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counts, have been omitted. Some conversation which the young clergyman had thrust upon me had exhibited not only his extreme ignorance of the religious feelings and convictions of Christians who differed from him, but no little bit. terness of contempt towards them; and he was, therefore, the last person to conduct the worship of a large company whose opinions and sentiments were almost as various as their faces. This reminds me that an old lady on board asked an acquaintance of mine what my religion was. On being told that I was a Unitarian, she exclaimed, “ She had better have done with that; she won't find it go down with us. It never occurred to me before to determine my religion by what would please people on the Mississippi.
Before breakfast one morning, when I was walking on the hurricane deck, I was joined by a young man who had been educated at West Point, and who struck me as being a fair and creditable specimen of American youth. He told me that he was very poor, and described his difficulties from being disappointed of the promotion he had expected on leaving West Point. He was now turning to the law; and he related by what expedients he meant to obtain the advantage of two years' study of law before settling in Maine. His land-travelling was done on foot, and there was no pretension to more than his resources could command. His manners were not so good as those of American youths generally, and he was not, at first, very fluent, but expressed himself rather in schoolboy phrase. His conversation was, however, of a host of metaphysicians as well as lawyers ; and I thought he would never have tired of analyzing Bentham; from whom he passed on, like every one who talks in America about books or authors, to Bulwer, dissecting his philosophy and politics very acutely. He gave me clear and sensible accounts of the various operation of more than one of the United States institutions, and furnished me with some very acceptable information. After our walk and conversation had lasted an hour and a half, we were summoned to breakfast, and I thought we had earned it.
During the morning I heard a friend of mine, in an earnest but amused tone, deprecating a compliment from two slave women who were trying to look most persuasive. They were imploring her to cut out a gown for each of them like the one she wore. They were so enormously fat and
slovenly, and the lady's dress fitted so neatly, as to make the idea of the pattern being transferred to them most ludi
As long as we were on board, however, I believe they never doubted my friend's power of making them look like herself if she only would ; and they continued to cast longing glances on the gown.
On the 11th we overtook another disabled steamboat, which had been lying forty-eight hours with both her cylinders burst; unable, of course, to move a yard. We towed her about two miles to a settlement, and the captain agreed to take on board two young ladies who were anxious to proceed, and a few deck-passengers.
The scenery was by this time very wild. These hundreds of miles of level woods, and turbid, rushing waters, and desert islands, are oppressive to the imagination. Very few dwellings were visible. We went ashore in the afternoon, just for the sake of having been in Arkansas. We could penetrate only a little way through the young cottonwood and the tangled forest, and we saw nothing.
In the evening we touched at Helena, and more passengers got on board, in defiance of the captain's shouts of refusal. He declared that the deck was giving way under
. the crowd, and that he would not go near the shore again, but anchor in the middle of the river, and send his boats for provisions,
While I was reading on the morning of the 12th, the report of a rifle from the lower deck summoned me to look out. There were frequent rifle-shots, and they always betokened our being near shore ; generally under the bank, where the eye of the sportsman was in the way of temptation from some object in the forest. We were close under the eastern bank, whence we could peep through the massy beech-trunks into the dark recesses of the woods. For two days our eyes had rested on scenery of this kind ; now it was about to change. We were approaching the
fine Chickasaw bluffs, below Memphis, in the State of Tennessee. The captain expressed a wish that none of the passengers would go on shore at Memphis, where the cholera was raging. He intended to stay only a few minutes for bread and vegetables, and would not admit a single passenger on any consideration. We did not dream of disregarding his wishes, if, indeed, the heat had left us any desire to exert ourselves; but Mr. B. was so anxious that his lady should mount the
bluff, that she yielded to his request; though, stout and elderly as she was, the ascent would have been a serious undertaking on a cool afternoon and with plenty of time. The entire company of passengers was assembled to watch the objects on shore; the cotton bales piled on the top of the bluff; the gentleman on horseback on the ridge, who was eying us in return; the old steamer, fitted up as a store, and moored by the bank, for the chance of traffic with voyagers; and, above all, the slaves, ascending and descending the steep path, with trays of provisions on their heads, the new bread and fresh vegetables with which we were to be cheered.
Mr. and Mrs. B. as they attempted the ascent. The husband lent his best assistance, and dragged his poor lady about one third of the way up, when she suddenly found that she could not go a step forward or back; she stuck, in a most finished attitude of panic, with her face to the cliff and her back to us, her husband holding her up by one arm, and utterly at a loss what to do next. I hope they did not hear the shout of laughter which went up from our vessel. A stout boatman ran to their assistance, and enabled the lady to turn round, after which she came down without accident. She won everybody's esteem by her perfect good-humour on the occasion. Heated and furried as she was, she was perfectly contented with having tried to oblige her husband. This was her object, and she gained it; and more, more than she was aware of, unless, indeed, she found that her fellow-passengers were more eager to give her pleasure after this adventure than before.
The town of Memphis looked bare and hot; and the bluffs, though a relief from the level vastness on which we had been gazing for two days, are not so beautiful as the eminences four or five hundred miles below.
The air was damp and close this night; the moon dim, the lightning blue, and glaring incessantly, and the woodashes from the chimneys very annoying. It was not weather for the deck; and, seeing that Mr. E. and two other gentlemen wanted to make up a rubber, I joined them. In our well-lighted cabin the lightning seemed to pour in in streams, and the thunder soon began to crack overhead. Mrs. H. came to us, and rebuked us for playing cards while it thundered, which she thought very blasphemous. When our rubber was over, and I retired to the ladies' cabin, I found that the lady had been doing something which had at least as much levity in it. After undressing, she had put on her life-preserver, and floundered on the floor to show how she should swim if the boat sank. Her slaves had got under the table to laugh. They little thought how near we might come to swimming for our lives before morning. I believe it was about three hours after midnight when I was awakened by a tremendous and unaccountable noise overhead. It was most like ploughing through a forest, and crashing all the trees down. The lady who shared my stateroom was up, pale and frightened, and lights were moving in the ladies' cabin. I did not choose to cause alarm by inquiry ; but the motion of the boat was so strange, that I thought it must waken every one on board. The commotion lasted, I should think, about twenty minutes, when I suppose it subsided, for I fell asleep. In the morning I was shown the remains of hailstones, which must have been of an enormous size, to judge by what was left of them at the end of three hours. Mr. E. told me that we had been in the utmost danger for above a quarter of an hour, from one of the irresistible squalls to which this navigation is liable. Both the pilots had been blown away from the helm, and were obliged to leave the vessel to its fate. It was impossible to preserve a footing for an instant on the top; and the poor passengers who lay there had attempted to come down, bruised with the tremendous hail (which caused the noise we could not account for), and seeing, with the pilot, no other probability than that the hurricane deck would be blown completely away; but there was actually no standing room for these men, and they had to remain above and take their chance. The vessel drove madly from side to side of the dangerous channel, and the pilots expected every moment that she would founder. I find that we usually made much more way by night than by day, the balance of the boat being kept even while the passengers are equally dispersed and quiet, instead of running from side to side, or crowding the one gallery and deserting the other.
I was on the lookout for alligators all the way up the river, but could never see one. A deck
declared that a small specimen slipped off a log into the water one day when nobody else was looking; but his companions supposed he might be mistaken, as alligators are now rarely seen in this region. Terrapins were very numerous, sometimes sunning themselves on floating logs, and sometimes swimming, with only their pert little heads visible above water. Wood-pigeons might be seen flitting in the forest when we were so close under the banks as to pry into the shades, and the beautiful blue jay often gleamed before our eyes. No object was more striking than the canoes which we frequently saw, looking fearfully light and frail amid the strong current. The rower used a spoon-shaped paddle, and advanced with amazing swiftness ; sometimes crossing before our bows, sometimes darting along under the bank, sometimes shooting across a track of moonlight. Very often there was only one person in the canoe, as in the instance I have elsewhere mentioned* of a woman who was supposed to be going on a visit twenty or thirty miles up the stream. I could hardly have conceived of a soțitude so intense as this appeared to me, the being alone on that rushing sea of waters, shut in by untrodden forests; the slow fishhawk wheeling overhead, and perilous masses of driftwood whirling down the current ; trunks obviously uprooted by the forces of nature, and not laid low by the hand of man. What a spectacle must our boat, with its gay crowds, have appeared to such a solitary! what a revelation that there was a busy world still stirring somewhere; a fact which, I think, I should soon discredit if I lived in the depths of this wilderness, for life would become tolerable there only by the spirit growing into harmony with the scene, wild and solemn as the objects around it.
The morning after the storm the landscape looked its wildest. The clouds were drifting away, and a sungleam came out as I was peeping into the forest at the woodingplace. The vines look beautiful on the black trunks of the trees after rain. Scarcely a habitation was to be seen, and it was like being set back to the days of creation, we passed 80 many islands in every stage of growth. I spent part of the morning with the L.'s, and we were more than once alarmed by a fearful scream, followed by a trampling and scuffling in the neighbouring gallery It was only some young ladies, with their work and guitar, who were in a state of terror because some green boughs would sweep over when we were close under the bank. They could not be reassured by the gentlemen who waited upon them, nor
* Society in America, vol. ii., p. 101.