red freestone, one of which is the church of St. John, of
Norman architecture, with round arches and low massive pillars, and looked
at the grotesque old carvings representing events in Scripture history
which ornament some of the houses in Watergate-street. The walls are said
to have been erected as early as the time of William the Conqueror, and
here and there are towers rising above them. They are still kept in repair
and afford a walk from which you enjoy a prospect of the surrounding
country; but no ancient monument is allowed to stand in the way of modern
improvements as they are called, and I found workmen at one corner
tumbling down the stones and digging up the foundation to let in a
railway. The river Dee winds pleasantly at the foot of the city walls. I
was amused by an instance of the English fondness for hedges which I saw
here. In a large green field a hawthorn hedge was planted, all along the
city wall, as if merely for the purpose of hiding the hewn stone with a
screen of verdure.

Yesterday we took the railway for Manchester. The arrangements for railway
travelling in this country are much more perfect than with us. The cars of
the first class are fitted up in the most sumptuous manner, cushioned at
the back and sides, with a resting-place for your elbows, so that you sit
in what is equivalent to the most luxurious armchair. Some of the cars
intended for night travelling are so contrived that the seat can be turned
into a kind of bed. The arrangement of springs and other contrivances to
prevent shocks, and to secure an equable motion, are admirable and
perfectly effectual. In one hour we had passed over the thirty-one miles
which separate Manchester from Liverpool; shooting rapidly over Chat
Moss, a black blot in the green landscape, overgrown with heath, which, at
this season of the year, has an almost sooty hue, crossing bridge after
bridge of the most solid and elegant construction, and finally entered
Manchester by a viaduct, built on massive arches, at a level with the
roofs of the houses and churches. Huge chimneys surrounded us on every
side, towering above the house-tops and the viaduct, and vomiting smoke
like a hundred volcanoes. We descended and entered Market-street, broad
and well-built, and in one of the narrowest streets leading into it, we
were taken to our comfortable hotel.

At Manchester we walked through the different rooms of a large
calico-printing establishment. In one were strong-bodied men standing over
huge caldrons ranged along a furnace, preparing and stirring up the
colors; in another were the red-hot cylinders that singe the down from the
cloth before it is stamped; in another the machines that stamp the colors
and the heated rollers that dry the fabric after it is stamped. One of the
machines which we were shown applies three different colors by a single
operation. In another part of the establishment was the apparatus for
steaming the calicoes to fasten the colors; huge hollow iron wheels into
which and out of which the water was continually running and revolving in
another part to wash the superfluous dye from the stamped cloths; the
operation of drying and pressing them came next and in a large room, a
group of young women, noisy, drab-like, and dirty, were engaged in
measuring and folding them.

This morning we take the coach for the Peak of Derbyshire.

Letter XIX.

Edale in Derbyshire.

Derby, England, _June_ 3, 1845.

I have passed a few pleasant days in Derbyshire, the chronicle of which I
will give you.

On the morning of the 30th of May, we took places at Manchester in the
stage-coach for Chapel-en-le-Frith. We waited for some time before the
door of the Three Angels in Market-street, the finest street in
Manchester, broad and well-built, while the porters were busy in fastening
to the vehicle the huge loads of luggage with which the English commonly
travel. As I looked on the passers by, I was again struck with what I had
observed almost immediately on entering the town--the portly figures and
florid complexions of some, and the very diminutive stature and sallow
countenances of others. Among the crowds about the coach, was a ruddy
round-faced man in a box-coat and a huge woollen cravat, walking about and
occasionally giving a look at the porters, whom we took to be the
coachman, so well did his appearance agree with the description usually
given of that class. We were not mistaken, for in a short time we saw him
buttoning his coat, and deliberately disentangling the lash from the
handle of a long coach whip. We took our seats with him on the outside of
the coach, and were rolled along smoothly through a level country of farms
and hedge-rows, and fields yellow with buttercups, until at the distance
of seven miles we reached Stockport, another populous manufacturing town
lying in the smoke of its tall chimneys. At nearly the same distance
beyond Stockport, the country began to swell into hills, divided by brooks
and valleys, and the hedge-rows gave place to stone fences, which seamed
the green region, bare of trees in every direction, separating it into
innumerable little inclosures. A few miles further, brought us into that
part of Derbyshire which is called the Peak, where the hills become

Among our fellow-passengers, was a powerfully made man, who had the
appearance of being a commercial traveller, and was very communicative on
the subject of the Peak, its caverns, its mines, and the old ruined castle
of the Peverils, built, it is said, by one of the Norman invaders of
England. He spoke in the Derbyshire dialect, with a strong provincial
accent. When he was asked whether the castle was not the one spoken of by
Scott, in his Peveril of the Peak, he replied,

"Scott? Scott? I dunna know him."

Chapel-en-le-Frith is a manufacturing village at the bottom of a narrow
valley, clean-looking, but closely built upon narrow lanes; the houses
are of stone, and have the same color as the highway. We were set down,
with our Derbyshire friend, at the Prince's Arms, kept by John Clark, a
jolly-looking man in knee-breeches, who claimed our fellow passenger as an
old acquaintance. "I were at school with him," said he; "we are both
Peakerels." John Clark, however, was the more learned man of the two, he
knew something of Walter Scott; in the days when he was a coachman, he had
driven the coach that brought him to the Peak, and knew that the ruined
castle in the neighborhood was once the abode of Scott's Peveril of the

We procured here an odd vehicle called a car, with seats on the sides
where the passengers sit facing each other, as in an omnibus, to take us
to Edale, one of the valleys of Derbyshire. Our new acquaintance, who was
about to proceed on foot to one of the neighboring villages, was persuaded
to take a seat with us as far as his road was the same with ours. We
climbed out of the valley up the bare green hills, and here our driver,
who was from Cheshire, and whose mode of speaking English made him
unintelligible to us, pointed to a house on a distant road, and made an
attempt to communicate something which he appeared to think interesting.
Our Derbyshire friend translated him.

"The water," said he, "that fall on one side of the roof of that 'ouse go
into the 'Umber, and the water that fall on the other side go into the
Mersey. Last winter that 'ouse were covered owre wi' snow, and they made a
_h_archway to go in and out. We 'ad a _h_eighteen month's storm last

By an "eighteen month's storm" we learned, on inquiry, that he meant
eighteen weeks of continued cold weather, the last winter having been
remarkable for its severity.

Our kind interpreter now left us, and took his way across the fields, down
a path which led through a chasm between high tower-like rocks, called the
Winnets, which etymoloists say is a corruption of Windgates, a name given
to this mountain-pass from the currents of air which are always blowing
through it. Turning out of the main road, we began to ascend a steep green
declivity. To the right of us rose a peaked summit, the name of which our
driver told us was Mam Tor. We left the vehicle and climbed to its top,
where a wide and beautiful prospect was out-spread before us. To the north
lay Edale, a deep and almost circular valley, surrounded by a wavy outline
of pastoral hills, bare of trees, but clothed in living green to their
summits, except on the northern side of the valley, where, half-way down,
they were black with a thick growth of heath. At the bottom of the valley
winded a little stream, with a fringe of trees, some of which on account
of the lateness of the season were not yet in leaf, and near this stream
were scattered, for the most part, the habitations. In another direction
lay the valley of Hopedale, with its two villages, Hope and Castleton, its
ancient castle of the Peverils seated on a rock over the entrance of the
Peak Cavern, and its lead mines worked ever since the time of the Saxons,
the Odin mines as they are called, the white cinders of which lay in heaps
at their entrance. We left the driver to take our baggage to its
destination, and pursued our way across the fields. Descending a little
distance from the summit, we came upon what appeared to be an ancient
trench, thickly overgrown with grass, which seemed to encircle the upper
part of the hill. It was a Roman circumvallation. The grass was gemmed
with wild pansies, yellow, "freaked with jet," and fragrant, some of which
we gathered for a memorial of the spot.

In descending to the valley, we came upon a little rivulet among hazels
and hollies and young oaks, as wild and merry as a mountain brook of our
own country. Cowslips and wild hyacinths were in flower upon its banks,
and blue violets as scentless as our own. We followed it until it fell
into the larger stream, when we crossed a bridge and arrived at a white
house, among trees just putting out their leaves with plots of flowers in
the lawn before it. Here we received a cordial welcome from a hospitable
and warmhearted Scotchman.

After dinner our host took us up the side of the mountain which forms the
northern barrier of Edale. We walked through a wretched little village,
consisting of low cottages built of stone, one or two of which were
alehouses; passed the parsonage, pleasantly situated on the edge of a
little brook, and then the parson himself, a young man just from
Cambridge, who was occupied in sketching one of the picturesque points in
the scenery about his new habitation. A few minutes active climbing
brought us among the heath, formming a thick elastic carpet under our
feet, on which we were glad to seat ourselves for a moment's rest. We
heard the cuckoo upon every side, and when we rose to pursue our walk we
frequently startled the moor-fowl, singly or in flocks. The time allowed
by the game laws for shooting them had not yet arrived, but in the mean
time they had been unmercifully hunted by the hawks, for we often found
the remains of such as had been slain by these winged sportsmen, lying in
our path as we ascended. We found on the top of the hill, a level of
several rods in width, covered to a considerable depth with peat, the
produce of the decayed roots of the heath, which has sprung and perished
for centuries. It was now soft with the abundant rains which had fallen,
and seamed with deep muddy cracks, over which we made our way with
difficulty. At length we came to a spot from which we could look down into
another valley. "That," said our host, "is the Woodlands." We looked and
saw a green hollow among the hills like Edale, but still more bare of
trees, though like Edale it had its little stream at the bottom.

The next day we crossed the Mam Tor a second time, on a visit to the
Derbyshire mines. On our way, I heard the lark for the first time. The
little bird, so frequently named in English poetry, rose singing from the
grass almost perpendicularly, until nearly lost to the sight in the
clouds, floated away, first in one direction, then in another, descended
towards the earth, arose again, pouring forth a perpetual, uninterrupted
stream of melody, until at length, after the space of somewhat more than a
quarter of an hour, he reached the ground, and closed his flight and his
song together. The caverns which contain the Derbyshire spars of various
kinds, have been the frequent theme of tourists, and it is hardly worth
while to describe them for the thousandth time. Imagine a fissure in the
limestone rock, descending obliquely five hundred feet into the bowels of
the earth, with a floor of fallen fragments of rock and sand; jagged
walls, which seem as if they would fit closely into each other if they
could be brought together, sheeted, in many places, with a glittering,
calcareous deposit, and gradually approaching each other overhead--imagine
this, and you will have an idea of the Blue John mine, into which we
descended. The fluor-spar taken from this mine is of a rich blue color,
and is wrought into vases and cups, which were extremely beautiful.

The entrance to the Peak Cavern, as it is called, is very grand. A black
opening, of prodigious extent, yawns in the midst of a precipice nearly
three hundred feet in height, and you proceed for several rods in this
vast portico, before the cave begins to contract to narrower dimensions.
At a little distance from this opening, a fine stream rushes rapidly from
under the limestone, and flows through the village. Above, and almost
impending over the precipice, is the castle of the Peverils, the walls of
which, built of a kind of stone which retains the chisel marks made eight
hundred years since, are almost entire, though the roof has long ago
fallen in, and trees are growing in the corners. "Here lived the English
noblemen," said our friend, "when they were robbers--before they became
gentlemen." The castle is three stories in height, and the space within
its thick and strong walls is about twenty-five feet square. These would
be thought narrow quarters by the present nobility, the race of gentlemen
who have succeeded to the race of robbers.

The next day we attended the parish church. The young clergyman gave us a
discourse on the subject of the Trinity, and a tolerably clever one,
though it was only sixteen minutes long. The congregation were a healthy,
though not a very intelligent looking set of men and women. The Derbyshire
people have a saying--

"Darbyshire born, and Darbyshire bred,
Strong o' the yarm and weak o' the yead."

The latter line, translated into English, would be--

"Strong of the arm, and weak of the head;"

and I was assured that, like most proverbs, it had a good deal of truth in
it. The laboring people of Edale and its neighborhood, so far as I could
learn, are not remarkable for good morals, and indifferent, or worse than
indifferent, to the education of their children. They are, however, more
fortunate in regard to the wages of their labor, than in many other
agricultural districts. A manufactory for preparing cotton thread for the
lace-makers, has been established in Edale, and the women and girls of the
place, who are employed in it, are paid from seven to eight shillings a
week. The farm laborers receive from twelve to thirteen shillings a week,
which is a third more than is paid to the same class in some other

The people of the Peak, judging from the psalmody I heard at church, are
not without an ear for music. "I was at a funeral, not long since," said
our host, "a young man, born deaf and dumb, went mad and cut his throat.
The people came from far and near to the burial. Hot ale was handed about
and drunk in silence, and a candle stood on the table, at which the
company lighted their pipes. The only sound to be heard was the passionate
sobbing of the father. At last the funeral service commenced, and the hymn
being given out, they set it to a tune in the minor key, and I never heard
any music performed in a manner more pathetic."

On Monday we left Edale, and a beautiful drive we had along the banks of
the Derwent, woody and rocky, and wild enough in some places to be thought
a river of our own country. Of our visit to Chatsworth, the seat of the
Duke of Devonshire, one of the proudest of the modern English nobility,
and to Haddon Hall, the finest specimen remaining of the residences of
their ancestors, I will say nothing, for these have already been
described till people are tired of reading them. We passed the night at
Matlock in sight of the rock called the High Tor. In the hot season it
swarms with cockneys, and to gratify their taste, the place, beautiful as
it is with precipices and woods, has been spoiled by mock ruins and
fantastic names. There is a piece of scene-painting, for example, placed
conspicuously among the trees on the hill-side, representing an ancient
tower, and another representing an old church. One place of retreat is
called the Romantic Rocks, and another the Lover's Walk.

To-day we arrived at Derby, and hastened to see its Arboretum. This is an
inclosure of eleven acres, given by the late Mr. Josiah Strutt to the
town, and beautifully laid out by London, author of the work on Rural
Architecture. It is planted with every kind of tree and shrub which will
grow in the open air of this climate, and opened to the public for a
perpetual place of resort. Shall we never see an example of the like
munificence in New York?

Letter XX.

Works of Art.

London, _June_ 18, 1845.

I have now been in London a fortnight. Of course you will not expect me to
give you what you will find in the guide-books and the "Pictures of

The town is yet talking of a statue of a Greek slave, by our countryman
Powers, which was to be seen a few days since at a print-shop in Pall
Mall. I went to look at it. The statue represents a Greek girl exposed
naked for sale in the slave-market. Her hands are fettered, the drapery of
her nation lies at her feet, and she is shrinking from the public gaze. I
looked at it with surprise and delight; I was dazzled with the soft
fullness of the outlines, the grace of the attitude, the noble, yet sad
expression of the countenance, and the exquisite perfection of the
workmanship. I could not help acknowledging a certain literal truth in the
expression of Byron, concerning a beautiful statue, that it

The air around with beauty."

It has fixed the reputation of Powers, and made his fortune. The
possessor of the statue, a Mr. Grant, has refused to dispose of it, except
to a public institution. The value which is set upon it, may be inferred
from this circumstance, that one of the richest noblemen in England told
the person who had charge of the statue, that if Mr. Grant would accept
two thousand pounds sterling for it, he should be glad to send him a check
for the amount. Some whispers of criticism have been uttered, but they
appear to have been drowned and silenced in the general voice of
involuntary admiration. I hear that since the exhibition of the statue,
orders have been sent to Powers from England, for works of sculpture which
will keep him employed for years to come.

The exhibition of paintings by the Royal Academy is now open. I see
nothing in it to astonish one who has visited the exhibitions of our
Academy of the Arts of Design in New York, except that some of the worst
pictures were hung in the most conspicuous places. This is the case with
four or five pictures by Turner--a great artist, and a man of genius, but
who paints very strangely of late years. To my unlearned eyes, they were
mere blotches of white paint, with streaks of yellow and red, and without
any intelligible design. To use a phrase very common in England, they are
the most extraordinary pictures I ever saw. Haydon also has spoiled
several yards of good canvas with a most hideous picture of Uriel and
Satan, and to this is assigned one of the very best places in the
collection. There is more uniformity of style and coloring than with us;
more appearance of an attempt to conform to a certain general model, so
that of course there are fewer unpleasant contrasts of manner: but this is
no advantage, inasmuch as it prevents the artist from seeking to attain
excellence in the way for which he is best fitted. The number of paintings
is far greater than in our exhibitions; but the proportion of good ones is
really far smaller. There are some extremely clever things by Webster, who
appears to be a favorite with the public; some fine miniatures by
Thorburn, a young Scotch artist who has suddenly become eminent, and
several beautiful landscapes by Stanfield, an artist of high promise. We
observed in the catalogue, the names of three or four of our American
artists; but on looking for their works, we found them all hung so high as
to be out of sight, except one, and that was in what is called the
condemned room, where only a glimmer of light enters, and where the
hanging committee are in the practice of thrusting any such pictures as
they can not help exhibiting, but wish to keep in the dark.

My English friends apologize for the wretchedness of the collection, its
rows of indifferent portraits and its multitude of feeble imitations in
historical and landscape painting, by saying that the more eminent artists
are preparing themselves to paint the walls and ceilings of the new Houses
of Parliament in fresco. The pinnacles and turrets of that vast and
magnificent structure, built of a cream-colored stone, and florid with
Gothic tracery, copied from the ancient chapel of St. Stephen, the greater
part of which was not long ago destroyed by fire, are rising from day to
day above the city roofs. We walked through its broad and long passages
and looked into its unfinished halls, swarming with stone-cutters and
masons, and thought that if half of them were to be painted in fresco, the
best artists of England have the work of years before them.

With the exhibition of drawings in water-colors, which is a separate
affair from the paintings in oil, I was much better pleased. The late
improvement in this branch of art, is, I believe, entirely due to English
artists. They have given to their drawings of this class a richness, a
force of effect, a depth of shadow and strength of light, and a truth of
representation which astonishes those who are accustomed only to the
meagreness and tenuity of the old manner. I have hardly seen any
landscapes which exceeded, in the perfectness of the illusion, one or two
which I saw in the collection I visited, and I could hardly persuade
myself that a flower-piece on which I looked, representing a bunch of
hollyhocks, was not the real thing after all, so crisp were the leaves, so
juicy the stalks, and with such skillful relief was flower heaped upon
flower and leaf upon leaf.

Letter XXI

The Parks of London.--The Police.

London, _June_ 24, 1845.

Nothing can be more striking to one who is accustomed to the little
inclosures called public parks in our American cities, than the spacious,
open grounds of London. I doubt, in fact, whether any person fully
comprehends their extent, from any of the ordinary descriptions of them,
until he has seen them or tried to walk over them. You begin at the east
end of St. James's Park, and proceed along its graveled walks, and its
colonnades of old trees, among its thickets of ornamental shrubs carefully
inclosed, its grass-plots maintained in perpetual freshness and verdure by
the moist climate and the ever-dropping skies, its artificial sheets of
water covered with aquatic birds of the most beautiful species, until you
begin almost to wonder whether the park has a western extremity. You reach
it at last, and proceed between the green fields of Constitution Hill,
when you find yourself at the corner of Hyde Park, a much more spacious
pleasure-ground. You proceed westward in Hyde Park until you are weary,
when you find yourself on the verge of Kensington Gardens, a vast extent
of ancient woods and intervening lawns, to which the eye sees no limit,
and in whose walks it seems as if the whole population of London might
lose itself. North of Hyde Park, after passing a few streets, you reach
the great square of Regent's Park, where, as you stand at one boundary the
other is almost undistinguishable in the dull London atmosphere. North of
this park rises Primrose Hill, a bare, grassy eminence, which I hear has
been purchased for a public ground and will be planted with trees. All
round these immense inclosures, presses the densest population of the
civilized world. Within, such is their extent, is a fresh and pure
atmosphere, and the odors of plants and flowers, and the twittering of
innumerable birds more musical than those of our own woods, which build
and rear their young here, and the hum of insects in the sunshine. Without
are close and crowded streets, swarming with foot-passengers, and choked
with drays and carriages.

These parks have been called the lungs of London, and so important are
they regarded to the public health and the happiness of the people, that I
believe a proposal to dispense with some part of their extent, and cover
it with streets and houses, would be regarded in much the same manner as a
proposal to hang every tenth man in London. They will probably remain
public grounds as long as London has an existence.

The population of your city, increasing with such prodigious rapidity;
your sultry summers, and the corrupt atmosphere generated in hot and
crowded streets, make it a cause of regret that in laying out New York, no
preparation was made, while it was yet practicable, for a range of parks
and public gardens along the central part of the island or elsewhere, to
remain perpetually for the refreshment and recreation of the citizens
during the torrid heats of the warm season. There are yet unoccupied lands
on the island which might, I suppose, be procured for the purpose, and
which, on account of their rocky and uneven surface, might be laid out
into surpassingly beautiful pleasure-grounds; but while we are discussing
the subject the advancing population of the city is sweeping over them and
covering them from our reach.

If we go out of the parks into the streets we find the causes of a corrupt
atmosphere much more carefully removed than with us. The streets of London
are always clean. Every day, early in the morning, they are swept; and
some of them, I believe, at other hours also, by a machine drawn by one of
the powerful dray-horses of this country. Whenever an unusually large and
fine horse of this breed is produced in the country, he is sent to the
London market, and remarkable animals they are, of a height and stature
almost elephantine, large-limbed, slow-paced, shaggy-footed, sweeping the
ground with their fetlocks, each huge foot armed with a shoe weighing from
five to six pounds. One of these strong creatures is harnessed to a
street-cleaning machine, which consists of brushes turning over a cylinder
and sweeping the dust of the streets into a kind of box. Whether it be wet
or dry dust, or mud, the work is thoroughly performed; it is all drawn
into the receptacle provided for it, and the huge horse stalks backward
and forward along the street until it is almost as clean as a

I called the other day on a friend, an American, who told me that he had
that morning spoken with his landlady about her carelessness in leaving
the shutters of her lower rooms unclosed during the night. She answered
that she never took the trouble to close them, that so secure was the city
from ordinary burglaries, under the arrangements of the new police, that
it was not worth the trouble. The windows of the parlor next to my
sleeping-room open upon a rather low balcony over the street door, and
they are unprovided with any fastenings, which in New York we should think
a great piece of negligence. Indeed, I am told that these night robberies
are no longer practiced, except when the thief is assisted by an accessary
in the house. All classes of the people appear to be satisfied with the
new police. The officers are men of respectable appearance and respectable
manners. If I lose my way, or stand in need of any local information, I
apply to a person in the uniform of a police officer. They are sometimes
more stupid in regard to these matters than there is any occasion for,
but it is one of the duties of their office to assist strangers with local

Begging is repressed by the new police regulations, and want skulks in
holes and corners, and prefers its petitions where it can not be overheard
by men armed with the authority of the law. "There is a great deal of
famine in London," said a friend to me the other day, "but the police
regulations drive it out of sight." I was going through Oxford-street
lately, when I saw an elderly man of small stature, poorly dressed, with a
mahogany complexion, walking slowly before me. As I passed him he said in
my ear, with a hollow voice, "I am starving to death with hunger," and
these words and that hollow voice sounded in my ear all day.

Walking in Hampstead Heath a day or two since, with an English friend, we
were accosted by two laborers, who were sitting on a bank, and who said
that they had came to that neighborhood in search of employment in
hay-making, but had not been able to get either work or food. My friend
appeared to distrust their story. But in the evening, as we were walking
home, we passed a company of some four or five laborers in frocks, with
bludgeons in their hands, who asked us for something to eat. "You see how
it is, gentlemen," said one of them, "we are hungry; we have come for
work, and nobody will hire us; we have had nothing to eat all day." Their
tone was dissatisfied, almost menacing; and the Englishman who was with
us, referred to it several times afterward, with an expression of anxiety
and alarm.

I hear it often remarked here, that the difference of condition between
the poorer and the richer classes becomes greater every day, and what the


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