Page images
PDF
EPUB

The American stage-coach on this road, and indeed upon all other roads on which there is no opposition, is constructed somewhat like the market-carts in the neighbourhood of London, being a long waggon upon springs, with canvass sides and a light wooden top. You enter it from the front, and find in the inside four rows of seats, one behind the other, the first of which is partly occupied by the driver, who is in some measure protected from the rain by the projection of the covering. This vehicle, although an uncomfortable one, seems to be better adapted for travelling on some of the bad stony roads, than any other four-wheeled carriage. The Americans always drive four-in-hand, with the pole very low, and not braced up to the collar as in England. The horses are in general good, and the usual rate of travelling from five to six miles an hour.

The road from Fredericktown is across the Catoctin and South Mountains, and the country on each side is rough and chiefly covered with forest. .Hagerstown is situated in a fine fertile valley, and is a neat though small place. There are two or three handsome churches, besides a very elegant one nearly finished, and intended for the Episcopalians. This sect, as well as that of the Methodists, is far inferior in number to the German Lutherans, and even to the Presbyterians. The Court House is an uncommonly elegant building, and would do credit to a city. There is also a hand

some Bank, and a large Town Hall. All these edifices are too magnificent and spacious for so small a town; but I suppose the inhabitants anticipate its some day becoming a very considerable place.

One thing that particularly struck me in the United States, and which cannot be sufficiently praised, is, that all the respectable inns, even in the little towns, contain a public reading-room ; where the papers are fastened to a long sloping desk, by means of a small iron bar down the middle of each file, so as to prevent individuals from taking them away. In the reading-room of the Globe Tavern, at Hagerstown, I found no less than ten different files of papers from different States in the Union.

There were some excellent maps, by Arrowsmith and Alelish, hanging on the walls, as I have found in almost all Taverns. Some of the maps which represented separate States, and which are always on a very large scale, deserve the highest praise for the beauty of their execution. There were also in this reading-room several Reviews and Magazines, and among others, a reprint of the last Edinburgh, which work has a great circulation in the United States. ,

The road from Hagerstown to Cumberland passes over a great number of small mountains, covered with forest, that have been very little cleared. These mountains abound with game, such as deer, wild turkies, pheasants, partridges, &c. A few miles from the village of Hancock, we put up a large " gang” of wild turkies that was crossing the road. These birds, which I afterwards saw an immense number of in the Western States, are much larger and handsomer, as well as of a more ståtely gait; than táme turkies. Their colour is the same as that of the breed which we call the dark Norfolk. Their plumage is particularly fine, and has a beautiful gloss, very much resembling that of an English stärling, and which immédiately distinguishes them from the domestic variety, even when dead. I may here mention that the turkey originally came from America, and was unknown to the ancients. Indeed it is now generally allowed by naturalists, that the Meleagrides of the Romans were Guinea Fowls.* : The advantage of travelling through a country abounding in game, was soon manifested in the improvement of our fare. Roasted partridges, and fine venison steaks, were brought me for breakfast at the very first place at which I stopped. · Cumberland is a thriving town on the Potowmác It is here that begins that large coal formation which extends throughout the whole country, as far as Pittsburgh and Wheeling on the Ohio. The distance from Washington to Cumberland is 135 miles. It is intended to cut a canal joining the two places, for the Potowmac has several falls,

[ocr errors][merged small]

and, like most rivers running through mountains, is too shallow in many places, to admit of its being navigated at such a distance from its mouth. This canal will not only be commercially, but also politically useful. Mr. Fulton has remarked, with his usual discrimination and intelligence, that “ when the United States shall be bound together by canals, by cheap and easy access to market in all directions, and by a sense of mutual intercourse and mingled commerce, it will be no more possible to split them into independent and separate governments, obliging each to line its own frontier with troops, to shackle its own exports and imports, to and from the neighbouring States, than it is possible now for the government of England to divide and form again into seven kingdoms.”

Leaving Cumberland, I proceeded on the great National Road which crosses the Alleghany Mountains, and which reaches from Cumberland to Wheeling, a distance of 125 miles. The road begins to ascend almost immediately, and passes through a rough and mountainous country, thickly covered with forest, which is chiefly of oak, here and there interspersed with pine and cedar. The underwood is generally very thick, the spare ground between the trees being covered with large mountain Laurel (Kalmia Latifolia). This is so abundant and luxuriant in some places, that the woods seem almost impenetrable. Deer, bears, wolves, wild turkies, and indeed all kinds of wild animals, are uncommonly plentiful in these mountains, owing to the rocky nature of the ground, which will in all probability prevent its being cultivated for centuries. It is only at considerable intervals, that even by the road side, a small spot of settled or cleared land can be seen, while at a distance from the road, the country is perfectly “ wild.” Another circumstance that in a great measure preserves the large game, is that during the summer and autumn these mountains are so terribly infested with rattlesnakes, that the hunters are not much disposed to enter the woods.

Some of the mountains in the State of New York, where it borders Connecticut, are similarly infested; so that the grouse which abound in them, are as I am told, preserved from the gun of the sportsman, till the beginning of winter. The rattlesnakes then retire in great numbers to a den or hole in the rocks, where they remain coiled up and torpid, to the number often of a hundred or more, until the return of the spring. On the Negro mountain, twenty-five miles from Cumberland, and close to the road side, was a den of these reptiles; and a man living within a very short distance of the place informed me, that when he first went there, he has seen, on a warm summer morning, a dozen or two together at the spot. As soon as a place becomes settled, these animals disappear; for every hog that runs at large in the woods, is the mortal enemy of all kinds of snakes, which he

« PreviousContinue »