TO THE READER
I have been induced to write the following pages at the solicitations of many friends.
But the most particular reason why I have thus ventured to allow myself to be criticised, and, perhaps, wrong constructions put upon my ideas, is that my country, men and women, who have embraced the new doctrine of Mormonism should know the real condition of their friends in the city of Nauvoo.
Of course, they are at perfect liberty either to believe or disbelieve my opinions on their religion and prophet, and the truths I tell them concerning the city; but those who have any thing like homes here will repent if they ever try the experiment of going to Nauvoo. None can prove that I have either selfish ends in view, or that I wish to forward the interest of any section of religionists, as I belong to none. "To do good is my religion."
The slavery of one portion of society, their complete debasement, and the absence of all education amongst them, is repugnant to every lover of his kind, and I am not unwilling to throw my humble mite into the scale to make it appear in its naked deformity,
Should the time ever come when a famine is likely to come amongst us, then an extensive emigration should take place; but it should be of those "who toil not, neither do they spin" and when these have once left our shores, I may venture to say that famine will leave the industrious and go along with those exported.
I have written these pages in the few hours of interval I have from my daily avocation; and I therefore ask the indulgence of the intelligent reader for any error he may come across. As for the hypercritic who "strains at a gnat and swallows a camel," I can afford him, with great gravity, to say what he pleases.
With these feelings and sentiments, the following pages are dedicated to the Working Classes of England, by their
W. AITKEN. Ashton-under-Lyne,
Feb. 8th, 1845.
A Journey Up The Mississippi.
On the morning of the 5th November, 1842, after a very pleasant passage of six weeks duration, across the Atlantic, it was announced to the passengers, that a lighthouse was to be seen. All were immediately on deck; and shortly after, the land, low and sandy, made its appearance. The long-looked for American continent appeared, which was destined to be the adopted country of our emigrants. The waters in the gulf were more agitated than they had been at any former period of our journey, and had now changed, by our proximity to land, from deep blue to a greenish colour. A pilot, with his fragile barque, appeared in the distance, making his way towards us, now on the top of a wave, again hanging on its side; then sunk in the hollow of a wave, and completely obscured from our view, as if he and his boat were sunk beneath the ocean wave.
But presently he appeared, again dancing o'er the foam created billow. A few more such heavings and sinkings brought him along side our vessel, with four coloured brethren, sharers in his perilous but necessary calling. He was a tall, thin man, — his face weather-beaten, truthful evidence that he had often braved the storms in the gulf as they rushed from the Atlantic.
He immediately took command, and the sails being properly adjusted, we soon made good head-way towards the mouth of the Mississipi. In the distance were some things, which on inquiry, turned out to be steam boats, certainly very unlike ours, They had more the appearance of floating houses; but on our approximation to them, the loud boom of the high pressure steam engines soon convinced the most sceptical that they were neither more nor less than real steam boats.
The steam boats, five in number, lay here waiting to tug vessels up the Missisipi; and there was as much competition and shouting amongst them as there used to be round ft travelling coach, surrounded with porters, and quarrelling to carry luggage.
"Do you take steam, sir," shouts a fellow with a straw hat, and bawling through a speaking trumpet. Another puts his boat in motion, and makes an attack on the other side, "Steam, sir." The wind being fair, the captain informed these gentle men, that he should take no steam till he had a head wind, and the first that came along side should have the job.
One of the boats immediately left us, bat the other followed booming in our wake
6the whole of Saturday. The evening coming on wet and hazy, he was rewarded for his patience by getting the job. We were now sailing in smooth water, and the contrast was visible enough between the rocking, the eternal rattle of pots and pans, and every timber of our vessel creaking as if it had been alive, which was the case the night before we entered the Mississippi.
There is a great sameness in the scenery up the river. The primeval forests towering on each side, — and you feel convinced there can be no scarcity of wood, while the valley of the Mississippi remains on the map of the world. The scenery is pleasant, the sugar plantations are numerous; and a field of sugar cane, from seven to nine feet high, with its green tops waving to the breeze, is a beautiful scene.
But while the mind feasts upon the beauties of nature and the luxuriance of art as here presented, memory brings in its painful thought, that the foul spirit of a slavery, the most debasing and demoralizing, haunts the orange groves and plantations of the sunny south. On each plantation may be seen the towering house of its wealthy owner, orange trees lining the walk to it on each side, and the mournful spectacle stands close to it, the miserable hut of the negro. In numberless instances, fifty or sixty of these wooden huts (the residences of the slaves of the voluptuous planters) stain as lovely scenery as the eye needs repose on.
The huts are one storey, and about four yards square; audit the-interior corresponded with the exterior, cheerless indeed are these abodes of human wretchedness.
On the left-hand side, a few leagues from the mouth of the river, is Fort Jackson, a garrison for the soldiers of the republic. A passing glance made us come to the conclusion, that it was an enviable place to live at.
As night approached, the weather became wet and foggy, so our captain resolved to "lay up" all night and take steam in the morning. An arrangement was accordingly made with one of the competitors who hailed us at the mouth of the river to tow us, and another vessel named the Nashville, up to New Orleans. The steamer was placed between the two vessels, each upwards of 1200 tons burthen; and when all was made secure, the loud boom of the high pressure engine pronounced us again on our journey. The Nashville had on board two hundred and fifty passengers, principally German emigrants, who had landed in New York, and taken shipping there for the Western States. A few hours pleasant sailing brought us in view of the battle ground of New Orleans.
The Americans, on the day of engagement, were commanded by general Jackson: the British troops, under the command of general Packenham, were completely routed, with the loss of baggage, waggons, and Packenham being mortally wounded, died (as the natives say) under an oak tree, which is still pointed out.
General Jackson had recourse to a novel method in war. The bales of cotton at New Orleans were brought to the battle ground, and piled up as a breast-work for his men. The bullets of the British soldiers fell harmless on the bales of cotton behind which the Americans were sheltered. In vain did the British use their scaling ladders, exposed as they were to the murderous fire of their enemies; and after various attacks, which was like leading them to slaughter, they left the field to the victorious Americans.
The 3rd of January, the anniversary of the battle, is still kept up in New Orleans, by processions, rejoicings, and other things used for such purposes.
The battle ground is a large level piece of ground, and was then waving with the produce of human industry, a greater ornament than the glitter and parade of war. Sugar cane being before swords, and oranges preferable to bullets.
At length the long-looked for New Orleans made its appearance, with its forest of masts and red brick buildings; and after being boarded by a custom-house officer — a Frenchman, with as many rings and fopperies about him as the dandy of a by-gone age, and after being cheated out of half-a-dollar each for a "permit" for our luggage, a select number of us strolled into the city, to see what sort of towns the good folks of America had. The day was Sunday, and remarkably fine, but business of all descriptions was going on. The "groceries," or as we should call them, vaults, were filled with parties drinking, playing at dice, cards and dominoes; and I strongly suspected if Sir Andrew Agnew had been there, he would have been seized with hysterics at such profanation of the sabbath. Steering up the main street we came to the vegetable market. Two or three hundred negro women, chattering and disposing of their green goods, their light gowns, print head-dresses, and under these, their ebony faces, were proofs positive that we were in the New World.
We made our way through the crowd, and at the extremity of the market another scene met our eyes not less novel to Britons, but certainly more disgusting. Twelve couple of females, of the negro race, chained two together. An iron hoop fastened above the ankle, and a chain going up between them. Four of them had iron hoops round their necks which lay upon their shoulders, and a piece of iron projected at each side about six inches.
They were all young women, and were employed in sweeping the streets; and to crown all, there stood a long, meagre-looking fellow, in his shirt sleeves, with a huge straw hat perched upon his beetle brow. He had the demon written in every lineament: under his arm a large bull whip to lash these poor wretches if they did not act according to his standard. He is technically called the "slave driver." I stood gazing at the inhuman scene, and could scarcely help saying, if this be liberty, give me death.
As evening approached, the billiard tables were in requisition, the theatres open, masked bulls taking place, and every thing going on that tends to demoralize, I got into conversation with an intelligent citizen, and was reasoning on the impropriety of these scenes taking place on a sabbath. "O!" says he, "this is a free country every body does as he d—n pleases." The clank of the chain, hung about the females we had seen in the market, seemed to sound harshly on my ear, when I heard the words "free country" mentioned. We returned to our vessel, and after getting seated, agreed to have a bottle of wine, which is only a nominal price compared with what we pay here.
The question of slavery of course was the subject of discussion, and we felt proud that a Wilberforce had raised his voice against a system, which poisons the spring of humanity, and stunts the intellect of the unfortunate beings bought and sold. That the twenty millions paid by the British parliament to emancipate the negroes in our colonies was an act of humanity; and scarcely any sacrifice can be too great to get rid of so hideous a system.
True, a many of our own people are far from being in that state which they ought. Still, amidst their poverty, they have no fear of being dragged from the beings whom they love, and sold, perhaps never to see each other again, as is often the case with the slaves in America.
The custom house officer before mentioned, being compelled to remain on board till Monday, came to take part in our discussion on the question of slavery. He was a slave owner himself, and consequently supported the system. His principal argument was, that the slaves were private property, and that no man had a right to
8interfere with them. My objection to that was, first, on the score of humanity; secondly, that the laws of all civilized nations punished the receiver of stolen goods the same as the thief. That the black population were originally stolen from their own land and sold to the slave owner; and that every man who purchased a slave, was, to all intents and purposes, a receiver of stolen goods, knowing them to be stolen, and deserved punishing accordingly. I gave him, in conclusion, a quotation from Cowper's beautiful poem on the subject.
Cannot forfeit nature's claim;
Skins may differ, but affection
Dwells in white and black the same."
With a French-like shrug of the shoulders, and turning out the palms of his hands at the same time, he said, "very pretty verse, but it won't do."
The ignorance of the blacks, and the peculiar smell they have, are among some of the objections raised against them. But they are intelligent enough to labour for them, to cook and wait on them at dinner, and the "smell" is no objection there. They can do for any thing only liberty, that heaven-born word, to carry out which, what have not the good of every age and clime suffered.
My French opponent advised me very friendly, to say as little about my opinions on slavery as I could, if I wanted to "get along," as abolitionism was a very unpopular doctrine in America.
There is scarcely any end to the enormities committed under the principles of slavery. The cook of the vessel we had traversed the ocean in was a man of colour, and was uncommonly obliging to all, more especially to those that were sea-sick. In our amusements in the evening, when the sea was not too rough, he used to attend — tell his joke, and dance. During the time he had been absent from New Orleans, a law had been passed, rendering it imperative on the captain of every vessel to give up to the authorities, any free man of colour he might have on board, in order that he might be retained in prison till the vessel was ready to sail again; or else to go before the mayor, enter into security for six hundred dollars, for the negro, and report twice in every twenty-four hours his presence at the vessel.
Our cook was so situated, and his downcast look, evidently bespoke the feelings of the inner man, — cursing a system that so far harassed and degraded him, because God and nature made him black.
But what is this law for? For fear the free negroes should teach the slaves badness. That is to tell them the blessings between liberty and slavery. Our cook went and looked for a vessel that was going to sail immediately, found one bound for New York — engaged thereon, and settled his accounts with the captain, who was sorry to part with him, he having been with the vessel to China, and many places of the east.
After our luggage had all been inspected, we had to make our way to the custom house, to get our permit signed by a functionary there, which done for the moderate charge of twenty-five cents, we were at liberty to remove our luggage on the free shores of America.
We now discovered that the half-dollar we had each paid on the Sunday, was a charge that should not have been paid, had we been "smart" enough; however, a little cautiousness, purchased at the expense of half-a-dollar, is sometimes not dear. It is well to reconcile things in that way, if you profit thereby afterwards.
In the custom house yard are several pieces of ordnance, and upon asking, "what they are doing there," an American tells you, "they were taken from the Britishers at the battle of New Orleans." Our next business was to inquire how soon a steam boat would sail; and finding one advertised to sail on Tuesday for St. Louis, and as nearly all our passengers were going there, we agreed to try our luck up there. So the captain agreed to take us for two dollars and-a-half head, a distance of fifteen hundred miles, not very dear travelling. We had now two days and one night to look about the city; and we found it divided into three municipalities. One, the residence of the French emigrants, and called by them Lafayette town, after their countryman, who took so conspicuous a part in the American revolution and the troubles in his own country. This is the middle municipality, and the other two are the residences of Americans, and people from nearly every part of the civilized globe.
Each municipality had its own notes, and the notes of any one could not be paid in the other, without paying a discount of five per cent., a circumstance which Britons do not relish, however it may answer the natives.
New Orleans contains a mixed population of 100,000 people, and was first built by the Duke of Orleans, when that portion of the American continent was under the government of France. Hence its name. It is built in the "swamps" below the level of the river, and an artificial embankment, reaching a long way above the city, keeps the waters of the Mississippi in its bed.
The waters and filth of the city, in consequence of its low situation, instead of being carried away by the river, are carried back, and find a lodging place at the extremities of the city. Consequently, in the hottest parts of summer, the air becomes impregnated with noxious gases, and the twin demons of disease, yellow fever and black vomit, hurry thousands to their graves.
Thousands of unsuspecting Europeans, tempted thither by the thirst of gain in the "sickly season," have fallen victims to the annual return of disease, — their little all has fallen into the hands of the cormorants who preside over the boarding houses or restaurants, and friends and relatives have "wondered" all their life, where some one dear to them has gone, or what has become of him. In the months of July and August the disease is worst, and some seasons are considerably worse than others.
There is a slave market in New Orleans, and the poor creatures are principally bought and sold at the principal hotel in the city, called the St. Charles, and there needs not be a finer building than the one in question. The auctioneer, upon such occasions, is a man of brass. Elevated above the rest of the assembly, with a lot of negroes around him of various sizes and ages, while before him stand or lounge the planters, invariably either smoking cigars, or chewing tobacco, the produce of their own plantations.
The planters who want to purchase, go round to the poor wretches and make the necessary inquiries as to health, age, and so on, very gravely telling them, if they purchase them and find they have any disease, they will give them "a good whipping"; while the fellow who has them to sell, if they have any disease, tells them a similar story, so that they are sure of a whipping, to add to their comfort, and assist in curing the disease.
Fancy the auctioneer, with a sleek, ruddy countenance, bespeaking the signs of "luxury and abundance"; well whiskered, a straw hat on, and light summer clothes, with stentorian voice, bawling out, "The next I have to offer to your notice, gentlemen, is a man, his wife, and little boy. They are all in good health, sound, and
10fully guaranteed according to law. The man is a good mechanic, or can work on the plantation, His wife can either do house work, or labour in the field. The boy is a sharp, healthy little fellow. I'd thank some one to give me a bidding for the lot. Worth two thousand dollars, gentlemen, of any man's money. The woman is (shall I name it, gentle reader, yes,) is seven months gone, which must make them an additional bargain. Does no one bid? You can either purchase them separately, or altogether. Twelve hundred dollars, bawls out a lean-looking fellow in the back, spitting out and turning his quid in his mouth, an evidence of his refined tastes. The auctioneer of course thanks him, and again expatiates on the "lot."
The poor victims of man's cupidity stand meek, and with downcast eyes, while all these demoniacal proceedings are going on. Who can pourtray the feelings of the father and husband, of the wife and mother, and the still more innocent victim, the boy, that stands by his mother's side, clenching her hand.
No mind can pourtray the bursting agony of these poor wretches, should they not be disposed of altogether. He who
And stands the guardian patriot of a world,"
In consequence of the great influx of strangers from various countries, all sorts of coin are circulating, which puzzles strangers much; and much imposition is practised when those you are dealing with find out you are "a green horn," or but just imported.
The appearance of the town is well enough, having some good public buildings. The infirmary is little inferior to the infirmary in Manchester. The mint is a noble building, and used in the coinage of American coins, and of course belongs to the general government.
The principal employment of the working classes is "cotton screwing," or loading the vessels with this article, to be exported to various parts of the world. At the time we were there, hundreds were out of employment, and as the steam boats came down the Mississippi, and came to shore, they were literally beset with competitors for the job.
On returning to our vessel in the evening we found the steam boat we had engaged to sail with along side, for the purpose of taking our luggage. All being removed, we took farewell of the captain, who had acted in the most gentlemanly manner during our voyage across the Atlantic. We had presented him with an address, signed by all the passengers, which I drew up in a specimen of ornamental penmanship and which be said should be framed and hung in the cabin. But if our journey over the ocean had been pleasant, we were doomed to suffer the contrary on board the Meridian steam boat. We sailed from New Orleans the Tuesday after landing, and I felt glad to leave this modern pandemonium. Provisions are very little cheaper than at home, and I thought as I bid it adieu, it would have been well had the waters of the Mississippi been its winding-sheet, when Napoleon sold this territory for a considerable sum of money, in 1804, to the general government of America. The lives of the people of course being spared, to do better somewhere else.
We had on board two hundred and twenty-five steerage passengers, principally, Dutch emigrants, and seventy cabin passengers, all having great quantities of luggage, and stowed away on a level with the engine and boilers. As we moved about,
11or wanted any thing, we might, be likened to Milton's devil floundering through chaos. The confused jabber; of the (to us) unknown Dutch language, the hissing of the steam, and the noise of the paddle-wheels, made a confusion of sounds that could not have been surpassed at the breaking up of the daring fellows at the tower of Babel. Our situation was far from enviable, still, the better judgment of my friend Taylor, Radcliffe, and myself, told us that the best philosophy was to square ourselves to the circumstances by which we were surrounded, it being the height of folly to make ourselves worse by fretting over what we could not at present help.
The most agreeable feature in our journey up the Mississippi, was the stopping of the boat at the various settlements, twice a day, to take in wood, this being the fuel used. I invariably went out to look at the plantations, hold conversation with the settlers or negroes, as the case might be, in order to gain all the information I could. The first place we stopped at, I made my way to a house in the distance, to get a drink of milk warmed. An old negro woman made her appearance, speaking in Bounds as incomprehensible to me as mine was to her. I motioned that I wanted to drink, and showed her a picayune, a small silver coin, value twopence-halfpenny, when she called another "darkey," who spoke good English, and acted as interpreter.
The milk was brought warmed; sugar and bread reached, the latter I refused; and the dark-eyed African seemed anxious for me to partake of the bread. So much for negro hospitality.
The next place we stopped at, was a sugar plantation, to take in a quantity of barrels of sugar and molasses; and as we had about two hours to stop, I went to see the sugar works.
They were in the midst of their sugar harvest. Light waggons, with four horses, driven from the field by a negro, were loaded with sugar cane, and emptied in the yard. Eight athletic women, young, and black as ebony, were busily employed in placing the cane on a piece of canvas, which was drawn slowly up by machinery into a room one story high, taken between two leaden rollers, and the saccharine matter thus squeezed out, was conveyed by a spout into vats, in which it was boiled, and removed from one vat to another by slaves, having a large tin dish with a handle to it for the purpose.
Twelve negroes were here employed in the boiling process, and the invariable attendant, a slave-driver, with bull-whip under his arm, a white man of course, and no doubt a christian, looking on to see they did not look about much.
We now went to look at the stables, which are built of wood, and coming in contact with an old negro, had the following conversation with him. How many horses have you? Sixty. Have you a good master? Yes. What do you get to eat? Indian corn bread and salt pork three times a-day. Do you ever get tea, coffee, sugar, or milk? For God's sake, don't mention that we never see them, only the sugar in the place where it is made. Could you eat any more than you get? Yes, twice as much.
He also stated that be went to work at day light, and continued with little intermission, till dark at night; and that on a clear moonlight night, they were kept long after, sun-down. There were on this plantation, one hundred slaves, male and female. He expressed a great wish for his liberty, and to learn reading and writing, and sighed as he mentioned the loss of liberty, and the want of the first principles of learning. To be even spoken too, kindly, by the white people, seemed to be a treat to him. When we left him, he said emphatically, God bless you, to the longest day you have to live.
The scenery up the river still continued the same, oar greatest enjoyment being a ramble on the banks, amongst the plantations or settlers, when the boat flopped "to wood." As soon as it was understood that we were going to stop, to take in wood, all prepared for going ashore; and our German brethren, about two hundred in number, went en masse, audit was God help the poor settler they came across.
As I watched them scampering up the banks, and making their way to some lone house, I was forcibly reminded of the figure in Burn's Tam O' Shanter, when auld nickie was charming the witches with his music, and Tarn could no longer contain himself, he roared, "well done, cuttie sark."
Any little luxury we were wanting to purchase from the settlers, we had to be sharp indeed, to do so, as they were like a destroying army, leaving nothing behind them for any one else, the people being glad to get without their gabble and awful numbers. We had a considerable degree of trouble with the Gemans on board. Their numbers being great, and having but one stove, their selfishness made them monopolize all the fire to themselves for cooking. And having a sort of holy alliance amongst themselves, they seemed to be divided into very few families; and the huge pans they put on, left no room for any one else. This led to a hoisting up of the flag of rebellion on the part of the English and Scotch, who were but few in number compared to the others. Hard words were said on both sides; but they did not understand English, nor we German, the artillery of the tongue was fired unheeded, gesture having to supply the meaning on both sides. A line being drawn on the stove, and pointed out to them as their fair share, led to a cessation of hostilities, and the cooking went on pretty smoothly afterwards. The packing of so many human beings so closely together, in the steam boats on the western waters of America, is a great evil, and requires, in my opinion, legislative interference. Real cleanliness is a thing almost impossible to be reached for want of room. The badness of an atmosphere where so many are in such a small space, is liable to bring on an epidemic; and great disturbances amongst the passengers can scarcely be avoided. The abused principle of selfishness, developing itself on water as on land, and seeking its own comfort at the expense of all that comes within its reach.
If some philosopher could arise and lay down a theory, which could be carried into practice, that would make mankind — while they protected themselves — not invade the rights and privileges of others, I think if there be any honour in a star and garter, that man would deserve it; and although gew gaws of that sort are not held in such high estimation by me, I would not mind contributing to put an extra diamond in the centre.
"While these things were working on the mind, our boat kept its onward progress through the turbulent, muddy waters of the Mississippi, the only water we had to drink; and its influence upon the inside of some of the passengers was great. The worst features of the English cholera were visible upon myself and fellow traveller, Mr. Taylor. There being this difference between us, that while I recovered in a few days, he suffered the whole of the journey and long after. An English medical gentleman who was on board came to visit us, gave us calomel powders, and assured us that the medicinal qualities of the water were very good. They may be, as I analyzed them not; neither did he explain how they were so, but I assure you I believed it
13not; and my friend Taylor was even more sceptical than myself, because he was a greater sufferer, I suppose.
The river Missisippi is a curious, turbulent old fellow, some interesting statistics of which I shall reserve till farther on. His course is onward to the great southern gulf, at the rate of from three to eight miles an hour very seldom, and not long going at the latter speed.
When he gets swollen by his numberless tributaries, like a madman he knocks all down before him. Banks and trees yield to his impulse; and he sweeps them onward, to assist in forming the thousand islands that stud his bosom.
A tree gets fastened in some shallow part of the river; others as they are sweeping down, cling around it, — mud being swept down, creeps between the interstices, and make a foundation for the seeds which the winds bear in their flight. The seeds, mixed with the droppings of the numberless wild fowls, that nestle, breed, and flap their broad wings over his surface, and amidst the primitive woods of this great "father of waters," mix with the mud. The seasons, as they roll on, bring these seeds to maturity — subsequently islands are formed, covered with verdure and luxuriant foliage. Great are the evils as well as benefits occasioned by this river at times. It is a contemplation worthy of the human mind, to look into futurity, and see the time when these banks shall be cleared and waving with rich grain, giving sustenance to millions upon millions of human beings; and its waters regulated, to prevent great inundations, like the Nile in Egypt. May that time never come, till the foul spirit of slavery is hunted from its banks, — till the dark Asiatic and African enjoy the rights and privileges of freemen, and EQUALITY is no longer a word, but a substantial reality. Then fall, ye giant oaks, hickory, and lime trees, before the sturdy arm of industry, and wave ye golden grains, obedient to the autumnal breeze, — merry be the minds and light be the hearts of the citizens on the banks of the Mississippi and throughout the world, when that liberty, for which ten thousand revolutionary heroes looked down from their eternal home, is enjoyed in spirit and in letter.
In one of my rambles over a plantation, I came across the "nursery" of the negroes who worked thereon. In it were twelve children, varying from a month to six years old, and all looked after by two elderly black women, the mothers of the children being out at work. The interior of the hut, as well as exterior, were far from inviting. Two stools, — tripods constituted all their sitting materials; and two miserable beds of straw, with starvation covering, were located in the corners.
My conversation with the women was something similar to the one I have given, all expressing a great desire for freedom.
"Indian fires" are lighted at night on the banks, to warn the steam boats there is wood to sell, around which a few negroes huddle, taking their turn at watching and sleeping. Round one of these "Indian fires" at one place where we stopped at, were three slaves, who spoke very good English, and were very communicative. I went into the hut in which they slept, and cheerless indeed was the aspect. Nothing to sit upon save the ground-floor, — their beds were of straw, and never more than one blanket to cover them. The overseer, they said, weighed them out once a-week, four pounds of salt pork, to which was added daily a certain quantity of corn bread with as much water to drink as they chose. Sometimes in the summer, they get a little milk, but very seldom,
Indeed, said they, we are used no better than the oxen. I often thought, as I left
14these unfortunate wretches, will the time ever come when this inhuman traffic will be done away; but hearing the prejudices of the people against the abolition of slavery, I fear the day is far distant when such will be the case.
One individual on board with us, when we were arguing the question, declared, if congress should pass a law to free the slaves, he had two and he would shoot them both, sooner than they should be emancipated.
It is very dangerous, in many of the slave-holding states, to speak against slavery, assassination being resorted to, as a sure method of silencing the individual who dares be guilty of the act.
Just before I went to live in Illinois, which is a free state, a gentleman commenced a newspaper, for the purpose of advocating the right of the black to life, liberty and enjoyment, the same as the white. At noon-day, an armed mob surrounded his house, assassinated him in his parlour while writing an article for his paper, and threw his type and press into the street. The perpetrators of this deed were allowed to go unarrested, the authorities troubling themselves little about the matter. So the Chartists in England, and the Repealers in Ireland, will see that they are far more secure than an Abolitionist in the slave-holding states of America.
In the state of Louisianna, in 1843, there were seven hundred sugar plantations, producing eighty thousand hogsheads of sugar.
Lolling at your jovial boards;
Think how many backs have smarted,
For the sweets your cane affords."
When we had been five days on the river, the winter set in in good earnest; and in three days after the commencement of frost, the river was floating with fields of ice, so intense was the cold.
The river, too, was unusually low; and our boat being very heavily laden, as we got higher up, it was found impossible to get over the sand-bars. We were all put ashore, and the cargo taken out, "to lighten her up." The cargo was put into a flat boat, and dragged up by the boatmen to deeper water.
While this was going on, the passengers lighted fires on the banks, being halfroasted on one side, and half-starved on the other. Before I left England, I resided a month with a farmer in Derbyshire, and after I had come to a conclusion to go to America, he used to say, from information he had got from farmers who had been there, that before I went I ought to go gypsying a year, to prepare myself for the change. And under these uncomfortable circumstances, I was forcibly reminded of his jest, it being converted into a reality.
However, it gave us an opportunity of conversing with the settlers, and looking into their log cabins, or frame houses; and we often wandered by many a cabin, deserted by its owner.
The fires are all on the ground, and of wood; and their oven generally was a large iron pot, with an iron lid, the embers being placed above and below, while bread was baking. And as nice loaves were thus baked as in our nicely black-leaded ovens. Furniture was very scarce; but these hardy pioneers seemed to enjoy life very well.
The unclaimed lands of America are sold by government agents at one dollar and quarter per acre; and a settler on the banks will make more of his timber by selling it for fuel to the captains of steam boats, than his land cost him. But he who chooses
15a life of this sort must be prepared to do without society; and a man brought up in a populous town would not relish this sort of life, the settlers being in some instances miles apart from each other. The words of Cowper came forcibly on my mind often, as I wandered from these lonely cabins.
That sages have seen in thy face;
Better dwell in the midst of alarms,
Than reign in this horrible place."
Still, the inhabitants of these places were perfectly content, being that hardy race of men named "pioneers," who go in advance of civilization. Living amongst their fellow men seems to be as repugnant to them as solitude to the inhabitant of a city. As soon as the country begins to be what they term thickly settled, they sell the ground they have cleared and partly brought into cultivation, and march on to the frontiers, again to live in solitude, and "squat" upon some uncultivated tract of land.
Many are the tales told of "squatters," and not a little interesting. A squatter is a person that settles upon land in a district of country which has not been sold by the government; and he goes on clearing and cultivating, till the influx of daring and hardy emigrants surround him, and warrant the government in bringing the land to auction.
The squatter is considered to have a pre-emption, or first right to the soil he has cultivated. The land speculators, lawyers, and all the hungry pack of man-wolves attendant on the sale of public lands are there, and woe to the wretch who dares bid for the lot of the squatter. It may be that the squatter has not a sufficiency of the almighty dollars and cents to pay for his land; in which case, some hungry land speculator will bid even more than the stipulated government price of a dollar and quarter per acre.
The squatter summonses his brother settlers around; and presently the land speculator is surrounded by a host of sturdy backwoodsmen, dressed like Indians, who with menaces, and sometimes the application of physical force, make the purchaser very glad to forego his purchase. Should the purchaser be resolute, all the settlers unite in tormenting him in a hundred different ways, till tired with the tricks of his neighbours, he has quietly to leave the land to the original squatter.
Our journey had by this time become particularly annoying. The extreme cold, the great number of passengers, added to the danger, noise, and dirt by which we were surrounded, made us long for the quiet of our domestic firesides, with the many luxuries we had been in the habit of enjoying. The Germans near us, neither male nor female, ever washed their faces till the morning we were going to leave the boat, their whole time being taken up in sleeping, and preparing for a feed.
One old man from Yorkshire used to set a line and hook to catch fish when the boat stopped, and he was often rewarded with a cat fish from two to three and-a-half feet in length, and weighing from thirty to sixty pounds.
I felt sorry that this angler came from the same country I did, for a more illiterate and vulgar fellow it would be impossible to meet. His greatest enjoyment being eating, emptying a whiskey bottle, and talking the essence of vulgarity and brutality. He had as much contempt for an intelligent man as an intelligent roan had for him, and on that score he was level.
We had on board a very intelligent old man coming from Texas, originally from Cumberland, and had emigrated to the States about eighteen years before.
When the great majority of our German brethren and sisters were in the arms of Morphens, snoring, lying all ways, and haply dreaming of father-land, a few of us used to circle round the stove, and have what was to us an interesting discourse on history, literature, science, or government. If the old Yorkshireman was there, it was sure to drive him to his stye, with a grunt of dissatisfaction, exclaiming, "your to mich sense for me, yo han," a regular horse-laugh from us following his exclamation made him turn round and look nothing short of annihilation, had he the power so to do.
One poor fellow from the state of Kentucky, who had been to New Orleans selling chickens, and was returning, having sold out, was seized with brain fever, and lay in a most pitiable condition. A few of us carried him on shore in a blanket, at Memphis, under the idea of getting him into some charitable institution; but it being late at night, we could find no place that would take him in, so we carried the poor fellow back again, who seemed quite unconscious of what was going on.
We got a doctor on board who bled him, and then phlebotomized the poor fellow's purse, making it lighter by one dollar and-a-half, for his labour. Strange sights meet the eye, and strange sounds the ear of the wakeful and thoughtful deck passenger, on board a steam boat on the Western waters.
One of our German sisters, who was no Malthusian, by the way, thinking our number of passengers was not sufficient, added another to the number one night, within three yards of where we slept.
Although so many were around, few knew any thing of what was going on, so patient was this poor woman during so trying a time.
Queens revel in their gorgeous palaces, aristocrats drink, feast, and flatter in their stately mansions, the rich of every clime are satiated with luxury, and as Thompson beautifully expresses it,
While the poor, the honest and industrious, are living — thousands of them — in hovels of wretchedness and misery; and on the brink of despair, tear themselves from home, country and kindred, and endeavor, often vainly, to seek an assylum on some more congenial soil.
When shall these things be destroyed? Will that happy millenium ever come when universal peace, and universal happiness, shall be the lot of worth and industry?
Many there are, no doubt, amongst the rich, who wish such a time was come, but they are too few in number.
The danger of a journey up the Mississippi in low water is great; and there is more property destroyed than there is on the Atlantic.
Trees come down with the current, and get firmly fixed in the shallow places; and when covered a little with water, the most practised eye of the man at the helm cannot see them. The boats varying in their velocity according to the power of engines, from six to twelve miles per hour, come in contact with these trees, which are technically called "snags." The part of the boat coming in contact with the "snag," is driven in; and when the hole is large, as it often is, the boat soon fills and sinks; and great is the loss of life and property often ensuing from these causes. I had an
17account, taken by the government, of the amount of property destroyed on this river, but it is out of my reach. However, the reader will gain some idea from the fact that in one place we had to pass, there lay, partly above the water, the skeletons of thirteen steam boats which had been wrecked. It is called by the boatmen, "the grave yard." The shallowness of this part of the river being the cause of this great destruction of property. Great caution was exhibited by all having the management of our boat; but another steam boat was turning a bend of the river as we were passing this place of desolation. She suddenly put to shore; and as we neared her, we found the passengers all in consternation, and dragging their luggagge ashore, this boat having come in contact with that destructive monster of the Mississippi — "SNAG."
Our boat having more on board than she ought to have had, the captain stopped not, seeing they were so that they could all get to land.
Supposing each boat destroyed in this single place was worth sixty thousand dollars (a very moderate calculation, I think), at four shillings and sixpence per dollar, then would the loss be one hundred and seventy-five thousand five hundred pounds sterling.
A boat has been contrived to work upon the water for the purpose of drawing these snags up; but the expense of keeping a number of them in operation, sufficient to be of service in the navigation of the river, was more than the General or States' government liked, or could well pay, so the snag boat is not now in use. But when the Western States become more thickly populated, there is scarcely a doubt but it will again be put in operation, for the benefit and pleasure of all who may have occasion to traverse this great river.
On the second Sunday after we left New Orleans, we stopped in the morning as usual, and I was almost the only passenger who went out. After rambling down the bank a few hundred yards, I came to a gate at which stood a female negro; and our conversation was to me so interesting, that I cannot forbear giving it, word for word, as it passed.
I accosted her with the usual salutation of our country. Good morning, which she returned with an air of sweetness, and in tones so gentle, which immediately rivetted my attention, and the following conversation ensued. How long have you lived upon this plantation? About twelve months. Have you a good master? Yes, Sir, pretty fair. Where were you before you came here? I lived with a gentleman in the South, who became embarrassed, and all he had was sold by the sheriff, when my present master purchased me and my little boy, who stands at the door — pointing to a little fellow who stood at the door of their hut in his shirt. Did you work on the plantation when with your former master? No, Sir, I was always brought up and accustomed to be in the house, with him and his lady. Can you read and write? Yes Sir. Would you like your liberty? At the mention of this latter word, the big tear stood in her dark eye, and the feelings that were working within her were visible to me, and I felt participating in them when she said emphatically, Yes, Sir, I should like my liberty; and every day that the white people keep us in bondage, they are doing us injustice. I know that God said, by the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat bread; but I do not know that he has said, the black people shall be slaves of the white, Just as she finished the last word, the bell rang for all to come on board. I shook hands with her, saying, the day would come when they should have their liberty, the tears flowing copiously down her cheeks as I hurried away. When I
18had time to reflect on this scene, it made the question of slavery more hideous in my mind than ever. Here was a female, sensitively alive to her degraded condition, and speaking in language as gentle and refined as any lady I have ever met with; but God and nature made her black, and the cupidity of man stamped inferiority upon her race.
After a most unpleasant journey of fourteen days and a night, we came by daybreak in sight of St. Louis; and we hailed it with a mixture of gladness and inward inquisitiveness. Glad to get without the din, the jostle, and unpleasant circumstances which had marked our journey upwards; of inquisitiveness as to what part we were to act, amongst a strange people, and without a single note of introduction to a human being.
Our German sisters and brethren now began to brush up; and a little soap and water, with a change of clothes, made a complete metamorphose for the better. All had to sally out to find a place in which to put their devoted heads. After a walk of two miles out of the city, we were led by a fellow traveller to the house of "an old countryman," who with his housekeeper and her husband were seated at breakfast. After telling them our mission, and agreeing for a small room, without a fire-grate for which we were to pay three dollars a month, we were invited to breakfast, and we had now the opportunity, the first time in nine weeks, of enjoying the luxury of a comfortable seat and a cup and saucer.
Our arrangements made, we went back to the steam boat, hired a dray for our luggage, and made our way back to our domicile.
On our way we perceived a large bill against the wall, calling a meeting in the city hall, to take into consideration the best means to be adopted, for the unemployed to emigrate to the Oregon territory.
This was no very cheering news; but we went on, and another large bill met our eyes, calling a meeting to raise subscriptions for the starving unemployed mechanics of St. Louis. These were the signs of the times; signs of the same sort we had left behind us. All whom we conversed with joined in saying, work of no sort was to be had, but provisions were only at a nominal price.
Beef and pork a cent a pound; barn a cent and-a-half. Butter from ten to twelve cents a pound, and every thing else in proportion, fire excepted, wood selling at four dollars a chord. That was a price we could purchase none at, as finances were low, and the prospects of earning any more still lower. I made application to the mayor and several merchants for a situation, but they all joined in saying that every thing was so flat, that they were lessenning their expenditure. After a fruitless search for employment, I returned one day to our cheerless room, and found my brethren in adversity, Radeliffe and Taylor, sitting in a melancholoy mood over the dying embers of some chips which one of them had gathered on the banks of the river.
I approached where they were sitting, and on the chimney piece was a small picture of the prodigal son feeding swine in a strange land; and I could not help exclaiming jocularly, aloud, "I will arise and go to my father, and say unto him, father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son." The laugh occasioned thereby, did the trio good; and we consoled ourselves with the bright hope which the destitute cling to, that better things would yet turn out. A hundred things struck my imagination as to what should be done. I sought the President of the Lyceum, to give a course of lectures on some science for which they had apparatus; but he too seemed to fly from before me, for he was always "just gone out," when I went.
We had sat one remarkably cold day around what was a poor representative for a fire, and I insisted on stirring out and seeing what there was further up the river.
We rambled along the banks till we came to a wood; and when we got half-way through, we met with a farmer whose waggon had broken down the evening before.
His two horses were tied by the bridle to a tree — a tree had been fallen, and fire applied to it to give a little heat, — the snow lay deep around, with the thermometer at zero; and here, in this condition, had he been a night and the greater part of a day. On inquiry, we found he had come a distance of eighty miles, with produce which when sold would not realize seven dollars. Many come to St. Louis' market a distance of two hundred miles to sell produce, the price they receive in return would do nothing like pay toll-bars here.
I mention these circumstances to show that the condition of the tillers of the soil in the far west is far from being enviable. A little further on we met with another farmer with his waggon and two horses, wailing for the ferry boat to take them over the river. From him I learned, after a lengthy conversation, where I might meet with a situation as a teacher; and on inquiry from the individual sent to, I found they had engaged one the week before, not on account of his talents, but because he was a cripple.
However, as I was leaving him, I met with an Englishman, from Macclesfield, who had paid us several visits, and he informed me that he had mentioned my name to a Mr. Dorey, owner of the city brewery, who stated that in the district where his farm was, they wanted a teacher.
I went the following morning, found the information correct, got the necessary directions for finding the place, and with stick in hand, started for the ferry-boat, to be taken to the other side of the river — Illinois.
We passed "bloody island," a spot of land in the middle of the river, where the barbarous, but gentlemanly practice of duelling had often been tried, and one or more had fallen victims, to gratify a misnamed principle of honour, hence its name.
Illinois town consisted of a number of frame houses, which perhaps we might dignify with the name of hamlet. My orders were to find a Mr. Stites, a school director, on the road to Lebanon, who would give me all information I might require. The cedars of Lebanon, the grandeur of Solomon, mentioned in scripture, were flitting across my imagination, when in the midst of my walking reverie, I found myself fast in a mud-hole: the frost having broken up, and the roads were as bad as they could be. Sixteen miles to travel on a road like this, looked in perspective like a journey across the Atlantic; but two miles an hour, according to my arithmetic would fetch it in eight hours, and that would be about sun-down.
As I was extricating myself from a mud-hole, a farmer, with a waggon and two horses, and driving two oxen before him, came up, and upon inquiring if I could ride with him, "he guessed I might," which was a glorious relief, as although I had not walked three miles, I was already foot-sore, from the awkward manner in which the son of Crispin had repaired the lining of my shoes.
My travelling companion had, disappointment written on his face, and he soon informed me that he had been vainly endeavouring to sell the oxen — that the produce was so low it was like giving it away — that unless some change took place farmer in Illinois could not pay the taxes; and one of his horses had been lamed with the wheel of another waggon. He soon "guessed" I was from the old country, and his first observations were
20on the iniquity of the corn laws, which prohibited them from sending grain to England either to sell or give to those, who, according to newspaper report, were in want.
We had just got into conversation when I told him where I was going, and the road where I had to turn off was in sight, so I had, reluctantly, to leave the waggon, and again tread my way through the mud.
We, who have toll-bars to keep our roads in repair, can have little conception of the roods in the far west. They are cut through woods and prairies; and each man, living in the neighbourhood, is, according to law, to work three day on the road in a year, the same as the old statute of England, provided antecedent to the toll bar act. The pedestrian, of course, wishes for toll-bars, but the inability of the farmers to pay toll must put off such a thing till the country becomes more thickly settled, and markets can be found nearer for each and for all. When the sun had reached his meridian I found myself in the centre of a magnificent forest, through which the road had been cut. Foot-sore and already weary, I sat down on the stump of a fallen oak to rest awhile and take a little refreshment, which, for economy's sake, I had brought with me. The playful squirrels leaped in numbers from tree to tree, and the wood pecker, with its strong bill, tapped loudly against some decaying tree, warning the woodman that time had commenced his work of demolition thereon.
The tapping of the bird, which I could see, took me back to the days of my childhood when my sister used to sing, on a winter's evening, the song,
But the wood-pecker tapping at the hollow-beach tree."
Home, with all its endearments, forced themselves on the mind, and I arose to pursue my journey, envying the animals of the forest — their happiness, compared to mine.
After many inquiries and zig zag wanderings now surrounded by towering trees of oak and hickory, again entering the skirts of a prairie, which reached as far as the eye could see. I arrived at a farm-house in the evening and made another inquiry for Mr. Stites. His house was pointed out to me as far as I could see across the prairie and thither I limped.
The sun had set in the west, and left a more than usual lurid glare over the whole western horizon. The shadows of evening encompassed me; and as I went onward, the prairie hens would rise in coveys, and "whirr" past me. Poor birds! these minded me of man's dominion; but they might have rested in security for me. At last I reached the house I had been directed to; and after the salutation of the watch-dogs, which I kept at bay with my stick, the inmates came out; but I had still a Ieetle more than a quarter of a mile to go. However, I reached Mr. Stites's at last, the blood running into my shoes, my stockings torn to pieces from the rascally manner the fellow had cobbled the lining of my shoes, and the awfully bad roads.
He was leading two horses to the stable, and he said he would be with me as soon as he had put them up. He came, and I informed him what I wanted, when his answer was, that they had engaged a teacher that day. He had signed to send him two scholars on Monday morning, and this was Friday, the 1st of December. My business with him being now done, I inquired if he could tell me where I could sleep for the night, and be sent me back to the last house I had called at. My
21feelings, in walking the "leetle more than a quarter of a mile," may be better imagined than described.
When I reached the house again, my interrogatory about stopping for the night, was answered by the good woman with a decided negative. In vain I told her I was from St. Louis, and could not possibly find the way back in the dark. In vain did I tell her I cared not for a bed, that I could sit by the fire till morning, she still persisted in saying no. They had seventeen of their own family, and would not have any more.
I closed the door, and stood considering what to do. The night-breeze moaned unheedingly by my own sigh in spite of fortitude mixing with it.
I recollected the horses and the stable at Stites's, and I thought he could scarcely refuse giving me a covering with his horses. I limped back, and told him what had passed, adding, that it was written in scripture, a greater than I was born in a stable, and I could stop there. Being without a bed in the summer season is no very pleasant thing when you are well tired; but in a hard winter it is still worse, more especially upon a foreign soil. He "guessed" they could find me a bed if I would have no objections to sleep with a young man. I raised no objections, and was invited in. His wife, & good-looking woman, was sitting near the stove, and a young woman near her, whose hair was of the sort mentioned by Burns, in his song, ‘Lassie wi' the lint-white locks.’ A dish of beautiful apples, of their own growth, was reached out to pat, while the hostess and her fair attendant prepared supper for all.
While supper was preparing, our host made many inquiries about England, which I answered to the best of my abilities. Supper being on the table, and a blessing being asked by our host, we proceeded to the discussion of the fried ham, warm bread, pickles, apple-butter, dried peaches, and coffee, things not the most objectionable to a hungry traveller.
After supper, a fire was lighted in the parlour, and thither we retired; and at the request and interrogations of my host, I gave him an account of our manufactures, constitution, laws, and government as every man in America is a politician, and talks of things being constitutional and unconstitutional, with the gravity of a Lycurgus.
At bed-time, I was taken into a bed-room, in which was as good a bed as I have ever had the good fortune to lie or sleep in.
After I got alone, (for no young man slept with me) I had an opportunity of looking at things as they were in reference to my own condition, and certainly they were not promising. However, it was no sign of philosophy to give way under difficulties; and the balmy influence of sleep gave a temporary cessation to all unpleasant thoughts. Morning came; and by the time the clock struck five, the good folks were stirring; and the shrill sound of the "roosters" assisted in dispelling the leaden influence of the God Morpheus.
After breakfast, which was the same as supper the preceding evening, I wrote him the names of his children in the "big ha' bible," together with their ages; and he advised me to go about four miles further, to a gentleman of the name of Felix Scott, who took a great interest in education, and had two boys.
He knew they wanted a teacher, if they could get a school-house: So after inquiring what I had to pay, for I had still a solitary seventy-five cent German piece left, and being told "nothing," I could do no more than thank him for his hospitality, we shook hands and parted.
I stood at the gate, not knowing whether to go or not; and when I looked back at St. Louis, with hundreds out of employment, I thought it was little use of going there. In the midst of this suspense, the beautiful essay of Dr. Johnson, ‘The journey of a day’, a picture of human life, flashed across the mind; and that sentence where the hermit says to the young man, "HAPPY ARE THEY, MY SON WHO SHALL LEARN FROM THY EXAMPLE NOT TO DESPAIR; BUT SHALL REMEMBER, THAT THOUGH THE DAY IS PAST, AND THEIR STRENGTH IS WASTED, THERE REMAINS ONE EFFORT TO BE MADE" nerved me as if magic had passed through me, and I limped into the woods to pursue my journey.
Not knowing whether I was going right or wrong, as there were so many different "forks" in the road leading to the settlers' houses, I kept on; and meeting none by the way, save the squirrels, and occasionally a hog, who stood and eyed me with a suspicious look; and on my approach, scampered into the woods, over the rustling, seared leaves, more akin to a greyhound than the swinish herd.
At length I came to a respectable two storey brick building, something new down here; and a young gentleman, who was afterwards my companion, informed me that the next plantation was the one I wanted.
I found the gentleman to whom I had been sent! and be was sending his boy on horseback to the mill, a distance of seven miles, for flour. After telling him my business, I was invited into the house, and he gave me the same information I had got in the morning, that they wanted a teacher, if they could get a school-house.
Mrs. Scott, a remarkably fine-looking woman, and who, I found out after, had a disposition that would have given dignity, and gained esteem, under a far more unpleasing exterior, with another young lady, were making fruit pies in the kitchen as I passed through into the sitting room; but when Mr. Scott and I got into conversation about England, we found them along-side, listening.
After dinner, we went to the individual who belonged the "school-house," and found him working at some joiner's work. My companion told him our errand, and after eyeing me from head to foot, and then turning his quid round in his mouth, he said with all due gravity, "there's the school-house, and you can have it when you've a mind to." The building was an old log cabin, located by the side of at wood, possessing, neither inside nor out, any engaging qualities; but if they had no objections to send their children there, I had as few scruples about teaching them, considering the aspect of affairs throughout the country. I accordingly arranged to stop Sunday and Monday over, when the subscribers to the school were to be informed, and make the necessary arrangements. On Monday evening, after being warned at chapel on Sunday, all interested attended; and it was finally agreed that the school should commence as early as possible.
The manner schools are maintained throughout the American republic may not be uninteresting.
Each township is divided into a space of ground six miles square; and one allotment of six hundred and forty acres is sold to the highest bidder. The money arising therefrom is put out at interest for ever, to pay for the education of all under twenty-one years of age, in that township. A school commissioner is elected the same as a member to congress — by the suffrages of the people — whose business is to see the interest paid in half-yearly, and the teachers paid. The allowance for teachers is pretty liberal, considering the low price of produce. A dollar a month for each scholar, is the general pay; and a good teacher, whose conduct is every way good, will be encouraged. Besides the township allotments, three per cent is
23given by government out of the sale of all lands in each state, for the support of education; and if the interest thus raised be not sufficient to pay the teachers, the parents of the children going to school have to pay the balance. The parents of the children are not very often drawn on, as there is, in most states, a surplus school fund of thousands of dollars.
The schoolmaster, (or what answers American tastes better), school teacher, has to be examined, before he commences teaching, as to his qualifications, competent persons being called in for the purpose. He is also compelled by law to keep a schedule of all who attend school, and put opposite to their names A for absent, and P for present, as the case may be: so when he makes out his quarterly or six monthly schedule, the number of days each child has been is set opposite each name, the amount of the number of days absent deducted from the parents' share of the school fund. The school teacher gets the stipulated sum after engagement, whether the children attend or not.
Every arrangement being now made in reference to the school, I returned on the Tuesday with a Mr. Alexander, a subscriber to the school, who was taking a waggon-load of apples to St. Louis; and as I was still suffering under the inflictions the bad roads had made on me, I was very willing to ride with my new acquaintance. I had an opportunity of seeing the condition of the settlers, and conversing with them, and felt satisfied with regard to them. Their hospitality and kindness were more than I could expect, as a stranger, coming from a strange country, from whence have gone so many good and bad.
Their houses were, with one exception, "frame," the exception being an elegant brick house, at which I often spent an evening afterwards. The insides of all were more comfortable than the out.
The great complaint amongst the farmers was the low price of produce, declaring it was scarcely worth while to "hawl it to market."
Our waggon, with three horses, jogged merrily on through the mud; and as it sometimes sunk half-way to the axle tree, I felt glad I was not fast in it, whatever were the feelings of the horses.
My companion was not communicative, so I had to commune with myself till we arrived at a "grocery," or what we should term a vault, where we were to stop to refresh the horses. We blundered into this place, stuck in a mud-hole; and the inside, daubed with mud between the interstices of the logs, presented no very aristocratic appearance. But a glass of port negus, hot on a cold day, and a good log fire, tended much to the luxury of the place.
We pursued our journey through woods and over prairies, till we arrived at the banks of the Mississippi: the ferry boat being on the other side, we waited its arrival. While standing, I saw a man a few yards distant, whose fustian jacket told me he was from the old country, and but just imported.
I accordingly boiled him; and he informed me that they had been several weeks on the voyage from New Orleans up. That in consequence of the lowness of the river, their boat could not sail, and they had been lying to, on the banks, about two hundred miles lower down. And that fourteen children had died in the woods from the excessive cold, and want of accommodation and food. As soon as their situation became known, the people in St. Louis made a subscription, and sent them down every assistance they could, which teuded greatly to mitigate their sufferings Great numbers of the sufferers were of the new sect of Latter Day Saints, of whom, their city and prophet, I shall say something before I conclude.
Many who have never been from home, nor read much, know little of the difficulties people have to contend with in a strange land; and from flowery and exaggerated accounts through letters and papers, think if they were only there, all would be right. An individual who has been brought up in a manufacturing district, and whose eye only meets the beauties of green fields and nature once a week — who occasionally, upon a sabbath, rambles through the woods when the trees are clothed in their emerald dress, and sits beneath a spreading tree, listening to the hum of insects, the various notes of the feathered tribe around him, and the tinkling murmur of a brook that glides harmlessly at his feet, naturally sighs for a rural life; and to purchase a farm of his own here is beyond his power. The woods and prairies of the far west of America, where land is sold at a dollar and-a-quarter per acre, stand before him in bright perspective; and visions of happiness come dancing over his imagination numerous as the insects around him.
But he must think before he goes, and be prepared to meet it with resolution and fortitude, that this land is but land. There is a house to be built — hut-houses for cattle, a crop to raise, and the ground to clear. That this is a species of work he has never been accustomed to, and his bones will suffer till he has accustomed himself to it — that society around him will be very thin. Relations, country, and every dear tie will have to be left for the eden in the west; and when he is prepared to grapple with these things, without lamenting over what he has left behind, he is qualified to meet the difficulties of a settler, which are neither few nor far between. My own opinion is, that a man who has been brought up to manufacturing pursuits alone, is not qualified fur the task above mentioned; but if he is determined to have land in the far west, he should be in those circumstances that he could purchase a plot of land, with house, and other improvements thereon, and be so that he could employ a farm labourer to assist him, till he has practically learned the rotation of crops and other things connected with farming. Manufacturing and agriculture being separate, which they never should have been, the one cannot at present follow the pursuits of the other advantageously.
I say they should not have been separate, for this reason. In wet and bad weather, it is impossible to work out of doors on the land; and had the two been united, men could, during the bad weather, have returned to their loom or the jenney, and have been usefully employed till the sun again invited them to field labour. This would have given change to employment, made it less irksome, and both mind and body would have been materially benefited thereby, variety being the spice of life.
After crossing the river and arriving at home, I found my adopted father sitting over the dying embers of some hickory chips, despair pictured on his countenance. When the door opened, and he saw that neither wolves, bears, nor assassins had injured me, he exclaimed with warmth and true Lancashire emphasis, "God bless thee, lad, aum fain 't see thee; aw thought thou'd bin lost." After giving him an account of my journey, and every particular, he said it wur a good job ut somebody
25could succeed, for there wur na mony ut could there. My other friend, Mr. Radcliffe, had gone down to New Orleans again: his sufferings, as he afterwards told me, were great in the extreme. However, he is now well, and doing well, the troubles and sorrows of the past being remembered and discussed, when we have little else to do.
I returned to Illinois the following day, with the farmer I came out with, taking with me all I had in America; and such a journey back, may I never see another like it.
The rain fell in torrents, the wind blew keenly, and sent the rain in upon us at the opening of the white waggon cover; and before we arrived at night, we were quite benumbed with the wet and cold, scarcely able to rise from our seats.
The hospitality of the people, and a large log fire, with nearly a pretty good sized tree on it, chopped into proper dimensions, soon made us at ease, and me to exclaim, with Bums, one of my favourite authors and men,
After I had been in the neighbourhood a few days, I joined the "Farmers' Lyceum," and agreed to give them a lecture on the necessity of general information, which being made known on Sunday, after service, was to take place on the Tuesday evening following.
The meeting, considering the district, was numerous and respectable. Every tree round about the lecture room had a horse fastened to it, as few walk any distance there, who are settlers. The lecture is here copied from an American newspaper, as delivered.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
The subject which is to engage our attention this evening, is the NECESSITY of GENERAL INFORMATION; and I know no subject which I could have chosen more worthy your consideration.
The ages have not long rolled over our heads since a knowledge of the sciences and Belle's letters were considered as the exclusive privileges of the titled and the great. Fortunately for the rising and risen generation that fallacy, like many others, has exploded; and the belief is prevalent in society (but more especially in republican America) that the all wise ruler of the universe and dispenser of every good gift, centred intelligence and highly intellectual powers amongst no particular rank, but diffused them like other benign influences — universally amongst the human family. The brand of inferiority has been removed from the brows of the working classes of this country — the temple of knowledge is open equally to all, and by entering at its portals and drinking deeply of the invogorating streams of science, the path to honour, wealth, and fame lies before you.
It is true that the acquirement of general information cannot be attained without application and trouble — that the paths through which we have to pass are not all strewed with gentle flowers. A few briars and thorns will want removing, but which, when removed, will more than compensate for the trouble. The man who arrests the hours as they fly, and looses no time in the acquirement of information, but picks off the golden fruit that hangs upon the tree of knowledge may be likened to a beautiful landscape where every thing is captivating to the senses. His mind is enriched with everything that is beautiful — he sheds & ray of lustre round every
26circle in which he moves — his wise sayings are listened to and drunk with avidity his company and conversation are sought by the intellectually good and great; and vice and ignorance are mute in his presence, obscured by the lustre of his mind. Although he may occasionally be employed in little things, he will to us the simile of Longinus be like the sun in his evening declination, which remits his splendour, but retains his magnitude and pleases more though be dazzles less.
Contrast such a one with the profligate whose hours are spent in dissipation, in squandering his money to make himself and others miserable, bringing himself to a premature grave, often returning
Unwept, unhonour'd, and unsung."
If the contrast which I have drawn be correct, and who can doubt it, how essential it is to make good use of our spare moments; and, instead of spending them in light frivolities let us be gathering the rich conceptions of men of science and literature from their books and periodicals; let us hold "sweet converse with the mighty dead" and expand our intellectual faculties, thereby widening the sphere of our usefullness, and filling that high station in society which, in the primitive state of man, it was intended he should occupy.
We live in an age when all who are anxious to make themselves intelligent may do so, as knowledge is cheap and universally disseminated. The press, that mighty civilizer of mankind, the destroyer of error and superstition hath shed its cheering rays over the civilized world — error is now soon detected and exposed, and fools and knaves stand wrecked upon the sand-bank they raised for others.
The man who opens the book of nature and studies her simple and unerring laws, who studies the seasons as they roll is enabled to trace cause and effect to their proper source. The gentle zephyr that plays round the wild and cultivated flowers of nature, bearing upon its silken bosom the odous of those gems which bedeck the green sward — the wild tornado — the awfully majestic rolling thunder — the vivid lightning as it wings its transitory flash from pole to pole — the rain, hail, and quivering snow-flake — the dew, which, diamond-like, glistens in the morning sunbeam and vanishes into vapour before its genial influence, with all the other phenomena of nature are familiarly elucidated in our scientific researches.
The man who makes himself acquainted with these things is never without a companion — the store-house of his mind, at all times, opens to him some delightful subject for contemplation; and nature, through ten thousand mediums invites his observation, and improves his understanding.
Persons unacquainted with science are surprised to know that the transparent stream which trickles through grove and mead, the ever flowing rivers that rollover the earth — the wide expansive ocean upon the uplifted bosoms, of which
27condensed. For a draught of the pare stream, what would not the sun-burnt Arab give, thirsting amidst the deserts of his native land. But for the happy mixture of these two gases commerce would never have been known, the verdure of your prairies would have remained latent, and roan himself could never have existed.
Amid the great variety which constitutes the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms the same harmony and beauty of design are visible. The different odours of flowers cannot but have struck the most inattentive. Yet the composition of the rose and the deadly aconite are only various in consequence of a different admixture of the gases.
The subjects to which I might direct your attention this evening are numerous and instructive; but, in a single address, unaided by philosophical apparatus, to demonstrate the assertions made, is impossible. A few observations, I hope, will be considered sufficient. Amongst the things, then, we have to notice is the science of hydrostatics, which word is formed from two Greek words, signifying water, and the science which considers the weight of bodies. There is now no doubt as to the matter of which water is formed, it being as I have described it. But in its compound state philosphers have never been able to discover it different from what it appears. That is to say, so innumerably, small are the particles of which it is imposed that the largest magnifying powers have never discerned the shape of its particles. It is, however, generally believed that the particles are round; and a number of ingenious experiments go to prove it. It is, also, incompressible, (or nearly so,) as the following experiment proves.
At Florence, a celebrated city in Italy, a globe was filled with water and then closed so accurately that none could escape. The globe was then put into a press and a little flattened at the sides — the consequence of which was, that the water came through the fine pores of the golden globe and stood upon its surface like drops of dew. It was then concluded that water was incompressible. Later experiments, however, prove that those fluids which were considered incompressible are in a very small degree, as perhaps one part in twenty thousand capable of compression.
In connection with this science is the specific gravity of bodies which was discovered by Archimedes, the great geometrician of antiquity. The manner it was discovered, with a few observations about it and him may not be uninteresting to the younger portion of the audience.
Hiero, king of Syracuse, according to history, was one of the wisest and best princes that ever sat upon the throne of that country. Archimedes was contemporary with him. Hiero sent a quantity of gold to a goldsmith to be made into a crown, and when it was finished the smith brought it home. Hiero suspected that some base metals had been mixed with it, and he accordingly made application to Archimedes to see if he could discover whether such was the case or not without destroying the crown.
He found great difficulty in pursuing the inquiry, but one morning he went, as usual, to the public baths to bathe, and when he entered the bath he observed that a quantity of water flowed over, which he supposed to be equal to the weight of his body.
Great was his joy at the discovery, and after returning home he filled a bowl with water, placing the bowl in some other vessel, so that the water which flowed over might be saved and weighed, and he found that all the bodies he tried displaced a quantity of water equal in weight to the body immersed.
Hence the origin of the specific gravity of bodies; but history does not say
28whether he found any thing wrong with the Crown. Subsequently, the Romans and the inhabitants of Syracuse quarrelled: and after a siege, the Romans gained possession. Archimedes was run through the body by a Roman soldier, while in his study, intent on solving some problem. Thus perished Archimedes, whose name will live while there is a figure in geometry called the circle, he having exercised his great talents on what is termed, in geometry, the squaring of the circle, and given us the ratio of the diameter to its circumference, nearly as seven to twenty two. Water is made use of as a medium by which all other bodies are compared. A cubic foot of water weighs one thousand ounces; and a cubic foot of any other substance is said to be specifically lighter or heavier, as the case may be.
It is an admitted and proved axiom, that fluids press equally in all directions, hence the reason of all bodies moving so easily in water.
A fluid is generally defined by philosophers to be a body, the parts of which yield to any impression; and in yielding, are easily moved amongst each other. Air, quick silver, and melted metals are fluids; and water, milk, wine, oil, and spirits are liquids. To explain the various principles connected with the science, and that of hydraulics, which teaches the nature of conducting water through pipes, would occupy your time many evenings. And as my purpose is to mention a few striking facts in the sciences I mention, in order to awaken inquiry in the minds of the young men present. I shall be excused by my philosophical hearers for not entering minutely into every thing.
The science of pneumatics, which treats of the nature, weight, pressure, and spring of the atmosphere, may now be alluded to. Torricelli, the disciple of the learned and persecuted Galileo, was the discoverer of the science, which in my opinion, yields to none of the sciences, for pleasure, and conveying information.
By the invention of the air pump, it is now ascertained, that from fourteen to fifteen pounds weight of air are on every square inch. As we find it no great difficulty in moving through so great a body, especially in calm weather, the uninstructed would doubt the existence of such a weight. But when the tornado sweepeth over the land, leaving desolation, and sometimes death, in its wake, none can doubt the existence of some powerful, unseen substance. And. what are the winds? Nothing but air in motion. With an air pump and glass receiver, we can exhaust the air and form what is termed a vacuum, or space without air, by which animal life can be taken away. Let us suppose a room to be twenty feet long, twenty feet high, and twenty feet broad, its contents will be eight thousand cubic feet of air. A cubic foot of rain water weighs one thousand ounces, consequently, a room of the before-mentioned dimensions, if filled with water, would contain eight millions ounces of water.
The most accurate experiments prove that water is eight hundred ounces heavier than air; so that eight millions divided by eight hundred, will give ten thousand ounces; which being divided by sixteen, the number of ounces in a pound, will give six hundred and twenty five pounds weight of air, a small room will contain.
It may be objected, that if a weight of this description be continually pressing upon us, it is sufficient to crush us to pieces. It will be recollected that I mentioned, in another part of my address, that fluids press equally in all directions; so that the pressure, internally and laterally, counterbalances the pressure downwards. I know of no science more pleasing than the one under consideration; and to those who wish to make themselves acquainted with these and several other sciences, I recommend them to Comstock's Philosophy, a work similar to the one I studied in my own country.
It was the opinion of the ancient Christians, that general information led to the establishment of infidelity, and some zealots in our own day have harboured similar notions; but a more mistaken notion it is scarcely possible to conceive. The more man studies the beauty and harmony of nature, the more convinced he is of a great and omnipotent design.
The advantages to be derived are great, as knowledge softens the asperities of our nature; it dignifies and adorns the human character. We are enabled to trace cause end effect to their proper source; and what in an ignorant state appears as a miracle, will, under a more enlightened state, seem nothing more to us than the fulfilment of those eternal and immutable laws by which a Deity rules the universe.
The man who has an opportunity of improvement and neglects it, omits a sacred duty. Our intellectual powers were not given us to lie dormant, but to increase them by every means in our power. Not to remain in that state of nature in which Pope represents man, when he says:
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind;
Whose soul proud science never taught to stray,
Far as the solar walk or milky way,"
Let us make the best use of our spare moments; and if possible, gather knowledge each passing hour. And while we are cultivating the sciences, let us not forget the historian and the moralist. The former instructing us in the operations of men before our day of existence; the manner in which nations have arisen to eminence, then sunk into oblivion, only so far as the historian is concerned; the latter teaching us our duty to ourselves and to society; both informing and mending our minds.
Upon the pages of the historian we see in bold relief, the daring spirits who have preceded us.
The despot and the high-souled patriot are represented in their proper colours: the actions of the former are despised; the noblest feelings of our nature are lifted on behalf of the latter, — a desire to emulate him rises in our minds ; and the tear of sympathy, in spite of fortitude, will silently roll down our cheeks as we read of suffering and patriotic worth, too often doomed to penury and insult, and all the woes that human flesh is heir to.
Nor gem that twinkling, hangs from beauties cars;
Nor the bright stars which night's blue arch adorns;
Nor rising suns that guild the vernal morn,
Shine with such lustre as the tear that breaks
For others' woes down virtue's manly cheeks."
I might have directed your attention to numerous other subjects, which have engrossed my own attention through years of reading and study, often "consuming the midnight oil," when the world around me was lost in the torpidity of sleep. But I hope I have said sufficient to awaken a spirit of inquiry in the minds of those arising to manhood; and if it has the effect of launching any upon the wide ocean of inquiry, I shall be amply repaid. The youths of this country need not fear that their intelligence will lead them to trouble, as it does in England. The dungeon awaits them
30not, for the expression of their opinions, as it bath done many, on imaginary charges of sedition. Thanks for the bravery of your fathers, they have established a system of government, which is shaking the staple thrones of tyranny. The whole of Europe is groaning beneath an accumulated load of evils; and casting their eyes toward the western hemisphere, they are determined to be governed on similar principles.
"One, and that of the least of the advantages to be derived from the study of general science, independent of its practical applications, is the amount of wholesome discipline which the mind undergoes in its investigation, and the influence which it exerts in the formation of the moral and intellectual character. By dint of application, the mind attains strength, the judgment is matured, and the individual acquires correct ideas of his own powers, and the best modes of applying them. Taught by habitual analysis of evidence, rightly to esteem facts, and trained by a practical logic to the vigorous use of his reasoning faculties, he insensibly contracts an abstract love of truth, and renders the mental powers pliant, and ready to bend to objects at once useful and sublime. He stands, in some degree, against the insidious arts of sophistry, and the bewilderments of superstition; and no reasoning, however specious, will make him receive as true what appears incongruous, or cannot be recommended by analogy, or submitted to the test of demonstration. He may be deficient in many ornamental accomplishments which it were desirable to possess; but there are none of the honourable avocations of life in which such discipline of the mind will not be abundantly useful. With a little sacrifice of time and labour, we may make ourselves well acquainted with the general facts of science, with the permanent laws by which the Almighty Creator of all things directs the operations of nature, and the endless illustrations of these which the universe exhibits. What rich and varied sources of instruction, for instance, are contained in the changes of the seasons, the beautiful adaptations of spring, summer, autumn, and winter, to the constitution of the globe, and the circumstances of its numerous productions and inhabitants — the atmosphere, with its influence upon animal and vegetable life — the disposition of dew, with its invigorating tendency — the flow of rivers to the sea, which purify and refresh the valleys through which they flow, and other phenomena — all of which are subjects of instructive reflection, and deepen and elevate our ideas of the power, the wisdom, and the goodness of Him who said, and it was done, who commanded, and all things stood fast."
During my short sojourn in America, I have discovered that the demon of party spirit rules with the bitterest rancour; that the dearest interests of the nation are sacrificed amidst its ravings; and its pestilential influence is seen and felt from one end of the land to the other.
It is the name here as in England; a few influential politicians have arisen, each having a numerous party, and every thing is wrong except what springs from the fertile alembic of each party's brain. I may be wrong in my opinion, excuse me if I am, but it seems to me as if all this strife amongst the leaders is for nothing more or less than place, power, and pelf. That noble disinterestedness which led the heroes of the revolution to oppose the armed legions of despotism, and to establish upon the ruins of corruption the sacred temple of liberty, seems as if it were to be entombed with the venerable soldiers who may yet be left, that established your justly boasted independence.
If the mighty tide of empire is to keep rolling on, from the broad waters of the Atlantic, to the broader waters of the Pacific. If the woods, which have never echoed to a sound save that of the cataract or the scream of the wild bird, are to give way
31for cities and villages teeming with an industrious people, and with fertile fields waving with luxury and abundance. — If the dazzling of the "star spangled banner," which has assisted in lighting thousands to your shores, is to be upheld with undiminished lustre, — If prosperity is again to shine upon the tillers of the soil, and take the place of the loud murmur of discontent, — If you intend to convince the powers of the earth that a republican form of government is the best that can be devised, in theory and practice, — party spirit must be annihilated. That spirit of speculation which has haunted alike the senate, the capitol, and the peasantry, must be done away with; and wise men upon the boards of congress must propound and pass those laws which will give permanence to your constitution, and happiness to the industrious.
Why this bankruptcy, ruin, murmuring, depreciated labour, and depreciated money amongst you? May I not ask, in language similar to what Sheridan did, on the impeachment of Warren Hastings, for his misgovernment in India, — Has disease stalked over the land, scourging your peasantry with its pestilential breath? — Have the seasons not returned, bringing, in their change, those things essential for the comfort and convenience of man? — Has some religious feud, in consequence of a national system of religion having been forced upon you by a bigotted government, stirred up the worst feelings of human nature, and shed a blight over the land? — Have civil wars prevented you from enjoying the blessings of democratic government, given to you, signed and sealed with the blood of your forefathers, and for the achievement of which ten thousand spirits looked down from their eternal home. — Are there any fleets upon the waters encompassing your frontiers, carrying desolation, and preventing you from enriching your country by commercial deeds with the nations of the earth? No, answers every voice in this listening assembly.
But the spirit of speculation, the demoniac ravings of party intolerance and schism, have broken up your banks, depreciated your money, destroyed confidence, ruined the opulent, beggared the labourer, and manacled your commerce.
All these things could have been avoided by prudence and wisdom. But the experience of the past must teach you wisdom for the future; and in your future contentions and law making, the present condition must be a beacon, beaming brightly, to warn you of your dangers.
In conclusion, I would fain hope that the people of America will justify that high opinion which the democratic party in England form of their country, because it is to you that the oppressed of every country look for carrying to the acme the blessings of political equality to every human being, be he white or be he black.
Let the titled and the great in aristocratic Europe be convinced of the noble saying in your Declaration of Independence, "that all men are born free and equal;" and then however the states of Europe crumble beneath the iron sway of despotism and misrule, the United States will shine like a star in the midst of surrounding darkness. The latter portion of this lecture, although it had nothing to do with the subject, wag given at the request of many of the older members, who had suffered much anxiety from the estrangements and bad feelings of party spirit,
After I had finished my six months' probation as a teacher, I came to a conclusion to visit Nauvoo, the city of the Mormons, or Latter Day Saints, it being situated on the banks of the Mississippi, and only two hundred miles distant.
I was induced to do so from the fact that many of my countrymen had embraced the doctrine — that the hope had been held out to them of finding in Nauvoo a community of interests and property — that plenty, without very great exertion, would be their lot in this world, say nothing of the joys of the next.
32I saw in Liverpool, on board a vessel, upwards of three hundred Mormons, from evenly years of age to a mouth old, of both sexes, all bound for this city in the west; and I felt, when looking at them, and having a little idea of sea life, from having crossed tho channel, that they would deserve much happiness when they got to their adopted home, for the misery they must endure in their voyage over the Atlantic. Accordingly on the 5th. July, the gentleman I lived with having a load of produce to take to St. Louis market, consisting of cherries, butter, and Indian corn, I entered the covered waggon with him, and by five o'clock we were on the way.
It was a delightful morning; the birds chaunted their matins in the woods as we moved along, and displayed every variety of colour in their plumage as they flitted from bough to bough, — the dew glistened in the morning sun-beam, and the timid rabbit fled before our approach, evidences of man's tyranny and superiority.
As the sun approached his meridian, and threw his burning rays upon us, the heat became almost insupportable. The sweat ran off us although we were quietly at our ease, and the mud of the winter had now been converted into the dust of summer, and the wet sides of our horses gave evidences of the effect the heat had on them.
We reached old father Mississippi about noon, and he presented a noble appearance. A fleet of steam boats lay on the opposite side and he had become swollen by his numerous tributaries to more respectable dimensions than I had ever seen him before; and was, in his present aspect, worthy the name of "Father of rivers."
After crossing in the ferry-boat, I found a fine steam boat, the Leander, was bound for Galena, stopping at Nauvoo and other principal places on the way, to sail at six o'clock precisely. Fare, in the cabin, three dollars, and found with provisions and beds, a cheap trip of two hundred miles certainly.
At six o'clock, I was on board; and not like a many American captains, ours was true to his word; for as soon as the clock struck, the loud boom of the engine, common on the western waters, announced us on our journey. The scene was beautiful, as we stood on the hurricane deck. A hundred steam boats were loading and unloading, on the one side; and on the other, the tall trees lifted their heads, clothed in luxuriant green, the busy hum of industry came over the ear; and high over all, the sun flamed in the western heavens, with a milder and more enduring light than be did a few hours before.
In our wake was another steam boat, which had evidently the advantage of ours in soiling, as she gained ground upon us, and came past us on the starboard side. She had numerous passengers on board, was a larger boat than ours and her passengers, too, were all on the hurricane deck. Amongst them was a back-woodsman in his "jeans," (a species of cloth much worn here) elated with whiskey, and their boat gaining ground on us, roared out with hat in hand, most vociferously, "Ours is the best boat what drives the Missouri trade." The helmsman of "the best boat" turned her right in front of ours, the two boats came in contact, and some of the timbers of the "best boat" were stove in, and deservedly, too. All hands set to, to push her off; and as they just got in front of us, a loud cheer of exultation was set up by the leading boat, the yawl of which, dragging behind, got under our boat, the rope which held it was broken, — it was immediately swamped, which led to a returning cheer from our crew, who stood on the forecastle.
We now went on our way quietly, and the bell rang for supper. The haste made into the cabin by the great majority of the passengers, can only be compared to a retreating army, flying before the vengeance of their conquerors. I arrived at the
33cabin, and tables were ranged the whole length of the boat, the ladies at the head, and each gentleman stood at the back of his chair, till the captain gave the "assenting nod," when the ladies took their seats, and then my own sex.
Our food was in abundance, and of the best description, each plate of butter having a lump of ice on the top, to prevent its being metamorphosed into oil. No waiting till all have done, but each disappears as soon as his appetite is satisfied. This is the etiquette of steam boats, and indeed of all houses throughout the States.
Each passenger writes his name in a large book, the name of the place he is going to, and any remark he thinks proper to make, with the number of the "State Room" he has chosen to sleep in, being informed in the book that no room is secured, till the passage money is paid.
These arrangements are necessary. Should the boat stop in the night-time, at a place where a passenger has to call at, and he should be asleep, the clerk knows where to call at by referring to his book.
Supper being ended, all made their way to the hurricane deck; and we were by this time approaching the mouth of the great Missouri river, evidences of which appear in the water, as the Mississippi river, near the mouth of the Missouri, appears to be divided into two different sorts of water, the one clear, the other as yellow looking as mud can make it.
This is caused by the Missouri, the waters of which are remarkably muddy; and those of the Mississippi, above the mouth of the former, are quite clear, and consequently more pleasant to look at and to drink. There is a sameness in the scenery of the Mississippi, which becomes as tiresome as the scenes at sea. Seldom, indeed that a precipice, with its frowning, majestic, and fearfully overhanging cliffs, meets the eye. The trees, the settlers' log cabins, or shanties, with here and there a city, are the things seen daily on the Mississippi.
The number of flat boats, rudely constructed, sailing with the current, and guided by oarsmen, is almost inconceivable. These flat boats, filled with produce, are the property of farmers on the banks of the Mississippi or its tributaries; and they call at the various places on the river and sell what they can. Hundreds go to New Orleans, by far the dearest place in the States, and consequently the best market for those who are willing to undergo the dangers and turmoil of a sail there, in such rudely constructed craft. When the produce is sold out, the owner makes the best bargain he can, with some person whose principal business is purchasing old flat boats, to sell again, when they are again disjointed, plank from plank.
As night threw its shadows around us, the hurricane deck became deserted; and the lovers of moonlight scenery might indulge themselves therein. With a clear blue sky, the moon looked in serenest grandeur upon the earth she illuminated, and the stars seemed struggling to emulate the queen of night. The insidious insect, — the mosquito, was bumming about; and whatever love it may have for man, man has none for it.
I fancied these insects tormented me worse than any other person, as none that I travelled with, either now or on my journey home, bore such marks of their venom as I did. But after being feasted with the beauties of nature outside, I returned to the cabin, to see what enjoyments there were there.
A draft board stood upon the table, and the captain near it, so he and I wiled an hour away over the chequered board. When business called him away, I spent a more agreeable hour over a map of the Mississippi, from which I dotted down the following information.
The navigation of the Mississippi and its tributaries for steam boats is 12,999 miles, to which is to be added flat boat navigation, which it is presumed will double it.
This will give a line of coast from which produce can lie transported to New Orleans of 2.5,998 miles.
The river Mississippi has its source in the brooks that form the little lake Itaska or Biske, 1500 feet above the level of the sea, and 3,200 miles from its mouth.
The Missouri, from its source to the gulph of Mexico, is 4,500 miles, and is navigable to the foot of the grand falls about 3,800 miles. Steam boats have ascended 2,300 miles from the Mississippi. The Ohio, from Pittsburgh to the Mississippi, is 1,097 miles. The first steam boat which descended the Mississippi, named "The New Orleans" was owned and commanded by Captain Roseville.
She left Pittsburgh in October, 1811, and arrived at Natchez in January, 1812. The number of steam boats navigating the western waters is estimated at 500.
In the length of the Missouri given above, the reader must remember that from the mouth of this river, where it empties into the Mississippi to the gulph of Mexico, is about 1,300 miles. What an immense tract of land is washed by these western waters; and who shall say, when looking upon the map of futurity, that this valley shall not be well cultivated, and giving plenty to millions of human beings.
As it is at present I feel no desire to settle on its banks, as the health of the settlers in very thinly populated districts is not good, the twin demons, fever, and ague are lurking amidst the dwellings of many who are there. I have seen numberless log cabins deserted on the banks, the reason, of course, could only be given by the owners. But one thing is certain, happiness and comfort did not drive them.
Nothing of any moment transpired during our journey, and after a sail of thirty-six hours we were put ashore at the landing place of the city of Nauvoo. I now thought if my countrymen, who were here enjoyed the boon held out to them when at home I could make every excuse for the delusion, as a comfortable home and contentment therewith are no delusions, whatever there may be in the prophecy of modern prophets.
I have no faith myself in prophets of the modern school, the Scriptural text warning mankind against them. "Behold, in the latter day false prophets shall arise, but believe them not." I and another young gentleman were the passengers bound for the holy city, so we threaded our way, passing miserable huts and log cabins, inquiring for a place where we might lodge during our stay. We, at last, got directed to a decent looking frame house, which we found was kept by two females belonging to the church. After partaking of breakfast we went in search of a Captain Jones, with whom my companion had some business to transact. This being done I made inquiry about Smith, the prophet, and the Captain said he would give us an introduction to him. We accordingly went to his house, which was a respectable frame one. The prophet's wife, a fine looking woman, informed us that "Joseph was in bed, very unwell, and that we had better call in again."
I then made inquiries from the Captain where the temple was, and thither we made our way — the wretched cabins that presented themselves every where in the city spoke volumes, and I was soon satisfied about the comforts of the people. We reached the temple, which stands on the top of a piece of ground about seventy feet above the level of land which runs on to the river.
The prospect from the top (the poor dwellings excepted) is very pleasant. The
35front of the temple faces the river and the state of Missouri, commanding a view of several miles round.
The circumvolutions of the river — the morning sunbeams, giving a silvery whiteness to the water, the undulating ground of the opposite shores of the Missouri, — the trees waving in delightful luxuriance to the breeze, made as pretty a landscape as eye needs repose on.
Alas! that the beauties of nature should be sullied by superstition, and the choicest gifts of nature stained by the avarice cupidity and petty ambition of man.
The temple was then one story above ground and one under the whole length of the building, and built of beautiful stone, The length thereof is 140 feet, and the breadth 100 feet. In the cellar is the baprismal font, standing on twelve oxen, made of wood, the workmanship of the oxen is certainly well executed. I ascended the steps of the font, but not with that solemnity which some may do who have to follow me, and who believe in the doctrine of complete immersion.
Each individual, who is a member of the church, has to give every tenth day's labour upon the temple. Also one day in ten to an hotel that was building of stone, at which hotel was to be the principal landing place for all goods and passengers coming to Nauvoo — a circumstance which cannot fail to make the hotel a valuable one. In front of the temple was "the grove," the place of meeting till the temple is finished.
There were a few trees about "the grove," but it bears not the impress upon it that a poet has of a grove. The seats were trees squared and just their breadth above the ground. The rostrum from whence "the prophet" and his assistants expounded the scriptures on Sabbath days was rudely constructed of pine boards was a very poor excuse for a standing place. One thing is certain, that it did not impress me with a holy idea of its beauty.
I was informed that sometimes on Sundays there congregated in the grove from ten to twelve thousand people. This I believed to be an exaggeration, as the space could not hold them. When the temple gets finished it will be one of the finest buildings in the Western States.
We now left the temple, grove, and wooden oxen to get a glimpse of the prophet and, reconnoitring about his house, I saw a board stuck up at the end on which was painted Egyptian mummies exhibited, and ancient records explained. Price twenty-five cents.
My purse and the distance I had to travel to England seemed to say I must husband the cents and stay curiosity. On inquiring what these mummies were I found they had been exhibited in the States, and purchased by the prophet. The only thing farther that I could learn about the mummies was that one portion of them was the "leg of Pharoah's daughter," and as it was very questionable with me whether I should give twenty-five cents to see the whole living frame of Pharoah's daughter, I felt easy about seeing the "leg." The ancient records were said to be found by Smith somewhere, and that an angel had conducted him to the spot.
We now went into the house of prophet and got introduced to him as "General Smith," not a very beseeming name for a follower of Christ, and whose commission is to preach "peace and will to all men." The prophet was a tall stout muscular man, with large feat, large gray eyes, and not the best phrenological development we can meet with.
I felt a little abashed at being in the presence of a man who according to his own account, has been in the company of an angel; but hearing him converse
36removed all qualms from the mind, and soon convinced me he was but a man and one of the coarsest sort too.
He was in discourse with a gentleman, and his principal conversation was on his arrest, which had taken place a few days before, under the following circumstances.
When the prophet commenced his career in the west and intended building his city, he did so in the state of Missouri, on the opposite side of the river to where he then was.
The converts to his belief being generally poor, and arriving in great numbers, were in want of the necessaries of life, and believing in a community of interests and property, they went to the settlers round about their intended city and took what they wanted.
This led to a collision between the settlers and the mormons, and the contest, at last, rose so high, that Governor Boggs, the governor of Missouri called out the militia to quell the disturbances and drive the mormons away.
A serious conflict ensued, in which many of the mormons were killed and wounded, and driven from Missouri. Subsequently they commenced another city in the State of Illinois, where they now are.
Shortly after the encounter, Smith prophesied that Govenor Boggs would be assassinated by an unknown hand. Accordingly, one evening, as the governor was sitting in his parlour a shot was fired at him, and a ball entered his body, but the wound was not mortal. Suspicion fell upon Smith, and a warrant was issued for his apprehension, on the charges of treason, murder, &c. &c. He was arrested and tried in the State of Illinois and acquitted, but the people of Missouri being dissatisfied with the verdict, got another warrant for his apprehension, and the authorities intrusted to execute the warrant took advantage of the prophet's being about 200 miles further up the river than Nauvoo to arrest him, as they knew it would be a useless thing to attempt to arrest him there. Their usage of Smith was any thing but what it ought to have been. Pistols were presented at him, and threats used if he did not go he would be shot.
He said, ho knew if he went to Missouri, that the Missourians would lynch-law him, so he moved for a writ of Haebeus to be brought up where be was; but this was refused, nothing but crossing the river would answer the authorities. Their usage being so bad to Smith attracted a crowd, who stated that whatever he might be, he was an American citizen; and that if he had done any wrong, the laws of the United States were sufficiently strong to punish him. This cooled down the courage of the men of law, and Smith got what he wanted. But on inquiry at the official's residence, who could grant a writ of Haebeus, it was found he was from home, and the nearest place to get one was Nauvoo.
Thither they posted, where, in the midst of his own flock he could, like our monarch, "do no wrong," he was liberated. Smith then moved for a warrant to arrest the officers on a charge of false imprisonment, which was immediately granted, and they were placed in durance.
They were subsequently admittted to bail, and here the matter rested at the time. These things formed the burthen of the prophet's song, and very wroth was he; and although a prophet, he could swear like a fish wife. One expression of his I could not help remarking. He said, "they talk of sending the Missourians over here, armed; but let them come, I'll give them hell and thunder, if they do; un I will send some on um to hell, too, sooner than ever lightning scorched a tree in this world."
Governor Ford, who granted the warrant for his apprehension, came in for a good share of his abuse; and he vowed that all his political influence should be used against him at the next election for governor.
I left him with the impression that he was a very ignorant, vulgar man, possessing a great deal of ambition and physical energy, qualities eminently useful for his calling. I belive he never knew what shame was, and would stick at nothing to carry out his designs. Having now satisfied my curiosity about the prophet, I then went in search of the English portion of the city. Various printed notices, which were up and signed, "Joseph Smith, Mayor," told that he had a plurality of offices in the city. Prophet, general of the Nauvoo legion, seller of city lots, preacher, and many more offices, for aught I know, were filled by this individual.
The plan of the city is, that the streets are to cross each other at right angles; and although you can see that such is the design, yet no decent street is there in the whole place.
The whole extent of the city contains twenty sections of land, each section six hundred and forty acres; and the population scattered over the 12,800 acres, is variously estimated at from twelve to twenty thousand people.
We came to the English portion of the city, which consisted of huts of the meanest description; and in wet weather, the place must be a complete swamp.
Into one of these huts I entered with my companion, and inquired if any English people lived there; and a young man answered, "yea, there's two here."
Two boxes, which contained their clothes and other things when they left home, were their sitting utensils; and a bed, perched upon some home-made bedsteads, of the rudest construction, with two tins and an iron pot, were all the visible household goods and gods. When we got in, the place was full, so its size may be judged of. Light was admitted at a home-made window frame, some hay supplying the place of glass in many of the quarrels.
The young man who sat upon the box had despair written in his countenance. His name was Greenhalg — came originally from Bolton, and was by trade a turner and filer. He stated that there was no such thing as getting money for work done, the truck system being in full operation. He had been working three days for a man, and ho wanted him to take shingles (wood used instead of slate for houses and cut into proper sizes) in return for his labour; but as he could neither cat them, nor sell them, he of course had not taken them. He had not seen a coin for five weeks, and wanted ill to get away if he knew how. The young gentleman who was with me stated that he was building some houses, and that if he was willing to labour at any thing he could do, he would give him a liberal allowance of wages to go with him, pay his fare in the cabin down to St. Louis, the expenses to be stopped out of his wages.
He seemed as glad as any culprit could do, when he is informed that his life will be spared.
A very nice looking woman came in during our controversy, and she hail come from Bolton with her husband, deeply impregnated with the doctrines of Mormonism; but the eden of the west had vanished into woe, want, and misery. She stated that her husband was nothing behind with his tenths, — that is, he had worked regularly every tenth day at the temple and hotel. Her husband had had a good situation at home and in St. Louis; but when in the latter place, they were afraid of giving offence to the church, and they had removed to the city, since which time they had never enjoyed any-comfort.
Her husband and she lived in a hut similar to the one we were in; and she stated that if any one had told them it was such a place as it was, they would not have believed it.
They both gave Smith a good character; and stated that if those who had money amongst the church would do as he wanted them, the poor would be better off. She also complained of the operations of the truck system; and stated that her husband had been working for some man who gave him city scrip — a species of paper money — and that they had to pay an exorbitant per centage for all goods they got with. it; and the same in all instances where truck was in existence.
We left these to go and see if we could not find some little oasis on which the eye could rest with pleasure, in this "holy city"-of the west.
But the same appearances every where presented themselves — miserable huts, and tales of wretchedness from the inmates. The murmur of discontent arose from the dwellings; and the dissatisfied, without money and spiritless, had no means to get away. But I appeal to the commonest comprehension, and ask what else could be the result of thousands coming suddenly into one place, destitute of capital themselves, and nearly all that went, similarly situated.
Let an emigration of that description take place in one of our own towns, in which is an abundance of capital, and what would be the result? However well intentioned the inhabitants might be, it would be impossible to find them food and employment; and a great amount of misery must be the inevitable consequence.
I would advise the individuals who are impregnated with the doctrines of Mormonism, if they have any respect for their comfort, to avoid Nauvoo, as they would the city of a plague.
I went to see and judge for myself; and have written these pages to dispel the delusion under which I know too many are labouring.
Pretenders of prophecy are neither more nor less than impostors. Visions and signs are but the relics of a barbarous by-gone age, and can never be resuscitated again in the eyes of the many, while the present order of things goes on. Science, with its eagle eye, is irradiating the world. The errors and superstitions of other days are vanishing before the influence of cause and effect; and mankind generally can never again be led away by the bewilderments of superstition or of priest craft.
What Englishman that does not smile with pity and contempt on the doctrines of Mahomet, when he reads about that grand impostor's bring conducted through numerous Lenvena in a night, on a beast with two heads, half man and half horse having for his conductor the angel Gabriel, and having the koran, or Mahommedan bible, delivered to him, leaf by leaf, by this very said angel.
All laugh at the idea in our country. Yet the pretensions of Mahomet vary not from those of Smith; and the one doctrine is as likely to be true as the other. Both the doctrines had their origin in the heated brain of ambition, supported by cunning, lasciviousness, and daring effrontery.
A reckless regard to the feelings of others led both these men to establish their dogmas. The one now holding power over more millions of human beings, than the other does over hundreds. But let us hope, for the sake of humanity, that the "visions, signs, and ancient records," of which Smith tells, will gain no more footing on the mind of man, than man can gain upon the pathless waters.
The doctrine of complete immersion, or sprinkling, can be, in my opinion, of small consequence in the mind of a being who could make the beautiful mechanism
39of the human body, and preside over the beautiful harmony that is every where observant throughout the universe.
I say this with all due deference to the feelings of others, without the slightest intention of wounding the feelings of those who think differently.
I now went to the printing office of the Mormons, certainly not a half splendid looking one; and seeing upon the counter a pamphlet, entitled "Facts in relation to the late discovery of ancient American records, with an interesting account of several remarkable visions," I purchased one, from which may be gleaned the biography of the prophet of the Mormons, and his wonderful conversion.
"Mr. Joseph Smith, Jun., who made the following important discovery, was born in the town of Sharon, Windsor county, Vermont, on the 23rd of December, a, d., 1805. When ten years old, his parents, with their family, moved to Palmyra, New York; in the vicinity of which he resided for about eleven years, the latter part in the town of Manchester. Cultivating the earth for a livelihood was his occupation, in which he employed the most of his time. His advantages, for acquiring literary knowledge, were exceedingly small; hence, his education was limited to a slight acquaintance with two or three of the common branches of learning. He could read without much difficulty, and write a very imperfect hand; and had a very limited understanding of the ground rules of arithmetic. These were his highest and only attainments; while the rest of those branches, so universally taught in the common schools throughout the United States, were entirely unknown to him. When somewhere about fourteen or fifteen years old, he began seriously to reflect upon the necessity of being prepared for a future state of existence; but how, or in what way, to prepare himself, was a question, as yet, undetermined in his own mind: he perceived that it was a question of infinite importance, and that the salvation of his soul depended upon a correct understanding of the same. He saw, that if he understood not the way, it would be impossible to walk in it, except by chance; and the thought of resting his hopes of eternal life upon chance, or uncertainties, was more than he could endure. If he went to the religious denominations to seek information, each one pointed out to its particular tenets, saying — "this is the way, walk ye in it," while, at the some time, the doctrines of each were, in many respects, in direct opposition to one another. It, also, occurred to his mind that God was the author of but one doctrine, and therefore could acknowledge but one denomination as his church; and that such denomination must be a people, who believe, and teach, that one doctrine, (whatever it may be,) and build upon the same. He then reflected upon the immense number of doctrines now in the world, which had given rise to many hundreds of different denominations. The great question to be decided in his mind, way — if any one of these denominations be the church of Christ, which one is it? Until he could become satisfied, in relation to this question, he could not rest contented. To trust to the decisions of fallible man, and build his hopes upon the same, without any certainty, and knowledge of his own, would not satisfy the anxious desires that pervaded his breast. To decide, without any positive and definite evidence, on which he could rely, upon a subject involving the future welfare of his soul, was revolting to his feelings. The only alternative that seemed to be left him, was to read the Scriptures, and endeavour to follow their directions. He, accordingly, commenced perusing the sacred pages of the Bible, with sincerity, believing the things that he read. His mind soon caught hold of the following passage: — "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. — James i.5. From this
40promise he learned, that it was the privilege of all men to ask God for wisdom, with the sure and certain expectation of receiving liberally; without being upbraided for so doing. This was cheering information to him; tidings that gave him great joy. It was like a light shining forth in a dark place, to guide him to the path in which he should walk. He, now, saw that if he inquired of God, there was, not only a possibility, but a probability; yes, more, a certainty, that he should obtain a knowledge, which, of all the doctrines, was the doctrine of Christ; and which, of all the churches, was the church of Christ. He, therefore, retired to a secret place, in a grove, but a short distance from his father's house, and knelt down, and began to call upon the Lord. At first, he was severely tempted by the powers of darkness, which endeavoured to overcome him; but he continued to seek for deliverance, until darkness gave way from his mind; and he was enabled to pray, in fervency of the spirit, and in faith. And, while the pouring out his soul, anxiously desiring an answer from God, he, at length, saw a very bright and glorious light in the heavens above; which, at first, seemed to be at a considerable distance. He continued praying, while the light appeared to be gradually descending towards him; and. as it drew nearer, it increased in brightness, and magnitude, so that, by the time that it reached the tops of the trees, the whole wilderness, for some distance around, was illuminated in a most glorious and brilliant manner. He expected to have seen the leaves and boughs of the trees consumed, as soon as the light came in contact with them; but, perceiving that it did not produce that effect, he was encouraged with the hopes of being able to endure its presence. It continued descending, slowly, until it rested upon the earth, and be was enveloped in the midst of it. When if first came upon him, it produced a peculiar sensation throughout his whole system; and, immediately, his mind was caught away, from the natural objects with which he was surrounded; and he was enwrapped in a heavenly vision, and saw two glorious personages, who exactly resembled each other in their features or likeness. He was informed, that his sins were forgiven. He was also informed upon the subjects, which had for some time previously agitated his mind, viz. — that all the religious denominations were believing in incorrect doctrines; and, consequently, that none of them was acknowledged of God, as his church and kingdom. And he was expressly commanded, to go not after them; and he received a promise that the true doctrine — the fulness of the gospel, should, at some future time, be made known to him; after which, the vision withdrew, leaving his mind in a state of calmness and peace, indescribable. Some time after having received this glorious manifestation, being young, he was again entangled in the vanities of the world, of which he afterwards sincerely and truly repented.
And it pleased God, on the evening of the 21st of September, a, d. 1823, to again hear his prayers. For he had retired to rest, as usual, only that his mind was drawn out, in fervent prayer, and his soul was filled with the most earnest desire, "to communicate with some kind messenger, who could communicate to him the desired information of his acceptance with God," and also unfold the principles of the doctrine of Christ, according to the promise which he had received in the former vision. While he thus continued to pour out his desires before the Father of all good; endeavouring to exercise faith in his precious promises; "on a sudden, a light like that of day, only of a purer and far more glorious appearance and brightness, burst into the room. Indeed, the first sight was as though the house was filled with consuming fire. The sudden appearance of a light so bright, as must naturally be expected, occasioned a shock or sensation visible to the extremities of
41the body. It was, however, followed with a calmness and serenity of mind, and an overwhelming rapture of joy that surpassed understanding, and, in a moment, a personage stood before him."
Notwithstanding the brightness of the light which previously illuminated the room, "yet there seemed to be an additional glory surrounding or accompanying this personage, which shone with an increased degree of brilliancy, of which he was in the midst; and though his countenance was as lightning, yet, it was of a pleasing, innocent, and glorious appearance: so much so that every fear was banished from the heart, and nothing but calmness pervaded the soul."
"The stature of this personage was a little above the common size of men in this age; his garment was perfectly white, and had the appearance of being without seam."
This glorious being declared himself to be an Angel of God, sent forth by commandment, to communicate to him that his sins were forgiven, and that his prayers were heard; and also, to bring the joyful tidings, that the covenant which God made with ancient Israel concerning their posterity, was at hand to be fulfilled; that the great preparatory work for the second coming of the Messiah, was speedily to commence; that the time was at hand for the gospel, in its fulness, to be preached in power unto all nations; that a people might be prepared with faith and righteousness, for the Millennial reign of universal peace and joy.
He was informed that he was called and chosen to be an instrument in the hands of God, to bring about some of his marvellous purposes in this glorious dispensation. It was also made manifest to him, that the "American Indians" were a remnant of Israel; that when they first emigrated to America, they were an enlightened people possessing a knowledge of the true God, enjoying his favour, and peculiar blessings from his hand; that the prophets, and inspired writers among them, were required to keep a sacred history of the most important events transpiring among them; which history was handed down for many generations, till at length they fell into great wickedness; the most part of them were destroyed, and the records (by commandment of God, to one of the last prophets among them,) were safely deposited, to preserve them from the hands of the wicked, who sought to destroy them. He was informed that these records contained many snored revelations pertaining to the gospel of the kingdom, as well as prophecies relating to great events of the last days; and that to fulfil his promises to the ancients, who wrote the records, and to accomplish his purposes, in the restitution of their children, &c., they were to come forth to the knowledge of the people. If faithful, he was to be the instrument, who should be thus highly favoured in bringing these sacred things to light; at the same time, being expressly informed, that it must be done with an eye single to the glory of God, that no one could be entrusted with those sacred writings, who should endeavour to aggrandize himself, by converting sacred things to unrighteous and speculative purposes. After giving many instructions concerning things past and to come, which would he foreign to our purpose to mention here, he disappeared, and the light and glory of God withdrew, leaving his mind in perfect peace, while a calmness and serenity indiscribable pervaded the soul. But, before morning, the vision was twice renewed, instructing him further, and still further, concerning the great work of God, about to be performed on the earth. In the morning he went out to labour as usual; but soon the vision was renewed — the Angel again appeared and having been informed by the previous visions of the night, concerning the place where those records were deposited, he was instructed to go immediately and view them.
Accordingly, he repaired to the place, a brief description of which shall be given, in the words of a gentleman, by the name of Oliver Cowdery, who has visited the spot.
"As you go on the mail-road, from Palmyra, Wayne county, to Canandaigua, Ontario county, New York, before arriving at the little village of Manchester, say from three to four, or about four miles from Palmyra, you pass a large hill on the east side of the road, Why I say large, is because it is as large, perhaps, as any in that county."
"The north end rises quite suddenly until it assumes a level with the more southerly extremity; and I think I may say, an elevation higher than at the south, a short distance, say half or three-fourths of a mile. As you pass towards Canandaigua, it lessens gradually, until the surface assumes its common level, or is broken by other smaller hills or ridges, water-courses and ravines. I think I am justified in saying, that this is the highest hill fur some distance round, and I am certain, that its appearance, as it rises so suddenly from a plain on the north, must attract the notice of the traveller as he passes by." — "The north end," which has been described as rising suddenly from the plain, forms "a promontory without timber, but covered with grass. As you pass to the south, you soon come 10 scattering timber, the surface having been cleared by art or wind, and a short distance further left, you are surrounded with the common forest of the country. It is necessary to observe, that even the part cleared, was only occupied for pasturage; its steep ascent, and narrow summit not admitting the plough of the husbandman, with any degree of ease or profit. It was at the second mentioned place, where the record was found to be deposited, on the west side of the hill, not far from the top down its side; and when myself visited the place in the year 1830, there were several trees standing — enough to cause a shade hi summer, but not so much as to prevent the surface being covered with grass — which was also the case when the record was first found."
"How far below the surface these records were "anciently" placed, I am unable to say; but from the fact, that they had been some fourteen hundred years buried; and that, too, on the side of a hill so steep, one is ready to conclude, that they were some feet below, as the earth would naturally wear, more or less, in that length of time. But they, being placed toward the top of the hill, the ground would not remove as much as at two-thirds, perhaps. Another circumstance would prevent a wearing of the earth; in all probability, as soon as timber had time to grow, the hill was covered," and the roots of the same would hold the surface. However, on this point, I shall leave every man to draw his own conclusion, and form his own speculation. "But suffice to say," a hole of sufficient depth was dug. At the bottom of this was laid a stone of suitable size, the upper surface bring smooth. At each edge was placed a large quantity of cement, and into this cement, at the four edges of the stone, were placed erect four others; their bottom edges resting in the cement, at the outer edges of the first stone. The four last named, when placed erect, formed a box; the corners, or where the edges of the four came in contact, were also cemented so firmly, that the moisture from without was prevented from entering. It is to be observed, also, that the inner surfaces of the four erect or side stones, were smooth. This box was sufficiently large to admit a breastplate, such as was used by the ancients, to defend the chest, &c., from the arrows and weapons of their enemy. From the bottom of the box, or from the breastplate, arose three small pillars, composed of the same description of cement used on the edges;
43and "upon these three pillars were placed the records." — "This box, containing the records, was covered with another stone, the bottom surface being flat, and the upper crowning." When it was first visited by Mr. Smith, on the morning of the 22nd of September, 1823, "a part of the crowning stone was visible above the surface, while the edges were concealed by the soil and grass," from which circumstance it may be seen, "that however deep this box might have been placed at first, the time had been sufficient to wear the earth, so that it was easily discovered, when once directed, and yet, not enough to make a perceivable difference to the passer by." — After arriving at the repository, a little exertion in removing the soil from the edges of the top of the box, and a light pry, brought to his natural vision, its contents." While viewing and contemplating this sacred treasure with wonder and astonishment, behold! the Angel of the Lord, who had previously visited him, again stood in his presence, and his soul was again enlightened as it was the evening before, and he was filled with the Holy Spirit, and the heavens were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about and rested upon him. While he thus stood gazing and admiring, the Angel said, "Look!" And as he thus spake, he beheld the Prince of Darkness, surrounded by his innumerable train of associates. All this passed before him, and the-heavenly messenger said, "All this is shown. The good and the evil, the holy and impure, the glory of God, and the power of darkness, that you may know hereafter the two powers, and never be influenced or overcome by that wicked one. Behold, whatsoever enticeth and leadeth to good and to do good, is of God, and whatsoever doth not, is of that wicked one. It is he that filleth the hearts of men with evil, to walk in darkness, and blaspheme God; and you may learn from henceforth, that his ways are to destruction, but the way of holiness is peace and rest. You cannot at this time obtain this record, for the commandment of God is strict, and if ever those sacred things are obtained, they must be by prayer and faithfulness in obeying the Lord. They are not deposited here for the sake of accumulating gain and wealth for the glory of this world; they were scaled by the prayer of faith, and because of the knowledge which they contain, they are of no worth among the children of men, only for their knowledge. On them is contained the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it was given to his people on this land; and when it shall be brought forth by the power of God, it shall be carried to the Gentiles, of whom many will receive it, and after will the seed of Israel be brought into the fold of their Redeemer by obeying it also. Those who kept the commandments of the Lord on this land, desired this at his hand, and through the prayer of faith obtained the promise, that if their descendants should transgress and fall away, that a record should be kept, and in the last days come to their children. These things are sacred, and must be kept so, for the promise of the Lord concerning them must be fulfilled. No man can obtain them if his heart is impure, because they contain that which is sacred." * * * "By them will the Lord work a great and marvellous work; the wisdom of the wise shall become as nought, and the understanding of the prudent shall be hid, and because the power of God shall be displayed, those who profess to know the truth, but walk in deceit, shall tremble with anger; but with signs and with wonders, with gifts and with healings, with the manifestations of the power of God, and with the Holy Ghost, shall the hearts of the faithful be comforted. You have now beheld the power of God manifested, and the power of Satan; you see that there is nothing desirable in the works of darkness; that they cannot bring happiness; that those who are overcome therewith are miserable; while, on the other hand, the righteous are blessed with a place in the
44kingdom of God, where joy unspeakable surrounds them. There they rest beyond the power of the enemy of truth, where no evil can disturb them. The glory of God crowns them, and they continually feast upon his goodness, and enjoy his smiles. Behold, notwithstanding you have seen this great display of power, by which you may ever be able to detect the evil one, yet I give unto you another sign, and when it comes to pass then know that the Lord is God, and that he will fulfil his purposes, and that the knowledge which this record contains will go to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people under the whole heaven."
The pamphlet then goes on to state that after it became known that Smith had found these records, and had seen visions, he was much persecuted, and had to leave his native place. He then found a home with his father-in-law, in the northern part of Pensylvania, on the banks of the Susquehannah river, where he commenced translating the ancient records.
The idea of a man translating an unknown language that can neither read nor write his own, is something mysterious; but this he did, according to the pamphlet, "by the gift and power of God, through the means of the Urim and Thumim," which, according to my translation, is humbug them, humbug them.
The pamphlet then goes on to show that a party came directly from the tower of Babel to the continent of America, and were called Jaredites; and that another came from Jerusalem about six hundred years before Christ, being Isralites, principally the descendents of Joseph. The first nation or Jaredites were destroyed about the time that the Isralites came from Jerusalem, who succeeded them in the inheritance of the country.
The remaining remnant having dwindled into an uncivilized state still continue to inhabit the land, although divided into a multitude of nations, and are called by the Europeans, "American Indians." The Israelites, in consequence of their wickedness, were annihilated by the Lord, leaving them all and their "records," which were engraven on plates of gold.
Another tribe was brought from Jerusalem, and landed on the western shores of America; these continued to spread themselves on the northern part of the continent.
Another race is brought, whose prophet's name was Nephi; but one portion of them became wicked, headed by a prophet, whose name was Laman, and they separted, Jesus Christ, according to the pamphlet, made his appearance in America and performed the same things there, which it is recorded he performed in Palestine, and ascended into heaven after he had finished his mission.
The Nephites and Lamanites, towards the end of the fourth century, commenced a war — the Lamanites, at that time, dwelt in South America, and the Nephites in North America. But let the pamphlet speak for itself. "A great and terrible war commenced between them, which lasted for many years, and resulted in the complete overthrow and destruction of the Nephites. This war commenced at the Isthmus of Daricu, and was very destructive to both natives for many years, At length the Nephites were driven before their enemies, a great distance to the north and northeast: and having gathered their whole nation together, both men, women, and children, they encamped on and around the hill Cumorah, where the records were found which is in the state of New York, about two hundred miles west of the city of Albany. Here they were met by the numerous hosts of the Lamanites, and were slain, and hewn down, and slaughtered, both male and female — the aged — middle aged, and children.
Hundreds of thousands were slain on both sides, and the nation of the Nephites
45were destroyed, excepting a few who deserted over to the Lamanites, and a few who escaped into the south country, and a few who fell wounded, and were left by the Lamanites on the field of battle, among whom were Mormon and his son Moroni, who were righteous men.
Mormon had made an abridgement from the records of his forefathers, upon plates, which abridgement he called the "Book of Mormon;" and being commanded of God, he hid up in the hill Cumorah, all the records of his forefathers which were in his possession, except the abridgement, called the Book of Mormon, which he gave to his son Moroni, to finish.
Moroni survived his nation a few years, and continued the writings, in which he informs us, that the Lamanites hunted those few Nephites who escaped the great and terrible battle of Cumorah, until they were all destroyed, except those who were mingled with the Lamanites, and that he was left alone and kept himself bid, for they sought to destroy every Nephite who would not destroy Christ.
He further states that the Lamanites were at war one with another, and that the whole face of the land was one continued scene of murdering, robbing, and plundering.
He continued the history till the four hundred and twentieth year of the Christian era, when (by the commandment of God) he hid up the records in the bill Cumorah, where they remained concealed, until by the ministry of an angel, they were discovered to Mr. Smith, who, by the gift and power of God, translated them into the English language, by the means of the "Urim and Thummim."
The Urim and Thummim "consisted of two transparent stones, clear as crystal, and set in the two rims of a bow. This was in use in ancient times, by persons called seers. It was an instrument, by the use of which, they received revelations of things distant, or of things past and future."
The large mounds of earth so common on the American continent, several of which I have seen myself, have been fertile sources of conjecture to the lettered, both of Europe and America.
There is one in St. Louis, overlooking the Mississippi; and it was said that the skeletons of human beings had been found in it a short time before we arrived in the city.
Rumour then said that a battle had been fought there some time between contending tribes of Indians, and that the slain were buried there, and the mound raised to perpetuate the victory, or the battle.
I went to see the "Looking Glass Prairie," a week before I came home, which stretches about three hundred miles over the state of Illinois, and the young gentleman who went with me and I, stopped at a most respectable farm house, built at the foot of one of these mounds. Our horses were put up, and although we were both strangers, we were invited to dinner. After dinner, we ascended the mound, to look over the prairie.
As far as the eye could reach, a level plain stretched out before us. Here and there the land was dotted with the frame houses or log cabins of the settlers. The maize, or Indian corn, was now at its height, about eight feet, which in large fields grew around the homes of the settlers, and waved gently to the noon-tide breeze.
The cattle browsing upon some uncultivated patch, and the creeks which irrigate the land, and shone like polished steel, beneath the fierce rays of the sun, with a few groves of trees, made altogether a beautiful landscape, the top of the mound was used as a. garden; and so rich was the soil, that it only wanted turning over and the seed putting in, and a plentiful crop was the reward.
These mounds, and the whole history of the American continent, Joseph Smith has explained, in his way, although he can neither read nor write decently. There is a "Mormon Book" in existence; and except some mysterious agent had made that book known to Smith, bow could an unlettered man like Smith have produced it? would exclaim a believer in the doctrine.
The captain of the steam boat in which I went to Nauvoo, was a very mild, intelligent man, and he asked me my reasons for going to Nauvoo; so I told him curiosity led me there, that I might report the truth when I returned to England.
He stated that he had been in the eastern states of America a few weeks before, and that he had been in company with the wife of the gentleman who wrote the book of Mormon. She stated to the captain that her husband had had a lingering illness, of years duration — that he was a very religious man; and being in easy circumstances, he used to employ himself in writing his theory of the peopling of the American continent; and endeavoured to explain the manner in which the mounds of earth had been raised, and the other disputed points in the early history of America.
His work bore the marks of a religious romance, and he wrote it as such, and put it into the hands of a printer with a view to publishing it; and in the meantime, the gentleman who wrote the work, died.
His lady had sought at the printer's in vain for the work or the manuscript, and she talked about entering an action against the printer for the recovery of the manuscript.
The "Book of Mormon," the captain stated, was no other than the religious romance written by the gentleman before alluded to. So said the lady to the captain, as her husband used to read her the manuscript as he proceeded with it. Some of Smith's friends, who lived near the printer, got hold of the work; and Smith and they have altered it, to carry out a fraud on mankind.
Tins seems to me a more rational thing than the angel Gabriel's slipping down a rainbow, or some other thing, out of the higher regions, and making known to an unlettered, lascivious, coarse-looking, swearing, tearing fellow like Smith was, what has been and what is to be.
It is sufficient to make even a Christian believe that there is something wrong in the angel Gabriel, as, according to Mahomet, he waited upon him; he was the attendant on the prophets in this town of Ashton-under-Lyne; and Smith has lugged him into America. If people are judged by the company they keep, the angel Gabriel has had no companions in the prophet school that I should choose.
But it is not so. Impostors follow in the wake of each other; and sensible men: look upon such ruffians with contempt; and if sensible men shun them, angels can have no alliance with such; but
It is possible for individuals who believe in such trumpery, to have their imaginations worked up to a pitch that they can see what they want, either in a "charmed glass" or without it.
When giants and ghosts used to haunt my own childish imagination, a taller and thicker bush in the hedge at night, was something of a demoniac nature, and one would have "run and whistled to their fears."
How many beautiful figures, by the help of imagination, appear in a clear fire, when looking earnestly into it, and in thoughtful mood, yet no such thing had a substantial being.
But this Urim and Thumim, two stones clear as crystal, used by the seers of antiquity, brought to explain the "power and glory of God," is the worst species of blasphemy I have any conception of.
It might have done in the days of the seers, for a cunning few to impose on the credulity of the many. It may pass current now amongst the native tribes of India, Arnerica, or the isles of Polynesia; but in these days of literature and of science, the man who believes it is deceived with his eyes open — is the dupe of knaves, and is to be pitied for his credulity.
After seeing as much as satisfied me that the people in the city were wretchedly off, and that the "Communion of property of the Mormons," was as great a delusion as their doctrine. I left the "holy city" with most unholy thoughts in reference to those who had thus imposed on mankind; and making my way for the Mississippi again, to return, the loud boom of an engine in the distance announced a steamboat was at hand, although it could not be seen.
I got into a skiff, and was rowed over the river by a young man; and speaking to him about the quantity of fish in the river, he swore there were acres of fish in it.
One of the most refined species of cruelty for keeping fish fresh, I saw here. A line had been set with a hook and bait, and a large "cat fish" was caught. The setter of the line, not wanting the fish at the time, made the line more secure, and the hook also, and the fish was kept swimming about till wanted.
I saw it, and cruel though it was, could not resist the temptation to draw it near the water's edge, to look at the prisoner.
Sixty or seventy pounds, was its weight; and with a spring of indignation, it darted away the length of its string, and thus I left it.
The steam boat, "Rapids," now came in sight, and after giving a signal that I wanted to go on board, she took a circle in the river, went a considerable way lower than where I was waiting, turned round, and breasted the stream. This is rendered necessary, is consequence of the rapidity of the stream.
After getting on boad, I registered my name and the number of my "state room," and was again on my way to St. Louis — fare downward, two dollars and-a-half.
Sailing with the current hastens the journey, as we made the two hundred miles trip in six hours sooner than upward.
In one place called the "Upper Rapids," the stream runs at eight miles an hour and here the steam is taken off, the boat floating with the stream, and guided by the man at the wheel. The lead is often heaved, for the information of the pilot; and in some places the water is very shallow. Every time the lead is thrown over into the water, the man so engaged calls out the depth. There is something plaintive in the cry at night, as it comes on the ear. "Mark under water twain, ten feet, no bottom," as the case may be; and when the pilot is satisfied, he rings a bell for the man heaving the lead to cease, which, on a cold winter's day, is soon complied with.
I reached St. Louis again, and the busy note of industry and enterprize everywhere to be heard and seen, a widely different scene to what it was when we arrived in the city.
The reason of the depression in the commerce of the country, was a reckless speculation, the extension of banks, and bank notes inundating the country, which
48brought about a reaction in a contrary direction. Banks became insolvent — the flimsy money became depreciated to half, or a fourth of its original value — confidence, the great supporter either of commerce or of man, was destroyed — the wheels of trade were impeded in their progress, and bankruptcy and ruin stalked over the land, carrying with them the blasting influences always seen in the wake of such things.
The influence of the American Jews, or money changers, in either keeping the paper of a bank above or below par, is greater than any person can conceive, who has not seen it. But the democracy of America having seen through the evil consequences of placing too much power in the hands of incorporated companies of bankers, was then establishing a purely metallic currency, with the exception of such as would be convenient for the carrying on of commerce.
Almost every state in the union was considerably indebted to the capitalists of England, for money, borrowed to carry on railways. Money had been borrowed, to make a railway in the state of Illinois, where I lived; but when the "crash" came, it was stopped, has never been commenced again, and the low price the farmers receive for their produce, precludes the possibility of their paying the interest, let alone the capital.
The time will come, no doubt, when the state will be able to liquidate its debts, as there is not a state in the union with greater natural advantages.
In size, it is about as large as England and Wales, its rich woodlands and extensive prairies have a soil unsurpassed in fertility, whilst in its bowels, there are lead and coal mines, as rich as any in the world.
The farm on which I lived, had been in cultivation upwards of seventy years: it continued to grow as fine crops of wheat, oats, and Indian corn, or maize, as need be grown, yet it had never had an ounce of manure put upon it.
Such was the case every where throughout the state, so that the richness of the soil may be judged of. In the season of the year when strawberries are ripe, this delicious fruit grows wild in abundance, on the prairies; and where the cattle and hogs are not very numerous, great quantities may be gathered. Each month of the summer presents a varied appearance on these extensive plains, studded as they are with the great variety of wild flowers, which wave their unassuming heads to the passing breeze; and in the unsettled, or very thinly populated districts, the grass grows six or seven feet high, and its rustling and gently undulating appearance, as it waves obedient to the breeze, is a beautiful scene.
The Western States are the most desirable to emigrate to, for a man with a few hundred pounds; but to go on such an errand with barely as much money as will purchase land, and leave but a trifle, while the land is in progress of being cleared the log cabin built, and crops grown, is an undertaking which, I feel confident nearly all who hazard it will regret.
An individual with a few hundred pounds, could purchase a farm partly cleared and cultivated, with log or frame house on, and outbuildings, a circumstance which will tend greatly to his comfort, and reconcile him to his new situation in life.
A short historical, and natural account of the United States, with the relative position the cotton commerce of our country bears to them, will, I think, be instructive and interesting.
The States are three thousand miles in length, from east to west, and seventeen hundred miles in breadth, from north to south, embracing about two millions of square miles.
The commerce of the United States ranks next to Great Britain. It extends to all nations and to every clime. The chief articles of export are cotton, tobacco, wheat, flour rice, fish, ashes, timber, and naval stores. The imports are woollen, cottons, silks, teas, coffee, sugar, spirits, spices, and wines.
On reference to the map, it will be seen that the United States' territory is divided by the Allighany and Rocky mountains, into three great natural sections or divisions, viz.: First, the atlantic slope, which extends from the Alleghany mountains to the Atlantic, second, the Mississippi valley which lies between the Alleghany and Rocky mountains, and is watered by the Mississippi and its numerous tributaries. Third, the pacific slope, which comprises the region between the Rocky mountains and the Pacific ocean. Hence, it will be seen, that the general features of the country is that of an immense plain, traversed by two great chains of mountains.
There is no country, of equal extent, so well watered as the United States, by noble rivers and lakes, or more highly favoured by nature with channels for internal Commerce, or mutual intercourse.
Minerals abound in the United States in great abundance and variety. Lead is found in inexhaustible quantities, in Missouri. Salt springs abound in many parts of the union; and large quantities of salt are manufactured in New York, Pensylvania, Virginia, Ohio, and Illinois.
Gold has recently been found in considerable quantities in Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee.
Had a wise policy on the part of the British government been pursued, there is no doubt but America would still have been part of the British colonies. But the English government claimed the right of taxing the colonies, although they allowed them no participation in their legislative councils. The colonies denied this right, and contended that "taxation and representation were inseparable," and that they could not be safe, if their property could be taken from them without their consent.
After various oppressive acts on the part of the English government, the colonists resolved to support their rights by force of arms — and the first blood shed in the American revolution was at Lexington, on the 19th of April, 1775, In 1776, they declared themselves free and independent; and in 1783, January 26th, peace was settled between the two nations — England acknowledging the States to be free, sovereign and independent.
In May, 1787, a convention of delegates from the several States met at Philadelphia for the purpose of forming a constitution adequate to the exigencies of government and the preservation of the union. George Washington, whose name is almost deified in America, was elected president of the assembly; and, after four months deliberation, they agreed upon a constitution, which was adopted by the several States in 1789.
It is known to every Englishman that America is a republic; yet proper information as to its internal government, and the manner of choosing its officers are things that I have heard much ignorance displayed on. The several States, now twenty-six in number, (thirteen when they declared their independence) are all united under one general government, called a Federal Republic, that is a republic in which several separate republics are united in one.
Each state is a republic by itself, for it has a government of its own, and is at liberty to make laws relative to its own peculiar interests; but the more general concerns of the nation, as the regulation of commerce, the declaration of war, the
50coining of money, &c. are entrusted to a general government, consisting of three branches, the legislative, the executive, and the judicial.
The legislative power is vested in a congress, which consists of two branches — the Senate, equal to our House of Lords, and the house of Representatives like our Commons.
The Senate consists of two members from each state, chosen by the legislature thereof, for the term of six years. The members of the House of Representatives are chosen for two years by the people of each state, according to the population, and receive eight dollars per day (one pound sixteen British) and travelling expenses.
Since March, 1833, each state is entitled to one representative for every 47,700 inhabitants, consequently if it has six times 47,700 inhabitants it sends six representatives, Congress meets at Washington every winter, on the first Monday in December, to attend to the "despatch of business."
The Executive power is vested in a President and Vice-president, assisted by four Secretaries, called heads of department, appointed by the President, viz. — the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Secretary of the Treasury. These are termed the Cabinet. The President and Vice-president are chosen for four years, by delegates elected by the people, called electors.
Each state chooses as many electors as it has representatives in congress. For example, Connecticut is entitled to eight electors, because it sends eight members to Congress, viz. — six representatives and two senators. The majority of votes these electors send to the Senate House, and opened in the presence of the members declare who shall be President and Vice-president. The Vice-president, by virtue of office, presides over the deliberations of the members of the Senate.
The judicial power is vested in one supreme court, and in such inferior courts as Congress may, from time to time establish. The present judicial establishment of the United States consists of a supreme court — thirty one district courts and seven circuit courts. The supreme court consists of one chief justice and six associate justices, who hold a court in the city of Washington annually, commencing on the second Monday in January; besides which, each of these justices attends in a certain circuit, comprising two or more of these districts appropriated to each; and, together with the judge of the district, composes a circuit court, which is held in each district of the circuit.
The principal business of these courts is to expound the laws of the United States, and to settle all questions which arise under the constitution and treaties of the country.
The justices are appointed by the President, by and with the consent of the Senate, and hold their office during good behavour.
Thus, it will be seen, that the constitution is something similar to the British constitution, only the people are the sovereign. A difference of so great an importance, which has made it in the minds of many problematical.
But the problem has been solved, proved as clearly as the first proposition in Euclid, that the people, the stay and grandeur of an empire can and will subsequently govern themselves. I know this is an unpalatable doctrine in the minds of those whom favoured circumstances, or their own skill and perseverance have raised above the millions — that its advocates are looked upon with contempt by the titled, the wealthy and the great, and the sycophants who follow in the train of wealth — the worst species of the gallinaceous tribe that walks the earth.
The history of the world scarcely presents, in so short a time, such an increase of population. In 1790, the population of the United Stales was 3,920,827; and in 1840, when the last census was taken, it had increased to 17,062,566, an increase in the space of fifty years of nearly fifteen millions of human beings.
In reading over the speeches of some gentlemen in England, made to listening and enthusiastic audiences, the competition of America is often mentioned, and the advantages they possess over us by growing the raw material has been held up as something which must be very greatly injurious to us. To superficial observers this is a tangible argument, but a careful application of thought and observation will prove that the dangers to our cotton commerce by this advantage is more nominal than real. The cotton is put on board steam boats, brought to New Orleans, and then unloaded again; and the cotton merchants, who send cotton to Liverpool, can land it as cheaply in Liverpool as it can be landed in those States where manufactures are carried on, and for why?
There are two thousand miles of water carriage before it arrives in New York, and if it goes into the Eastern States, it bag to be unloaded reloaded on board steam boats, ascend the Hudson river, and again have land carriage to pay. Or suppose the vessel so loaded does not stop at New York, but sails on to Connecticut, Massachusets, New Hampshire, or Maine, except the mills are built in those towns bordering on the shores of the ocean; and even then the cost of the carriage will be as great as sending it here, or so trifling will be the difference, that it never can materially effect our cotton commercial interests here. Much has been said about growing cotton for our own consumption, in our Eastern Colonies; let it but succeed, and my own opinion is, that it will prove far more injurious to us than the Americana, having the advantage of growing the cotton in the South.
In the Eastern or manufacturing states, the manufacturers cry out for protection, that is, to put such a Tax on British goods imported, as shall make the Americans not only compete with us, but undersell us in their markets.
In consequence of England's being the best market for the Southern planters and their cotton, they are to a man "free traders; "but let us grow our own cotton in the east, and the note in the south of North America will be changed from "free trade" te protection, and the making of a market for home consumption.
The surplus cash of the planters would be employed in building mills, and slaves would be extensively used in the production of cotton fabricks, and America which is one of our best customers, would then in reality be our most powerful rival. Such are my conclusion from observations, and I believe if the experiment ever succeeds of growing cotton in our eastern colonies, these ideas will be found correct.
The commercial interests of this country have not so much to fear from any country as that of America. With a people, industrious, educated, persevering, and ambitious, to be called the first nation of the earth — with a country possessing every variety of climate, from the coldness of the Arctic regions to the perpetual bloom of Florida — with a soil rich as nearly any in the world — with the bowels of the earth teeming with minerals of every description, together with a people lightly taxed, and having supreme control over the law — the moral effects that such a people, inhabiting such a country, must produce upon the nations of the earth when peeping through the dim vista of futurity, are such as must be great indeed.
The only thing America has to fear, is her own internal commotions, divisions and separate interests. There is no question in America that there is a greater
52variety of opinions upon, prejudices and conflicting interests, than the question of the coloured population.
The eastern States, look (and justly so too) at the existence of slavery in America) as a blot upon their country, and would fain extinguish it for ever and for ever.
Whilst the southern and some of the western (which are slave-holding) states, contend that the slaves are private property — that no set of men has a right to interfere with them, and that they never shall be set at liberty till they have had an equivalent for the slaves in their possession. But suppose the abolitionists of America were both able and willing to pay for the liberty of every negro in bondage, there are thousands of Americans, who are favourable to the liberty of the slaves, who would not consent to their being set at liberty amongst the white people, and who, as I have heard them express it, would shoulder their muskets, and spill the last drop of blood they had, sooner than the black people should be at liberty amongst them.
Considering these things, and that the spirit of the age gravitates towards popular rights, and the destruction of class interests, maintained at the expanse of the many, that as time rolls on, that spirit will but increase. Reflecting upon these things, it seems as if the foul spirit of slavery was destined to bring about serious troubles in the great western republic. I hope that an enlightened philanthropy will be disseminated amongst every American citizen, and that the mean, sordid selfishness which not only degrades the unfortunate negro, but he who is haunted with it, shall be driven from among them; and that they will carry out, in spirit and in letter the sublime dogma, that "All men are born free and equal."
After my journey to Nauvoo, sitting alone in my bed-room, and musing on the deluded condition of my countrymen, in the "city," looking at the condition of nearly three millions of the coloured population of America, who are used no better than the beasts that perish; scanning the condition of continental Europe, Asia and Africa, my eyes tracing the waters of the great Pacific, and prying into the circumstances of the inhabitants of the thousand, islands that rear their unassuming heads above the expanse of waters by which they are surrounded, I saw them universally unhappy, and far from the enjoyment of those things which they might enjoy, were a principle of benevolence more widely diffused and acted upon; and being separated from home, country and friends, under feelings of this description, I wrote the following poem.
O'er earth's domain, and ocean's mighty deep;
Is there no sacred spot ye wander by,
'Mid winter's wrath, or summer's cloudlesss sky,
Where happiness, with gay and buoyant air,
Rules uncontroll'd, a lovely goddess fair?
The travell'd winds a moment ceas'd to blow,
Then took their course and boldly answered, "NO."
Near many dark, mysterious, unknown caves;
Whose whiten'd foam, hath never ceas'd to roll
Beneath the sky, from icy pole to pole.
Is there no verdant island, where ye roam,
Where happiness hath found a spotless home?
The waves e'en for a moment ceas'd to flow,
Then rushing on, hoarsely responded "NO."
When Sol withdraws the western beams of day;
That throw'st thy rays on earth, and gild'st the deep,
And view'st the world, while care's deni'd to sleep;
That see'st the lovers in some fragrant bow'r,
Stealing alone, one golden, raptur'd hour;
Can'st tell me where dwells happiness below?
She veil'd her light, and mildly answered, "NO."
On this, our globe, 'mid solemn stilly night;
Peeping from out yon far blue distant home,
On earth's repose, and ocean's surging foam.
Have ye, from your own heights e'er seen
Where happiness doth dwell, with face serene,
Unseen, untrammel'd by the demon woe?
The brilliant spangles sweetly answered, "NO."
Unscaith'd by storms who list the zephyr's sigh,
Have ye, within your depths, one secret cave,
Where tyrant never trod, nor wept the slave;
Ye murm'ring rivers and ye vernal woods,
Ye fragrant flow'rs and sweetly blushing buds,
Have ye seen happiness on earth below?
All spoke together one emphatic "NO."
Mid luxury and ease, each passing day;
Ye courtiers, ye rulers, wealthy, all
Throughout earth's wide, extended, rolling ball;
Does happiness within your mansions dwell,
Or is't with thee, lone hermit, in thy cell?
With cool contempt, and face bespeaking woe,
Each answer'd to the mild inquiry, "NO."
Whose banner's o'er the universe unfurl'd;
Who what thou art, is still to us unknown,
But Thy great self? presid'st on nature's throne;
Whose unknown pow'r unnumber'd worlds controls,
To brutes gave instinct, and to men their souls,
Say when will happiness to us be given?
A gentle voice said, not on earth, but heav'n.
And I'm from thee and home, far! far away!
Atlantic's billows 'tween us loudly foam,
And I 'mid western wilds a stranger roam.
The wintry winds have ceas'd awhile to rave,
The streams are loose, the flow'ry banks to lave;
And spring, rejoicing, with a lib'ral hand,
Throws verdure wildly over all the land.
Her em'rald touch is on the bush and tree,
And wakes the birds to woodland revelry.
Each happy bird that sings amid the grove,
Bespeaks to me of happy days and love;
When you, and I, and our dear infant brood
Enjoy'd life's sweetest, most delicious food.
Our cares arose for poverty unfed,
And those whom vicious laws to crime forth led.
The widow's sigh and the lone orphan's tear,
The last we dri'd, the former sought to cheer.
Because I sought their sorrows to remove,
A tyrant-law's drove me from thee and love;
Whilst thou, alone, must struggle on thro' life,
And buffet with the world's ungrateful strife.
Let not the teardrop dim thy bright blue eye,
Nor sorrow's frown provoke one heart-felt sigh;
But placid thoughts thy spotless mind control,
And nerve with fortitude thy troubled soul.
Why grieve? the good of ev'ry age and clime
Have mix'd their sorrows in the flood of time;
And mask themselves in foul hypocrisy,
But stand, unflinching as the sea-beat shore,
When angry waves and loudest thunders roar;
Who advocate th' eternal rights of man
Thro' ev'ry stage of life's short vari'd span,
too often suffer by the tyrant's hand,
While misery enshrouds their native land.
Great Socrates the pois'nous hemlock drank,
(Nor at his fate repin'd, nor ever shrank)
For teaching Athens' children to be wise,
And all her gods of brass and clay despise;
But his enlighten'd soul has left a name
To ride for ever on the wings of fame;
The brightest gem of Greece, her martyr'd friend,
Rever'd by all till time shall have an end.
Alas! 'tis true, th' histor'an's gory page
Presents a hateful sanguinary rage
Of wealth and pow'r against the good combin'd,
To stay the march of the eternal mind.
Too oft in gaols the patriot hath sigh'd,
Too oft upon the scaffold nobly died;
Or 'midst the din of arms and battle's strife,
Hath parted with his all, the blood of life.
Religion, dress'd in purest robes of white,
And kneeling at God's shrine with pure delight,
Amid the mountain fastnesses hath pray'd,
While bigotry its cruel sceptre sway'd.
The votaries of science and of truth,
The white hair'd sage and bold undaunted youth,
Each in his turn has droop'd his thoughtful head,
While fools and knaves the van of error led.
But truth shall triumph o'er the demon band
That checks the spring of thought in ev'ry land.
Let thoughts go forth as free as ocean wave,
And common sense the good alone will save,
Yet still the tyrant's arm can never stay
The magic of that word EQUALITY;
And never shall, till man hath ceas'd to be,
Or earth's engulp'd in dark eternity.
While in my heart a father's love still burns,
To write on home and our dear fair hair'd boys.
I think they say, "when will our father come,
Mother, he tarries long away from home."
Oh ! teach their infant lips the truth to tell,
Their little hearts at sorrow's tale to swell;
And as they wander o'er life's dreary road,
Oh! let their holiest thoughts ascend to God;
Let knowledge, with its all enliv'ning sway,
Illume their minds and light life's darken'd way.
So shall they rise, and all our toils reward,
To be their country's ornament and guard.
Awhile thy griefs entomb in sorrow's urn,
And what thou canst not help ne'er at it mourn;
Tho' wand'ring now upon a foreign strand,
My mind still clings to home and father-land.
My swift-wing'd thoughts, outspeeding e'en the light,
Are hov'ring o'er you 'midst the gloom of night;
But 'mid these cares hope dissipates all fears,
And points unerringly to distant years,
When joy shall beam unclouded in our way,
Effulgent as the summer's noon-tide ray;
My latest sigh shall fondly heave for thee,
Nor cease to love till I have ceas'd to be.