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than any intelligent person should be in a strange, and by no means uninteresting country.
“ The general” is quite the lion on board. It would amuse you to observe the gaping mouths, fixed eyes, and attentive looks around, when the general speaks. He is the oracle—the ne plus ultra of excellence—the phenix of generals !
By this time you must be wearied with my prosing about persons of whom you know nothing, and are probably waiting for more interesting subjects for description. Thus far, with the exception of one bluff, with a few buildings perched upon its summit, there has been no variety in the monotony of the gloomy forests which overhang the river.
“Ellis's cliffs, which present the wildest and most romantic scenery upon the Mississippi below St. Louis, are now in sight. They rise proudly from the river, and compared with the tame features of the country, are invested with the dignity of mountains. They exhibit a white perpendicular face to the river, and are about one hundred and fifty feet in height. Gold and silver ore have been lately found in the strata of the cliffs; but not in sufficient purity and quantity to induce the proprietors to excavate in search of them. Here are discovered the first stones -small pebbles of recent formation that are seen on ascending the river. The surrounding country, which is nearly on a level with the summit of the cliffs, recedes pleasantly undulating from the river, rich with highly cultivated cotton plantations, and ornamented with the elegant residences of the
FIRST VIEW OF NATCHEZ.
planters. It is said that few countries in the world possess a more beautifully diversified surface-or one more pleasantly distributed in hills and valleys. In the vicinity also, of this romantic spot, Chateaubriand has laid some of the scenes of his wild and splendid fiction “Atala.”
We are now within twenty miles of Natchez. The river is here very circuitous, making the distance much greater than by land. The shores continue to exhibit the peculiarly gloomy and inhospitable features which, with the occasional exception of a high bluff, plantation or village, they present nearly to the mouth of the Ohio. The loud and startling report of a cannon in the bows of the boat, making her stagger and tremble through every beam, is the signal that our port is in sight-a pile of gray
and white cliffs with here and there a church steeple, a roof elevated above its summit, and a light-house hanging on the verge! At the foot of the bluffs are long straggling lines of wooden buildings, principally stores and store-houses; the Levée is fringed with flat boats and steamers, and above all, tower majestically the masts of two or three ships. The whole prospect from the deck presents an interesting scene of commercial life and bustle. But this is not Natchez! The city proper is built upon the summit level, the tops of whose buildings and trees can be seen from the boat, rising higher than the cliff. The ascent from the lower town, or as it is commonly designated, “under the hill,” is by an excavated road, of moderate elevation. The whole appearance of the place from
the deck is highly romantic. On our left, opposite Natchez, is Vidalia, in Louisiana, a pleasant village of a few houses, built on one street parallel with the river. Here, in a pleasant grove above the town, is the “field of honour,” where gentlemen from Mississippi occasionally exchange leaden cards -all in the way of friendship.
On our right, a few hundred yards below Natchez, crowning a noble eminence, stand the ruins of Fort Rosalie, celebrated in the early history of this country. Its garrison early in the last century was massacred, by the Natchez tribe, to a single man, who escaped by leaping from the precipice. Here is the principal scene of Chateaubriand's celebrated romance. The position of the fort, in a military point of view, commanding, as it does, a great extent of river and country, is well chosen. Beyond the fort, a peep at rich woods, green hills, and tasteful country-seats, is agreeably refreshing to the eye, so long accustomed to gaze upon melancholy forests, and dead flats covered with cane-brakes. Indeed, the mournful character of the forests along the Mississippi, is calculated to fill the mind with gloom. The long black
moss, well known at the north as the “ Carolina moss," hangs in immense fringes from every limb, frequently enveloping the whole tree in its sombre garb. The forests thus clothed present a dismal yet majestic appearance. As the traveller gazes upon them his mind partakes of their funereal character, and the imagination is ready to assent to the strong and highly poetical remark of a gentleman on board, with whom I was promenading the
A MODERN BABEL.
guard,” who observed that it would seem that the Deity was dead, and that nature had clothed herself in mourning.
Land at the Levée—African porters-First impression of passing travellers—“Natchez under the Hill”-A dizzy road—A rapid de
-Y ew from the summit-Fine scenery in the vicinity-Reservoir-A tawny Silenus-A young Apollo-Warriors“ hors du combat”—Indian females-Mississippian backwoodsmen-Mansion House,
SINCE the date of my last letter, a period sufficiently long to enable me to make my observations with correctness has elapsed; and from memoranda collected during the interval, I shall prepare this and subsequent letters from this place.
We landed last evening at the Levée, amid the excitement, noise, and confusion which always attend the arrival or departure of a steamer in any place. But here the tumult was varied and increased by the incessant jabbering, hauling, pulling, kicking and thumping, of some score or two of ebony-cheeked men and urchins, who were tumbling over each other's heads to get the first trunk.
“Trunk, massa-trunk! I take you baggage."
“You get out, for a nigger !” exclaimed a tall, strapping fellow, as black as night, to his brother ebony. “I'm the gemman, massa, what care de
trunk.” “Dis nigger, him know noffing, massaI'm what's always waits on um gentlemans from de boats !" roared another; and stooping to take one of the handles, the other was instantly grappled by a rival, and both giving a simultaneous jerk, the subject of the contest flew violently from their hands, and was instantly caught up by the first "gemman,” and borne off in triumph. This little by-play was acted, with variations, in every part of the cabin, where there was either a gentleman or a trunk to form the subject.
On landing, there was yet another trial of the tympanum.
Carriage, massa-mighty bad hill to walk up !" was vociferated on all sides ; and
“No, no, no!" was no argument with them for a cessation of attack; denial only made them more
. obstinate; and, like true soldiers, they seemed to derive courage
from defeat. Forcing my way through the dingy crowd--for four out of five of them were black, and, “ by the same token,” as ragged as Falstaff's regiment, of shirtless memory—I followed my athletic pioneer; who, with my heavy baggage poised accurately upon his head, moved as rapidly and carelessly along the thronged Levée as though he carried no weight but his own thick cranium. On looking round me for a moment, on landing, I was far from agreeably impressed with the general appearance of the buildings. This part of the town is not properly Natchez —and strangers passing up and down the river, who have had the opportunity of seeing only this place,