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The following picture of the manners of the times, is at least amusing:
“Until nearly this time, the proportion of females had been small; it was now no longer felt, and a license to marry is said to have been the first process issued by the clerks of the new counties. A law suit did not at this time exist in Kentucky, since so unfortunately loaded with litigation about the very homes and firesides of her citizens. The females milked the cows, prepared the meats, spun and wove the garments of their husbands and children—while the men hunted the game of the woods, cleared the land, and planted the grain. To grind the Indian corn into meal on the rude and laborious hand-mill, or to pound it into hominy in a mortar, was occasionally the work of either sex. “A tin cup was an article of delicate luxury, almost as rare as an iron fork.' The furniture of the cabin was appropriate to the habitation. The table was composed of a slab, or thick flat piece of timber, split, and roughly hewn with the axe, with legs prepared in the same manner. Stools of the same material and manufacture, filled the place of chairs. When some one, more curiously nice than his neighbours, chose to elevate his bed above the floor, (often the naked ground,) it was placed on slabs laid across poles, which were again supported by forks driven into the floor. If, however, the floor happened to be so luxurious as to be made of puncheons, (another larger sort of slabs,) the bedstead became hewn pieces, let into the sides of the cabins by auger holes in the log. It is worth while to mention, that the cradle of these times was a small rolling trough, much like what is called the sugar trough, used to receive the sap of the sugar maple.” P. 133.
“Hats were made of native fur, and sold for five hundred dollars in the paper money of the times. The wool of the buffalo, and the bark or rind of the wild nettle, were used in the manufacture of cloth, and a peculiar sort of linen made out of the latter." P. 137.
A remarkable step in the progress of civilization in Kentucky, was the establishment of the first printing press. The ingenuity and enterprise with which the difficulties belonging to the undertaking were overcome, render it worthy of notice. The Gazette established has since played a conspicuous part in the history of the state. Mr. Bradford died a year or two since.
“Mr. John Bradford, an ingenious and enterprising citizen of Kentucky, not brought up to the business of a printer, undertook this important step in the political and intellectual improvement of Kentucky. There was not then a printing press on the western waters; not one within five hundred miles of Lexington. Several of the types were cut out of dogwood; and with this imperfect apparatus, on the 18th of August, 1787, he and his brother, Fielding Bradford, published the Kentucky Gazette. It was at first a weekly paper printed on a demi sheet, which size was altered on the 1st of September following, into a medium sheet, and then it assumed one of greater dimensions.” P. 164.
With the advancement of population, and the increase of produce for the market, the right of navigating the Mississippi became a subject of engrossing importance. The suspicion that Congress was regardless of the interests of Kentucky, and disposed to surrender the navigation of that river, was extensively entertained. Many of the citizens were in favour of the plan of an independent government, under the protection and alliance of Spain. For this they should not be harshly judged. The weakness of the Confederation, the distance of their frontier settlements from the Atlantic states, the difficulties of communication, and the apparent improbability of their obtaining, by means of Congress, the right of navigating the Mississippi, might well have produced despondent feelings. It is rather to be wondered at, that at such a time, when Spanish intrigue was busy, and Spanish money freely distributed, and still more liberally promised, the great mass of the people remained so true, and rejected so decidedly the whisperings of the tempter.
When the subject of the adoption of the Federal Constitution was considered in the Virginia Convention, the vote of Kentucky was opposed to it, in the proportion
of eleven to three. For some unascertained cause, no votes were given by Kentucky in the first elections of President and Vice-President of the United States. Much difficulty and vexation were experienced in arranging the separation of Kentucky from the mother state. Convention after Convention was held, without results. These bodies sometimes stepped a little aside of their proper path; and of the proceedings of one of them against the importation and use of foreign goods, especially those of a fine quality, Mr. Butler speaks in a very sensible tone (p. 185). By the eighth Convention a Constitution was at length established in 1792, and in June of that year, Kentucky was admitted as one of the United States. The first governor was Isaac Shelby. As a specimen of the economy of those days, we quote the following list of salaries.
“The members of Assembly received one dollar per diem, and twelve dollars each for the whole session ; twenty dollars compensated the presiding officer of each house, fifty dollars the clerk, and twelve dollars the serjeant at arms. The largest bill was that of the public printer.” P. 214.
In 1793 the salary of the Governor was $1,000; of the Judges of the Courts of Appeal $666 66; of the Secretary of State $333 33; of the Treasurer, Auditor, and Attorney General, the same.
Entire tranquillity with the Indians was not enjoyed till the treaty of Greenville in 1795. Various expeditions were undertaken to give security to the frontier. Among these, the campaigns of Wayne were the most prominent, and of them, much information from original sources is given by the author.
A source of far greater evils than the Indian depredations ever produced, was the state of land titles. The subject of the public lands had engaged at an early period the attention of the Virginia legislature. Their usefulness, as a source of revenue and the means of relieving the citizens from the burden of taxes, was duly estimated. Even under the regal government, grants and surveys had been made of lands in Kentucky, in reward of military and other services. But the thoughtless eagerness with which Virginia disposed of her public lands, entailed on the citizens of Kentucky years of distress, and derangement of their highest interests. To understand this complicated subject, it is necessary to enumerate the various rights and claims which a miserable policy afterwards brought into conflict.
1. Prior to 1778, surveys and grants had been made for military services, and for money paid into the regal treasury.
2. The officers and soldiers, in the state and continental service, were entitled to large tracts, by the bounty of Virginia.
3. Rights to four hundred acres were given to each person, who, with his family, had actually settled on the waste lands.
4. The settlers in villages and stations were likewise entitled to four hundred
5. Large tracts were sold on long credit, equivalent to a gratuity, to poor persons, by the county courts.
6. Large quantities of land were bought by speculators at the state price. As the depreciated currency of the time was received in payment at its par value, the real price was reduced to less than fifty cents per hundred acres.
The above mentioned will serve as a specimen of the numerous and perplexing varieties of claims to land, which were to be reconciled. Besides these, there were many others, derived from the authority both of Virginia and Kentucky. Multiplied and confused, however, as they were, the consequent evil was not inevitable. Had a system of accurate surveys been followed, and order been preserved in registering
patents, the tract belonging to each individual might have been precisely described and recognised. On the contrary, no method could have been pursued, more adapted than the actual one, to create confusion, and encourage litigation. The holder of a claim applied to the proper authority for a warrant. This instrument gave the right of selecting and appropriating a specified quantity of waste and unappropriated land. When the warrants were obtained, it became the object to locate them on the most fertile and valuable territory. This part was generally entrusted to hunters, and men of like description, who were supposed to be best acquainted with the country. These men were illiterate, and often unprincipled. After making selection of their tract of land, it became necessary to record it in the proper office. The vagueness and uncertainty of their descriptions are amusing, “ A. B. enters five hundred acres, to include his cabin.” An entry has been made in this form even before the cabin was built. “ E. A. enters six hundred acres on Eagle creek, a branch of the Kentucky, beginning at a small beech, marked J. N., on the north side of a small drain,” &c. Now Eagle creek is fifty miles long, has a thousand drains, and a million beech trees. “C. D. enters four hundred acres, beginning at a stake marked E. F., forty miles from the Ohio.” In consequence of these vague descriptions, several entries of the same tract were often made by different persons, each ignorant of the other's claim. Different names were given by different indi. viduals to the same object, as hills, rivers, or licks; and after one individual had located his warrant on a stream known to him as Big Drowning creek, another laid claim to the same stream as the Rolling Fork of Little Muddy.
" It often happened, also, that two sets of locators, commencing their entries on parallel creeks, and running out each way until they interlocked, were quite astonished to find their surveyors crossing each other's lines.” In consequence of these irregularities, all the vacant lands were granted or sold twice over, and even then warrants continued to be issued from the treasury. The holders of these had either to lose their purchases, or take advantage of the vague descriptions of the surveys already recorded, and make precise, specific entries of appropriated lands. Under such a temptation, profit was too strong for virtue, and the system proved admirably adapted to the promotion of dishonesty. It offered the highest remuneration for a total disregard of the laws of property. The result of this state of things was a depreciation of the value of the soil; for the purchaser had no security that he might not be suddenly ejected by the superior right of some latent claimant. It obstructed the progress of improvements, for who would consent “ to clear up the grounds, erect houses, build barns, plant orchards, and make meadows, for the sole convenience of others?" It produced enmities in each neighbourhood, and set in distrust, those who should have been united in heart and hand. Persons were not wanting, whom no feeling of honour or justice could deter from searching the old records of courts and surveyor's offices, and ferreting forth long-forgotten claims. These they bought for little or nothing of their proprietors, sometimes proposing to bring suit against the actual occupants, on condition of a share in the land if the suit should be successful. Every citizen of Kentucky, whose memory goes back to those sad times, can recollect instances of distress, brought, by the revival of unknown claims, upon the innocent and unsuspecting, who thus lost the fruits of years of industry. Many legislative acts were passed to remedy these evils—for a long time without success. The legislature was tied and restricted by its compact with Virginia, which formed a part of the Constitution. The mischiefs have, at last, however, been arrested, by a law limiting the commencement of actions against settlers, within seven years of its
passage. This quieting law was passed in 1809, and its constitutionality unani. mously affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1831.
The Crayon Miscellany. By the Author of the Sketch Book.
No. I. containing a Tour on the Prairies. Philadelphia: 1835.
THERE are writers who have so ministered to our enjoyment as to become associated with our happiest literary recollections. The companionship of their works has been to us as that of an entertaining and cherished friend, whose converse cheers the hours of langour, and brightens the period of recreative pleasure. We are wont to think and to speak of them with quite a different sentiment from that which prompts us to speculate upon less familiar and less endeared productions. There is ever within us a sense of obligation, an identification of our individual partiality with the author, when the fruits of his labours are alluded to, his merits discussed, or his very name mentioned. The sensitiveness appropriate to the writer's self, seems, in a manner, transferred to our own bosoms; his faults are scarcely recognised, and we guard his laurels as if our own efforts had aided in their winning, and our own happiness was involved in their preservation. Such feelings obtain, indeed, to a greater or less extent, with reference to all the master spirits in literature, whose labours have been devoted, with signal success, to the gratification and elevation of humanity. But the degree of permanency for such tributary sentiment in the general mind, depends very much upon the field of effort selected by the favourite author, and his own peculiar circumstances and character. Subjects of temporary interest, however admirably treated, and with whatever applause received, are obviously ill calculated to retain, for any considerable length of time, a strong hold upon human regard ; and, notwithstanding the alleged irrelevancy between an author's personal character and history and the influence of his works, the motives adduced by Addison for prefacing the Spectator with an account of himself, are deeply founded in human nature. Not merely contemporary sentiment, but after opinion in relation to literary productions, will be materially affected by what is known of the author. The present prevailing tendency to inquire, often with a truly reprehensible minuteness, into whatever in the most distant manner relates to the leading literary men of the age, affords ample evidence of this truth. Indeed, we may justly anticipate, that literary, if not general biography, will, ere long, from the very interest manifested in regard to it, attain an importance, and ultimately a philosophical dignity, such as shall engage in its behalf the sedulous labours of the best endowed and most accomplished minds.
The occasion which first induced Geoffrey Crayon to delineate, and those which have suggested his subsequent pencillings, were singularly happy; and the circumstances under which these masterly sketches were produced, nay, the whole history of the man, are signally fitted to deepen the interest which his literary merits necessarily excited. In saying this, we are not unmindful of the prejudices so ungenerously forced upon the attention of the absentee, and so affectingly alluded to in the opening of his present work; but do we err in deeming those prejudices as unchargeable upon the mass of his countrymen, as they were essentially unjust and partial ? Nay, are we not, in this volume, with our author's characteristic genuineness of feeling and simplicity, assured of his own settled and happy sense of the high place he occupies in the estimation and love of Americans ?
The Tour on the Prairies is an unpretending account, comprehending a period of about four weeks, of travelling and hunting excursions upon the vast western plains. The local features of this interesting region have been displayed to us in several works of fiction, of which it has formed the scene; and more formal illustrations of the extensive domain denominated THE WEST, and its denizens, have been repeatedly presented to the public. But in the volume before us, one of the
most extraordinary and attractive portions of the great subject is discussed, not as the subsidiary part of a romantic story, nor yet in the desultory style of epistolary composition, but in the deliberate, connected form of a retrospective narration, When we say that the Tour on the Prairies is rife with the characteristics of its author, no ordinary eulogium is bestowed. His graphic power is manifest throughout. The boundless prairies stretch out illimitably to the fancy, as the eye scans his descriptions. The athletic figures of the riflemen, the gaily arrayed Indians, the heavy buffalo and the graceful deer, pass in strong relief and startling contrast before
We are stirred by the bustle of the camp at dawn, and soothed by its quiet, or delighted with its picturesque aspect under the shadow of night. The imagination revels amid the green oak clumps and verdant pea vines, the expanded plains and the glancing river, the forest aisles and the silent stars. Nor is this all. Our hearts thrill at the vivid representations of a primitive and excursive existence; we involuntarily yearn, as we read, for the genial activity and the perfect exposure to the influences of nature in all her free magnificence, of a woodland and adventurous life; the morning strain of the bugle, the excitement of the chase, the delicious repast, the forest gossiping, the sweet repose beneath the canopy of heaven-how inviting, as depicted by such a pencil !
Nor has our author failed to invigorate and render doubly attractive these descriptive drawings, with the peculiar light and shade of his own rich humour, and the mellow softness of his ready sympathy. A less skilful draftsman would, perhaps, in the account of the preparations for departure (Chapter III.), have spoken of the hunters, the fires, and the steeds—but who, except Geoffrey Crayon, would have been so quaintly mindful of the little dog, and the manner in which he regarded the operations of the farrier? How inimitably the Bee Hunt is portrayed; and what have we of the kind so racy, as the account of the Republic of Prairie Dogs, unless it be that of the Rookery in Bracebridge Hall? What expressive portraits are the delineations of our rover's companions. How consistently drawn throughout, and in what fine contrast are the reserved and saturnine Beatte, and the vain-glorious, sprightly, and versatile Tonish. A golden vein of vivacious, yet chaste comparisonthat beautiful, yet rarely well-managed species of wit; and a wholesome and pleasing sprinkling of moral comment--that delicate and often most efficacious medium of useful impressions intertwine and vivify the main narrative. Something, too, of that fine pathos which enriches his earlier productions, enhances the value of the present. He tells us, indeed, with commendable honesty, of his new appetite for destruction, which the game of the prairie excited; but we cannot fear for the tenderness of a heart that sympathises so readily with suffering, and yields so gracefully to kindly impulses. He gazes upon the noble courser of the wilds, and wishes that his freedom may be perpetuated; he recognises the touching instinct which leads the wounded elk to turn aside and die in retiracy; he reciprocates the attachment of the beast which sustains him, and more than all, can minister even to the foibles of a fellow-being, rather than mar the transient reign of human pleasure.
It has been said that our author, at one period of his life, seriously proposed to himself the profession of an artist. The idea was a legitimate result of his intellectual constitution; and although he denied its development in one form, in another it has fully vindicated itself. The volume we have cursorily noticed, is a collection of sketches, embodied happily in language, since thereby their more general enjoyment is insured, but susceptible of immediate transfer to the canvas of the painter. We rejoice that they are but the first series toward the formation of a new gallery, wherein we anticipate the delight of many a morning lounge and evening reverie. VOL. XVII.-NO. 34.