Page images

and violently interlashed. The undulations of the ground were like the waves of the sea, increasing in elevation as they advanced, and when about as high as the tallest tree, bursting open and disgorging volumes of water, sand and coal. Many of these chasms remain to this day. The shocks were attended with explosions, subterranean thunder, and a terrible mixture of noises. The perpendicular shocks crumbled the houses, waved the trees, and rent open the earth. The horizontal shocks were less destructive.

"One result from these terrific phenomena was very obvious. The people of this village had been noted for their profligacy and impiety. In the midst of these scenes of terror, all, Catholics and Protestants, praying and profane, became of one religion, and partook of one feeling. Two hundred people, speaking English, French and Spanish, crowded together, their visages pale, the mothers embracing their children-as soon as the omen that preceded the earthquakes became visible, as soon as the air became a little obscured, as though a sudden mist arose from the east,-all in their different languages and forms, but all deeply in earnest, betook themselves to the voice of prayer. The cattle as much terrified as the rational creation, crowded about the assemblage of men, and seemed to demand protection, or community of danger. One lady ran as far as her strength would permit, and then fell exhausted and fainting, from which, she never recovered. The general impulse, when the shocks commenced, was to run; and yet, when they were at the severest point of their motion, the people were thrown on the ground at almost every step.―The people at the Little Prairie, who suffered most, had their settlement, which consisted of one hundred families, and which was located in a wide, and very deep and fertile bottom, broken up. These people, without an exception, were unlettered backwoodsmen of the class least addicted to reasoning, and yet it is remarkable how ingeniously and conclusively they reasoned from apprehension, sharpened by fear. They remarked that the chasms in the earth were in direction from south-west to north-east, and they were of an extent to swallow up not only men but houses, "down quick into the pit." And these chasms occurred frequently within intervals of half a mile. They felled the tallest trees at right angles to the chasms, and stationed themselves upon the felled trees. By this invention, all were saved; for the chasms occurred more than once under these felled trees. Meantime their cattle and their harvest miserably perished.-The people no longer dared to dwell in houses, but passed this winter and the succeeding one in bark booths and camps, like those of the Indians," &c. pp. 224-226.

The Little Prairie settlement was thus entirely broken up, and that of the Great Prairie diminished. New Madrid sunk into insignificance, and though it is slowly recovering, and houses are re-building, yet it is with such frail materials as are adapted

to the fears of the inmates, and will not expose them to danger in case of being thrown down.

At Cape Girardeau, near New Madrid, our Missionary sojourned, and preached more than a year. He found the people extremely rough, ignorant, bigoted and immoral. His time passed devoid of interest, comfort or utility; yet, he met with an exception in one isolated and pure German settlement, where the people preserved their nationality and language unmixed. They were simple, hospitable and kind, but ignorant, and too much addicted to whiskey. Their peculiarities are pleasingly described, and, on contemplating their homely virtues, we cannot avoid wishing, notwithstanding their faults, that such communities were oftener to be met with in the western world.

His voyage to, and residence in Arkansas, are worthy of notice. After floating down the Mississippi, between three and four hundred miles, his boat was swept round by the current between two green islands, covered with rushes and cotton-wood trees, into a small bay which receives the waters of White river, so called by the Indians, from its pellucid waters. They proceeded for some distance against the current, when they perceived an opening, into which they were borne by a counter current, through a deep and inundated forest, till they arrived at another opening at right angles with the river. It was the Arkansas, moving on with a majestic stream of waters of the colour of arnotto dye. This voyage was replete with dangers and disasters that we have no room to narrate: suffice it to say, they arrived safely at their destination.

The Arkansas, towards its source, is a broad and deep river, but when, in its course, it reaches the sandy plains, it sinks and almost disappears. For one hundred miles from the mountains where it emerges into the plain, it becomes fordable in the summer; lower down, it loses itself in the desert, merely trickling amidst banks of sand and pebbles, exhi ting often a dry channel of burning sand from bank to bank. It is upon these sands that the far-famed fields of rich, native grapes, of a conical form, and transparent blue, mentioned by Major Long, as so delicious and abundant, are produced. The islands of verdure which appear among these sandy deserts, are clothed with the tenderest grapes, and, of course, abound in animals. The elk, buffalo and wild horse roam in immense herds, and the salt licks or ponds which abound, seem, says our author, a "kind provision for the support of the numberless animals that feed on these plains."

The Post of Arkansas is a town or a level tract of land, having a slight elevation above the adjacent bottom. For some VOL. II.-NO. 3.


distance below it, the strip of land on each side of the river, that is, above the inundation, is of considerable width, sufficient for a number of cotton plantations, which lie contiguous to each other. A mile or two from the river are thick cane brakes, then a series of lakes, and beyond them immense swamps, filled with the mossy cypress, and covered with a thick coat of floating green matter, animated with the deadly moccasin, and countless millions of the more annoying musquitoes. The people of this territory, our traveller found more rough and untamed than those of the more northern and western regions. He draws a very unfavourable picture of the establishment of the territorial government, which he witnessed, for he found it placed in the hands of evil disposed persons, totally unqualified for the duties, and who had been appointed by favoritism.

The whole period he passed here was one of illness and gloomy dejection. The lives of two of his family were in great danger. His neighbours were sick and dying around him, and the debility induced by the damp and sultry atmosphere, with the irritation of the ever annoying musquito, rendered life a state of continual sufferance. They could talk of nothing but New-England or the upper country, and as soon as their convalescence would admit of it; they determined to return to the latter as the only means of restoring their wasted strength. They accordingly embarked once more on the river, and reached the Mississippi safely.Here they found the river too low for the steam boats, and were obliged to pursue their voyage in their own boat with only two hands against the current of the river. They, however, proceeded securely, though slowly, till after they passed the mouth of the St. Francis, when both the hands were taken down with the fever, and were, of necessity left behind. Our traveller and his sick family were now left alone in the wilderness, with four hundred miles of his voyage against the current before him, and with no prospect of procuring any assistance, as the lowness of the river impeded its navigation. They, however, hoisted their sail when the wind allowed it, occasionally used the cordelle, and endured incredible fatigue. They crept on slowly, and, our traveller says, cheerfully, and arrived at the second Chickasaw Bluff on the 26th of November, where his peculiar distress can only be properly painted in his own colours:—

"The country on the shore receives and deserves the emphatic name of "wilderness." Atten in the morning, we perceived indications of a severe approaching storm. The air was oppressively sultry. Brassy clouds were visible upon all quarters of the sky. Distant thunder was heard. We were upon a wide sand-bar, far from any house. Opposite to us was a vast cypress swamp. At this period, and in this place,

Mrs. F. was taken in travail. My children, wrapped in blankets, laid themselves down on the sand-bar. I secured the boat in every possible way against the danger of being driven by the storm into the river. At eleven, the storm burst upon us in all its fury. Mrs. F. had been salivated during her fever, and had not yet been able to leave her couch. I was alone with her in this dreadful situation. Hail, wind and thunder, and rain in torrents poured upon us. I was in terror, lest the wind should drive my boat, notwithstanding all her fastenings into the river. No imagination can reach what I endured. The only alleviating circumstance was her perfect tranquillity. She knew that the hour of sorrow, and expected that of death, was come. She was so perfectly calm, spoke with such tranquil assurance about the future, and about the dear ones that were at this moment "biding the pelting of the pitiless storm" on the sand bar, that I became calm myself. A little after twelve, the wind burst in the roof of my boat, and let in the glare of the lightning and the torrents of rain upon my poor wife. I could really have expostulated with the elements in the language of poor old Lear. I had wrapped my wife in blankets, ready to be carried to the shelter of the forest in case of the driving of my boat into the river. About four, the fury of the storm began to subside. At five, the sun, in his descending glory, burst from the dark masses of the receding clouds. At eleven in the evening, Mrs. F. was safely delivered of a female infant, and, notwithstanding all, did well. The babe, from preceding circumstances, was feeble and sickly, and I saw could not survive. At midnight, we raised a blazing fire. The children came into the boat. Supper was prepared, and we surely must have been ungrateful not to have sung a hymn of deliverance. There can be but one trial more for me that can surpass the agony of that day, and there can never be on this earth a happier period than those midnight hours. The babe staid with us but two days and an half, and expired. The children, poor things, laid it deeply to heart, and raised a loud lament. We were, as I have remarked, far away from all human aid and sympathy, and left alone with God. We deposited the body of our lost babe-laid in a small trunk for a coffin-in a grave amid the rushes, there to await the resurrection of the dead. The prayer made on the occasion by the father, with the children for concourse and mourners, if not eloquent, was to us, at least, deeply affecting." &c. p. 287.

After this disaster, they fortunately procured two hands to work the boat, and proceeding on their voyage, hailed again with rapture the beautiful prairie at St. Charles. They remained here at rest for some time, but by the advice and assistance of their friends, in the autumn of 1822, they descended the river to New-Orleans. After passsing the Arkansas, they found the country for nearly 200 miles, an unbroken and inundated wilderness, with the exception of one settlement called Point Ohico. They floated past the famous Yazoo-the beautiful Walnut Hills-Warrington-Natchez-Point Coupè-St. Francisville— and the thriving village of Baton Rouge, about 150 miles above

New-Orleans. Of these places much might be said, but our limits will not admit of it. Here the western levee of the Mississippi commences, and the eastern a little below. Were it not for these mounds this beautiful and fertile region, which they call "the coast," would be an unwholesome waste. From this point commences the sugar plantations which alternate with those of cotton.

"Noble houses, massive sugar-houses, neat summer-houses, and numerous negro villages, succeed each other in such a way, that the whole distance has the appearance of one continued village. The houses are airy and neat, some of them splendid, and in the midst of orange groves and pretty gardens, in which are the delicious cape jessamine, a flowering shrub; multitudes of altheas; and bowers of the multiflora rose; and a great variety of vines and flowering shrubs that flourish in this mild climate. Among the noblest of the plantations, is that of General Hampton."-p. 300.

Our traveller's account of New-Orleans is interesting and favourable. Its great commercial advantages are pointed out, and the manners of its inhabitants generally extolled. He could not shut his eyes entirely on the vices of this great city, but he concludes that, "as it respects people who have any self-estimation, it is about on a footing with the other cities of the Union in point of morals." In the summer he left the city on account of the yellow fever, and took up his residence at Covington, a village in the county of St. Tammany. He returned in the autumn to New-Orleans, and disliking these annual summer removals, he accepted the Presidency of the Seminary of Rapide, at Alexandria, on Red River. He found the society there small, but it embraced some amiable families. The people were attentive to his ministry; but the climate proved inhospitable. Retirement to the pine-lands for the summer he found absolutely requisite. Health is generally to be obtained there, and may, at any rate, be preserved in such retreats throughout the southern climates of the United States. With a few kind friends who erected houses near his, he spent his summer, and measureably regained his health. His picture of his pine-land recreations is pleasing.

"But our own private way of getting along was still more pleasant. There were three or four intimate and endeared families that had no ceremony in their meeting, and we took our evening tea alternately at each other's houses. In the morning we rose with the sun, breathed the balsamic air of the pines, took our angling rods, followed by our wives and children to the brink of the stream. A carpet was spread under the beeches, and close by a fine spring. We caught the trout,

« PreviousContinue »