Goodrich wrote the following lengthy article entitled, “Views of the South” over the course of several days, completing it on or about July 1, 1861. It was no doubt intended for a Northern audience — most likely his hometown newspaper. It does not appear to have been published in either of the Owego, New York weekly newspapers, however. Both editors were known to be strong Union men and likely found Goodrich’s “defense” of southern society inflammatory.
Goodrich idolized travel author Bayard Taylor and this article is clearly an attempt to mimic his style of writing. Though equipped with a vast vocabulary, Goodrich’s writing suffers from the very same faults he assigns to other period travelers — that being to give “too intense a color to their word painting.” From comparisons to his diary, it is also evident that Goodrich embellished his observations, leaving the reader wondering just how much of it is fact versus fiction.
[Editor’s note: I am still transcribing portions of this document and will add to it in time.]
VIEWS IN THE SOUTH
To be a good traveler it has been remarked by a person who has seen much of this world, one must be capable of the strongest local attachment. This evidently must be true if we judge of its correctness from the amount of indifferent trash upon travels and foreign countries, religions and polity, social and public manners which are spawned out by writers who see nothing but to condemn things which if compared with their own country, its scenery and its people, must be disparaged by its comparison. My ideas of the real traveler may, possibly, be different from those of many persons, but those – such as they are – I have followed out in all my wanderings, & I have not failed to gain that knowledge which was needed. The true traveler is a practical philosopher, a person of such patience and easy temper that would do honor to the ancient Hebrew. He must judge of things as he sees them to be, for by these means only does he arrive at absolute knowledge. There are many facts which escape the incautious eye of the railroad traveler & often a less accurate observer — when he has the means of observation — will learn that which escapes the former. He must be an accurate observer of the life and manners of the people wherever he is, & he must believe them to be as he sees them, how[ever] poetical [or] so ever fancy [others] may have depicted them. I quietly observe what passes around me, noting what seems to be an anomaly in society or what is picturesque in nature, and treasure them up in the store-house of memory for after working.
A grievous fault to which many writers are addicted is giving too intense a color to their word-painting; of being too laudatory or condemning, just as they are pleased or displeased with what they see. From which circumstances have arisen, I doubt not, many of those misconceptions which have in more than one instance, and that, near at home, caused disturbances and have gone even so far as to spill human blood. Of all modes of traveling, that by well fed and spirited horses, over all manner of roads, from the smooth turnpike to the execrable indifferent tracks which we often see in the depths of forests and on our western frontier, is the most exhilarating and instructive. I hate the steam-car. I fancy I am flying over hills & plains, over the glistening fleeting fields of grain, over the dimly green cane & cotton fields, [the] rivers & lagoons. The imagination loves to linger — to fix the strange beauties in the treacherous memory with the grim wings of Death ominously flapping over me. I almost envy the position and calling of the acute and garrulous Yankee peddler. In a situation that will often affect every sentiment of the heart and every purpose of the head, a place where one has abundant means of observing his fellow man. Many a time have I sat on the box with the postilion, listening to his rattle of horses, of dangerous roads, of numberless upsettings and interminable forest & mountain tracks, until I almost fancied I was again threading the paths of the Apennines tortured and tossed as by tempests. It has been my good fortune to be thrown without forethought among the people of the gulf and southern Atlantic States, and to reside with them until their institutions have become familiar to me, and to which I have become attached.
The city of Washington and Mt. Vernon, cold & bleak.
I left Washington in the depths of mid-winter. The Potomac, chilly and yellow, bore me without a sentiment of regret to my destination. One balmy spring day I was crossing the James River at Richmond, I turned to gaze a moment on the beautiful image. The sky was clear & blue. The white walls of the Capitol & buildings glistened in the sun, upon the many hills, each studded with buildings and crowned at the top with beautiful & chaste mansions, like some old Grecian habitations of their Gods. The sky & the earth met in the East and was blended into the deep blue of the sky, which appeared to me to be equal to the Italian in all its beauty & intensity. The spring flowers had just blossomed & the perfume poured on my senses like music to the soul. The acacia and the orchids sent out their sweet & delicious odors and the gum & sycamore with huge trunk & towering branches overhung the river, & cast their shadow far out into its rippling depths. The hum of activity was hushed, & the first time in my life, I felt the emotional power of that expression – beauty in repose.
The Dismal Swamp is not so terrible as its name implies. I passed it to the South, could see its edge of gigantic trees & entwining moss girding it in like a wall of stone. The road to the south from Richmond leads through the eastern part of North Carolina, a country flat, sterile & sandy interspersed with almost interminable forests of pine with here & there a pale green cypress over towering all.
These forests at first seemed to be without inhabitants either of man or of animals, but as we advanced from the dwarf and sparsely scattered pine & oak, which bordered on the outskirts, we came unexpectedly upon busy workmen. The thick undergrowth of brambles & briers was cut out. The pines were chipped into grooves about ten feet from the ground from which its pitch was oozing and dripping into the troughs beneath. Several log houses are scattered about, the furnace & warehouse, & barrels filled with the resin piled in stately rows or jumbled in utter confusion. In the distance we see clouds of smoke rising from huge black stacks of earth, while workmen are busy felling trees. We are in the midst of the tar and turpentine manufacturers, & in the midst of soot, smoke, and dirt. The ebony looks still more black, & the white man assumes a dusky countenance. We seemed to be hemmed in by a barrier of limitless forest, & shut out from every breeze so refreshing to the feverish cheek. At night we lay in a hammock tormented by mosquitoes, & lulled to sleep by the endless rattle of the locusts and the melancholy strain of the whippoorwill. Once I heard the distant cry of the half-famished wolf, but he came not that night into the settlement. A huge & gaunt black slipped out with a rifle and at break of day, shot him and brought him in. He was longer than any I had seen and lank & savage even in death.
In the south of North Carolina, the low country is low and marshy. The rivers had overflowed their banks & for miles we could see the muddy water glistening in the forest of pine, gum, & willow, & here & there a gigantic tree, intertwined with trailing moss & hanging pendant from its branches. This moss gave to the scenery a singular somber and wild appearance. Farther to the south, beyond the beds of the rivers lie the rich savannas, sparkling with the rice stalk, vast fields, white & waving with the bursting ball of the cotton, extend away in the distance until forests & sky are blended and skirted by dense thickets which border upon the river or the innumerable hammocks. Small streams in his narrow, deep canal-like beds roll thin turbid waters, winching about woods and clearing into the rivers.
In the northern portion of South Carolina, the country becomes undulating, rolling hills & uplands & separated by gorges in which the drift of the hills accumulate & the water stagnates. Forests of pine are more frequent, the gum less numerous. South Carolina, though small, possesses in herself elements & resources, which can make her independent of all others. She lacks the development of these resources to make her soon what Calhoun & the most sanguine nullifiers wished. Transversed by many rivers, which roll grandly down along muddy banks, lined with luxuriant vegetation, from the graceful cone to the waving sycamore, bog, laurel and gum, she presents a lovely picture to the eye of the amateur and a prospective one to the utilitarian. They [the rivers] in this state, & so also have I observed elsewhere, are narrow & deep, sometimes the sides descend perpendicularly thirty & often fifty feet. The waters wash & sink until they come to the bed of gravel, which immediately underlies the strata of loam, and as there is often a thick layer of clay, the channel consequently is deeper. Occasionally I saw the old bed of a river, dry, gravely & sandy – a sand of whitish color in which in embedded shells of mollusks of many varieties from those so small that can scarcely be distinguished to the clam & oyster, the great frequenters of our rivers, while miles & miles away was the water which once poured through it.
In many regions, there is a layer of the rotten lime stone underlying the gravel strata, & this formation probably extends throughout the state. In Florida, the lime seems to be only in irregular sections. A well may be dug [there] obtaining hard, or water laced with lime, [and yet] twenty rods from this another [well] may be free from all such impurities. In some sections of South Carolina, it is entirely free from lime, & it is necessary to use it for cultivation. The soil contains a great deal of silox, which exists in a fine white sand. Some of the plains where the soil is drifted through below the sand by the action of water or dispersed by the winds, in the heat of summer present though on a small scale the appearance of a desert. Often have I threaded my way over them, here and there a tree, dead or leafless, & giving no shock either to man or beast, when the sun was well nigh to the zenith of his course & casting down his wrathful beams. It is found to some extent in the best-cultivated lands, & the reflection of light upon the South is more injurious to the Black than the direct influence of the sun.
I compared the Yankee spirit of improvement, his desire of reproduction & re-generation, to the spirit of waste, which everywhere prevails. It needs some of that Yankee parsimony & perseverance which have brought the rocks of the East to bring forth, to regenerate these lands that have been left idle for a greater [part] of a century and are now covered with white pines. As soon as the land under cultivation ceases to bring forth, it is left & others sought which have not been tilled before. The forsaken land is left & a wilderness of pine & oak takes the place of the wavering grain & cotton. In passing, one would suppose that it was sparsely populated & that man was vainly battling against wild luxuriant vegetation. Like Virginia but not to such an annihilating degree, the children seek other homes and fortunes in other states, carrying their customs & refinement into the back woods, & beginning a civilization like their own. Thus we often notice some quiet, shady village, with its merry school bell, its people hospitable, generous & cordial, wealthy but not aristocratic, and a few miles away we meet another whose people are in some respects the adventurers & off scourings of other states, with no ringing school bell, nothing to invite the traveler to repose, while drunkenness & gambling run society standing in strange contrast to the sober & merry wassail of the other.
To know a man’s pedigree & advantages, you know what he is. The harsh & the cruel are generally northern, or the offspring of some wealthy & ignorant overseer, who, it would seem, have been taught only how to exercise cruelty, both to animal and to man. By far the better & most numerous class are the mild, opulent & intelligent southern planters and in the portion of the South of which I am speaking, boast themselves to be descended from the cavaliers of Virginia or the Huguenots of South Carolina. The northern men who have settled here have risen from overseers — the lowest position that a white man can occupy – to considerable planters. They are the only savage men – savage from policy and training – that I have met in my whole wandering in the South. That myth, which originated in the brain of the abolition fraternity, expanded & intensified in its false colors by Mrs. Stowe, nowhere finds its reality except, in some case, with those men only who come here, and who claim a nearer affinity to the pseudo philanthropist and Mrs. Stowe of the North, than to the people with whom they have settled.
Those stories of famishing Blacks seeking concealment in the swamps and canebacks closely pressed by the pack of bloodhounds, his flesh torn and swollen with the chain or the lash of the overseer, his yearnings after knowledge, and of his spiritual being, of which he catches faint glimpses in the active working of his own untutored mind, have no existence whatever, and are merely a fiction of the brain of those who originated them. The bay of that barbarous beast – the bloodhound – is as seldom heard here. The African, so far as I have observed – and I have seen him in the easier servitude, and in the cotton and sugar fields – possesses a deeper and sounder realization of the truths of Christianity, a firmer faith in the merits of the crucified Son, than many of the people who are placed over them.
The negro is hilarious when he gets a few days to spend on the rivers fishing. The graceful salute & his cheerful “goo morning, Massa” betrays a spirit well at ease, and happiness in his present condition. I spent a few weeks on a large plantation several miles from the city of Camden [S.C.] and went with the master to the negro quarters, and it was the subject of the painter, to transfer to canvass the different ebonys – full grown and aged, young, or nursing – in joyful glee at the return of their absent master.
This is the land of hoecakes, waffles, and hominy. I was told by a friend that I would return from the South a rank abolitionist. I wrote to him after I had been there some months that if the negroes were freed now, they would prefer to remain with their masters than seek a precarious livelihood elsewhere. They are devotedly attached to hoecake, rough and one would suppose barely palatable, but it possess a healthy sweetness and nutritive power seldom found in the northern maize.
The people are called in history the chivalric people. That writer spoke correctly for a more ceremonious and polite race I never saw. This politeness is general. It is shown to strangers as well as friends. The hat is touched and a bow and cheerful “good morning, sir,” greets everyone. This custom belongs also to the ebony aristocracy and it is surprising to see with what readiness they adopt the manners of their superiors, and the ingenuity and exactness of the evolutions they perform.
Early in the spring, after the cold wintry winds have passed to the north, innumerable numbers of robins, and the rice bird of the South – which is the Reed bird of Pennsylvania and the shores of New Jersey, and the bob-o-link of New York – come in great flock and sing from every tree branch and pick the worms from the new plowed fields. Still later comes the golden oriole, from the orange groves, of date and palm, of the southern isles. The china tree slowly puts forth its sickening leaves, the ever green mistletoe – that plant called by poets, at once sacred and accursed – swells upon every oak and vies with it in its opening bud. The giant, quivering and pale green willow-oak, now having received the sap from the roots and sent it to the swelling bud, and put on its garb of leaves stands beautiful and picturesque.
Wherever I went, I met the dusky and foul buzzard greeting me with screeching voice. This foul is necessary and it is permitted to live unmolested. It seldom feeds on anything but carrion and therefore frees the air from much impurity.
Storms accompanied with terrific thunder and lightening are frequent and the rain falls in torrents, flooding the creeks in a few hours, which as quick subside.
Description of Camden, South Carolina
Camden, a small and picturesque village, is about two miles east of the Wateree. It flows into a stream north of this place, bearing the name Catawba, and before it reaches the Atlantic, receives the cognomen of Sautee. It contains some relics of Revolutionary times and may legends of the heroic soldiers – both friend and foe. Eight miles above at a place called Gum Swamp, General Gates was defeated. That veteran officer and soldier receives at the hands of the South Carolinias may an imprecation. On the outskirts of the town on rising ground not yet cleared of the pine and the gum took place the battle of Hobkirk’s Hill, or rather where skulking was carried on systematically. Those soldiers who struck terror to the enemy in Mexico from South Carolina were from this place. Of those men, scarcely one is left. They have shuffled off this mortal coil, hastened by dissipation and disease. DeKalb fell here. His body, as is supposed, lies buried in the Presbyterian Church Yard. A miserable, diminutive monument, cracked by time and black with mould over it, simply says, “DeKalb,” on one side, “By birth a native of Germany, by principle, a citizen of the world,” on the other.
The Cornwallis House in Camden
Many of the oldest buildings are kept from falling into ruins from being associated with some stirring event in the Revolutionary history. An old building still remains called the Cornwallis house, which he made his headquarters. It is indeed a relic of the older time. A ball was given at this house in honor of him. Before it, and a little distance from the portico, stands a cannon, sunk nearly halfway in the ground, once belonging to King George and stamped with the regal sign, now beautifully spiked. The house is three stories high with hip roof and dormer windows. A narrow portico, extending beyond the width of the doors, reaches from the base to the roof. The wide entrance door is reached by a high flight of steps. It stands on a broad open field. The rich vegetation which surrounds it has faded. The giant oak, gum, and sycamore have lived out their centuries and have fallen beneath the elements, and nothing bears their traces but the huge and sapless stumps. From the top of this building you can see amid the trees of its bank the glistening Wateree. In the east, you see the white monuments of the dead, the old fashioned quadrangular and high wall of brick which encloses a family’s last earth and the beautiful railings of a later date. In another direction lies the outskirts of Camden, houses peeping out of groves, mounted on pedestals of brick, and surrounded with flowers of almost every description.
Never did I before realize what halcyon days were. Many in succession followed one another, until the fervid glows of summer dispelled them.
The Catawba Indians, of whom nothing now remains but their great earth-houses of the dead, once lived in populated villages in this region. Several miles from Camden and lying on the river are the unmistakable evidences of the dwelling place of this race. There is an unbroken, cleared plain extending for miles along the river, with here and there a patch of woods, and suddenly there arises a mound to the visitor as he crosses the outskirts of a large pine grove, standing alone in the plain, now covered with thick undergrowth and tall trees of more than a century’s growth. At a few rods distance are several smaller mounds. The larger mound is between fifty and sixty feet high and covers about half an acre of ground. One of the smaller was dug into by some gentlemen of a pic-nic party one or two summers ago and it is said bones were found. But whether human or animal, no one could tell me. The wide plain is covered with small broken pieces of pottery, yet large enough to see that they are beautifully ornamented. I found several pieces of broken pipe stems and beautiful arrowheads of white silox.
One night I was called to the window by the black to see the “sight.” There was a high wind and the woods in the distance were on fire. The livid red of the fire beneath streams up to the zenith, amid the black rolling clouds. Not a star to be seen, no light but that lurid furnace whose radiance we beheld.
Charles, the black boy, who is expected to attend to me, one night later than it was customary for him to appear. He wanted my boots to wear to a party, which he was to attend but he was too modest to ask for them. So he asked the time of night, and shortly after looking up from my book saw him still standing there and gazing wistfully at me. I said, “Charles, do you want anything?” He said, “Yah but I’se shame to ax ya.”
Macon in Georgia is a beautiful place. As you approach it from the east on the cars, you behold the tops of the houses just peering above the trees. Everywhere are shrubbery, hemming in the houses. There is a line of demarcation as broad between the people of South Carolina and of the adjoining ones as distinctly drawn as the boundary lines. The people of Georgia are in some measure inferior to those of South Carolina. You meet there more often the rough, rowdy, and garrulous human species than in South Carolina. It was settled by a different race by a company of convicts under Oglethorpe. Yet it is called the empire state of the South. It is the real Yankee land of the South, tempered by milder skies and intensified by fierce and more fiery natures.
In the south and west of the Great Georgian Swamp extends a long range of the pine barrens. There are huge gigantic trees of centuries’ growth standing on a soil that can bear no grains. There is no thick underbrush and never that moss which sheds a funereal gloom over all scenery. Herds of cattle wander among them, barely gaining the rich and luxuriant vegetation which they seek. Farther to the south as you approach the Florida line, the scenery gradually changes. A more southern vegetation springs up, the ground is more broken with lagoons and hammocks, and the bay and magnolia, laden with a burden of dark, glistening green, or with white odorous flowers appear. Then we begin to get a taste of the gulf breezes, cool and fever-allaying. I can not speak of the scenes and the people of this region without kindly sentiments toward those with whom I came into contact and my heart beats quicker when I turn back to those happy faces which greeted me.
When I entered Florida the summer had begun. Vegetation had advanced to its most luxuriant form. The peach was in bloom on which hung the glittering and fluttering hummingbird, the orange, and the pomegranate. Way to the south lay white, glistening clouds just above the horizon, rising as I thought from the great Mexican Gulf on whose winds are borne so many maladies, so many destroying pestilences. I longed to see that water whose breezes blow from the land of the Aztecs, and the palm groves of the Southern Isles. The sky has a deep blue and the dome seemed hanging just over the trees – a kinder sky than the cold, gray ones of ours.
With this deep blue sky overhanging, I entered the land of flowers, then in its beauty and intensity. The country is beautifully dotted with ponds and bayous, the banks of which are lined with majestic trees covered with hanging moss and the flowers of the thick undergrowth vying with the blossoms of the numerous vines that twine around them. The magnolias excelled all others.
The capitol on one of many hills that rise several hundred feet above the gulf, which is only sixteen miles distant, shaded with lofty live oak, presents a prospect of plantations glistening with cotton and corn, and the level sandy plains of pine that stretch away to the ocean. Five miles from Tallahassee is a small summer resort in which I spent most of my stay – a place in which had gathered the neighboring planters to pass the summer months. It is in the midst of a sparsely scattered pine woods, on a sand hill rising higher than others. Here is nothing to be seen but sky, trees, and sand – and the railroad which is the only feature of improvement of which this ancient town can boast. Melons grow beyond the utmost limits of credulity, peaches, and grapes sufficient to satisfy the most irrevocable vegetarian, though they come from the farmers of the vicinity. There are innumerable little lakes near it, though on a smaller scale they will represent the larger lagoons in which Florida abounds.
People of Florida
The people of Florida are indeed a mixed people. Way to the south in the stillness of the Everglades, the Indian still lives, untamed, with all of his ancient savage ferocity. There are remnants of the old Spanish population in the old towns, beautiful as any fair dames of the South, and people from almost any southern sate. The manners are similar to those of Virginia and South Carolina, but not so formal as the latter. A southern sun with the ocean breeze kindles the fire of passion and thought and strengthens physical activity. In the South, passion is generally generated and in proportion as that rises man’s physical energies subside.
The neighboring ponds are filled with snakes and alligators. The latter commit many depredations upon the planters hogs and goats.
The locusts, as soon as the sun goes down, begin their endless chatter on the shrubbery. The whippoorwill and the owl begin their conflicting refrains, and these as concomitant pleasant in this clime, the quickly retreating twilight fades into night.
I remained a longer time here and in various portions of the state than in any north of it. Its scenery and its people one cannot easily leave. It possesses whatever is picturesque in nature, nothing grand except the wild hurricanes on land and the gulf storms, when far out the high frantically rolling waves created will foam, shooting high in the sky as the billows sweep over some engulfed rock, come rushing and splashing upon the beach.
Often I have listened to the roar of the wind and thunder, and the cracking of the falling trees when one of these winds suddenly arises. The wind wails a mournful dirge, which gathers strength and intensity through the forest of pine and cypress.
In the early part of the summer the climate was delightful. At the end of summer – one unusually dry – I felt differently. One long enervating season without rains, where animals as well as man, feel the extremities of the heat of these torrid months, where the noon-day suns crisps the yet undried leaves on the trees, a summer extending from the first of April till October, is one of the unavoidable contingencies of a summer residence in the South. This beautiful state, inundated with numerous bays and dotted with lakes and tracked by rivers receives the breezes from the sea which are not spent even till they reach its most northern limits, to east piercing winds, no south infecting wind, from the land of diseases, no northern borean winds to close the pores and stiffen the limbs….
The young people are decidedly a fun loving race. Often there is a small gathering at some of the houses or in the yard beneath the bowers of jasmine and orange, where happy feet patter to the sound of the violin and the sonorous yah, yah of the glistening and laughing ebony who performs the same. Many a night have I spent watching the varying ablutions of joy in the children and the grimaces of unutterable happiness that overspreads the countenance of the blacks. These cool evenings, I sat on the porch watching the last ray of red that illumines the sky and the stars one by one gleaming out and a particular one, clear and bright, just above the southern horizon, which we in the north never see, showing itself a moment and disappearing. Tears have come into my eyes unbidden…
These sand hills of which I have spoken are scattered over the face of the country and sometimes cover only a few miles. In passing through them, the prospect in indeed uninviting. The small growth of scrub oak which are scattered along with the pine, scrape the sides of the carriage and the wheels sink nearly a foot into the land. But after a rain this sand is hard and elastic and forms, for a day or more, a road which cannot be surpassed.
I noticed a singular phenomenon here, though I have seen it elsewhere , but so much exaggerated. After one of the heavy showers I had occasion to go a few miles away at the distance of half a mile no rain had fallen. And often the rain falls in a narrow belt, no broader than half a mile and in length 25 or 30 miles. Some of those evenings, when the thunderclouds were gathering in the south, were incomparably grand. The sky was lurid red in the west, purple and yellow streaming up from the east, the lightning gleaming in the south, and inky tumultuous clouds overhead.
Ex-Gov. Thomas Brown
A short distance from where I was staying lived the old ex governor of the state – a Virginian by birth, a hero in the War of 1812, and no mean actor in the Florida Indian wars. His conversation is enriched by anecdote and story, which more than three quarters of a century have brought him. When speaking of the old Virginia hospitality, of the vicissitudes of war in the old Dominion and of the savage warfare of the Seminole, his cold gray eyes sparkle with unwonted fire and his imagination receives a rapturous exaltation – a privileged splendor. Many a pleasant hour I spent with him surrounded with his flowers and plants. His daughter is an intelligent and accomplished lady. I have sat an attentive and instructed listener to her prattle of Key West, its salubrious air, its wealth of sea shells, of Cuba and its sugar plantations, of the wild adventurers who have time to time figured conspicuously here. Her father took part in the battle of New Orleans and he related to me a singular instance in reference to the battlefield. He visited it eight or ten years after and where the dead were buried – a space of a few acres – the grass was growing rank. The grass around it had been closely cropped by cattle but this spot remained untouched and thus remained for years after. From him I received accounts concerning the northern portion of the state and the waste of the everglades. It is covered with water, with her and there an island covered with luxuriant vegetation. Near Lake Ochiechobie some Seminoles still linger.
Florida is the land of flowers. Every month has its own bud and blossom. The Ralph Ringwood of Washington Irving and Duval of Florida history was laid a few years ago on his grave. I saw one of his daughters who is still living with a family of grown children. Two of his sons are following his footsteps in the hunter’s life in western Texas. Who does not remember him and wish he could behold him who holds no mean place in the hearts of his people? Many still living took active part in the Indian wars, and they are afforded many stirring and beautiful incidents which they relate to their children and teach them valor and honesty.
Nearby was one of those holes, which are called sinks, in which the boys often bathe in spite of the snakes and alligators. This one — smaller than many – is a good representation of those larger ones, which are all over this land. It is about fifty feet in diameter with nearly perpendicular sides, which extend above the water’s edge thirty feet or more. Its depth is immeasurable. Down in the depths of the water until you see nothing but blackness, smooth sides of rock appear, or jutting out and pierced with holes. The sides are covered with thick bush and vines and some very poisonous. Many of these are supposed to rise and fall with the tide, being in some way connected with the water of the gulf, but I have never found that to be the fact as the water does not contain any saline ingredients.
There is a snake here, which I am inclined to think fabulous, but I have it on good authority. It is called the Double Snake. It has the appearance of a dark green glass, beautifully spotted and brittle like glass, which if you strike it in two, each part becomes another snake going in different directions.
Speaking of Florida politics & opinions
If there is an aristocracy here, as many believe, it is one of intellect and not one of wealth. Popular opinion at the North is made up by the masses – the lower classes of the people – and the intelligent and leaders are led and guided by them. At the South, there is no such rabble element, and popular opinion is the judgment of intelligent men. No one comes here in the garb of the hypocrite and creates such divine adoration as was rendered to Kossuth in the North. They look upon the North not far from that political and moral state which plunged France into the bloody wars that followed in the reign of terror. The Irish and transcendental German are completely destroying your society, by defying and trampling upon the forms and the rights of religion. They look upon the elective judiciary system as a nuisance. Formerly, New York Reports were quoted here and referred to as decisive, but now they think nothing of the present decisions. In Georgia this is the present system and the chicanery and fraud is carried even beyond that of the most dissolute North. Some men who have a suit which involves much property and if justice should be done, the cause would go against them, contrive to put it off until the term of the present judge expires and by electioneering and money will get such a one elected who will be in their favor. In some states great change in society is taking place. The society of Virginia is undergoing a sad change. The old jovial aristocrats living on their baronial estates are gradually disappearing and the overseers are rising, thus introducing less hospitality ad more avarice. The lands run out and the children migrate to other states, or a Yankee population come in on the old worn out estates and by a sterner and a more careful cultivation reverse the lands. The society of South Carolina, and North Carolina, is nearly the same as in the time of the Revolution. In passing from the northern Yankee land, you seem to come into the country of cavaliers and ladies, so different are the manners. The sway of the red man continued here until long after he had ceased to cause us trouble on our western border. There are places alike memorable for his actions and of the reckless buccaneers and pirates.
Story of Green Chaires massacre on page 13 of Travels in the South.
In all cases I have seen the happy slave. This is seen in his joyful countenance, in his holiday songs and in his hymns and plantation melodies. These are sometimes so varied from the original that no one would recognize them – only retaining the air, and that often varied by adding a chorus which harmonizes more completely with the African’s idea of melody. Dixie is their favorite song and wherever they are, you hear it swelling forth from old men and women and from children who can scarcely lisp their master’s name. their hymns are of the sensation stamp and deal largely in the names of Jesus, and Angels, of Jordon, and Canaan – the happy land. When left to worship themselves, they are freer than if white people are with them. When in the galleries of the white church, some poor sinner feeling the weight and energy of the ministers words, despising propriety, exclaim and groan in a most pitiable manner until some one forces them to be quiet. It is pleasant and ludicrous to see their own class mount the pulpit to expound the scriptures to their dark souls, darker than their ebony faces or crisped hair. The joys of Canaan and the difficult passage of Jordan are dwelt on until weeping both for joy and fear the whole assembly burst forth into shouts – part singing and part crying. When quieted either from fatigue or the reproof of the preacher, he begins anew, sometimes in a different strain when they collapse into the same excitement. Singing by different persons is introduced throughout the preaching. I attended one on a plantation nearby. The slaves were certainly religious, but there being no musical instrument with them but a banjo, and after several endeavors the tune could not be started, the preacher – who was a good banjoist – seeing it, struck up accompanying the music with his voice a quick step shuffle, and each one grasping a partner around the waste soon turned the place of worship into a negro breakdown. There is aristocracy of negro as well as saxon and let none pass the bounds which this code lays down.
The hunting scenes I can never forget. What little experience I already possessed in the hunter’s life was increased. I think of the deer we followed through clearing and hammock until we brought the noble animal to the ground, and the congratulations we received at this one forst attempt. A hunt which afforded me most amusement was the opossum. A party of us with a few blacks early in the evening started for a lake two miles distant, near which were large fields of corn. We arrived at the lake after passing dense thickets of briar and oak with clothes torn and scratched somewhat, with occasional “High ho!” of the negro boys. Here were monstrous large oak and gum trees. Lighting our torches we went around the lake but we were not so happy to meet our foe. We then struck out into the cornfield. Throwing down our torches as the moon was shining brightly, we tool different rows and walked along as silently as we could. Suddenly we came upon several and we dispatched a few with our clubs as we thought, and the others took to flight. The blacks kept close on them and they run up an oak standing in the field. The dogs were barking at the base endeavoring to follow them up the tree. We sent a boy for our pine, and after lighting them, we searched amongst the branches for them, straining our eyes to no purpose. With our assistance, a black boy mounted the tree. As he was putting his hand over the first limb, with a yell such as a negro alone can utter – half pain, half fright. He came pell-mell down amongst us. After soothing him we asked what made him fall. He said, “The cussed possum bit me.” He could not be prevailed upon to go up again. By throwing stones and clubs up the tree we soon found where they were. One came out on a limb in the glare of the torch and looked mildly, pitifully down upon us, and then grinned and grimaced to the great delight of the negro who had made the fruitless attempt. With a club well aimed, he turned off the branch and came down upon the ground. The dogs barked and the negroes yelled, clubs were plied, and feet kicked until the poor animal really gave up.
It had been lowering one whole afternoon. Black clouds had been streaming lazily or in angry course over the heavens and the deep roll of thunder had startled me from its very strangeness. About set of sun the storm broke from its wrathful forge and spent its fury on the earth. The rain poured down like rivers. The corn and cotton on the rolling hills were swept away. There was a continuous roll and flash of thunder and light until the heavens seemed enveloped in flames. Several pine trees near by, the next evening were shivered from top to bottom.
[The following account is a gross embellishment of an event that occurred on June 9th, 1860.]
I was in a storm such as often visit this region in the fall which I cannot easily forget. I had been to Tallahassee with a gentleman [Major Ward] in a carriage behind an active span of horses. We started to return about three o’clock. South of Tallahassee and immediately in leaving the city, you descend a long and steep hill. The valley is narrow and you ascend another higher and more perpendicular, which again descends in a long sloping hill until it reaches the plain which stretches then without scarcely an undulation to the gulf. Dark clouds had begun to gather but we thought we could reach home before we got wet. We drove down and up those hills as if we had unmanageable flying horses, who were speeding up and down for terror. We had reached the summit of the last hill and the horses were preparing to plunge down it such as never did driver and horse before when the storm broke. A report of thunder short and loud that made the earth almost quake and a flash of lightening that streamed and frittered over the sky and in the woods, until I thought it would never stop. Before, not a breath of air was stirring, but now the wind rose which we could hear in the distance in low sullen boughs. A tornado in all its wrath was upon us. We reached the base of the hill and a long tract of woods intervened before we could reach home – a woods of tall gum and oak. The wind increased to a deafening roar/ the thunder was awful witt the streams of fire which flashed before our eyes, gleaming over the heavens, or rushing in mad course to the earth, sometimes upon the track before us, or shivering the oak and driving it crashing to the ground. The forest roared more like wild beasts in agony. The trees were falling with loud clang to the ground. Our carriage was lifted from the ground and hurled against the road-side fence, but luckily for us without injuries as the horses were plunging forward at an alarming pace. No rain had yet fallen though the sky was covered with black fitful clouds, changing mid day into darkness of night. We were now in the thickest of the forest when the rain began to fall and I would, I think, rather have been under the full pour of a cataract than in that storm. The wind increased in fury, trees bent to the ground, and springing back were uprooted and cast many feet from their place. Behind us we heard the crash of the falling timber and several large trees lay across the path we had just passed, their long and huge branches out above and beneath, over which we could not pass. The roar of the storm suddenly ceased. Nothing could be heard but the sullen, deadened roar of the wind gushing tremulously through the forest. We knew that was a pause of a battery, silent and still before it thunders forth fire, shell, and death. The trees soon waved and creaked, and it again burst more terrific, more awful than before. The roar of the wind and din of the thunder were blended. A mile more we would reach home. A flash livid and momentary and a deafening crash & there lay a huge oak tree across our track. A moment later we would have been crushed beneath its weight. The horses were trembling and snorting. We rather had been in an open country, defying the wind than left to the unmerciful forest. We detached the horses from the wagon and leaving it there, we rode them around the fallen tree into the path and hastened along at the top of their speed. The rest of the track was lined with scrub oak and a small growth of pine, from the uprooting of which we apprehended no danger. The darkness only relieved by the great flashes of lightning before seemed now to abate. We soon reached home completely drenched. The horses were still trembling from fright, and our clothes nearly torn from our bodies. The rain soon ceased, black clouds were flying athwart the sky during the night….. We went with the horses after breakfasting to take out the wagon. Several trees lay across the road before we reached it. It was literally hemmed on, before and behind, by sprawling great trunks of trees. With the assistance of blacks , we cut out the wagon, considerably damaged. I look back to that ride with terror and awe. If there is anything than can terrify the mind, it is such a tornado – one which I never wish to witness in like manner again. Such storms are of seldom occurrence and are generally confined to the coast. Years pass sometimes without producing such a one as it was my fortune to witness. It is truly grand, but it requires more nerves than I possess to relish it.
The gulf – the most agitable water on the earth – is lashed into a foaming, roaring caldron. The surf beats high on the beach, and the billows one after another swelling high and crested with foamy caps, like the booming of cannon roar, now sweeping off the huts of the wreckers and fishermen and sometimes engulfing the little villages on the coast. There was a town on the coast south of this place and a storm swept every vestige of it away. The lighthouse still stands on a little island, a quarter of a mile from the mainland; all else is gone. A town is built about six miles from the beach, far enough away to be free from the fury and violence of the gulf storms, but it is scarcely more elevated above the level of the gulf than the old town, yet there are forests of live oak and cypress lying between.
Page 17 Alligators in Florida
The southern portion of western Florida, lying along the gulf, is covered here and there with extensive tracts of live-oak and cypress, rising far above the other trees. The beach, half a mile in breadth, is white and sometimes sparkles in a thousand colors. As you approach Dead Man’s Bay, the coast gradually turns and stretches away to the south. On the land are innumerable lagoons and rivers thickly lined with trees around which are entwining vines and convolvulus, and here and there a huge oleander, and father back the cypress and Spanish bayonet. Farther to the south you come upon thick groves of mangrove or standing singly, bay, coconut, and live oak on which is hanging the Spanish moss, dismally or in gay festoons. Bordering on the marshes the tall palmetto arises, whose spreading top overreaches all. Near the coast the gigantic royal palm, towering high above the surrounding forest, and which is said afford valuable landmarks for the sailor at sea.
I left Florida before the equinoctial storms had fairly ceased to cross the gulf. The first night out was indescribable beautiful. Far away to the right stretched the shore just rising above the water, on which at intervals were gleaming the lighthouses. There was considerable swell, and the low, creaking sound of the engines — monotonous enough – would lull one to sleep who was so disposed. The dark blue of the sea was shimmered over with the light of the moon and sparkling on the white crests of the waves. We came into Pensacola one dark cloudy morning when a gale was sweeping down the bay. We seemed hemmed in; to the south extended the point and farther to the west, blending into one continuous line, Santa Rosa Island, land covered with cypress and live oak appeared on all sides. Pensacola contains many failies of Spanish origin, still retaining the Castilian manners and the Andalusian complexion. Innumerable porpoises were playing in the harbor, looking out of the water and turning summersets apparently to their own delight. We passed beyond the pass on either side were frowning forts which have become noted in the late war. We shot out under full sail and steam among the buoys, black and red, bobbing and rolling in the bubbling tide. There was a high wind and the gulf was unusually rough. Fitful storm clouds, black and their upper edge shimmered over with grayish white, flit hurriedly over the sky. Way out into the gulf as far as the eye could reach were wave after wave came rolling, dashing in, throwing the surf high in the air. On the edge of the horizon was a line of livid white, where the surf of many billows were blended in which ever moving were the darker shades of the rolling waves. The vessel plunged and careened like a tub. The skipper though best to turn about and put back into the harbor, which was gratifying news to the ladies who had never been on the sea before. In coming about, we received the full blast of the waves and wind on our larboard side. The vessel rolled and pitched, plunging the upper deck down among the roaring waves, now plowing with her bow and dashing the waves and spray over the deck, and now lifting it high out of the water to plunge deeper again. After a great deal of laboring, we finally passed the channel and came to anchor near an old frigate, dingy and black, which lay housed and inactive off the navy yard.
Toward sunset one day we spied the low land at the mouth of the Mississippi and we entered the Pass St. Lucas before it was dark. The lighthouse and the huts of the fishermen rose grimly in the pale and fading sunlight. The earth rising just above the water’s edge, sometimes bare and muddy, and sometimes covered with dense patches of willow. We came to the quarantine station and the gloomy melancholy toll of the bell struck dismally upon the ear. Several vessels were near, raising their huge black sides above the water, which had staid out the number of their days and were to move up the river in the morning. Though the river smell is not considered disagreeable, but it was less pleasant than the gulf. I never passed such a restless night as this one. The number of mosquitoes was endless and their ferocity knew no bounds. Some of the passengers were groaning in their berths and others patiently walking the deck the livelong night, smoking their pipe or cigarette. The shore of the yellow, muddy river is lined here with willow, bending gracefully over the bank and streaming down to the water’s edge. Sometimes rich savannas break upon the view grown up with the hedge grass, without a tree, extending far to the east till they fade into Black bay. As we advance, the willow becomes less numerous, the small cottonwood and the giant sycamore appear, and they stretch in unbroken lines on either hand. Soon we come upon the sugar plantations, the cane still green and standing. The master’s house encircled with a veranda around which the vines were clustering and their rich foliage vying with the rich green of the orange and lemon, and the negro’s quarters standing in rows, neatly whitewashed, present ever now and then a little village, almost enveloped in the rich shrubbery. Here and there are huge trees overhanging the stream from which the Spanish moss is streaming down into the water. It was beautiful, but its sameness was wearisome. It was stormy nearly the whole time we sailed up.
About three o’clock in the afternoon, we came up at the dock in the Crescent City. Extending all along the river and between the buildings, and the dock was a wide strip unoccupied except with here and there boxes, and barrels, and bales piled up, and scattered over the ground on which were flying the innumerable little flags of their consignees. The city away to the east and north, here and there a spire towering above the surrounding buildings, or one more massive than the rest lifting its huge roof into the air. I sat the rest of the afternoon on the stately porch of the St. Charles [Hotel] watching the busy people, and the deadly rumble of the drays over the iron bridges of the street. The next morning I visited the French portion of the city and I seemed to have been transported in an hour’s walk out of the limits of the American people. Little Frenching, standing in the door and pleasantly smiling asks if you wish anything. Behind the counter is an active clerk, flying about and rattling off his French to his customers. Pictures, books, and cones without end.
Steamboating Up the Mississippi River
Now I left the ocean steamer for one of those sailing hotels of the Mississippi. New Orleans and its shipping gradually faded away. The river winds abruptly and the jutting peak of mud extends far out into the stream, I sat watching the golden sunset and the reflection upon the water as it faded into deep twilight, the images which now lay imbedded, one end raised above the water, a few feet from the shore. The whistle was blown as if we had come to a landing. There was a bright light burning on the shore and I could see dusky forms moving about in the dark and flittering shadow. Beyond, all was dark. I could see no appearance of a town. Soon the lights of pine shot up into a red glow on the boat and I could see great piles of wood, to and from which to the boat the workmen were running laden with it. The banks of the river rise gradually higher as we ascend. The river was low and I could barely look over the levee from the pilot’s deck.
A few miles above Baton Rouge, the plantations of sugar, glorying in their luxuriance of greens, give place to the smaller plant of the cotton and the less southern feature of corn. A few alligators appeared among the roots and logs on the shore. They were exceedingly timid, and the moment I fired a rifle at them, they immediately sank into the water. We came into the region of one of the grandest trees of the Mississippi – the cottonwood – towering above the surrounding trees. There and then in clusters were growing the sycamore and tupelo around which blossoming convolvulus were entwining their huge trunks. Occasionally I could see the little towns away from the river, some of them Spanish and French looking, with white and green low wooden houses almost shut out from view by the rich vegetation growing around.
Vicksburg, built on a bluff I saw far down the stream. There are several bluffs, rising gradually from the water. On one of these backed of any port of the town stands a gray looking building, towers rising on the four corners and cupola of the Italian style rising above all. The grounds extend down to the waters edge, terraced and covered with flowers or divided into irregular figures covered with magnolias and oranges, the prongy limits of the cactus and the palmetto.
One afternoon we landed at Napoleon, a place noted in Arkansas history for its blacklegs and the numberless shooting affrays. The people I saw on shore some dark, savage looking men, others sallow and thin looking as if just arisen from the rack of fever and ague. There is a U.S., but now C.S. Hospital standing to one side of the little village. From the shore, I could hear the landsmen calling to each other in the western parlance and pronunciation & out of their jargon I could distinguish the words, broad and clear, when heard from a western mouth never to be forgotten, whar and thar. As we came along the Arkansas line, the boat became crowded, many well-to-do planters, some foppishly arrayed and a wild restless eye bespoke the sharpers and Mississippi gambler. In different parts of the boat they were sitting in fours or twos with cards before them, the money piled upon the table, sometimes but a few dollars, sometimes hundreds, on whose dark faces one could see the fitful varying emotions of fear and anxiety, and sometimes almost of despair. I watched them, not a willing witness of what was going on. Men, regular gamblers, with all kinds of tricks of the trade were filching innocent men who seemed unconscious of his partner’s frauds. Around one table were from their appearances old and hardened gamblers, two older than the others, appeared to labor to beat the other two, who were young, but from their manner one could well judge they understood the science of gambling. The younger party detected a false play in the old opponent whereupon the latter denied it and called the young one a liar. It was a word fight for some time, but becoming enraged, both from passion and the liquor they had drunk, caring nothing for their friends who were endeavoring to reconcile them, the older one drew his pistol and fired, just grazing the younger’s face, and before he could draw another, the younger was upon him with his long bowie knife, for which Arkansas is so much noted, and grabbed him by the throat. But before his blade plunged to the heart, his arm was grasped by half a dozen persons, both separated and carried to their rooms. I saw no more of them that night we got into Memphis, and probably they fought it out with pistols and knives at their next meeting.
Traveling from Memphis to Little Rock
The next morning I crossed the river for central Arkansas – not many years ago the far west. A small portion of the way was by railroad, outrageously rough, winding through deep forests of cottonwood, hickory, and pecan, the monotony only relieved by some more majestic than the others around which the vines three or four inches in diameter were clinging and winding to the top most branches … After descending a rough ridge which stretches almost parallel with the river, the flower prairies of Arkansas burst upon our view. It was the first time I was on a prairie. A sea of buffalo grass was waving and sparkling in the sun as far as the eye could reach, with here and there an islet of wood standing against the sky. There was no sign of cultivation or of being inhabited except at the stations where a family contrives to live by the custom which travelling brings. Far away, near a patch of wood, several deer were quietly grazing. It is not a common sight. Such game being further west or concealed in the thick growth of wood in the bottom lands or on the hills.
At set of sun one evening, we crossed the river in a flat ferry-boat and entered Little Rock, an active and withal a pretty place. There are many northerners living here, some who have families born here and who have become southerners, in fact, and others who still have a desire – though not a public one – to reach the north, the mecca of their happiness.
I was settled in the family of Syberg, whom I shall speak more of. I fell in with an Englishman, a clergyman in the Episcopal church, who was going to Fort Smith to take charge of a church. He was delayed here on account of sickness and for his complaint it was necessary for him to take brandy. In early days he had been an officer in the English army in the East, afterwards a teacher, and now he had left the sword and switch to take up more carefully the expanding of the precepts of his Lord and Master. He evidently relished the brandy, and several times laughed heartily over it. On his departure he took a bottle of that preventative with him and remarked that when he was in the army he was temperate, when teaching abstemious, but when he became a preacher he took to grog.
Capt. [Albert] Pike, the poet of the West, resides here, and his friends speak more highly of him than the public. As a lawyer, he is able. But as a politician, his powers to please and to lead the mass by those stump speeches which are so necessary in the West, are far from being great. He possesses a large and valuable library and philosophical and chemical apparatus in which he labors like a young and ancient student. He is a heavily built man, somewhat above the medium size, with wavy profuse growth of iron-gray hair hanging down behind his head. His appearance bespeaks one rather of being born in a sunnier clime than New Hampshire, of a torrid rather than among the snow hills of the North. There are only a few men in the state of such varied acquirement. It is comparatively a new state, and its mental ability has not yet completely developed itself.
The name which it has received from Bowie and the Knife of such notoriety.
There are no extensive schools and a friend of mine says the people have just approached the half civilized state, coming from, and just emerging from the savage state. In some sections of the state you could believe it so, but in the Capital where it is supposed the wisest men assemble to enact laws and improve the state, it is not, and I say it reluctantly, so good as it might be. Society seems to be just forming, when it arrives at that stage, when the moneyed and intelligent form a class separate from the moneyless and ignorant.
A lady who had been to New York brought with her a plaster imitation of the wide-famed Greek Slave. She placed it in a dark corner of her parlor and in various places around the figure she hung flowers as Adam and Eve did to hide their shame. Another lady, who had just come from the hot-bed of vice New York as they are pleased here to call that truly great city, brought one with her and kept it unarrayed in a prominent place in her parlor. A revered divine and dubbed Doctor of Divinity [note: Goodrich’s diary leaves little doubt that the reverend was Dr. John T. Wheat, rector of Christ Church] suggested that she had better put some covering on it, even a petticoat about the waist. This one came packed in a box with paper and two or three negroes were called in to assist in taking it out. They wondered what the box contained and when they saw the livid whiteness of the face and shoulders, an expression of terror escaped their lips and they started back. When told that it was nothing but clay, they reluctantly proceeded. After getting it entirely out, they began deliberately to survey it. One broke out, “Yah, it’s a gall and all naked too. Missus, Ise tink him better wit a frock on.”
Such is society in the Capital, but in the bottom lands far away from towns and villages, I could not believe what was said about the people there until I had seem them. A middle aged woman there who had disposed of four husbands with the “feverange” and who had but lately laid the fourth under the sod, was looking out for a nice young man to take her hand and body in matrimony. She wanted a healthy, strong one, because he would probably stand it there two years. She was digging the jimson weeds from her small garden with an antiquated wooden hoe and had just returned from the river five miles distant, where she had been cutting wood for the steamboats. Such people seem to be indigenous there for I never met them before.
There are people here from the North, South, and barbarous West, German, Irish, Indians, and Dutch all conglomerate. The turbulent, quarrelsome Irish, the transcendental German, believing in no liberty except it go with socialism, fraternity, and be equal to the best, the sober, melancholic Indian who looks on all with a serious, troublous countenance, seeking sympathy and finding none. The busting Yankee who has thrown aside his repulsion to slavery and its active defender. The ______, raw-boned backwoodsman in homespun and Kentucky jean, striding along stopping to see what is strange or gaping with wide open mouth at the traveler who has just stepped from the stage. The train of the emigrant, swarthy and yellow looking children, so dark that one would doubt their European origin, kettles and pans hanging to the rear of the wagons and a dog almost in a fit state for the buzzard. All these you meet, and sometimes a hunter from the far off prairies.
Whiskey is the principal drink, and I may say the only drink if we judge from the quantity that is consumed. It is so diluted and poisoned with strychnine that many often shuffle off this mortal coil sooner than they wished to. In every graveyard in the state, beneath the name of the slumberer, you can write, “Died by Whiskey” on more than three fourths of them. You never see a real son of Arkansas without his mouth containing the everlasting quid of tobacco, and the dark brown juice of some trickling down at the corners of his lips. And ever and anon he squirts a stream out before you, sometimes sprinkling your just polished boots, or bespattering your snowy white pantaloons. You need not think of any apology for him. For that you will have to wait until doomsday. If you say anything, in all probability he will spit in your face. Retreat quietly and ingloriously in such a predicament for a small man is by far the best policy. On smaller provocations than this have the knives been drawn and human blood spilt.
This is a fever country, and one would suppose that hundreds die daily from the amount of quinine that is imported and consumed. The fever, for the most part, comes in the summer and especially when it is a wet season. There are so many swamps and low lands in which water accumulates and stagnates and from these through the decaying of vegetation, malarias arise, inflicting the whole atmosphere. In mid-summer, when the thermometer ranges as high as 112, the chill of an arctic clime strikes into the marrow of your bones which neither blanket nor fire can abate. Teeth chatter and almost drop from the jaw, the bed creaks, and your whole body in trembles keep motion with the clatter of your teeth. Then comes a burning as if live coals were scorching and searing all over your body – a burning pain inside which gallons of ice cannot quench. This in a temperature none the lowest, for days, after taking almost pounds of quinine, and finally become salivated, is the goal of acclimation which few care to pass. Once salivated, the mercury seldom leaves the sufferer. Teeth fall out and the before healthy, strong, robust man becomes an early wreck. It was first a phantom of terror to me, but from long association “fever and salivation” have become familiar and those names have lost their terrors.
Company after company, regiment upon regiment, have gone to the wars to fight for freedom, and drive the hireling from our country, until the country is drafted of its young men and its middle-aged men. Every face looks dilapidated, and in winding down some rugged bluff in a stage to the village below, I am forcibly reminded of that line, “Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain.” Just now while I am writing, a company of a hundred, light artillery, the sappers in advance and the cannon drawn by mules bringing up the rear, is hurrying along to join the army at the north of the state. Away they go, to fall upon the field or to return crippled and maimed, as pitiful objects, to the firesides, of which they were the pride. There is something inspiring in military displays, on holidays, but when we know that the men, rifled and knapsacked and plumed are to conquer or die before the thunder and lightening of the battlefield, and when they are ones friends or brothers, our eyes fill with tears. We think of Austerlitz and Marengo.
Page 24. The Arkansas Traveler/ the Amazon ladies
Page 25. Story of Arkansas Traveller’s daughter – chasing actor.
Goodrich’s “tale” which follows about visiting the Lead Mine north of Little Rock is part fabrication. According to his diary, the trip occurred on 15 December 1860 and it was made entirely in one day. (The tale suggests that he and Kellogg spent the night with a family near the mine.)
About twelve miles north of this place among the hills is the Lead Mines of this county. They lie in a country remarkably rough. A little way to the east stretch the prairies; to the south we see white glistening spots in the sun – that is the city we just left. From the prairies we come among the hills from one upland to another without feeling the ascent until we see the deep valleys and gorges which environ us. Way to the north we see the apex of one hill rising above the other enwreathed with gray clouds or fading into the blue air around them. Around us we see rocky hills cut asunder by deep crevices, sometimes naked and sterile, and sometimes covered with dwarf oak and thorns, with here and there a huge rock rising above the scant soil which lies about and furrowed, and grown over with moss, brown and cracking in the sun. in this region is the lead, nearly in the center of this wild and rough scenery, are the mines which have been waked a little. Before the California gold fever raged so fiercely, they were actively worked, but when that sprung up the mines went down. They have been neglected and the spade of the workmen has not turned a particle of gravel since that time. About we see the crumbling relics of the workmen. Old chimneys standing and partly broken down, the buildings not a trace left. The pits are fast filling up with the refuse from the hills, and it looks rather as the wok of some beasts burrowing in the hard ground. When I visited these mines, it was on a cold blustery day in winter and I kept the horse rapidly moving to keep warm. The road from the city, after passing through forest and oak and gum and cottonwood and clearing, gradually rises over hills, around the edges of which the road winds, sometimes almost perpendicular up the hill wildly strewn with rocks, and then down into a ravine thick with trees and undergrowth and vines….
…our skin and clothes are almost scratched off by the thorns of the dense tough wood long before we reach our destination, tired, and our animal nature wonderfully warm, a wide rent in our breeches and some deep contusion on our legs testify the difficulties of the way. Out amongst the forests of these hills we come suddenly upon a large plain building, looking like a deserted house. Not another is nearer than two or three miles. This is the church, placed at a convenient distance between the various people who worship there, being no particular denomination. Here and there I saw narrow horse paths leading off in many directions from the main track – too narrow for wagons. The trees blazed limbs topped to guide the rider by day and the glare of the….
We stopped at a house about two miles from the mines to dinner and were persuaded to remain all night and return to the city in the morning. The man held some county office and was no doubt, in some respect, superior to his neighbors. I frankly confess that I had not much of an appetite, even for a late dinner after riding the whole day on horseback. He was a man below the medium statue, sandy gristly hair and a huge pair of whiskers and mustache which reached down to the middle of his breast, and up to his eyes, covering nearly his whole face. These were fiery red and to my mind eclipsed that lurid radiance that is wont to illumine the sky when the sun sinks to his rest. His eyes had a greenish tinge and looked like a sickly cat’s. One was twisted from its direct course, and seemed scanning the distance behind you to see what company you brought, while the other hesitatingly surveyed you. His front teeth were decayed and lost except one giant one in front and enveloping his under lip, gave to him a loathsome appearance. He had in his mouth, when not eating, tobacco or an execrable pipe, from was rolling streams of the rankest that ever assailed my nostrils. He was dressed in a yellowish-brown stuff usually given for negroes and an old straw hat which had long ago seen its best days. He had been to the city and had some pretensions to fashion. Around his neck, in place a silken cravat, and this was tied in a fantastic, frantic knot. His wife was a gigantic woman in size, and the reverse of her devoted spouse. Her hair was black and glossy, and in former days possibly was handsome. She, together with her daughters, fair specimens of the backwoods, bustled about as sedulously as ants in summer time. Soon we were invited to dinner and we passed into the kitchen or dining room. And we sat down to a usual Arkansas dinner, coffee and hot biscuit, which were intended no doubt for brick bats, so outrageously hard were they, and venison. It was a cold day out in the open air, but was colder here. There was a blazing fire on the hearth and the doors were flung wide open to regulate the heat. Two little famine struck frost-bitten pigs ran grunting about our feet and into the fire and rooting about our hats, by way of acknowledging their feelings toward us. After dinner, father and mother and daughters seated themselves by the fire, filled their pipes, and settled their meal in a half hour’s smoke. We went to bed all in the same room. The females first performing that private affair. My modesty opposed me. I went to bed in my breeches. Nothing happened during the night for the ears of suspicion or credulity. It was no Boccaccio tale night. I laughed at my friend when he said the people were in the half civilized state, but I saw the truth of the remark.
During the session of the legislature of the state, the Governor had a party. He was newly elected, and it was gotten up on a grand scale for this place, and all the nobles of the city were there. The first thing I saw, after paying my respects to the Governor, was a lady’s dress torn off from the waist while she was dancing. The Senators and Representatives who did not dance were in another room smoking and drinking their favorite beverage – whiskey. There was a great quantity of Champagne, whiskey, and brandy, and it flowed freely. Old men and youths drank deep, so much that they looked with dubious eyes and walked and danced somewhat unsettled. In trying to lead a friend who had taken too much out of the home, I stumbled or he pulled me into the ladies room. A few were there and they were spitting. The floor was stained and dresses bespattered. The women had retreated here to enjoy for a time the luxury of “dipping” – chewing snuff, as it is called. Fair cheeks were flushed, not with the excitement of the dance, but with Champagne fire. In a corner I saw the woman I have spoken of before leaning confidently on a “Rep’s” breast, her arm encircling his neck and fondling his hair, and the other clasped his hand. The drinking room indicated savagery indeed. The floor was wet and covered with broken pieces of bottles, which had been carelessly or intentionally broken. The supper table presented as boisterous a scene as was ever witnessed at an Irish wake. Here young blushing dames and lean widows gorged themselves on the dainties, as if they had never eaten for a week before, every now and then taking a good long pull from the glass of Champagne, which was again and again filled. All was confusion. Men were passing and re-passing and several times tripped over the blacks who were hurrying about. Sometimes a youth, whose sight was blinded by the fumes of liquor in his head and his speech thick, would strike against some fair one in his wandering unsteady gait. Pardon was begged in a ludicrous manner and a bow given in which the head nearly struck the floor. The Senators and “Rep’s” remained long at the table. They became outrageously uproarious. Dirty speeches escaped their lips and a general warfare sprung up among them. Pieces of chicken, turkey, cake and jellies went flying about the room, breaking glasses, staining the walls, and bespattering clothes, silks, and laces. Many carried home besides what they had in their stomach, chicken, and turkey in their eyes. The heat of the room was too intense for some, and they took to bed in the garden, gloriously drunk.
I have had several encounters with the savage snake of the Mississippi – the cottonmouth….