A Trip Through the Piney Woods.
"We have returned to our post, after a delightful tour through the whole tier of counties lying between this and Alabama. We traveled with Messrs. Gwin and Freeman (who had made appointments to speak in twelve counties), and this gave us opportunity of seeing large masses of the people.
488hospitality is a primitive and cardinal virtue. It is handed down in its old fashioned kindness and profusion, from father to son — and the good old customs of Virginia and Carolina still prevail. There is no distinction of party on this subject — Democrats welcome Whigs, and Whigs Democrats — all are alike kind and attentive to the stranger. Our own political friends were all enthusiasm at home and abroad; our Whig friends would rub us severely at the court-houses and hotels; but the moment we crossed their thresholds politics ceased, and all was good feeling, attention and abundance. Many blessings on this generous and untainted people — untainted by sordid refinements, that fritter hospitality down, through selfishness — uncorrupted by pursuits and associations, that, too often, render society heartless and deceitful.
But little is known in this portion of the State of the conditions, manners and resources of the East. There is little intercourse between the two sections, yet there is no more interesting region. We will, in a few days, lay before our readers some extracts from the note-book of our late excursion.
July 5th. — Passed the beautiful country seat of Judge Turner, in Franklin County. The grounds are laid out with great taste and expense, and present, we are told, the best specimen in the State of English landscape gardening. Mr. Turner — now one of the judges of the High Court of Errors and Appeals — is the patriarch of the Mississippi bar, having come here in Territorial times, and held at different periods the station of Judge of the Circuit and Criminal Courts, Attorney General, Chancellor, &c. The Natchez bar, in the olden times, as at present, could boast a weight of talent, surpassed in few cities of the Union. The compeers of Judge Turner, John Taylor, Lyman Harding, the late Judges Simpson and Shields, Gov. Poindexter, Charles B. Green, Thomas B. Reid, Joshua Childs, and others, whose names do not occur to us this moment, were men of profound learning, and some of them of great ability. At a period somewhat later, Christopher Rankin, Bela Metcalfe, R. Stockton, William B. Griffith, R. H. Adams, D. S. Walker, F. Winston, Wm. Daingerfield, Henry Cox, S. M. Grayson, and others, appeared at our bar. Alas! they soon ran their meteor course. Out of all those we have mentioned, but two survive. The mortality among the lawyers of this city is remarkable. "Death loves a shining mark," At no distant day, we intend to draw tip biographical sketches of these distinguished ornaments of the profession. We have a distinct recollection of them all on the bench, the bar and the hustings. Their eloquent accents still ring in our ear. Their pathos, their cutting repartee, their fun of circuit anecdotes, still dwell on our memory with a lasting impression of boyhood, and we are sure our readers will feel interested in details full of the incident, the adventure, romance and vicissitude that checked the lives of some of these distinguished men, more than one of whom rose from poverty to wealth, from obscurity to distinction, and fought their way to the eagle eyes of human ambition, through the furnace of detraction and opposition to fall, as it were, at the very moment of their triumph, before the scythe of the spoiler. The fate of Reed, Rankin and Adams, impress this lesson strongly on the mind. They literally forced their way up to exalted station, against the drawbacks of poverty and opposition, and perished just as they attained it. The same fatality
490attended the lamented Griffith, Walker, Stockton, Grayson, Daingerfield and others, who were swept off as they planted their aspiring feet on the higher platforms of professional renown. But we pass on for the present, from a subject suggested by the mention of Judge Turner, who has outlived nearly all his early associates, and still seems in the enjoyment of robust health and vigorous intellect.
Our first night was spent at Mrs. Ray's, a spacious Inn at the junction of the Gallatin and Monticello roads, and immediately on the Natchez Railroad. We know of no place where the traveller is made more comfortable. Roomy apartments, luxurious beds, a table bountifully and delicately spread, a hostess of the kindest disposition and most engaging manner, a fine gushing spring, with no scarcity of madeira, claret and Monongohala to render your libations more generous — these form a tout ensemble rarely to be found at a country ordinary. What a delightful excursion for our citizens in the balmy periods of the season, a strawberry hunt near Mrs. Ray's, and a picnic in the magnificent pine forest about there! Who could not be eloquent? What lover could not woo and win, with a fine girl stooping to gather the ruby fruit, not half so rich as the blush upon her cheek? And then, there are huckleberries near Mrs. Ray's. Why, the heart of a mountaineer would leap at the very idea! There is to him poetry in the thought. The days of young romance come back dancing upon the memory, gilded with sun-lit recollections of his early home — his first idolatry of woman, whose sainted image nor time, nor distance, nor other attachments, nor the "sere and yellow leaf" of misfortune, have been able to tear from its resting place. How many destinies are fixed for life, hearts cemented into one, in the colder North, in these autumn rambles over the sunny side of the mountain — these annual fruit-gatherings! But here is another attraction to Mrs. Ray's. Winter is coming; we have no sleigh rides; no music of the merry bells, as they sweep, like Laplanders, over the glassy valleys, reflecting back the joyous moonbeams and the smiling stars. This is not vouchsafed to us; but how delightful to wrap up in warm furs, and glide along in the cars, with the melody of clarionet and horn, flinging back their cheering echoes from the hills, to a ball at that pleasant
491inn, with a glorious supper of oysters and chicken salad, turkeys, terrapin and champagne! Why, it would be almost as pleasant as a New England sleigh ride! Now that there is a suspension of arms, and politics for the moment is not the thing, we should look around us, and see how many sources of enjoyment and of improvement are within our reach.
July 6th. — From Mrs. Ray's passed on to Meadville, the county seat of Franklin, once a pretty village stretching along the road for a quarter of a mile, and fringed with white cottages and beautiful trees, but now in a state of dilapidation and decline. The palsying hand of time has shaken it to pieces.
The place was named in honor of a gentleman who still survives — one of the few memorials of territorial days — General Cowles Mead, at present a citizen of Hinds County. He has played no mean figure in the game of politics, and was at one period among the most prominent characters in the South. He emigrated when very young from Virginia to Georgia. In 1805 he had a violent contest with Thomas Spaulding, Esq., a very wealthy and able politician of Georgia, and was returned to Congress. Mr. Spaulding, however, contested the election. It appears that the law of Georgia requires all the returns to be made to the Governor within twenty days after the election; that three counties failed to make their returns within the prescribed period, whereupon the Governor proclaimed that Mr. Mead was elected by a majority of 169 votes, and gave him his certificate of election. It was established on the part of the petition, that a tremendous hurricane prevented the returns from those three counties in time, and that if counted, they would give him a majority of thirty-nine votes over the sitting member. The committee reported in favor of the claimant, and after a debate of two days, the House sustained the report by a vote of sixty-six to fifty-two. See National Intelligencer for 1806. President Jefferson soon afterwards appointed Mr. Mead Secretary of the Mississippi Territory. The seat of government was then at Washington, and Robert Williams, who died a few years since in Louisiana, Governor. The reputation of Mr. Mead preceded him. When he arrived
492a public dinner was given him at Fletcher's old tavern, then the headquarters at Washington, and he made his speech, which the chronicles of that venerable village say has never been equalled on such occasions. His conversational powers and talent for declamation have rarely been surpassed. Indeed the great drawback upon Mr. Mead's influence has been the licentiousness of a poetic imagination. He never could restrain it enough to appear practical; his style savored too much of Bombastes Furioso; his speeches were a succession of beautiful pictures, instead of dry commentary, and hence, although unquestionably a man of genius, he was considered a visionary, and had frequently the mortification to find himself outstripped by very inferior men. In these utilitarian times, however, this is no uncommon instance. No politician now should venture to be eloquent. Rhetoric is fatal to success. We doubt very much whether Mr. Burke himself, with his profusion of metaphors, so elaborated and settled, would be duly appreciated. Men would not pause to scan the deep philosophy and profound wisdom that repose at the bottom of his figures — they would skim over the surface and pronounce him — the most original and prophetic thinker of his generation — a superficial writer. This is the consolation of obtuse intellects. Stupidity, as solemn and as useless as a Chinese Mandarin, will look grave and shake its head wisely over the most splendid efforts of a cultivated mind and a refined taste; and the various commonplace, the most naked truisms, are preferred to those beautiful thoughts, that come burning from the soul, lit up with the fires of genius and warmed by the sunset glow of a poetic imagination. It was upon this rock that Mr. Mead wrecked himself. His speeches in the Legislature and in the Convention of 1817, always produced a sensation, but seldom exercised any influence, and his name is generally found in the minority. He scattered gems from the cornucopia of his genius until the circle around him grew bright and dazzling; but like phosphorescent fires; his eloquence left no impression, and the recollection of it ceased with the melody of his tones. Mr. Mead however was notwithstanding popular with the people; he was an ardent Jeffersonian, and would have been elected to Congress from the territory but for one fatal error he committed. In 1812 or
4931813, we think, during the war, while he was stationed at Baton Rouge in command of a battalion of militia, he was reluctantly induced by his political friends in the territory, to throw up his command, and return home to canvass for Congress. The movement was fatal to him; his opponent, the late Christopher Rankin, a practical and able man in every sense of the word, then a young attorney of Amite, was elected by a large majority and Col. Mead never recovered his popularity. It is due to the Colonel to say, that he incurred his martyrdom for his party, but, entirely against his own individual inclination and judgment. Subsequently, under the State administration, Gen. Mead presided over the House of Representatives with much grace and eminent ability. He is universally admitted to have been the most courtly, able and prompt speaker that ever occupied the chair of our House of Representatives. We will relate a remarkable incident — one without parallel in legislative history — to show the reputation he had acquired for parliamentary learning. Several years ago — some time after Gen. Mead had sought that retirement which he still preserves — a few days after the organization of the House a question of order arose of a very complicated nature, which was debated at length. The House, composed for the most part of young members, soon lost its temper and fell into confusion. The Speaker himself, though a man of strong mind and very clear judgment, was then unpracticed in the Lex Parliatnentaria, and seemed at a loss. Finally when the confusion was greatest, and the difficulty began to look like a Gordian knot, the junior editor of this paper (then the first time a Representative from this county), seeing Gen. Mead in the lobby, addressed the chair, pronounced an eulogy on his well-known intimacy with the rules of debate, and moved that he be invited to express his views on the question. The motion was carried unanimously, when the General took the floor and in a speech of fifteen minutes elucidated the subject. His suggestions were immediately adopted, and the House proceeded in its business. We may safely say that a similar tribute to this was never paid to an ex-member by a legislative body.
It is chiefly, however, in connection with the arrest of the celebrated Aaron Burr that Mr. Mead, then Secretary of the
494Mississippi Territory, and exercising the functions of Governor (in the absence of that officer, who had gone to North Carolina for his family), has claims on our attention. In this respect, his acts and his character are historical. We will glance at them in a future number.
We do not propose to enter here into any detailed history of Burr's alleged conspiracy. We reserve that for another place, and will merely glance at a few incidents the mention of General Mead and the scenes and associations around us suggest. In the fall of 1805 great uneasiness prevailed throughout the Union, occasioned by the rumor that Colonel Burr was preparing to descend the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers with a formidable flotilla, with the view of seizing upon New Orleans, and ultimately dismembering the western from the Atlantic States. The proclamation of President Jefferson had reached this Territory; some statements made by General Wilkinson had found their way to the public, and as the winter approached a general anxiety and apprehension prevailed in this infant Territory. At this distant day, when we know how feeble the force really was with which Colonel Burr descended the Mississippi, the alarm that pervaded the Territory seems almost ludicrous; but this was then a remote settlement, and the accounts of his force that reached here were greatly exaggerated. Colonel Burr, with five or six boats, arrived at the mouth of Bayou Pierre, early in January, 1807, and anchored on the Louisiana shore. He paid a visit to the late Judge Bruin at Bruinsburg, and there learned for the first time that the Territorial authorities would oppose his descent. He immediately wrote to Cowles Mead, the acting Governor, disclaiming any treasonable intent, and avowing his object to be a settlement on the Washita, Mr. Mead, however, participating in the general suspicion, and determined to be upon his guard, addressed the following note from the executive chamber in the town of Washington to the senior military officer of this district:
"SIR — Business of the first magnitude requires your attention at headquarters. You will repair here at midnight. Let not suspicion
even conjecture where you are bound. The fate of the country may depend upon my movement.
"To Col. F. L. Claiborne."
Mr. Mead evidently believed when he sent this dispatch that Colonel Burr was at Bayou Pierre, merely with an advanced guard, to divest the authorities of apprehension, and that the bulk of his force was in the rear. On the 14th of January he very clearly indicated his opinions in the following letters:
"WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 1807.
"SIR — More rumors tell us that Bun is reinforcing at Bayou Pierre. My solicitude will induce me to repair immediately to the scene of action. You will, therefore, send to Greenville, by horses or carts, 1,000 lbs. of powder, and as much lead as you can conveniently spare. To-morrow, at daylight, I shall leave this place, escorted by Captain Farrar's horse. I shall likewise issue orders to the whole militia of Jefferson and Claiborne to rendezvous at their respective places of parade, at which I attend, in my course to Bayou Pierre. The whole militia of this county you will order to some place of rendezvous to wait further orders. Very respectfully,
"To F. L. Claiborne,
"Col. 1st Regiment."
"WASHINGTON, 14th Jan., 1807, 3 o'clock P. M.
"SIR — On the subject of your leaving Natchez to march at once on Bayou Pierre, I think it imprudent until we are better informed of the views and strength of Burr. I despatched an express to Col. Fitzpatrick yesterday, who would reach that officer last night. Maj. Bowmar left headquarters this morning at daylight for the Bayou Pierre, with all the orders and powers he may deem proper to employ. I wish you to collect and organize the militia of the first regiment, and attend to their discipline. Should Col. Burr make an establishment at Bayou Pierre, his force may require for us the aid of the regiments below. To be prepared to obtain this aid promptly is our policy. A division of our forces might be fatal. You will, therefore, decline the intention of marching until I have been informed from above; but, at the same time, continue your exertions for the raising and equipping every man of your regiment who can shoulder a fire-lock. I shall detain Capt. Abrams an hour or two. I am anxious to hear from above before I move.
On the 15th the acting Governor repaired to Greenville, and to the mouth of Coles Creek, where the militia, under the command of Colonel Fitzpatrick and Lieutenant-Colonel Fleharty, were stationed, it being determined upon to intercept the flotilla of Burr at that point. Here Mr. Mead addressed the troops and dispatched his aide-de-camps, the Hon. Geo. Poindexter
496and the late Judge Wm. B. Shields, to propose terms to Colonel Burr. They were accompanied by Colonel Fitzpatrick. On the morning of the 16th they reached the bank opposite the boats, and a skiff was immediately sent over for them. They were met by Colonel Burr, to whom Major Shields handed a letter from Mr. Mead explaining the object of the visit. Colonel Burr immediately and with a sneer ridiculed the idea of his meditating any views against the tranquility of the Territory; declared that he would have proceeded forthwith into the Territory on his arrival at Bayou Pierre to meet the Governor but for his fear of assassination; denounced General Wilkinson as a traitor and made use of these remarkable words in relation to that officer: "If I am sacrificed my port-folio will prove him to be a villian." At this instant of time the conversation was interrupted by a gallant attempt made by Lieutenant Patterson of the Claiborne militia to capture a portion of Burr's forces. Lieutenant Patterson, who had been reconnoitering for some days had anchored his boat behind a willow point, so as to conceal it from, observation. Perceiving that the majority of Burr's men had left their boats and dispersed themselves in the woods, he pushed his boat out in the stream and landed about 200 yards below with thirty well armed and resolute men. Davis Floyd, a bold and daring man, immediately approached Colonel Burr, who was yet standing with the commissioners, and asked permission to drive back this armed band. Colonel Burr requested Colonel Fitzpatrick to interfere and Lieutenant Patterson was ordered to desist and to repair with his command to the mouth of Coles Creek.
The conversation was then resumed between Burr and the commissioners. Colonel Burr pointed to his boats and asked if there was anything military in their appearance. The commissioners remarked that they did not look like agriculturalists; that they were just such men as might be expected to be about a camp. They then informed him the militia had been ordered out to oppose his farther progress. He replied that he was willing to submit to the civil authorities, and proposed that an interview should take place between him and the acting Governor on the next day at some convenient place in the Territory, and that the commissioners should guarantee his safety
497in the meantime, and restore him to his boats if Mr. Mead should accept his surrender to the civil authority; that his boats and crew should keep the position they then occupied until after the proposed interview took place, and that in the meantime they should not be attacked nor commit a breach of the peace nor violate any of the laws. The proposition was committed to writing and accepted and the house of the late Thomas Calvit, near the mouth of Coles Creek, where a detachment of troops under Colonel Claiborne was stationed, was designated for the interview. On the 17th of January Burr, accompanied by Colonel Fitzpatrick, descended the river to the mouth of Coles Creek, where he was received by Captain Davidson's company of dragoons and conducted to the house of Mr. Calvit. Mr. Mead immediately proposed, 1. That the agreement entered into with Messrs. Poindexter and Shields should be declared void; 2. That Burr should surrender himself unconditionally to the civil authority and proceed directly to the town of Washington; 3. That his boats should be searched and all military apparatus found disposed of as the government should think fit.
498this head, and was forthwith escorted to Washington by Mr. Poindexter and Major Shields.
The arrival of Burr at Washington and his surrender to the civil authorities did not entirely remove the alarm that seems to have pervaded the Territory. A number of his own followers, many of whom were ignorant of his real designs, had dispersed themselves through the country, and among the citizens of the Territory there were some who, either fascinated by his talents and seductive address, or regarding him as a persecuted patriot, or influenced by the spirit of party, were disposed to sustain him. Some there were, of course, the vultures of society, who loudly maintained his cause because they were eager to unite in the scheme of rapine and plunder, which, it was supposed, he had in view. Rumors calculated to alarm the public mind continued to prevail. The late Henry Turner, then postmaster of this city, received a letter from the post-master of Nashville stating that 2,000 of Burr's men were on their way down the river, and the following, among other letters, was addressed to the acting Governor:
"PETIT GULF [now Rodney], 20th January, 1807.
"SIR — To-day Capt. W. Calvin, from Pennsylvania, informs me on an oath, that twelve boats of Burr's are in two days' sail of this place, loaded with arms, ammunition and provisions. When I heard your speech at Coles Creek all my doubts were removed, and I am now satisfied that the boats in our care at this place (viz., those Colonel Burr left there when he surrendered himself) only wait the arrival of the rest. Your Excellency, I trust, will take such steps as will remove those from this place lower down, to prevent their reinforcement. The number of men here under my command is only twenty odd, and much worn out. I await your Excellency's order.
"J. L. PATTERSON, Lieut. "By order of Maj. Fleharty."
On the same day the acting Governor thought it necessary to address the following note to the senior military officer of the district:
"WASHINGTON, 20th Jan., 1807.
"SIR — Having heard that the house of Mr.———— is made the receptacle of discontent, and finding a restlessness prevalent with certain characters, I advise you hereof, and authorize you to increase your guard, if you deem proper. Be vigilant. My reliance is on you. Direct Mr. Snider to supply thirty men at Fort Dearborn with rations for one week.
The excitement, however, still increased, and the Governor deemed it his duty to resort to very strong measures, as the following order will show:
"WASHINGTON, Jan. 22d, 1807.
"SIR — Finding that some restless spirits are about who evince a hostile disposition to the views of the government, and favorable to the designs of a man now in the custody of the law, I have thought proper, from these causes, to order you to apprehend every person of this description and take them before, a civil officer, where, if you can substantiate the same by affidavit, you will send them out here to Judge Rodney, under guard or otherwise, and aid on all occasions the civil authority in keeping the peace and coercing respect to the laws. You will, in this, pay every respect to the laws of your country, and require all others to do the same. The number of Burr's friends requires much, vigilance — their licentiousness must be curbed.
"To the Colonel commanding 1st Regiment M. M."
Under this order a number of persons were seized at various times, but subsequently discharged.
In the meantime, as soon as Colonel Burr reached the town of Washington, he was handed over to the custody of the law, and Mr. Poindexter, then Attorney-General, was called on for his written opinion as to the course to be pursued towards the prisoner. His opinion was that there was no evidence to convict Colonel Burr of any offense in the Mississippi Territory; that the Supreme Court of the Territory, to which a jury was about to be summoned, had no original jurisdiction of any prosecution, and could only take cognizance of points of law reserved at the trial in the Circuit Court; that, therefore, Burr ought to be sent under a sufficient guard to the city of Washington, where the Supreme Court of the United States would be in session and could direct the accused to be tried in the district where, from the evidences, it might appear that an overt act of treason had been committed. Judge Rodney, however, thought differently, and a venire facias was issued, requiring the attendance of seventy-six jurors at an adjourned session of the Supreme Court of the Mississippi Territory. From these a grand jury was selected, which was charged by Judge Rodney and adjourned until next day. On the following morning the Attorney-General moved to discharge the grand jury, 1st, because the court did not possess original jurisdiction in any case; 2d, because the depositions did not contain sufficient evidence
500to convict Colonel Burr of the offenses with which he was charged, so as to bring them within the Territory; 3d, that a warrant might issue, transmitting the accused to a court having competent jurisdiction to try and punish him, if guilty of the crime alleged against him. This motion Mr. Poindexter supported in an argument of great ability, but the court dividing upon it, it was overruled.
501returned to Washington the Attorney-General had a judgment nisi entered on the recognizance, a scire facias was issued against Harding and Osmun, but, we believe, the proceedings were subsequently quashed on the ground of informality. The fact is, Mr. Harding outwitted the venerable Judge Rodney at the onset. When Osmun and himself appeared before him with the prisoner, Mr. Harding sat down to draw the recognizance, and after beginning it said it was useless to go through with it, that they would acknowledge themselves bound before him and he might make out the instrument in due form at his leisure, so the recognizance was not reduced to writing until the departure of Colonel Burr from the presence of the Judge.
It will be remembered that when Burr surrendered to the authorities of this Territory he earnestly stipulated that he should not be placed or permitted to fall in the hands of General Wilkinson, who was then in command of the western military division of the United States, and had removed his headquarters from Natchitoches to New Orleans. This stipulation, it is believed, Mr. Meade, the acting Governor, and afterwards Robert Williams (who arrived about the time of Burr's surrender), the Governor, intended in good faith to respect; but General Wilkinson, influenced in part by private motives and by instructions from President Jefferson, which have never yet been published, and stimulated by an agent of the government (the late John Graham, then Secretary of the Territory of Orleans, afterwards Chief Clerk in the Department of State and Commissioner of the General Land Office) who had, under instructions from the Secretary of State, followed Burr through the western country and down to Washington, determined to seize him at all hazards, with or without the consent of the territorial authorities, and send him on to the seat of the national government.
He accordingly ordered Captain Hook, Lieutenants Mulford and Peter, and Dr. Davidson of the army, to proceed to the town of Washington, in the costume of private citizens; to seize him if possible, and deliver him at New Orleans to Lieutenant Jones, who had been ordered by Commissioner Shaw to receive him on board his vessel. They were accompanied by the late Dr. Carmichael of Wilkinson County. They accordingly
502arrived at Washington, but before they attempted to accomplish their object Colonel Burr, his apologists aver, became apprised of it, and was induced to forfeit his recognizance and take his departure. He proceeded, as has been said, to the house of Colonel Osmun, one of his securities (who was no doubt duly informed of the informality of his recognizance), and was not heard of until his final arrest on the eastern confines of the territory.
While at Washington Burr spoke freely to many gentlemen, and wore the air of a persecuted man. The Territorial Legislative Council was in session, and he sought the intimacy of the members from Washington County, on the Mobile River, which then embraced a large portion of what is now South Alabama. He was informed by Lemuel Henry, one of the delegates, that if he had gone there and impressed the people with the belief that his enterprise was a secret one against the Spaniards, he might have procured men enough to have taken Mobile, at which place he would have obtained arms and ammunition and armed vessels to transport troops to any point he desired. Mr. Henry mentioned the difficulties to which his constituents were subjected from the exactions of the Spaniards. Burr remarked that he had seen, with regret, the memorial of the people of that part of the Territory treated with contempt in Congress; that he was surprised the people of that section had not made some effort to release themselves; that the government having neglected them, it was a natural right, and engrafted in the Constitution, for a people, when the government does not secure to them those rights to which, by their situation, they are entitled, either to erect a new government for themselves, or take protection under such other as would promise them a happier condition. This was certainly bold language, when the position in which the speaker then stood, is considered. The conversation with Mr. Henry evidently made a deep impression upon him, and may have influenced the direction of his flight when he left Colonel Osmun's.
The only incident which occurred at Washington after the departure of Burr was the following. A few days after Governor Williams had issued his proclamation for the arrest of the refugee, a negro was discovered near the mouth of Coles Creek
503(opposite to which Burr's boats were stationed) riding on a horse which he had used while here, and wearing a surtout coat that had belonged to him. Upon searching the man, there was sewed up in the cape of his coat a paper in these words: "If you are yet together, keep together and I will join you tomorrow night; in the meantime put all your arms in perfect order; ask the bearer no questions, but tell him all you may think I wish to know. He does not know this is from me, nor where I am. C. T. & D. F." This paper supposed, to have been addressed to his two captains, Comfort Tyler and Davis Floyd, was said by Colonel Fitzpatrick to be in Burr's handwriting. It was immediately brought to Governor Williams and strengthened the opinion which had all along prevailed, that he had a large body of adherents on their way down the river. At this day we attach neither credit nor importance to this incident, although it was adverted to both by Mr. Poindexter and Mr. Henry, at Richmond, before the court. It cannot be possible that a man of the sagacity of Burr, who never seems to have been at a loss for friends in this Territory, could have employed such an agent. Be this as it may, however, the circumstance was made the pretext of arresting some sixty persons, at different periods, who were supposed to be in the interest of Burr. They were held, however, in very light duresse and were soon discharged. Many of the persons thus arrested were young men, who, it is believed, were entirely innocent of any hostile intent against the government. A number of them remained in the Territory, and as was remarked some time afterwards, supplied it "with schoolmasters, singing masters, dancing masters, and doctors in abundance,"
What the real design of Colonel Burr was is as yet "a sealed book." It was, doubtless, known to a few prominent individuals attached to his fortunes, but it was never definitely communicated to the majority of those whom he or his emissaries approached, nor even to those that accompanied him down the western rivers. His trial itself at Richmond, where he was exposed to a searching examination, and witnesses were produced who evidently had the strongest inclination to convict
504him, failed to develop his real design, but much was darkly shadowed forth. He constantly asserted that his object was to settle the Bastrop grant on the Washita, 700,000 acres of which, it was shown, he had purchased from Colonel Charles Lynch, of Kentucky, had paid for the same a valuable consideration in cash and drafts, and received a deed, which was of record in Lexington. He proved that he had purchased, and made contracts, for supplies of provisions and agricultural implements, and insisted that he had never contemplated an expedition against Mexico unless in the event of hostilities between the United States and Spain, which at that period was esteemed a very probable contingency, and, indeed, was anxiously desired by the enthusiastic and adventurous people of the Western States. He never denied that he considered the Union a rope of sand, and that a separation of the Western from the Atlantic States would inevitably follow from, existing political and geographical causes. This impression he endeavored to enforce on every one, in his peculiarly graphic and emphatic manner. We find him thus speaking, at the outset of his journey in Western Pennsylvania, to Col. George Morgan, a soldier of the revolution and long his personal friend, at his hospitable fireside, which until then had heard only the patriotic traditions of the war and heartfelt anticipations of the future glory of the Union, declaring that with 200 men he could drive the President into the Potomac and overturn the government. Here it was, too, that he received that laconic but memorable, reply from the bluff old soldier, "I'll be d — d, sir, if you could take our little town of Canonsburg with such a force — our women are all Democrats." These evidences of attachment to the Union, however, which were met with at every stage of his journey did not uproot an opinion which seems to have been deeply seated in his own mind, and even while under arrest at Washington we find him sneering at the instability of the government in presence of Mr. Graham, its accredited agent, and of Callier and Henry, members of the Council. Colonel Burr fell into the common error of underrating the people. Educated in the camp, he looked upon the masses as just so much physical power, to be operated on through their passions or moved at will by superior intellect. He attached undue importance
505to the leading men of the West, with many of whom he had been in correspondence, who were the secret accomplices of his design, and had impressed him with the belief that the multitude was ripe for "treason, strategem and spoils."
While, however, we thus repeat the grounds upon which he vindicated himself from the charge of treason, it must be remembered that the testimony of General Eaton, Commissioner Truxton and General Wilkinson, supposing them to have sworn the truth, goes to show that he meditated the seizure, by force of arms, of Baton Rouge and New Orleans (the former, at that time, a Spanish post, the latter the capital of Louisiana, which had recently been purchased by the United States), and that he contemplated ultimately the separation of the Union and the invasion of Mexico. In the face of all this constructive treason, however, no overt act could be shown at his trial, and he was discharged, and at this day, with all the testimony yet before the public, perhaps no jury could agree as to the true object of his expedition. One point only, his partners allege, was settled by his trial in the public mind. Whatever he did contemplate had been arranged in concert with General Wilkinson and other prominent men in the west, and the want of firmness or perfidy of Wilkinson occasioned its failure. General Wilkinson had lost the popular esteem, the government at Washington, and at the War Department especially, viewed him with distrust ; a suspicion that he was in the pay of the Spanish government (which then controlled the navigation of the Mississippi, the only outlet of the commerce of the west), had spread throughout the country; all, except his staff and a few gallant officers of his command, had deserted him; and it was believed, being thus desperate in his fortunes, he first clutched at the overtures of Burr, but finally, changing his mind upon perceiving the anxiety felt by Mr. Jefferson, betrayed him for the purpose of recovering the confidence and favor he had formerly enjoyed. The testimony of Major Bruff (brought in collaterally at Burr's trial) bore very hard upon Wilkinson's fidelity to his government, though the witness was evidently under the influence of strong prejudices. Colonel McKee, who had been, up to 1802, agent in the Choctaw Nation, and was a confidential friend of Wilkinson then and long subsequently, swore that
506about the latter end of 1805 the General wrote to him to know whether he (McKee) could not raise a regiment of cavalry to follow his fortunes to Mexico, and the developments afterwards made, in the course of a Congressional enquiry into his conduct, have left the memory of this distinguished man deeply tarnished with suspicion; the gallantry of Gen. Wilkinson was unquestionable; he was a man of elegant and accomplished manners; as a writer he was superior to any of our military men; as a professional soldier, he had seen much service and exhibited great abilities; he was capable of inspiring the warmest attachments, and as his fortunes grew more gloomy, many of his officers appeared to cling more closely to him; yet his reputation never recovered from the shock it received at the celebrated trial to which we have so often adverted. His perfidy to Burr (with what motives we will not here say) was fatal to himself. His popularity, honors and emoluments gradually perished away; and he is finally reported to have died in forgetfulness and poverty, an outcast from the affections of his country, and subsisting for the last years of his life on the remains of the pension for which, his enemies allege, he had sacrificed his integrity.
We have now brought our narrative of transactions that occurred immediately in our vicinity and produced so much agitation in our streets, thirty odd years ago, nearly to a close. The arrest of Burr in the eastern part of this (then) Territory shortly after his escape from Washington, his trial at Richmond, his discharge and subsequent history, wandering over Europe and returning, like a discontented ghost, to gaze at the scenes of his former triumphs; to dwell among his old associates, and in a crowded city, and yet be not of them; to live through long years, uncertain of the fate of his only child, the sole object he ever loved, and finally, to die, certain of nothing but the infamy attached to his name, these are incidents familiar to all. His fate was as singular as it is instructive. Ever after his fatal competition with Mr. Jefferson for the Presidency, he was the object of organized traduction, and constantly hunted by political jackalls, who sought favor upon his ruin. Chafed and disappointed at his defeat, and having none of the philosophy derived from a reliance upon the justice of providence, he
507plunged madly into intrigues against the honor of his country and was himself betrayed. He sunk under the ordeal to which he was subjected, and every effort subsequently made to vindicate his fame has merely served to cast a deeper shadow upon it. His biography, which was heralded with so much ceremonial, written by one long in his confidence, from whom so much was expected, and who boasted of being in possession of his papers, sheds no light upon the unexplained mystery of his movements, and stripped his character of the redeeming attributes with which he was supposed to have been endowed. In turning over its revolting pages the daring soldier sinks into the subtle intriguer; the man of gallantry, glowing with generous passion, into the low libertine, whose gross sensualities were obtruded upon one who, alike fair and innocent, should have been shrined beyond even the dream of such licentiousness. Yet Aaron Burr was not a revengeful man, notwithstanding all that has been written of the perseverance with which he hounded Hamilton to his death. Openly betrayed by Wilkinson and deserted in the hours of peril by most of his accomplices, he had it in his power to implicate many of them. The evidence, though not in his hands when he was finally arraigned, was at his command, but he seems to have felt, after his discharge at Richmond, amid the shattered fragments of his fortune, that abandonment of the soul (as the French term it) which rendered him indifferent to the past, present or the future. Much of that evidence has been some time in the hands of the writer, and will be given to the public whenever circumstances render it expedient to publish an historical work on which he has been, at intervals, for several years engaged.
When the interview took place between Burr and the Mississippi Commissioners, near the mouth of Bayou Pierre, he had those documents in his possession, and his remarkable words in reference to General Wilkinson have been already cited, "If I am sacrificed my port-folio will prove him to be a villian." Had that port-folio embraced only the evidence of his own design, it would have been then, or previously, destroyed, but it contained matter deeply involving parties who then, and since, stood high in the country, and he no doubt determined to preserve it as a guarantee of their silence. These papers, we have
508reason to believe, were deposited before he went to Coles Creek, or perhaps before he met the commissioners, under seal, with the late Judge Bruin; they afterwards passed into the custody of the late Benjamin Osmun, one of the securities on his recognizance, who had entire faith in his integrity, at whose house he was last seen in the Territory, and who supplied him with the facilities of escape. Why these papers were never reclaimed, or if they were, why they were never delivered, we have no means of determining. How they came into our possession it is very easy to explain. Colonel Osmun was the nearest neighbor of the late General Claiborne, and up to the death of the latter they remained most intimate friends, although differing widely in their estimate of Burr. Having no family, Colonel Osmun was long in the habit of keeping his most valuable papers at the domicile of his friend, and he continued this practice up to the period of his own demise. When this happened his executor, the late Judge Taylor (whose mind, however, was much impaired before he entered upon his trust), removed, as was supposed, all the papers of the deceased. Many years afterward, however, we found among a voluminous mass of documents collected by various public men and deposited at the domicile of our late father, several packages of letters belonging to Colonel Osmun, and with them the papers of Aaron Burr. He had no living representative; Colonel Osmun had died without any known heirs; his executor, and two or three executors and administrators in succession, had all been swept off, and we considered ourselves fairly entitled to the custody and the use of so rare and valuable a deposit. It is scarcely necessary to say they will explain much that has hitherto been conjectural, and will establish beyond the shadow of a doubt that if a former Vice-President of the United States was engaged in an unlawful scheme of ambition, he had for his coadjutors some of the most distinguished men of the nation. In drawing up this rapid sketch for the columns of a daily journal, we have endeavored to be as impartial as possible and to divest our statements of the political feeling and bitterness which runs through most of the documents in our possession. We have attempted to present the different opinions held of Burr, Wilkinson and other actors of the scenes as based upon the testimony
509now extant, but we would not be understood as expressing our own opinions, at present, as to the guilt or innocence of any of the parties. We reserve these until we can accompany them with the documents to which reference has been made.
"The letter (from deponent to Burr), postmarked the 13th May, has often been mentioned, and has been used to injure my character and envelope it in doubts and suspicions. This letter, if written at all, must have been in answer to one received from Colonel Burr. Why has it not been produced? I challenge its production, for if it were brought forward it would release me from all obligation to silence, and enable me to exhibit to public view the letter of Colonel Burr. Sir, I am incapable of uttering an intentional falsehood; and under the solemnity of the oath which I have taken, I have no hesitation in saving that the declaration of Colonel Burr that he had put the letter beyond his power, and with my knowledge, is totally destitute of truth."
Much of Burr's correspondence, as is stated in the text, was left in Mississippi when he fled, not deeming it safe to carry it on his person, but that General Wilkinson was privy to this is absurd to believe.
Leaving Meadville, we spent the night at the hospitable mansion of one of the old standby's of Franklin County, Thomas Cotton, Esq., or as he is familiarly called by all the boys and even by men older than himself, "Uncle Tommy." This gentleman was a member of the Legislature many years since, and we received from him much valuable information. Reached Holmesville the next evening, after a ride through a sparsely settled country. This is really a pretty village, beautifully shaded with venerable trees; it is the residence of several very interesting families, and of many agreeable and intelligent gentlemen. It has a new and spacious Temperance Hotel, kept by a respectable Methodist, in a style of taste and comfort rarely met with by the traveller. We know of few places where one could spend the summer more agreeable or with a better prospect for health. The woods abound with game; the streams with fish; many persons keep hounds; if you are disposed to be convivial, you may dine with some one of the hospitable planters every day.
Pike County, embracing as it does a good deal of wealth and producing several thousand bales of cotton, formerly traded exclusively with this city. Owing to various causes, which we will hereafter enumerate, we have lost this valuable commerce, and almost every bale of cotton now made there is hauled to Covington, in Louisiana and thence shipped to New Orleans, across the lake, where the planters supply themselves with those articles which they formerly purchased of our merchants.
The next day crossed the country to Monticello, once a village of considerable importance, but now somewhat decayed. It is situated on a beautiful bluff or plateau on the west bank of Pearl River, which is here a fine, bold stream, affording steamboat navigation many months in the year. No river has been more neglected by the Legislature than the Pearl. Rising in the very heart of our State, in the counties of Winston and Neshoba, and sweeping along through a fine cotton region by the capital of Mississippi, it might easily be made navigable almost its whole extent. But an extraordinary indifference to practical internal improvements has too long characterized our Legislature, and the resources we should have applied to such objects have been squandered in the vain attempt to make bank paper supply the place of gold and silver. Although Monticello has felt heavily the hand of time, it is still a charming little place. Our friend, Bowen, makes every one at home at his comfortable inn, and there are many agreeable families in and around the place, and quite an extensive circle of professional and mercantile gentlemen.
Lawrence may be called the mother county of North Mississippi. It was settled many years ago, chiefly by Georgians and Carolinians, and although it still retains a dense population it has planted its little colonies throughout the northern and middle counties of this State. Go where you will, through the more newly settled counties, and you find very many industrious and intelligent planters, who boast that they came from "old Lawrence." Several of the pioneers of this county have died within the last two or three years — among the rest the venerable Col. Runnells, father of Gen. H. G. Runnells, late Governor of this State. He was a man of strongly marked character. He was an active partisan officer in the closing scenes of the revolution,
511being engaged in several battles, and in two or three desperate affairs with the Tories. After the revolution and until his immigration to this Territory, he took a leading part in the border difficulties with the Indians and received from them, as the late Gen. Dale informed us, the title of "Bloody-shoe." Col. Runnells served in the Legislature of Georgia and Mississippi nearly thirty years, and was ever distinguished for his strong practical sense and inflexible support of popular rights. He retained his activity and faculties to the last, and when past seventy, would canvass his county, mount his horse, and ride twenty miles before breakfast to address the people from the stump! We believe he was never defeated. Col. Runnells was a zealous member of the Baptist Church. He is now dead; but the high and holy political principles he defended with his sword and warmly inculcated through a long life of virtue and usefulness still flourish in the patriotic old county where he so long resided.
From Monticello we had a delightful ride on the east bank of Pearl River down to Columbia, the county seat of Marion, about thirty miles. This is unquestionably one of the most pleasant, natural roads in the Union. It runs, for the most part, on the second bottom or hammock land, or level surface, and just sandy enough to be always dry. Magnificent trees hang over it like a canopy, and beautiful streams, sparkling one moment in the sunbeams and then leafing into shadow, dash across, hurrying along with magic messages from the hidden hills to the flowing river. The moment the traveler going eastward crosses the Pearl he will see the marked change in the water. There are clear creeks and springs in Pike, Franklin and Amite, but none that compare with Silver Creek and White-sand, and the thousand rills and rivers that flow to the south on the eastern side of Pearl and mingle their crystal floods with the chafing waters of the Gulf. The traveler rides into one of these, supposing it to be only a few inches deep and soon finds the water washing his saddle skirts, and the silver-sided perch playing around his stirrups. The fabled fountains of Arethusa or Egeria were not more beautiful than these transparent streams.
The chrystal water is so smooth, so clear,
The eye discovers every pebble there;
So soft its motion, that you scarce perceive
The running brook, or what you see believe.
— Ov, MET.
Columbia was, for a short period, the seat of government of Mississippi. The eastern counties, at that time, held the balance of power, Lawrence and Wayne being the leading counties. But there was an incessant rivalry between the Monticello and Winchester factions, the latter preferring to co-operate with the west than to see the former in the ascendancy. Thus it was, the west and the remote east acting in concert, that the seat of government was for a time placed at Columbia instead of Monticello. With the removal of the seat of government the town began to dwindle, and now the rank weeds grow untrodden on its beautiful square, and its extensive hotels and boarding-houses are deserted. There is, we believe, but one store in the place; that, however, is an extensive establishment, kept by Col. Atkinson, a wealthy and worthy citizen who has often assured us that he has the best and most punctual customers in the world. The people of this county, like most of the eastern counties, are industrious, intelligent and hospitable. Four miles east of Columbia, on the Monticello road, are Stovall's Mineral Springs, formerly a place of fashionable resort. Mr. Stovall, who was a man of great taste, expended some forty thousand dollars on improvements, and his establishment was extensively patronized for many years by the citizens of this and adjoining counties and by wealthy families from New Orleans. An unfortunate incident, however, which led to two or three affairs of honor, in which several estimable gentlemen perished, dispersed the company in the midst of a profitable season, and the place has never been resorted to since. It is admirably designed for a summer retreat. The house is very spacious, on a gentle eminence overlooking the Pearl and its cultivated valleys. The drive to Columbia, and thence up or down the river for miles, is equal to the finest turnpike, overarched in many places with long-armed trees. The boat and fishing rod invite the angler to his sport; and the magnificent pine forest, unbroken in its silent depths, undisturbed in its solitude save by the crack of the hunter's rifle or the long howl of some trooping wolf at nightfall, is literally alive with game.
We were most kindly entertained at these springs by our old and worthy friend, Martin Lewis, Esq., who has converted the establishment into an extensive farm and is now with a numerous
513ous family, realizing the comforts of independence after years of hardship and toil. Mr. Lewis' example is full of encouragement. He commenced life a poor man; for years what he gained by his labor was lost by misfortune; he has always lived in that section of the State, which, as compared with this, is viewed as barren and unproductive; yet by perseverance and economy, constantly delving the soil and selling all that he could save, he may now be considered a wealthy man, and has the health and constitution to enjoy it. Indeed the country is proverbial for its health. Our old friend, Nathaniel M. Collins, informed us that he had lived in the county eighteen years, and during that period there had been but one case of fever in his family. He has a tanning establishment, with its stagnant pools, within thirty paces of his door. His wife is the mother of fourteen children, and for seventeen years has never taken a dose of medicine. His negroes are equally healthy, and during this whole period his medical bill has only amounted to ten dollars.
Passing on in the direction of Williamsburg we stopped at Orangeburg, the country store and establishment of S. H. Wilkes, Esq., who welcomed us to dinner. This gentleman keeps an extensive assortment, carries on a profitable business and annually sends to New Orleans some eight hundred bales of cotton. He is one of the most moneyed men of the east and sustains a high credit in the northern cities. We saw in his store several pieces of beautiful linseys and cottonades, figured counterpanes, etc., made in the looms of Marion County; also a specimen of cotton hailing and rope manufactured by one of his neighbors, Mr. Thomas Allen. His crop of the previous year, put in this home-made fabric, Mr. Wilkes sold at ten and one-half cents all around — a pretty fair price. In sight of Orangeburg there is a very large millpond. On inquiring of Mr. Wilkes if it did not affect his health he informed us that he had lived there seventeen years — had a large family — never had a case of fever on his premises and had not paid the first dollar to a doctor! We saw half a dozen rosy little children shaking down green peaches, and he said he never restrained them — they eat unripe fruit, cucumbers and melons when they pleased and bathed in the creek three or four times a day. In
514our miasmatic region such habits would soon produce disease; the rosy cheek would fade; the bird-like voices of the young would soon, be hushed; our halls and hearths would be deserted — for the grave would claim its own.
Spent the night with our old friend, Esquire Hathorn, of Covington County — a type of old Ireland, generous, ardent, enthusiastic, hospitable and a true-blue Republican. Went with him to Williamsburg, the county seat. Travelers are made very comfortable at Col. Buckhalter's Hotel — his father is a famous hunter — and it is a rare incident not to find a superb saddle of venison on his table. This is one of the best counties east of Pearl, in point of soil. It numbers many excellent planters who live in the most comfortable manner. The orchards are decidedly the best we have seen in the State, and we saw cane growing on cow-pen land, as matured and sweet and decidedly larger than any we ever met with on the alluvial bottoms of the Mississippi. It was the custom of many families here a few years since to make their own sugar and molasses, using only such utensils as are found on every farm. Cider of the highest flavor is a common beverage, and we found everywhere a delicious liquor made of the sweet potato, very refreshing and exhilarating. Dined with Col. Watts, sheriff of the county; spent the night with Judge Leggett and passed on to Anderson's, within a quarter of a mile of Ellisville, the county seat of Jones, having crossed the Leaf, one of the principal tributaries of the Pascagoula River. This county is thinly settled and adapted chiefly to grazing. It is intersected by large creeks that afford fine water power, more than two-thirds of the land yet belongs to the government and will not be entered for years to come at present prices. Much of it is covered exclusively with the long leaf pine; not broken, but rolling like the waves in the middle of the great ocean. The grass grows three feet high and hill and valley are studded all over with flowers of every hue. The flora of this section of the State and thence down to the sea board is rich beyond description. Our hortus-siccus, made up on this hurried journey, would feast a botanist for a month. Thousands of cattle are grazed here for market. The unbroken
515forests abound with game, The red deer troop along by dozens; for miles the wild turkeys run before you in the road; and the sharp whizzing of the startled partridge is constantly on the ear. But for this panorama of life, the solitude of a ride through this region would be painful. The houses on the road stand from ten to twenty miles apart; the cheering mile posts and the gossiping traveler are seldom met with; the armless pines look gaunt and spectral and fall sadly on the soul. At nightfall, when the flowers have faded away, no fireflies gem the road; you hear no tinkling bell; the robber owl flaps by lazily on the wing; fantastic shadows, like trooping apparitions, chase each other into settled gloom; and instead of "the watch dog's cheerful cry" the "wolf's long howl" comes up from the adjoining reed-brakes and is echoed back by the strolling companion on the neighboring hills.
Jones County is remarkable for the almost universal exemption of disease that it enjoys. Although it is irrigated by several large water courses that have extensive swamps, fevers are very rare. The people are for the most part pastoral, their herds furnishing their chief revenue. No doctor or lawyer has ever settled in the county. Indeed physicians are not in the best odor, and a certain friend of ours who was along found that his title of doctor, though useful in some districts, was of no advantage in Jones. Our old friend, Isaac Anderson, Esq., who lives like a lord, in the sight of the court-house, informed us that he had resided in the county twenty-three years. He had ten children, thirteen grandchildren and fifteen blacks; never had but one case of fever on his premises and never employed a doctor! His brother has fifteen children, has resided there about the same time, and never had a case of sickness. Near the town resides a revolutionary soldier, the venerable John Evans and wife. They are both near one hundred years old, have lived there twenty odd years and never had an attack of sickness. The whole stock of medicine consumed in the county during the year would not cost more than twenty dollars. No regard is paid to diet or weather. The houses are chiefly built of logs, partly left unchinked at all seasons of the year; great quantities of fruit are consumed; the cotton and corn fields are planted over with melons, of which all eat with impunity
516and frequently as they are plucked, warm from the sun; many of the men spend days in the woods herding cattle or deer stalking, and they swim, water courses and catch the drenching winter rains without thinking of hot teas, warm baths and dry clothes to keep them from taking cold. The universal practice is to let the drenched garments dry on the system. All ages plunge with impunity into the streams, and the children and the ducks live in the water together. Yet there is little or no sickness, scarcely ever a fever, not a doctor within fifty miles; the men are robust, active and long-lived; the women beautiful, and the children lively as crickets and ruddy as rosebuds. Let the river planter, who swallows some filthy potion three times a day throughout the year to keep off a chill or break a fever or give him an appetite, think of this! Let the man who finds himself growing richer and weaker every day, his capacity diminishing as his means increase, living childless or more melancholy still, seeing his children summoned every fall like autumn leaves to the tomb, remember that there is within our own State a region more healthy than the Alleghanies, where rosy health dwells perpetually, where no wedded fireside is without the smile and prattle of childhood, and where one-half the amount expended in an uncomfortable trip to the North would supply all the comforts of life in abundance. Land, as we have said, may be had at government price, or improved with comfortable cabins, a fine spring and a clearing may be had at a small advance. The most juicy and richly flavored grass-fed beef can be bought at three or four cents; butter at a bit a pound; eggs and fowls, potatoes, etc., at a mere song; cheese for a trifle; venison for the shooting of it; and an owner of five hundred or one thousand head of cattle will thank you for penning, milking and salting his cows. It is literally a land of "milk and honey" — for the wild bee builds her nest in many a hollow tree, and hives by the dozen garnish the gable ends of every farm house.
Ellisville was named after the Hon. Powhattan Ellis, our present Minister to Mexico. He formerly held the courts here and is held in high esteem by the people. The town itself is a mere cluster of houses — some four or five — and the courts scarcely deserve the name as the term seldom lasts more than one day. Happy people!
Our visit to Ellisville was saddened by intelligence of the death on the previous evening of Col. Samuel Ellis, for many years the Representative of that county and one of the noblest of his species. Col. Ellis was a blacksmith by trade, and was a man of strong mind, much improved by his long political associations. A large audience had assembled to hear Messrs. Gwin and Freeman, but this melancholy news hung like a pall over the whole assemblage. Those gentlemen did not, therefore, speak in detail as they were in the habit of doing on the canvass. We then, by request, pronounced a funeral eulogy over our departed friend and passed on to the southward for the county of Perry. Spent the night with Mr. Sumrall, one of the oldest and worthiest men in the State. He has lived there ever since the settlement of the county. Everything around him looked superannuated and solitary. The trees had an aged aspect and were gnarled and mossy. An old house dog bayed a melancholy notice of our approach. His antique but spacious dwelling was weather-beaten and decayed. The garden was grown up in weeds and the shrubbery that had once been nursed there by the hand of beauty looked stunted and neglected. Even the faithful rose vine which clings so long to the deserted dwelling and blooms over the graves of those that loved it in life was already in "the sere and yellow leaf." The innocent bosoms on which, its clustered buds used to repose were long since gone; and there it lay as if conscious of widowhood, its tendrils broken and "wasting its fragrance on the desert air." There too in the soft light of a July moon musing alone over the memories of the past, sat the fine old man, his head frosted over with wintry years but his eye still beaming with benevolence. He had raised a highly respectable family of children — had dowered them with enough of this world's goods and they were all gone to distant settlements. He was left alone. A few months previous to our visit he had buried the aged partner of his bosom and now felt the curse of solitude. They err who suppose that age, though it dims the eye and shakes the nerves, can freeze the heart or weaken the affections. It is not so. Youth — all glowing as it is — sooner forgets the images of love. New scenes — impressions — balm the wounded soul, and ambition or gain distil the waters of Lethe over its afflictions. But
518in old age, when, the dear ones of the fireside have wandered off like bees from the parent hive; when neither office nor wealth have charms and nothing remains but memories of early joy and the enduring companionship of years — the blow that severs this and calls one away forever, strikes the survivor also. This indeed is death; for in the dim future there is no smile. The old can then but count the weary hours of their pilgrimage and the soul wait, like an impatient and imprisoned bird, to wing its flight to heaven. It was thus we found and left our venerable friend — & man without an enemy, almost without a fault — an humble Christian and a genuine Democrat.
After a brisk ride we reached Augusta, the county seat of Perry. We had long heard of this old town; Judge Black, Judge Buckner Harris, Jacob J. H. Morris (universally known throughout the East as old coon), and two or three other political characters, had taken their start there; it had long been the seat of the United States Land Office and a branch of the great Union had been established within its walls. The country through which we passed after leaving Mr. Sumrall's was poor, the settlements scattered, and exhibited no indications of our approach to a commercial town, such as our imaginations had pictured. We rode on, however, expectation on tiptoe for an oasis in the desert, the sun pouring down upon us almost vertically and our flagging horses sinking fetlock deep into the sand, when lo! the ancient town stood before us, an extensive parallelogram garnished round with some eight or ten miserable tenements — the wrecks of better times! Scarce a tree stood in the gaping square for the eye to rest upon; the grass was all withered up; the burning sun fell upon the white and barren sand as on a huge mirror. Even of these dilapidated dwellings several were unoccupied, and we rode round half the town before we could find a living thing to direct us to the tavern. We finally reached it and found it "alone in its glory," a small log cabin with one room and a shed! Stable there was none, nor bar, nor landlord, nor barkeeper. We stripped and tethered our horses and took possession of the establishment. Not a human being was to be seen; we were hungry and fatigued; the idea of a town and its hundred and one little comforts for the traveler had buoyed us up during the morning's ride, and
519our fancies had diagramed something very different from that we were now realizing. In a few hours, however, the landlord made his appearance. Not expecting us until next day he had gone out on a foraging expedition. We found him a jolly bachelor and a Virginian at that. He soon concocted for us a delightful julep and feasted us on delicious venison. The gentlemen of the town came in and we spent a very agreeable evening. No man can live in such a place without losing his energies. Every day adds to the stagnation of the mind, and in less than six months one would find himself completely asleep. We never before saw such a picture of desolation, The vestiges of numerous and extensive buildings were still to be seen; the town itself had been planned on an imposing scale; the landing on the Leaf River, where formerly barge and bateau deposited their rich cargos, was pointed out; the courthouse — once thronged with suitor and defendant — but now all was silence and solitude.
" —————- the sounds of population fail,
No cheerful murmurs fluctuate in the gale,
No busy steps the grass-grown footway tread,
But all the blooming flush of life is fled."
The town, however, next day presented a more lively scene. That certain premonitory of a public gathering, the ginger bread and beer cart, came tumbling towards the square. Rickety vehicles of different shapes and sizes laden with melons, came trudging after. A grocery, with sundry suspicious looking jugs and tin measures, was discovered. Swart negroes, dressed up in their holiday clothes, were seen striding in, gazing about for the candidates as one would for the giraffe. It was quite an event. Except the Hon. Robert J. Walker no aspirant for a high office had visited the place for many years. Finally, the sovereigns themselves gathered — the real yeomanry of the county — and then the game commenced. Our friends went at it in good earnest, and we strolled from place to place. The largest portion of the crowd remained, of course, in the courthouse with the orators, but we found a pretty respectable group about the grocery. Pour or five of these were playing seven up, old sledge, or some such game, on the head of a whisky barrel, and others were discussing the preliminaries
520of a quarter race. Everything, however, was orderly and quiet. Few persons quenched their thirst that day or partook of the ruby melon without inviting the strangers to join them. We have seldom seen a more respectable crowd. All had the appearance of uninterrupted health. Indeed, sickness is a rare visitor in this whole region, and if the people be not generally so rich they are out of debt and have the health to enjoy what they possess. Be that much or little, their hospitality is unbounded. In no quarter of the world is the wayfarer received with more cordiality and kindness, and the best that they have, and that always plentiful and neat, is set before you throughout the East. The very looks of these people cheer one up. Industrious, contented, cheerful and unembarrassed, they associate without ceremony. The glow of health is upon almost every cheek. On this point we wish distinctly to be understood. Our statistics as to the health of the country are numerous; we will, however, cite but one instance, and give the name, as we have done in previous cases, that no doubt of the facts may arise. John J. Dantzler, Esq., a highly respectable and intelligent gentleman, who resides immediately on Leaf River, some miles below Augusta, informed us that he came to the county in 1812 with a family of five persons. He has now ten children, thirteen grandchildren and about sixty negroes. During the whole period he has never employed a physician and never had a natural death on his plantation. One negro died of old age and two or three colored infants from neglect of their mothers. No other quarter of the world can furnish a parallel case.
July 16th. — Left Augusta for Mr. Bruland's, a very comfortable house of entertainment some sixteen miles distant. Passed on next day through a level open pine woods country to Leaksville, the county seat of Greene. There is no town here. The courthouse and jail stand on a lot perhaps deeded to the country, but the property all around belongs to John D. Mc Innis, Esq., who resides at the place and entertains the court, the bar and all that attend. It is a very pretty place, well improved and standing in view of the Chickasawhay, which is
521here a fine stream, suitable for steamboat navigation. Mr. McInnis is descended from one of the old Scotch families that originally settled this country. They were an industrious, enterprising and economical people, chiefly members of the Presbyterian Church, and many of them had accumulated considerable estates. Remarkable for their temperate habits, many of them have obtained a very great age, and there are yet living in Greene some of the original immigrants who speak nothing but the Gallic and whose years no one can compute. Many of the people here are herdsmen, owning large droves of cattle, surplus increase of which are annually driven, to Mobile. These cattle are permitted to run in the range or forest, subsisting in summer on the luxuriant grass with which the teeming earth is clothed, and in winter on green rushes or reeds, a tender species of cane that grow in the brakes or thickets in every swamp, hollow and ravine. The herdsmen have pens or stampedes at different points in the forest, where at suitable times they salt the cows, and once or twice a year they are all collected and marked and branded. This is a stirring period and quite an incident in the peaceful and somewhat monotonous life of the woodsman. Half a dozen of them assemble, mounted on low built, shaggy, but muscular and hardy horses of that region, and armed with raw hide whips of prodigious size, and sometimes with a catching rope or lasso, plaited of horsehair. They scour the woods in gallant style, fallowed by a dozen fierce looking dogs; they dash through swamps and morass, deep ravines and swim rivers, sometimes driving a herd of a thousand heads to the pen, or singling out and separating with surprising dexterity a solitary steer which has become incorporated with another herd. In this way, cheering each other with loud shouts and making the woods ring with the crack of their long whips and the trampling of the flying cattle, they gallop thirty or forty miles a day and rendezvous at night at the stamping ground. Here they "bivouac" in the open air, a fire of light wood logs is soon kindled, that flings its blaze far into the depths of the forest; a young steer, or perhaps a fat buck that has been killed during the ride, is speedily cut into stalks and set upon sticks before the fire to broil. This, with water from an adjoining branch, just touched perhaps with a
522little "old corn," constitutes the repast; the horses are hobbled and turned out to graze, and after a few gibes and jeers and a little chuckling over the accidents of the day, they stretch themselves around the blazing fire on skins or blankets, contented, happy and at peace with all the world.
This county abounds with deer. Many persons make it a business in the fall and winter to kill them for the Mobile market. Stalking or still hunting is the usual practice, and it is not uncommon for a good hunter to kill five or six in a day. When a sufficient number is thus collected they are thrown into a light horse wagon and driven down to Mobile, where they always command a ready sale. The beautiful, clear, deep streams here are full of fish. When we arrived at Leaksville we informed Mr. McInnis that we should like to be supplied with those (to us) rarities. He called two of his sons, little fellows that looked almost too small to shoulder a gun. One went off towards the river and the other struck into the forest, and in a few hours we were feasting on delicious venison, trout and turtle. The boys had only to walk a few hundred yards to find at any time the articles wanted. Since the disappearance of the Indians, game has multiplied wonderfully. In addition to the valuable trade in cattle, which has enriched many people in this region, Greene County drives a profitable traffic with Mobile in smaller items on an extensive scale. Large quantities of butter, cheese, honey and eggs are sent down, and some persons raise two thousand chickens for market. In the fall, winter and spring the road is lined with small carts, built of pine boards and covered over with an awning of striped cotton, loaded with fowls, driven by little boys and sometimes by females. It is no unusual thing to see thirty of these vehicles at one time in the Mobile market, all from Greene County. Raising these articles so abundantly and maintaining a constant intercourse with the city and the seaboard, if will excite no surprise when we speak of the comfort and abundance that everywhere appears. At every house we found what we considered delicacies — the richest honeycomb, milk and butter, sweet and creamy; venison, juicy sirloins of young beef and trout fresh from the crystal brooks — and all this, too, placed before us with so much neatness and with such hearty good will that one could not fail to relish it.
We were now in one of the border counties of Mississippi and within the influence of the exhilarating breezes and saline atmosphere of the Mexican gulf. For a great distance on every side of us the soil is thin but yields bountifully under manures and a rotation of crops, properly selected. Grass, of the coarse, rank species peculiar to pine woods in these latitudes, grows dense and luxuriant, and, as we have stated, enables the people to subsist immense herds of cattle. Horses and mules for the saddle and plough might be raised with little or no expense on the range. But the great source of wealth in this country must ultimately be — for it is now scarcely thought of — the lumber trade. The whole east is thickly planted with an almost unvaried forest of yellow pine. Finer, straighter, loftier trees the world does not produce. For twenty miles at a stretch in places you may ride through these ancient woods and see them as they have stood for countless years, untouched by the hand of man and only scratched by the lightning or the flying tempest. This growth of giant pines is unbroken on the route we pursued for an hundred miles or more, save where rivers or large water courses intervene, and then we find in the extensive swamps that bound them on each side a heavy growth of white oak, chestnut and evergreens. The former is particularly large, shooting up frequently a smooth and limbless stem sixty feet, and of proportionate circumference. The time must arrive when this vast forest will become a source of value. The smoke of the steam mill will rise from a thousand hills. Rafts and lumber boats will sweep down the Pearl, the Leaf and Chickasawhay, and a railroad will transport millions of feet to the city of Mississippi to be shipped in vessels, built there of our own oak, to the West Indies, Texas and South America, countries that furnish the best lumber market in the world, and to which we are so much more accessible than the hardy mariners of New England, that now monopolize the trade. A railroad to the gulf could be constructed at little expense. For one hundred miles or more the country slopes down to the sea shore. Not a hill would have to be cut through. There are no rocks to excavate; the foundation or substratum is dry and solid, and the heart of yellow pine and white oak growing on the whole line would furnish the finest materials. A system of
524judicious internal improvement would soon render our rivers navigable. Indeed, owing to the perseverance of John J. McRae, Esq., and a few other gentlemen, the obstructions in Chickasawhay are rapidly disappearing. These gentlemen deserve great credit. Under a thousand drawbacks and discouragements they have shrunk not, but have successfully carried on, with limited means, a work all important to the development of the east. We are aware that at present, and perhaps for some years, the State can lend no aid to these improvements. Our treasury is bankrupt. The miserable attempt to bolster up banks and corporations with the credit of the State has resulted as we predicted it would in 1829, in the Legislature, when we protested against the incorporation of a bank or any bank. But we believe that individual enterprise will, in due time, accomplish the objects we suggest and bring into active operation the rich resources of The East. They only want to be known to be appreciated. The beneficent hand of Nature has planted there all the elements of wealth; it has given them a climate, as we sincerely believe, the most salubrious in the universe, and the better these are understood the higher will they rise in public estimation. Look at the immense aggregate of wealth the people of North Carolina annually coin out of their pine woods by the manufacture and sale of tar, pitch and turpentine, to say nothing of lumber. Yet we, with a pine forest more extensive, with a sea coast far less dangerous, with the means of subsistence cheaper and more abundant, and health much superior, ship none of these great staple articles of commerce, and our counties where these rich materials abound and where they might be manufactured to an almost unlimited extent, are all thinly settled. The opinion that East Mississippi is poor and barren, and therefore destitute of resources, is erroneous, and one object of these hasty sketches is to point out that error.
July 19. — Set out for Winchester. The aspect of the country varied very little. Extensive pine forests, covered over with a thin coating of soil, but affording a luxuriant growth of grass and watered by innumerable clear, deep streams is the uniform picture spread out before you. Here and there a farmhouse
525stands on the road, every one of which, as it seemed to us, was literally swarming with children, whose buoyant forms, bright eyes and ruddy cheeks bore testimony to the delightful atmosphere they breathed. Wherever we stopped the little creatures ran out to welcome us. One, larger than the rest, would aid us in stripping our horses, another would dash off to the spring, the little girls would offer us fruit or show us a place to lounge upon. It was impossible not to kiss the pretty cherubs and to feel upon our hearts the ameliorating influence of childhood, untainted in its morning innocence, undimmed in its budding beauties.
Throughout our journeyings in the piney woods we observed a universal fondness for flowers that prevailed. The forest itself, as we have elsewhere remarked, is embroidered all over with flowering plants, whose tints and perfumes would kindle rapture in the breast of beauty; but notwithstanding this, we found at every dwelling some shrub, vine or blossom of exotic origin, treasured as a companion, exposed to the balmy dews of summer and protected from the wintry blasts. This is everywhere the care of woman. It is in her nature to love that which is most fragile and dependent. The strong, the grand, the gorgeous, attract her not. The humble cottage, with its ivied porch; the violet, modestly peeping from its stream-side hank to coquet with the sunbeams; the "last rose of summer," pining in loneliness, the helplessness of childhood, the broken heart and returning penitent — these, despised and forsaken though they be, are the objects that first touch her imagination, and which, while untainted by the world's communion, she soonest seeks and longest clings to. Charity, faith and humility are her distinctive and ennobling attributes, and oh, how gloriously does she exhibit them in moments of trial! She shrinks from the world's gaze and is at times timid as a startled fawn; but when, the heart of man quails her fortitude endures. Here, in our own clime, in a sister city, we find women, born to opulence and rank, dooming themselves to unwedded life, masking forms the most voluptuous and features the most lovely, in unattractive costume, tracking the pestilence, unrewarded, unknown, oft unthanked, sometimes derided, keeping their midnight vigils with the sleepless stars, to soothe the sick and shrive the dying. Who but woman could act out this glorious
526design — these noble instincts of her nature? Her character, her deep devotion and unalterable affection, ever ready to fly from the grandeur of the world, to endure poverty with the hunted and traduced object of her first attachment, are admirably illustrated by the much criticised but beautiful lines of Moore:
"Come rest in this bosom, my own stricken deer!
Tho' the herd have fled from thee, thy home is still here;
Here still is the smile no cloud can o'ercast,
And the heart and the hand all thy own to the last."
It is not, then, a matter of surprise that we find the sex, throughout the world, partial to whatever is most tender and beautiful in nature. To love a delicate flower is in keeping with the character of an amiable woman. It must be cherished to bloom. The slightest change affects it. She watches its delicate petals, its maiden blush, its meridian beauty, its fading hues, and then she places it in her own generous bosom, with the precious instinct of her nature, to nourish and preserve it. The psychologists tell us that there may be a strong sympathy between a young girl and the flower she loves; alas, she may too often perceive in it the emblem of her own destiny.
About noon, in the warmest day of July, we crossed a clear, deep stream, which, after meandering down a narrow ravine, leaped foaming over a huge bed of sandstone rock, and then spread itself out into a broad lake, fringed around with alder, sumach and evergreens. A cottage stood immediately on the brink of this crystal sheet, and the flowers in the porch above and the ever changing hues of the tinted sky were mirrored in the water below. Two old, long-armed beech trees stooped towards the lake so low that every breeze which ruffled its surface must have dashed the spray up among the glistening leaves. Jessamine, honeysuckles and grape vines twined their tendrils on porch and tree, and completely veiled this picturesque resting; place from the noonday sun. In all our journeying we had seen no place so inviting. No one met us, as is usual in that hospitable region, at the gate. It was the holy Sabbath, and its blessed influence had hushed all things to repose. The hour was that, when in our climate, at that season of the year, all nature seems to slumber and be still as at the "witching hour
527of night." The hum of the wild bees was no longer heard; tired of toil they lay deep in the bosom of the flowers, seeking shelter from the sunbeams. The industrious wood-pecker ceased its tap and the musical breeze itself languished away, or was heard only in the Memnon-like voice of the distant pines. The leaves no longer gayly fluttered, but hung drooping from their stems, and the peaceful herds lay sleeping in the shade.
The cottage itself, though rustic in its materials, was quite a gem. The whitewashed walls, the polished floors, the cots and lounges scattered about, the roses that peeped in with their smiling faces at every window, as if to welcome us, leaves of music and volumes of poetry, whispered to us some delightful presentiments. Seeing no one, we passed into the garden, and there, in a festooned bower, stood two young persons, not conscious of our approach. They were lovers, and she an only child, the sole remnant of an ancient and honored race of Scotch Presbyterians.
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flow'r of her kindred,
No rose-bud is high,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.
Her aged parents were at their solitary place of worship, and here on this blessed day, in this fairy spot, the two were keeping their tryst. The young man had evidently just poured out his impassioned soul and kissed from her dewy lip the first sweet confession of love. One arm was around her tiny waist, and with the other he pressed her lily hand to his burning bosom. Her cheek glowed with blushes, and no jewel could equal the luster of her eye, though it swam in tears. With one hand she was trying to mask her beautiful face with her flowing hair, but it twined round the neck of her lover and lay floating in his arms. Thus they stood, entranced, intoxicated, emparadised, enjoying in one moment an age of bliss. Enchained for an instant by a spectacle so interesting, we silently retired to the house. They soon followed us there. Though not conscious that we had witnessed the recent eclaircissement, they were evidently confused, but joy, hope, the sunshine of the future, beamed in his ardent gaze and sparkled in her "sidelong looks of
528love." Presently the father and his venerable wife, accompanied by a very old man, who had labored in the ministry for half a century, arrived. They received us most kindly, spread out before us a neat repast (prepared the day before, for in this family the Sabbath was literally "a day of rest") and whiled away the hours in reminiscences of border warfare in the early settlement of the country. Before we started the two aged patriots gave us their blessing, and we listened in that lonely place, in the still evening, on bended knee, and, as we trust, with contrite hearts, to one of the most touching prayers for the wayfarer, that ever ascended to heaven. The minister was very old. His eyes had lost much of their light, his limbs tottered, and his spirit seemed to be already reeling on the brink of a world to him not dim and shadowy, but full of glorious realities. Yet he threw his whole soul into the supplication, and the feelings of his: heart gushed forth, not as from the spring of some exhausted stream, but like the waters of Vaucluse, full and abundant even at their source. Age and toil and affliction had worn deep channels in his frame, but while he prayed his countenance beamed with a radiant and holy light, like some eternal flame burning upon the altar of a rained temple.
Well, we have reached Winchester at last, in old Wayne, after a long ride from Greene C. H. We saw all along memorials of the former wealth and prosperity of this county. Comfortable homesteads, once, now unoccupied; large plantations abandoned; venerable oaks still casting their paternal arms over mansions now deserted as if to stay the progress of the spoiler; long avenues of trees where erst perhaps ambition strode in meditation of its unrevealed designs, or young love whispered its pleas upon the cheek of youth. The empty schoolhouse nearby some bubbling, spring; the country church once Sabbath thronged, but now exhibiting no trace of worshipers; the wayside graves, with their rude picketing crumbling in the dust, and the faithful rose vine still creeping over them, blooming sadly but sweetly, amid the desolation. It is dispiriting indeed to ride through one of those old counties in the dusk of eve, no sign of human life near, the night wind mourning in the aged pines
529like the voices of long forgotten days, and all around vestiges of the people departed and dispersed. There is nothing in the town itself to cheer up the spirits of the traveler. The situation is very pleasant, on an elevated table on the east bank of the Chickasawhay; you crossed a most lovely stream by the ruins of an old stockade while during the Indian troubles, being immediately off the Creek frontier, the inhabitants forted themselves; you pass on by groups of broad spreading trees that the axes spared, and instead of the smiling village you see a mass of ruins, most of the houses being age-worn and storm-riven, and the beautiful square, once curtained with stores and rife with activity, is now covered over with rank weeds. The town is literally tumbling to pieces, and one finds only the skeleton of the nourishing Winchester which existed twenty years ago, when those eminent citizens, the Hon. Powhattan Ellis (now minister to Mexico), the late Dr. Patton, Judge Sterling, General Laing, and Colonel Home, resided there. Several very respectable families live there yet, but the place has lost its importance. At the period we speak of Wayne was one of the ruling counties of Mississippi, and the only one which constantly refused to coalesce with the league once existing against this city and county. The politicians of Wilkinson had the adroitness to obtain, on almost all occasions the support of the eastern counties, but Wayne adhered in all our early contests with unshaken fidelity to the interests of this county. But the "sceptre hath departed out of Judah;" her power is broken; the treaty of 1830 with the Choctaws, that threw open such an immense extent of productive territory in the center of our State, drew off her population by the hundreds. Next to Lawrence, Wayne has given the largest number of settlers to the new counties. The majority of those that remained are intelligent farmers, raising their own supplies, and ever ready to welcome the wayfarer to their hospitable firesides. A more peaceful community does not exist in the world; in evidence of which we may state that at the date of our visit there was neither lawyer, judge, justice, sheriff, clerk nor constable in the county, and but for the contemplation of several marriages and the necessity of obtaining licenses, it is not supposed that any
530of these respectable functionaries would ever again, have appeared in that county.
The cotton raised here is hauled to Mobile, but in future the most of it will pass down the Chickasawhay, if the Messrs. McRea succeed in their laudable effort to remove the obstructions to its free, navigation. Extensive orchards are found here of many varieties of fruit. Wheat is cultivated with success, and numerous herds of cattle graze on the broad, natural pastures that are found throughout the east. A worthy friend of ours, for many years a Senator in the Legislature, and universally known as Long Johnny McLeod, owns, we were told, some two thousand head. The health of the county is proverbial — doctors sometimes settle there but soon starve out. The country around Winchester struck us as being peculiarly adapted to the raising of sheep, with a view to the wool and the supply of the Mobile market with mutton. The soil is sandy and produces a countless variety of shrubs that sheep love to browse upon. The surface of the country is undulating, the wild summer grass grows luxuriantly all over the woods; the ravines abound with reeds, rushes and switch-cane, furnishing good and nutritious food throughout the winter, and the wornout and deserted fields supply the short pasturage upon which sheep thrive so well. Why should not wool growing be more profitable in this region than at the north? There the breeder must own or rent every acre of land that his flock treads upon; he must fence, hedge or wall it in; folds and shelter are to be erected; forage for the long winter provided, and in despite of all this outlay and attention, distempers and murrains sometimes break out that sweep off two-thirds of the flock, Still the northern shepherds prosper, persevere in their business and realize handsome profits. Here one may graze 5,000 sheep without owning a rood of land; from the eastern bank of the Pearl your flock may roam from county to county, till it reaches the margin of the Mobile River, and never be off public domain, which will for years furnish an inexhaustible range; no shacks or barns are necessary for winter subsistence; our climate is too mild to require shelter, and there is no country in fact where sheep are so free from disease as in the pine woods. A friend of ours, Colonel Denman, of Pike, who has a considerable number, informs us that he never had a
531case of distemper among them. We attribute this to the dryness of the soil and atmosphere, the saline impregnation of the grasses from the influences of the ocean, but more than all from the smoke of the burning pine or the vapor of tar, which the sheep constantly inhale. Why, then, under these circumstances, we ask again, would not wool-growing in eastern Mississippi be a profitable business?
At Winchester we parted with our traveling companions, who had appointments more to the north; left town in the afternoon, crossed the river to the house of our friend Strickland, late sheriff of the county, who kindly entertained us, and in the morning started on our lonely journey; the day was dark and lowering; for weeks no rain nor gentle dew had refreshed the parched earth; a thunder cloud hung over us and its pent-up fury burst upon the heavy forest. The few birds that tenant these woods of long leaf pine flew screaming to their eyries; some cattle dashed madly across the hills for shelter, and taking the admonition we galloped to the left, a spot where fire or some long past hurricane had destroyed all the largest timber. Well was it that such a chance offered. The whole forest was in motion. The tall pines were bending their lofty heads. The few old ones fell thundering down, casting their doted fragments around us, and then the gale rushed madly on, plucking up the largest trees and hurling them, like javelins, through the air. The cloud was covered up with a pall, and long, lurid flashes, like sepulchral lights, streamed and blazed athwart it. The earthquake voice of nature trembled along the ground, and ere its running echoes had died away came again, crash after crash, thundering forth. But at last it paused; the clouds scudded along like giant phantoms in conflict with each other, and then, as if by magic, as we gazed transformed themselves into castellated towers and frowning batteries. The wind died off, but the scene around was appalling. Hundreds of trees lay scattered over the ground while here and there others stood splintered by the bolt of heaven and smoking with its fire. God preserve us from another ride through the spectral pines in such a storm!
The day was now drawing to a close, and still gloomy and lowering, the road had become gradually more obscure; we had
532no sign of human habitation since we started in the morning; no finger board to direct our way; a drizzling rain set in; we forced our weary horse, sometimes fording, sometimes swimming the angry and swollen stream that rushed down from the hills, when on the summit of the ridge which divided itself in different directions the road branched off in trails of cow-paths. We acknowledged ourselveslost in the depths of the lonely forest; it was now nightfall. We remained undecided, as those who are bewildered in the woods always do, riding up one path and down another until suddenly we heard a rustling in the thicket below and the next moment a noble buck bounded up the hollow on our left, leaped convulsively back and fell exhausted almost at our feet. He had been wounded, for the blood oozed slowly out of his flank. Soon we heard the trampling of feet upon our back. The pursuers came plunging on through brake and glen, and we already heard in fancy the hearty cheers of the huntsmen.
On, on came the hungry pack upon the scent of blood. The reeds in the ravine below came under their feet. We raised ourselves on our stirrups to give the death halloo when at the instant a dozen fierce forms leaped with a savage yell upon the expiring animal. One glance sufficed. They were not hounds, but gaunt and ravenous wolves, their eyes blood-shot and glaring and their tongues hanging down from their voracious jaws. We had no disposition to remain in the neighborhood and our frightened horse dashed forward like a flying dragon, snorting with terror. It was in vain to try to check him. Away he flew. He had taken a stony path leading down a long descent; his iron hoofs fell fast and sharp and left a train of fire behind him. For half an hour he continued his flight, bearing hard upon the bit, bounding forward like a deer and quivering with alarm at the fire that burst from, beneath his feet.
At length the gentle tinkle of a bell was heard; a light flash through the woods and then on an abrupt turn of the path a solitary farm-house stood before us.
In answer to our eager shout a female voice that sounded most benignantly bade us "light." We walked in, drenched
533and dripping, and found ourselves at the residence of an aged widow who with four daughters and three sons had lived there many years, their nearest neighbor being twelve miles off. They owned a large stock of cattle and the three boys (as the good mother called her sons, who were tall enough for Prussian grenadiers), were then absent with a drove. Finding ourselves welcome we stripped our horse and led him to a small stable that stood near. We found a trough filled with potatoes and the rack with hay made of the dry vines. Our horse ate them with great relish. On this farm, as on most of the others in the same locality, a few acres are cow-penned and planted for bread; an acre or two for rice; but the main crop is the sweet potato. Some nations boast of their palm tree which supplies them with food, oil, light, fuel, shelter and clothing, but it will be seen that we have in the potato a staple article scarcely inferior to it. It will grow upon soils too thin to produce corn and with little culture. It may be converted into a valuable manure. For forage it is excellent. Hogs and cows thrive upon it exceedingly. An acre properly cultivated will yield from three to five hundred bushels. Its farinacious properties make it almost equal to bread and it supplies some of the most delicious dishes for the dessert.
Supper was somewhat tardy; but in an adjoining house, lit up by a brisk fire, we heard sundry "notes of preparation." It was a rare chance that brought a guest to that lone dwelling and its kind inmates were intent on making us comfortable. Lulled by the cheerful signs and savory odors we cast ourselves into an arm-chair and dozed until at length a gentle touch and a musical voice summoned us to the table. The repast was abundant, excellent and scrupulously neat — but almost every dish was composed ofpotatoes dressed in many various ways. There were baked potatoes and fried potatoes — bacon, and potatoes boiled together — a fine loin of beef was flanked round with potatoes nicely browned and swimming in gravy. A hash of wild turkey was garnished with potatoes mixed up in it. A roast fowl was stuffed with potatoes, beside us stood a plate of potato biscuit, as light as sponge; the coffee, which was strong and well flavored, was made of potatoes, and one of the girls drew from the corner cupboard a rich potato pie. In about an
534hour a charming blue-eyed girl brought us a tumbler of potato beer that sparkled like champagne and rather archly intimated that there were hot potatoes in the ashes if we felt like eating one. The beer was admirable, and we were told that good whiskey, molasses and vinegar were sometimes made of potatoes.
At length we turned in. The little chamber we were shown to was the perfection of neatness. The floor was sprinkled over with white sand. A small mirror stood on the wall, from which was suspended a sort of napkin tastily worked all over. Above was a rosary of bird eggs of every color, and over the window and pinned along the white curtains of the bed were wreaths of flowers, now dry indeed, but retaining their beautiful tints and making a very pretty ornament. An old oaken chest, highly polished and waxed, set in a corner, and over that a range of shelves stored with quilts, comforts, coverlids of many colors, the work of the industrious household. The pillows were bordered with fringed network and the sheets as white as the untrod snow; but the bed itself, though soft and pleasant, was made of potato vines. Either from over fatigue, our late and hearty supper, or from our imagination being somewhat excited, we rested badly; the night-mare brooded over us; we dreamed that we had turned into a big potato, and that some one was digging us up. Perspiring, struggling, we clinched the bed and finally leaped up gasping for breath. It was some time before the horrid idea would quit us. In the morning, owing to the drenching of the previous day, we were an invalid and threatened with fever and sore throat. The kind old lady insisted on our remaining in bed and she immediately bound a mashed roasted potato, just from the ashes, moistened with warm vinegar, to our neck and gave profusely a hot tea made of dried potato vines. These applications acted like a charm, and with the addition of a few simples from the woods were all the remedial agents ever used by this happy family. They could scarcely form a conception of a physician such as we see him here, riding day and night, keeping half a dozen horses, following the pestilence to enrich science with its spoils, attending the poor from charity, accumulating fortunes from the infirmities of the human family, but not unfrequently losing life in the effort. The mistress of the house had never known
535a fever, old as she was, her blooming daughters looked incredulous when we described the ravages of disease in other parts of the State, and certain it is that none of them had ever before seen one the worse from having ridden six hours in wet clothes. When we took leave of our kind friends it was in vain that we offered them compensation. They welcomed us to everything and we set off with our pockets filled with biscuits, jerked venison and potato chips, a sort of crystallized preserves steeped in syrup and then dried in the sun.
Our adventure with the wolves the previous night excited no surprise. They abound in that region and have their dens in waste and desolate places. A strange story relative to them is told in the East. Some years since a wedding being about to take place in a thinly settled neighborhood it was necessary to send some twelve miles for an old "negro fiddler," who was indispensable at every frolic, quilting or house-raising for forty miles around. A wild, hilly, unsettled country lay between them. In the meantime the company collected, the Squire performed the ceremony, the groom had taken half a dozen "horns" all round with his friends and the jests at his expense had all been repeated and laughed at; the bride and the young ladies sat ranged around the room like so many beautiful statues pinned to the walls; the bashful gallants stood grouped about the doors and windows anxious to be in but fearing to approach and urging each other "to break the ice." The Squire and a knot of old 'uns were talking politics and, as the evening was warm, guzzling every ten minutes from a huge, hump-shouldered, short-necked, four-sided bottle, several of which stood on a broad flat stump before the door; while a score of matrons in white caps might be seen by the blaze of lightwood torches bustling about the supper table in an adjacent house. At length some of the girls began to yawn; the pretty bride herself looked drowsy; a scraping of feet was heard in the gallery and one or two impatient young bucks, anxious to show their keeping, commenced shuffling, cracking their heels together and cutting the pigeon wing. Still no fiddler came. Hour after hour rolled by — supper was deferred — the drinks came faster and sweeter and stronger — the yawning more visible among the ladies — the talking louder among the gentlemen on the
536gallery, and yet "Old John" was not forthcoming. Never had he been so delinquent before. A wedding without the fiddler was scarcely considered legal. At length, as the night wore on, and the seven stars were high in the heavens, the impatience of the company became unbounded, and it was suggested that he should be sent for. The idea flashed across them that perhaps he had been beset by wolves. No sooner was this thought of than half a dozen young fellows mounted their horses and galloped on the path that led into the forest. About four miles distant stood an old waste house, and as they approached an infernal howling as from an hundred chained devils was heard and occasionally by way of interlude the squeaking of a fiddle. The old house had long been reputed to be "haunted." One moment the "boys" listened in surprise; the howl of a single wolf could not terrify them; but the diabolical serenade from a dozen and the twanging of a fiddle from that dark old house! Davy Crockett himself couldn't have stood it, so they "turned tail" and "cut dirt" for the place they came from and reported that the Devil had caught "Old John" and was then at the haunted house dancing a "break-down" with fifty she-wolves for his partners! So wonderful a story, supported by sundry oaths, of course threw everything into confusion. The young ladies did not quite go into duck fits, but they exchanged mysterious looks and gathered round an old woman whose voice sunk into a whisper as she related some legend of sheeted ghost and midnight murder. The Squire, who was the oracle of the neighborhood, rather discredited the story; he took a big drink and insinuated that the "boys" had tipped the bottle once too often before they set out, and roundly swore that he would face all the wolves in creation and all the fiddlers in h — l if the company would back him. A drink all round was taken on the strength of this speech, and in a few minutes the men were en oute for the scene of action. They rode on in great glee for a mile or two, but gradually sunk into silence, and at length the wolf chorus came floating on the breeze and then the sharp notes of a fiddle were distinctly heard. The horsemen dismounted and crept slowly forward, concealed by the bushes, towards the haunted cabin. At that moment the moon burst forth and within the building might be seen the form of the old
537fiddler poised in air playing a Virginia jig while a crowd of wolves or demons were leaping, bounding and howling to the music. A hurried council was called. The company satisfied that it really was the Devil voted an immediate retreat, but the Squire jerked out his prayer book and swore he would run his nose through the chinks if every man deserted him. He started forward, repeating the words of the ceremony he had just performed, while the others, half ashamed and half afraid, dropped into line. The nearer he got the louder and more devoutly he spoke. The howling of the wolves became terrible; the fiddling grew livelier until suddenly the yell and din rose to such a tremendous key that the line paused, then broke in every direction and the Squire shouting "Devil take the hindmost," mounted his "singe cat" and was the first to give the alarm to the terrified ladies. There was no sleeping that night. The rose leaf on the bride's cheek had paled away; the jessamine drooped on her raven locks, though nourished by the sigh that came ever and anon from her gentle bosom. The groom sat by clasping her snowy hands and gazing with long, fond looks upon his priceless treasure. At length day came, and a more haggard, gloomy, disappointed company might not he found in the world. It was determined, however, once more to repair to the spot. Few things string the nerves like a clear sky and a sparkling breeze. They rode boldly forward; the tumult was heard as loud as ever. They pushed on. There stood the house — there leaped a dozen wolves up and down, panting for breath, their eyes red and fiery, their tales switching furiously to and fro; and there on the joist was perched — not the Devil — but Old John himself! The story is soon explained. He had set out rather late on the preceding evening for the wedding; night overtook him among the hills and he soon heard the ravenous creatures on his track. Nearer and nearer they came; faster and faster he fled, but still they gained on him. He dropped his hat — that detained them an instant. He then threw down his coat — they paused to scent it, but the next moment on they came, now in full view. Almost desperate he tore off his shirt, but they merely paused to toss it in the air. Their victim was just before them and on they rushed. The fugitive dashed forward to the cabin, bounded convulsively to the joist, and at
538the instant he swung himself clear from the floor the whole troop plunged madly in, gnashing their teeth and swelling with rage. Finding himself secure and recovering his composure he slided along the beam and with his foot closed the door, thus imprisoning the whole gang. He then braced himself up, unslung his riddle and begun to play partly in hope of being heard but mainly to keep himself awake. John, like others of his drowsy race, was apt to sleep, and to avoid that he rattled off his jigs till daylight. The effect of this music on the wolves was singular. They leaped up incessantly and frantically, foaming at the mouth, snapping at each other, yelling hideously and to all appearance raving mad. John was soon relieved; the monsters shot and scalped; the company repaired back to the house, had a roaring carouse, and the story is still told and the ruins of the cabin are yet to be seen on the waters of Leaf River.
"The Canvass. — Messrs. Gwin and Freeman have made a glorious campaign through twelve counties, and are by this time at Vicksburg, from whence they will make a new series of appointments, as they are resolved to visit every county in the State. The people of eastern Mississippi crowded to hear them. DR. GWIN generally spoke from an hour to an hour and a half. He affected no rhetoric, but spoke in a plain, forcible, pointed style, as one deeply convinced himself of the truth of his remarks and the importance of his subject. There was no rant, no passion, no abuse. His speeches consisted of simple statements of facts, with strong and well supported deductions drawn therefrom, showing the condition of the country, the state of parties, and the evils likely to accrue to the people, and especially to the South, should the present party in power remain in the ascendant. We observe that several of the Whig papers taunt Dr. Gwin with inability to discuss political topics. He might say to them like a celebrated Athenian, "Strike, but hear me!" They have never heard the Democratic candidate. His speeches show certainly that he is no practical speaker; he has not been schooled in the courts of law; but they evince a flow of correct language, a familiarity with political history, and a capacity to reason strongly and forcibly on any subject that would he creditable to any man in the State. Dr. Gwin, no one can doubt, is a man of keen and strong intellect, of extensive general information, with a gift of improvability in a high degree, and before this canvass closes he will stand far above mediocrity — far above a mere lawyer — as a public speaker. We can assure our friends with confidence that their candidate will make himself heard and speaks with effect and vigor before any audience. He made, throughout his tour, a most favorable impression and laid the foundations of a deep and abiding popularity.
"MR. FREEMAN is an orator of the first class, and no one who hears his forensic displays will dispute it. He confines himself exclusively to the subject of the State bonds, and was generally two hours and a half upon the stand. His manner is composed, chaste and suited to the tenor of his subject; his gestures expressive, his language eminently beautiful, his arguments, as we think, beyond refutation, and his appeals to his audience affecting, eloquent and exciting. We write this entirely aside from the partiality of friendship, and express candidly the impressions left on our mind after hearing from Mr. P. ten consecutive discourses. He has established in the east a most enviable reputation as a debater, and we doubt not he will make the same impression wherever he goes. We have always ranked MR. S. S. PRENTISS as the first orator of this State for stretch of thought, burning words, richness of imagery, severe invective and force of manner, perhaps excelled by no man in the Union, certainly by no man of his age; yet on this bond question, we would willingly pit Mr. Freeman against him. We feel certain that he would come out of the contest triumphantly. Until we heard Mr. F. we had many doubts on the question; we were once entirely on the other side of the house; but those doubts and scruples were all removed by the powerful reasoning of the orator on the subject. We would cheerfully visit Vicksburg to hear Mr. Prentiss on this question, and in turn we ask the editor of the Whig to give Mr. Freeman a fair and candid hearing.
"As to public sentiment in the east, we think that ninety-nine hundredths of the people are anti-bond payers."
When Colonel Fitzpatrick and four other gentlemen searched the boats under the stipulation made with the acting Governor, they discovered very few arms, not more than would be wanted for an agricultural settlement.
It is proper to add that Dunbaugh appears to have been a perjured witness, a good deal under the influence of General Wilkinson, who strained every nerve to convict Burr.