Imágenes de páginas

tremity of a stretch of the river that passes in a straight line for six miles, so that the town terminates a beautiful water prospect. The river is here half a mile in breadth.

The towns passed on the Kentucky side of the river, are, Port-William, and West-Port. Those on the Indiana side, are, Laurenceburg, the Rising Sun, Vevay, and Madison, all places of recent erection, and thriving.

The Pittsburg Navigator enumerates sixty islands in Ohio above the falls. They are so uniform in their character, that a description of one of them will give a general idea of all the rest. The upper end is broad, and intercepts part of the gravel that is moved downward during floods, forming a wide bar which acts as a partial dam that divides the stream into two parts, deflecting each of them toward the shores of the mainland, as represented by the figure.

[ocr errors][graphic]

The two currents are then deflected from the shores toward the island, which is thereby curtailed in its lower parts, and at its extremity contracted almost to a point. The two currents unite below, and form a deep channel. At the head of the island the water is shallow. The largest and oldest timber stands on the lower end, and

younger plants of willow, sycamore, &c. on the upper end of the island. It is farther to be noticed, that the trees on islands, although of rapid growth, are by no means so large as those on the adjoining banks and bottom lands. The alluvial process deposits gravel at the head. Over this, sand is precipitated; and lastly, a superstratum of mud and driftwood is deposited, forming a rich soil for the growth of timber. These facts, taken in connection, show that additions are continually making at the head, and that the converg ing streams are simultaneously carrying off the lower end of the island.

In most instances, these are not the islands discovered by the first white men who explored the Ohio. Nor are they those that will be known by the same names, thirty, forty, or fifty years hence. Their being gradually exchanged for others farther upward, produces an effect similar to what would be occasioned by the same islands moving against the stream, in their progress forcing the current against the shores, and thereby preserving a capacious bed for the river.

From Cincinnati downward, the ridges which bound the valley of the river on both sides are more broken, and divided into distinct hills, and are, of course, more diversified and pleasant than the unvaried ledges farther up. The traveller, notwithstanding, is apt to feel tired of the insipidity of the scenery. The same woods obstruct his view, or the same rude style of improvement meets his eye everywhere.

[ocr errors]

I landed at Jeffersonville, a small town on the Indiana side of the river. It stands on a high bank, and has the most pleasant situation of any town that I have seen on the banks of the river.

February 12. Visited Louisville, the town, next to Lexington, the largest in Kentucky. The population probably amounts to about 3000 persons. The falls immediately below the town being navigable for large craft only during times of high water, Louisville derives great advantage from the carrying trade. The fall is said to

13. Went over the rapids. be twenty-two feet and a half in less than two miles. Nearly the whole of the declivity is distributed into three shoots or rapids, where the stream is very swift, occasioning breakers amongst the rocks. Except in times of very high water, boats are conducted downward by pilots who are well acquainted with the falls. The temperature of this morning was 261°.

17. Last night a gentleman from Carolina lodged in the tavern here. After a hired man had given him slippers, and asked him for his boots to be blacked, he exclaimed, "As I wish to see my Maker, I would not live in a free state, where one white man cleans the boots of another."

A small degree of aversion to frivolous detail does not prevent me from describing a back-woods tavern. Like its owner, it commonly makes a conspicuous figure in its neighbourhood. It is a log, a frame, or a brick house, frequently with a wooden piazza in front. From the top of a tall post, the sign-board is suspended. On it, a Washington, a Montgomery, a Wayne, a Pike, or a Jackson, is usually pourtrayed, in a style that might not be easily deciphered except for the name attached. On the top of the house is a small bell, which is twice rung before meals. Immediately after the second peal, travellers and boarders assemble round the table, where they commence eating without preface. In such promiscu

[ocr errors]

ous parties, the governor of a state, or a general of the militia, may be seen side by side with the waggoner. The larger towns having taverns of dif ferent qualities, and different rates of charges, a distinction of company is the natural consequence, We breakfast and sup on coffee or tea, accompanied with plenty of beef, bacon, chickens, and eggs. The hostess (or host if he is unmarried) takes her seat at the head of the table, and dispenses the tea. One or two hired people (or slaves, in slave-keeping parts of the country) wait at table. At dinner, wheaten and Indian corn breads, beef, pork, venison, wild turkey, geese, and poultry, are staple articles; with a profusion of vegetables, such as cucumbers, onions, cabbages, beans, and preserved fruits. Lodging in taverns has not generally all the convenience that could be wished for. It is common to see several beds in the same room, and these are simple bedsteads without hangings. There are no bells in the bed-rooms, and other apartments; nor are menials accustomed to move at the signal of the stranger. Water is rarely to be met with in bedrooms; washing is, of course, performed under a shed behind the house, or at the pump. A full

house is always the apology for causing two strangers to sleep in the same bed; the propriety of the custom will always be admitted by the person who arrives latest. It has been my lot to sleep with a diversity of personages; I do believe, from the driver of the stage coach, to men of considerable name. The noted cutaneous disease is certainly not prevalent; if it was, the beds of taverns, which, like burying grounds, lay all on a level, would soon make the disease as prevalent in this country, as in some others in the old world.

If Europeans and others, who indulge in censorious remarks on western taverns and tavern-keepers, would make reasonable allowances for the thinly-settled state of the country, the high price of labour, and the great numbers of travellers, their criticisms might be somewhat softened. The man who cannot enjoy a placid temper under privation of a part of the comforts of a more advanced state of society, is surely to be pitied for having business in the back woods of America.

A very inferior breed of cows and horses are to be seen almost every where by the rivers. This may be partly imputed to the want of proper fodder, and of shelter in the winter. Cattle are not housed in the season, when every plant is withered to whiteness. Grass is not sown to succeed the crops. A growth of tall weeds takes immediate possession of the soil. Hay, therefore, is a scarce article. Indian corn is resorted to as a substitute, but it appears to be too hard for mastication. Butter and cheese sell at 25 cents (134d. sterling) per pound.

[ocr errors]

February 17. This morning was clear and frosty. Temperature 32° in the morning. Snow fell to the thickness of an inch in the forenoon. In the afternoon it disappeared.

18. The morning was clear; temperature 20°. In the afternoon the ice melted.

19. Temperature 29° in the morning. In the forenoon, snow fell to the thickness of an inch and a half. In the evening it became liquid.

There is much wet ground in the vicinity of the falls. Intermittent fevers afflict the inhabitants toward the end of summer and in autumn. Last season an unusual degree of sickness was experienced.

New settlers continue to descend the river. Family boats are almost continually in sight. In a

« AnteriorContinuar »