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ed as if they had been torn up by the roots in a body. But it is in vain to attempt to describe the spectacle. I will only say, that the most dreadful tossing of the ocean never impressed me so strongly with the idea of uncontrollable power, as this magnificent scene of devastation. Our road was so completely buried that we had to hunt our track at some distance in the woods. My servant observed, "What a many hundred miles people in England would go to see such a sight!" It is such hurricanes as these that Volney describes, as twisting off and laying level the largest trees within the limits of their range; and he very aptly compares their course through the forest to that of a reaper through a field of wheat.
We had intended to stop at sunset, as in these latitudes there is little or no twilight; but as usual we could not persuade ourselves that the night would close upon us immediately, and the ground was so wet on the Table-land of the ridge, that we proceeded in order to discover a better place to rest for the night, till we found ourselves benighted among the swamps, our horses sinking and stumbling, and frequently passing through water two or three feet deep, out of which we could scarcely see our way. The damps of the night in this watery region, prevented our alighting to try to make a fire, till the moon should enable us to proceed; and indeed we did not think it prudent to dismount, on alligators, which abound here: sunset passed very near one.
account of the
we had about Our ears were
stunned with the frog concerts, which now and then arose, and depressed our spirits, by intimating that we were approaching another swamp, although it was too dark to see it. What different emotions the frog concerts in Africa excited in Mungo Park, who hailed them as symptoms of his approach to the water, for which he was panting. This was the first time I had really felt in an awkward situation, and my servant's spirits began to fail him. He told me afterwards, that for two hours, the perspiration was dropping from his face, and his knees where shaking as if he was in an ague; the more so as he was afraid that our pound of bacon, which was in his saddle-bag, would allure the alligators to him. We were suddenly surprised by a number of moving lights, which led us to suppose that some persons were scouring the forest; but we heard no noise: even when many of them appeared to be moving round us within a few yards distance, all was silent when we stopped our horses. At last it flashed across my mind that these moving lights must proceed from the beautiful fire-flies we had often heard of, but which I had supposed were confined to the East. Even at such a moment I was delighted with their beauty, evanescent as it was; for they soon disappeared. Occasionally we were again deluded by a solitary fire-fly at a distance, which twinkled like a light from a cottage window, and to which we several times bent our steps, our spirits depressed by every successive disappointment.
At last, just as the moon rose, we reached an
elevated spot, where we lighted our fire, toasted our bacon, and after securing our horses by a little fence of saplings, lay down on our blankets under the trees with no common satisfaction.
We started before four o'clock the next morning, and breakfasted at a house about ten miles distant. The settlement was established about fifteen years since-the Indians, contrary to their usual custom, having permitted it: but although the owner had more than 2000 head of cattle grazing in the woods, he had neither milk nor butter to give us to our coffee. This is an extreme case; but it is not uncommon, in this part of the country, to be unable to procure either milk or butter where eighteen or twenty cows are kept, solid animal food being much preferred. Humboldt, you recollect, in the account of his journey from the mountains of Parapara to the banks of the Apure, mentions arriving at a farm where he was told of herds of several thousand cows grazing in the steppes; and yet he asked in vain for a bowl of milk. At the house where we breakfasted, we saw the skin of a bear drying in the sun: seven miles farther we passed a large panther, or tiger, as it is called, which had been lately killed, and stuffed. At the next house was the skin of a rattlesnake, which the woman who lived there had killed a few nights before. At this retired house we were detained two or three hours, by a violent thunder-storm, with extremely heavy rain. As soon as the rain abated we set off again to Blakeley, which we were anxious to reach, as it was Saturday night. Indeed, for the last three
days we had travelled forty-five miles each day, in order to arrive before Sunday; but to our disappointment, we found there was no church or meeting there of any description: and we accordingly crossed the bay in the morning to go to church at this place, [Mobile,] where we were equally disappointed; for, to the disgrace of Protestant America, no place of worship is established here except a Catholic church, built by the French or Spanish.
I am, &c.
Natchez, State of Mississippi, 6th May, 1820.
I MENTIONED in my last letter, that after crossing the bay on Sunday morning to go to church, I was disappointed to find no Protestant place of worship. I had travelled hard to reach Blakeley or Mobile on Saturday night; and could I have supposed that I should find no Protestant church in so numerous a society of American Protestants, I should have preferred a solitary Sabbath in the woods to the melancholy prospect of a community where its solemnities are despised. I understood, however, that a Protestant clergyman from the Eastern States had, for some Sundays preceding, been officiating, alternately at Mobile and Blakeley. These towns are situated on opposite sides of the bay, and are contending vehemently
for the privilege of becoming that great emporium which must shortly spring up in the vicinity of this outlet for the produce of the young fertile State of Alabama. The surface drained by the rivers Tombigbee, Black Warrior, Alabama, Coosa Tallapoosa, and Cahawba, all of which fall into Mobile Bay, exeeds twenty-six millions of acres, possessing a very great diversity of soil and climate, and enjoying commercial and agricultural advantages, which are attracting towards them, with unprecedented rapidity, the wealth and enterprise of the older states.
Blakeley is a real American town of yesterday, with a fine range of warehouses; the stumps of the trees which have been felled to make room for this young city, still standing in the streets. Mobile is an old Spanish town, with mingled traces of the manners and language of the French and Spaniards, and with an old fort, called Fort Condé, which is to be superseded by fortifications in a more formidable position.
The change from the quiet homely cabins in which we were entertained in the woods, to the noisy dirty tavern of Mobile, was by no means an agreeable one. I sat down with about thirty or forty persons to every meal; but I saw much more of men than of manners, and was convinced that there was some truth in what I had been told, that in travelling westward in this country, you may take your longitude by observing the decrements of the time occupied at meals. At Mobile, five or six minutes might possibly be the average, and yet we accuse the Americans of being indolent and