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Smithsonian Institution 



Alexander Wetmore 

1 c) 4 6 Sixth Secretary 1955 


John James Audubon, 


Edited by His Widow. 





Entered according to Act of Congress, In the year 18C8, 


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of tlie United States for the 

Soutliern District of New York. 



46, 48, 50 Greene Sireot, N. Y. 


MM- - 






■Si y dl'S'i;"vj)a. 


In the summer of 1867, the widow of John James Audubon, 
completed with the aid of a friend, a memoir of the great natu- 
ralist, and soon after received overtures from a London pub- 
lishing house for her work. Accepting their proposition for 
its pubHcation in England, Mrs. Audubon forwarded the MSS., 
consisting in good part of extracts from her husband's journals 
and episodes, as he termed his delightful reminiscences of 
adventure in various parts of the New World. The London 
pubHshers pi ced these MSS. in the hands of Mr. Robert 
Buchanan, who prepared from them a single volume contain- 
ing about one fifth of the original manuscript. 

The following pages are substantially the recently published 
work, reproduced with some additions, and the omission 
of several objectionable passages inserted by the London ed- 
itor. Should Mrs. Audubon hereafter receive her manuscript, 
containing sufficient material for four volumes of printed mat- 
ter, and including many charming episodes " born from his 
traveling thigh, " as Ben Jonson quaintly expressed it, 
the American public may confidently look forward to other 
volumes, uniform with this one, of the Naturalist's writings. 

I do not deem it necessary to say aught in commenda- 
tion of the labors of the loving and gentle wife in preparing the 
following admirable memoir of her grand and large-hearted 
husband, — 

"That clieerful one, who k'noweth all 
The songs of all the winijed choristers, 
And iu one sequence of melodious sound, 
Pours out their music." 

Her delightful volume will better speak for itself. Nor 
do I deem it requisite to dwell at length on the works of 

iv Introduction. 

Audubon, pronounced by Baron Cuvier to be " the most splen^ 
did monuments which art has erected in honor of ornithology. " 

He was an admirable specimen of the Hero as a man of 
science. To quote a'n eloquent writer: '• For sixty years or 
more he followed, with more than religious devotion, a beautiful 
and elevated p irsuit, enlarging its boundaries by his discov- 
eries, and illustrating its objects by his art. In all climates 
and in all weathers ; scorched by burning suns, drenched by 
piercing rains, frozen by the fiercest colds ; now diving fear- 
lessly into the densest forest, now wandering alone over the 
most savage regions ; in perils, in difficulties, and in doubts ; 
with no companion to cheer his way, far from the smiles and 
applause of society ; listening only to the sweet music of birds, 
or to the sweeter music of his own thoughts, he faithfully kept 
his path. The records of man's life contain few nobler ex- 
amples of strength of purpose and indefatigable energy. Led 
on solelv by his pure, lofty, kindling enthusiasm, no tliirst for 
wealth, no desire of distinction, no restless ambition of ec- 
centric character, could have induced him to undergo as many 
sacrifices, or sustained him under so many trials. Higher 
principles and worthier motives alone enabled him to meet 
such discouragements and accomplish such miracles of 
achievement. He has enlarged and enriched the domains of 
a pleasing and useful science ; he has revealed to us the ex- 
istence of many species of birds before unknown ; he has 
given us more accurate information of the forms and habits 
of those that were known ; he has corrected the blunders of 
his predecessors ; and he has imparted to the study of natu- 
ral history the grace and fascination of romance." 

Of the man himself, Christopher North said, after speak- 
ing lovingly and appreciatively of him, " He is the greatest 
Artist in his own walk, that ever lived." The love of his vo- 
cation, after innumerable trials, succe.'^ses and disappointments 
gave the lie to the Quo fit Maecenas of Horace, and was to the 
end of his long fife most intense. Neither his friends. Sir Wal- 
ler Scott, or John Wilson, notably happy as they were in their 
home relations occupied a place in the domestic circle of hus- 
band and father, with a more beautiful display of kind, enno- 
bling, and generous devotion, than John James Audubon ; and 


Introduction. v 

nothing in his whole character stands out in a purer and more 
honorable light, than his discharge of all the duties of home. 
In private life his virtues endeared him to a large circle of 
devoted admirers ; his spriglitly conversation, with a slight 
French accent ; his soft and gentle voice ; his frank and fine 
face, " aye gat him friends in ilka place." With those whose 
privilege it was to know the Naturalist, so full of fine enthusi- 
asm and intelligence ; with so much simplicity of character, 
frankness and genius, he will continue to live in their memories, 
though " with the buried gone ; " while to the artistic, litera- 
ry, and scientific world, he has left an imperishable name that 
is not in the keeping of history alone. Long after the bronze 
statue of the naturalist that we hojDe soon to see erected in 
the Central Park, shall have been wasted and worn beyond 
recognition, by the winds and rains of Heaven ; while the 
towering and snow-covered peak of the Rocky Mountains 
known as Mount Audubon, shall rear its lofty head among 
the clouds ; while the little wren chirps about our homes, and 
the robin and reed-bird sing in the green meadows ; while the 
melody of the mocking-bird is heard in the cypress swamps 
of Louisiana, or the shrill scream of the eagle on the frozen 
shores of the Northern seas, the name of John James Audu- 
bon, the gifted Artist, the ardent lover of Nature, and the 
admirable writer, will live in the hearts of his grateful coun- 

In the preface to the London edition of this work, I find 
the following just and generous wcrds : — 

" Audubon was a man of genius, with the courage of a 
lion and the simplicity of a child. One scarcely knows which 
to admire most — the mighty determination which enabled him 
to carry out his great work in the face of difficulties so huge, 
or the gentle and guileless sweetness with which he through- 
out shared his thoughts and aspirations with his wife and 
children. He was more like a child at the mother's knee, 
than a husband at the hearth — so free was the prattle, so thor- 
ough the confidence. Mrs. Audubon appears to have been a 
wife in every respect worthy of such a man ; willing to sacri- 
fice her personal comfort at any moment for the furtherance 
of his great schemes ; ever ready with kiss and counsel when 

VI Introduction. 

such were most needed ; never failing for a moment in hei 
faith that Audubon was destined to be one of the great work- 
ers of the earth. 

" The man's heart was restless ; otherwise he would never 
have achieved so much. He must wander, he must vagabon- 
dize, he must acquire ; he was never quite easy at the hearth. 
His love for Nature was passionate indeed, pursuing in all re- 
gions, burning in him to the last. Among the most touch- 
ing things in the diary, are the brief exclamations of joy when 
something in the strange city — a flock of wild ducks overhead 
in London, a gathering of pigeons on the trees of Paris — re- 
minds him. of the wild life of wood and plain. He was boy-like 
to the last, glorying most when out of doors. 

" Of the work Audubon has done, nothing need be said 
in praise here. Even were I competent to discuss his merits 
as an ornithologist and ornithological painter, I should be si- 
lent, for the world has already settled those merits in full. I 
may trust myself, however, to say one word in praise of Au- 
dubon as a descriptive writer. Some of his reminiscences of 
adventure, some of which are published in this book, seem to 
me to be quite as good, in vividness of presentment and care- 
ful coloring, as anything I have ever read." 

J. G. W. 

SI St. Mark's Place, 

New York, April, 1869. 



Audubon's Ancestry — His Childhood — First Visit to America— 
The Bakewell Family — Aspirations — Youthful Recollections — ■ 
A Marvellous Escape. . . . . . . il 


Result of Audubon's Voyage to France — Renewal of Bird-hunting 
Pursuits — Return to America. ..... 23 


Return of Mrs. Audubon to her Father's House — Audubon and 
Rosier move to Hendersonville 34 


Return Journey to Hendersonville — Terrible Adventure on the 
Prairie — Starts in Business at Hendersonville, and Succeeds 
— Commences to draw Poitraits. .... 46 

Rambles in Kentucky — Daniel Boone, the Famous Hunter. 59 


Audubon leaves Cincinnati with Captain Cummings — Arrival at 
Natchez — Departure for New Orleans — Arrival at New Or- 
leans — Want of Success — Vanderlyn, the Painter — Audu- 
bon leaves New Orleans for Kentucky — Return to New Or- 
leans — Review of Work done since leaving Home. . 71 

Wife and Sons arrive at New Orleans — Difficulties of Obtaining a 
livelihood — Audubon's Arrival at Natchez — Audubon stud- 

viii Contents. 

ies Oil Painting — Visit to Bayou Sara — Leaves for Louis* 
villewi'.h his son Victor — Wanderings through the Wilds — 
Residence at Louisville — The Waste of Waters — The Flood- 
ed Forest 88 

Audubon reaches Philadelphia — Introduction to Sully the Painter 

— Meetings with Rosier and Joseph Mason — Audubon leaves 
Philadelphia — Arrival at New York — Leaves New York, 
and arrives at Albany — Visit to Niagara — A Voyage down 
the Ohio to the South — Arrival at Cincinnati — Turns Dan- 
cing-master. loo 

Audubon Sails from New Orleans for England on board the Delos 

— Incidents of the Voyage — Arrival at Liverpool — Visit to 
Manchester — Opening of Subscription-book for great work — 
Edinbuigh — Drawings exhibited at the Royal Institution. Ii8 


Edinburgh — The Royal Society — Scott — Edinburgh People — 
Sydney Smith and a Sermon — Miss O'Neill the Actress — 
Mrs. Grant of Laggan — Prospectus of the Great Work. 135 


Provincial Canvass for Subscribers — Visit to London — The Great 
Work in Progress — Horrors of London. . . . 149 

Visit to Paris — Baron Cuvier — -Reception at the Academy of Sci- 
ences — Farewell to France. 161 

Return to London — Sets Sail for America — Friends in New 
York. ......... 181 

The Meeting with his Wife and Sons — Return with his "V'ifv to 
England — Provincial Canvass — East Florida. , . 197 

Floridian Episodes — The Live Oakers 235 

Contents. ix 

Third Florida Epiiode : Spring Garden. .... 228 

Fifth Florida Episode : Deer Hunting 235 

Sixth Florida Episode : Sandy Island 243 


Seventh Florida Episode : The Wreckers. . . . 249 

Eighth Florida Episode : The Turtlers 257 


Ninth Florida Episode : Death of a Pirate. . . . 267 

In America : Episode in New Brunswick, . . . 274 

Episode in Maine : The Maine Lumbermen, . . . 281 

Visit to the Bay of Fundy. 288 

Return to Boston — Wanderings in the Neighborhood — Voyage 
to Labrador in the Schooner Ripley — Misadventures at Little 
River — Seal and Mud Islands — The Gut of Canseau. 295 

En Route to Labrador — Gut of Canseau — Magdalene Island — 
The Inhabitants — Crnitholigical Notes — Birds on the Rock 
— First Impressions of Labrador — Halifax Eggers. . 306 

Labrador Episodes : The Eggers of Labrador. . . , 317 


Notes in Labrador — Indians — Civilities on Board the Quebec 
Cutter — The Fur Company — Severe Weather — Win. Is and 

X Contents. 

Rain — Excursions on Shore — Hut of a Labrador Seal-Catch- 
er — Great Macatine Islands — Officers' Bivouac Ashore. 323 


Labrador Episodes : The Squatters of Labrador. . 351 

Notes on Labrador — Gulf of St. Lawrence — St. George's Bay, 
Newfoundland — Land on Ruy's Island — "Wanderings Over- 
land — Pictou — Truro and the Bay of Fundy — Arrival at 
Halifax, Nova Scotia — Arrival at New York. . 359 


Journal Resumed — Washington Irving — Wanderings South — 
Florida Excursion Abandoned — Returns North — Sails for 
England — Visit to Baron Rothschild — Removal to Edinburgh 
— Return to London — Embarks with much Live Stock to 
New York — Notes by the Way. .... 376 

In America — Philadelphia — Boston — Friends and Birds — Meet- 
ing with Daniel Webster — Back to New York — Social Meet- 
ings — Washington — Two Letters of Washington Irving — 
Interview with the President — Proposed Scientific Expedi- 
tion. ....... 386 


Excursion South — Starts in Cutter for Galveston Bay, Texas — 
Barataria Bay — Great Hunting Excursion with a Squatter — 
Notes in Texas — Buffalo Bayou — Texas Capitol and 
Houses of Congress — Reaches New Orleans — In England 
Again — Literary Labors — Back to America. . 400 

Excursion to the Great Western Prairies — Up the Missouri — Riv- 
er Pictures — The Mandans — The " Medicine Lodge" — 
Ricaree Indians — Fort Union — Buiifalo Hunt — Small-Pox 
among the Indians — Return to New York. . . 417 

Audubon's Last Days — His Habits — Love of Music — Description 
of Audubon Park — His Library and Studio — Visitors — Ex- 
hibition of Drawings — Mental Gloaming — Loss of Sight — • 
The Naturalist's Death and Funeral. . . . 435 

L 1 1 E OF Audubon 


Audnhoii's Anccstrv — His Childhood — First J^isif to America - 
The Baknvdl Fatnily — Aspirations — Yotithfid Recollections ■ 
A Marvellous Escape. 

HE name of Audubon is of French origin ; it is 
extremely rare, and while confined in America 
to the family of the naturalist, has in France been 
ti'aced only among his ancestry. Audubon has told us 
all that he knew of his relations. He writes : " John 
Audubon my grandfather was born at the small village 
of Sable d'Olonne, in La Vende'e, with a small harbor, 
forty-five miles south from Nantes. He was a poor fisher- 
man with a numerous family, twenty-one of whom grew to 
maturity. There was but one boy besides my father, he 
being the twentieth born, and the only one of the numer- 
ous family who lived to a considerable age. In subse- 
quent years, when I visited Sable d'Olonne, the old 
inhabitants told me that they had seen the whole of this 
family, including both parents, at church several times on 

The father of the naturalist appears to have caught at 
an early age the restless spirit of his times, and his father, 
who saw in it the only hope the youth had of obtaining 
distinction, encouraged his love of adventure. He him- 
self says of his start in life : " When I was twelve years of 
age my father provided me with a shirt, a dress of warm 
clothing, his blessing, and a cane, and sent me out to seek 
my fortune." 

1 2 Life of Auduhon. 

The youth went to Nantes, and falling in with the 
captain of a vessel bound on a fishing voyage to the coast 
of America, he shipped on board as a boy before the mast. 
He continued at sea, and by the age of seventeen was 
rated as an able-bodied seaman. At twenty-one he com- 
manded a vessel, and at twenty-five he was owner and 
■captain of a small craft* Purchasing other vessels, the 
enterprising adventurer sailed with his little fleet to the 
West Indies. He reached St. Domingo, and there fortune 
dawned upon him. After a few more voyages he pur- 
chased a small estate. The prosperity of St. Domingo, 
already French, so influenced the mariner's interests, that 
in ten years he realized a considerable fortune. Obtain- 
ing an appointment from the Governor of St. Domingo, 
he returned to France, and in his official capacity became 
intimate with influential men connected with the govern- 
ment of the First Empire. Through their good offices he 
obtained an appointment in the Imperial navy and the 
command of a small vessel of war. A warm sympathy 
with the changes wrought by the revolution, and an 
idolatrous worship of Napoleon, must have contributed 
greatly to his success. 

While resident in France he purchased a beautiful 
estate on the Loire, nine miles from Nantes ; — there, 
after a life of remarkable vicissitude, the old sailor died, 
in 1818, at the great age of ninety -five, regretted, as 
he deserved to be, on account of his simplicity of man- 
ners and perfect sense of honesty. Our Audubon has 
described his father as a man of good proportions, 
measuring five feet ten inches in height, having a hardy 
constitution and the agility of a wild cat. His manners, 
it is asserted, were most polished, and his natural gifts 
improved by self-education. He had a warm and e\'en 
violent temper, described as rising at times into " the 
blast of a hurricane," but readily appeased. While 

His Early Tears. 13 

residing in the West Indies, he frequently visited North 
America, and with some foresight made purchases of land 
in the French colony of Louisiana, in Virginia, and Penn- 
sylvania. In one of his American visits he met and 
married in Louisiana a lady of Spanish extraction, named 
Anne Moynette, whose beauty and wealth may have made 
her equally attractive. A family of three sons and one 
daughter blessed this union, and the subject of this 
biographical sketch was the youngest of the sons. A few 
years after his birth Madame Audubon accompanied her 
husband to the estate of Aux Cayes in the island of St. 
Domingo, and there miserably perished during the memo- 
rable rising of the negro population. 

The black revolt so endangered the property of the 
foreigners resident in St. Domingo, that the plate and 
money belonging to the Audubon family had to be carried 
away to New Orleans by the more faithful of their servants. 
Returning to France with his family, the elder Audubon 
again married, left his young son, the future naturalist, 
under charge of his second wife, and returned to the 
United States, in the employment of the French govern- 
ment, as an officer in the Imperial navy. While there he 
became attached to the army under Lafayette. Moving 
hither and thither under various changes, he seldom or 
never communicated with his boy ; but meanwhile the prop- 
erty which remained to him in St. Domingo was greatly 
augmenting in value. During a visit paid to Pennsylvania, 
the restless Frenchman purchased the farm of Millgrove on 
the Perkiomen Creek, near the Schuylkill Falls. Finally, 
after a life of restless adventure, he returned to France 
and filled a post in the marine ; and after spending some 
portion of his years at Rochefort, retired to his estate on 
the Loire. This estate was left by Commodore Audubon to 
his son John James, who conveyed it to his sister without 
even visiting the domain he so generously willed away. 

14 Life of Auduhon. 

The naturalist was born on his father's plantation, 
near New Orleans, Louisiana, May 4th, 1780, and 
his earliest recollections are associated with lying 
among the flowers of that fertile land, sheltered by the 
orange trees, and watching the movements of the 
mocking-bird, " the king of song," dear to him in after 
life from many associations. He has remarked that his 
earliest impressions of nature were exceedingly vivid ; the 
beauties of natural scenery stirred " a frenzy " in his 
blood, and at the earliest age the bent of his future studies 
was indicated by many characteristic traits. He left 
Louisiana while but a child, and went to St. Domingo, 
where he resided for a short period, previous to his 
departure for France, where his education was to be 

His earliest recollections of his life in France extend 
to his home in the central district of the city of Nantes, 
and a fact he remembered well was being attended by two 
colored servants sent home from India by his father. 
He speaks of his life in Nantes as joyous in the extreme. 
Plis step-mother, being without any children of her own, 
humored the child in every whim, and indulged him in 
every luxury. The future naturalist, who in the recesses 
of American forests was to live on roots and fruits, and 
even scantier fare, was indulged with a " carte blanche " 
on all the confectionery shops in the village where liis 
summer months were passed, and he speaks of the kind- 
ness of his stepmother as overwhelming. His father 
had less weakness, and ordered the boy to attend to his 
education. The elder Audubon had known too many 
changes of fortune to believe in the fickle goddess ; and 
notwithstanding his wife's tears and entreaties, determining 
to educate his son ' thoroughly, as the safest inheritance 
he could leave him, he sent the young gentleman 
straisfhtwav to school. Audubon laments that education 

His Early Tears. i^ 

in France was but miserably attended to during the 
years that succeeded the great poUtical convulsions. 
Military education had usurped all the care of the First 
Empire, and the wants of the civil population were but 
sparingly heeded. His father, from natural predilections, 
was desirous that the boy should become a sailor, a cadet 
in the French navy, or an engineer ; and with these views 
before him, he decided on the course of study his son 
should follow. Mathematics, drawing, geography, fencing 
and music were among the branches of education pre- 
scribed ; it being evident that a complex course of 
instruction was not among the misapprehensions the old 
sailor's professional prejudices had nurtured. Audubon 
had, for music-master, an adept who taught him to play 
adroitly upon the violin, flute, flageolet, and guitar. For 
drawing-master, he had David, the chief inventor and 
worshipper of the abominations which smothered the 
aspirations of French artists during the revolutionary 
generation. Nevertheless it was to David that Audubon 
owed his earliest lessons in tracing objects of natural 
history. Audubon was, moreover, a proficient in dancing, 
■ — an accomplishment which in after years he had more 
opportunities of practising among bears than among men. 

Influenced by the military fever of his time, he 
dreamed in his schooldays of being a soldier ; but 
happily for natural science his adventurous sj^irit found 
another outlet. Fortunately his instruction was under 
the practical guidance of his mother, and large scope was 
allowed him for indulging in nest-hunting propensities. 
Supplied with a haversack of provisions, he made 
frequent excursions into the country, and usually returned 
loaded with objects of natural history, birds' nests, birds' 
eggs, specimens of moss, curious stones, and other objects 
attractive to his eye. 

When the old sailor returned from sea he was 

1 6 Life of Auduhon. 

astonished at the large collection his boy had made, paid 
him some compliments on his good taste, and asked what 
progress he had made in his other studies. No satisfac- 
tory reply being given, he retired without reproach, but, 
evidently mortified at the idleness of the young naturalist, 
seemed to turn his attention towards his daughter, whose 
musical attainments had been successfully cultivated. 
On the day following the disclosure father and son 
started for Rochefort, where the elder held some appoint- 
ment. The journey occupied four days, and the pair did 
not exchange one unnecessary word during the journey. 
Reaching his official residence, the father explained that 
he himself would superintend his son's education ; gave 
the boy liberty for one day to survey the ships of war and 
the fortifications, and warned him that on the morrow a 
severe course of study should be commenced. And 
commence it did accordingly. 

More than a year was spent in the close study of 
mathematics ; though whenever opportunity occurred the 
severer study was neglected for rambles after objects of 
natural history, and the collection of more specimens. 
At Nantes, Audubon actually began to draw sketches of 
French birds, — a work he continued with such assiduity 
that he completed two hundred specimens. 

His father was desirous that he should join the armies 
of Napoleon, and win fame by following the French 
eagles. Warfare, however, had ceased to be a passion of 
the youth, and he was sent out to America to superintend 
his father's property. He has recorded in affecting 
language his regret at leaving behind him the country 
where he had spent his boyhood, the friends upon whose 
affections he relied, the associations that had been 
endeared to him. While the breeze wafted along the 
great ship, hours were spent in deep sorrow or melancholy 

His first Visit to America. 17 

On landing at New York he caught the yellow fever, 
by walking to the bank in Greenwich Street to cash his 
letters of credit. Captain John Smith, whose name is 
gratefully recorded, took compassion on the young 
emigrant, removed him to Morristown, and placed him 
under the care of two Quaker ladies at a boarding-house, 
and to the kindness of these ladies he doubtless owed his 
life. His father's agent, Mr. Fisher, of Philadelphia, 
knowing his condition, went with his carriage to his 
lodging, and drove the invalid to his villa, situated at 
some distance from the city on the road to Trenton. Mr. 
Fisher was a Quaker, and a strict formalist in religious 
matters ; did not approve of hunting, and even objected 
to music. To the adventurous and romantic youth this 
home was little livelier than a prison, and he gladly 
escaped from it. Mr. Fisher, at his request, put him in 
possession of his father's property of Mill Grove, on the 
Perkiomen Creek ; and from the rental paid by the tenant, 
a Quaker named William Thomas, the youth found him- 
self supplied with all the funds he needed. 

At Mill Grove young Audubon found " a blessed 
spot." In the regularity of the fences, the straight and 
military exactness of the avenues, Audubon saw his fa- 
ther's taste, nay, his very handiwork. The mill attached 
to the property was to him a daily source of enjoyment, 
and he was delighted with the repose of the quiet milldam 
where the pewees were accustomed to build. "Hunting, 
fishing, and drawing occupied my every moment," he 
writes -adding, " cares I knew not, and cared nothing for 

In simple and unaffected language he relates his 
introduction to his wife, the daughter of William Bake- 
well, an English gentleman who had purchased Ihe ad- 
joining property. Mr. Bakewell lived at Fatland Ford, 
within sight of Mill Grove, but Audubon had avoided the 

1 8 Life of Auduhon. 

family, as English, and objectionable to one who had been 
mirtured with a hatred towards " perfidious Albion." The 
very name of Englishman was odious to him, he tells us; 
and even after his neighbor had called u^jon him, he was 
uncivil enough to postpone his advances in return. Mrs. 
Thomas, the tenant's wife at Mill Grove, with a woman's 
desire to see what the issue might be, urged her young mas- 
ter to visit the Bake well family ; but the more he was 
urged the more hardened his heart appeared to be against 
the stranger. 

The winter's frosts had set in. Audubon was follow- 
ing some grouse down the creek, when suddenly he came 
upon Mr. Bakewell, who at once dissipated the French- 
man's prejudices by the discovery of kindred tastes. 
Audubon writes : " I was struck with the kind politeness 
of his manners, and found him a most expert mai"ksman, 
and entered into conversation. I admired the beauty of 
his well-trained dogs, and finally promised to call upon 
him and his family. Well do I recollect the morning, and 
may it please God may I never forget it, when, for the first 
time I entered the Bakewell household. It happened 
that Mr. Bakewell was from home. I was shown into a 
parlour, where only one young lady was snugly seated at 
work, with her back turned towards the fire. She rose on 
my entrance, offered me a seat, and assured me of the 
gratification her father would feel on his return, which, 
she added with a smile, would be in a few minutes, as she 
would send a servant after him. Other ruddy cheeks 
made their appearance, but like spirits gay, vanished from 
my sight. Talking and working, the young lady who 
remained made the time pass pleasantly enough, and to 
me especially so. It was she, my dear Lucy Bakewell, 
who afterwards became my wife and the mother of my 

Mr. Bakewell speedily returned, and Lucy attended to 

"The Bakew ell Family. in 

the lunch provided before leaving on a shooting expedi- 
tion. " Lucy rose from her seat a second time, and her 
form, to which I had before paid little attention, seemed 
radiant with beauty, and my heart and eyes followed her 
every step. The repast being over, guns and dogs were 
provided, and as we left I was pleased to believe that Lucy 
looked upon me as a not very strange animal. Bowing to 
ner, I felt, I knew not why, that I was at least not indif- 
ferent to her." 

The acquaintance so joleasantly begun rapidly matured. 
Audubon and Bakewell were often companions in their 
shooting excursions, and finally the whole Bakewell family 
were invited to Mill Grove. 

The Bakewell "s are descendants of the Peverils, great 
land owners of the northern part of Derbyshire, known as 
the Peak of Derbyshire, and rendered historical by Sir 
Walter Scott's novel of " Peveril of the Peak.''' Miss 
Peveril married one of the retainers of the Court of 
William the Norman, by name Count Bassquelle, which 
name was corrupted into Basskiel, afterwards into Bake- 
well. From some of the descendants of this marriage the 
town of Bakewell was founded ; some members removed 
to Dishley, Leicestershire, one of whom was the grazier 
and improver of the breed of sheep, another was well 
known as a geologist. 

The property of Audubon was separated from Bake- 
well's plantation by a road leading from Norristown to 
Pawling's Landing, now Pawling's Bridge, or about a 
quarter of a mile apart; and the result of the friendly 
relationship established between the two households gave 
rise to a series of mutual signals, chalked on a board and 
hung out of the window. The friendship deepened. Lucy 
Bakewell taught English to Audubon, and received 
drawing lessons in return. Of course no one failed to 
predict the result j but as a love affair is chiefly interest- 

20 Life of Audubon. 

ing to those immediately concerned, we pass on to othei 

At Mill Grove Audubon pored over his idea of a 
great work on American Ornithology, until the thought 
took some shape in his fervid mind. The work he had 
prepared for himself to do was an ' Ornithological Biog- 
raphy,' including an account of the habits and a descrip- 
tion of the birds of America ; that work which in its 
completed form Cuvier pronounced to be " The most 
gigantic biblical enterprise ever undertaken by a single 
individual." However, it was only after his drawings and 
his descriptions accumulated upon him that Audubon de- 
cided to give the collection the form of a scientific work. 

Audubon speaks of his life at Mill Grove as being in 
every way agreeable. He had ample means for all his 
wants, was gay, extravagant, and fond of dress. He rath- 
er naively writes in his journal, " I had no vices ; but was 
thoughtless, pensive, loving, fond of shooting, fishing, and 
riding, and had a passion for raising all sorts of fowls, 
which sources of interest and amusement fully occupied 
my time. It was one of my fancies to be ridiculously 
fond of dress ; to hunt in black satin breeches, wear 
pumps when shooting, and dress in the finest ruffled shirts 
I could obtain from France." He was also fond of danc- 
ing, and music, and skating, and attended all the balls 
and skating parties in the neighborhood. Regarding his 
mode of life, Audubon gives some hints useful to those 
who desire to strengthen their constitution by an abste- 
mious diet. He says : — " I ate no butcher's meat, lived 
chiefly on fruits, vegetables, and fish, and never drank a 
glass of spirits or wine until my wedding day. To this I 
attribute my continual good health, endurance, and an 
iron constitution. So strong was the habit, that I disliked 
going to dinner parties, where people were expected to 
indulge in eating and drinking, and where often there was 

'•The Bakewell Family. 1 1 

not a single dish to my taste. I cared nothing for sump- 
tuous entertainments. Pies, puddings, eggs, and milk or 
cream was the food I liked best ; and many a time 
was the dairy of Mrs. Thomas, the tenant's wife of Mill 
Grove, robbed of the cream intended to make butter for 
the Philadelphia market. All this while I was fair and 
rosy, strong as any one of my age and sex could be, and 
as active and agile as a buck. And why, have I often 
thought, should I not have kept to this delicious mode of 
living ?" 

Note here a curious incident in connection with his 
love of skating and his proficiency as a marksman. Hav- 
ing been skating down the Perkiomen Creek, he met Miss 
Bakewell's young brother William, and wagered that he 
would put a shot through his cap when tossed into the air, 
while Audubon was passing full speed. The experiment 
was made, and the cap riddled. A still more striking 
incident is thus related. " Having engaged in a duck- 
shooting expedition up the Perkiomen Creek with young 
Bakewell and some other friends, it was found that the ice 
was full of dangerous air-holes. On our upward journey 
it wa«; easy to avoid accident, but the return trip was at- 
tended with an event which had nearly closed my career. 
Indeed, my escape was one of the inconceivable miracles 
that occasionally rescues a doomed man from his fate. 
The trip was extended too far, and night and darkness 
had set in long before we reached home. I led the party 
through the dusk with a white handkerchief made fast to 
a stick, and we proceeded like a flock of geese going to 
their feeding ground. Watching for air-holes, I generally 
avoided them ; but increasing our speed, I suddenly 
plunged into one, was carried for some distance by the 
stream under the ice, and stunned and choking I was 
forced up through another air-hole farther down the stream. 
I clutched hold of the ice and arrested my downward 

22 Life of Auduhon. 

progress, until my companions arrived to help me. My 
wet clothes had to be changed. One lent me a shirt, 
another a coat, and so apparelled I resumed my home- 
ward journey. Unable to reach Mill Grove, I was taken 
to Mr. Bakewell's house chilled and bruised. It was 
three months before I recovered, notwithstanding the 
advice of able physicians called in from PhiladeliDhia." 

The quiet life young Audubon led at Mill Grove was 
interrupted by an incident in his life which might have 
proved serious to one owning less energy and hardihood 
than he possessed. A "partner, tutor, and monitor," 
one Da Costa, sent from France by the elder Audubon 
to prosecute the lead mine enterprise at Mill Grove, be- 
gan to assume an authority over young Audubon which 
the latter considered unv/arranted. An attempt was made 
to limit his finances, and Da Costa, unfortunately for 
himself, went further, and objected to the proposed union 
with Lucy Bakewell, as being an unequal match. Audu- 
bon resented such interference, and demanded money 
from Da Costa to carry him to France. The French 
r.dventurer suggested a voyage to India, but finally agreed 
to give Audubon a letter of credit upon an agent named 
Kanman, in New York. With characteristic earnestness 
Audubon walked straight off to New York, where he ar- 
rived in three days, notwithstanding the severity of a 
midwinter journey. The day following his arrival he call- 
ed upon Mr. Kanman, who frankly told him he had no 
money to give him, and further disclosed Da Costa's 
treachery by hinting that Audubon should be seized and 
shipped for China. Furious at his treatment, Audubon 
procured money from a friend, and engaged a passage on 
board the brig Hope, of New Bedford, bound for Nantes. 
He left New York, and after considerable delays, surpris 
edhis parents in their quiet country home! 


Result of AnduboiCs Voyage to France — Renerval of Bird-hiinti?ig 
Pursuits — Exai7imat!on for the French Marine, and Appoint- 
ment to the Post of Midshipman — Return to America — Chased 
by a Privateer — The Instincts of the Naturalist — Goes to New 
York to acquire a Knowledge of Business — Portrait of Himself 

— Returns to Mill Grove — Marriage and fourney to Louisville 

— His Settlement there and Pleasant Life — Removal of Business 
to Hendersonville — Meeting with Alexander Wilson, the Ameri- 
can Ornithologist and Paisley Poet. 

XPLAINING to his father the scandalous conduct 
of Da Costa, young Audubon prevailed so far that 
the traitor was removed from the position which 
he had been placed in with such hasty confidence. He 
had also to request his father's approval of his marriage with 
Miss Lucy Bakewell, and the father promised to decide as 
soon as he had an answer to a letter he had written to Mr. 
Bakewell in Pennsylvania. Settled in the paternal house 
for a year, the naturalist gratified in every fashion his 
wandering instincts. He roamed everywhere in the neigh- 
borhood of his home, shooting, fishing, and collecting 
specimens of natural history. He also continued his 
careful drawings of natural history specimens, and stuffed 
and prepared many birds and animals — an art which he 
had carefully acquired in America. In one year two 
hundred drawings of European birds had been completed, 
• — a fact which displays marvellous industry, if it does not 
necessarily imply a sound artistic representation of the 
birds drawn. At this period the tremendous convulsions 
of the French empire had culminated in colossal prepa- 
rations for a conflict with Russia. The conscription 

24 I^ife of Audubon. 

threatened every man capable of bearing arms, and Ai> 
dubon appeared to believe that he stood in some danger 
of being enrolled in the general levy. His two brothers 
were already serving in the armies of Napoleon as offi- 
cers, and it was decided that their junior should volunta- 
rily join the navy. After passing what he called "a 
superficial examination " for an appointment as midship- 
man, he was ordered to report at Rochefort. Entering 
upon his duties in the French marine, he was destined to 
make at least one short cruise in the service of France. 
Before entering the service he had made the acquaintance 
of a young man named Ferdinand Rosier, to whom he 
had made some proposal of going to America. On the 
return of the vessel in which he acted, it was proposed 
that he and Rosier should leave for America as partners, 
under a nine years' engagement. The elder Audubon 
obtained leave of absence for his son ; and after pass- 
ports were provided, the two emigrants left France at a 
period when thousands would have been glad of liberty 
to follow their footsteps. 

About two weeks after leaving France, a vessel gave 
chase to the French vessel, passed her by to windward, 
fired a shot across her bows, and continued the chase 
until the captain of the outward bound was forced to heave 
bis ship to, and submit to be boarded by a boat. The 
enemy proved to be the English privateer, Rattlesnake, 
the captain of which was sadly vexed to find that his prey 
was an American vessel, carrying proper papers, and fly- 
ing the stars and stripes. Unable to detain the vessel, 
the privateer's crew determined at least to rob the pas- 
sengers. " They took pigs and sheep," writes Audubon, 
" and carried away two of our best sailors, in spite of the 
remonstrances of the captain, and of a member of the 
United States Congress, who was a passenger on board, 
and was accompanied by an amiable daughter. The 

Adventure with a Privateer. 25 

Rattlesnake kept us under her lee, and almost within 
pistol-shot for a day and a night, ransacking the ship for 
money, of which we had a great deal in the run under the 
ballast, which they partially removed, but did not go deep 
enough to reach the treasure. The gold belonging to 
Rosier and myself I put away in a woolen stocking under 
the ship's cable in the bows of the ship, where it remain- 
ed safe until the privateers had departed. Arriving 
within thirty miles of Sandy Hook, a fishing-smack was 
spoken, which reported that two British frigates lay off the 
entrance, and had fired on an American ship ; that they 
were impressing American seamen, and that, in fact, they 
were even more dangerous to meet than the pirates who 
sailed under " a letter of marque." The captain, warned 
of one danger, ran into another. He took his vessel 
through Long Island Sound, and ran it upon a spit in a 
gale. But finally floated it off, and reached New York 
in safety. 

From the introductory address in the first volume of 
Audubon's ' Ornithological Biography,' published at Ed- 
inburgh, in 1834, many passages may be cited as an 
exposition of the high aspirations which stimulated the 
young naturalist to his task. These passages may be di- 
vided into scientific and artistic. Belonging to the first 
category are constant references to that thirst for accu- 
rate and complete knowledge regarding wild animals, and 
especially birds, their habits, forms, nests, eggs, progeny, 
places of breeding; and all that concerned them. But, 
after all, Audubon was not at heart a man of science. 
He gathered much, and speculated little, and was more a 
backwoodsman than a philosopher. In his rough great 
way he did good service, but his great physical energy, 
not his mental resources, was the secret of his success. 

His crude artistic instincts inspired him with the desire 
to represent, by the aid of pencil, crayon, or paint, the 
. 2 

26 Life of Auduhon. 

form, plumage, attitude, and characteristic marks of his 
feathered favourites. In working towards this end, he 
labored to produce life-like pictures, and frequently with 
wonderful success. "Strongly impressed with the difficul- 
ties of representing in any perfect degree the living image 
of the birds he drew, he labored arduously at what we 
may call forcible photographs in colours, his first aim 
being fidelity, and his next, artistic beauty. How mucli 
chagrin his failures cost him may be gleaned from the 
lamentations he makes over his un successful efforts in the 
introductory address referred to above. Regarding the 
means he adopted to secure a faultless representation of 
the animals he desired to transcribe, he writes : — " Pa- 
tiently and with industry did I apply myself to study, foi 
although I felt the impossibility of giving life to my pro- 
ductions, I did not abandon the idea of representing 
nature. Many plans were successively adopted, many 
masters guided my hand. Ac the age of seventeen, when 
I returned from France, whither I had gone to receive the 
rudiments of my education, my drawings had assumed a 
form. David had guided my hand in tracing objects of 
large size : eyes and noses belonging to giants and heads 
of horses, represented in ancient sculpture, were my mod- 
els. These, although fit subjects for men intent on pur- 
suing the higher branches of art, were immediately laid 
aside by me. I returned to the woods of the n6V; vorld 
with fresh ardour, and commenced a collection of draw- 
ings, which I henceforth continued, and which is now 
publishing under the title of ' The Birds of America.' " 
To resume the narrative of Audubon's journey back 
to Mill Grove. Da Costa was dismissed from his situa- 
tion, and Audubon remained his own master. Mr. 
William Bakewell, the brother of Lucy, has recorded some 
interesting particulars of a visit to Mill Grove at this 
period. He says : — " Audubon took me to his house, 

His Accomplishments. 27 

where he and his companion Rosier resided, with Mrs. 
Thomas for an attendant. On entering his room, I was 
astonished and delighted to find that it was turned into a 
museum. The walls were festooned with all sorts of 
birds' eggs, carefully blown out and strung on a thread. 
The chimney-piece was covered with stuffed squirrels, 
racoons, and opossums ; and the shelves around were 
likewise crowded with specimens, among which were 
fishes, frogs, snakes, lizards, and other reptiles. Besides 
these stuffed varieties, many paintings were arrayed upon 
the walls, chiefly of birds. He had great skill in stufting 
and preserving animals of all sorts. He had also a trick 
of training dogs with great perfection, of which art his 
fomous dog Zeph}^ was a wonderful example. He was 
an admirable marksman, an expert swimmer, a clever 
rider, possessed great activity, prodigious strength, and 
was notable for the elegance of his figure and the beauty 
of his features, and he aided nature by a careful attend- 
ance to his dress. Besides other accomplishments, he 
was musical, a good fencer, danced well, had some ac- 
quaintance with legerdemain tricks, worked in hair, and 
could plait willow-baskets." He adds further, that 
Audubon once swam across the Schuylkill river wititv 
him on his back, — no contemptible feat for a young ath- 

The naturalist was evidently a nonpareil in the eyes 
of his neighbors, and of those who were intimate enough 
to know his manifold tastes. But love began to interfere 
a little with the gratification of these Bohemian instincts. 
On expressing his desire of uniting himself to Miss 
Bakewell, Audubon was advised by Mr. Bakewell to ob- 
tain some knowledge of commercial pursuits before get- 
ting married. With this intention, Audubon started for 
New York, entered the counting-house of Mr. Benjamin 
Bakewell, and made rapid progress in his education by 

28 JLife of Auduhon. 

losing some hundreds of pounds by a bad speculation ir 

The leading work done by the imprisoned naturalist 
was, as usual, wandering in search of birds and natural 
curiosities. While so engaged he made the acquaintance 
of Dr. Samuel Mitchel, one of the leading medical men 
in New York city, and distinguished as an ethnologist. 
Dr. Mitchel was one of the founders of the Lyceum of 
Natural History, and of the ' Medical Repository,' which 
was the first scientihc journal started in the United States. 
Audubon prepared many specimens for this gentleman, 
which he believed were finally deposited in the New York 
Museum. After a season of probation, during which Mr. 
Bakewell became convinced of the impossibility of tutor- 
ing Audubon into mercantile habits, the naturalist gladly 
returned to Mill Grove. Rosier, who had likewise been 
recommended to attempt commerce, lost a considerable 
sum in an unfortunate speculation, and eventually return- 
ed to Mill Grove with his friend. 

Audubon remarks that at this period it took him but 
a few minutes, walking smartly, to pass from one end of 
New York to another, so sparse was the population at 
the date of his residence. He adds, in reference to his 
absent habits and unsuitability for business, that he at 
one time posted without sealing it a letter containing 
8000 dollars. His natural history pursuits in New York 
occasioned a disagreeable flavor from his rooms, occa- 
sioned by drying birds' skins ; and was productive of so 
much annoyance to his neighbours, that they forwarded a 
message to him through a constable, insisting on his abat- 
ing the nuisance. An excellent pen and ink sketch of 
his own appearance at this time has been left by Audu- 
bon. He says : " I measured five feet ten and a half 
inches, was of a fair mien, and quite a handsome figure ; 
large, dark, and rather sunken eyes, light-coloured eye- 

Portrait of Himself. 29 

brows, aquiline nose, and a fine set of teeth ; hair, fine 
texture and luxuriant, divided and passing down behind 
each ear in luxuriant ringlets as far as the shoulders." 
There appears excellent reason to believe that Audubon 
quite appreciated his youthful graces, and, with the nai- 
vete of a simple nature, was not ashamed to record them. 

After returning to Mill Grove, Audubon and his friend 
Rosier planned an expedition towards the west, at that 
time a wild region thinly populated by a very strange 

The journey of Audubon and Rosier to Kentucky had 
for its purpose the discovery of some outlet for the 
naturalist's energies, in the shape of a settled investment, 
which would permit of his marriage to Miss Bakewell. 
In Louisville Audubon determined to remain, and with 
this purpose in view he sold his plantation of Mill Grove, 
invested his capital in goods, and prepared to start for 
the west. His arrangements being complete, he was 
married to Miss Bakewell on the 8th of April, 1808, in 
her father's residence at Fatland Ford. Journeying by 
Pittsburg the wedjded pair reached Louisville with their 
goods in safety. From Pittsburg they sailed down the 
Ohio in a flat-bottomed float called an ark, and which 
proved to be an exceedingly tedious and primitive mode 
of travelling. This river voyage occupied twelve days, 
and must have given the naturalist wonderful opportuni- 
ties of making observations. At Louisville he com- 
menced trade under favorable auspices, but the hunting 
of birds continued to be the ruling passion. His life at 
this period, in the company of his young wife, appears to 
have been extremely happy, and he writes that he had 
really reason " to care for nothing." The country around 
Louisville was settled by planters who were fond of hunt- 
ing, and among whom he found a ready welcome. The 
shooting and drawing of birds was continued. His 

JO Life of Audubon. 

friend Rosier, less fond of rural sports, stuck to the 
counter, and, as Audubon phrases it, " grew rich, and that 
was all he cared for." Audubon's pursuits appear to have 
severed him from the business, which was left to Rosier's 
management. Finally the war of 1812 imperilled the 
prosperity of the partners, and what goods remained on 
hand were shipped to Hendersonville, Kentucky, where 
Rosier remained for some years longer, before going 
further westward in search of the fortune he coveted. 
Writing of the kindness shown him by his friends at 
Louisville, Audubon relates that when he was absent on 
business, or " away on expeditions," his wife was invited 
to stay at General Clark's, and was taken care of till he 

It was at Louisville that Audubon made the acquain- 
tance of Wilson, the American ornithologist. Wilson, a 
Scottish weaver, had been driven from Paisley through 
his sympathies with the political agitators of that notable 
Scottish town ; and finding a refuge in the United States, 
had turned his attention to ornithology. From the pages 
of Audubon's ' Ornithological Biograpli-y' it may be inter- 
esting to reproduce an account of the meeting between 
the two naturalists. " One fair morning," v^rites Audu- 
bon, " I was surprised by the sudden entrance into our 
counting-room at Louisville of Mr. Alexander Wilson, the 
celebrated author of the ' x\merican Ornithology,' of whose 
existence I had never until that moment been apprised. 
This happened in March, 18 10. How well do I 
remember him, as he then walked up to me ! His long, 
rather hooked nose, the keenness of his eyes, and his 
prominent cheekbones, stamped his countenance with a 
peculiar character. His dress, too, was of a kind not 
usually seen in that part of the countr}-' ; a short coat, 
trousers, and a waistcoat of gray cloth. His stature was 
not above the middle size. He had two volumes under 

Wilson^ the Ornithologist. 31 

his arm, and as he approached the table at which I was 
working, I thought I discovered something hke astonish 
ment in his comitenance. He, however, immediately 
proceeded to disclose the object of his visit, which was to 
procure subscriptions for his work. He opened his books, 
explained the nature of his occupations, and requested 
ni}^ patronage. I felt surprised and gratified at the sight 
of his volumes, turned over a few of the plates, and had 
already taken a pen to write my name in his favor, when 
my partner rather abruptly said to me, in French, ' My 
dear Audubon, what induces you to subscribe to this 
work ? Your drawings are certainly far better ; and 
again, you must know as much of the habits of American 
birds as this gentleman.' Whether Mr. Wilson under- 
stood French or not, or if the suddenness with which I 
paused, disappointed him, I cannot tell ; but I clearly 
perceived that he v/as not pleased. Vanity and the 
encomiums of my friend jDrevented me from subscribing. 
Mr. Wilson asked me if I had many drawings of birds. 
I rose, took down a large portfolio, laid it on the table, 
and showed him,^ — as I would show you, kind reader, or 
any other person fond of such subjects, — the whole of the 
contents, with the same patience with which he had 
shown me his own engravings. His surprise appeared 
great, as he told me he never had the most distant idea 
that any other individual than himself had been engaged 
in forming such a collection. He asked me if it was my 
intention to publish, and when I answered in the 
negative, his surprise seemed to increase. And, truly, 
such was not my intention ; for, until long after, when I 
met the Prince of Musignano in Philadelphia, I had not 
the least idea of presenting the fruits of my labors to the 
world. Mr. Wilson now examined my drawings with 
care, asked if I should have any objections to lending 
him a few during his sta}-, to which I replied that I had 

32 Life of Audubon. 

none. He then bade me good-morning, not, however, 
until I had made an arrangement to explore the woods 
in the vicinity along with him, and had promised to 
procure for him some birds, of which I had drawings in 
my collection, but which he had never seen. It happened 
that he lodged in the same house with us, but his retired 
habits, I thought, exhibited either a strong feeling of 
discontent or a decided melancholy. The Scotch airs 
which he played sv/eetly on his flute made me melancholy 
Coo, and I felt for him. I presented him to my wife and 
friends, and seeing that he was all enthusiasm, exerted 
myself as much as was in my power to procure for him 
the specimens which he wanted. We hunted together, 
and obtained birds which he had never before seen ; but, 
reader, I did not subscribe to his work, for, even at that 
time, my collection was greater than his. Thinking that 
perhaps he might be pleased to publish the results of my 
researches, I offered them to him, merely on condition 
that what I had drawn, or might afterwards draw and send 
to him, should be mentioned in his work as coming from 
my pencil. I at the same time offered to open a corres- 
pondence with him, which I thought might prove beneficial 
to us both. He made no reply to either proposal, and 
before many days had elapsed, left Louisville, on his way 
to New Orleans, little knowing how much his talents were 
appreciated in our little town, at least by myself and my 

" Some time elapsed, during which I never heard of 
him, or his work. At length, having occasion to go to 
Philadelphia, I, immediately after my arrival there, 
inquired for him, and paid him a visit. He was then 
drawing a white-headed eagle. He received me with 
civility, and took me to the exhibition rooms of Rem- 
brandt Peale. the artist, who had then portrayed Napoleon 
crossing the Alps. Mr. Wilson spoke not of birds or 

IVilson^ the Ornithologist. 23 

drawings. Feeling, as I was forced to do, that my com- 
pany was not agreeable, I parted from him ; and aftei 
that I never saw him again. But judge of my astonish- 
ment some time after, when on reading the thirty-ninth 
page of the ninth volume of ' American Ornithology,' I 
found in it the following paragraph : — 

'■'•'■ Af arch 23, 18 10. — I bade adieu to Louisville, to 
which place I had four letters of recommendation, and 
was taught to expect much of everything there ; but 
neither received one act of civility from those to whom I 
was recommended, one subscriber, nor one new bird ; 
though I delivered my letters, ransacked the woods 
repeatedly, and visited all the characters likely to 
subscribe. Science or literature has not one friend in this 
place.' " 



Return of Mrs. Aiidiebon to her Fathers House — Audubon and Rosiet 
move to Hendersonville — Business Unremunerative — Determini 
to try St. Genevieve on the Mississippi — Wild Sivan shooting tvith 
Indians — A Bear Hunt, and Valiant Indian — Arj-ival at St. 

jlT Louisville it was discovered diat business was 
suffering from over-competition, and no further 
time was to be lost in transferring the stock to 
Hendersonville. Before leaving Louisville to take up 
his residence at Hendersonville, farther clown the Ohio 
river, Audubon took his wife and young son back to her 
father's house at Fatland Ford, where tliey resided for a 

Audubon and his partner Rosier arranged their 
migration with the remaining stock, and entered upon 
their voyage of one hundred and twenty miles down the 
Ohio to Hendersonville. Arriving at this place, they 
found the neighborhood thinly inhabited, and the demand 
for goods almost limited to the coarsest materials. The 
merchants were driven to live upon the produce of their 
guns and fishing-rods. 

The clerk employed for the firm had even to assist 
in supplying the table, and while he did so Rosier attended 
to the business. The profits on any business done was 
enormous, but the sales were so trifling that another 
change was determined on. It was proposed that the 
stock in hand should be removed to St. Genevieve, a 
settlement on the Mississippi river, and until it was 
ascertained how the enterprise would prosper, Mrs. 

Ad-venturous Travel. 3 c 

Audubon should be left at Hendersonville, with the 
family of Dr. Rankin, who resided in the immediate 
neighboihood. Of the adventurous voyage to St. Gene- 
vieve, Audubon gives this graphic account : — 

" Putting our goods, which consisted of three hundred 
barrels of whiskey, sundiy drygoods, and powder, on board 
a keel-boat, my partner, my clerk, and self departed in a 
severe snow-storm. The boat was new, staunch, and 
well trimmed, and had a cabin in her bow. A long steer- 
ing oar, made of the trunk of a slender tree, about sixty 
feet in length, and shaped at its outer extremity like the 
fin of a dolphin, helped to steer the boat, while the four 
oars from the bow impelled her along, when going with 
the current, about five miles an hour. 

" The storm we set out in continued, and soon cov- 
ered the ground with a wintry sheet. Our first night on 
board was dismal indeed, but the dawn brought us oppo- 
site the mouth of the Cumberland River. It was evident 
that the severe cold had frozen all the neighboring lakes 
and lagoons, because thousands of wild water-fowl were 
flying to the river, and settling themselves on its borders. 
We permitted our boat to drift past, and amused our- 
selves by firing into flocks of birds. 

" The third day we entered Cash Creek, a very small 
stream, but having deep water and a good harbour. Here 
I met Count De Munn, who was also in a boat like ours, 
and bound also for St. Genevieve. Here we learned 
that the Mississippi was covered with floating ice of a 
thickness dangerous to the safety of our craft, and indeed 
that it was impossible to ascend the river against it. 

" I'he creek was full of water, was crowded with wild 
birds, and was plentifully supplied with fish. The large 
sycamores, and the bare branches of the trees that 
fringed the creek, were favorite resorts of paroquets, 
which came at ni^ht to roost in their hollow trunks. An 

3 6 Life of Auduhon. 

agreeable circumstance was an encampment of about fifty 
families of Shawnee Indians, attracted to the spot by the 
mast of the forest, which brought together herds of deer, 
and many bears and racoons. 

" Mr. Rosier, whose only desire was to reach the des- 
tination and resume trade, was seized with melancholy at 
the pros]3ect occasioned by the delay. He brooded in 
silence over a mishap which had given me great occasion 
for rejoicing." 

A narrative of Audubon's stay at Cash Creek, and 
perilous journey up the Mississippi, is picturesquely 
given in his journal, and from which the following is 
extracted : — 

" The second morning after our arrival at Cash Creek, 
while I was straining my eyes to discover whether it was 
fairly day dawn or no, I heard a movement in the Indian 
camp, and discovered that a canoe, with half a dozen 
squaws and as many hunters, was about lea\'ing for Ten- 
nessee. I had heard that there was a large lake oppo- 
site to us, where immense flocks of swans resorted every 
mornmg, and asking permission to join them, I seated 
myself on my haunches in the canoe, well provided with 
ammunition and a bottle of whiskey, and in a few minutes 
the paddles were at work, swiftly propelling us to the 
opposite shore. I was not much surprised to see the 
boat paddled by the squaws, but I was quite so to see 
the hunters stretch themselves out and go to sleep. On 
landing, the squaws took charge of the canoe, secured it, 
and went in search of nuts, while we gentlemen hunters 
made the best of our way through thick and thin to the lake. 
Its muddy shores were overgrown with a close growth of 
cotton trees, too large to be pushed aside, and too thick 
to pass through except by squeezing yourself at every 
few steps ; and to add to the difficulty, every few rods we 
came to small nasty lagoons, which one must jump, leap, 

B^ild Swan Shooting. jt 

or swim, and this not without peril of broken limbs o* 

" But when the lake burst on our view there were the 
swans by hundreds, and white as rich cream, either dip- 
ping their black bills in the water, or stretching out one 
leg on its surface, or gently floating along. According 
to the Indian mode of hunting, we had divided, and 
approached the lagoon from different sides. The mo- 
ment our vedette was seen, it seemed as if thousands of 
large, fat, and heavy swans were startled, and as they 
made away from him they drew towards the ambush of 
death ; for the trees had hunters behind them, whose 
touch of the trigger would carry destruction among 
them. As the first party fired, the game rose and flew 
within easy distance of the jDarty on the opposite side, 
when they again fired, and I saw the water covered with 
birds floating with their backs downwards, and their 
heads sunk in the water, and their legs kicking in the 
air. When the sport was over we counted more than 
fifty of these beautiful birds, whose skins were intended 
for the ladies in Europe. There were plenty of geese 
and ducks, but no one condescended to give them a shot. 
A conch was sounded, and after a while the squaws came 
dragging the canoe, and collecting the dead game, which 
was taken to the river's edge, fastened to the canoe, and 
before dusk v/e were again landed at our camping ground. 
I had heard of sportsmen in England who walked a whole 
day, and after firing a pound of powder returned in great 
glee, bringing one partridge ; and I could not help won- 
dering what they would think of the spoil we were bear- 
ing from Swan Lake. 

" The fires were soon lighted, and a soup of pecan 
nuts and bear fat made and eaten. The hunters stretched 
themselves with their feet close to the camp-fires, intended 
to burn all night. The squaws then began to skin the 

^ 8 Li/i? of Audubon. 

birds, and I retired, very well satisfied with my Christmas 

" When I awoke in the morning and made my rounds 
through the camp, I found a squaw had been delivered 
of beautiful twins during the night, and I saw the same 
squaw at work tanning deer-skins. She had cut two vines 
at the roots of opposite trees, and made a cradle of bark," 
in which the new-born ones were wafted to and fro with 
a push of her hand, while from time to time she gave 
them the breast, and was apparently as unconcerned as 
if the event had not taken place. 

" An Indian camp on a hunting expedition is by no 
means a place of idleness, and although the men do little 
more than hunt, they perform their task with an industry 
W'hich borders on enthusiasm. I was invited by three 
hunters to a bear hunt. A tall, robust, well shaped fel- 
low assured me that we should have some sport that 
day, for he had discovered the haunt of one of large 
size, and he wanted to meet him face to face ; and we 
four started to see how he would fulfill his boast. About 
half a mile from the camp he said he perceived his tracks, 
though I could see nothing ; and we rambled on through 
the cane brake until we came to an immense decayed 
log, in which he swore the bear was. I saw his eye 
sparkle with joy, his rusty blanket was thrown off his 
shoulders, his brawny arms swelled with blood, as he 
drew his scalping-knife from his belt with a flourish 
which showed that fighting was his delight. He told me 
to mount a small sapling, because a bear cannot climb 
one, while it can go up a large tree with the nimbleness 
of a squirrel. The two other Indians seated themselves 
at the entrance, and the hero went in boldly. All was 
silent for a few moments, when he came out and said the 
bear was dead, and I might come down. The Indians 
cut a long vine, went into the hollow tree, fastened it to 

A B:ar-Hunt. 


the animal, and with their united force dragged it out. 
I really thought that this was an exploit. Since then I 
have seen many Indian exploits, which proved to me 
their heroism. 

" In Europe or America the white hunter would have 
taken his game home and talked about it for weeks, but 
these simple people only took off the animal's skin, hung 
the flesh in quarters on the trees, and continued their 
hunt. Unable to follow them, I returned to the camp, 
accompanied by one Indian, who broke the twigs of the 
bushes we passed, and sent back two squaws on the 
track, who brought the flesh and skin of the bear to the 

"At length the nuts were nearly all gathered, and 
the game grew scarce, and the hunters remained most 
of the day in camp ; and they soon made up their packs, 
broke up their abodes, put all on board their canoes, and 
paddled off down the Mississippi for the little prairie on 
the Arkansas. 

" Their example made a stir among the whites, and 
my impatient partner begged me to cross the bend and 
see if the ice was yet too solid for us to ascend the river. 
Accordingly, accompanied by two of the crew, I made 
my way to the Mississippi. The weather was milder, 
and the ice so sunk as to be scarcely perceptible, and I 
pushed up the shore to a point opposite Cape Girardeau. 
We hailed the people on the opposite bank, and a robust 
yellow man came across, named Loume. He stated that 
he was a son of the Spanish governor of Louisiana, and 
a good pilot on the river, and would take our boat up 
provided we had four good hands, as he had six. A 
bargain was soon struck ; their canoe hauled into the 
woods, some blazes struck on the trees, and all started 
for Cash Creek. 

" The night was spent in making tugs of hides and 

40 Life of Auduhon. 

shaving oars, and at daylight we left the Creek, glad to 
be afloat once more in broader water. Going down the 
stream to the mouth of the Ohio was fine sport ; indeed, 
my partner considered the worst of the journey over ^ 
out, alas ! when we turned the point, and met the mighty 
rush of the Mississippi, running three miles an hour, and 
bringing shoals of ice to further impede our progress, he 
looked on despairingly. The patron ordered the lines 
ashore, and it became the duty of every man ' to haul the 
Cordelia,' which was a rope fastened to the bow of the 
boat ; and one man being left on board to steer, the oth- 
ers, laying the rope over their shoulders, slowly warped 
the hoavy boat and cargo against the current. We made 
seven miles that day up the famous river. But while I 
was tugging with my back at the cordella, I kept my eyes 
fixed on the forests or the ground, looking for birds and 
curious shells. At night we camped on the shores. Here 
we made fires, cooked supper, and setting one sentinel, 
the rest went to bed and slept like men who had done 
one good day's work. I slept myself as unconcerned as 
if I had been in my own father's hoiise. 

"The next day I was up early, and roused my part- 
ner two hours before sunrise, and we began to move the 
boat at about one mile an hour against the current. We 
had a sail on board, but the v/ind was ahead, and we 
made ten miles that day. We made our fires, and I lay 
down to sleep again in my buffalo robes. Two more days 
of similar toil followed, when the weather became severe, 
and our patron ordered us to go into winter quarters, in 
the great bend of the Tawapatee Bottom. 

" The sorrows of my partner at this dismal event were 
too gi-eat to be described. Wrapped in his blanket, like 
a squirrel in winter quarters with his tail about his nose, 
he slept and dreamed away his time, being seldom seen 
except at meals. 

Osage Indians. 41 

" There was not a white man's cabin within twent) 
miles, and that over a river we could not cross. We cut 
down trees and made a winter camp. But a new field 
was opened to me, and I rambled through the deep for- 
ests, and soon became acquainted with the Indian trails 
and the lakes in the neighborhood. 

" The Indians have the instinct or sagacity to discover 
an encampment of white men almost as quickly as vul- 
tures sight the carcass of a dead animal ; and I was not 
long in meeting strolling natives in the woods. They 
gradually accumulated, and before a week had passed 
great numbers of these unfortunate beings were around 
us, chiefly Osages and Shawnees. The former were well- 
formed, athletic, and robust men, of a noble aspect, and 
kept aloof from the others. They hunted nothing but 
large game, and the few elks and buffaloes that remained 
in the country. The latter had been more in contact with 
the whites, were much inferior, and killed opossum and 
wild turkeys for a subsistence. The Osages being a new 
race to me, I went often to their camp, to study their 
character and habits ; but found much difficulty in be- 
coming acquainted with them. They spoke no French, 
and only a few words of English, and their general de- 
meanor proved them to be a nobler race. They were 
delighted to see me draw, and when I made a tolerable 
likeness of one of them with red chalk, they cried out 
with astonishment, and laughed excessively. Tiiey stood 
the cold much better than the Shawnees, and were much 
more expert with bows and arrows. 

" The bones we threw around our camp attracted ma- 
ny wolves, and afforded us much sport in hunting them. 
Here I passed six weeks pleasantly, investigating the 
habits of wild deer, bears, cougars, racoons, and turkeys, 
and many other animals, and I drew more or less by the 
side of our great camp-fire every day ; and no one can 

42 Life of Auduhon. 

have an idea of what a good fire is who has never seen a 
camp-fire in the woods of America. Imagine four or five 
ash-trees, three feet in diameter and sixty feet long, cut 
and piled up, witli all their limbs and branches, ten feet 
high, and then a fire kindled on the top with brush and 
dry leaves ; and then under the smoke the party lies 
down and goes to sleep. 

" Here our bread gave out ; and after using the breast 
of wild turkeys for bread, and bear's grease for butter, 
and eating opossum and bear's meat until our stomachs 
revolted, it was decided that a Kentuckian named Pope, 
our clerk, and a good woodsman, should go with me to 
the nearest settlement and try and bring some Indian 
meal. On the way we saw a herd of deer, and turned 
aside to shoot one ; and having done so, and marked the 
place, we continued our journey. We walked until dusk, 
and no river appeared. Just then I noticed an Indian 
trail, which we supposed led to the river ; and after fol- 
lowing it a short distance, entered the camp we had left 
in the morning. My partner, finding that we had no 
wheaten loaves in our hands, and no bags of meal on our 
backs, said we were boobies ; the boatmen laughed, the 
Indians joined the chorus, and we ate some cold racoon, 
and stumbled into our buftalo robes, and were soon enjoy- 
ing our sleep. 

" The next day we tried it again, going directly across 
the bend, suffering neither the flocks of turkeys nor the 
droves of deer we saw to turn us aside until we had Cape 
Girardeau in full sight an hour before the setting of the 
sun. The ice was running swiftly in the ri\-er, and we 
hailed in vain, for no small boat dare put out. An old 
abandoned log-house stood on our bank, and we took 
lodgings there for the night ; we made a little fire, ate a 
little dried bear's meat we had brought, and slept comfort- 

Winter Experiences. 4j 

" What a different life from the one I am leading now . 
and that night I wrote in my journal exactly as I do now ; 
and I recollect well that I gathered more information that 
evening respecting the roasting of prairie-hens than I had 
ever done before or since. Daylight returned fair and 
frosty, the trees covered with snow and icicles, shining 
like jewels as the sun rose on them; and the wild turkeys 
seemed so dazzled by their brilliancy, that they allowed 
us to pass under them without flying. 

" After a time we saw a canoe picking its way through 
the running ice. Through the messenger who came in 
the boat, we obtained after waiting nearly all day, a barrel 
of flour, several bags of Indian meal, and a few loaves of 
bread. Having rolled the flour to a safe place, slung the 
meal in a tree, and thrust our gun barrels through the 
loaves of bread, we started for our camp, and reached it 
not long after midnight. Four men were sent the next 
morning with axes to make a sledge, and drag the provi- 
sions over the snow to the camp. 

" The river, which had been constantly slowly rising, 
now began to fall, and prepared new troubles for us ; for 
as the water fell the ice clung to the shore, and we were 
forced to keep the boat afloat to unload the cargo. This, 
with the heljD of all the Indian men and women, took two 
days. We then cut large trees, and fastened them to the 
shore above the boat, so as to secure it from the ice which 
was accumulating, and to save the boat from being cut by it. 
We were now indeed in winter quarters, and we made the 
best of it. The Indians made baskets of cane, Mr. Pope 
played on the violin, I accompanied with the flute, the 
men danced to the tunes, and the squaws looked on and 
laughed, and the hunters smoked their pipes with such 
serenity as only Indians can, and I never regretted one 
day spent there. 

" While our time went pleasantly enough, a sudden 

44 Life of Audubon. 

and startling catastrophe threatened us without warning 
The ice began to break, and our boat was in instant dan 
ger of being cut to pieces by the ice-floes, or swamped 
by tlieir pressure. Roused from our sleep, we rushed 
down pell-mell to the bank, as if attacked by savages, 
and discovered the ice was breaking up rapidly. It sjDlit 
with reports like those of heavy artillery ; and as the 
water had suddenly risen from an overflow of the Ohio, 
the two streams seemed to rush against each other with 
violence, in consequence of which the congealed mass was 
broken into large fragments, some of which rose nearly 
erect here and there, and again fell with thundering 
crash, as the wounded whale, when in the agonies of 
death, springs up with furious force, and again plunges 
into the foaming waters. To our surprise, the weather, 
which in the evening had been calm and frosty, had 
become wet and blowy. The water gushed from the 
fissures formed in the ice, and the prospect was ex- 
tremely dismal. When day dawned, a spectacle strange 
and fearful presented itself : the whole mass of water was 
violently agitated ; its covering was broken into small 
fragments, and although not a foot of space was without 
ice, not a step could the most daring have ventured to 
make upon it. Our boat was in imminent danger, for the 
trees which had been placed to guard it from the ice were 
cut or broken into pieces, and were thrust against her. 
It was impossible to move her ; but our pilot ordered 
every man to bring down great bunches of cane, which 
were lashed along her sides ; and before these were 
destroyed by the ice, she was afloat, and riding above it. 
While we were gazing on the scene, a tremendous crash 
was heard, which seemed to have taken place about a 
mile below, when suddenly the great dam of ice gave 
way. The current of the Mississippi had forced its way 
against that of the Ohio ; and in less than four hours we 
witnessed the complete breaking up of the ice. 

Sl Genevieve. 45 

" During that winter the ice was so tliick, tlie patron 
said we might venture to start. The cargo was soon on 
board, and the camp given up to the Indians, after bid- 
ding mutual adieus, as when brothers part. The naviga- 
tion was now of the most dangerous kind ; the boat was 
pushed by long poles on the ice, and against the bottom 
when it could be touched, and we moved extremely 
slowly. The ice was higher than our heads, and I fre- 
quently thought that if a sudden thaw should take place 
we should be in great peril ; but fortunately all this was 
escaped, and we reached safely the famous cape. 

" But the village was small, and no market for us, and 
we determined to push up to St. Genevieve, and once 
more were in motion between the ice. We arrived in a 
few days at the grand tower, where an immense rock in 
the stream makes the navigation dangerous. Here we 
used our Cordelias, and with great difficulty and peril 
passed it safely. It was near this famous tower of granite 
that I first saw the great eagle that I have named after 
our good and great General Washington. The weather 
continued favorable, and we arrived in safety at St. Gene- 
vieve, and found a favorable market. Our whiskey was 
especially welcome, and what we had paid twenty-five 
cents a gallon for, brought us two dollars. St. Gene- 
vieve was then an old French town, twenty miles below 
St. Louis, not so large, as dirty, and I was not half so 
pleased with the time spent there as with that spent in 
the Tawapatee Bottom. Here I met with the Frenchman 
who accompanied Lewis and Clark to the Rocky Moun- 
tains. They had just returned, and I was delighted to 
learn from them many particulars of their interesting 



Audubon finds Geitexueve unsuitable — Return yourney to Henderson" 
ville — Terrible Adventure on the Prairie — Narrow Escape front 
Assassination — The Shooting of Mason — Earthquakes in Ken- 
tucky — A Frantic Doctor — Audubon Suffers from new Misfor- 
tunes — Seventeen Thousand Dollars lost — Starts in Business at 
Hendersonville^ and Succeeds — Erection of a Mill and Renewed 
Misfoi-tunes — Commences to draw Portraits — Engagement at 
Cincinnati Museum. 

ilUDUBON soon discovered that Genevieve was 
no pleasant place to live in. Its population 
were mostly low-bred French Canadians, for 
whose company, notwithstanding certain national sym- 
pathies, he had no liking. He wearied to be back at 
Hendersonville beside his young wife. Rosier got mar- 
ried at Genevieve, and to him Audubon sold his interest 
in the business. The naturalist purchased a horse, bade 
adieu to his partner, to the society of Genevieve, and 
started homeward across the country. During this jour- 
ney Audubon met with a terrible adventure, and made a 
miraculous escape from impending death. This episode 
in Audubon's life is related by him in the following 
words : — 

" On my return from the upper Mississippi, I found 
myself obliged to cross one of the wild prairies, which, 
in that portion of the United States, vary the appearance 
of the country. The weather was fine, all around me 
was as fresh .and blooming as if it had just issued from 
the bosom of nature. My knapsack, my gun, and my 
dog were all I had for baggage and company. But, 

Adveniiu^e on the Prair'.e. 4^ 

although well moccasined, I moved slowly along, attracted 
by the brilliancy of the flowers, and the gambols of the 
fawns around their dams, to all appearance as thoughtless 
of danger as I felt myself. 

" My march was of long duration. I saw the sun 
sinking beneath the horizon long before I could perceive 
any appearance of woodlands, and nothing in the shape of 
man had I met with that day. The track which I fol- 
lowed was only an old Indian trail, and as darkness 
overshadowed the prairie, I felt some desire to reach at 
least a copse, in which I might lie down to rest. The 
night-hawks were skimming over and around me, 
attracted by the buzzing wings of the beetles which 
foim their food, and the distant howling of the wolves 
gave me some hope that I should soon arrive at the skirts 
of some woodland. 

"I did so, and almost at the' same instant a fire-light 
attracting my eye, I moved towards it, full of confidence 
that it proceeded from the camp of some wandering 
Indians. I was mistaken. I discovered by its glare that 
it was from the hearth of a small log cabin, and that a 
tall figure passed and repassed between it and me, as if 
busily engaged in household arrangements. 

" I reached the spot, and presenting myself at the 
door, asked the tall figure, w^hich proved to be a woman, 
if I might take shelter under her roof for the night ? Her 
voice was gruff", and her dress negligently thrown about 
her. She answered in the affirmative. I walked in, took 
a wooden stool, and quietly seated myself by the fire. 
The next object that attracted my notice was a finely 
formed young Indian, resting his head between his hands, 
with his elbows on his knees. A long bow rested against 
the log wall near him, while a quantity of arrows and two 
or three racoon skins lay at his feet. He moved not ; 
he apparently breathed not. Accustomed to the habits 

48 Life of Auduhon. 

of the Indians, and knowing that they pay little attention 
to the approach of civihzed strangers, I addressed him in 
French, a language not unfrequently partially known to 
the people of that neighbourhood. He raised his head, 
pointed to one of his eyes with his finger, and gave me a 
significant glance with the other ; his face was covered 
with blood. 

" The fact was, that an hour before this, as he was in 
the act of discharging an arrow at a racoon in the top of 
a tree, the arrow had split upon the cord, and sprung back 
with such violence into his right eye as to destroy it for 

" Feeling hungry, I inquired what sort of fare I might 
expect. Such a thing as a bed was not to be seen, but 
many large untanned buffalo hides lay piled in a corner. 
I drew a time-piece from my pocket, and told the woman 
that it was late, and that I was fatigued. She-espied my 
watch, the richness of which seemed to operate on her 
feelings with electric quickness. She told me there was 
plenty of venison and jerked buffalo meat, and that on 
removing the ashes I should find a cake. But my watch 
had struck her fancy, and her curiosity had to be grati- 
fied by an immediate sight of it. I took off the gold 
chain which secured it around my neck, and presented it 
to her. She was all ecstas}', spoke of its beauty, asked 
me its value, and put the chain round her brawny neck, 
saying how happy the possession of such a watch would 
make her. Thoughtless, and, as I fancied myself, in so 
retired a spot, secure, I paid little attention to her talk or 
her novements. I helped my dog to a good supper of 
V .nison, and was not long in satisfying the demands of 
my own appetite. 

"The Indian rose from his seat as if in extreme 
goffering. He passed and repassed me several times, and 
once pinched me on the side so violently, that the pain 

Adventure on the Prairie. 40 

ricarly brought forth an exclamation of anger. I looked 
at him, his eye met mine, but his look was so forbidding, 
that it struck a chill into the more nervous part of my 
system. He again seated himself, drew his butcher-knife 
from its greasy scabbard, examined its edge, as I would 
do that of a razor suspected dull, replaced it, and again 
taking his tomahawk from his back, filled the pipe of it 
with tobacco, and sent me expressive glances whenever 
our hostess chanced to have her back towards us. 

" Never until that moment had my senses been 
awakened to the danger which I now suspected to be 
about me. I returned glance for glance to my companion, 
and rested well assured that, whatever enemies I might 
have, he was not of their number. 

" I asked the woman for my v/atch, wound it up, and 
under the pretence of wishing to see how the weather 
might probably be on the morrow, took up my gun, and 
walked out of the cabin. I slipped a ball into each 
barrel, scraped the edges of my flints, renewed the 
primings, and returning to the hut, gave a favorable 
account of my observations. I took a few bear-skins, 
made a pallet of them, and calling my faithful dog to my 
side, lay down, with my gun close to ray body, and in a 
few minutes was to all appearance fast asleep. 

" A short time had elapsed when some voices were 
heard, and from the corner of my eyes I saw two athletic 
youths making their entrance, bearing a dead stag on a 
pole. They disposed of their burden, and asking for 
whiskey, helped themselves freely to it. Observing me 
and the wounded Indian, they asked who I was, and why 
the devil that rascal (meaning the Indian, who, they knew, 
understood not a word of English) was in the house ? 
The mother, for so she proved to be, bade them speak less 
loudly, made mention of my watch, and took them to a 
corner, where a conversation took place, the pi^'port of 

50 Life of Auduhon. 

which it required Httle shrewdness in me to guess. I 
tapped my dog gently, he moved liis tail, and with 
indescribable pleasure I saw his fine eyes alternately 
fixed on me and raised towards the trio in the corner. 
I felt that he perceived danger in my situation. The 
Indian exchanged the last glance with me. 

" The lads had eaten and drunk themselves into such 
condition that I already looked upon them as hojs 4^com- 
bal ; and the firequent visits of the whiskey bottle to the 
ugly mouth of their dam, I hoped would soon reduce her 
to a like state. Judge of my astonishment when I saw 
that incarnate fiend take a large carving-knife, and go to 
the grindstone to whet its edge. I saw her pour the water 
on the turning machine, and watched her working away 
with the dangerous instrument, until the cold sweat 
covered every part of my body, in despite of my determin- 
ation to defend myself to the last. Her task finished, 
she walked to her reeling sons, and said, ' There, that'll 

soon settle him ! Boys, kill yon , and then for the 

watch ! ' 

" I turned, cocked my gun-locks silently, touched my 
faithful companion, and lay ready to start up and shoot 
the first who might attempt my life. The moment was 
fast approaching, and that night might have been my last 
in this world, had not Providence made provision for my 
rescue. All was ready. The infernal hag was advancing 
slowly, probably contemplating the best way of despatch- 
ing me whilst her sons should be engaged with the Indian. 
I was several times on the eve of rising, and shooting her 
on the spot, but she was not to be punished thus. The 
door was suddenly opened, and there entered two stout 
travellers, each with a long rifle on his shoulder. I 
bounced up on my feet, and making them most heartily 
welcome, told them how well it was for me that they 
should have arrived at that moment. The tale was told 

Regulator Law. 51 

in a minute. The drunken sons were secured, and the 
woman, in spite of her defence and vociferations, sliared 
the same fate. The Indian fairly danced with joy, and 
gave us to understand that, as he could not sleep for 
pain, he would watch over us. You may suppose we 
slept much less than we talked. The two strangers gave 
me an account of their once having been themselves in a 
similar situation. Day came fair and rosy, and with it the 
punishment of our captives. 

" They were quite sobered. Their feet were unbound, 
but their arms were still securely tied. We marched 
them into the woods off the road, and having used them 
as Regulators were wont to use such delinquents, we set 
fire to the cabin, gave all the skins and implements to the 
young Indian warrior, and proceeded, well pleased, 
towards the settlements." 

At the period at which this incident occurred 
" Regulator Law " was the high tribunal in the Western 
States. A savage and outcast population fringed the 
settled territories, and among these the most dastardly 
crimes were current. " Regulator Law " was admin- 
istered by a body of American citizens, and was akin to 
a Vigilance Committee in its self-assumed functions. 
The punishment of felons, who could defy or were likely 
to escape the law of the land, was the special duty of the 
Regulators, and the name acquired a terrible significance 
in the western wilds. Audubon relates that a notorious 
freebooter, named Mason, frequented Wolf's Island in the 
Mississippi, and with a gang of marauders played pirate 
with impunity in that river. He stripped the laden 
barges of all the valuables, stole horses, and proved him- 
self to be bej^ond the reach of the law. A part}^ of Reg- 
ulators descended the river, but failed to find him. 
Finally, he was shot through the ready wit of one man. 
This Regulator met the ruffian in the forest, and. 

52 Life of Audubon, 

unsuspected, turned after him and dogged his steps. 
Mason retired to a quiet dell, hobbled his hdVse to pre- 
v^ent it escaping, and crept into a hollow tree. The 
Regulator went off for assistance to the nearest place, 
and returning with armed men, the plunderer was shot 
down, and his severed head was stuck on a pole hard by, 
to deter others from following the same life. The punish- 
ment adjudged b}' these Regulators was mercifully 
apportioned to the crimes of the evil-doers ; but Audubon 
relates a rather severe sentence passed upon one who was 
neither thief nor murderer. 

" The culprit," says Audubon, " was taken to a place 
where nettles were known to grow in great abundance, 
completely stripped, and so lashed with them^ that 
although not materially hurt, he took it as a hint not to 
be neglected, left the country, and was never again heard 
of by any of the party concerned." 

In November, 1812, soon after his father's return to 
Ilendersonville, Audubon's second son, John Woodhouse, 
was born. John Woodhouse and his only brother, Victor, 
were destined to become companions of their father in 
his hunting expeditions, and were afterwards able to 
assist materially in collecting and drawing birds for the 
great work. 

A few weeks after Audubon's return to Hen- 
dersonville, the western section of the state of Ken- 
tucky and the banks of the Mississippi suffered from a 
very severe shock of earthquake. In the month of 
November, the Naturalist was riding along on horseback, 
when he heard what he imagined to be the distant 
rumbling of a violent tornado. " On which," says he, " I 
spurred my steed, with a wish to gallop as fast as possible 
to the place of shelter. But it would not do ; the animal 
knew better than I what was forthcoming, and instead of 
going faster, so nearly stopped, that I remarked he placed 

An Earthquahe. ^^ 

one foot after another on the ground with as much pre- 
caution as if walking on a smooth sheet of ice. I thought 
he had suddenly foundered, and, speaking to him, was on 
the point of dismounting and leading him, when he all of 
a sudden fell a groaning piteously, hung his head, spread 
out his four legs, as if to save himself from falling, and 
stood stock still, continuing to groan. I thought my 
horse was about to die, and would have sprung from his 
back had a minute more elapsed ; but at that instant all 
the shrubs and trees began to move from their very roots, 
the ground rose and fell in successive furrows, like the 
ruffled waters of a lake, and I became bewildered in my 
ideas, as I too plainly discovered that all this awful 
commotion in nature was the result of an earthquake. 

" I had never witnessed anything of the kind before, 
although like every other person, I knew of earthquakes 
by description. But what is description compared with 
reality ? Who can tell of the sensations which I experi- 
enced when I found myself rocking, as it were, upon my 
horse, and with him moved to and fro like a child in a 
cradle, with the most imminent danger around me ? The 
fearful convulsion, however, lasted only a few minutes, 
and the heavens again brightened as^quickly as they had 
become obscured ; my horse brought his feet to the 
natural position, raised his head, and galloped off as if 
loose and frolicking without a rider. 

" I was not, however, without great apprehension 
respecting my family, from which I was many miles 
distant, fearful that where they were the shock might have 
caused greater havoc than that I had witnessed. I gave 
the bridle to my steed, and was glad to see him appear as 
anxious to get home as myself The pace at which he 
galloped accomplished this sooner than I had expected, 
and I found, with much pleasure, that hardly any greater 
harm had taken place than the apprehension excited for 

54 Life of Auduhon. 

my own safety. Shock succeeded shock ahnost every 
day or night for several weeks, diminishing however, so 
gradually, as to dwindle away into mere vibrations of the 
earth. Strange to say, I for one became so accustomed 
to the feeling, as rather to enjoy the fears manifested by 
others. I never can forget the effects of one of the 
slighter shocks which took place when I was at a friend's 
house, where I had gone to enjoy the merriment that in 
our western country attends a wedding. The ceremony 
being performed, supper over, and the fiddles tuned, 
dancing became the order of the moment. This was 
merrily followed up to a late hour, when the party retired 
to rest. We were in what is called, with great propriety, 
a log-house ; one of large dimensions, and solidly con- 
structed. The owner was a physician, and in one corner 
were not only his lancets, tourniquets, amputating knives, 
and other sanguinary apparatus, but all the drugs which 
he employed for the relief of his patients, arranged in jars 
and phials of different sizes. These had some days 
before made a narrow escape from destruction, but had 
been fortunately preserved by closing the doors of the 
cases in which they were contained. 

"As I have said^we had all retired to rest. Morning 
was fast approaching, when the rumbling noise that pre- 
cedes the earthquake began so loudly as to awaken the 
whole party and drive them out of bed in the greatest 
consternation. The scene which ensued was humorous 
in the extreme. Fear knows no restraint. Every per- 
son, old and young, filled with alarm at the creaking 
of the log-house, and apprehending instant destruction, 
rushed wildly out to the grass enclosure fronting the 
building. The full moon was slowly descending from 
her throne, covered at times by clouds that rolled heavily 
along, as if to conceal from her view the scenes of terror 
which prevailed on earth below. 

Business Misadventure. 5^ 

" On the grass-plot we all met, in such condition as 
rendered it next to impossible to discriminate any of the 
party, all huddled together in a state of almost perfect 
nudity. The earth waved like a field of corn before the 
breeze ; the birds left their perches, and flew about not 
knowing whither ; and the doctor, recollecting the dan- 
ger of his gallipots, ran to his office, to prevent their 
dancing off the shelves to the floor. Never for a moment 
did he think of closing the doors, but, spreading his arms, 
jumped about the front of the cases, pushing back here 
and there the falling jars, but with so little success, that 
before the shock was over he had lost nearly all he pos- 

" The shock at length ceased, and the frightened 
females, now sensible of their dishabille, fled to their 
several apartments. The earthquakes produced more 
serious consequences in other places. Near New Madrid, 
and for some distance on the Mississippi, the earth was 
rent asunder in several places, one or two islands sunk 
forever, and the inhabitants who escaped fled in dismay 
towards the eastern shores." 

While resident at Hendersonville, Audubon entered 
vipon a new adventure with his brother-in-law to carry on 
business at New Orleans, under the firm of " Audubon & 
Co." In this speculation he embarked all the fortune at 
his disposal ; but instead of attending to his interests he 
remained hunting in Kentucky, and soon afterwards was 
informed that all his money had been swept away in busi- 
ness misadventures. 

At this juncture the father of Audubon died ; but 
from some unfortunate cause he did not receive legal 
notice for more than a year. On becoming acquainted 
with the fact he travelled to Philadelphia to obtain funds, 
but was unsuccessful. His father had left him his prop- 
erty in France of La Gibitere, and seventeen thousand 

^6 Life of Auduhon. 

dollars which had been deposited with a merchant in 
Richmond, Virginia. Audubon, however, took no steps 
to obtain possession of his estate in France, and in after 
years, when his sons had grown up, sent one of them to 
France, for the purpose of legally transferring the prop- 
erty to his own sister Rosa. The merchant who held 
possession of the seventeen thousand dollars would not 
deliver them up until Audubon proved himself to be the 
son of Commodore Audubon. Before this could be done 
the merchant died insolvent, and the legatee never recov- 
ered a dollar of his money. Returning from Philadelphia 
to Hendersonville, the unfortunate Audubon cheerfully 
endeavored to provide for the future, about which he felt 
considerable anxiety. Gathering a few hundred dollars, 
he purchased some goods in Louisville, and returned to 
business in Hendersonvilfe. In his journey he met with 
General Toledo, who was raising volunteers to go to 
South America, and who offered him a colonel's commis- 
sion in the adventure. Audubon, however, preferred 
remaining at home. The business prospered ; he pur- 
chased land and a log cabin, with a family of negroes 
thereto, and seemed to be comfortably settled. 

The prosperous career of Audubon was prematurely 
closed by the arrival of a former partner, who joined him, 
and whose presence seemed to herald disaster. This 
partner advised him to erect a steam mill at Henderson- 
ville, a place which was totally unfitted for any such specu- 
'/ation. An Englishman, named Thomas Pease, joined 
in partnership, and having lost his money in an absurd 
project, separated from Audubon on no pleasant terms. 
In order to carry on the mill with renewed vigor, other 
partners were added ; and in connection with it Mr. 
Apperson was established at Shawnee Town, Mr. Ben- 
jamin Harrison at Vincennes in Indiana, and Nathaniel 
Pope, an old clerk of Audubon's, on the Mississippi 

Removal to Louisville. ^y 

river. All cf these parlies failed in supporting the 
concern at Hendersonville, which was only continued 
through the desperate measure of taking in still more 
partners. Finally, the mill went down, after ruining all 
concerned. The naturalist speaks with bitterness of the 
" infernal mill," and in an equally fierce strain of a 
steamer purchased by the concern, and afterwards sold 
to a party down the Mississippi, who cheated the sellers 
out of most of the purchase money. From this date his 
difficulties appeared to increase daily ; bills fell due, and 
unmeasured vexations assailed him. He handed over 
all he possessed, and left Hendersonville with his sick 
wife, his gim, his dog, and his drawings, — but without 
feeling really depressed at his prospects. The family 
reached Louisville, where they were kindly received by 
a relative, and Audubon had time to think over some 
scheme for raising support for his family. Possessed 
of considerable skill as an artist in crayons, he conceived 
the project of starting as a portrait draughtsman. As he 
started at very low prices, his skill soon became known, 
and in a few weeks he had as much work as he could do. 
His family were settled with him, and his business spread 
so far into Kentucky, that affluence was again enjoyed by 
the wanderer. Audubon succeeded so well in portraying 
the features of the dead, that a clergyman's child was 
exhumed in order that the artist might have an opportu- 
nity of taking a portrait of the corpse. 

In illustration of his reputation as a crayon drawer, 
Audubon relates that a settler cam.e for him in the middle 
of the night from a considerable distance, to have the 
portrait of his mother taken while she was on the eve of 
death. Audubon went with the farmer in his wagon, and 
with the aid of a candle made a satisfactory sketch. This 
success brought other successes, and the portrait painter 
seemed to have got a new start in life. Shortly after- 

58 Life of Audubon. 

wards he received an invitation to become a curator of 
the museum at Cincinnati, and for the preparation of 
birds received a hberal remuneration. In conjunction 
with this situation he opened a drawing school in the 
same city, and obtained from this employment additional 
emolument sufficient to support his family comfortably. 
His teaching succeeded well until several of his pupils 
started on their own account. The work at the museum 
having been finished, Audubon fell back upon his portrait 
painting and such resources as his genius could command. 
Applying for assistance to an old friend whom he had 
aided and assisted into business, the ungrateful wretch 
declared he would do nothing for his benefactor, and 
further added that he would not even recommend one 
who had such wandering habits. On more occasions 
than this his genius for discovery was made an argu- 
ment against him. 


mm i^rl ^'^^^5 


Rambles in Kentucky — Migrations into the IVilJs of Kentucky — Rifit 
Shooting — Driving Nails with Bullets — Daniel Boone " Bark- 
ing Squirrels " — Festivities on Beargrass Creek — Wild Scenes in 
the Woods — Hunting the Racoon — Visit from the Eccentric Nat- 
uralist, Rafinesquc — Daniel Boone, the Famous ILDiter. 

jjURING his residence in Kentucky, Audubon 
spent all his leisure time in rambles through 
the wilds in search of natural history speci- 
mens. A variety of amusing incidents occurred in these 
travels, and the wanderer has given several of these in a 
full and connected form. His ready gun supplied abun- 
dant fare to his homely table. Wild turkeys, deer, and 
bears supplied constant wants, after a fashion that suited 
the hunter well. While resident there, a flat-boat reached 
the shore, containing ten or twelve stout fellows with their 
wives, and declaring themselves to be " Yankees," asked 
for work as wood cutters. Audubon, thinking that the 
boat contained wheat, held parley with the occupants, 
and finding that they were " likely " fellows, proposed to 
engage them to cut down a government lot of one thou- 
sand two hundred acres of fine timber he had purchased. 
The wood cutters made fast their craft to the bank, started 
a camp on shore, and, with their wives, managed to cook 
their meals out of the game supplied by the forest. 
Audubon and his miller visited the camp in the morning, 
was rather pleased with the appearance of the fellows, 
and engaged the gang. Commencing work, they soon 

Go Life of Audubon. 

showed their excellent training, felling the trees after the 
fashion of experienced woodmen. The daily and weekly 
allowance of wood contracted for was safely delivered, 
and Audubon had reason to feel much contentment with 
his servants. The miller was satisfied ; and the master, 
to prove his appreciation of the valuable services, sent 
various presents of game and provisions to the strangers. 
Finding they had neglected to forward their usual supply 
one day, Audubon went off to their camp, found that 
the " Yankees " had gone off bodily, had taken his 
draught oxen with them, and had harried the place of 
all that could be lifted. He and his miller hunted down 
the river for the fugitives, but they had got a start and 
were not to be caught. Finding an escape into the 
Mississippi, the runaways voyaged out of reach of their 
victim, and a rare accident alone placed one of them 
within Audubon's power. While on board a Mississippi 
steamer, Audubon saw a hunter leave the shore in a 
canoe and reach the steamer. No sooner had the pas- 
senger reached the deck, than he recognized in him one 
of his plunderers ; but the woodcutter, fearing an arrest, 
leaped into the stream and swam towards the shore. 
Entering a canebrake, he was lost to sight, and the 
naturalist was never gratified by either hearing of, or 
seeing any one of the fellows again. 

In referring to Kentuckian sports, Audubon remarks 
that that State was a sort of promised land for all sorts of 
wandering adventurers from the Eastern states. Families 
cast loose from their homesteads beyond the mountains, 
wandered westward with their wagons, servants, cattle, 
and household gods. Bivouacking by some spring, in 
a glade of the primeval forest, near some well known 
" salt lick," where game would be plentiful, these West- 
ern representatives of the patriarchs moved on towards 
new resting-places, from which the red man, not without 

Kentucky Sports. 61 

serious clanger, had been driven. When a voyage by 
water was meditated as the easiest means of transporting 
the family and the baggage, a group of emigrants would 
build an ark on some creek of the upper waters of the 
Qhio, and in a craft forty or fifty feet long drift down the 
stream, carrying upon the roof the bodies of carts and 
wagons, upon the sides the wheels of the same. 

Within these floating mansions the wayfarers lived, 
not without fear of impending dangers. To show a light 
through the loopholes within range of a redskin's rifle 
was certain death to the inmate ; and night and day, 
while these arks drifted under umbrageous forests, their 
occupants were busy considering how their lives might 
be most dearly sold. Audubon notices ciu^ious practices 
connected with testing the skill of marksmen, not uncom- 
mon in his own time in Virginia. " At stated times, 
those desiring a trial of skill would be assembled," writes 
the naturalist, "and betting a trifling sum, put up a target, 
in the centre of which a common-sized nail is hammered 
for about two-thirds of its length. The marksmen make 
choice of what they consider a proper distance, which 
may be forty paces. Each man cleans the interior of his 
barrel, which is called wiping it, places a ball in the palm 
of his hand, pouring as much powder from his horn upon 
it as will cover it. This quantity is supposed to be suffi- 
cient for any distance within a hundred yards. A shot 
which comes very close to the nail is considered that of 
an indifferent marksman; the bending of the nail is, of 
course, somewhat better; but nothing less than hitting it 
right on the head is satisfactoiy. One out of three shots 
generally hits the nail, and should the shooters amount 
to half-a-dozen, two nails are frequently needed before 
each can have a shot. Those who drive the nail have a 
further trial amongst themselves, and the two best shots 
out of these generally settle the affair; when all the 

62 Life of Auduhon. 

sportsmen adjourn to some house, and spend an hour or 
two in friendly intercourse, appointing, before they part, 
a day for another trial." 

While at the town of Frankfort, Audubon had an 
opportunity of seeing the celebrated Daniel Boone 
" barking squirrels," or, in less technical phrase, driv- 
ing them out of their hiding-places by firing into the 
bark of the tree immediately beside the position they 
crouch into. Audubon went out with Boone to see the 
sport, and writes : — 

" We walked out together, and followed the rocky 
margins of the Kentucky river until we reached a piece 
of flat land thickly covered with black walnuts, oaks, and 
hickories. As the mast was a good one that year, squir- 
rels were seen gamboling on every tree around us. My 
companion, a stout, hale, and athletic man, dressed in a 
homespun hunting shirt, bare-legged and moccasined, 
carried a long and heavy rifle, which, as he was loading 
it, he said had proved efficient in all his former under- 
takings, and which he hoped would not fail on this occa- 
sion, as he felt proud to show me his skill. The gun was 
wiped, the powder measured, the ball patched with six- 
hundred thread linen, and the charge sent home with a 
hickory rod. We moved not a step from the place, for 
the squirrels were so numerous that it was unnecessary 
to go after them. Boone pointed to one of these animals 
which had observed us, and was crouched on a branch 
about fifty paces distant, and bade me mark well the spot 
where the ball should hit. He raised his piece graduall}^, 
until the bead (that being the name given by the Ken- 
tuckians to the sight) of the barrel was brought to a line 
with the spot which he intended to hit, and fired. 

" I was astounded to find that the ball had hit the 
piece of the bark immediately beneath the squirrel, and 
shivered it to splinters ; the concussion produced by 

A Kentucky Barbecue. d-;^ 

which had killed the animal, and sent it whirling through 
the air, as if it had been blown up, 

" The snuffing of a candle with a ball I first had ai\ 
opf5ortunity of seeing near the banks of Green River, not 
far from a large pigeon roost, to which I had previously 
made a visit. I heard many reports of guns during the 
early part of a dark night, and knowing them to be those 
of rifles, I went towards the spot to ascertain the cause. 
On reaching the place, I was welcomed by a dozen of 
tall, stout men, who told me they were exercising for the 
purpose of enabling them to shoot under night at the 
reflected light from the eye of a deer or wolf by torch- 

" At a distance of fifty paces stood a lighted candle, 
barely distinguishable in the darkness. One man was 
placed within a few yards of it, to watch the effects of 
the shots, as well as to light the candle, should it chance 
to go out, or to repair it, should the shot cut it across. 
Each marksman shot in his turn. Some never hit 
either the snufl" or the candle. One of them, who was 
particularly expert, was very fortunate, and snuffed the 
candle three times out of seven, whilst all the other shots 
either put out the candle, or cut it immediately under 
the light." 

During his residence in Kentucky, Audubon had 
frequent opportunities of joining in the great American 
festival of the 4th July. The particular occasion he de- 
scribes as a " Kentucky Barbecue," and instances a very 
delightful jubilee held on the Beargrass Creek, at which 
all the settlers, with their wives and families, assisted. 
The festival was held in a forest glade by the river's 
side : the company arrived in their wagons, bringing 
provisions of every kind, such fruits as the country af- 
forded, wine, and "Old Monongahela " whiskey. When 
the company had assembled, an immense cannon, built 

64 Life of Audubon. 

of wood hooiDcd with iron, and lighted by a train, was 
fired, after which orations were made by various oracles. 
The good things provided were then largely enjoyed, after 
which dancing was indulged in with an enthusiasm suit- 
able to such an occasion. Music was provided by vari- 
ous amateurs, and the fun was only closed by a ride home 
in the starlight. 

" A maple sugar camp " was always a pleasant refuge 
to Audubon while wandering in the woods. He de- 
scribes the wild appearance these camps presented when 
suddenly reached in the darkness, afar in the woodland 
solitudes, and only heralded by the snarling of curs and 
the howlings of the sugar-makers. 

Huge log fires, over which the sugar caldrons were 
boiled, gave the appearance of a witch incantation to a 
spectacle in which picturesquely-dressed Indians, rough 
backwoodsmen, and their strangely-dressed wives and 
children took part. Raised on a few stones placed 
around the fires, the sugar kettles were constantly tended 
by the women, while the men " bled " the sugar maple 
trees, stuck into the wounds they made, cane pipes, which 
drained the juice, and collected the maple sap into ves- 
sels made by splitting up a " yellow poplar " into juice 
troughs. Ten gallons of sap are required to make one 
pound of fine-grained sugar, which in some instances is 
equal to the finest make of candy. Such sugar sold in 
Kentucky, in the time of Audubon, for as much as a dozen 
cents in scarce seasons. 

Racoon hunting was a pastime much enjoyed by Au- 
dubon, and he has left plentiful records of his enjoyment 
of the sport. He describes the hunter's visit to a home- 
stead, and the preparations for a racoon hunt. The cost 
of ammunition was so considerable in the west, while the 
naturalist roved about, that the axe was reckoned a cheap- 
er implement than the rifle to secure the prey. From the 

Racoon-Hunting. 6^ 

naturalist's journal the following description is given, in 
spired by the writer's own peculiar enthusiasm. The 
cabin is made comfortable by a huge pile of logs laid 
across the fire ; the sweet potatoes are roasted in the 
ashes; and when all is ready the hunters begin their 

" The hunter has taken an axe from the wood pile, 
and returning, assures us that the night is clear, and that 
we shall have rare sport. He blows through his rifle, to 
ascertain that it is clear, examines his flint, and thrusts a 
feather into the touchhole. To a leathern bag swung at 
his side is attached a powder-horn ; his sheathed knife is 
there also ; below hangs a narrow strip of homespun 
linen. He takes from his bag a bullet, pulls with his 
teeth the wooden stopper from his powder-horn, lays the 
ball on one hand, and with the other pours the powder 
upon it, until it is just overtopped. Raising the horn to 
his mouth, he again closes it with the stopper, and re- 
stores it to its jDlace. He introduces the powder into the 
tube, springs the box of his gun, greases the ' patch ' over 
some melted tallow, or damps it, then places it on the 
honeycombed muzzle of his piece. The bullet is placed 
on the patch over the bore, and pressed with the handle 
of the knife, which now trims the edges of the linen. 
The elastic hickory rod, held with both hands, smoothly 
pushes the ball to its bed ; once, twice, thrice has it re- 
bounded. The rifle leaps as it were into the hunter's 
arms, the feather is drawn from the touchhole, the powder 
fills the pan, which is closed. ' Now I am ready,' cries 
the woodsman. A servant lights a torch, and off we 
march to the woods. ' Follow me close, for the ground 
is covered with logs, and the grape-vines hang every- 
where across. Toby, hold up the light, man, or we'll 
never see the gullies. Trail your gun, sir, as General 
Clark used to say — not so, but this way — that's it. Now 

66 Life of Auduhon. 

then, no danger you see ; no fear of snakes, poor things ! 
They are stiff enough, I'll be bound. The dogs have 
treed one. Toby, you old fool, why don't you turn to 
the right ? — not so much. There, go ahead and give vis 
a light. What's that ? who's there ? Ah ! you young 
rascals ! you've played us a trick, have you ? It's all 

well enough, but now, just keep behind or I'll ' In 

fact, the boys with eyes good enough to see in the dark, 
although not quite so well as an owl, had cut directly 
across to the dogs, which had surprised a racoon on the 
ground, and bayed it, until the lads knocked it on the 
head. ' Seek him, boys ! " cries the hunter. The dogs, 
putting their noses to the ground, pushed off at a good 
rate. ' Master, they're making for the creek,' says old To- 
by. On towards it therefore we push. What woods, to be 
sure ! We are now in a low flat covered with beech trees. 
" The racoon was discovered swimming in a pool. 
The glare of the lighted torch was doubtless distressing 
to him ; his coat was ruffled, and his rounded tail seemed 
thrice its ordinary size; his eyes shone like emeralds; 
with foaming jaws he watched the dogs, ready to seize 
each by the snout if it came within reach. They kept 
him busy for some minutes ; the water became thick with 
mud ; his coat now hung dripping, and his draggled tail 
lay floating on the surface. His guttural growlings, in 
place of intimidating his assailants, excited them the 
more, and they very unceremoniously closed upon him. 
One seized him by the rump and tugged, but was soon 
forced to let go ; another stuck to his side, but soon tak- 
ing a better-directed bite of his muzzle, the coon's fate 
was sealed. He was knocked on the head, and Toby re- 
marks, ' That's another half dollar's worth,' as he handles 
the thick fur of the prey. The dogs are again found look- 
ing up into a tree and barking furiously. The hunters 
employ their axes, and send the chips about. 

Racoon-Hunting. 67 

" The tree began to crack, and slowly leaning to one 
side, the heavy mass swung rustling through the air, and 
fell to the earth with a crash. It was not one coon that 
was surprised here, but three, one of which, more crafty 
than the rest, leaped from the top while the tree was stag- 
gering. The other two stuck to the hollow of a branch, 
from which they were soon driven by one of the dogs. 
Tyke and Lion having nosed the cunning old one, scam- 
pered after him. He is brought to bay, and a rifle bullet 
is sent through his head. The other two are secured 
after a desperate conflict, and the hunters with their bags 
full, return to the cabin." 

While resident in Kentucky, Audubon was visited by 
the eccentric naturalist, Rafinesque, whose manner of 
life, dress, and oddities of conduct appear to have 
greatly amused even one so little attentive to formalities 
as the ornithologist. The stranger reached the banks of 
the Ohio in a boat, and carrying on his back a bundle of 
plants which resembled dried clover. He accidentally 
addressed Audubon, and asked where the naturalist 
lived. Audubon introduced himself, and was handed a 
letter of introduction by the stranger, in which the writer 
begged to recommend " an odd fish," which might not 
have been described in published treatises. Audubon 
innocently asked where the odd fish was, which led to a 
pleasant explanation and a complete understanding be- 
tween the two naturalists. 

" I presented my learned guest to my family," writes 
Audubon, " and was ordering a servant to go to the boat 
for my friend's luggage, when he told me he had none 
but what he brought on his back. He then loosened the 
pack of weeds which had first draw-n my attention. The 
naturalist pulled off" his shoes, and while engaged in draw- 
ing his stockings down to hide the holes in his heels, he 
explained that his apparel had suffered from his journey." 

68 Life of Audubon. 

This eccentric's habits were neither tidy nor cleanly 
He would hardly perform needful ablutions, and refused 
a change of clean clothing, suggested as being more com- 
fortable. "His attire," remarks Audubon, "struck me 
as exceedingly remarkable. A long loose coat of yellow 
nankeen, much the worse for the many rubs it had got in 
its time, and stained all over with the juice of plants, hun^^ 
loosely about him like a sack. A waistcoat of the same, 
with enormous pockets, and buttoned up to the chin, 
reached below over a pair of tight pantaloons, the lower 
part of which were buttoned down to the ankles. His 
beard was as long as I have known my own to be during 
some of my peregrinations, and his lank black hair hung 
loosely over his shoulders. His forehead was so broad 
and prominent that any tyro in phrenology would instant- 
ly have pronounced it the residence of a mind of strong 
powers. His words impressed an assurance of rigid 
truth, and as he directed the conversation to the study of 
the natural sciences, I listened to him with great delight. 
He requested to see my drawings, anxious to see the 
plants I had introduced besides the birds I had drawn. 
Finding a strange plant among my drawings, he denied 
its authenticity ; but on my assuring him that it grew in 
the neighborhood, he insisted on going off instantly to 
see it. 

"When I pointed it out the naturalist lost all com- 
mand over his feelings, and behaved like a maniac in ex- 
pressing his delight. He plucked the plants one after 
another, danced, hugged me in his arms, and exultingly 
told me he had got, not merely a new species, but a new 

" He immediately took notes of all the needful par- 
ticulars of the plant in' a note-book, which he carried 
wrapt in a waterproof covering. After a day's pursuit of 
natural history studies, the stranger was accommodated 

'The Cane-Brake. 69 

with a bed-room. We had all retired to rest ; every per 
son I imagined was in deep slumber save myself, when oi 
a sudden I heard a great uproar in the naturalist's room. 
T got up, reached the place in a few moments, and opened 
the door ; when, to my astonishment, I saw my guest run- 
ning naked, holding the handle of my favorite violin, the 
body of which he had battered to pieces against the walls 
in attempting to kill the bats which had entered by the 
open window, probably attracted by the insects flying 
around his candle. I stood amazed, but he continued 
jumping and running round and round, until he was 
fairly exhausted, when he begged me to procure one of 
the animals for him, as he felt convinced they belonged 
to a ' new species.' Although I was convinced of the 
contrary, I took up the bow of my demolished Cremona, 
and administering a smart tap to each of the bats as it 
came up, soon got specimens enough. The war ended, 
I again bade him good-night, but could not help observ- 
ing the state of the room. It was strewed with plants, 
which had been previously arranged with care. 

" He saw my regret for the havoc that had been 
created, but added that he would soon put his plants to 
rights — after he had secured his new specimens of bats. 

Rafinesque had great anxiety to be shown a cane-brake, 
plenty of which were to be found in the neighborhood. 
The cane-brake is composed of a dense growth of canes, 
measuring twenty or thirty feet in height, and packed so 
closely that a man's body requires to be forced between 
the shafts of the canes. An undergrowth of plants and 
trailing climbers further prevents progression, which has 
to be accelerated by pushing the back between the canes. 
Game of all sorts frequent the cane-brakes, in which trav- 
elling is rendered disagreeably exciting by the presence 
of bears, panthers, snakes, and serpents. The cane- 
brakes are sometimes set fire to, and the water collected 

yo Life of Auduhon. 

in the separate joints explodes like a shell. The con' 
stant fusilade occasioned by such explosions in the midst 
of a conflagration has occasioned the flight of parties not 
conversant with the cause, and who believed that the In- 
dians were advancing with volleys of musketry. I had 
determined that my companion should view a cane-brake 
in all its perfection, and leading him several miles in a 
direct course, came upon as fine a sample as existed in 
that part of the country. We entered, and for some time 
proceeded without much difficvilty, as I led the way, and 
cut down the canes which were most likely to incommode 
him. The difficulties gradually increased, so that we 
were presently obliged to turn our backs and push our 
way through. After a while we chanced to come upon 
the top of a fallen tree, which so obstructed our passage, 
that we were on the eve of going round, instead of thrust- 
ing ourselves through amongst the branches ; when from 
its bed, in the centre of the tangled mass, forth rushed a 
bear with such force, that my friend became terror struck, 
and in his haste to escape made a desperate attempt to 
run, but fell amongst the canes in such a way that he was 
completely jammed. I could not refrain from laughing 
at the ridiculous exhibition he made, but my gaiety how- 
ever was not very pleasing to the discomfited naturalist. 
A thunder-storm -with a deluge of rain completed our ex- 
perience of the cane-brake, and my friend begged to be 
taken out. This could only be accomplished by crawl- 
ing in a serpentine manner out of the jungle, from which 
the eccentric naturalist was delighted to escape, perfectly 
overcome with fatigue and fear. The eccentric was more 
than gratified with the exploit, and soon after left my 
abode without explanation or farewell. A letter of 
thanks, however, showed that he had enjoyed the hospi- 
tality, and was not wanting in gratitude." 

In his Kentucky rambles Audubon had more than 

Daniel Boone. 71 

one opportunity of seeing and hunting with the famous 
Colonel Boone, the Kentucky hunter, and hero of a mul- 
titude of desperate adventures. On a particular occasion 
Boone spent a- night under Audubon's roof, and related 
some of his adventures, among others, the following. On 
a hunting expedition in which Boone was engaged, the 
wanderer was afraid of Indians, and he consequently 
damped out his fire before falling asleep. He had not 
lain long before strong hands were laid upon him, and he 
was dragged off to the Indian camp. Avoiding every 
semblance of fear, Boone neither spoke nor resisted. 
The Indians ransacked his pockets, found his whisky 
flask, and commenced to drink from it. While so en- 
gaged a shot was fired, and the male savages went off in 
pursuit, while the squaws were left to watch the prisoner. 
Rolling himself towards the fire, Boone burnt the fasten- 
ings which bound him, sprang to his feet, and after hack- 
ing three notches in an ash tree, afterwards known as 
" Boone's Ash," fled from the neighborhood. In years 
after, an engineer in Kentucky made the ash a point for a 
survey. A lawsuit arose out of a boundary question, and 
the only chance of closing it was by identifying " Boone's 
Ash." The hunter was sent for, and after some search- 
ing he pointed out the free, in which the notches were 
detected after the bark had been peeled away. Boone's 
extraordinary stature and colossal strength struck Audu- 
bon as remarkable among a remarkable race ; and the 
dreaded foe of the red man was notable for an honesty 
and courage that could not be questioned. 


Audubon leaves Cincinnati zvith Captain Cuii lining — Arrival at 
Natchez — Departure for iVeiu Orleans — Arrival at Netu Orleans 
— Want of Success — Vatiderlyn, the Fainter — Audubon leaves 
New Orleans for Kentucky — Return to A^ew Orleans — Review 
of Work done since leaving Home. 

N the i2th of Octob.7r, 1820, Audubon left Cin- 
cinnati in company with Captahi Gumming, an 
American engineer who had been appointed to 
make a survey of the Mississippi river, and after fourteen 
days of drifting down the Ohio, the flat-boat which con- 
tained the scientific " expedition " reached the Mississippi 
river. Tlie naturahst Iiad failed to receive the money due 
to liim at Cincinnati, and vexed and discouraged, he de- 
termined even without means to seek a new field for em- 

From a letter addressed to the Governor of Arkansas 
at this date, it is evident tlia'. Audubon had determined 
on a lengthened excursion in the pursuit of ornithological 
specimens, including the States of Mississippi, Alabama, 
and Florida, afterwards retracing his steps to New Or- 
leans up the Red River, down the Arkansas, and home- 
ward to his wife. He had received letters of recommen- 
dation from General, afterwards President Harrison, and 
from Henry Clay, and good prospects seemed to dawn. 
He had determined in any case to complete one hundred 
drawings of birds before returning to Cincinnati, and he 
fulfilled this resolve. 

" On a clear frosty morning in December," writes 
Audubon in his journal, " I arrived at Natchez^ and found 

Natchez. 73 

the levee lined with various .sorts of boats full of western 
produce. The crowd was immense, and the market ap- 
peared to be a sort of fair. Scrambling up to the cliffs 
on which the city is built, I found flocks of vultures fly- 
ing along the ground with outspread wings in the pursuit 
of food. Large pines and superb magnolias crowned the 
bluff, and their evergreen foliage showed with magnificent 
effect. I was delighted with the spectacle of white-head- 
ed eagles pursuing fishing-ha"\vks, and surveyed the river 
scenery sparkling in bright sunlight with a new pleasure. 
Far away across the stream the shores were lost in the 
primitive forests, and a mysterious unknown seemed to 
lie beyond me, I was impressed with the pretty houses 
of the upper town, built of painted brick or wood ; and 
to complete my feeling of enjoyment, my relative, Mr. 
Berthoud, gave me letters from my wife and sons, re- 
ceived by the weekly mail which then brought letters to 
Natchez from all parts of the Union. The town owned 
three thousand inhabitants ; was composed of an upper 
town and a. lower town, the latter chiefly built up of 
beached flat-boats, converted into cabins by a rascally 
and nondescript population. The planters' houses in 
the upper town were models of lu.xury and comfort, but 
the church architecture prevalent rather detracted from 
the beauty of the place. I found the mocking-bird in 
abundance, and the pewee fly-catcher at home in its win- 
ter quarters. The old Spanish fort was still visible in 
ruins, and a rumor reached me that many houses had 
been buried in the river by a slip of the bank. At 
Natchez, I was amazed to see a white-headed eagle at- 
tack a vulture, knock it down, and gorge itself upon a 
dead horse. M. Garnier, who kept the largest hotel in 
the place, befriended me in many ways, and I also 
formed an acquaintance with M. Charles Carr^, the son 
of a French nobleman of the old regime. From Carr^ I 

74 l^^fs of Aiiduhon. 

had a history of Natchez, as ,he had lived to witness the 
career of tliat town under the Spaniards, French, and 

In connection with his residence in Natchez he tells 
a significant story. A companion of his, voyaging, hav- 
ing worn his shoes down, had no money to get them re- 
paired or to purchase new ones. The naturalist was 
likewise without the means ; but Audubon called upon a 
shoemaker, explained that his friend was in want of shoes, 
had no money to pay for them, but that if he chose he 
should have the portrait of himself and his wife in return 
for two pairs of boots. The shoemaker was satisfied with 
the proposal, and the portraits were sketched in a couple 
of hours, after which the naturalist and his friend bade 
the shoemaker good-bye, each being fitted with new boots. 
After some stay in Natchez, Audubon left for New Or- 
leans with his friend Berthoud, in a keel-boat belonging 
to the latter, but which was taken in tow of the steamer. 
Not long after leaving, Audubon discovered that one of 
his portfolios, containing some drawings of birds he prized 
highly, was missing. Full of chagrin, he could only 
recollect that he had brought it to the wharf and had 
placed it in the hands of a servant, who had evidently 
forgotten to put it on board the keel-boat. How to re- 
cover it was a serious consideration. Letters were in- 
stantly despatched to M. Gamier, M. Carre, and friends 
of Berthoud, to use their utmost endeavors to recover the 
lost portfolio. After towing as far as Bayou Sara, the 
steamer threw off the keel-boat, and with the aid of the 
current and the oars Audubon continued his course to 
Baton Rouge, on the way to New Orleans. Large flocks 
of beautiful ducks were passed in various eddies, and the 
naturalist was amused by groups of negroes catching 
catfish in the river or scooping out shrimps with their 

On the Mississippi. 7^ 

" Nearing New Orleans, the country became perfectly 
Cevel, and from the embankments or levees we could see 
the great river winding on for miles. The planters' 
houses became more visible against groves of dark cy- 
presses covered with hanging vine plants, and odorous 
winds blew perfumes of the orange flowers across the 
stream down which the boat so lazily drifted. Landing 
on the banks, I made my way to the swamps, and shot 
several beautiful boat-tailed grakles and a whole covey of 
partridges. Thousands of swallows in their winter home 
flew about us, and the cat-birds mewed in answer to their 
chatterings. Doves echoed soft notes through the woods, 
and the cardinal grosbeak sat on the top branches of the 
magnolia, saluting us by elevating his glowing crest. On 
the 6th of January, and when nearing New Orleans, a 
sharp frost was felt which left some traces of ice, but at 
the same time we had green peas, artichokes, and other 
summer esculents on shore fresh from the garden." 

On arriving at New Orleans, Audubon was relieved 
to find that the lost portfolio had been found, and was lo- 
cated safely in the office of the ' Mississippi Republican ' 
newspaper. He however found no work to do, and had 
to live for some days in the boat he came with. The 
money he had, not much, was stolen from him, and he 
had not even as much as would pay a lodging he took in 
advance. Amid all his difficulties he still kept wander- 
ing to the woods, got additions made to his specimens, 
and filled his portfolio with new drawings. Meeting an 
Italian painter, Audubon explained his anxiety to have 
work. The Italian introduced him to the director of the 
theatre, who offered the naturalist one hundred dollars 
per month to draw for him, but a fixed engagement could 
not be entered upon. 

On the 13th of January he called upon Jarvis the 
painter, who objected to his manner of painting birds. 

76 Life of Aiiduhon. 

Hii suggested that he might assist the artist in filling-in 
backgrounds, and was requested to come back. 

" I went back again," writes the naturalist, " but 
found Mr. Jarvis had no use for me : he appeared in fact 
to fear my rivahy. Meeting a friend, I was taken to the 
counting-house of Mr. Pamar, where I was asked what I 
would take the portraits of three children for. I an- 
swered, One hundred dollars ; but various delays oc- 
curred which prevented me from entering upon this en- 
gagement. I wished for the money to send home to my 
wife and children. 

^^ January 14. Visited the levees, and found them 
crowded with promenaders of every hue and nation. The 
day was Sunday, and amusements were much indulged in. 
Various quadroon balls held in the evening. Do not see 
any good-looking or handsome women ; all have a citron 
hue. Time passed sadly in seeking ineffectually for em- 
l^loyment. I was fortunate in making a hit with the por- 
trait of a well-known citizen of New Orleans. I showed 
it to the public ; it made a favorable impression, and I 
obtained several patrons. A few orders for portraits re- 
lieved my necessities, and continuing my work of paint- 
ing birds, the time passed more pleasantly. 

'■'■February 5. Spent my time running after orders for 
portraits, and also in vain endeavors to obtain a sight of 
Alexander Wilson's ' Ornithology,' but was unsuccessful 
in seeing the book, which is very high priced. Obtained 
some new birds and made copies. 

"■March 12. Of late have been unable to make many 
entries in my journal. Near our lodgings, on the south 
angle of a neighboring chimney-top, a mocking bird reg- 
ularly resorts, and pleases us with the sweetest notes 
from the rising of the moon until about midnight, and 
every morning from about eight o'clock until eleven, 
when he flies away to the Convent gardens to feed. I 

Vanderlyn. 77 

have noticed that bird, always in the same spot and same 
position, and have been particularly pleased at hearing 
him imitate the watchman's cry of ' All's well ! ' which 
comes from the fort, about three squares distant ; and so 
well has he sometimes mocked it that I should have been 
deceived if he had not repeated it too often, sometimes 
several times in ten minutes. 

'■'■ March 21. Read in the papers this morning that the 
treaty between Spain and the United States is concluded, 
and that a clause provides that an expedition is to leave 
Natchitoches next year to survey the boundary line of the 
ceded territory. I determined to try for an appointment 
as draughtsman and naturalist. I wrote to President 
Monroe, and was quite pleased at the prospect before me. 
I walked out in the afternoon of the day on which I 
formed the project, and saw nothing but hundreds of new 
birds in imagination within range of my gun. I have 
been struck with the paucity of birds in the neighborhood 
of New Orleans during a season I had expected to meet 
with them. Many species of warblers, thrushes, &c., 
which were numerous during the winter, have migrated 
eastward towards Florida, leaving swallows and a few 
water-birds almost the sole representatives of the feathered 

'■'■March 31. My time has been engrossed thinking 
over and making plans about the Pacific expedition. I 
called on Mr. Vanderlyn, the historical painter, witli my 
portfolio, to show him some of my drawings and ask him 
for a recommendation. He said they were handsomely 
done, and was pleased with the coloring and positions of 
the birds drawn. He was however a rude-mannered 
man, treated me as a mendicant, and ordered me to lay 
down my portfolio in the lobby. I felt inclined to walk 
off without farther comment, but the thought of further- 
ing my prospects in connection with the expedition in- 

7 8 Life of Auduhon. 

duced me to submit. In half an hour he returned with 
an officer, and with an air more becoming asked me into 
his private room. Yet I could see in his expression that 
feeling of selfish confidence which always impairs in some 
degree the worth of the greatest man who has it. The 
perspiration ran down my face as I showed him my 
drawings and laid them on the floor. An officer who was 
with the artist, looking at the drawings, said with an oath 
that they were handsome. Vanderlyn made a like re- 
mark, and I felt comforted. Although he failed in paint- 
ing women himself, he spoke disparagingly of my own 
portraits ; said they were too hard and too strongly 
drawn. * He sat down and wrote his note while I was 
thinking of my journey to the Pacific, and I cared not a 
picayune for his objections to my portraits so that my 
prospects of going with the expedition were furthered, 
Vanderlyn gave me a veiy complimentary note, in which 
he said that he never had seen anything superior to my 
drawings in any country, and for which kindness I was 
very thankful. His friend, the officer, followed me to the 
door, asked the price of my portraits, and very courte- 
ously asked me to paint his likeness." 

Audubon's fortunes in New Orleans varied exceed- 
ingly. From the sorest penur}' and deepest distress he 
was suddenly raised by the happy spirit he possessed and 
the untiring energ}^ of his character. One day he was 
going about seeking for a patron to obtain a few dollars 
by drawing a portrait ; the next he was dining with Gov- 
ernor Robertson of Louisiana, who gave him a letter of 
recommendation to President Monroe in connection with 
the expedition to Mexico. He had determined to go to 
Shipping Port, Kentucky, but his departure was hindered 
by an engagement from a few pupils. He writes in his 
diary : — 

" Jinic 1 6. Left New Orleans in the steamer Colum- 

IVLrs. Perrie. 


bus, Captain John D'Hart, for Shipping Port, Kentuck}^ 
Been greatly oppressed while at work lately, and greatly 
tormented by mosquitoes, which prevented my sleeping 
at night. Much disappointed by one patron at New Or 
leans, who affected great interest in me, but would not 
pay one hundred dollars he owed." 

It happened however that Audubon was not to re- 
turn to his family as soon as he expected. The voyage 
to Shipping Port was cut short by the acceptance of a 
situation in the family of Mrs. Perrie, who owned a plan- 
tation at Bayou Sara, in Louisiana. The duties accepted 
by Audubon were apparently simple enough. He was to 
teach Mrs. Perrie's daughter drawing during the summer 
months, at sixty dollars per month. His lessons would 
absorb one half of the day, and with a young friend, 
Mason, he was to have the rest of his time free for hunt- 
ing. Board and lodging were provided for the two friends, 
and Mrs. Perrie's aim appears to have been to provide 
an opportunity for Audubon to carry on his pursuits un- 
der the guise of an employment which would be con- 
genial, and not interfere with his work. 

" We arrived at the landing at the mouth of the bayou 
orr a hot sultry day, bid adieu to our fellow-passengers, 
climbed the hill at St. Francisville, and rested a few min- 
utes at the house of Mr. Swift. Dinner was nearly ready, 
and we were invited to partake, but I had no heart for it. 
I wished myself on board the Columbus ; I wished for 
my beloved Lucy and my dear boys. I felt that I should 
be awkward at the table ; and a good opportunity having 
offered me to go to Mr. Perrie's, we walked slov/ly on, 
guided by some of the servants, who had been sent, when 
the family heard of our coming, to bring our luggage, 
which they found light. 

" The aspect of the country was entirely new to me, 
and distracted my mind from those objects which are the 

8o Life of Auduhon. 

occupation of my life. The rich magnolias covered with 
fragrant blossoms, the holly, the beech, the tall yellow 
poplar, the hilly ground, and even the red clay, all excited 
my admiration. Such an entire change in the face of 
nature in so short a time seems almost supernatural ; 
and surrounded once more by numberless warblers and 
thrushes, I enjoyed the scene. The five miles we walked 
appeared short, and we arrived and met Mr. Perrie at his 
house. Anxious to know him, I examined his features 
by Lavater's directions. We were received kindly. 

^^ August II. We were awakened last night by a serv- 
ant requesting me to accompany Mrs. Perrie to the house 
of a dying neighbor about a mile distant. We went, but 
arrived too late, for the man was dead, and I had the 
pleasure of keeping his body company the remainder of 
the night. On such occasions time flies very slowly, so 
much so, that it looked as if it stood still, like the hawk 
that poises in the air over his prey. The poor man had 
drunk himself into an everlasting sleep. I made a good 
sketch of his head, and left the house, while the ladies 
were engaged in preparing the funeral dinner. 

'■'■August 12. Left this morning to visit a beautiful 
lake, six miles distant, where we are told there are many 
beautiful birds. The path led through a grove of rich 
magnolia woods. On the way we saw a rich-colored 
spider at work rolling up a horsefly he had caught in his 
web. He spirted a stream of fluid from his mouth, at 
the same time rolling the fly in it, until he looked like 
the cocoon of a silkworm ; and having finished his work, 
returned to the centre of his nest. This is no doubt the 
way he puts up his food when he is not hungrj^, and pro- 
vides for the future. 

'■'■August 25. Finished drawing a very fine specimen 
of a rattlesnake, which measured five feet and seven inches, 
weighed six and a quarter pounds, and had ten rattles. 

A Rattlesnake 81 

Anxious to give it a position most interesting to a natu 
ralist, I put it in that which the reptile commonly takes 
when on the point of striking madly with its fangs. I 
had examined many before, and especially the position 
of the fangs along the superior jawbones, but had nevei 
seen one showing the whole exposed at the same time ; 
and having before this supposed that it was probable 
that those lying enclosed below the upper one, in most 
specimens, were to replace the upper one, which I thought 
might drop periodically as the animal changed its skin 
and rattles. However, on dissection of these from the 
ligament by which they were attached to the jawbones, I 
found them strongly and I think permanently fixed there 
as follows. Two superior, or next to the upper lip (I 
speak of one side of the jaws only), were well connected 
at their bases and running parallel their whole length, 
with apertures on the upper and lower sides of their bases 
to receive the poison connectedly, and the discharging 
one a short distance from the sharp point on the inner 
part of the fangs. The next two fangs, about a quarter 
of an inch below, connected and received in the same 
manner but with only one base aperture on the lower side 
of each, and the one at the point which issues the poison 
to the wound. The fifth, rather smaller, is also about a 
quarter of an inch below. The scales of the belly, to the 
under part of the mouth, numbered one hundred and 
seventy, and twenty-two from the vent to the tail. The 
heat of the weather was so great that I could devote only 
sixteen hours to the drawing. 

" October 20. Left Bayou Sara in the Ramapo, with 
a medley of passengers, and arrived safely in New 
Orleans. My long, flowing hair, and loose yellow nan- 
keen dress, and the unfortunate cut of my features, 
attracted much attention, and made me desire to be 

dressed like other people as soon as possible. My 

82 Life of Audubon. 

friends the Pamars received me kindly and raised my 
spirits ; they looked on me as a son returned from a long 
and dangerous voyage, and children and servants as well 
as the parents were all glad to see me. 

''^ October 2^. Rented a house in Dauphine street at 
seventeen dollars per month, and determined to bring 
my family to New Orleans. Since I left Cincinnati, 
October 12, 1820, I have finished sixty-two drawings 
of birds and plants, three quadrupeds, two snakes, fifty 
portraits of all sorts, and have subsisted by my humble 
talents, not having had a dollar when I started. I sent 
a draft to my wife, and began life in New Orleans with 
forty-two dollars, health, and much anxiety to pursue my 
plan of collecting all the birds of America." 

Audubon speaks with boyish gayety of the comfort 
which a new suit of clothes gave him. He called on 
Mrs. Clay with his drawings, but got no work — no pupils. 
He determined to make a public exhibition of his ornitho- 
logical drawings. 

Under date November 10, he remarks : "Mr. Baste- 
rop called on me, and wished me to join him in painting 
a panorama of the city ; but my birds, my beloved birds 
of America, occupy all my time, and nearly all my 
thoughts, and I do not wish to see any other perspective 
than the last specimen of these drawings." 

Audubon relates many instances of squatter life on 
the great American rivers. The features of this peculiar 
life struck him with a picturesque force that makes his 
descriptions of the constant emigrations from the East, 
and the settlement of the wanderers in the West, very 
interesting indeed. In a detailed account he describes 
how the settlers in Virginia became impoverished through 
the reckless system of husbandry pursued, and how, after 
suffering penury, they determined to emigrate to more 
fertile lands. He thus graphically narrates the patri- 
archal wanderings of the wearied wayfarers. 

Early Settlers. 83 

" I think 1 see them harnessing their horses, and 
attaching them to their wagons, which are already fitted 
with bedding, provisions, and the younger children ; 
while on their outside are fastened spinning-wheels and 
looms, a bucket filled with tar and tallow swings betwixt 
the hind wheels. Several axes are secm'ed to the bolster, 
and the feeding-trough of the horses contains pots, ket- 
tles, and pans. The servant now becomes a driver, riding 
the near saddled horse, the wife is mounted on another, 
the worthy husband shoulders his gun, and his sons, clad 
in plain, substantial homespun, drive the cattle ahead, and 
lead the procession, followed by the hounds and other 
dogs. Their day's journey is short and not agreeable. 
The cattle, stubborn or wild, frequently leave the road for 
the woods, giving the travellers much trouble j the harness 
of the horses here and there gives way, and immediate 
repair is needed. A basket which has accidentally drop- 
ped must be^ gone after, for nothing that Ihey have can 
be spared. The roads are bad, and now and then all 
hands are called to push on the wagon, or prevent it from 
upsetting. Yet by sunset they have proceeded perhaps 
twenty miles. Fatigued, all assemble round the fire, 
which has been lighted ; supper is prepared, and a camp 
being run up, there they pass the night. Days and weeks 
pass before they gain the end of their journey. They 
have crossed both the Carolinas, Georgia, and Alabama. 
They have been travelling from the beginning of May to 
that of SejDtember, and with heavy hearts they traverse 
the neighborhood of the Mississippi. But now arrived 
on the banks of the broad stream, they gaze in amaze- 
ment on the dark deep woods around them. Boats of 
various kinds they see gliding downwards with the cur- 
rent, while others slowly ascend against it. A few inqui- 
ries are made at the nearest dwelling, and assisted by 
the inhabitants with their boats and canoes, they at once 

84 L.'^fe of Audubon. 

cross the river, and select their place of habitation. The 
exhalations arising from the swamps and morasses around 
them have a powerful effect on these new settlers, but all 
are intent on preparing for the winter. A small patch of 
ground is cleared by the axe and fire, a temporary cabin 
is erected ; to each of the cattle is attached a bell before 
it is let loose into the neighboring canebrake, and the 
horses remain about the house, where they find sufficient 
food at that season. The first trading boat that stops at 
their landing enables them to provide themselves with 
some flour, fish-hooks, and ammunition, as well as other 
commodities. The looms are mounted, the spinning- 
wheels soon furnish some yarn, and in a few weeks the 
family throw off their ragged clothes, and ' array them- 
selves in suits adapted to the climate. 

" The father and sons meanwhile have sown turnips 
and other vegetables ; and from some Kentucky flat-boat 
a supply of live poultry has been purchased. October 
tinges the leaves of the forest ; the morning dews are 
heavy ; the days hot and the nights chill, and the unac- 
climatised family in a few days are attacked with ague. 
The lingering disease almost prostrates their whole facul- 
ties. Fortunately the unhealthy season soon passes over, 
and the hoar-frosts make their appearance. Gradually 
each individual recovers strength. The largest ash trees 
are felled, their trunks are cut, split, and corded in front 
of the building ; a large fire is lighted at night on the 
edge of the water, and soon a steamer calls to purchase 
the wood, and thus add to their comforts during the 
winter. This first fruit of their industry imparts new 
courage to them ; their exertions multiply, and when 
spring returns the place has a cheerful look. Venison, 
bear's flesh, and turkeys, ducks and geese, with now and 
then some fish, have served to keep up their strength, 
and now their enlarged field is planted with corn, pota- 

T^he Opossu?n. 85 

toes, and pumpkins. Their stock of cattle, too, has 
augmented : the steamer which now stops there, as if by 
preference, buys a calf or pig, together with their wood. 
Their store of provisions is renewed, and brighter rays 
of hope enliven their spirits. 

" The sons discover a swamp covered with excellent 
timber, and as they have seen many great rafts of saw- 
logs, bound for the saw-mills of New Orleans, floating 
past their dwelling, they resolve to try the success of a 
little enterprise. A few cross-saws are purchased, and 
^ome broad-wheeled ' carry-logs ' are made by them- 
selves. Log after log is hauled to the bank of the river, 
and in a short time their first raft is made on the shore, 
and loaded with cordwood. When the next freshet sets 
it afloat it is secured by long grape vines or cables, until, 
the proper time being arrived, the husband and sons 
embark on it and float down the mighty stream. After 
encountering many difficulties, they arrive in safety at 
New Orleans, where they disi30se of their stock, the 
money obtained for which may be said to be all profit ; 
supply themselves with such articles as may add to their 
convenience or comfort, and with light hearts procure a 
passage on the upper deck of a steamer at a very cheap 
rate, on account of the benefit of their labors in taking in 
wood or otherwise. Every successive year has increased 
their savings. They now possess a large stock of horses, 
cows, and hogs, with abundance of provisions, and domes- 
tic comforts of every kind. The daughters have been 
married to the sons of neighboring squatters, and have 
gained sisters to themselves by the marriage of their 

He introduces, among other episodes of natural 
history, an account of the habits of the opossum — " the 
dissimulator." The walk of this animal he describes as 
an amble like that of a young foal or a Newfoundland 

86 Life of Auduhon. 

dog. Its movements are rather slow — it travels across 
the snow-covered ground about as fast as a man could 
walk — snuffing at every step for traces of the prey it 
searches after. Entering some cranny, it pulls out a 
squirrel it has killed, and climbing a tree, secretes itself 
among the thick branches to eat its repast. Exhausted 
by hunger in the early spring, the opossum will eat young 
frogs, and the green growth of nettles and other succulent 
plants. Unscared by the watchful crows the farmer has 
killed, the pest creeps into the hen-house, eats the chickens, 
robs the hen of the eggs she is sitting upon, and commits 
its devastations with address and adroitness. Prowling 
about after sunset, it avoids all sorts of precautions, and 
defies the farmer's guns and curs alike. In the woods it 
eats the eggs of the wild turkey, and ravenously devours 
the grapes of the grapevine. When attacked, it rolls itself 
up like a ball, submits to be kicked and maltreated with- 
out moving, feigns death, lies on the ground with shut 
eyes, and cheats its assailants into the belief that it has 
been destroyed. When its assailant has gone, life seem- 
ingly suddenly returns, and regaining its feet, it scampers 
off to the wilds. 

" Once while descending the Mississippi in a sluggish 
flat-bottomed boat, expressly for the purpose of studying 
those objects of nature more nearly connected with "my 
favorite pursuits, I chanced to meet with two well-grown 
opossums, and brought them alive to the ' ark.' The 
poor things were placed on the roof or deck, and were 
immediately assailed by the crew, when, following their 
natural instinct, they lay as if quite dead. An experiment 
was suggested, and both were thrown overboard. On 
sti'iking the water, and for a few moments after, neither 
evinced the least disposition to move ; but finding their 
situation desperate, they began to swim towards our 
uncouth rudder, which was formed of a long slender tree, 

opossums. 87 

extending from the middle of the boat thirt}' feet beyond 
the stern. They both got upon it, were taken up, and 
afterwards let loose in their native woods. 

" In the year 1829, I was in a portion of Lower Loui- 
siana, where the opossum abounds at all seasons, and 
having been asked by the President and Secretary of the 
Zoological Gardens and Society of London to forward 
live animals of this species to them, I offered a price a 
little above the common, and soon found myself plenti- 
fully supplied, twenty-five having been brought to me. 
I found them extremely voracious, and not less cowardly. 
They were put into a large box, with a great quantity of 
food, and conveyed to a steamer bound to New Odeans. 
Two days afterwards I went to the city to see about 
sending them off to Europe ; but to my surprise I found 
that the old males had destroyed the younger ones, and 
eaten off their heads, and that only sixteen remained 
alive. A separate box was purchased for each, and the 
cannibals were safely forwarded to their destination." 

«?W- r^-'- 


Wife and Sons arrive at N'ew Orleans — Difficulties of Obtaining 
a Livelihood — Recollections of a7i Eccentric — A Birdfajicier 
and a7i Artist — Rifle Fractice in a Studio — Audubon's Ar- 
rival at N'atches — Attack of Fever — Raffle of a Drawing, 
and Results — Audiibon studies Oil Paintiiig — The Naturalist 
lets loose his Fet Birds — Visit to Bayou Sara — A Den of 
Gamblers — Leaves for Louisville with his son Victor — Wan- 
derings through the Wilds — Residence at Loidsville — An Ad- 
venttire in the Woods — Floods of the Mississippi — The Waste 
of Waters — The Flooded Forest — Slaughter of Game. 

ECEAIBER 8. My wife and family arrived to- 
day by steamer. We dined with our friend Mr. 
Pamar, and met my old friend Mr. Rosier in the 
evening. We reached our lodging, and all felt happy and 
comforted at the reunion, after fourteen months of separa- 

For the first two months of 1822, the records of Au- 
dubon's life are sparse and imperfect, on account of his 
inability to purchase a book to write his journal in ! The 
one at last obtained was made of thin, poor paper, and 
the records entered are rather in keeping with his finan- 
cial difficulties. It took all his means at this time to 
supply his family with the necessaries of life, and in order 
to obtain money to educate the children, his wife under- 
took the duties of a situation, in which she had charge of 
and educated the offspring of a Mr. Brand. 

" March 7. Spring is advancing, with many pleasant 
associations, but my bodily health suffers from depres- 
sion. I have resolved to leave for Natchez, but grieve to 

An Eccentric 89 

leave my family. My money is scarce, and I find great 
difificulty in collecting what is owing to me. 

^^ March 16. Paid all my bills in N^evv Orleans, and 
having put my baggage on board of the steamer Eclat, 
obtained a passage to Natchez in the steamer, in return 
for a crayon portrait of the captain and his wife. 

"March 19. Opened a chest with two hundred of my 
bird portraits in it, and found them sorely damaged by 
the breaking of a bottle containing a quantity of gunpow- 
der. I had several portraits to draw during the passage. 

" March 24. One of the passengers accused Alexan- 
der Wilson, the ornithologist, of intemperate habits, but I 
had the satisfaction of defending his character from as- 
persion. I had hope of success in Natchez, and soon ex- 
pected to be followed by my wife and family. My wife 
in the meantime remained at New Orleans, in the family 
of Mr. Brand." 

In closing his recollections of New Orleans, Audubon 
relates an amusing history of a painter, whose eccentrici- 
ties fascinated the naturalist. The genius was first ob- 
served by the naturalist on the Levee at New Orleans, 
and his odd costume and appearance are thus de- 
scribed : 

" His head was covered by a straw hat, the brim of 
which might cope with those worn by the fair sex in 
1830; his neck was exposed to the weather; the broad 
frill of a shirt, then fashionable, flopped about his breast, 
whilst an extraordinary collar, carefully arranged, fell over 
the top of his coat. The latter was of a light-green color, 
harmonizing well with a pair of flowing yellow nankeen 
trousers and a pink waistcoat, from the bosom of which, 
amidst a large bunch of the splendid flowers of the mag- 
nolia, protruded part of a young alligator, which seemed 
more anxious to glide through the muddy waters of a 
swamp than to spend its life swinging to and fro amongst 

go Life of Auduhon. 

folds of the finest lawn. The gentleman held in one 
hand a cage full of richly-plumed nonpareils, whilst in ihe 
other he sported a silk umbrella, on which I could plain- 
ly read ' Stolen from I,' these words being painted in 
large white characters. He walked as if conscious of 
his own importance ; that is, with a good deal of pom- 
posity, singing, ' My love is but a lassie yet ;' and that 
with such thorough imitation of the Scotch emphasis, that 
had not his physiognomy suggested another parentage, I 
should have believed him to be a genuine Scot. A nar- 
rower acquaintance proved him to be a Yankee ; and 
anxious to make his acquaintance, I desired to see his 
birds. He retorted, ' What the devil did I know about 
birds?' I explained to him that I was a naturalist, 
whereupon he requested me to examine his Tjirds. I did 
so with some interest, and was preparing to leave, when 
he bade me come to his lodgings and see the remainder 
of his collection. This I willingly did, and was struck 
with amazement at the appearance of his studio. Several 
cages were hung about the walls, containing specimens of 
birds, all of which I examined at my leisure. On a large 
easel before me stood an unfinished portrait, other pic- 
tures hung about, and in the room were two young pu- 
pils ; and at a glance I discovered that the eccentric 
stranger was, like myself, a naturalist and an artist. The 
artist, as modest as he was odd, showed me how he laid 
on the paint on his pictures, asked after my own pursuits, 
and showed a friendly spirit which enchanted me. With 
a ramrod for a rest, he prosecuted his work vigorously, 
and afterwards asked me to examine a percussion lock 
on his gun, a novelty to me at the time. He snapped 
some caps, and on my remarking that he would frighten 
his birds, he exclaimed, ' Devil take the birds, there are 
more of them in the market.' He then loaded his gun, 
and wishing to show me that he was a marksman, fired 

Mr. ^aglass. 91 

at one of the pins on his easel. This he smashed to 
pieces, and afterward put a rifle bullet exactly through 
the hole into which the pin fitted." 

The voyage up the Mississippi to Natchez appears to 
have been without any circumstance of importance. 
Under date March 24th, 1822, the naturalist records the 
fact that he had arrived at Natchez. " I went ashore to 
see after work — called on Mr. Quigley, who received me 
cordially. I had prospects of an engagement with Mr. 
Quaglass, a Portuguese gentleman, who wished me to 
give lessons in drawing and music and French to his 
daughter, thirteen years of age. I was received at his 
house, and received a welcome from his wife. Mr. 
Quaglass arrived at home in the evening, and his appear- 
ance was by no means prepossessing. His small gray 
eyes and corrugated brows did not afford me an oppor- 
tunity of passing a favorable judgment. My time has 
been mostly engaged in hunting, drawing, and attending 
to my charge. I constantly regret the separation from 
my family." 

Ere long he got an appointment to teach drawing in 
the college at Washington, nine miles from Natchez. He 
sent for his sons, and put them to school at Washington, 
but was depressed in spirits because his work interfered 
with his ornithological pursuits. 

" y^/y 8. Constant exposure in the tropical climate, 
and the fatigue of my journeys to and from Washington, 
brought on fever and a renewal of a certain kind doctor's 
attendance, who not only would accept of no remunera- 
tion, but actually insisted on my taking his purse to pay 
for the expenses connected with the education of my sons. 
Shortly afterwards I made an engagement with Mr. Bre- 
vost to teach drawing in an academy just opened in 
Natchez by that gentleman. But while work flowed upon 
me, the hope of my completing my book upon the birds 

92 Life of Auduhon. 

of America became less clear ; and full of despair, I fear- 
ed my hopes of becoming known to Europe as a natural- 
ist were destined to be blasted. I wrote to my wife to 
join me at Natchez, and there was hopes of it being ac- 

' " July 23. My friend, Joseph Mason, left me to-day, 
and we experienced great pain at parting. I gave him 
paper and chalks to work his way with, and the double- 
barrelled gun I had killed most of my birds with, and 
which I had purchased at Philadelphia in 1805. I also 
began to copy the ' Death of Montgomery,' from a print. 
My drawing was highly praised by my friends at Natchez, 
and Dr. Provan, like a good genius, insisted it should be 
raffled. I valued it at three hundred dollars, and Dr. 
Provan sold all the tickets but one, at ten dollars each. 
He then put my name down for that, saying he hoped it 
would be the winning one. The raffle took place in my 
absence, and when I returned, my friend the doctor came 
and brought me three hundred dollars and the picture, 
beautifully framed, saying, ' Your number has drawn it, 
and the subscribers are all agreed that no one is more 
deserving of it than yourself " 

'■'■ Septe7nber i. My wife writes to me that the child she 
was in charge of is dead, and that consequently she had 
determined to come on to Natchez. I received her with 
great pleasure at the landing, and immediately got a house 
hired, in which we might resume housekeeping. In the 
mean time my wife engaged with a clerg^anan named 
Davis, in a situation similar to that which she had held in 
New Orleans. I was much pleased with the conduct of 
Mr. Quaglass, whose kindness of heart very much belied 
his coarse exterior. 

'■'■ October 2^. I met a gentleman from Mexico, who 
proposed to me to go to Mexico and establish a paper- 
mill in that country. He proposed to supply the funds 

Painting in Oil. 93 

if I took care of the mill. At Natchez I met Mr, Mur- 
ray, formerly of Charleston, and Mr. Blackburn, formerly 
of Cincinnati. They had both suffered heav-y reverses of 
fortune, and appeared to me to be in distress. Their 
change of fortune was sufficient to reconcile me to my 
own vexations. 

" November 3. While engaged in sketching a view of 
Natchez, an English gentleman named Leacock was in- 
troduced to me as a naturalist. He called and spent 
the evening with me, and examined my drawings, and ad- 
vised me to visit England and take them with me. But 
when he said I should probably have to spend several 
years to perfect them, and to make myself known, I closed 
my drawings and turned my mind from the thought. My 
wife, finding it difficult to get her salary for teaching, has 
resolved to relinquish her situation." 

In December there arrived at Natchez a portrait- 
painter, from whom Audubon received his first lessons in 
the use of oil colors, and who was in return instructed by 
the naturalist in chalk drawing. Mrs. Audubon was de- 
sirous that her husband should go to Europe, and obtain 
complete instruction in the use of oil ; and with this aim 
in vievv' she entered into an engagement with a Mrs. Per- 
cy to educate her children, along with her own and a 
limited number of pupils. Mrs. Percy lived at Bayou 
Sara, and thither Mrs. Audubon removed, while her hus- 
band remained at Natchez, painting with his friend Stein, 
the artist whose instructions in oil painting had been so 
valuable. After enjoying all the patronage to be expect- 
ed at Natchez, Audubon and his friend Stein resolved to 
start on an expedition as perambulating portrait-painters ; 
and purchasing a wagon, prepared for a long expedi- 
tion through the Southern States. 

" I had finally determined to break through all bonds, 
and pursue my ornithological pursuits. My best friends 

94 L^f^ of Auduhon. 

solemnly regarded me as a madman, and my wife and 
family alone gave me encouragement. My wife deter- 
mined that my genius should prevail, and that my final 
success as an ornithologist should be triumphant. 

"March, 1823. My preparations for leaving Natchez 
almost complete. 

"May I. Left Mr. Percy's on a visit to Jackson, Mis- 
sissippi, which I found to be a mean place, a rendezvous 
for gamblers and vagabonds. Disgusted with the place 
and the people, I left it and returned to my wife. I 
agreed to remain with the Percys throughout the sum- 
mer, and teach the young ladies music and drawing. I 
continued to exercise myself in painting with oil, and 
greatly improved myself. I undertook to paint the por- 
traits of my wife's pupils, but found their complexions 
difficult to transfer to canvas. On account of some mis- 
understanding, I left the Percy's and returned to Natch- ' 
ez, but did not know what course to follow. I thought of 
going to Philadelphia, and again thought of going to 
Louisville and once more entering upon mercantile pur- 
suits, but had no money to move anywhere." 

During a visit to a plantation near Natchez, both l>e 
and his son Victor were attacked with fever, and Mrs. 
Audubon hastened to nurse both of them, 

" September 8. I was asked to go and recruit my health 
at the Percys, and I went to Bayou Sara. I sent on my 
drawings to Philadelphia, and resolved to visit that city 
and obtain employment as a teacher. 

" September 30. Sold a note for services in Natchez, 
and with proceeds took steamer to New Orleans. 

" October 3. Left New Orleans for Kentucky, where 
I intended to leave my son Victor with my wife's rela- 
tions, and proceed on my travels. I left Bayou Sara with 
my son Victor on board the steamer Magnet, bound for 
the Ohio, and was kindly treated by Captain McKnight, 

Wanderings through Wilds. 95 

the commander. After a pleasant voyage we arrived at 
the beautiful village of Trinity, but found the water too 
low for further navigation. I had resolved to push on my 
journey, if Victor was strong enough to undertake the ex- 
ertion. Two other passengers desired to accompany us, 
and after I had left my luggage to the care of the tavern- 
keeper, our party crossed Cash Creek, at which I had be- 
fore spent a pleasant time, and pushed across the coun- 
try. Victor, who was scarcely fourteen, was a lively boy, 
and had no fear of failing. Cleaving our way, Indian-file 
fashion, through the cane brakes — through the burnt 
forest — through the brushwood-clad banks of the river, 
and along the pebbly shore, we reached, after twelve 
miles' walking, the village of America. After refreshing 
ourselves we covered another seven miles, and reached a 
cab'm, where we were well received by a squatter family. 
" After a bath in the Ohio, my son and myself joined 
the rest, and we enjoyed an excellent supper, and a capi- 
tal sleep in such beds as could be provided. We rose at 
break of day and left our kind host and hostess, who 
would receive no pecuniary reward. At seven miles 
further we found an excellent breakfast at a house owned 
by a very lazy fellow, whose beautiful wife appeared to be 
superior to her station, and who conducted the household 
affairs in a very agreeable manner. We left a dollar 
with one of the children, and pursued our way along the 
beach of the Ohio. After proceeding some distance, my 
son Victor broke down, but after a rest he suddenly re- 
vived at the sight of a wild turkey, and resumed his jour- 
ney in good spirits. We reached Belgrade and continued 
our journey. Towards sunset we reached the shores ot 
the river, opposite the mouth of the Cumberland. On a 
hill, the property of Major B., we found a house and a 
solitary woman, wretchedly poor, but very kind. She as- 
sured us that if we could not cross the river, she would 

96 Life of Audubon. 

give us food and shelter for the night, but said that as 
the moon was up, she could get us put over when her 
skiff came back. Hungry and fatigued, we lay down on 
the brown grass, waiting either a scanty meal, or the skift 
that was to convey us across the river. I had already 
grated the corn for our supper, run down the chickens, 
and made a fire, when a cry of ' Boat coming !' roused us 
all. We crossed the river Ohio, and I again found my- 
self in Kentucky, the native state of my two sons. We 
then pursued our onward journey, but my son suffered 
sorely from lameness. As we trudged along, nothing re- 
markable occurred excepting that we saw a fine black 
wolf, quite tame and gentle, the owner of which had re- 
fused a hundred dollars for it. Mr. Rose, who was an 
engineer, and a man of taste, played on the flageolet to 
lighten our journey. At an orchard we filled our pockets 
with October peaches, and when we came to Trade Water 
river we found it low ; the acorns were already drifted on 
its shallows, and the ducks were running about picking 
them up. Passing a fiat bottom, we saw a large buffalo 

" We reached ITighland Lick, where we stumbled on 
a cabin, the door of which we thrust open, overturning a 
chair that had been put behind it. On a dirty bed lay a 
man, a table, with a journal, or perhaps ledger, before 
him, a small cask in the corner near him, a brass pistol 
on a nail over his head, and a long Spanish dagger by 
his side. He arose and asked what we wanted ? ' The 
way to a better place, the road to Sugg's.' ' Follow the 
road, and you will get to his house in about five miles.' 
Separating from our companions, who were unable to 
proceed at the same pace, we reached Green River, wera 
ferried across, and shortly afterwards reached Louisville." 

"On the 25th October, 1822," writes Audubon, "I 
entered Louisville with thirteen dollars in my pocket. 

Return to Louisville. g-j 

My son Victor I managed to get into the counting-house 
of a friend, and I engaged to jDaint the interior of a steam- 
er. I was advised to make a painting of the falls of the 
Ohio, and commenced the work. 

''' November g. Busy at work, when the weather per- 
mitted, and resolved to paint one hundred views of Ameri- 
can scenery. I shall not be surprised to find myself seat- 
ed at the foot of Niagara." 

While painting he mainly resided at Shipping Port, a 
little village near Louisville. In his journey between 
Green Kiver and Louisville, he took conveyance in a cart, 
the owner agreeing to drive the distance. In doing so, 
the driver missed his route, and in a storm went far off 
the way. The horses instinctively led the way to a log 
hut, inhabited by a newly-married jDair, who did their ut- 
most to show befitting hospitality. In the midst of a hur- 
ricane the host rode off to his father's, some miles dis- 
tant, for a keg of cider ; the wife baked bread and roasted 
fowls, and finally determined to sleep on the floor, so that 
the strangers might have the comfort of a bed. 

Of such hospitality Audubon speaks highly, and seems 
to lament its decadence among residents in the more civ- 
ilized states of the Union. Some notes upon the effects 
of the floods which swell American rivers into inland seas 
are also contained in the journal of his residence at Lou- 
isville. Writing of the devastation created by overflows 
of the Mississippi, he remarks : — 

" The river rises until its banks are flooded and the 
levees overflown. It then sweeps inland, over swamps, 
prairie, and forest, until the country is a turbid ocean, 
checkered by masses and strips of the forest, through 
which the flood rolls lazily down cypress-shadowed 
glades under the gloomy pines, and into unexplored re- 
cesses, where the trailing vine and umbrageous foliage 
dim the light of the noonday sun. In islets left amid the 

98 Life of Auduhon. 

waste, deer in thousands are driven ; and the squatter, 
with his gun and canoe, finds on these refuges the game 
vvhich he slaughters remorselessly for the skins or feath- 
ers that will sell. Floating on a raft made fast by a vine 
rope to some stout trees, the farmer and his family pre- 
serve their lives, while the stream bears away their hab- 
itation, their cut wood, their stores of grain, their stock, 
and all their household goods. From creeks of the forest 
other rafts float, laden with produce for New Orleans, and 
guided by adventurous boatmen who have but vague 
knowledge of their devious way, and to whom the naviga- 
tion of an inland river is not less hazardous than a voy- 
age on a stormy sea would be. 

" I have floated on the Mississippi and Ohio when 
thus swollen, and have in different places visited the sub- 
merged lands of the interior, propelling a light canoe by 
the aid of a paddle. In this manner I have traversed 
immense portions of the country overflowed by the waters 
of these rivers, and particularly whilst floating over the 
Mississippi bottom lands I have been struck with awe at 
the sight. Little or no current is met with, unless when 
the canoe passes over the bed of a bayou. All is silent 
and melancholy, unless when the mournful bleating of 
the hemmed in deer reaches your ear, or the dismal 
scream of an eagle or a heron is heard, or the foul bird 
rises, disturbed by your approach, from the carcass on 
which it was allaying its craving appetite. Bears, cou- 
gars, lynxes, and all other quadrupeds that can ascend 
the trees, are observed crouched among their top branch- 
es ; hungry in the midst of abundance, although they see 
floating around them the animals on which they usually 
prey. They dare not venture to swim to them. Fa- 
tigued by the exertions which they have made in reach- 
ing dry land, they will there stand the hunter's fire, as if 
to die by a ball were better than to perish amid the waste 

Notes on Inundations. gg 

of waters. On occasions like this, all these animals are 
shot by hundreds. 

"Opposite the city of Natchez, which stands on a 
bluff bank of considerable elevation, the extent of inun- 
dated land is immense, the greater portion of the tract 
lying between the Mississippi and the Red River, which 
is more than thirty miles, being under water." 


4uduhon reaches Philadelphia — Intyoductioii to Stdly the Painter — 
Introduction to the Prince of Conino — A Gigantic Engraver — 
Meetings with Rosier and yoseph Mason — Visit to Mill Grove 
and Fatland — A noble Gift — Audubon leaves Philadelphia 
— Arrival at New York — Meeting with Joseph Bonaparte — 
Leaves New York, aitd arrives at Albaiiy — Visit to Niagara — 
A Voyage down the Ohio to the South — Arrival at Cincinnati 
-r- Voyage to Bayou Sara — Meeting Mrs. Audubon — Turns 

UDUBON reached Philadelphia on April 5, 
1824. The journey to that city was undertaken 
as a desperate venture to obtain help to com- 
plete his ornithological work, and he was soon satisfied 
that the venture would be successful. 

" I purchased a new suit of clothes, and dressed my- 
self with extreme neatness ; after which I called upon Dr. 
Mease, an old friend. I was received with kindness, 
and was introduced to a gentleman named Earle, who ex- 
hibited my drawings. I was also introduced to several 
artists, who paid me pleasant attentions, and I also ob- 
tained entrance to the Philadelphia Athenaeum and Phil- 
osophical Library. I was fortunate in obtaining an in- 
troduction to the portrait-painter, Sully, a man after my 
own heart, and who showed me great kindnesses. He 
was a beautiful singer, and an artist whose hints and ad- 
vice were of great service to me. I afterwards saw Sully 
in London, where he was painting a portrait of the Queen 
of England, and had an opportunity of returning his kind- 

I^he Prince of Canino. loi 

" April lo. I was introduced to the Prince Canino, 
son of Lucien, and nephew of Napoleon Buonaparte, who 
examined my birds, and was complimentary in his praises. 
He was at the time engaged on a volume of American 
birds, which was soon to be published ; but this did not 
prevent him from admiring another naturalist's work. 

^^ April 12. Met the prince at Dr. Mease's, and he 
expressed a wish to examine my drawings more particu- 
larly. I found him very gentlemanly. He called in his 
carriage, took me to Peale, the artist, who was drawing 
specimens of birds for bis work ; but from want of knowl- 
edge of the habits of birds in a wild state, he represented 
them as if seated for a portrait, instead of with their own 
lively animated ways when seeking their natural food or 
pleasure. Other notable persons called to see my draw- 
ings, and encouraged me with their remarks. The Prince 
of Canino introduced me to the Academy of Arts and 
Sciences, and pronounced my birds superb, and worthy 
of a pupil of David. I formed the acquaintance of Le 
Sueur, the zoologist and artist, who was greatly delighted 
with my drawings. 

" April 14. After breakfast met the prince, who called 
with me on Mr. Lawson, the engraver of Mr. Wilson's 
plates. This gentleman's figure nearly reached the roof, 
his face was sympathetically long, and his tongue was so 
long that we obtained no opportunity of speaking in his 
company. Lawson said my drawings were too soft, too 
much like oil paintings, and objected to engrave them. 
Mr. Fairman we found to be an engraver better able to 
appreciate my drawings, but he strongly advised me to go 
to England, to have them engraved in a superior manner. 

'■''April 15. I obtained a room, and commenced work 
in Earnest. Prince Canino engaged me to superintend 
his drawings intended for publication, but my terms be- 
ing much dearer than Alexander Wilson's, I was asked to 

I02 Life of Auduhon. 

discontinue this work. I had now determined to go to 
Europe with my ' treasures,' since I was assured nothing 
so fine in tlie way of ornithological representations exist- 
ed. I worked incessantly to complete my series of draw- 
ings. On inquiry, I found Sully and Le Sueur made a 
poor living by their brush. I had some pupils offered at 
a dollar per lesson ; but I found the citizens unwilling to 
pay for art, although they affected to patronize it. I ex- 
hibited my drawings for a week, but found the show did 
not pay, and so determined to remove myself. I was in- 
troduced to Mr. Ensel of Boston, an entomologist, then 
engaged upon a work on American spiders. Those in- 
terested in Wilson's book on the American birds advised 
me not to publish, and not only cold water, but ice, was 
poured upon my undertaking. Had a visit from my old 
partner Rosier, who was still thirsting for money. 

" May 30. My dear friend Joseph Mason paid me a 
delightful visit to-day. Showed all my drawings to Titian 
Peel, who in return refused to let me see a new bird in 
his possession. This little incident filled me with grief at 
the narrow spirit of humanity, and makes me wish for the 
solitude of the woods. 

" June 12. Giving lessons in drawing at thirty dollars 
per month. A visit from Rembrandt Peale, who liked my 
drawings, and asked me to his studio, where I saw his 
portrait of General Washington, but preferred the style of 
Sully. Had a visit from Mr. McMurtrie, the naturalist, 
whose study of shells has made him famous. He ad- 
vised me to take my drawings to England. I labor as- 
siduously at oil painting. I have now been twenty five 
years pursuing my ornithological studies. Prince Canino 
often visited me and admired my drawings. He advised 
me to go to France. The French consul was still warmer 
in his sympathies, and kind in his encouraging assur- 

Sully ^ the Painter, 103 

" jfiim 26. Anxious to carry out my project of a visit 
to Europe — anxious to see my wife before leaving — anx- 
ious to see my old quarters of Mill Grove — anxious to get 
more instruction from my kind master, Sully ; and alto- 
gether unable to settle what course would be the most 
preferable. I was rejoiced at the progress I made in oil 
painting, and was overwhelmed with the goodness of 
Sully, who would receive no recompense for his instruc- 
tions, and gave me all the possible encouragement which 
his affectionate heart could dictate. 

" jfuly 1 2. Visited by Mr. Gilpin, who thirty -three 
years ago discovered the lead ore at Mill Grove. Called 
on Dr. Harlan, an amiable physician and naturalist, and 
a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences. Gave 
him some of my drawings, and he promised me letters to 
the Royal Academy of France, and afterwards nominated 
me for membership to the Academy in Philadelphia. He 
was one of the best men I have met with in the city, and 
the very best among the naturalists." 

This was the beginning of a warm friendshiiD between 
these two good men, which increased with time, and last- 
ed until the doctor died. At the same time Audubon 
formed a friendship with Edward Harris, a young orni- 
thologist of refinement, wealth, and education, who out- 
lived Audubon, and extended prompt relief to his wife 
during her distress after her husband's death. When the 
naturalist was about to leave Philadelphia, Harris pur- 
chased some of his drawings, and on being offered his 
picture of the Falls of the Ohio, at a sacrifice, declined 
the purchase, but as he was saying good-bye, squeezed a 
hundred-dollar bill into his friend's hand, saying, " Mr. 
Audubon, accept this from me ; men like you ought not 
to want for money." 

" I could only express my gratitude by insisting on 
his receiving the drawings of all my French birds, which 

I04 Life of Auduhon. 

he did, and I was relieved. This is the second instance 
of disinterested generosity I have met with in my Hfe, the 
good Dr. Provan of Natchez being the other. And now 
I have in hand one hundred and thirty dollars to begin 
my journey of three thousand miles. Before this I have 
-always thought I could work my way through the world 
by my industry ; but I see that I shall have to leave 
here, as Wilson often did, without a cent in my pocket. 

" jfuly 26. Reuben Haines, a generous friend, invited 
me to visit Mill Grove in his carriage, and I was impa- 
tient until the day came. His wife, a beautiful woman 
and her daughter, accompanied us. On the way my 
heart swelled with many thoughts of what my life had 
been there, of the scenes I had passed through since, 
and of my condition now. As we entered the avenue 
leading to Mill Grove, every step brought to my mind the 
memory of past years, and I was bewildered by the rec- 
ollections until we reached the door of the house, which 
had once been the residence of my father as well as my- 
self The cordial welcome of Mr. Wetherill, the owner, 
was extremely agreeable. After resting a few moments, 
I abruptly took my hat and ran wildly towards the woods, 
to the grotto where I first heard from my wife the ac- 
knowledgment that she was not indifferent to me. It 
had been torn down, and some stones carted away j but 
raising my eyes towards heaven, I repeated the promise 
we had mutually made. We dined at Mill Grove, and 
as I entered the parlor I stood motionless for a moment 
on the spot where my wife and myself were for ever join- 
ed. Everybody was kind to me, and invited me to come 
to the Grove whenever I visited Pennsylvania, and I re- 
turned full of delight.. Gave Mr. Haines my portrait, 
drawn by myself, on condition that he should have it 
copied in case of my death before making another, and 
send it to my wife. 

Letters of Introduction. 105 

" yuly 31. Engaged in preparations for leaving Phila 
delphia, wliere I received many letters of introduction 
Among them are the following : — 

" ' Gilbert Stuart, Esq., 
"'Dear Sir, 

" ' It is hardly necessary for Mr. Audubon to take 
credentials for an introduction to you ; the inspection of 
one of his drawings of birds will be sufficient recommend- 
ation to your notice. Yet an acquaintance with him of 
several months enables me to speak of him as a man, and 
I would consent to forfeit all claims to discernment of 
character if he does not merit your esteem. 

" ' Sincerely your friend, 

" ' Thomas Sully.' " 

" ' Washington Alston, Esq., 
"'Dear Sir, 

" ' Mr. Audubon will call on you with this, and will be 
pleased to show you specimens of his drawings in orni- 
thology. He is engaged in preparing a work on this sub- 
ject for publication, which for copiousness and talent 
bids fair in my estimation to surpass all that has yet been 
done, at least in this country. I have great esteem for 
the character of Mr. Audubon, and am pleased to make 
him known to you, though I should hesitate to give a let- 
ter of introduction to you in favor of an ordinary person, 
knowing that your time is precious ; but in the present 
instance I run no risk of intrusion. I shall always re- 
member you with affectionate regard. 

'' ' Sincerely your friend, 

"'Thomas Sully.'" 

A letter of similar import was given by Mr. Sully to 
Colonel Trumbull. 

^^ August I, 1824. I left Philadelphia for New York 
yesterday at five o'clock, in good health, free from debt 

io6 Life of Auduhon. 

and free from anxiety about the future. On arriving al 
New York a cart took our luggage to our lodgings, and 
about one hundred passengers perched about us, as I 
have seen chimney-swallows perched on a roof before 
their morning flight. I felt happy and comfortable in 
the city, and sauntered about admiring its beautiful 
streets and landings. I found most of the parties to 
whom I carried letters of introduction absent, and I 
already began to regret leaving Philadelphia so hur- 
riedly. I began to consider whether I should visit 
Albany or Boston, in the hope of improving my financial 

'■'■August 2. Met Joseph Buonaparte, and his two 
daughters, and his nephew, Charles, Prince of Canino. 
Visited the museum at New York, and found the speci- 
mens of stuffed birds set up in unnatural and constrained . 
attitudes. This appears to be the universal practice, and 
the world owes to me the adoption of the plan of drawing 
from animated nature. Wilson is the only one who has 
in any tolerable degree adopted my plan. 

"August 3. Called on Vanderlyn, and was kindly 
received by him. Examined his pictures with pleasure, 
and saw the medal given him by Napoleon, but was not 
impressed with the idea that he was a great painter. 

" A?igust 4. Called on Dr. Mitchell with my letters 
of introduction, who gave me a kind letter to his friend 
Dr. Barnes, explaining that I wished to show my draw- 
ings to the members of the Lyceum, and become a mem- 
ber of that institution. 

" August 9. I have been making inquiries regarding 
the publication of my drawings in New York ; but find 
that there is little prospect of the undertaking being 
favorably received. I have reason to suspect that 
unfriendly communications have been sent to the pub- 
lishers from Philadelphia, by parties interested in Wilson's 

Sits for a Portrait of Jackson. 1 07 

volume, and who have represented that my drawings have 
not been wholly done by myself. Full of despair, I look 
to Europe as my only hope. With my friend Dr. De Kay 
I visited the Lyceum, and my portfolio was examined by 
the members of the institute, among whom I felt awkward 
and uncomfortable. After living among such people I 
feel clouded and depressed ; remember that I have done 
nothing, and fear I may die unknown. I feel I am strange 
to all but the birds of America. In a few days I shall be 
in the woods and quite forgotten. 

^'August 10. My spirits low, and I long for the 
woods again ; but the prospect of becoming known 
prompts me to remain another clay. Met the artist Van- 
derlyn, who asked me to give him a sitting for a j^ortrait 
of General Jackson, since my figure considerably resem- 
bled that of the General, more than any he had ever 
seen. I likewise sketched my landlady and child, and 
filled my time. 

^^ August 15. Sailed up the Hudson for Albany with 
three hundred and seventy-five passengers, twenty-three 
of whom were composed of a delegation of Indians from 
six tribes, who were returning to the West from Washing- 
ton. Arrived at Albany, but found both De Witt Clinton 
and Dr. Beck absent. Money getting scarce, I abandoned 
the idea of visiting Boston, but determined to see Niagara. 
Engaged a passage at seven dollars on a canal-boat for 
Rochester, distant two hundred and sixty-eight miles. 
No incident happened to me worth recording, only that 
the passengers were doubtful whether or not I was a 
government officer, commissioner, or spy. I obtained 
some new birds by the way, and in six days I arrived at 

''^ -Rochester, August 22. Five years ago there were 
but few buildings here, and the population is now five 
thousand ; the banks of the river are lined with mills 

io8 Life of Auduhon. 

and factories. The beautiful falls of the Genesee river, 
about eighty feet high and four times as broad, I have 
visited, and have made a slight sketch of them. One and 
a half miles below is another fall of the same height, but 
the water is much more broken in its descent. 

'■'■ August 24. Took passage for Buffalo, arrived safely, 
and passed a sleepless night, as most of my nights have 
been since I began my wanderings. Left next morning 
for the Falls of Niagara ; the country is poor, the soil 
stiff white clay, and the people are lank and sallow. 
Arrived at the hotel, found but few visitors, recorded my 
name, and wrote under it, ' who, like Wilson, will ramble, 
but never, like that great man, die under the lash of a 

" All trembling I reached the Falls of Niagara, and oh, 
what a scene ! my blood shudders still, although I am not 
a coward, at the grandeur of the Creator's power ; and I 
gazed motionless on this new display of the irresistible 
force of one of His elements. The falls, the rainbow, 
the rapids, and the surroundings all unite to strike the 
senses with awe ; they defy description with pen or pen- 
cil ; and a view satisfied me that Niagara never had been 
and never will be painted. I moved towards the rapids, 
over which there is a bridge to Goat island, that I would 
like to have crossed, to look on the water which was 
rushing with indescribable swiftness below, but was 
deterred from the low state of my funds. Walking along 
the edge of the stream for a few hundred yards, the full 
effect of the whole grand rush of the water was before 
me. The color of the water was a verdigris green, and 
contrasted remarkably with the falling torrent. The niist 
of the spray mounted to the clouds, while the roaring 
below sounded like constant heavy thunder, making me 
think at times that the earth was shaking also. 

" From this point I could see three-quarters of a mile 

Falls of Niagara. 109 

down the river, which appeared quite cahn. I descended 
a flight of about seventy steps, and walked and crouched 
on my hams along a rugged, slippery path to the edge of 
the river, where a man and skiff are always waiting to 
take visitors to the opposite shore. I approached as 
near the falling water as I could, without losing sight of 
the objects behind me. In a few momeiits my clothes 
were wet. I retired a few hundred yards to admire two 
beautiful rainbows, which seemed to surround me, and 
also looked as if spanning obliquely from the American 
to the Canadian shore. Visitors can walk under the 
falling sheet of water, and see through it, while at their 
feet are thousands of eels lying side by side, trying vainly 
to ascend the torrent. 

" I afterwards strolled through the village to find 
some bread and milk, and ate a good dinner for twelve 
cents. Went to bed at night thinking of Franklin eating 
his roll in the streets of Philadelphia, of Goldsmith trav- 
elling by the help of his musical powers, and of other 
great men who had worked their way through hardshijDs 
and difficulties to fame, and fell asleep, hoping, by perse- 
vering industry, to make a name for myself among my 

'■'■Buffalo^ August 25. This village was utterly de- 
stroyed by fire in the war of eighteen hundred and 
twelve, but now has about two hundred houses, a bank, 
and daily mail. It is now filled with Indians, who have 
come here to receive their annuity from the government. 
The chief Red Jacket is a noble-looking man ; another, 
called the Devil's Ramrod, has a savage look. Took a 
deck-passage on board a schooner bound to Erie, Penn- 
sylvania ; fare, one dollar and fifty cents, to furnish my 
own bed and provisions ; my buffalo-robe and blanket 
served for the former. The captain invited me to sleep 
in the cabin, but I declined, as 1 never encroach where I 

no Life of Audubon. 

have no right. The sky was serene, and I threw myself 
on the deck contemplating the unfathomable immensity 
above me, and contrasting the comforts which only ten 
days before I was enjoying with my present condition. 
Even the sailors, ignorant of my name, look on me as a 
poor devil not able to pay for a cabin passage. 

" In our voyage we had safely run the distance to 
Presque Isle Harbor, but could not pass the bar on 
account of a violent gale. The anchor was dropped, 
and we remained on board during the night. How long 
we might have remained at anchor I cannot tell, had not 
Captain Judd, of the United States Navy, then probably 
commandant at Presque Isle, sent a gig with six men to 
our relief. It was on the 29th of August, 1824, and 
never shall I forget that morning. My drawings were 
put into the boat with the greatest care. We shifted into 
it, and seated ourselves according to direction. Our 
brave fellows pulled hard, and every moment brought us 
nearer to the American shore ; I leaped upon it with 
elated heart. My drawings were safely landed, and for 
any thing else 1 cared little at the moment. After a 
humble meal of bread and milk, a companion and myself 
settled to proceed upon our journey. Our luggage was 
rather heavy, so we hired a cart to take it to Meadville, 
for which we offered five dollars. This sum was accepted, 
and we set off. 

" The country through which we passed might have 
proved favorable to our pursuits, had it not rained nearly 
the whole day. At night we alighted, and put up at a 
house belonging to our conductor's father. It was Sun- 
day night. The good folks had not yet returned from a 
distant church, the grandmother of our driver being the 
only individual about the premises. We found her a 
cheerful dame, who bestirred herself actively, got up a 
blazing fire to dry our wet clothes, and put bread and 

Visits Meadville. ill 

milk on the table. We asked for a place in which to 
rest, and were shown into a room in which were several 
beds. My companion and myself were soon in bed and 
asleep ; but our slumbers were broken by a light, which 
we found to be carried by three young damsels, who, 
having observed where we lay, blew it out and got into a 
bed opposite ours. As we had not spoken, the girls 
supposed we were sound asleep, and we heard them say 
how delighted they would be to have their portraits 
taken as well as their grandmother, whose likeness I 
had promised to draw. Day dawned, and as we were 
dressing we discovered the girls had dressed in silence 
and left us before we had awakened. No sooner had I 
offered to draw the portraits of the girls than they dis- 
appeared, and soon returned in their Sunday clothes. 
The black chalk was at work in a few minutes, to their 
great delight ; and while the flavor of the breakfast 
reached my sensitive nose, I worked with redoubled 
ardor. The sketches were soon finished, and the break- 
fast over. I played a few airs on my flageolet while our 
guide was putting the horses to the cart, and by ten 
o'clock we were once more on the road to Meadville, 

" The country was covered with heavy timber, princi- 
pally evergreens ; the pines and cucumber trees, loaded 
with brilliant fruits, and the spruce, throwing a shade 
over the land, in good keeping with the picture. The 
lateness of the crops alone struck us as unpleasant. At 
length we came in sight of French Creek, and soon after 
we reached Meadville. Here we paid the five dollars 
promised to our conductor, who instantly faced about, 
and applying the whip to his nags, bade us adieu. 

" We had now only one dollar and fifty cents. No 
time was to be lost. We put our luggage and ourselves 
under the roof of a tavern-keeper, known by the name 
of J. F. Smith, at the sign of the 'Travellers' Rest,' and 

112 Life of Audubon. 

soon after took a walk to survey the little village that 
was to be laid under contribution for our support. Put- 
ting my portfolio under my arm, and a few good creden- 
tials in my pocket, I walked up the main street, looking 
to the right and left, examining the different heads which 
occurred, until I fixed my eyes on a gentleman in a store 
who looked as if he might want a sketch. I begged him 
CO allow me to sit down. This granted, I remained per- 
fectly silent, and he soon asked me what was in that 
'portfolio.' The words sounded well, and without wait- 
ing another instant I opened it to his view. He was a 
Hollander, who complimented me on the execution of the 
drawings of birds and flowers in my portfolio. Showing 
him a sketch of the best friend I have in the world at 
present, I asked him if he would like one in the same 
style of himself. He not only answered in the affirma- 
tive, but assured me that he would exert himself in pro- 
curing as many more customers as he could. I thanked 
him, and returned to the ' Travellers' Rest ' with a hope 
that to-morrow might prove propitious. Supper was 
ready, and we began our meal. I was looked on as a 
missionary priest, on account of my hair, which in those 
days flowed loosely on my shoulders. I was asked to 
say grace, which I did with a fervent spirit. Next morn- 
ing I visited the merchant, and succeeded in making a 
sketch of him that pleased him highly. While working 
at him the room became crowded with the village aris- 
tocracy. Some laughed, while others expressed their 
wonder, but my work went on. My sitter in\ited me to 
spend the evening with him, which I did, and joined him 
in some music on the flute and violin. I returned to my 
companion with great pleasure ; and 3'ou may judge how 
much that pleasure was increased when I found that he 
also had made two sketches. Having written a page or 
two of our journals, we retired to rest. With our pockets 

Thought on Religion. 1 13 

replenished we soon afterwards left for Pittsburg, where 
we arrived in safety. 

" September 7. I was more politely received than on 
former occasions at Pittsburg, which I found was due to 
the reception I had met with in Philadelphia, and some 
rumors of which had reached the West. 

" October 9. Spent one month at Pittsburg scouring 
the country for birds, and continuing my drawings. Made 
the acquaintance of the Rev. John H. Hopkins. Found 
him an amiable man, and attended some of his ministra- 
tions. I met a Mr. Baldwin, who volunteered to subscribe 
for my book of birds — the three hundredth name given 
to me. In the course of my intimacy with the Rev. Mr. 
Hopkins I was brought to think more than I usually did 
of religious matters ; but I confess I never think of 
churches without feeling sick at heart at the sham and 
show of some of their professors. To repay evils with 
kindness is the religion I was taught to practise, and this 
will for ever be my rule. 

" October 24. For some days I have been meditating 
on purchasing a skiff and going clown the Ohio and Mis- 
sissippi in it, as I had done years before. I purchased a 
boat, and filling it with provisions, bade my friends adieu, 
and started in company with an artist, a doctor, and an 
Irishman. I hauled up the boat at night and slept 
in it. 

" October 29. Reached Wheeling after suffering much 
from wet and rain. The artist and doctor were disgusted 
with boating, and left. The Irishman was tired of his 
bargain. My finances were very low. I tried to sell 
some lithographs of General Lafayette, but did not suc- 
ceed. I sold my skiff, and took passage in a keel-boat 
to Cincinnati, with a lot of passengers, army officers, and 
others. I arrived at Cincinnati, visited my old house, 
and met many old friends in that city. 

1 1 4 Life cf Audubon. 

" While at Cincinnati I was beset by claims for the 
payment of articles which years before had been ordered 
for the Museum, but from which I got no benefit. With- 
out money or the means of making it, I applied to Messrs. 
Keating and Bell for the loan of fifteen dollars, but had 
not the courage to do so until I had walked past their 
house several times, unable to make up my mind how to 
ask the favor. I got the loan cheerfully, and took a 
deck-passage to Louisville. I was allowed to take my 
meals in the cabin, and at night slept among some 
shavings I managed to scrape together. The spirit of 
contentment which I now feel is strange, it borders on 
the sublime ; and, enthusiast or lunatic, as some of my 
relatives will have me, I am glad to possess such a 

" Louisville, November 20. Took lodgings at the 
house of a person to whom I had given lessons, and 
hastened to Shipping}Dort to see my son Victor. Re- 
ceiv'Cd a letter from General Jackson, with an introduc- 
tion to the Governor of Florida. I discover that my 
friends think only of my apparel, and those upon whom 
I have conferred acts of kindness prefer to remind me 
of my errors. I decide to go down the Mississippi to 
my old home of Bayou Sara, and there open a school, 
with the profits of which to complete my ornithological 
studies. Engage a passage for eight dollars. 

" I arrived at Bayou Sara with rent and wasted clothes 
and uncut hair, and altogether looking like the Wander- 
ing Jew. 

" The steamer which brought me was on her way to 
New Orleans, and I was put ashore in a small boat about 
midnight, and left to grope my way on a dark, rainy, and 
sultry night to the village, about one mile distant. That 
awful scourge the yellow fever prevailed, and was taking 
off the citizens with greater rapidity than had ever before 

Return to Bayou Sara. 115 

been known. When I arrived, the desolation was so great 
that one large hotel was deserted, and I walked in, find- 
ing the doors all open, and the furniture in the house, but 
not a living person. The inmates had all gone to the 
pine woods. I walked to the post-office, roused the post- 
master, and learned to my joy that my wife and son were 
well at Mrs. Percy's. He had no accommodation forme, 
but recommended me to a tavern where I might find a 
bed. The atmosphere was calm, heavy, and suffocating, 
and it seemed to me as if I were breathing death while 
hunting for this tavern ; finding it, the landlord told me 
he had not a spare bed, but mentioned a German at the 
end of the village who might take me in ; I walked over 
there, and was kindly received. The German was a man 
of cultivation and taste, and a lover of natural science, 
and had collected a variety of interesting objects. He 
gave me some refreshment, and offered me a horse to 
ride to Mrs. Percy's. The horse was soon at the door, 
and with many thanks I bade him adieu. My anxiety to 
reach my beloved wife and child was so great that I 
resolved to make a straight course through the woods, 
which I thought I knew thoroughly, and hardly caring 
where I should cross the bayou. In less than two hours 
I reached its shores, but the horse refused to enter the 
water, and snorting suddenly, turned and made off 
through the woods, as if desirous of crossing at some 
other place, and when he reached the shore again walked 
in, and crossed me safely to the other side. The sky 
was overcast, and the mosquitoes plentiful ; but I thought 
I recognized the spot where I had watched the habits of 
a wild cat, or a deer, as the clouds broke away, and the 
stars now and then peeped through to help me make my 
way through the gloomy forests. But in this I was mis- 
taken, for when day dawned I found myself in woods 
which were unknown to me. However, I chanced to 

1 1 6 Life of Auduhon. 

meet a black man, who told me where I was, and that I 
had passed Mrs. Percy's plantation two miles. Turning 
my horse's head, and putting spurs to him, a brisk gallop 
soon brought me to the house. It was early, but I found 
my beloved wife up and engaged in giving a lesson to her 
pupils, and, holding and kissing her, I was once more 
happ)', and all my toils and trials were forgotten. 

" December i. After a few days' rest I began to think 
of the future, and to look about to see what I could do 
to hasten the publication of my drawings. My wife was 
receiving a large income, — nearly three thousand dollars 
a year, — from her industry and talents, which she gener- 
ously offered me to help forward their publication ; and I 
resolved on a new effort to increase the amount by my 
own energy and labor. Numerous pujoils desired les- 
sons in music, French, and drawing. From Woodville 
I received a special invitation to teach dancing, and a 
class of sixty was soon organized. I went to begin my 
duties, dressed myself at the hotel, and with my fiddle 
under my arm entered the ball-room. I found my 
music highly appreciated, and immediately commenced 

" I placed all the gentlemen in a line reaching across 
the hall, thinking to give the young ladies time to com- 
pose themselves and get ready when they were called. 
How I toiled before I could get one graceful step or 
motion ! I broke my bow and nearly my violin in my 
excitement and impatience ! The gentlemen were soon 
fatigued. The ladies were next placed in the same order 
and made to walk the steps ; and then came the trial for 
both parties to proceed at the same time, while I pushed 
one here and another there, and was all the while singing 
myself, to assist their movements. Many of the parents 
were present, and were delighted. After this first lesson 
was over I was requested to dance to my otvti music, which 

A novel Speculation. 117 

I did until the wliole room came down in thunders of 
applause, in clapping of hands and shouting, which put 
an end to my first lesson and to an amusing comedy 
Lessons in fencing followed to the young gentlemen, and 
I went to bed extremely fatigued. 

" The dancing speculation fetched two thousand dol- 
lars ; and with this cajDital and my wife's savings I was 
now able to foresee a successful issue to my great ornitho- 
logical work." 

The remainder of Audubon's residence at Bayou Sara 
was taken up with preparations for his intended voyage 
to England, — where he expected to find the fame given 
to all heroes so tardily in their own countries. 



Audubon Sails frotn New Orleans for England on board the Delos — 
Incidents of the Voyage — Ariival at Liverpool — Liverpool 
Friends — Drawings Exhibited by desire in the Royal Institution 
— Visit to Majichester — Opetiing of Subscription-book for great 
Work — Edinburgh — Drawings exhibited at the Royal Itjstitu- 

\PRIL 26t/i, 1826. I left my wife and son at 
Bayou Sara for New Orleans on my way to 
England, and engaged a passage to Liverpool 
on board the ship Delos, The vessel did not sail as 
soon as expected, and I was necessarily delayed at New 
Orleans. I obtained several letters of introduction from 
persons in New Orleans to friends in England, and one 
from Governor Johnson of Louisiana with the seal of 
the State on it, which saved me the trouble of getting a 

" On the 19th of May the steam-tug Hercules towed 
the Delos out to sea, and with light winds we pursued 
our voyage. The time was pleasantly spent shooting 
birds and catching dolphins and sharks, from which I 
made frequent sketches. 

" May 2^. Had Mothei Carey's chickens following 
us, and desired to get one of the beautiful birds as they 
swept past, pattering the water with their feet, and 
returning after long ranges for scraps of oil and fat 
floated astern. I dropped one with my gun, and the 
captain kindly ordered a boat to be lowered to recover 
the shot bird. I examined the bird and found it to be a 

Sails for England, 119 

^^ May i\. Saw a small vessel making towards us; 
she was a suspicious-looking craft, and our crew had 
pardonable fears she might prove to be a pirate. A 
young fat alligator I had with me died to-day, from being 
placed in salt instead of fresh water — the former being 
poisonous to the animal. 

" Much troubled with anxious thoughts about the pur- 
port and expectations of my voyage to England. I had 
obtained many favorable letters of introduction to friends 
in England, which I believed would prove of material 
assistance, and among these was the following : — 

" 'Xew Orleans, May 16, 1826. 
" ' Dear Sir, 

" ' I have ventured to put in the hands of Mr. John J. 
Audubon, a gentleman of highly respectable scientific ac- 
quirements, these introductory lines to you, under the 
persuasion that his acquaintance cannot fail to be one of 
extreme interest to you. Mr. Audubon is a native of the 
United States, and has spent more than twenty years in 
all parts of them, devoting most of his time to the study 
of ornithology. He carries with him a collection of over 
four hundred drawings, which far surpass anything of the 
kind I have yet seen, and afford the best evidence of his 
skill, and the perfection to which he has carried his re- 
searches. His object is to find a purchaser or a publish- 
er for them, and if you can aid him in this, and introduce 
him either in person or by letter to msci of distinction in 
arts and sciences, you will confer much of a favor on me. 
He has a crowd of letters from Mr. Clay, De Witt Clinton, 
and others for England, which will do much for him ; but 
your introduction to Mr. Roscoe and others may do 
more. His collection of ornithological drawings would 
prove a most valuable acquisition to any museiuii, or any 
moneyed patron of the arts, and, I should think, convey a 

I20 Life of Auduhon. 

far better idea of American birds than all the stuffed 
birds of all the museums put together. 

" ' Permit me likewise to recommend Mr. Audubon to 
your hospitable attentions ; the respectability of his life 
and his family connections entitle him to the good wishes 
of any gentleman, and you will derive much gratification 
from his conversation. 

" ' I am, dear Sir, 

" ' With sincere regard, 

" ' Most truly yours, 

" ' Vincent Nolte. 
*' ' To Richard Rathboke, Esq., 
" ' Liverpool.' " 

" jfiine 23. Near Cape Florida. This morning we 
entered the Atlantic Ocean from the Florida Straits with 
a fair wind. The land birds have left us. I leave 
America and my wife and children to visit England and 
Europe and publish my ' Birds of America.' 

" In the Gulf of Mexico our vessel was becalmed for 
many days ; the tedium of which we beguiled by catch- 
ing fish and watching their habits. Among the others 
caught we were fortunate in securing several beautiful 
dolphins. Dolphins move in shoals varying from four or 
five to twenty or more, hunting in packs in the waters as 
wolves pursue their prey on land. The object of their 
pursuit is generally the flying-fish, now and then the 
bonita ; and when nothing better can be had they will 
follow the little rudder-fish and seize it immediately under 
the stern of the ship. The flying-fishes, after having es- 
caped for awhile by dint of their great velocity, on being 
again approached by the dolphins, emerge from the water, 
and spreading their broad wing-like fins, sail through the 
air and disperse in all directions, like a covey of timid 
partridges before the rapacious falcon. Some pursue a 
direct course, others diverge on either side, but in a short 

Dolphin Fishing. \i\ 

time they all drop into their natural element. While 
they are travelling in the air their been and hungry pur 
suer, like a greyhound, follows in their wake, and per- 
forming a succession of leaps many feet in extent, rapidly 
gains upon the quarry, which is often seized just as it 
falls into the sea. Dolphins manifest a very remarkable 
sympathy with each other. The moment oue of them is 
hooked or grained, as sailors technically name their man- 
ner of harpooning, those in company make up to it, and 
remain around until the unfortunate fish is pulled on 
board, when they generally move off together, seldom 
biting at anything thrown out to them. This, however, 
is the case only with the larger individuals, which keep 
apart from the young, in the same manner as is observed 
in se\^eral species of birds ; for when the smaller dol- 
phins are in large shoals they all remain under the bows 
of the ship, and bite in succession at any sort of line, as 
if determined to see what has become of their lost com- 
panions. The dolphins caught in the Gulf of Mexico 
during our voyage were suspected to be poisonous ; and 
to ascertain whether this was really the case, our cook, 
who was an African negro, never boiled or fried one with- 
out placing beside it a dollar. If the silver was not tar- 
nished by the time the dolphin was ready for the table, 
the fish was presented to the passengers with the as- 
surance that it was perfectly good. But as not a single 
individual of the hundred that we caught had the prop- 
erty of converting silver into copper, I suspect that our 
African sage was no magician. One morning, that of 
the 22nd of June, the weather sultry, I was surprised, on 
getting out of my hammock, which was slung on deck, to 
find the water all round swarming with dolphins, which 
were sporting in great glee. The sailors assured me that 
this was a certain ' token of wind,' and, as they watched 
the movement of the fishes, added, ' ay, and a fair breeze 

122 Life of Aiiduhon. 

too.' I caught several dolphins in the course of an hour, 
after which scarcely any remained about the ship. Not a 
breath of air came to our relief all that day, nor even the 

'' The best bait for the dolphin is a long strip of shark's 
flesh. I think it generally prefers it to the semblance of 
a flying-fish, which, indeed, it does not often seize unless 
when the ship is under weigh, and it is made to rise to 
the surface. There are times, however, when hunger and 
the absence of their usual food will induce the dolphins 
to dash at any sort of bait ; and I have seen some caught 
by means of a piece of white linen fastened to a hook. 
Their appetite is as keen as that of the vulture ; and 
whenever a good opportunity occurs they gorge them- 
selves to such a degree that they become an easy prey to 
their enemies, the balaconda and the bottle-nosed porpoise. 
One that had been brained while lazily swimming imme- 
diately under the stern of our ship was found to have its 
stomach completely crammed with flying-fish, all regular- 
ly disposed side by side, with their tails downwards, 
which suggests that the dolphin swallows its prey tail fore- 
most. They looked, in fact, like so many salted herrings 
packed in a box, and were, to the number of twenty-two, 
each six and seven inches in length. The usual length 
of the dolphin caught in the Gulf of Mexico is about 
three feet, and I saw none that exceeded four feet two 
inches. The weight of one of the latter size was only 
eighteen pounds, for this fish is extremely narrow in 
proportion to its length, although rather deep in .its 
form. When just caught, the upper fin, which reaches 
from the forehead to within a short distance of the tail, 
is of a fine dark blue. The upper part of the body in 
its whole length is azure, and the lower parts are of a 
golden hue, mottled irregularly with deep blue spots. 

" One day several small birds, after alighting on the 

Shark Fishing. 123 

spars, betook themselves to the deck. One of them, a 
female rice bunting, drew our attention more particularly, 
for, a few moments after her arrival, there came down, as 
if it were in her wake, a beautiful peregrine falcon. The 
plunderer hovered about for awhile, then stationed him- 
self on the end of one of the yard-arms, and suddenly 
pouncing on the little gleaner of the meadows, clutched 
her and carried her off in exultation. I was astonished 
to see the falcon feeding on the finch while on the vising 
with the same ease as the Mississippi kite shows while 
devouring, high in air, a red-throated lizard, swept from 
one of the trees of the Louisiana woods. 

" One afternoon we caught two sharks. In one of 
them we found ten young ones alive, and quite capable 
of swimming, as we proved by experiment ; for on casting 
one of them into the sea it immediately made off, as if it 
had been accustomed to shift for itself Of another that 
had been cut in two, the head half swam out of our sight. 
The rest were cut in pieces, as was the old shark, as bait 
for the dolphins, which, I have already said, are fond of 
such food. Our captain, who was much intent on amus- 
ing me, informed me that the rudder-fishes were plentiful 
astern, and immediately set to dressing hooks for the pur- 
pose of catching them. There was now some air above 
us, the sails aloft filled, the ship moved through the 
water, and the captain and I repaired to the cabin win- 
dow. I was furnished with a fine hook, a thread line, 
and some small bits of bacon, as was the captain, and we 
dropped our bait among the myriads of delicate little 
fishes below. Up they came one after another, so fast in 
succession that, according to my journal, we caught three 
hundred and seventy in about two hours ! What a mess ! 
and how delicious when roasted ! if ever I am again be- 
calmed in the Gulf of Mexico, I shall not forget the rud- 
der-fish. The little things scarcely measured three inches 

124 ^{f^ of Auduhon. 

in length ; they were thin and deep in form, and afforded 
excellent eating. It was curious to see them keep to the 
lee of the rudder in a compact body, and so voracious 
were they, that they actually leaped out of the water at 
the sight of the bait. But the very instant that the ship 
became still they dispersed around her sides, and would 
no longer bite. After drifting along the Florida coast a 
stiff breeze rose, and sweeping us into the Atlantic, sent 
us far upon our favorable voyage. 

" y^i'h' 20, 1826. Landed from the Delos at Liverpool, 
and took lodgings at the Commercial Hotel. Called at 
the counting-house of Gordon and Forstall, and went to 
deliver my letters to Mr. Rathbone, who was absent when 
I called ; but he forwarded a polite note, in which he in- 
vited me to dine and meet Mr. Roscoe. 

" y^/v 24. Called for Mr. Rathbone at his counting- 
house, and was kindly received, and dined at his house 
in Duke Street. Was introduced to his friend Mr. Ros- 
coe, and his son-in-law, Mr. Philemon L. Baring, Mr. 
Roscoe invited me to his country-house next day, and we 
visited the Botanical Gardens. Ransacked the city for 
pastils to make a drawing for Mrs. Rathbone. 

" My drawings are to be exhibited at the Liverpool 
Exhibition. Mr. Roscoe promised to introduce me to 
Lord Stanley, who, he says, is rather shy. Great anxiety 
about the success of my exhibition, which has proved a 
complete success. 

'■'■Sunday, July 30. Went to church, and saw a pic- 
ture of Christ Curing the Blind Man, and listened to the 
singing of the blind musicians. 

'■'•August 5. I have met Lord Stanley, and found 
him a frank, agreeable man. Tall, broad-boned, well- 
formed, he reminded me of Sully the painter. He said, 
' Sir, I am glad to see you.' He pointed out one defect 
In my drawings, for which I thanked him, but he admired 

Arrival at Liver-pool. 1 2 < 

them generally. He spent five hours in examining my 
collection, and said, ' This work is unique, and deserves 
the patronage of the Crown.' He invited me many 
times to come and see him at his town house in Gros- 
venor Square." 

Under this date, Audubon writes to his wife : " I am 
cherished by the most notable people in and around 
Liverpool, and have obtained letters of introduction to 
Baron Humboldt, Sir Walter Scott, Sir Humphry Davy, 
Sir Thomas Lawrence, Hannah More, Miss Edgeworth^ 
and your distinguished cousin, Robert Bakewell." 

'■'■August 9. By the persuasion of friends, the entrance- 
fee to my collection of drawings is to be charged at one 
shilling. Three and four pounds per day promised well 
for the success of this proposal. Painted a wild turkey, 
full size, for the LiverjDool Royal Institution. Busy at 
work painting in my usual toilet, with bare neck and 
bare arms. Dr. Traill and Mr. Rathbone, while looking 
on, were astonished at the speed of my work. 

"At Liverpool I did the portraits of various friends 
desirous of obtaining specimens of my drawing, and Mr. 
Rathbone suggested that I ought to do a large picture, in 
order that the public might have an opportunity of judg- 
ing of my particular talents. From various kind friends 
I received letters of introduction to many distinguished 
persons. Mr. Roscoe, in particular, favored me with an 
extremely kind letter to Miss Edgeworth the novelist, in 
which he makes reference to my pursuits and acquire- 
ments in flattering language." 

Audubon has copied into his journal many of these 
letters, but the interest of them is not of sufficient import 
to warrant their reproduction. 

By the exhibition of his pictures at the Royal Insti- 
tution, Liverpool, he realized 100/. ; but he speedily 
removed to Manchester, and carried with him his collec- 

126 Life of Auduhon. 

tion of drawings for exhibition in that city. " Dr. Traill, 
of the Royal Institution, had ordered all my drawings to 
"be packed up by the curator of the museum, and theii 
transport gave me no trouble whatever. 

" September lo. I left Liverpool and the many kind 
friends I, had made in it. In five and a half hours the 
coach arrived at Manchester. I took lodgings in the 
King's Arms. I strolled about the city, and it seemed 
to me to be most miserably laid out. I was struck by the 
sallow looks, sad faces, ragged garments, and poverty of a 
large portion of the population, which seemed worse off 
than the negroes of Louisiana. I exhibited my pictures 
in a gallery at Manchester at one shilling for entrance, 
but the result was not satisfactory." 

At Manchester Audubon made the acquaintance of 
two very valuable friends — Mr. Gregg and Mr. McMurray. 
He visited many families, and was struck with the patri- 
archal manner of an Englishman who called his son "my 
love." He enjoyed for the first time a clay's shooting 
after the English fashion in the neighborhood of Man- 
chester, but does not appear to have been charmed with 
the sport. It was soon discovered that the exhibition of 
his drawings at Manchester was not going to pay; but 
he opened a subscription book for the publication of his 
work on the birds of America. 

" September 28. Revisited Liverpool to consult about 
a prospectus for my book. Stayed with Mr. Rathbone, 
and met there Mr. John Bohn, the London bookseller, 
who advised me to go to Paris and consult about cost of 
publication, after which I ought to go to London and 
compare the outlays before fixing upon any plan. Mrs. 
Rathbone desired me to draw the wild turkey of America 
the size of my thumb-nail. This she had engraved on a 
precious stone in the form of a seal, and presented it 
to me. 

At Manchester. 


' October 6. I returned to Manchester, driven in th«. 
carriage of a friend, and arrived at the hall in which my 
pictures were exhibited, to find that, the hall-keeper had 
been drunk and had no returns to make. I stayed about 
six weeks at Manchester, but the exhibition of my pictures 
did not prosper. I visited Matlock, and paid five pounds 
for spars to take home to my wife. I pulled some flowers 
from the hills she had played over when a child, and 
passed through the village of Bakewell, called after some 
one of her family. 

" I determined to start for Edinburgh, and paying 
three .pounds fifteen shillings for coach-hire, started for 
that city. 

" October 25. Left Manchester for Edinburgh yester- 
day, following the road by Carlisle into Scotland. Was 
struck with the bleak appearance of the country. The 
Scottish shepherds looked like the poor mean whites of 
the Slave-states. The coachmen have a mean practice 
of asking money from the passengers after every stage. 
Arrived at Edinburgh, and called with letters of intro 
duction on Professor Jameson and Professor Duncan— 
on Dr. Charles and Dr. Henry at the Infirmary, and 
upon the celebrated anatomist Dr. Knox. Professor 
Jameson received me with the greatest coldness — ex- 
plained there was no chance of my seeing Sir Walter Scott, 
who was busy with a life of Napoleon and a novel, and 
who lived the life of a recluse. He said his own engage- 
ments would prevent his calling for some days. 

" Dr. Knox came to me in his rooms dressed in an 
overgown, and with bleeding hands, which he wiped. 
He read Dr. Traill's letter and wished me success, and 
promised to do all in his power for me, and appointed 
the next day to call upon me and introduce some scien- 
tific friends to examine my drawings. I was much struck 
with Edinburgh — it is a splendid old city. 

128 Life of Auduhon. 

" The lower class of women (fishwives) resemble the 
squaws of the West. Their rolling gait, inturned toes, 
and manner of carrying burdens on their backs, is exactly 
that of the Shawnee women. Their complexions are 
either fair, purple, or brown as a mulatto. 

" The men wear long whiskers and beards, and are 
extremely uncouth in manners as well as in speech. 

" October 27. Filled with sad forebodings and doubts 
of all progress. Miss Ewart called to see my drawings, 
and was delighted with them. She exclaimed, after 
looking, at them. ' How delighted Sir Walter Scott 
would be with them ! ' I presented a letter to Mr. 
Patrick Neil, the printer, who received me with great 
cordiality, invited me to his house, and promised to 
interest himself for me generally. Mr. Andrew Duncan 
gave me a note to Francis Jeffrey, the famous editor of 
the ' Edinburgh Review.' 

" October 30. Called on Mr. Francis Jeffrey, who was 
not at home ; wrote a note for him in his library, which 
I found was filled with books tossed about in confusion, 
pamphlets, portfolios, and dirt. 

" Prospects more dull and unpromising ; and I went 
to Mr. Patrick Neil, to express my intention of going on 
to London, as my pictures of the American Birds were 
evidently not appreciated in Edinburgh. He remonstrat- 
ed kindly, spoke encouragingly, and introduced me to 
Mr. Lizars, the engraver of Mr. Selby's Birds. 

" Mr. Lizars had the greatest admiration for Selby, 
but no sooner had he looked into my portfolio than he 
exclaimed, •' My God, I never saw any thing like these 
before ; ' and he afterwards said the naturalist, Sir 
William Jardine, ought to see them immediately. 

" November i. Professor Jameson has called, Mr. 
Lizars having, with his warmth o " heart, brought the natu- 
ralist to see my collection of birds. The Professor was 

Success in Edinburgh. 129 

very kind, but his manner of speaking of my drawings 
leaves me to suspect that lie may liave been quizzing me. 

'■^ November 2. Breakfasted with Professor Jameson 
in his splendid liouse. The Professor's appearance is 
somewhat remarkable, and the oddities of his hair are 
worthy of notice. It seems to stand up all over his 
head and points in various directions, so that it looks 
strange and uncouth. Around a rough exterior he owns 
a generous heart, but which is not at first discernible. 
I felt my career now certain. I was spoken kindly of by 
the newspapers, and in the streets I heard such remarks 
made upon me as — ' That is the French nobleman.' I 
spent three very delightful weeks, dining, breakfasting, 
and visiting many agreeable people in Edinburgh. Pro- 
fessor Jameson promised to introduce my work to the 
public in his " Natural History Magazine,' and Professor 
Wilson (Christopher North) offered me his services in the 
pages of ' Maga.' 

" Professor Wilson likewise volunteered to introduce 
me to Sir Walter Scott, and Mr. Combe, the phrenolo- 
gist. Mr. Syme, the portrait painter, requested me to 
sit for my portrait. A committee from the Royal Insti- 
tution of Edinburgh called upon me and offered me the 
use of the rooms for the exhibition of my drawings, and 
the receipts from this source amounted to £,^ per day. 

" What, however, most pleased me was the offer of 
Mr. Lizars to bring out a first number of my ' Birds of 
America,' the plates to be the size of life. I have 
obtained from Mr. Rathbone his name as a subscriber, 
and have written to him with a prospectus, and explained 
that I shall travel about with a specimen number until I 
obtain three hundred subscribers, which will assure the 
success of the work. Sir William Jardine, now in the 
midst of his extensive ornithological publication, spends 
many hours a day beside me examining my manner of 

130 Life of Auduhon. 

work, and he has invited me to make a long visit to his 
residence in the country. 

'■''November 28. Saw to-day the first proof of the 
first engraving of my American Birds, and was very well 
pleased with its appearance. 

" November 29. Sir Walter Scott has promised a 
friend to come and see my drawings. Invited to dine 
with the Antiquarian Society at the Waterloo Hotel. 
Met the Earl of Elgin at the dinner, who was veiy cor- 
dial. The dinner was sumptuous, the first course being 
all Scotch dishes, a novelty to me, and consisting of mar- 
row-bones, codfish-heads stuffed with oatmeal and garlick, 
blackpudding, sheepsheads, &c. Lord Elgin presided, 
and after dinner, with an auctioneer's mallet brought the 
company to order by rapping sharply on the table. He 
then rose and said, ' The King, four-times-four !" All 
rose and drank the monarch's health, the president say- 
ing, ' Ip ! ip ! ip ! ' followed by sixteen cheers. Mr. 
Skein, first secretary to the Society, drank my own 
health, prefacing the toast with many flatteries, which 
made me feel very faint and chill. I was expected to 
make a speech, but could not, and never had tried. 
Being called on for a reply, I said, ' Gentlemen, my 
incapacity for words to respond to your flattering notice 
is hardly exceeded by that of the birds now hanging on 
the walls of your institution. I am truly obliged to you 
for your favors, and can only say, God bless you all, and 
may your Society prosper.' I sat down with the perspi- 
ration running over me, and was glad to drink off a glass 
of wine that Mr. Lizars kindly handed to me in my dis- 
tress. Some Scottish songs were sung ; and William 
Allen, the famous Scottish painter, concluded the fun by 
giving a droll imitation of the buzzing of a bee about the 
room, following it and striking at it with his handkerchief 
as if it was flying from him." 

Success in Edinburgh. 131 

" November 30. The picture representing myself 
dressed in a wolf-skin coat is finished, and although the 
likeness is not good, the picture will be hung to-morrow 
in the Exhibition room. 

" December i. Lord Elgin and another nobleman 
visited my exhibition to-day, and talked with me about 
my work and prospects. Fifteen pounds were drawn at 
the Exhibition to-da}^ 

" Decefnber 2. Breakfasted with the wonderful David 
Bridges, who commenced to dust his furniture with his 
handkerchief. I hear that Professor Wilson has been 
preparing an article upon me and my ornithological 
labors for ' Blackwood's Magazine.' Dined with Dr. 
Brown, a very amiable man, and met Professor Jameson. 
Sir James Hall and Captain Basil Hall have called upon 
me to-day, the latter making inquiries in reference to 
some purpose to visit the United States. 

'■^December 3. Nearly finished a painting of the Otter 
in Trap, which Mr. Lizars and Mr. Syme thought excel- 
lent. Dr. Knox has kindly promised to propose my 
name for membership of the Wernerian Natural History 
Society of Edinburgh. 

December 10. My success in Edinburgh borders on 
the miraculous. My book is to be published in numbers 
containing four birds in each the size of life, in a style 
surpassing anything now existing, at two guineas a num- 
ber. The engravings are truly beautiful ; some of them 
have been colored, and are now on exhibition. 

'■'■December 12. Called on Dr. Brewster and read him 
an article on the Carrion Crow. After reading the paper 
I was introduced to Mrs. Brewster, a charming woman, 
whose manner put me at entire ease. 

" December 16. Received a note from Mr, Rathbone, 
objecting to the large size of my book, which he suspected 
would be rather against its popularity. Went to the Wer- 

132 Life of Auduhon. 

nerian Society to show my drawings of the Buzzard. Pro- 
fessor Jameson rose and jDronounced quite an eu]og}^upon 
my labors, and the Society passed a vote of thanks upon 
them. Professor Jameson afterwards proposed me as an 
honorary member of the Society, which was carried by 

" Dined with Lady Hunter, mother-in-law to Captain 
Basil Hall, and met Lady Mary Clarke, aged eighty-two, 
who was acquainted with Generals Wolfe and Montgom- 
ery. I had many questions put to me upon subjects con- 
nected with America by the distinguished guests I met 
at the house. Captain Basil Hall has presented me with 
a copy of his work upon South America, accompanied by 
a complimentary note. 

'■'■December 17. Busy painting two cats fighting over a 
squirrel. Up at candle-light, and worked at the cats till 
nine o'clock. 

" December 19. Went to breakfast with Sir William Jar- 
dine and Mr. Selby at Barry's Hotel. I was sauntering 
along the streets, thinking of the beautiful aspects of na- 
ture, meditating on the power of the great Creator, on 
the beauty and majesty of his works, and of the skill he 
had given man to study them, when the whole train of 
my thoughts was suddenly arrested by a ragged, sickly- 
looking beggar-boy. His face told of hunger and hard- 
ship, and I gave him a shilling and passed on. But 
turning again, the child was looking after me, and I beck- 
oned to him to return. Taking him back to my lodg- 
ings, I gave him all the garments I had which were worn, 
added five shillings more in money, gave him my 
blessing, and sent him away rejoicing, and feeling mys&lf 
as if God had smiled on me, I afterwards breakfasted 
with Sir William, and gave a lesson in drawing to him and 
to Mr. Selby. 

'■'■December 20. Breakfasted with Mr. George Combe, 



che phrenologist, who examined my head and afterwards 
measured my skull with the accuracy and professional 
manner in which I measured the heads, bills, and claws of 
my birds. Among other talents, he' said I possessed 
largely the faculties which would enable me to excel in 
painting. He noted down his observations to read at 
the Phrenological Society. 

" Received an invitation from the Earl of Morton to 
visit him at his seat at some distance from Edinburgh." 

December 22. From the entries in his journal under 
this date it appears he had written to his wife that he in- 
tended to remove to Newcastle or Glasgow. " I expect 
to visit the Duke of Northumberland, who has promised 
to subscribe for my work. I have taken to dressing 
again, and now dress twice a-day, and wear silk stockings 
and pumps. I wear my hair as long as usual. I believe 
it does as much for me as my paintings. One hundred 
subscribers for my book will pay all expenses. Some 
persons are terrified at the sum of one hvmdred and 
eighty guineas for a work ; but this amount is to be 
spread over eight years, during which time the volumes 
will be gradually completed. I am feted, feasted, elected 
honorary member of societies, making money by my ex- 
hibition and by my paintings. It is Mr. Audubon here 
and Mr. Audubon there, and I can only hope that Mr. 
Aududon will not be made a conceited fool at last. 

^^ December 23. The exhibition of my birds more 
crowded than ever. This clay I summed up the re- 
ceipts, and they amounted to eight hundred dollars. I 
have presented my painting of the American Turkeys to 
the Royal Institution for the use of their rooms. A deal- 
er valued the picture at one hundred guineas. 

" Decejnber 2^, Ch.xisim.2iS. Bought a brooch for Mrs. 
Audubon. Astonished that the Scotch have no relig- 
ious ceremony on Christmas Day. 

134 Life of Audiihon. 

'■'■ December 21. Went to Dalmahoy, to the Earl of 
Morton's seat, eight miles from Edinburgh. The count- 
ess kindly received me, and introduced me to the earl, a 
small slender man, tottering on his feet and weaker than 
a newly-hatched partridge. He welcomed me with tears 
in his eyes. The countess is about forty, not handsome, 
but fine-looking, fair, fresh-complexioned, dark flashing 
eyes, superior intellect and cultivation. She was dressed 
in a rich crimson silk, and her mother in heavy black 

" My bedroom was a superb parlor with yellow furni- 
ture and yellow hangings. After completing my toilet, 
dinner is announced, and I enter the dining-room, where 
the servants in livery attend, and one in plain clothes 
hands about the plates in a napkin, so that his hand may 
not touch them. In the morning I visited the stables, 
and saw four splendid Abyssinian horses with tails reach- 
ing to the ground. I saw in the aviary the falcon-hawks 
used of old for hunting with, and which were to be 
brought to the house in order that I might have an op- 
portunity of witnessing their evolutions and flight. The 
hawks were brought with bells and hoods and perched on 
gloved hands as in the days of chivalry. The countess 
wrote her name in my subscription-book, and offered to 
pay the price in advance. 

'■'■ Dece7nber 31. Dined with Captain Basil Hall, and 
met Francis Jeffrey and Mr. M'CuUoch, the distinguished 
writer on political economy, a plain, simple, and amiable 
man. Jeffrey is a little man, with a serious face and dig- 
nified air. He looks both shrewd and cunning, and talks 
with so much volubility he is rather displeasing. In the 
course of the evening Jeffrey seemed to discover that if 
he was Jeffrey I was Audubon." 


Bdmburgk — The Royal Society — Scott — Edinburgh People — Syd' 
ney Smith and a Sermon — Miss O'Neill the Actress — Mrs. 
Grant of Laggan — Prospectus of the Great Work. 

\EBR UAR Y 3. Dr. Brewster proposed that I 
should exhibit the five plates of my first number 
of the Birds of America at the Royal Society 
this evening. He is a great optician, and advises me to 
get a camera-lucida, so as to take the outline of my birds 
more rapidly and correctly. Such an instrument would 
be useful in saving time, and a great relief in hot weather, 
since outlining is the hardest part of the work, and more 
than half of the labor. I visited the Royal Society at 
eight o'clock, and laid my large sheets on the table : they 
were examined and praised. After this we were all called 
into the great room, and Captain Hall came and took my 
hand and led me to a seat immediately opposite to Sir 
Walter Scott, the President, where I had a perfect view 
of this great man, and studied nature from nature's 
noblest work. A long lecture followed on the introduc 
tion of the Greek language into England, after which the 
President rose, and all others followed his example. Sir 
Walter came and shook hands with me, asked how the 
cold weather of Edinburgh agreed with me, and so 
attracted the attention of many members to me, as if I 
had been a distinguished stranger. 

" February 10. Visited the Exhibition at the Royal 
Institution. Saw the picture of the Black Cocks, which 
was put up there for public inspection. I know that the 
birds are composed and drawn as well as any birds ever 

136 Life of Auduhon. 

have been ; but what a difference exists between the 
drawing of one bird and the composition of a group, 
and harmonizing them with a landscape and sky, and 
well-adapted foreground ! Who that has ever tried to 
combine these three different conceptions in a single 
picture, has not felt a sense of fear while engaged in his 
work ? I looked long and carefully at the picture of a 
stag painted by Landseer ; — the style was good, and the 
brush was handled with fine effect ; but he fails in copy- 
ing Nature, without which the best work will be a failure, 
A stag, three dogs, and a Highland hunter are introduced 
on the canvas ; but the stag has his tongue out and his 
mouth shut 1 The principal dog, a greyhound, has the 
deer by one ear, while one of his fore-paws is around his 
leg, as if in the act of fondling with him. The hunter 
has laced the deer by one horn very prettily, and, in the 
attitude of a ballet-dancer, is about to throw another 
noose over the head of the animal. To me, and my friend 
Bourgeat, or Dr. Pope, such a picture is quite a farce ; 
but it is not so in London, for there are plenty of such 
pictures there, and this one created a great sensation 
among the connoisseurs. 

"Captain Hall invited me to take some of my draw- 
ings to show Lady Mansfield, who is his particular friend, 
and who expressed a desire to see them. Unfortunately 
she was not at home when we called ; but her three 
daughters and several noblemen who were present ex- 
amined them. The ladies were handsome, but seemed 
haughty, and wanting in that refinement of manners and 
condescending courtesy I had seen in the Countess of 
Morton ; and the gentlemen evinced a like lack of good 
breeding. This did not disturb me, but I was troubled 
and pained for Captain Hall, who is so instinctively a 
gentleman, because I saw that he felt hurt and mortified. 
He requested me to leave my drawings, which cost me so 

The Wernerian Society. ■ 137 

many days' labor, and of which I am so jealous, and I 
would not add to his pain who had proved so kind a 
friend to me by denying him. Lunch was already on the 
table, but I was not asked to remain, and I was truly 
glad of it, and I went away almost unnoticed, and hurried 
to meet an engagement at the Wernerian rooms. 

" When I entered the rooms of the Wernerian Socie- 
ty, they were full as an egg, and I was told by a friend 
that the large assembly had come because of a report 
that I was to read a paper on the habits of the rattle- 
snake. Professor Graham arose soon after my arrival, 
and said, 'Mr. President, Mr. Audubon has arrived.' 
But I had been too busy to finish the paper, and Mr. 
Lizars explained this for me. My engravings were then 
called for by Professor Jameson, and they were examined 
and highly praised. The paper on the alligator was fin- 
ished soon after, and read before the Society. 

" A stranger lately accosted me in the street, and 
suggested to me, that if 1 would paint an Osage Indian 
hunting wild turkej^s, it would take with the public and 
increase my reputation. No doubt it would, for whatever 
is most strange is most taking now ; but so long as my 
hair floats over my shoulders I shall probably attract at- 
tention enough ; and if it hung to my heels it would 
attract more. 

^'■February 11. Worked all the morning at the Royal 
Institution, touching up my pictures hanging there ; sev- 
eral other artists came and worked on theirs also. It was 
quite amusing to hear them praising one another, and 
condemning the absent. 

'■'■February 12. Began the day by working hard on the 
pictures at the rooms of the Scottish Society. And to- 
day the Antiquarian Society held its first meeting since 
my election. It is customary for new members to be 
present at such times, and I went, and though I felt 

138 * Life of Auduhon. 

rather sheepish, I was warmly congratulated by the mem 
bers. At one o'clock 1 visited the rooms of the Royal 
Society, which were crowded, and tables were set, cover- 
ed with wine and fruits and other refreshments. The 
ladies were mostly of noble families, and I saw many 
there whom I knew. But the Ladies Mansfield passed 
me several times, without manifesting any recollection of 
a man who, a few days before, had waited on their lady- 
ships, and shown them his drawings, not for his pleas- 
ure, but their benefit. Sir Walter Scott was present, and 
came towards me and shook hands cordially, and point- 
ing to a picture, said, ' Mr. Audubon, many such scenes 
have I witnessed in my younger days.' We talked much 
of all about us, and I would gladly have asked him to 
join me in a glass of wine, but my foolish habit prevented 
me. Having inquired after the health of his daughters, I. 
shortly left him and the room, for I was very hungry ; 
and although the table -was loaded with delicacies, and 
the ladies were enjoying them freely, I say it to my 
shame, that I had not the confidence to lay my fingers 
on a single thing." 

An interval of a week occurs in the journal, and it is 
explained by the fact that Audubon was busily engaged 
in other compositions, and writing twelve letters of in- 
troduction to persons in America for Captain Basil Hall, 
and preparing an article on the habits of the wild 
pigeon, which he had been requested to do, to read be- 
fore the Natural History Society. Dr. Brewster saw the 
latter before it was read, and requested permission to 
publish it in his journal. " This," says Audubon, " was 
killing two birds with one stone, because I had promised 
to write Brewster an article. I began that paper on 
Wednesday, wrote all day, and sat up until half-past 
three the next morning ; and so absorbed was my whole 
soul and spirit in the work, that I felt as if I were in 

Remarks on Wild Pigeons. 139 

the woods of America among the pigeons, and my ears 
were filled with the sound of their rustling wings. After 
sleeping a few hours, I rose and corrected it. Captain 
Hall called a few hours after, read the article, and beg- 
ged a copy : the copy was made, and sent to him at eight 
o'clock that evening. 

"Captain Hall expressed some doubts as to my 
views respecting the affection and love of pigeons, as 
if I made it human, and raised the possessors quite 
above the brutes. I presume the love of the mothers 
for their young is much the same as the love of woman 
for her offspring. There is but one kind of love ; God 
is love, and all his creatures derive theirs from his ; only 
it is modified by the different degrees of intelligence in 
different beings and creatures." 

On February 20, he writes, in a long letter to his 
wife : " It is impossible yet to say how long I shall re- 
main in England ; at least until I have spent some months 
in London. I am doing all I can to hasten my plans, 
but it will take some time to complete them. The first 
number of my birds will be published in March, and on 
the fifth of the month the ballot takes place to decide my 
election to the Royal Society, which, if successful, will 
be of great advantage to me ; and whether successful or 
no I shall leave Edinburgh five days after, to visit all the 
principal towns in the three kingdoms, to obtain sub- 
scribers for my work. 

" February 28. A few days of idleness have com- 
pletely sickened me, and given me what is called the 
blue-devils so severely, that I feel that the sooner I go 
to work and drive them off the better. 

'•'■ March i. Mr. Kidd, a promising young artist in 
landscape, only nineteen, breakfasted with me to-day, and 
we talked on painting a long time, and I was charmed 
with his talents, and thought what a difference it would 

140 Life of Auduhon. 

have made in my life if I had begun painting in oil at hia 
age and with his ability. It is a sad reflection that I 
have been compelled to hammer and stammer as if I 
were working in opposition to God's will, and so now am 
.lothing but poor Audubon. I invited him to come to 
ray rooms daily, and to eat and drink with me, and give 
me the pleasure of his company and the advantage of his 
taste in painting. I told him of my ardent desire to im- 
prove in the delightful art, and proposed to begin a new 
picture, in which he should assist with his advice ; and 
proposing to begin it to-morrow, I took down my port- 
folio, to select a drawing to copy in oil. He had never 
seen my works before, and appeared astonished as his 
eyes ranged over the sheets. He expressed the warmest 
admiration, and said, ' How hopeless must be the task of 
my giving any instruction to one who can draw like this. ? 
I pointed out to him that nature is the great study for 
the artist, and assured him that the reason why my works 
pleased him was because they are all exact copies of the 
works of God, who is the great Architect and perfect Ar- 
tist ; and impressed on his mind this fact, that nature in- 
differently copied is far superior to the best idealities. 

" March 3. For the last few days I have worked with 
my brushes, while it has snowed and blown as if the devil 
had cut the strings of the bags of ^olus, and turned all 
its cold blasts down upon the mists of Scotland to freeze 
them into snow. It is twenty years since I have seen 
such a storm. Dined at Mr. Ritchie's, who is a well- 
meaning man, and has a well-doing wife. The company 
was mixed, and some of the ingredients were raw ; there 
were learned and ignorant, wise and foolish, making up 
the heterogeneous assembly. I enjoyed myself; but 
there was an actor, named Vandenhoff, who performed 
some theatrical pantomimes, which were disgusting to me. 
I never saw such pranks in good society before : he tuck- 

Sydney Smith. 14J 

ed one lady's fan in his boot, and broke it, and made an 
apology for it, and by his familiarity annoyed every one 
present. I felt more pain for his host than shame for 
himself. During the evening he made some -unjust re- 
marks about Mr. Lizars, and I rebuked him for it, tell- 
ing him that he was my friend, and a good man. He 
left soon after, to the great relief of all. 

" March 4. To-day the snow is so deep that the mails 
from all quarters are interrupted, and people are wad- 
dling through it in the streets, and giving a lively repre- 
sentation of a Lapland winter. Breakfasted with the 
Rev. Mr. Newbold, and afterwards was toted to church in 
a sedan chair. I had never been in one before, and I 
like to try everything which is going on on the face of 
this strange world. But so long as I have two feet and 
legs, I never desire to try one of these machines again ; 
the quick up-and-down, short swinging motion, reminded 
me of the sensations I felt during the great earthquake 
in Kentucky. But I was repaid for the ride by hearing a 
sermon from the Rev. Sydney Smith. It was a sermon 
to me. Oh ! what a soul there must be in the body of 
that famous man; what a mingling of energetic and 
sweet thoughts, what a fount of goodness there must be 
within him ! He ir^ade me smile, aijd he made me think 
more deeply perhaps than I had ever before in my life. 
He interested me now by painting my foibles, and then 
he pained me by jjortraying my sins, until he made my 
cheeks crimson with shame, and filled my heart with 
penitential sorrow. And I left the church filled with 
veneration for God, and reverence for the wonderful 
man who is so noble an example of his marvellous handy- 
work. We returned to Mr. Newbold's for lunch, and from 
there I walked, tumbled, and pitched home in the deep 

March 5. In a letter to Mrs. Audubon of this date, 

142 Life of Auduhon. 

he tells her of his election as a member of the Royal 
Society, and says : " So poor Audubon, if not rich, thou 
wilt be honored at least, and held in esteem among men. 

" March 6. Finished my picture this morning, and 
like it better than any I have painted." [He does not 
say what this picture is, but it is evidently the one men- 
tioned as begun with young Kidd.] " Mr. Ritchie, editor 
of the ' Scotsman,' asked for a copy of the first number of 
my birds, to notice it in his paper. Went to the Society 
of Arts, and saw there many beautiful and remarkable in- 
ventions, among them a carriage propelled by steam, 
which moved with great rapidity and regularity. I always 
enjoy my visits here more than to the literary societies. 
The time for leaving Edinburgh is drawing near, but I 
am yet undetermined whether to go first to Glasgow or 
Dublin, or else to Newcastle, and then to Liverpool, Ox- 
ford, Cambridge, and so on to London ; but I shall soon 
decide and move. 

" March 7. Having determined to leave Edinburgh, 
my first course is to settle up all my business affairs, and 
make preparations for the future, and to this end I set 
about collecting the letters promised me by friends to the 
different places I proposed to visit. Professor Jameson 
and Dr. Brewster have made me proinise occasionally to 
contribute some articles for their journals. I mentioned 
to Dr. Brewster the desire I had for a line from Sir Wal- 
ter Scott. He told me he was to dine with him that day, 
and he would mention the subject to him, and he had no 
doubt he would kindly grant it. Passed the evening at 
a large party at Mr. Tytler's, where, among other agreea- 
ble ladies and gentlemen, I was introduced to Sydney 
Smith, the famous preacher of last Sunday. Saw his fair 
daughters, and heard them sweetly sing ; and he and his 
daughters appointed next Saturday to examine my draw- 

Letter from Sir Walter Scott, 143 

" March 8. The weather was dreadful last night, 
A'ind howling, and, what you would hardly expect, the 
snow six feet deep in some places. The mail-carriers 
from here for London were obliged to leave their horses, 
and go on foot with their bags. Wrote the following let- 
ter to Sir Walter Scott. 

" ' Dear Sir, 

" '■ On the eve of my departure to visit all parts 
of the island, and afterwards the principal cities of the 
Continent, I feel an ardent desire to be honored by being 
the bearer of a few lines from your own hand to whomever 
you may please to introduce me. 

" ' I beg this of you with the hope that my efforts to ad- 
vance ornithological studies, by the publication of my col- 
lections and manuscripts, may be thought worthy of your 
kind attentions, and an excuse for thus intruding on your 
precious moments. Should you feel the least scruple, 
please frankly decline it, and believe me, dear sir, that I 
value so highly my first reception, when presented to you 
by my good friend Captain Basil Hall, and your subse- 
quent civilities, that I never shall cease to be, with the 
highest respect and admiration, 

" ' Your most obedient, humble servant, 

" ' John J. Audubon. ' " 

That same evening the following answer was received. 

" ' Dear Mr. Audubon, 

" ' I am sure you will find many persons better 
qualified than myself to give you a passport to foreign 
countries, since circumstances have prevented our oftener 
meeting, and my ignorance does not permit me to say 
anything on the blanches of natural history of which you 
are so well possessed. But I can easily and truly say, 
that what I have had the pleasure of seeing, touching your 

144- Life of Auduhon. 

talents and manners, corresponds with all I have heard 
in your favor ; and that I am a sincere believer in the 
extent of your scientific attainments, though I have not 
the knowledge necessary to form an accurate judgment on 
the subject. I sincerely wish your travels may prove 
agreeable, and remain, 

" ' Very much your 

" ' Obedient servant, 

'' ' Walter Scott.' 
'"Edinburgh, March 8.'" 

" Spent the evening at Miss O'Neill's, the actress. 
Several ladies and gentlemen of musical ability were 
present, and after tea Miss O'Neill arose and said she 
would open the concert. She was beautifully dressed in 
plain white muslin, her fine auburn hair hanging in flowing 
ringlets about her neck and rose-colored scarf over her 
shoulders, looking as differently from what she does on 
the stage as can be imagined. She sang and played 
sweetly, her large, dark languid eyes. expressing the deep 
emotions of her soul. She scarcely left off singing for a 
moment, for as soon as one thing was finished some per- 
son called for another, and she readily replied, ' Oh, yes ;' 
and glees, duets, and trios followed one another, filling 
the room with her melodies. I thought at last that she 
must be fatigued, and said so to her. But she replied, 
' Mr. Audubon, music is like painting, it never fatigues if 
one is fond of it, and I am.' We had an elegant supper, and 
after that more music, and then more refreshments and 
wine ; this gave new impulse to the song. Miss O'Neill 
played, and called on the singers to accompany her. The 
music travelled along the table, and sometimes leaped 
across it ; gentlemen and ladies took turns, until, looking 
at my watch, I found that it was past two o'clock, when I 
arose, and in spite of many entreaties, shook hands with 
Miss O'Neillj bowed to the company, and made my exit. 

A Dinner Party. 14^ 

" March i3. Breakfasted with the famous Mrs. Grant, 
her son and daughter the only other company. She is 
aged and very deaf, but very intelligent and warm-hearted. 
We talked of America, and she is really the first person I 
have met here who knows much about it. She thought it 
would not be for the benefit of the slaves to set them free 
suddenly from their masters' protection. 

" Passed a most uncomfortable evening at Sir James 
Riddell's. The company was too high for me, for al- 
though Sir James and his lady did all that could be de- 
sired to entertain me, I did not smile nor have a happy 
thought, all the evening ; and had not Mrs. Hay and Mrs. 
Captain Hall been present, I should have been very mis- 
erable. After dinner, however, my drawings were ex- 
amined and praised, and they seemed to look on me as 
less of a bear, and I felt relieved. My good friend Mr. 
Hay asked a young Russian nobleman who was present 
if he could not give me some letters to his country, but he 
was silent. I turned to Mr. Hay, and thanked him for 
his kind intentions in such a way as to turn the conversa- 
tion, and relieve his embarrassment. The best recom- 
mendation I can have is my own talents, and the fruits of 
my own labors, and what others will not do for me I will 
try and do for myself I was very sorry that Mr. Hay's 
feelings should have been hurt on my account by the 
young man's silence, but I soon made him at ease again. 
Sir James volunteered to give me letters to Sir Thomas 
Ackland and Sir Robert Inglis, both noblemen of dis- 
tinction, and patrons of the science I cultivate. The 
style here far surpassed even Lord Morton's ; fine gentle- 
men waited on us at table, and two of them put my cloak 
about my shoulders, notwithstanding my remonstrances. 

"■March 17. Issued my 'Prospectus' this morning, for 
the publication of my great work. 

146 Life of Auduhon. 

" The Prospectus. 

" To those who have not seen any portion of the 
author's collection of original drawings, it may be proper 
to state, that their superiority consists in the accuracy as 
to proportion and outline, and the variety and truth of the 
attitudes and positions of the figures, resulting from the 
peculiar means discovered and employed by the author, 
and his attentive examination of the objects portrayed 
during a long series of years. The author has not con- 
tented himself, as others have done, with single profile 
views, but in very many instances has grouped his fig- 
ures so as to represent the originals at their natural avoca- 
tions, and has placed them on branches of trees, decorated 
with foliage, blossoms, and fruits, or amidst plants of 
numerous species. Some are seen pursuing their prey 
through the air, searching for food amongst the leaves and 
herbage, sitting in their nests, or feeding their young \ 
whilst others, of a different nature, swim, wade, or glide 
in or over their allotted element. 

" The insects, reptiles, and fishes that form the food of 
these birds have now and then been introduced into the 
drawings. In every instance where a difference of 
plumage exists between the sexes, both the male and the 
female have been represented ; and the extraordinary 
changes which some species undergo in their progress 
from youth to maturity have been depicted. The plants 
are all copied from nature, and, as many of the originals 
are remarkable for their beauty, their usefulness, or their 
rarity, the botanist cannot fail to look upon them with de- 

" The particulars of the plan of the work may be re- 
duced to the following heads : 

" I. The size of the work is double elephant folio, 
the paper being of the finest quality. 

A Great Sacrifice. 147 

" II. The engravings are, in every instance, of the 
exact dimensions of the drawings, which, without any ex 
ception, represent tlie birds and otiier objects of tlieit 
natural size. 

" III. Tlie plates are colored in the most careful man- 
ner from the original drawings. 

" IV. The work appears in numbers, of which five are 
published annuall}-, each number consisting of five plates. 

" V. The price of each number is two guineas, paya- 
ble on delivery." 

Probably no other undertaking of Audubon's life 
illustrates the indomitable character of the man more 
fully than this prospectus. He was in a strange country, 
with no friends but those he had made within a few 
months, and not ready money enough in hand to bring 
out the first number proposed, and yet he entered confi- 
dently on this undertaking, which was to cost over a hun- 
dred thousand dollars, and with no pledge of help, but on 
the other hand discouragements on all sides, and from his 
best friends, of the hopelessness of such an undertaking. 

March \(). Under this date we have an amusing en- 
try. Audubon had been frequently importuned by his 
friends to cut his hair, which he had for years worn in ring- 
lets falling to his shoulders. Hence the obituary : — 


March 19, 1827. 
Tliis day my Hair was sacrificed, and the will of God usurp- 
ed by the wishes of Man. 

As the Barber clipped my locks rapidly, it reminded me of 
the horrible times of the French Revolution, when the same 
operation was performed upon all the victims murdi^rcd by the 

My heart sank low. 


148 Life of Auduhon. 

The margin of the sheet is painted black, about 
three-fourths of an inch deep all around, as if in deep 
mourning for the loss which he had reluctantly submitted 
to in order to please his friends. He consented, sadly, 
because he expected soon to leave for London, and Cap- 
tain Hall persuaded him that it would be better for him 
to wear it according to the prevailing English fashion ! 





rrovincial Canvass for Subscribe7-s — Visit to London — Sir T/iomai 
Lazurence — The Great Work ijt Progress — Horrors of London — ■ 
The Great Work Presented to the Kinsc. 

UITTING Edinburgh with a high heart, the in- 
domitable naturaUst began his provincial can- 
vass, meeting, as is usual in such cases, with two 
kinds of treatment, — very good and very bad. He visited 
in succession Newcastle, Leeds, York, Shrewsbury, and 
Manchester, securing a few subscribers at two hundred 
pounds a head in each place. His diary chronicles mi- 
nutely all his affairs — dining-out, tea-drinking," receiving,'' 
• — but none are very interesting. The only incident at all 
worth recording is a visit i^aid to Bewick the engraver, but 
as it adds nothing to our knowledge of one who was a 
real genius in his way, we pass on to metal more attrac- 
tive, — to London, where Audubon continued his canvass, 
with great success among the aristocracy. From a con- 
fused heap of memoranda we take a few notes of this Lon- 
don visit, suppressing much, and somewhat doubtful of 
the relevancy even of what we select. 

" Sir Thomas Laiorence. — My first call on this great 
artist and idolized portrait-painter of Great Britain, whose 
works are known over the whole world, was at half-past 
eight in the morning. I was assured he would be as hard 
at work at that time as I usually am. I took with me my 
letters and portfolio, with some original drawings. The 
servant said his master was in ; I gave my name, and 
waited about five minutes, when he came down from his 
room. His manner and reception impressed me most 

i^o Life of Audubon. 

favorably, and I was surprised to find him dressed as if 
for the whole day, in a simple but clean garb. He shook 
my hand, read my letters, and so gave me time to glance 
at the marble figures in the room and to examine his face. 
It did not show the marks of genius that I expected in one 
so eminent, but looked pale and pensive. After reading 
my letters he said he was pleased to meet another Ameri- 
can introduced to him by his friend Sully, adding, that 
he wished much to see the drawings of a man so highly 
spoken of, and appointing next Thursday to call on me. He 
took a large card and wrote the appointment on it, and 
put it back in its place, 

" Sir Thomas is no ornithologist, and therefore could 
not well judge of the correctness of the detail of my draw- 
ings, which can be appreciated fully only by those who 
are acquainted with the science of which I myself am yet 
only a student. Bat I found that he had a perfect idea of 
the rules of drawing any object whatever, as well of the 
forms and composition, or management of the objects 
offered for the inspection of his keen eyes. I thought 
from his face that he looked at them with astonishment 
and pleasure, although he did not open his lips until 
I had shown the last drav/ing, when he asked if I ' paint- 
ed in oils .-* ' On answering him in the affirmative, he in- 
vited me to examine his rooms. The room where he 
painted, to my utter astonishment, had a southern light: 
upon his easel was a canvas (kitcat), on which was a per- 
fect drawing in black chalk, beautifully finished, of a no- 
bleman, and on a large easel a full-sized portrait of a no- 
ble lady, represented in the open air ; and on the latter 
he went to work. I saw that his pallet was enormous, 
and looked as if already prepared with the various tints 
wanted by some one else, and that he had an almost in- 
numerable number of brushes and pencils of all descrip- 
tions. He now glazed one part of his picture, and then 

Sir Thomas Lawrence. 151 

retouched another part with fine colors, and in a deUber- 
ate way which did not indicate that he was in any haste 
to finish it. He next laid down his pallet, and, turning 
to the chalk drawing upon the unpainted canvas, asked 
me how I liked his manner of proceeding? But as no 
compliment could be paid by me to such an artist, I 
merely said that I thought it the very quintessence of his 
art. A waiter then entered, and announced that break- 
fast was ready. He invited me to remain and join him 
in his ' humble meal,' which I declined, while we walked 
downstairs together. I remarked on the very large num- 
ber of unfinished portraits I saw : to which he mildly re- 
plied, ' My dear sir, this is my only misfortune ; I can- 
not tell if I shall ever see the day when they will all be 
finished.' Insisting on my remaining to breakfast, I 
went in ; it consisted of a few boiled eggs, some dry 
toast, and tea and coffee. He took the first, and I the 
last : this finished, I bid him good-morning. It was ten 
o'clock when I left, and as I passed out three carriages 
were waiting at the door ; and had I not been a student 
in ornithology I would have wished myself a Sir Thomas 
Lawrence, for I thought that after all the superiority of 
this wonderful man's talents I could with less powers 
realize more than he by my own more constant industr3^ 
" Sir Thomas afterwards paid me three visits ; two at 
my boarding house and one at Mr. Havell's, my engrave 
er ; and I will tell you something of each of them to 
show you the kindness of his heart. It was nine in the 
morning the first time he came ; he looked at some of 
my drawings of quadrupeds and birds, both finished and 
unfinished. He said nothing of their value, but asked 
me particularly of the prices which I put on them. I 
mentioned the price of • several in order, and to my sur- 
prise he said he would bring me a few purchasers that 
vei-y day if I would remain at home : this I promised, 

152 Life of Audiihon. 

and he left me very greatly relieved. In about two hours 
he returned with two gentlemen, to whom he did not in- 
troduce me, but who were pleased with my work, and one 
purchased the ' Otter Caught in a Trap,' for which he 
gave me twenty pounds sterling, and the other, ' A Group 
of Common Rabbits,' for fifteen sovereigns. I took the 
pictures to the carriage which stood at the door, and they 
departed, leaving me more amazed than I had been by 
their coming. 

" The second visit was much of the same nature, dif- 
fering, however, chiefly in the number of joersons he 
brought with him, which was three instead of two ; each 
one of whom purchased a picture at seven, ten, and thirty- 
five pounds respectively ; and as before, the party and 
pictures left together in a splendid carriage with liveried 
footmen. I longed to know their names, but as Sir Thom- 
as was silent respecting them I imitated his reticence in 
restraining my curiosity, and remained in mute astonish- 

" The third call of this remarkable man was in conse- 
quence of my having painted a picture, with the intention 
of presenting it to the King of England, George IV. 
This picture was the original of the ' English Pheasants 
Surprised by a Spanish Dog.' I had shown it to Sir 
Walter Waller, who was his majesty's oculist, and he 
liked the picture so much, and was so pleased with my 
intention, as was also my friend Mr. Children, the cura- 
tor of the British Museum, that they prevailed on Sir 
Thomas to come and see it. He came, and pushed off 
my roller easel, bade me hold up the picture, walked 
from one side of the room to the other examining it, and 
then coming to me tapped me on the shoulder and said, 
' Mr. Audubon, that picture is too good to be given 
away ; his majesty would accept it, but you never would 
be benefitted by the gift more than receiving a letter 

Life in London, i c^'^ 

from his private secretary, saying that it had been placed 
in his collection. That picture is worth three hundred 
guineas : sell it, and do not give it away.' I thanked 
him, exhibited the picture, refused three hundred guineas 
for it soon after, kept it several years, and at last sold it 
for one hundred guineas to my generous friend John 
Heppenstall of Sheffield, England, and invested the 
amount in spoons and forks for my good wife. 

" Without the sale of these pictures I was a bank- 
rupt, when my work was scarcely begun, and in two clays 
more I should have seen all my hopes of the publication 
blasted ; for Mr. Havell (the engraver) had already called 
to say that on Saturday I must pay him sixty pounds. 
I was then not only not worth a penny, but had actually 
borrowed five pounds a few days before to purchase ma- 
terials for my pictures. But these pictures which Sir 
Thomas sold for me enabled me to pay my borrowed 
money, and to appear full-handed when Mr. Havell call- 
ed. Thus I passed the Rubicon ! 

" At that time I painted all day, and sold my work 
during the dusky hours of evening, as I walked through 
the Strand and other streets where the Jews reigned ; 
popping in and out of Jew-shops or any others, and 
never refusing the offers made me for the pictures I car- 
ried fresh from the easel. Startling and surprising as 
this may seem, it is nevertheless true, and one of the cu- 
rious events of my most extraordinary life. Let me add 
here, that I sold seven copies of the ' Entrapped Otter ' 
in London, Manchester, and Liverpool, besides one copy 
presented to my friend Mr. Richard Rathbone. In other 
pictures, also, I have sold from seven to ten copies, 
merely by changing the course of my rambles ; and 
strange to say, that when in after years and better time? 
I called on the different owners to whom I had sold \\\i 
copies, I never found a single one in their hands. Anc 

154 Life of Auduhon. 

I recollect that once, through inadvertence, when I called 
at a shop where I had sold a copy of the picture, the 
dealer bought the duplicate at the same price he had 
given for the first ! What has become of all those pic- 
tures ? " 

About this date Sir Robert Peel returned a letter Au- 
dubon had brought to him from Lord Meadowbank, and 
requested him to hand it over to his successor. This 
Audubon interpreted as giving him to understand that 
he need trouble him no more. The letter was obtained 
with the view of gaining a presentation to the king, and 
Audubon was not a man to easily relinquish an idea or 
an object which he had once determined on. According- 
ly, he says, " I made up my mind to go directly to the 
American minister, Mr, Gallatin, and know from him how 
I should proceed, and if there were really no chance of 
my approaching the king nearer than by passing his cas- 
tle. To pay a visit of this sort in London is really no 
joke ; but as I thought there was a possibility of it for 
myself, I wanted to have the opinion of one who I be- 
lieved was capable of deciding the matter. 

"As I reached his presence he said, laughing, ' Al- 
ways at home, my dear sir, when I am not out.' I un- 
derstood him perfectly, and explained the object of my 
visit. His intellectual face lighted up as he replied, 
' What a simple man you must be to believe all that 
is said to you about being introduced to his majesty ! 
It is impossible, my dear sir ; the king sees nobody ; 
he has the gout, is peevish, and spends his time play- 
ing whist at a shilling a rubber. I had to wait six 
weeks before I was presented to him in my position 
of ambassador, and then I merely saw him six or 
seven minutes. He stood only during the time the 
public functionaries from foreign countries passed him, 
and seated himself immediately afterwards, paying 

Delay in the Work. 155 

scarcely any attention to the numerous court of Eng- 
lish noblemen and gentlemen present.' I waited a mo- 
ment, and said that I thought the Duke of Northumber- 
land would interest himself for me. Again he laughed, 
and assured me that my attempts there would prove in- 
effectual. ' Think,' continued he ; 'I have called hun- 
dreds of times on like men in England, and been assured 
that his grace, or lordship, or ladyship, was not at home, 
until I have grown wiser, and stay at home myself, and 
merely attend to my political business, and God only 
knows when I will have done with that. It requires . 
written apjDointments of a month or six weeks before an 
interview can be obtained.' I then changed the conver- 
sation to other subjects, but he kindly returned to it 
again, and said, ' Should the king hold a levee whilst you 
are here, I will take you to Court, and present you as an 
American scientific gentleman, but of course w^ould not 
mention your work.' I remained with him a full hour ; 
and, as I was about to leave, he asked me for all the 
cards I had in my case, and said he would use them 
well, and find me visitors if possible. 

" yurie 18. The work on the first number is yet in the 
hands of Mr. Lizars, in Edinburgh, and this day I re- 
ceived a letter from him, saying that ' the colorers had all 
.struck work, and that my work was, in consequence, at a 
stand.' He asked me to try to find some persons here 
who would engage in that part of the business, and said 
he would exert himself to make all right again as soon as 
possible. This was quite a shock to my nerves, and for 
nearly an hour I deliberated whether I should not go at 
once to Edinburgh, but an engagement at Lord Spencer's, 
where I expected a subscriber, decided me to remain. 
I reached his lordship's house about twelve o'clock, and 
met there Dr. Walterton and the Rt. Hon. William S. 
Ponsonby engaged in conversation with Lady Spencer, a 

156 Life of Audiihon. 

fat woman, of extremely engaging and unassuming man- 
ners. Siie entered into conversation with me at once 
about the habits of the wild turkey, how to tame them, 
and the like ; while the gentlemen examined and praised 
my drawings, and the two lords subscribed for my work ; 
and I went off rejoicing, between two rows of fine waiters, 
who seemed to wonder who the devil I could be, that 
Lady Spencer should shake me by the hand, and accom- 
pany me to the door. 

" From there I went to Mr. Ponton's, and met Mr. 
Dibdin, and twenty ladies and gentlemen, who had as- 
sembled to see my drawings. Here four more sub- 
scribers were obtained. This, I thought, was a pretty 
good day's work ; but on returning home I found a note 
from Mr. Vigors, gi\'ing the name of another subscriber, 
and informing me of the arrival of Charles Bonaparte in. 
the city. I walked to the lodgings of the Prince of 
Musignano : he was out. I left my card, and soon after 
my return a servant told me he was below ; I was not 
long in getting down stairs, and soon grasped his hand ; 
we were mutually glad to meet on this distant shore. 
His mustachios and bearded chin and his fine head and 
eye were all unchanged. He wished to see all my draw- 
ings, and for almost the only time in England I opened 
my portfolio with intense pleasure. He said they were 
worthy to be published, and I felt proud of his opinion. 

" As soon as he had gone my thoughts returned to the 
colorers, and I started off at once to find some, but with 
no success ; all the establishments of the kind were 
closed from want of employment. But happening to pass 
a print-shop, I inquired if the proprietor knew of any 
colorers, and he at once gave me the name of one, who 
offered to work cheaper than I was paying in Edinburgh ; 
and I wrote instantly to Mr. Lizars to send me twenty- 
five copies ; and so I hope all will go on well again. 

Poverty in London. 1^7 

After a long hunt I entered a long dark alley in search 
of the colorer's house, to which I had been directed. It 
was ten o'clock, and after mounting two stories in search 
of the man, I knocked, and a little door was opened. 
The family were surprised by the appearance of a stran- 
ger, as much as I was by what I saw. A young man was 
sitting by a small window drawing ; a woman whom I 
took to be his mother was washing a few potatoes in hot 
water ; a younger woman nursed a child, leaning on the 
only bed in the room ; and six little children, mostly 
girls, shabby in appearance and sallow in complexion, 
showed that hunger was not a stranger there. The 
young man arose, offered me his seat, and asked me po- 
litely what I wanted. I told him I was looking for a 
colorer. He replied that he once worked at it, but had 
abandoned the business, because he was unable to sup- 
port his large family by it, even to provide them bread 
and potatoes. He showed me the work he was doing : it 
was a caricature of Canning, hiding himself behind some 
Roman Catholic priests, as if listening to their talk ; each 
one of the priests held a rope in his hand, as if ready to 
hang their opponents, and the whole proved that the man 
had a good knowledge of drawing. Just then the moth- 
er told him breakfast was ready. The poor man begged 
me to excuse him, saying that he had not tasted anything 
the day before ; that the potatoes were a present, he 
would eat soon, and then tell me of some colorers now 
in the business. I sat silently and saw the food equally 
divided ; the mother, wife, children, and father soon swal- 
" lowed their share, but it was scarcely enough to appease 
the hunger of the moment. He gave me as he ate the 
names of three men, and, pained by the scene before me, 
I rose to go. Just then the father said to the children 
and wife, ' It is high time you should go to work,' and 
asking me at the same time to remain ' a few moments 

158 Life of Judiihon. 

longer. The family went off, and I felt relieved to know 
that they had some employment, and asked him what it 
was ! He replied, ' Begging, sir.' All that family, wife, 
and half-grown girls, tinned out in the streets of London 
to beg. He assured me that with all their united exer- 
tions they seldom had more than one meal a day ; and 
that in an extremity a few days before he had been com- 
pelled to sell his best bed to pay the rent of his miserable 
room. Unfortunately I had but a few shillings with me, 
because I had been advised to carry neither watch nor 
money in London, and had not the gratification of doing 
much to relieve him. He said his caricatures brought 
him in but little, and that despair had prompted him 
more than once to drown himself, for he was only a 
weight on the neck of his wife and childi-en. Oh ! how 
sick I am of London. 

" yune 21. Received a letter from Mr. Lizars, that he 
must discontinue my work. Have made an engagement 
with Mr. Havell for coloring, which I hope will relieve 
my embarrassment. Have painted a great deal to-day. 

" yune 22. Am invited to dine at the Royal Society's 
Club, with Charles Bonaparte. Gave some lessons in 
drawing to the daughter of Mr. Children, Mrs. Atkins : 
she has fine talents, but they are not cultivated so highly 
as Mrs. Edward Roscoe's. This evening Charles Bona- 
parte came with Lord Clifton, and several other gentle- 
men to examine my drawings. They were all learned 
ornithologists, but they all said that there were birds here 
which they had never dreamed of, and Bonaparte offered 
to name them for me. I was pleased at the suggestion, 
and with a pencil he wrote down ujDwards of fifty names, 
and invited me to publish them at once in manuscript at 
the Zoological Society. We had charming discussions 
about birds and their habits. Oh that our knowledge 
could be arranged into a solid mass ! I am sure that 

Visit to the Provinces. 159 

then the best ornithological publication of the birds of 
my beloved country would be produced. I cannot tell 
you how it strikes me, when I am at Bonaparte's lodg- 
ings, to hear his servant call him ' Your Royal Highness.' 
I think it ridiculous in the extreme, and cannot imagine 
how good Charles can bear it ; but probably he does 
bear it because he is Good Charles. 

" y^ii/y 2. I am so completely out of spirits, that I 
have several times opened my book, held the pen, and 
felt anxious to write ; but all in vain ; I am too dull, too 

" I have given the copy of my first number of the 
Birds to Mr. Children, a proof : it is the only one in ex- 
istence, for which he paid me the price of all the sub- 
scribers, i. e., two guineas, and I may say with safety 
that the two guineas are the only two I have had on ac- 
count of that work. I have finished another picture of 
the Rabbits, and am glad of it ; it is all my consolation. 
I wish I were out of London." 

But it does not appear that Audubon's despondency 
lasted very long. He dispelled it by a sudden rush into 
the provinces, where he was well received by former 
friends. From an entry made at Leeds on September 30, 
it is clear that even in London the sun had begun to 
shine out again. 

" Nearly three months since I touched one of the 
sheets of my dear book. And I am quite ashamed of it, 
for I have had several interesting incidents to record, 
well deserving of relation, even in my poor humble style 
— a style much resembling my painting in oil. Now, 
nevertheless, I will recapitulate and note down as quick- 
ly as possible the primary ones. 

" I. I removed the publication of my ornithological 
work from Edinburgh to London ; from Mr. Lizars to 
Mr. Robert Havell, No. 79 Newman street ; because at 

i6o Life of Audubon. 

Edinburgh it came on too slowly, and also because I can 
have it done better and cheaper in London. 

" 2. The King ! My dear Book ! Had my work pre- 
sented to his Majesty by Sir Walter Waller, Bart, K. C. 
H., at the request of my most excellent friend J. P. Chil- 
dren, of the British Museum. His Majesty was pleased 
to call it fine, and permitted me to publish it under his 
particular patronage, approbation, and protection ; and 
became a subscriber on usual terms, not as kings gener- 
ally do, but as a gentleman. And I look on such a deed 
as worthy of all kings in general. The Duchess of Cla- 
rence also put down her name ; and all my friends speak 
as if a mountain of sovereigns had dropped in an ample 
purse at once — and for 7ne !" 


Visit to Paris — B.jron. Cuvier — Reception at the Academy of Sci- 
ences — Visits to Great Officials — Pove7-ty of Freiich Academy — • 
More of Ciivierand his Home — Great Gathering at the Institute — 
'The Report quoted — The Duke of Orleans — Farewell to France. 

N September ist, i828, Audubon quitted London 
for Paris, and his diary freshens a Uttle after the 
salt breeze of the Channel. Much space, how- 
ever, is as usual devoted to matters quite trivial in tliem- 
selves, and not likely to interest any circle beyond the 
little domestic one for which the pages were intended. 
The enjoyment of fresh scenes is youthful and honest — 
quite unlike the pleasure of more sophisticated persons. 
On arriving in Paris, his first visit was to the Jardin 
des Plantes, and to the great Cuvier. We shall select in 
series his notes on this and other matters, suppressing, as 
before, all the utterly pointless matter which fills up the 
diary under so many a date. 

" We knocked, and asked for Baron Cuvier : he was 
in, but we were told was too busy to be seen. However, 
being determined to look at the great man, we waited and 
knocked again, and with a degree of firmness sent up 
our names. The messenger returned, bowed and led us 
upstairs, where, in a minute. Monsieur le Baron, like an 
excellent good man, came to us. He had heard much of 
my friend Swainson, and greeted him as he deserves, and 
was polite and kind to me, although he had never heard 
of me before. I looked at him, and here follows the re- 
sult. Age about sixty-five ; size, corpulent, five feet and 
five, English measure ; head large, face wrinkled and 

1 62 Life of Auduhon. 

brownish ; eyes, very brilliant and sparkling ; nose, 
aquiline, large, and red ; mouth, large, with good lips \ 
teeth, few, and blunted by age, excepting one on the low- 
er jaw, which was massive, measuring nearly three-quar- 
ters of an inch square. This was Baron Cuvier ; I have 
described him almost as if a neiv species of a vmii, from 
the mere skin. But as he has invited us to dine with 
him next Saturday at six o'clock, and I expect to have an 
opportunity of seeing more of him, I will then describe 
his habits as far as I am able. 

" September 5. After a breakfast of grapes, figs, 
sardines, and French coffee, friend Swainson and I pro- 
ceeded to the Jardin'des Plantes, by the side of the river 
Seine, vvhich here, Lucy, is not so large as the Bayou 
Sara, where I have often watched the alligators while 
bathing. Walking in Paris is disagreeable in the ex- 
treme. The streets are actually paved, but with scarcely 
a sidewalk, and a large gutter filled with dirty black wa- 
ter runs through the centre of each, and the people go 
about without any kind of order, either along the centre, 
or near the houses ; carriages, carts, and so forth do the 
same, and I have wondered that so few accidents take 
place. We saw a very ugly iron bridge at the entrance 
called Pont Neuf, where stands the splendid statue of 
Henry IV. We were more attracted, however, by the 
sight of the immense number of birds offered for sale 
along the quays, and saw some rare specimens. A 
woman took us into her house, and showed us some hun- 
dreds from Bengal and Senegal, which quite surprised us. 

" Weary with walking, we took a cabriolet, that 
brought us for twenty-five sous, to the Jardin, and we went 
to our appointment with Baron Cuvier. We saw him. and 
he gave us a ticket to admit us to the Muse'e, and prom- 
ised us all we wished. In the Mus^e, M. Valencienne was 
equally kind. Having in my j^ocket a letter of introduc- 

Baron Cuvier. 163 

tion to Geoffroy de St. Hilaire, we went to his house in 
the gardens, and with him we were particularly pleased. 
He offered his services with good grace, much as an Eng- 
lish gentleman would have done. M. Geoffroy proved to 
us that he understood the difference of ideas existing be^ 
tween English and Frenchmen perfectly. He repeated 
the words of Cuvier, and assured us that my work had 
never been heard of anywhere in France. He promised 
to take us to the Academy of Sciences on Monday next. 
" We finally reached home, dressed, and started to 
dine with Baron Cuvier. We arrived within a minute of 
the appointed time, were announced by a servant in liv- 
ery, as in England, and the Baron received and presented' 
us kindly to his only daughter, a small, well-made, good- 
looking lady, with black sparkling eyes, and altogether 
extremely amiable. As I seldom go anywhere without 
meeting some person I have known elsewhere, so it 
proved here. I found among the company which had 
arrived before me a Fellow of the Linnsean Society, who 
knew me, and who seemed to have spoken to the Baron 
and his daughter of my work ; and I now perceived a de- 
gree of attention from him which I had not noticed at my 
first interview. The Baroness came in, an old, good, 
motherly-looking lady, and the company, sixteen in num- 
ber, being present, dinner was announced. The Baroness 
led the way with a gentleman, the Baron took his daugh- 
ter under his arm, but made Mr. Swainson and myself go 
before him ; and so the company all followed. Mr. 
Swainson was seated next to Mademoiselle Cuvier, who, 
fortunately for him, speaks excellent English. I was op- 
posite her, by the side of the Baron, and had at my right 
elbow the F. L. S. There was not the same show of 
opulence at this dinner that I have seen in the same 
rank in England — no, not by any means ; but we had a 
good dinner, served \ la FranQaise : all seemed happy. 

164 Life of Audubon. 

and all went on with more simplicity than in London. 
The waiter who handed the wine called out the names of 
three or four different sorts, and each person had his 
choice. The dinner finished (I mean the eating part), 
the Baroness rose, and all followed her into the draw- 
ing room, which is the library of the Baron ; and I 
liked it much, for I cannot bear the drinking-matches 
of wine at the English tables. We had coffee, and 
the company increased rapidly ; and among the new 
comers were my acquaintances Captain Parry, Monsieur 
Condillot, and Mr. Lesson, just returned from a voyage 
round the world. Cuvier stuck to Mr. Swainson and my- 
self, and we talked ornithology : he asked the price of 
my work, and I gave him a prospectus. The company 
now filled the room, and as it grew late, and we had near- 
ly five miles to ride we left ^ la Fran9aise, very well satis- 
fied with this introductory step among the savans Fran- 

" September 8. Went to pay my respects to Baron 
Cuvier and Geoffroy St. Hilaire ; found only the former 
at home ; he invited me to the Royal Institute, and I had 
just time to return home and reach it before the sitting 
of the Royal Acade'mie des Sciences. I took my port- 
folio, and, on entering, inquired for Cuvier, who very 
politely came to me, made the porter put my book on 
the table, and assigned me a seat of honor. The sdance 
opened, and a tedious lecture was delivered on the vision 
of the mole. Mr. Swainson accompanied me. Baron 
Cuvier then arose, and announced us and spoke of my 
work. It was shown and admired as usual, and Cuvier 
was requested to review it for the memoirs of the Acade- 
my. Cuvier asked me to leave my book. I did, and he 
commended it to the particular care of the librarians, 
who are to show it to any who desire to see it ; he also 
said he would i^ropose to the Academy to subscribe to it, 
and if so, it will be a good day's work , 

The Louvre. 165 

" September 9. Went to the Jardin du Roi, where I met 
young Geoffroy, who took me to a man who stuffs birds 
for the Prince d'Esshng. He told me the Prince had a 
copy of my work (probably Wilson's or Selby's), and 
said he would subscribe if I would call on him to-mor- 
row with him. After this I walked around the boule- 
vards, looking at the strange things I saw there, thinking 
of my own strange life, and how wonderful my present 
situation in the land of my father and ancestors. From 
here I went to the Louvre, and as I was about to pass the 
gates of the Tuileries, a sentinel stopped me, saying no 
one could enter there with a fur cap. I went to another 
gate, and passed without challenge, and went to the 
Grand Gallery, There, among the Raphaels, and Cor- 
reggios, Titians, Davids, and thousands of others, I 
feasted my eyes and enlarged my knowledge. From 
there I made my way to the Institut de France, and by 
appointment presented my prospectus to the secretary of 
the library. There I met young Geoffroy, an amiable 
and learned young man, who examined my work, paid 
me every attention, and gave me a room to myself for the 
inspection of specimens and to write in. How veiy dif- 
ferent from the public institutions in England, where, 
instead of being bowed to, you have to bow to eveiy one. 
The porters, clerks, and secretaries had all received orders 
to do everything I required, and I was looked upon with 
the greatest respect. I have now run the gauntlet of 
Europe, Lucy, and may be proud of two things — that I 
am considered the first ornithological painter and the 
first practical naturalist of America ! 

" September 10. Called on the bird-stufifer of the Prince 
d'Essling, who proposed to take me to the Prince's town 
residence. We were conducted into his museum, which 
surpasses in magnificence, and in the number of rare 
specimens of birds, shells, and books, all I have yei 

1 66 Life of Auduhon. 

seen. We strolled about for a while, when word was 
sent us, that the Prince being indisposed, we must go to 
him. I took my pamphlet in my hand, and entered a 
fine room, where he lay reclining on a sofa ; but on 
seeing me, he rose up, bowed, and presented me to his 
beautiful young wife. While untying my book, both of 
them asked me some questions, and looked at me with 
seeming curiosity ; but as soon as a print was seen, they 
both exclaimed, ' Ah, c'est bien beau ! ' and then asked 
me if I did not know Charles Bonajoarte. And when I 
answered ' Yes,' they both again said, ' Ah, it .is the same 
gentleman of whom we have heard so much, the Man of 
the Woods; the drawings are all made by him,' etc. The 
Prince said that he regretted very much that so few per- 
sons in France were able to subscribe to such a work, 
and that I must not expect more than six or eight names 
in Paris. He named all those whom he or his lady knew, 
and told me it would give him pleasure to add his name 
to my list. I drew it out, opened it, and asked him to 
WTite it himself: this he did with a good grace, next 
under the Duke of Rutland. This Prince, son of the 
famous Marshal Massena, is thirty years of age, appa- 
rently delicate, pale, slender, and yet good-looking, 
entirely devoted to Natural History. His wife is a 
beautiful young woman of about twenty, extremely grace- 
ful and polite. They both complimented me on the 
purity of my French, and wished me all the success I 
deserved. I went back to my friend in the cabinet, well 
contented, and we returned to our lodgings. Not liking 
our rooms at our hotel, to-day I shall remove to the Hotel 
de France, w'here I have a large, clean, and comfortable 
room, and pay twenty-five sous per day. But I must tell 
thee that in France, although a man may be a prince or 
duke, he is called simply monsieur, and his lady, madam, 
and all are as easy of access as men without a great 

Library of the King. 167 

name : this made me quite at my ease with Prince 

" September 11. I have been travelUng all over Paris 
to-diy, and have accomplished nothing. Called on M. 
Geoffroy St. Hilaire, and he gave me some good advice 
and directions respecting obtaining the King's subscrip- 
tion, and others. 

" September 12. Visited, at his library, the librarian 
of the king, M. Van Praet, a small and white-haired gen- 
tleman, who assured me in the politest manner imagina- 
ble that it was out of the question to subscribe for so 
heavy a work. He however gave me a card to introduce 
me to M. Barbier, a librarian belonging to the king's pri- 
vate library at the Louvre. Here I learned that the inland 
postage of a single letter from Paris to London is twent}-- 
four sous ; there is a mail to London four times a week. 
After some trouble I found the library of the king, be- 
cause I followed the direction ' toujours tout droit,' until 
quite out of latitude and longitude by tacking and retack- 
ing ; but at last I reached the place, and entered a gate 
fronting the river, and found M. Barbier absent. But 
later in the day I found him ; and he, not being able to 
say anything definite himself, referred me to the Baron de 
BouUerie, intendant of the king's household. I wrote to 
him in French, the first letter I have written in this lan- 
guage in twenty-five years, and I dare say a very curious 
one to such a personage as he is. 

" September 13. Took my portfolio to Geoffroy de 
St. Hilaire, and then to Baron Cuvier ; the former, after 
examining it, retracted his opinion respecting its size, and 
expressed himself pleased with it. A Mons. Dumesnil, a 
French engraver, was sent to me by Prince d'Essling, and 
I learned from him that my work could be done better and 
at less expense in England than in France. Copper is 
dearer here than in England, and good colorers much 

1 68 Life of Auduhon. 

more scarce. I have just returned with friend Swainson 
from Baron Cuvier's, who gives receptions to scientific 
men every Saturday. ]\Iy book was on the table, and 
Cuvier received me with especial kindness, and put me 
at ease. INIons. Condillot I found remarkably amiable, 
and the company was much the same as on last Saturday. 
I found much pleasure in conversation with Cuvier and 
I\I. de Condillot. The former willingly assented to sit to 
Mr. Parker for his portrait, and the other told me if I 
visited Italy I must make his house my home. My work 
was examined, and Cuvier pronounced it the finest in 
existence of the kind. As we attempted to make our 
escape, Cuvier noticed us, ran and took us by the hand, 
and wished us to return ; but \\-e had a long and dark 
walk before us, and on that ground excused ourselves. 

" September 15. France is poor indeed ! This day I 
have attended the Royal Academy of Sciences, and had 
my plates examined by about one hundred persons. 
' Fine, ver}- fine !' issued from many mouths ; but they 
said also, 'What a work! what a price! v.ho can pay it?' 
I recollected that I had thirty subscribers at Manches- 
ter, and mentioned it. They stared, and seemed sur- 
prised ; but acknowledged that England, tire little island 
of England, alone was able to support poor Audubon. 
Some went so far as to say that, had I been here 
four months ago, I should not have had even the 
Prince d'Essling for a subscriber. Poor France, thy 
fine climate, rich vineyards, and the wishes of the learn- 
ed avail nothing ; thou art a destitute beggar, and not 
the powerful fi-iend thou wert represented to me. Now 
it is that I plainly see how- happy, or lucky, it was 
in me not to have come to France first ; for if I had, my 
work now would not have had even a beginning. It 
would have perished like a flower in October ; and I 
should have returned to m)^ woods, without the hope of 

Baron Cuvier. 169 

leaving behind that eternal fame which my ambition, in- 
dustry, and perseverance, long to enjoy. Not a sub- 
scriber, Lucy ; no, not one ' 

" I have also been again at Cuvier's to-day, to in- 
troduce Mr. Parker, to begin his portrait. You would 
like to hear more of Cuvier and his house. Well, we 
rang the bell, and a waiter came, and desired that we 
would wipe our feet ; we needed it, for we were very 
muddy. This over, we followed the man up-stairs, and 
in the first room we entered I saw a slight figure in black 
gliding out at an opposite door like a sylph. It was Miss 
Cuvier, not quite ready to receive company. Off she 
flew, like a dove before falcons. However, we followed 
our man, who every moment turned to us and repeated, 
' This way, gentlemen.' Then we passed through eight 
rooms filled with beds or books, and at last reached a 
sort of laboratory, the sanctum sanctorum of Cuvier ; 
nothing there but books, the skeletons of animals, and 
reptiles. Our conductor bid us sit, and left us to seek 
for the Baron. My eyes were occupied in the interval in 
examining the study of this great man, and my mind in 
reflecting on the wonders of his knowledge. All but or- 
der was about his books, and I concluded that he read 
and studied, and was not fond of books because he was 
the owner of them, as some great men seem to be whom 
I have known. Our conductor returned direcdy, and led 
us to another laboratory, where w-e found the Baron. 
Great men show politeness in a particular way; they re- 
ceive you without much demonstration ; a smile suffices 
to assure you that you are welcome, and keep about 
their avocations as if you were a member of the family." 

"Parker was introduced while Cuvier was looking at a 

small lizard, through a vial of spirits that contained it. I 

.' ee now his speaking eye, half closed, as if quizzing 

its qualities, and as he wrote 'ts name with a pencil on a 


lyo Life of Audubon. 

label, he bowed his body in acquiescence. ' Come and 
breakfast with me, Mr. Parker, on Thursday next, at ten 
o'clock, and I will be your man ;' and on he went quizzing 
more lizards. 

" Septeinber i8. Went with Parker to Baron Cuvier's. 
We met Miss Cuvier, who had made all preparations to re- 
ceive us. The Baron came in and seated himself in a 
comfortable arm-chair. Great men, as well as great 
women, have their share of vanity, and I soon discovered 
that the Baron thinks himself a fine-looking mail. His 
daughter seemed to understand this, and remarked more 
than once, that her father had his under lip much more 
swelled than usual ; and she added that the line of his 
nose was extremely fine. I passed my fingers over mine, 
and, lo ! I thought just the same. I see the Baron now 
quite as plainly as I did this morning, an old green 
surtout about him, a neckcloth, that would have wrapped 
his whole body if unfolded, loosely tied about his chin, 
and his silver locks looking like those of a man who 
loves to study books better than to visit barbers. His 
fine eye glistened from under his thick eyebrows, and he 
smiled as he spoke to me; Miss Cuvier is a most agree- 
able lady, and opening a book, she asked to read aloud 
to us all ; and on she went in a clear, well-accented tone, 
from a comic play, well calculated to amuse us for the 
time, and during the monotony of sitting for a portrait, 
which is always a great bore. Mrs. Cuvier joined us, and 
I noticed her expression was one of general sadness, and 
she listened with a melancholy air that depressed my own 
spirits. The Baron soon expressed himself fatigued, and 
went oat, and I advised Parker to keep him as short a 
time as possible. We were in one of his libraries, and 
he asked his daughter to show us two portraits of himself, 
painted some ten years ago. They were only so so. 
Meanwhile the Baron named next Thursday for another 

Redout e 171 

^'September 20. This morning I had the pleasure of 
seeing the venerable Redoute, the flower -painter /^r^xr^/- 
lence. After reading Lesueur's note to him, dated five 
years ago, he looked at me fixedly, and said, '• Well, sir, I 
am truly glad to become acquainted with you ;' and with- 
out further ceremony he showed me his best works. His 
flowers are grouped with peculiar taste, well drawn and 
precise in the outlines, and colored with a pure brilliancy, 
which resembles Nature immeasurably better than I ever 
saw it before. Redoutd dislikes all that is not pure Na- 
ture ; he cannot bear drawings of stuffed birds or 
quadrupeds, and expressed a desire to see a work where- 
in Nature is delineated in an animated way. He said he 
dined every Friday at the Duke of Orleans' ; he 
would take my work there next week, and obtain his sub- 
scription, if not the Duchess' also. He asked for a pro- 
spectus, and invited me to return next Wednesday. I 
looked over hundreds of his drawings, and learned that 
he sold them at high prices, some as high as two hun- 
dred and fifty guineas. On my way home I met the sec- 
retary of the king's library, who told me that the Baron de 
la Boullerie had given orders to have my work inspected, 
and if approved, to subscribe for it. I have found that 
letters of introduction are not as useful here as in Eng- 
land. Cuvier, to whom I had no letter, and to whom my 
name was unknown before my arrival, is the only man who 
has yet invited me to his house. I wished to go • this 
evening to his scientific soiree, to which he invited me, 
but I did not, because I have been two successive Sat- 
urdays, and I am afraid of intruding, although the rude 
.iwkwardness I formerly felt has worn nearly smooth. 

^^ September 22. This was the grand day appointed 
by Baron Cuvier for reading his report on my work at the 
French Institute. The French Institute ! Shall I call 
it superior to the Royal Academy of London ? I cannot 

172 Life of Auduhon. 

better answer the interrogation, than by the reports of 
the presidents of these insthutions on my work. By par- 
ticular invitation of the Baron, I was at the Institute at 
half-past one, and no Baron there. I sat opposite the 
clock, and counted the minutes one after another ; but 
the clock, insensible to my impatience, moved regularly, 
and ticked its time just as if Audubon had never existed. 
I undertook to count the numerous volumes which filled 
the compartments of the library, but my eye became be • 
wildered, and as it reached the distant centre of the hall, 
rested on the figure of Voltaire ! Poor Voltaire ! had 
he not his own share of troubles ? how was he treated ? 
Savants like shadows passed before me, nodded, and 
proceeded to their seats, and resting their heads on their 
hands, looked for more knowledge in different memoirs. 
I, Lucy, began journeying to America, sailed up its riv- 
ers, across its lakes, along its coasts, and up the Missis- 
sippi, until I reached Bayou Sara, and leaping on shore, 
and traversing the magnolia forests, bounded towards 
thee, my dearest friend, — when the clock struck, and sud- 
denly called me to myself in the Royal Institute, patient- 
ly waiting for the Baron. 

" The number of savants increased, and my watch and 
the clock told that the day was waning. I took a book 
and read, but it went into my mind and left no impres- 
sion. The savants increased more and more, and by-and- 
by among them my quick eye discerns the Baron. I had 
been asked fifty times if I were waiting for him, and had 
been advised to go to his house ; but I sat and watched 
like a sentinel at his post. I heard his voice and his 
footstep, and at last saw him, warm, apparently fatigued, 
and yet extremely kindly, coming towards me, with a 
' My dear sir, I am sorry to know that you have waited so 
long here ; I was in my cabinet; come with me.' During 
all this talk, to which I bowed, and followed him, his hand 

The '^^ Institute Suh scribes. 173 

was driving a pencil with great rapidity, and I discov- 
ered that he was actually engaged in making his report. 
I thought of La Fontaine's ' Fable of the Turtle and the 
Hare,' and of many other things ; and I was surprised 
that so great a man, who, of course, being great, must 
take care of each of his actions with a thousand times 
more care than a common individual, to prevent falls, 
when surrounded, as all great men are, by envy, cow- 
ardice, malice, and all other evil spirits, should leave to 
the last moment the writing of a report, to every word of 
which the ' Forty of France' would lend a critical ear. We 
were now in his cabinet ; my enormous book lay before 
him, and I shifted swiftly the different plates that he had 
marked for examination. His pencil kept constantly 
moving ; he turned and returned the. sheets of his 
pamphlet with amazing accuracy, and noted as quickly as 
he saw all that he saw. We were both wet with perspira- 
tion. When this was done, he invited me to call on him 
to-morrow at half-past ten, and went off towards the 

" September 23. I waited in Cuvier's departmental 
section until past eleven, when he came in, as much in a 
hurry as ever, and yet as kind as ever, always the per- 
fect gentleman. The report had been read, and the In- 
stitute, he said, had subscribed for one copy ; and he 
told me the report would appear in next Saturday's 
' Globe.' I called on M. Feuillet, principal librarian of 
the Institute, to inquire how I was to receive the sub- 
scription. He is a large, stout man, had on a hunting- 
cap, and began by assuring me that the Institute was in 
the habit of receiving a discount on all the works it takes. 
My upper lip curled, not with pleasure, but with a sneer 
at such a request ; and I told the gentleman that I nev- 
er made discounts on a work which cost me a life of much 
trouble and too much expense ever to be remunerated j 
so the matter dropped. 

174 L^f^ of Audubon. 

^^ September 24. To-day I was told that Geiard, the 
great Gerard, the pupil of my old master David, wished 
to see me and my works. I propose to visit him to-mor- 

'■'■ Se temher 25. I have trotted from pillar to post 
through this big town, from the Palais Royal to the Jar- 
din du Luxembourg, in search of Mons. Le Medecin Ber- 
trand, after a copy of Cuvier's Report ; such is man, all 
avaricious of praise by nature. Three times did I go to 
the ' Globe ' office, from places three miles apart, until at 
last, wearied and brought to bay, I gave up the chase. 
At last I went to the king's library, and I learned from 
the librarian, a perfect gentleman, that the court had in- 
spected my work, and were delighted with it ; and he told 
me that kings were not generally expected to pay for 
works ; and I gave him to understand that I was able 
to keep the work if the king did not purchase. 

" To-day I saw the original copy of Cuvier's report on 
my work. It is quite an eulogium, but not as feelingly 
written as Mr. Swainson's ; nevertheless, it will give the 
French an idea of my work, and may do good. 

" The following is an extract translated from the re- 
port : — 

" ' The Academy of Sciences have requested me to 
make a verbal report on the work of Mr. Audubon, laid 
before it at a former session, on the "Birds of North 
America." It may be described in a few words as the 
most magnificient monument which has yet been erected 
to ornithology. The author, born in Louisiana, and devot- 
ed fiom his youth to painting, was twenty -five years ago 
a pupil in the school of David. Having returned to his 
own country, he thought he could not make abetter use of 
his talents than by representing the most brilliant pro- 
ductions of that hemisphere. The accurate observation 
necessary for such representations as he wished to make 
soon rendered him a naturalist. 

Report of the Academy, ly^ 

" * It is in this double capacity of artist and savant 
that he produced the work, which has been offered to tlie 
inspection of the Academy. You liave been struck hy 
the size of the book, which is equal or superior to the 
largest of that kind that has ever been published, and is 
nearly as large as the double plates of the Description of 
Egypt. This extraordinary dimension has enabled him 
to give specimens of the eagle and vulture of their natu- 
ral size, and to multiply those which are smaller in such a 
manner as to represent them in eveiy attitude. 

" ' He was thus able to represent on the same plates, 
and of the natural size, the plants which these birds most 
commonly frequent, and to give the fullest detail of their 
nests and eggs. 

" ' The execution of these plates, so remarkable for 
their size, appears to have succeeded equally well with 
regard to the drawing, the engraving, and the coloring. 
And although it is difficult in coloring to give perspec- 
tives with as much effect as in painting, properly so call- 
ed, that is no defect in a work on natural history. Natu- 
ralists prefer the real color of objects to those accidental 
tints which are the result of the varied reflections of light 
necessary to complete picturesque representations, but 
foreign and even injurious to scientific truth. 

" ' Mr. Audubon has already prepared four hundred 
drawings, which contain nearly two thousand figures, and 
he proposes to publish them successively if he receives 
sufficient encouragement from lovers of science. A w^ork 
conceived and executed on so vast a plan has but one 
fault, and doubtless in that respect my auditors have al- 
ready anticipated me ; it is that its expense renders it al- 
most inaccessible to the greater part of those to whom it 
would be most necessary. It certainly cannot be said 
that the price is exorbilant. One number of five plates 
costs two guineas ; each plate comes to only ten or 

176 Life of Auduhon. 

twelve francs. As there will be published but five num- 
bers a year, the annual expense would not be enormous. 
It is desirable, at least for art as well as science, that the 
great public libraries — and the wealthy, who love to en 
rich their collections with works of luxury — should be 
willing to secure it. 

" ' Formerly the European naturalists were obliged to 
make known to America the riches she possessed ; but 
now Mitchell, Harler, and Bonaparte give back with in- 
terest to Europe what America had received. Wilson's 
history of the " Birds of the United States " equals in el- 
egance our most beautiful works on ornithology. If that 
of Mr. Audubon should be completed, we shall be obliged 
to acknowledge that America, in magnificence of execu- 
tion, has surpassed the old world.' 

" Scpteinbet- 30. Mr. Coutant, the great engraver of 
Paris, came to see my work to-day. When I opened the 
book he stared ; and as I turned over the engravings, he 
exclaimed often ' Oh, mon Dieu ! quel ouvrage 1 ' Old 
Redoute also visited me, and brought an answer to my 
letter from the Due d'Orleans. At one o'clock I went 
with my portfolio to the Palais Royal ; and as I do not 
see dukes every day, dearest, I will give you an account 
of my visit. 

" The Palais Royal of the Duke of Orleans is actually 
the entrance of the Palais Royal, the public walk to 
which we go almost every evening, and which is guarded 
by many sentinels. On the right I saw a large, fat, red- 
coated man, through the ground window, whom I sup- 
posed to be the porter of his Royal Highness : he opened 
the door, and I took off my fur cap, and walked in with- 
out ceremony. I gave him my card, and requested him 
to send it up-stairs. He said Monseigneur was not in, 
but I might go into the antechamber, and I ascended 
one of the finest staircases my feet had ever trod. They 

'The Duke of Orleans. lyy 

parted at the bottom, in a Founding form of about twenty- 
four feet in breadth, to meet on the second-tioor, on a 
platform, Hghted by a skylight, showing the beauties of 
the surrounding walks, and in front of which were three 
doors, two of which I tried in vain to open. The third, 
however, gave way, and I found myself in the outer ante- 
chamber, with about twelve servants, who all rose up and 
stood until I seated myself on a soft, red, velvet-covered 
bench. Not a word was said to me, and I gazed on the 
men and place with a strange sensation of awkwardness. 
The walls were bare, the floor black and v/hlte squares 
of marble, over which a sergeant paced, wearing a broad 
belt. I waited some minutes, looking on this dumb 
show, and wondering how long it would last, when I ac- 
costed the sergeant, and told him I wished to see the 
duke, and that I had come here by his order. He 
made a profound bow, and conducted me to another 
room, where several gentlemen were seated writing. I 
told one of them my errand, and he immediately showed 
me into an immense and elegantly-furnished apartment, 
and ordered my book to be brought up. In this room I 
bowed to two gentlemen whom I knew belonged to the 
Legion of Honor, and walked about, examining the fine 
marble statues and pictures. A gentleman soon entered 
the room, and coming towards me with an agreeable 
smile, asked if perchance my name was Audubon. I 
bowed, and he replied, ' Bless me, we thought you had 
gone, and left your portfolio. My uncle has been wait- 
ing for you twenty minutes ; pray, sir, follow me.' We 
entered another room, and I saw the duke approaching 
me, and was introduced to him by his nephew. I do not 
recollect ever having seen a finer man, in form, deport- 
ment, and elegant manners, than this Duke of Orleans. 
He had my book brought in, and helped me to untie the 
strings and arrange the table, and began by saying that 

1 7 8 Life of Auduhon. 

he felt a great pleasure in subscribing to the work of an 
American ; that he had been kindly treated in the United 
States, and would never forget it. When the portfolio 
.vas opened, and I held up the plate of the Baltimore 
oriole, with a nest swinging amongst the tender twigs of 
the yellow poplar, he said, ' This surpasses all I have 
seen, and I am not astonished now at the eulogium of M. 
Redoute.' He spoke partly in English and partly in 
French, and said much of America, of Pittsburg, the 
Ohio, New Orleans, the Mississippi and its steamboats ; 
and then added, ' You are a great and noble nation, a 
wonderful nation ! ' The duke promised to write to the 
Emperor of Austria for me, atid to the King of Sweden, 
and other crowned heads, and to invite them to subscribe, 
and requested me to send a note to-day to the Minister 
of the Interior. I remained talking with him and his 
nephew more than an hour. I asked him to give me his 
own signature on my list of subscribers. He smiled, 
took it, and wrote, in very legible letters, ' Le Due d'Or- 
leans.' I now thought that to remain any longer would 
be an intrusion, and thanking him respectfully, I bowed, 
shook hands, and retired. As I passed down the serv- 
ants stared at me with astonishment, wondering, doubt- 
less, what could have obtained me so long and intimate 
an mterview with their master. 

" October i. Called to-day on M. Gerard, of whom 
France may boast without a blush. It was ten o'clock 
when I reached his hotel ; but as he is an Italian, 
born at Rome, and retains the habits of his countiy- 
men, keeps late hours, and seldom takes his tea be- 
fore one o'clock in the morning, I found him just up, and 
beginning his day's work. When I entered his rooms 
they were filled with persons of both sexes, and as soon 
as my name was announced, Gerard, a small, well-formed 
man, came towards me, took my hand, and said, 'Wei- 

Visits M. Gerard. 179 

come, brother ih arts !" I liked this much, and felt grati* 
^ed to have broken the ice so easily, and my perspira- 
tion subsided. 

" Gerard was all curiosit}^ to see my drawings, and 
old Redouts, who was also present, came to me and 
spoke so highly of them before they were opened, that I 
feared Gerard would be disappointed. However, the 
book was opened accidentally at the plate of the parrots, 
and Gerard, taking it up without speaking, looked at it 
with an eye as critical as my own for several minutes, put 
it down, and took up the mocking-birds, and then offer- 
ing me his hand, said, ' Mr. Audubon, you are the king 
of ornithological painters. We are all children in France 
or Europe. Who would have expected such things from 
the woods of America! ' I received compliments on all 
sides, and Gerard talked of nothing but my work, and 
asked me to give him some prospectuses to send to Italy. 
He also repeated what Baron Cuvier had said in the 
morning, and hoped that the Minister would order a num- 
ber of copies for the government. I closed the book, and 
sauntered around the room, admiring the superb prints, 
mostly taken from his own paintings. The ladies were 
all engaged at cards, and money did not appear to be 
scarce in this part of Paris. Mrs. Gerard is a small, fat- 
tish woman, to whom I made a bow, and saw but for a mo- 
ment. The ladies were dressed very finely, quite in a new 
fashion to me, pointed corsets before, with some hanging 
trimmings, and very full robes of rich and differently-col- 
ored satins and other materials. 

'■'■October 20. Nothing to do, and fatigued with look- 
ing at Paris. Four subscriptions in seven weeks is very 

slow work The stock-pigeon, or cushat, roosts 

in the trees of the garden of the Tuileries in considerable 
numbers. They arrive about sunset, settle at first on the 
highest trees a«d driest naked branches, then gradually 

1 8o Life of Auduhon. 

lower themselves to the trunks of the trees and the thick- 
est parts of the foHage, and remain there all night. They 
leave at the break of day, and fly off in a northerly di- 
rection. Blackbirds also do the same, and are extreme- 
ly noisy before dark ; some few rooks and magpies are 
seen there also. In the Jardin or walks of the Palais 
Royal the common sparrows are prodigiously plentiful ; 
very tame, fed by ladies and children, and often killed 
with blowguns by mischievous boys. The mountain 
finch passes in scattered numbers over Paris at this season, 
going northerly. And now, my love, wouldst thou not 
believe me once more in the woods, and hard at it ? 
Alas ! I wish I were. What precious time I am losing in 
this Europe ! When shall I go home ? 

" October 26. I have not written for several days, be- 
cause I have been waiting, and had no inclination. 
Meanwhile a note came from Baron de la Bouillerie, an- 
nouncing the king's subscription for six copies ; and I 
have appointed an agent in Paris, and am now ready to 
leave. I have bid adieu to Baron Cuvier and Geoffrey 
St. Hilaire, and have taken a seat in the rotmida for 
Calais and London direct. I have paid twenty francs in 
advance, and long for to-morrow, to be on my way to 
Er gland. I shall have been absent two months, have ex- 
pended forty pounds, and obtained thirteen subscrib- 


Return to London — Sets Sail for America — Arrival — Friends it 

New York. 

\ONDON, Nov. 9. This is an eventful day in 
the history of my great work on the Birds of 
America. Mr. Havell has taken the. draw- 
ings which are to form the eleventh number, and it will 
be the first number for the year 1829. I wished several 
numbers to be engraved as soon as possible, for rea- 
sons which, if known to thee, Lucy, would fill thy heart 
with joy. 

" November 10. I am painting as much as the short 
days will allow ; but it is so very cold to my south- 
ern constitution, that I am freezing on the side farthest 
fi-om the fire. I have finished two pictures for the 
Duke of Orleans — one of the grouse, with which I re- 
gret to part without a copy, though I have taken the 

^^ December 22,. After so long an absence from thee, 
my dear Book, it will be difficult to write up a connected 
record of intervening events, but I will tiy and recall 
what is worth recording. My main occupation has been 
painting every day. I have finished my two large pic- 
tures of the Eagle and the Lamb, and the Dog and the 
Pheasants, and now, as usual, can scarce bear to look at 
them. My amiable pupil. Miss Hudson, has kept me 
company, and her pencil has turned some of my draw- 

1 82 Life of Audubon. 

ings into pictures. I have dined out but once, with my 
friend J. G. Children, of the British Museum, on the 
Coronation Day ; and there I met several friends and 
scientific acquaintance. The want of exercise, and close 
application, have reduced my flesh very much, and I 
would have been off for Manchester, Liverpool, &c., but 
have had no complete copy of my work to take with me. f- 

^^ December 25. Another Christmas in England! I 
dined at Mr. Goddard's, in the furthest opposite end of 
London, with a company mostly American. Sir Thomas 
Lawrence called to see my paintings while I was absent. 
Mr. Havell showed them to him, and made the following 
report to me : — ' Looking at the picture of the Eagle and 
the Lamb, he said, "Thaf is a fine picture." He ex- 
amined it closely, and then turned to the Pheasants, 
which I call " Sauve qui pent ;" this he looked at from 
different points, and with his face close to the canvas, 
and had it rolled to different points, for more light and 
new views, but expressed no opinion about it. The Otter 
came next. He said, " The animal is very fine." He 
left, and promised to return in a few days.' I met him 
soon after, and he told me he would call and make selec- 
tion of a picture to be exhibited at Somerset House, and 
would speak to the council about it." 

By this time, as the journal shows, Audubon had re- 
solved to visit America, and had begun to make active 
preparations for leaving. 

'■'' AlarcJi 31. It is so long since I have written in my 
life book, that I felt quite ashamed on opening it to see 
that the last date was Christmas of last year. Fie, Au- 
dubon ! Well, I have made up my mind to go to Ameri- 
ca, and with some labor and some trouble perfected all 
arrangements. I have given the agency of my work to 
my excellent friend Children, of the British Museum, 
who kindly offered to see to it during my absence. I 

T'he Return Home. 183 

have settled all my business as well as I could, taken my 
passage on board the packet-ship Columbia, Captain 
Joseph Delano, to sail from Portsmouth, and paid thirty 
pounds for my passage. 

" Aj>ril I. I went by mail to the smoky city of Ports- 
mouth ; have hoisted the anchor, am at sea, and sea-sick. 

" The cry of ' land, land, land ! ' thrice repeated, roused 
me from my torpor, and acted like champagne to refresh 
my spirits. I rushed on deck, and saw in the distance a 
deep gray line, like a wall along the horizon, and toward 
which the ship was rolling and cutting her way. My 
heart swelled with joy, and all seemed like a pleasant 
dream at first ; but as soon as the reality was fairly im- 
pressed on my mind, tears of joy rolled down my cheeks. 
I clasped my hands, and fell on my knees, and raising 
my eyes to heaven — that happy land above — I offered my 
thanks to our God, that He had preserved and prospered 
me in my long absence, and once more permitted me to 
approach these shores so dear to me, and which hold my 
heart's best earthly treasures. 

" May ^. New York. I have brought thee, my En- 
glish book, all the way across the Atlantic, too sea-sick 
to hold any converse with thee — sea-sick all the way, 
until the morning when I saw my dear native land. But 
no matter, I have safely landed. We left England with 
one hundred and fifty souls, and put them all ashore at 
New York, except one poor black fellow, who thought 
proper to put an end to his existence by jumping over- 
board one dark night. A Mr. Benjamin Smith subscribed 
to my work on the passage. He had his family, eight 
servants, five dogs, 'and cloth and twine' enough to fly 
kites the world over — an excellent and benevolent man. 

" My state-room companion was a colonel from Rus- 
sia, named Sir Isaac Coffin, and he did all he could to 
make the voyage as pleasant as possible under the cir 

184 Life of Auduhon. 

cumstances. I was well received in New York by all my 
acquaintances, and Dr. Paxallis took me to the Collector 
of the Customs, who, on reading President Jackson's let- 
ters to me, gave free admission to my books and luggage. 
My work was exhibited here, and a report made on it to 
the New York Lyceum ; and I made the acquaintance of 
]\Ir. AVilliam Cooper, the friend of Charles Bonaparte, a 
fine, kind person. 

" May 14. I left New York for Philadelphia, in com- 
pany with Mr. Thomas Wharton, an excellent, but not 
remarkably intellectual man, and took board with Mrs. 
Bradley, in Arch Street. There I spent three days, and 
then removed to Camden, New Jersey, where I spent 
three weeks in observing the habits of the migratory 
warblers and other birds which arrive in vast numbers in 
the spring. From there I returned to Philadelphia to 
visit the sea-shores of New Jersey." 

Here follows his elaborate account of that visit. 

" Great Egg Harbor. 

" Having made all the necessary preparations to 
visit the sea-shores of New Jersey, for the purpose of 
making myself acquainted with their feathered inhabi- 
tants, I left early in June. The weather was pleasant, 
and the country seemed to smile in the prospect of bright 
days and gentle gales. Fishermen-gunners passed daily 
between Philadelphia and the various small seaports, 
with Jersey waggons laden with fish, fowls, and other pro- 
vision, or with such articles as were required by the fami- 
lies of those hardy boatmen ; and I bargained with one 
of them to take myself and my baggage to Great Egg 
Harbor. One 'afternoon, about sunset, the vehicle halt- 
ed at my lodgings, and the conductor intimated that he 
was anxious to proceed as quickly as possible. A trunk, 
a couple of guns, and such other articles as are found 

I^he Sea Shores of Jersey, 1 8 < 

necessary by persons whose pursuits are similar to mine, 
were immediately thrust into the waggon, and were fol- 
lowed by their owner. The conductor whistled to his 
steeds, and off we went at a round pace over the loose 
and deep sand that in almost every part of this State 
forms the basis of the roads. After a while v/e overtook 
a whole caravan of similar vehicles moving in the same 
direction ; and when we got near them our horses slack- 
ened their pace to a regular walk, the driver leaped from 
his seat, I followed his example, and we presently found 
ourselves in the midst of a group of merry waggoners, re- 
lating their adventures of the week, it being now Saturday 
night. One gave intimation of the number of ' sheep's- 
heads ' he had taken to town ; another spoke of the cur- 
lews which yet remained on the sands ; and a third boast- 
ed of having gathered so many dozens of* marsh hens' 
eggs. I inquired if the fish-hawks were plentiful near 
Great Egg Harbor, and was answered by an elderly 
man, who, with a laugh, asked if I had ever seen the 
' weak fish ' along the coast without the bird in question. 
Not knowing the animal he had named, I confessed my 
ignorance, when the whole party burst into a loud laugh, 
in which, there being nothing better for it, I joined. 

" About midnight the caravan reached a half-way 
house, where we rested a while. Several roads diverged 
from this spot, and the waggons separated, one only 
keeping us company. The night was dark and gloomy, 
but the sand of the road indicated our course very dis- 
tinctl3^ Suddenly the galloping of horses struck my ear, 
and on looking back, we perceived that our waggon must 
in an instant be in imminent clanger. The driver leaped 
off, and drew his steeds aside, barely in time to allow the 
runaways to pass without injuring us. Off they went at 
full speed, and not long after their owner came up pant- 
ing, and informed us that they had suddenly taken fright 

1 86 Life of Auduhon. 

at some noise proceeding from the woods, but hoped they 
would soon stop. Immediately after we heard a crash j 
then for a few moments all was silent ; but the neighing 
of the horses presently assured us that they had broken 
loose. On reaching the spot we found the waggon up- 
set, and a few yards further on were the horses quietly 
browsing by the road-side. 

" The first dawn of morn in the Jerseys, in the month 
of June, is worthy of a better description than I can fur- 
nish ; and therefore I shall only say that the moment the 
sunbeams blazed over the horizon, the loud and mellow 
notes of the meadow lark saluted our ears. On each side 
of the road were open woods, on the tallest trees of 
which I observed at intervals the nest of a fish-hawk, far 
above which the white-breasted bird slowly winged its 
way as it commenced its early journey to the sea, the 
odor of which filled me with delight. In half an hour 
more we were in the centre of Great Egg Harbor. 

" There I had the good fortune to be received into 
the house of a thoroughbred fisherman-gunner, who, be- 
sides owning a comfortable cot, only a few hundred yards 
from the shore, had an excellent woman for a wife, and a 
little daughter as playful as a kitten, though as wild as a 
sea-gull. In less than half an hour I was quite at home, 
and the rest of the day was spent in devotion. Oysters, 
though reckoned out of season at this period, are as good 
as ever when fresh from their beds, and my first meal was 
of some as large and white as any I have eaten. The 
sight of them, placed before me on a clean table, with an 
honest industrious family in my company, never failed to 
afford more pleasure than the most sumptuous fare under 
different circumstances, and our conversation being sim- 
ple and harmless, gayety shone in every face. As we be- 
came better acquainted, I had to answer several ques- 
tions relative to the object of my visit. The good man 

I^he Sea Shores of Jersey. 187 

rubbed his hands with joy as I spoke of shooting and fish- 
ing, and of long excursions through the swamps and 
marshes around. My host was then, and I hope still is, 
a tall, strong-boned, muscular man, of dark complexion, 
with eyes as keen as those of the sea eagle. He was a 
tough walker, laughed at difficulties, and could pull an 
oar v\ith any man. As to shooting, I have often doubted 
whether he or Mr. Egan, the worthy pilot of Indian Isle, 
w'as best ; and rarely indeed have I seen either of them 
miss a shot. 

" At daybreak on Monday I shouldered my double- 
barrelled gun, and my host carried with him a long fowl- 
ing piece, a pair of oars, and a pair of oyster-tongs, while 
the wife and daughter brought along a seine. The boat 
was good, the breeze gentle, and along the inlets we sailed 
for parts well known to my companions. To such natu- 
ralists as are qualified to observe many different objects 
at the same time. Great Egg Harbor would probably af- 
ford as ample a field as any part of our coast, excepting 
the Florida Keys. Birds of many kinds are abundant, as 
are fishes and testaceous animals. The forests shelter 
many beautiful plants, and even on the driest sand-bar 
3-ou may see insects of the most brilliant tints. Our prin- 
cipal object, however, was to procure certain birds known 
there by the name of lawyers ; and to accomplish this we 
entered and followed for several miles a winding inlet or 
bayou, which led us to the interior of a vast marsh, 
where, after some search, we found the birds and their 
nests. Our seine had been place'd across the channel, 
and when we returned to it the tide had run out and left 
in it a number of fine fishes, some of which we cooked and 
ate on the spot. One, which I considered as a curiosity, 
was saved and transmitted to Baron Cuvier. Our rejDast 
ended, the seine was spread out to dry, and we again be- 
took ourselves to the marshes, to pursue our researches 

i88 Life of Auduhon. 

until the return of the tide. Having collected enough to 
satisfy us, we took up our oars and returned to the shore 
in front of the fisherman's house, where we dragged the 
seine several times with success. 

" In this manner I passed several weeks along those 
delightful and healthy shores — one day going to the 
woods to search the swamps in which the herons bred, 
passing another amid the joyous cries of the marsh hens, 
and on a third cari-yiiig slaughter among the white breast- 
ed sea-gulls ; by way of amusement sometimes hauling 
the fish called the ' sheep's-head ' from an eddy along the 
shore ; watching the gay terns as they danced in the 
air, or plunged into the water to seize the tiny fry. Many 
a drawing I made at Egg Harbor, and many a pleasant 
day I spent along its shores ; and much pleasure would 
it give me once more to visit the good and happy family 
(Captain Horam's) in whose house I resided there. 

" September i. Having accomplished my purpose in 
visiting the sea-shore of New Jersey, I returned to Phila- 
delphia, and made preparations to go to the Great Pine 
Swamp, in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. 

"Thk Great Pine Swamp. 

" I left Philadelphia at four of the morning by the 
coach, with no other accoutrements than I knew to be ab- 
solutely necessary for the jaunt which I intended to 
make. These consisted of a wooden box, containing a 
small stock of linen, drawing-pajDer, my journal, colors 
and pencils, together with twenty-five pounds of shot, 
some flints, a due quantum of cash, my gun, ' Tear Jack- 
et,' and a heart as true to nature as ever. 

" Our coaches are none of the best, nor do they 
move with the velocity of those of some other countries. 
It was eight, and a dark night, when I reached Mauch 
Chunk, now so celebrated in the Union for its rich coal 

l!he Great Fine Swamp. 189 

mines, and eighty-eight miles distant from Philadelphia. 
I had passed through a diversified country, part of which 
was highly cultivated, while the rest was yet in a state of 
nature, and consequently much more agreeable to me. 
On alighting I was shown to the travellers' room, and on 
asking for the landlord, saw coming towards me a fine- 
looking young man, to whom I made known my wishes. 
He spoke kindly, and offered to lodge and board me at a 
much lower rate than travellers who go there for the very 
simple pleasure of being dragged on the railway. In a 
word, I was fixed in four minutes, and that most comfort- 

" No sooner had the approach of day been announced 
by the cocks of the little village, than I marched out 
with my gun and note-book, to judge for myself of the 
wealth of the country. After traversing much ground, 
and crossing many steep hills, I returned, if not wearied, 
at least much disappointed at the extraordinary scarcity of 
birds. So I bargained to be carried in a cart to the cen- 
tral parts of the Great Pine Swamp ; and although a heavy 
storm was rising, ordered my conductor to i^roceed. The 
weather had become tremendous, and we were thorough- 
ly drenched. We wound round many a mountain, and at 
last crossed the highest. But my resolution being fixed, 
the boy was obliged to continue his driving. Having al- 
ready travelled fifteen miles or so, we left the turnpike 
and struck up a narrow and bad road, that seemed mere- 
ly cut out to enable the people of the swamp to receive the 
necessary supplies from the village which I had left. 
Some mistakes were made, and it was almost dark when 
a post directed us to the habitation of a Mr. Tedediah 
Irish, to whom I had been recommended. We now 
rattled down a steep declivity, edged on one side by al- 
most perpendicular rocks, and on the other by a noisy 
stream, which seemed grumbling at the approach of 

190 Life of Auduhon. 

strangers. The ground was so overgrown by laurels and 
tall pines of different kinds, that the whole presented only 
a mass of darkness. 

" At length we got to the house, the door of which 
was already opened, the sight of strangers being nothing 
uncommon \\\ our woods, even in the most remote 
parts. On entering I was presented with a chair, while 
my conductor was shown the way to the stable ; and on 
expressing a wish that I should be permitted to remain in 
the house for some weeks, I was gratified by receiving 
the sanction of the good woman to my proposal, although 
her husband was then from home. As I immediately 
fell talking about the nature of the country, and if birds 
were numerous in the neighborhood, Mrs. Irish, more an 
fait to household affairs than ornithology, sent for a ne- 
phew of her husband, who soon made his appearance, and 
in whose favor I became at once jDrepossessed. He con- 
versed like an educated person, saw that I was comforta- 
bly disposed of, and finally bid me good-night, in such a 
tone as made me quite happy. 

" The storm had rolled away before the first beams of 
the morning sun shone brightly on the wet foliage, dis- 
playing all its richness and beauty. My ears were greet- 
ed by the notes, always sweet and mellow, of the wood- 
thrush, and other songsters. Before I had gone many 
steps the woods echoed to the report of my gun, and I 
picked from among the leaves a lovely bird long sought 
for, but till then sought for in vain. I needed no more, 
and standing still for a while, I was soon convinced that 
the Great Pine Swamp harbored many other objects inter- 
esting to me. The young man joined me, bearing his 
rifle, and offered to accompany me through the woods, all 
of which he well knew. But I was anxious to transfer to 
jDaper the form and beauty of the little bird I had in my 
hand ; and requesting him to break a twig of blooming 

'Jedediah Irish. 191 

laurel, we returned to the house, speaking of nothing else 
than the picturesque beauty of the country around. 

" A few days passed, during which I became acquaint' 
ed with my hostess and her sweet chilch'en, and made oc- 
casional rambles, but spent the greater portion of my time 
in drawing. One morning, as I stood near the window of 
my room, I remarked a tall and powerful man alight from 
his horse, loose the girth of his saddle, raise the latter 
with one hand, pass the bridle over the head of the ani- 
mal with the other, and move towards the house, while 
tlie horse betook himself to the little brook to drink. I 
heard some movement in the room below, and again the 
same tall person walked towards the mills and stores, a 
few hundred yards from the house. In -■ merica, busi- 
ness is the first object in view at all times, and rightly it 
should be so. Soon after, my hostess entered my room 
accompanied by the fine-looking woodsman, to whom, as 
Mr. Jedediah Irish, I was introduced. Reader, to de- 
scribe to you the qualities of that excellent man, were vain ; 
you should know him as I do, to estimate the value of 
such men in our sequestered forests. He not only 
made me welcome, but promised all his assistance in for- 
warding my views. The long walks and long talks we 
have had together I never can forget, nor the many beau- 
tiful birds which we pursued, shot, and admired. The 
juicy venison, excellent bear's flesh, and delightful trout 
that daily formed my food, methinks I can still enjoy. 
And then what pleasure I had in listening to him, as he 
read his favorite poems of Burns, while my pencil, was oc- 
cupied in smoothing and softening the drawing of the 
bird before me. Was not this enough to recall to my 
mind the early impressions that had been made upon it 
by the description of the golden age, which I here found 
realized ? The Lehigh about this place forms numerous 
short turns between the mountains, and affords frequent 

192 Life of Audiihon. 

falls, as well as, below the falls, deep pools, which ren- 
der diis stream a most valuable one for mills of any kind. 
Not many years before this date my host was chosen by 
the agent of the Lehigh Coal Company as their mill- 
wright, and manager for cutting down the fine trees which 
covered the mountains around. He was young, robust, 
active, industrious, and persevering. He marched to the 
spot where his abode now is, with some workmen, and 
by dint of hard labor first cleared the road mentioned 
above, and reached the river at the centre of a bend, 
where he fixed on erecting various mills. The pass here 
is so narrow that it looks as if formed by the bursting 
asunder of the mountain, both sides ascending abruptly, 
so that the place where the settlement was made is in 
many parts difficult of access, and the road then newly 
cut was only sufiicient to permit men and horses to come 
to the spot where Jedediah and his men were at work. So 
great in fact where the difficulties of access, that, as he 
told me, pointing to a spot about 150 feet above us, they 
for many months slipped from it their barrelled provis- 
ions, assisted by ropes, to their camp below. But no 
sooner was the first saw-mill erected, than the axemen be- 
gan their devastation. Trees one after another were, and 
are yet constantly heard falling during the days, and in 
calm nights the greedy mills told the sad tale that in a 
century the noble forests around would exist no more. 
Many mills were erected, many dams raised, in defiance 
of the impetuous Lehigh. One full third of the trees have 
already been culled, turned into boards, and floated as 
far as Philadelphia. Li such an undertaking the cutting 
of the trees is not all. They have afterw9,rds to be hauled 
to the edge of the mountains bordering the river, launched 
into the stream, and led to the mills, over many shallows 
and difficult places. AVhilst I was in the Great Pine 
Swamp, I frequently visited one of the principal places for 

Logging. 193 

the laun hing of logs. To see them tumbhng from such 
a height, touching here and there the rough angle of a 
projecting rock, bounding from it with the elasticity of a 
foot-ball, and at last falling with an awful crash into the 
river, forms a sight interesting in the highest degree, but 
impossible for me to describe. Shall I tell you that I 
have seen masses of these logs heaped above each other 
to the number of five thousand ? I may so tell you, for 
such I have seen. My friend Irish assured me that at 
some seasons these piles consisted of a much greater num- 
ber, the river becoming in these places completely 
choked up. When freshets or floods take place, then is 
the time chosen for forwarding to the difterent mills. This 
is called a ' frolic' Jedediah Irish, who is generally the 
leader, proceeds to the upper leajo with the men, 
each provided with a strong wooden handspike and 
a short-handled axe. They all take to the water, 
be it summer or winter, like so many Newfoundland 
spaniels. The logs are gradually detached, and aftei 
a time are seen floating down the dancing stream, 
here striking against a rock, and w-hirling many 
times I'ound, there suddenly checked in dozens by a shal- 
low, over which they have to be forced with the hand- 
spikes. Now they arrive at the edge of a dam, and when 
the party has arrived at the last, which lies just where my 
friend Irish's camp was first formed, the drenched leadet 
and his men, about sixty in number, make their way home, 
find there a healthful repast, and spend the evening and 
a portion of the night in dancing and frolicing in their 
own simple manner, in the most perfect amity, seldom 
troubling themselves with the idea of the labor prepared 
for them on the morrow. That morrow now come, one 
sounds a horn from the door of the storehouse, at the call 
of which they all return to their work. The sawyers, the 
millers, the rafters, and raftsmen are all immediately 

1^4 ^^f^ of Audiihon, 

busy. The mills all are going, and the logs, which a few 
months before were the supporters of broad and leafy 
tops, are now in the act of being split asunder. The 
boards are then launched into the stream, and rafts are 
formed of them for market. 

" During the summer and autumnal months, the Le- 
high, a small river of itself, soon becomes extremely 
shallow, and to float the rafts would prove impossible, 
liad not art managed to provide a supply of water for 
this express purpose. At the breast of the lower dam is 
a curiously-constructed lock, which is opened at the ap- 
proach of the rafts. They pass through this lock with 
the rapidity of lightning, propelled by the water that had 
been accumulated in the dam, and which is of itself gene- 
rally sufficient to float them to Mauch Chunk ; after 
which, entering regular canals, they find no other impedi- 
ments, but are conveyed to their ultimate destination. 
Before population had greatly advanced in this part of 
Pennsylvania, game of all descriptions found in that 
range was extremely abundant. The elk did not disdain 
to browse on the shoulders of the mountains near the Le- 
high. Bears and the common deer must have been 
plentiful, as at the moment when I write, many of both 
kinds are seen and killed by the resident hunters. The 
wild turkey, the pheasant, and the grouse, are tolerably 
abundant ; and as to trout in the streams — ah ! reader, if 
you are an angler, do go there and try for "yourself. For 
my part, I can only say that I have been made weaiy 
with pulling up from the rivulets the sparkling fish, al- 
lured by the struggles of the common grasshopper. 

" A comical affair happened with some bears, which I 
shall relate to you, good reader. A party of my friend 
Irish's raftsmen, returning from Mauch Chunk one after- 
noon, through sundry short cuts over the movmtains, at 
the season when huckleberries are ripe and plentiful, 

A Bear Fiiht 



were suddenly apprised of the proximity of some of these 
animals, by their snuffing the air. No sooner was this 
perceived than, to the astonishment of the party, not 
fewer than eight bears, I was told, made their appear 
ance. Each man being provided with his short-handled 
axe, faced about and willingly came to the scratch ; but 
the assailed soon j^roved the assailants, and with claw 
and tooth drove off the men in a twinkling. Down they 
all rushed from the mountain ; the noise spread quickly ; 
rifles were soon procured and shouldered ; but when the 
spot was reached, no bears were to be found ; night 
forced the hunters back to their homes, and a laugh con- 
cluded the affair. 

" I spent six weeks in the Great Pine Forest — swamp 
it cannot be called — where I made many a drawing. 
Wishing to leave Pennsylvania, and to follow the migra- 
tory flocks of our birds to the south, I bade adieu to the 
excellent wife and rosy children of my friend, and to his 
kind nephew. Jedediah Irish, shouldered his heavy 
rifle, accompanied me, and trudging directly across the 
mountains, we arrived at Mauch Chunk in good time for 
dinner. At Mauch Chunk, where we both spent the 
night, Mr. White, the civil engineer, visited me, and look- 
ed at my drawings which I had made at the Great Pine 
Forest. The news he gave me of my sons, then in Ken- 
tucky, made me still more anxious to move in their direc- 
tion ; and long before daybreak I shook hands with the 
good man of the forest, and found myself moving towards 
the capital of Pennsylvania, having as my sole companion 
a sharp frosty breeze. Left to my thoughts, I felt amazed 
that such a place as the Great Pine Forest should be so 
little known to the Philadelphians, scarcely any of whom 
could direct me towards it. 

" Night came on as I was thinking of such things, 
, and I was turned out of the coach, in the streets of the 

1^6 Life of Auduhon. 

fair city, just as the clock struck ten. I cannot say my 
bones were much rested, but not a moment was to be 
lost. So I desired a porter to take up my little luggage^ 
and leading him towards the nearest wharf, I found my- 
self soon after gliding across the Delaware towards my 
former lodgings in the Jerseys." 


The Meeting with his Wife and Sons — Return with his Wife td 
England — Provincial Canvass — East Florida. 

FTER remaining a few days at his lodgings, Au- 
dubon started off to his wife and children, who 
were then residing in the south and west ; Vic- 
tor at Louisville, Kentucky, and Mrs Audubon and John 
at Mr. Garret Johnson's, in Mississippi, about one hun- 
dred and fifty miles above New Orleans. 

" I crossed the mountains to Pittsburg, in the mail- 
coach, with my dog and gun, and calling on my wife's re- 
lations, and one of my old partners, Mr. Thomas Pears, 
I proceeded down the Ohio in a steamboat to Louisville. 
On entering the counting-house of my relative, Mr. W. 
G. Bakewell, I saw my son Victor at a desk, but per- 
haps would not have recognized him had he not known 
me at once. And the pleasure I experienced on pressing 
him to my breast was increased when I discovered how 
much my dear boy had improved, as I had not seen him 
for five years. My son John Woodhouse I also found at 
Mr. Berthond's, and he had also grown and improved. 
After spending a few days at Louisville, I took passage 
on another steamer going down the Mississippi, and in a 
few days landed at Bayou Sara, and was soon at the 
house of Mr. Johnson, and came suddenly on my dear 
wife ; we were both overcome with emotion, which found 
relief in tears." 

The following interesting allusions to Audubon's visit, 
are from the pen of T. B. Thorpe, for many years a res- 
ident of the South -West. "When we first arrived in 

1^8 Life of Auduhon. 

Louisiana," he writes, " we were pleasantly surprised to 
find that our temporaiy home was within range of much 
of Audubon's most faithfully searched country. Almost 
every old resident we met could tell us something about 
the man ; and although we heard much to satisfy us that 
his pursuits were altogether unappreciated, yet we never 
heard anything that did not reflect honor on his charac- 
ter as an enthusiastic disciple of nature, and a superior 
man, and not of one characteristic that displayed vanity. 
On the contrary, he was almost child-like in his habits, 
he was so inoffensive and unobtrusive where his pursuits 
were not concerned. At all events the details of his 
daily experiences in the swamps of the Mississippi, his 
patient sufferings from heat, storm and hunger, while sat- 
isfying himself of some habit of a single bird, tell of a 
character over which inordinate vanity could have exer- 
ted no perceptible influence. 

" Audubon was of French extraction ; he therefore in- 
herited the mercurial iDCculiarities of his race ; and when 
a youth, possessed of liberal resources, he was fond of 
display, but the grave pursuits of business and the fierce 
impulse he received from nature to be an ornithologist, 
and the many pecuniary misfortunes that befel him on 
the threshold of his life, sobered his judgment and pre- 
pared the way for that entire absorption of all his great 
powers that resulted finally in the production of his im- 
mortal works. 

" In one of the first plantation houses I visited on my 
arrival in Louisiana, I was attracted by the covering of 
a rude fireboard, which upon being attentively examined, 
I discovered was covered over with very sketchy, but nev- 
ertheless very expressive and masterly drawings of birds, 
mere outlines, yet full of spirit and most suggestive. I 
asked my host where these things came from, and much 
to my surprise he informed me that the bits of pajDcr I 

A Bird Study. 199 

saw were shreds and patches left by Audubon some years 
previously at his house. 

" Further inquiry developed the interesting fact that 
the great naturalist occupied a room for months together 
in the house I then occupied ; in fact, it was his headquar- 
ters, when he was in the vicinity, engaged in making up 
his collection of Southern birds. Among many illustra- 
tive incidents we learned, we recall two or three as the 
best proof that can be given that Audubon's was too 
great a mind to be marred by excessive vanity. 

" My host informed me that Audubon, among other 
things, became interested in a little bird, not as large as 
the wren, that was of such peculiar gray plumage, that it 
so entirely harmonized with the bark of the trees it in- 
habited, that it was impossible to see the bird except by 
the most careful observation. In fact, the bird existed in 
numbers in localities where its existence was never sus- 

" Audubon expressed his determination to learn the 
history and habits of this bird, and bent all his energies 
with absorbing interest to the pursuit. One night he 
came home greatly excited, saying that he had found a 
pair that was evidently preparing to make a nest. The 
next morning he went into the woods, taking with him a 
telescopic microscope. This scientific instrument he erec- 
ted under the tree that gave shelter to the literally invis- 
ible inhabitants he was searching for, and, making a 
pillow of some moss, he laid upon his back, and looking 
through the telescope, day after day, noted the progress 
of the little birds, and, after three weeks of such patient 
labor, felt that he had been amply rewarded for the toil 
and sacrifice by the results he had obtained. It was 
while engaged in these quiet speculations that he witness- 
ed so many things, the record of which have prompted 
superficial thinkers to conclude that Audubon drew ujoon 

200 Life of Auduhon. 

his imagination, and not upon facts, for many of the won 
derful adventures he relates, incidental to his ornitholo- 
gical descriptions. 

" Sitting upon the gallery of the planter's house, I no- 
ticed some distance in front a tall magnolia tree, the upper 
part of which was dead, indicating that it was of great 
age. A closer examination developed the fact that the 
very topmost horizontal limb had been artificially remov- 
ed from the trunk, instead of falling to the ground by 
the natural course of decay. I called the attention of 
my host to the fact, and he informed me that it was die 
result of one of Audubon's fancies. The story was as 
follows : 

" One evening the planter and the naturalist sat to- 
gether on the gallery, watching the decline of a summer's 
clay, when they were surprised and delighted at the sud- 
den appearance of a bald eagle that was circling high in 
the heavens, occasionally flashing with peculiar brilliancy, 
as the rays of the setting sun happened to strike the quiv- 
ering plumage. The noble bird gradually descended 
toward the earth, and finally settled upon the very limb 
that had been cut from the tree. 

" As soon as the bird alighted, Audubon got up very 
deliberately, and, going into his room, brought out his 
rifle and commenced very deliberately drawing a charge 
of mustard-seed shot. 

" ' You had better hurry,' said the planter, ' that bird 
seems restless already ; he won't keep his perch long.' 

" ' Yes he will,' said Audubon, almost drawling his 
words. ' I have disturbed that eagle's nest to-day, and 
he is now engaged in examining the damage, and making 
his calculations about the danger of returning home ; 
never fear his flying away until the day is well spent' 

" And sure enough, said the planter, Audubon under- 
stood the habits of the eagle, for there the poor bird sat, 

'The Eagle. 201 

Hntil Audubon coolly loaded his rifle with a bullet, and 
fhen like a serpent, on his belly, he had time to noiseless- 
ly, and unobserved even by the keen eye of the bird of 
Jove, to crawl within gun-shot. I must confess I was 
excited. I could see the bird, standing erect, and with 
earnest gaze looking toward his nest, his mate and his 
young in the distant swamp. I had lost sight of Audubon ; 
he was buried among the weeds in the undergrowth of 
the intervening ground. Presently a sharp rifle report 
broke upon the air, a puff of smoke rose at the very foot 
of the tree, and the eagle at the same instant flapped his 
broad wings, made an ineffectual struggle to bear himself 
on the air, and then turning on his back commenced de- 
scending ingloriously to the earth. I admired Audubon's 
spirit, knowledge and pluck, but I must confess I felt sor- 
ry for the poor bird. 

" In a few minutes Audubon appeared with the 
wounded, dying monarch in his possession. He called our 
attention to the wonderful expression of the eye, which at 
one time blazed as if illuminated with fire, and then glaz- 
ed as if in death. As the sun finally disappeared, the 
eagle died. 

" Audubon was now all excitement, he called up a 
dozen idle negroes, who had been attracted by the novelty 
of the event they witnessed, and ordered them to make 
a large fire, by the light of which, in a few hours, he 
stuffed and set up the bird, with a grace and naturalness 
that almost rivaled life. 

" The next morning, on examining his work, he said it 
wanted one thing more to make it complete, and acting 
upon the idea, he took a saw and with great peril to him- 
self and a vast amount of labor, he ascended to the top 
of the magnolia and saw^ed off" the limb, the butt of which 
attracted your notice ; this secured, he put the eagle upon 
it, and thus restored the exact resemblance presented 

202 Life of Audubon. 

when the bird in all its native grandeur, sat. perched on 
its eyrie the impersonation of freedom — the chosen em- 
blem of our national glory. 

" That Audubon is not always properly appreciated, is 
often illustrated ; therefore, criticism may be expected. 
In the very community where Audubon lived he had, as 
a naturalist, no real admirers. In the early days we 
speak of, the people with whom he mingled were content 
with a semi-weekly mail, and it was the custom for some 
person who had a loud voice to read out to the crowd the 
epitome of news from some popular northern weekly pa- 
per. On one of these occasions the following item was 
read : 

" ' The Emperor Nicholas, in his recent trip from Eng- 
land to Russia, occupied his leisure time in looking over 
Audubon's great work on ornithology. The Emperor 
was so delighted with what he saw, that he sent the great 
naturalist a costly ring set with diamonds, as a mark of 
his appreciation of the distinguished author.' 

'' ' What's that ? ' said one of the listeners, who was 
noted for his slovenly dress and agrarian politics ; 'what's 
that .'' Read that again.' 

" The request was complied with. 

" ' That's just my idea of these imperial Emperors ; 
they never have anything for a poor man, but give their 
diamonds and gold to loafing cusses, who are too lazy to 
work, and so make a living shooting little chippin-birds, 
and then drawing their picters.' " 

He remained three months with his wife, but was 
still actively employed. He hunted the woods for birds 
and animals, and brought them home alive or freshly 
killed, to draw from. There are several exquisite unfin- 
ished deer-heads, in his great portfolio of unfinished 
drawings, which were begun at that time. He drew also, 
at this time, the picture of the " Black Vulture Attacking 

England Again. 203 

the Herd of Deer," several large hawks, and some beau 
tiful squirrels. Having added considerably to his col- 
lection, he began again to think of returning to England, 
to increase the drawings already being published there. 

" Our plans," he writes, addressing his sons, " were 
soon arranged. Your mother collected the moneys due 
her, and on the first of January, eighteen hundred and 
thirty, we started for New Orleans, taking with us the only 
three servants yet belonging to us, namely, Cecilia, and 
her two sons, Reuben and Lewis. We stayed a few days 
at our friend Mr. Brand's, with whom we left our servants, 
and on the seventh of January took passage in the splen- 
did steamer Philadelphia for Louisville, paying sixty dol- 
lars fare. We were fourteen days getting to Louisville, 
having had some trouble with the engine. I passed my 
time there at Mr. Berthond's and your uncle W. Bake- 
well's, and amused myself hunting and stuffing birds until 
the seventh of March, when we took a steamer for Cin- 
cinnati, and thence to Wheeling, and so on to Washing- 
ton in the mail-coach. Congress was in session, and I 
exhibited my drawings to the House of Representatives, 
and received their subscription as a body. I saw the 
President, Andrew Jackson, who received me with great 
kindness, as he did your mother also afterv;ards. I be- 
came acquainted with the Hon. Edward Everett, Baron 
Krudener, and other distinguished persons, and we left 
for Baltimore. There my drawings v>?ere exhibited, and I 
obtained three subscribers, and left for Philadelphia, 
where we remained one week. I saw my friends Harlan, 
Mr. McMurtrie, and Sully, and went to New York, from 
whence we sailed in the packet-ship Pacific, Captain R. 
Crocker, for England. 

" After a passage of twenty-five days, on which noth- 
ing happened worthy of record, we had crossed the At 
lantic and arrived safely in Liverpool. 

204 Life of Audubon. 

" In England everything had gone well, and although 
my list of subscribers had not increased, it had not much 
diminished. During my absence I had been elected a 
fellow of the Royal Society of London, for which I be- 
lieve I am indebted to Lord Stanley and J. S. Children, 
Esq., of the British Museum, and on the sixth of May I 
took my seat in the great hall, and paid my entrance fee 
of fifty pounds, though I felt myself that I had not the 
qualifications to entitle me to such an honor." 

Soon after his arrival in England, he found that sub- 
scribers did not pay up as regularly as he expected, and 
money being needed to push forward the engraving of 
the " Birds of America," he again resorted to his pencil 
and brush, and painted birds and quadrupeds, for all of 
which he found a ready sale at satisfactory prices. Be- 
sides this he was occupied in filling up the ground-woik 
of many of his drawings, and introducing plants and trees 
which had at first been given only in outline. His stay 
at London, however, was not long. Mrs. Audubon having 
joined him there after a few weeks, not liking a residence 
in the city, travelled with him on his journeys to obtain 
new subscribers. 

" We visited Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, York, 
Hull, Scarborough, Whitby, Newcastle, and received 
several subscriptions at the latter place ; and my former 
friends, Mr. Adamson and the Rev. Mr. Turner, were 
quite kind to us, as also was the family of the Earl of 
Ravensworth. On our way to Edinburgh we stopped a 
few days and were hospitably entertained at Twisel 
House, by Mr. Selby. 

'■^ October IT,, 1830. We reached Edinburgh safely, 
and took lodgings at my old boarding-house, with Mrs. 
Dickie, where we were made very comfortable." 

At this period Audubon began to prepare his "Or- 
nithological Biography of the Birds of America," a work 

I^he Biography of Birds. 205 

containing nearly three thousand pages, and pubhshed 
by Mr. Black of Edinburgh. 

" I applied to Mr. James Wilson, to ask if he knew of 
any person who would undertake to correct my ungram- 
matical manuscripts, and to assist me in arranging the 
more scientific part of the ' Biography of the Birds.' He 
gave me a card with the address of Mr. W. McGillivray, 
spoke well of him and his talents, and away to Mr. Mc- 
Gillivray I went. He had long known of me as a natu- 
ralist. I made known my business, and a bargain was 
soon struck. He agreed to assist me, and correct my 
manuscripts for two guineas per sheet of sixteen pages, 
and I that day began to write the first volume. 

" A few days after I began writing on the Biography, 
it was known in Edinburgh that I had arrived, and Pro- 
fessors Jameson, Graham, and others whom I had known, 
called on me ; and I found at the ' fourteenth hour,' that 
no less than three editions of ' Wilson's Ornithology " 
were about to be published, one by Jameson, one by Sir 
W. Jardine, and another by a Mr. Brown. Most persons 
would probably have been discouraged by this informa- 
tion, but it only had a good effect on me, because since I 
have been in England I have studied the character of 
Englishmen as carefully as I studied the birds in Ameri- 
ca. And I know full well, that in England novelty is al- 
ways in demand, and that if a thing is well known it will 
not receive much support. Wilson has had his day, 
thought I to myself, and now is my time. I will write, 
and I will hope to be read ; and not only so, but I will 
push my publication with such unremitting vigor, that my 
book shall come before the public before Wilson's can 
be got out. 

" Writing now became the order of the day. I sat 
at it as soon as I awoke in the morning, and continued 
the whole long day, and so full was my mind of birds 

2o6 Life of Audubon. 

and their habits, that in my sleep I continually dreamed 
of birds. I found Mr. McGillivray equally industrious, 
for although he did not rise so early in the morning as 1 
did, he wrote much later at night (this I am told is a 
characteristic of all great writers) ; and so the manu- 
scripts went on increasing in bulk, like the rising of a 
stream after abundant rains, and before three months had 
passed the first volume was finished. Meanwhile your 
mother copied it all to send to America, to secure the 
copyright there. 

" I made an arrangement with Mr. Patrick Neill, the 
printer, who undertook the work, for I was from neces- 
sity my own publisher. I offered this famous book to 
two booksellers, neither of whom would give me a shil- 
ling for it, and it was fortunate that they would not ; and 
most happy is the man who can, as I did, keep himself 
independent of that class of men called the 'gentlemen 
of the trade.' Poor Wilson, how happy he would have 
been, if he had had it in his power to bear the expenses 
of his own beautiful work ! 

'■'■March 13, 183 1. My book is now on the eve of be- 
ing presented to the world. The printing will be com- 
pleted in a few days, and I have sent copies of the sheets 
to Dr. Harlan and Mr. McMurtrie, at Philadelphia, and 
also one hundred pounds sterling to Messrs. T. Walker 
& Sons, to be paid to Dr. Harlan to secure the copy- 
right, and have the book published there. 

"March 20, 183 1. Made an agreement with Mr. J. 
B. Kidd, a young painter whom I have known for the last 
four years, to copy some of my drawings in oil, and to 
put backgrounds to them, so as to make them appear 
like pictures. It was our intention to send them to the 
exhibition for sale, and to divide the amount between us. 
He painted eight, and then I proposed, if he would paint 
the one hundred engravings which comprise my first vol- 

Balance-Sheet of the Great Work. 207 

ume of the ' Birds of America,' I would pay him one 
hundred pounds. 

• '■'■April 15. We left Edinburgh this day, and proceed- 
ed towards London by the way of Newcastle, York, Leeds, 
Manchester, and Liverpool. At the latter place we spent 
a few days, and travelled on that extraordinary road 
called the railway, at the rate of twenty-four miles an 
hour. On arriving at London I found it urgent for me 
to visit Paris, to collect monies due me by my agent 
(Pitois) there. 

" Several reviews of my work have appeared ; one in 
' Blackwood's Magazine ' is particularly favorable. The 
editor, John Wilson of Edinburgh, is a clever good fellow, 
and I wrote to thank him. Dr. Tuke, an Irishman of lively 
manners, brought the editors of the ' Atlas ' to see my 
Birds, and they have praised also. We have received 
letters from America of a cheering kind, and which raised 
m}' dull spirits, but in spite of all this I feel dull, rough 
in temper, and long for nothing so much as my dear 
woods. I have balanced my accounts with the ' Birds 
of America,' and the whole business is really wonderful ; 
forty thousand dollars have passed through my hands for 
the completion of the first volume. Who would believe 
that a lonely individual, who landed in England without 
a friend in the whole country, and with only sufficient pe- 
cuniaiy means to travel through it as a visitor, could have 
accomplished such a task as this publication ? Who 
would believe that once in London Audubon had only 
one sovereign left in his pocket, and did not know of a 
single individual to whom he could apply to borrow an- 
other, when he was on the verge of failure in the very 
beginning of his undertaking ; and above all, who would 
believe that he extricated himself from all his difficulties, 
not by borrowing money, but by rising at four o'clock in 
the morning, working hard all day, and disposing of his 

2o8 Life of Auduhon. 

works at a price which a common laborer would have 
thought little more than sufficient remuneration for his 
work ? To give you an idea of my actual difficulties during 
the publication of my first volume, it will be sufficient to 
say, that in the four years required to bring that volume 
before the world, no less than fifty of my subscribers, re- 
presenting the sum of fift3--six thousand dollars, aban- 
doned me ! And whenever a few withdrew I was forced 
to leave London, and go to the provinces to obtain others 
to supply their places, in order to enable me to raise the 
money to meet the expenses of engraving, coloring, pa- 
per, printing, &c. ; and that with all my constant exer- 
tions, fatigues, and vexations, I find myself now having 
but one hundred and thirty standing names on my list. 

" England is most wealthy, and among her swarms of 
inhabitants there are many whom I personally know^, and 
to whom, if I were to open my heart, there would be a 
readiness to help me for the sake of science ; but my 
heart revolts from asking such a favor, and I will con- 
tinue to trust in that Providence which has helped me 
thus far." 

The sixth volume of the journal abruptly ends with 
the above paragraph. But intimations are given in the 
last chapter, of Audubon's intention to return to America 
as soon as possible. He knew of regions which he had 
not explored, where he felt confident he could make large 
additions of new birds to his collection : and anxious to 
enrich his store, after making the same careful prepara- 
tions as before to have his work go on during his absence, 
he sailed once more for his native land. 

On September 3, 1831, Audubon landed in New York. 
After spending a few days with relatives and friends he 
we'll t to Boston, and was hospitably received by his 
friends. There he remained but a short time, having re- 
soh^ed to spend the winter in East Florida. 

Florida. 209 

All the most interesting incidents of what he called a 
rather uniDrofitable expedition were woven by Audubon 
into the striking episodes given in this and subsequent 

" Soon after landing at St. Augustine, in East Florida, 
I formed an acquaintance with Dr. Simmons, Dr. Por- 
cher, Judge Smith, the Misses Johnson, and many other 
individuals, my intercourse with whom was as agreea- 
ble as it was beneficial to me. While in this part of the 
peninsula I followed my usual avocations, although with 
little success, it being then winter. I had letters from the 
secretaries of the navy and treasury of the United States, 
to the commanding officers of vessels of war in the rev- 
enue service, directing them to afford me any assistance 
in their power ; and the schooner Shark having come to 
St. Augustine, on her way to the St. John's river, I 
presented my credentials to her commander. Lieutenant 
Piercy, who readily, and with politeness, received me and 
my assistants on board. We soon after set sail, with a 
fair breeze. 

" The strict attention to duty on board even this small 
vessel of war afforded matter of surprise to me. Every- 
thing went on with the regularity of a chronometer : 
orders were given, answered to, and accomplished, before 
they ceased to vibrate on the ear. The neatness of the 
crew equalled the cleanliness of the white planks of the 
deck ; the sails were in perfect condition, and built as the 
Shark was for swift sailing, on she went bowling from 
wave to wave. I thought that, while thus sailing, no feel- 
ing but that of pleasure could exist in our breasts. Alas! 
how fleeting are our enjoyments. When we were almost 
at the entrance of the river the wind changed, the sky be- 
came clouded, and before many minutes had elapsed the 
little bark was lying to, ' like a duck,' as her commander 
expressed himself It blew a hurricane : let it blow, 

2IO Life of Auduhon. 

reader. At the break of day we were again at anchor 
within the bar of St. Augustine. Our next attempt was 
successful. Not many hours after we had crossed the bar 
we perceived the star-like glimmer of the light in the 
great lantern at the entrance into the St. John's river. 
This was before daylight ; and as the crossing of the 
sand-banks or bars which occur at the mouths of all the 
streams of this peninsula is difficult, and can be accom- 
pl'shed only when the tide is up, one of the guns was fired 
as a signal for the government pilot. The good man it 
seemed was unwilling to leave his couch, but a second 
gun brought him in his canoe alongside. The depth of 
the channel was barely sufficient. My eyes, however, 
were not directed towards the waters, but on high, where 
flew some thousands of ' snowy pelicans,' which had fled 
affrighted from their resting grounds. How beautifully 
they performed their broad gyrations, and how matchless 
after a while, was the marshalling of their files as they 
flew past us ! 

" On the tide we proceeded apace. Myriads of cor- 
morants covered the face of the waters, and over it the 
fish-crows innumerable were already arriving from their 
distant roosts. We landed at one place to search for 
the birds whose charming melodies had engaged our at- 
tention, and here and there we shot some young eagles, 
to add to our store of fresh provision. The river did 
not seem to me equal in beauty to the fair Ohio ; the 
shores were in many places low and swampy, to the great 
delight of the numberless herons that moved along in 
gracefulness, and the grim alligators that swam in slug- 
gish sullenness. In going up a bayou we caught a great 
number of the young of the latter, for the purpose of 
making experiments upon them. After sailing a con- 
siderable way, during which our commander and officers 
took the soundings, as well as the angles and bearings of 

T'he St. John s River. 1 1 1 

every nook and crook of the sinuous stream, we anchored 
one evening at a distance of fully one hundred miles from 
the mouth of the river. The weather, although it was the 
1 2th of February, was quite warm, the thermometer on 
board standing at 75°, and on shore at 90°. The fog 
was so thick that neither of the shores could be seen, and 
yet the riv6r was not a mile in breadth. The ' blind 
mosquitoes ' covered every object, even in the cabin, and 
so wonderfully abundant were these tormentors, that they 
more than once extinguished the candles whilst I was 
writing my journal, which I closed in despair, crushing 
between the leaves more than a hundred of the little 
wretches. Bad as they are, however, these blind mos- 
quitoes do not bite. As if purposely to render our situa- 
tion doubly uncomfortable, there was an establishment 
for jerking beef on the nearer shore to the windward of 
our vessel, from which the breeze came laden with no 
sweet odors. In the morning when I arose the country 
was still covered with thick fogs, so that although I 
could plainly hear the notes of the birds on shore, not 
an object could I see beyond the bowsprit, and the air 
was as close and sultry as on the previous evening. 

" Guided by the scent of ' jerkers' works,' we went on 
shore, where we found the vegetation already far ad- 
vanced. The blossoms of the jessamine, ever pleasing, 
lay steeped in dew ; the humming-bee was collecting her 
winter store from the showy flowers of the native orange : 
and the little warblers frisked about the twigs of the 
smilax. Now, amid the tall pines of the forest, the sun's 
rays began to force their way, and as the dense mists 
dissolved in the atmosphere the bright luminary shone 
forth. We explored the woods around, guided by some 
friendly 'live oakers,' who had pitched their camp in the 
vicinity. After a while the Shark again displa3-ed her 
sails, and as she silently glided along, we espied a Semi- 

2 1 2 Life of Audubon. 

nole Indian approaching us in his canoe. This poor de- 
jected son of the woods, endowed with talents of the 
highest order, although rarely acknowledged by the proud 
usurpers of his native soil, has spent the night in fishing, 
and the morning in procuring the superb feathered game 
of the swampy thickets, and with both he comes to offer 
them for our acceptance. Alas ! thou fallen one, de- 
scendant of an ancient line of free-born hunters, would 
that I could restore to thee thy birthright, thy natural in- 
dependence, the generous feelings that were once foster- 
ed in thy brave bosom ! But tlie irrevocable deed is 
done, and I can merely admire the perfect symmetiy of 
his frame, as he dexterously throws on our deck the trout 
and turkeys which he has captured. He receives a re- 
compense, and without a smile or bow, or acknowledg- 
ment of any kind, off he starts with the speed of an ar- 
row from his own bow. 

" Alligators were extremely abundant, and the heads 
of the fishes which they had snapped off lay floating 
around on the dark waters. A rifle bullet was now and 
then sent through the eye of one of the largest, which, 
with a tremendous splash of its tail, expired. One morn- 
ing we saw a monstrous fellow lying on the shore. I 
was desirous of obtaining him, to make an accurate draw- 
ing of his head, and, accompanied by my assistant and 
two of the sailors, proceeded cautiously towards him. 
When within a few yards, one of us fired, and sent 
through his side an ounce ball, which tore open a hole 
large enough to receive a man's hand. He slowly raised 
his head, bent himself upwards, opened his huge jaws, 
swung his tail to and fro, rose on his legs, blew in a 
frightful manner, and fell to the earth. My assistant 
leaped on shore, and, contrary to my injunctions, caught 
hold of the animal's tail, when the alligator,, awakening 
from its trance, with a last effort crawled slowly towards 

Alligators. 213 

the water, and plunged heavily into it. Had he thought 
of once flourishing his tremendous weapon, there might 
have been an end of his assailant's life ; but he fortu- 
nately went in peace to his grave, where we left him, as 
the water was too deep. The same morning, another of 
equal size was observed swimming directly for the bows 
of our vessel, attracted by the gentle rippling of the 
water there. One of the officers who had watched him 
fired, and scattered his brains through the air, when he 
tumbled and rolled at a fearful rate, blowing all the while 
most furiously. The river was bloody for yards around, 
but although the monster passed close by the vessel, we 
could not secure him, and after a while he sank to the 

" Early one morning I hired a boat and two men, 
with a view of returning to Si. Augustine by a short cut. 
Our baggage being placed on board, I bade adieu to the 
officers and crew, and off we started. About four in the 
afternoon we arrived at the short cut, forty miles distant 
from our point of departure, and where we had expected 
to procure a waggon, but were disappointed : so we laid 
our things on the bank, and leaving one of my assistants 
to look after them, I set out, accompanied by the other 
and my Newfoundland dog. We had eighteen miles to 
go, and as the sun was only two hours high, we struck off 
at a good rate. Presently we entered a pine barren. 
The country was as level as a floor ; our path, although 
narrow, was well beaten, having been used by the Semi- 
role Indians for ages ; and the weather was calm, and 
now and then a rivulet occurred, from which we quenched 
our thirst, while the magnolias and other flowering plants 
on its banks relieved the dull uniformity of the woods. 
When the path separated into two branches, both seem- 
ingly leading the same way, I would follow one, while 
my companion took the other, and unless we met again 

214 -^{/"^ of Auduhon. 

in a short time, one of us would go across the interven 
ing forest. The sun went clown behind a cloud, and the 
south-east breeze that sprung up at this moment sounded 
dolefully among the tall pines. Along the eastern hori- 
zon lay a bed of black vapor, which gradually rose, and 
soon covered the heavens. The air felt hot and oppres- 
sive, and we knew that a tempest was approaching. 
Plato was now our guide, the white spots on his skin be- 
ing the only objects we could discern amid the darkness ; 
and as if aware of his utility in this respect, he kept a 
short way before us on the trail. Had we imagined our- 
selves more than a few miles from the town, we would 
have made a camp, and remained under its shelter for 
the night ; but conceiving that the distance could not be 
great, we resolved to trudge along. Large drops began 
to fall from the murky mass overhead ; thick impenetra- 
ble darkness surrounded us, and, to my dismay, the dog 
refused to proceed. Groping with my hands on the 
ground, I discovered that several trails branched out at 
the spot where he lay down, and when I had selected • 
one he went on. Vivid flashes of lightning streamed 
across the heavens, the wind increased to a gale, and the 
rain poured down upon us like a torrent. The water 
soon rose on the level ground, so as almost to cover our 
feet, and we slowly advanced, fronting the tempest. 
Here and there a tall pine on fire presented a magnifi- 
cent spectacle, illumining the trees around it, and sur- 
rounded with a halo of dim light, abruptly bordered with 
the deep black of the night. At one time we passed 
through a tangled thicket of low trees, at another crossed 
a stream flushed by the heavy rains, and again proceed- 
ed over the barrens. How long we thus, half lost, 
groped our way, is more than I can tell j'ou, but at length 
the tempest passed over, and suddenly the clear sky be- 
came spangled with stars. Soon after we smelt the salt 

Out of the Woods, 1 1 5 

marshes, and walking directly towards them, like pointers 
advancing on a covey of partridges, we at last, to our 
great joy, descried the light of the beacon near St. Au- 
gustine. My dog began to run briskly around, and hav- 
ing met with ground on which he had hunted before, and 
taking a direct course, led us to the great causeway that 
crosses the marshes at the back of the town. We re- 
freshed ourselves with the produce of the first orange-tree 
that we met with, and in half an hour more arrived at our 
hotel. Drenched with rain, steaming with perspiration, 
and covered to the knees with mud, you may imagine 
what figures we cut in the eyes of the good people whom 
we found snugly enjoying themselves in the sitting-room. 
Next morning Major Gates, who had received me with 
much kindness, sent a waggon with mules and two trusty 
soldiers for my companion and the luggage." 


Floridian Episodes — The Live Oakers. 

\HE greater part of the forests of East Florida 
consists principally, of what in that country are 

I called 'pine barrens.' In these districts the 
woods are rather thin, and the only trees that are seen in 
them are tall pines, of rather indifferent quality, beneath 
which is a growth of rank grass, here and there mixed 
with low bushes and sword palraettoes. The soil is of a 
sandy nature, mostly flat, and consequently either covered 
with water during the rainy season, or parched in the 
summer and autumn, although you meet at times with 
ponds of stagnant water, where the cattle — which are 
abundant— allay their thirst, and around which resort the 
various kinds of game found in these wilds. The travel- 
ler who has pursued his course for many miles over the 
barrens, is suddenly delighted to see in the distance the 
appearance of a dark 'hummock' of live oaks and other 
trees, seeming as if they had been planted in the wilder- 
ness. As he approaches, the air feels cooler and more 
salubrious, the song of numerous birds delights his ear, 
the herbage assumes a more luxuriant appearance, the 
flowers become larger and brighter, and a grateful fra- 
gi-ance is diffused around. These objects contribute' to 
refresh his mind, as much as the sight of the waters of 
some clear spring, gliding among the undergrowth, seems 
already to allay his thirst. Overhead festoons of innu- 
merable vines, jessamines, and bignonias, link each tree 
with those around it, their slender stems being interlaced 

Woodcutters. 217 

as if in mutual affection. No sooner in the shade of 
these beautiful woods has the traveller finished his mid- 
day repast, than he perceives small parties of men, lightly 
accoutred, and each bearing an axe, approaching towards 
his resting-place. They exchange the usual civilities, and 
immediately commence their labors, for they too have just 
rinished their meal. I think I see them proceeding to 
their work. Here two have stationed themselves on the 
opposite sides of the trunk of a noble and venerable live 
oak. Their keen-edged and well-tempered axes seem to 
make no impression on it, so small are the chips that drop 
at each blow around the mossy and wide-spreading roots. 
There one is ascending the stem of another, the arms of 
which in its fall, have stuck among the tangled tops of 
the neighboring trees. See how cautiously he proceeds, 
barefooted, and with a handkerchief around his head ; 
now he has climbed to the height of about forty feet from 
the ground ; he stops, and squaring himself with the trunk 
on which he so boldly stands, he wields with sinewy arms 
his trusty blade, the repeated blows of which, — although 
the tree be as tough as it is large, — will soon sever it in 
two. He has changed sides, and his back is turned to 
you. The trunk now remains connected by only a thin 
strip of wood. He places his feet on the part which is 
lodged, and shakes it with all his might. Now swings 
the huge log under his leaps, now it suddenly gives way, 
and as it strikes upon the ground, its echoes are repeated 
through the hummock, and every wild turkey within hear- 
ing utters his gobble of recognition. The woodcutter, 
however, remains 'collected and composed,' but the next 
moment he throws his axe to the ground, and assisted by 
the nearest grape-vine, slides down, and reaches the earth 
in an instant. Several men approach and examine the pros- 
trate trunk. They cut at both extremities, and sound the 
whole of the bark, to enable them to judge if the tree 

1 1 8 Life of Auduhon. 

has been attacked by white rot. If such has unfortunate' 
ly been the case, there, for a century or more, this huge 
log will remain, till it gradually crumbles ; but if not, and 
it is free of injury or 'wind shakes,' while there is no ap- 
pearance of the sap having already ascended, and its 
pores are altogether sound, they proceed to take its meas- 
urement. Its shape ascertained, and the timber that is 
fit for use laid out by the aid of models, which, like frag- 
ments of the skeleton of a ship, show the forms and sizes 
required, the ' hewers ' commence their labors. 

" Thus, reader, perhaps every known hummock in the 
Floridas is annually attacked ; and so often does it hap- 
pen that the white rot, or some other disease, has deteri- 
orated the quality of the timber, that the woods may be 
seen strewn with trunks that have been found worthless, 
so that eveiy year these valuable oaks are becoming 
scarcer. The destruction of the young trees of this spe- 
cies, caused by the fall of the great trunks, is of course 
immense ; and as there are no artificial plantations of 
these trees in our country, before long a good-sized live 
oak will be so valuable, that its owner will exact an 
enormous price for it, even while it yet stands in the 
wood. In my opinion, formed on personal observation, 
live-oak hummocks are not quite as plentiful as they are 
represented to be ; and of this I will give you one illus- 

"On the 25th of February, 1832, I happened to be 
far up St. John's River, East Florida, in company with a 
person employed by our government in protecting the ' live 
oaks' of that section of the country, and who received a 
good salary for his trouble. While we were proceeding 
along one of the banks of that most singular river, my 
companion pointed out some large hummocks of dark- 
leaved trees on the opposite side, which he said were en- 
tirely formed of live oaks. I thought differently, and as 

" Live OakersJ' 1 1 ^ 

our controversy on the subject became a little warm, I 
proposed that our men should row us to the place, where 
we might examine the leaves and timber, and so decide 
the point. We soon landed, but after inspecting the 
woods, not a single tree of the species did we find, al- 
though there were thousands of large ' swamp oaks.' My 
companion acknowledged his mistake, and I continued to 
search for birds. 

" One dark evening, as I was seated on the banks of 
the same river, considering what arrangements I should 
make for the night, — as it began to rain in torrents, — a 
man, who happened to see me, came up and invited me 
to go to his cabin, which he said was not far off. I ac- 
cepted this kind offer, and followed him to his humble 
dwelling. There I found his wife, several children, and 
a number of men, who, as my host told me, were, like 
himself, 'live oakers.' Supper was placed on a large ta- 
ble, and on being desired to join the party, I willingly 
assented, doing my best to diminish the contents of the 
tin pans and dishes set before the company by the active 
and agreeable housewife. We then talked of the countiy, 
its climate and productions, until a late hour, when we 
laid ourselves down on bear-skins, and reposed till day- 

" I longed to accompany these hardy woodcutters to the 
hummock, where they were engaged in preparing live oak 
timber for a man-of-war. Provided with axes and guns, 
we left the house to the care of the wife and children, and 
proceeded for several miles through a pine barren, such 
as I have attempted to describe. One fine old turkey 
was shot, and when we arrived at the shanty, put up near 
the hummock, we found another party of woodcutters 
waiting our arrival before eating their breakfast, already 
prepared by a negro man, to whom the turkey was con- 
signed, to be roasted for a part of that day's dinner. 

220 Life of Audubon. 

Our repast was an excellent one, and vied with a Ken 
:ucky breakfast. Beef, fish, potatoes and other vege- 
tables, were served up with coffee in tin cups, and plenty 
of biscuit. Every man seemed hungry and happy, and 
the conversation assumed the most humorous character. 
The sun now rose above the trees^ and all excepting the 
cook proceeded to the hummock, on which I had been 
gazing with great delight, as it promised rare sport. My 
host, I found, was the chief of the party ; and although 
he had an axe, he made no other use of it than for strip- 
ping here and there pieces of bark from certain trees, 
which he considered of doubtful soundness. He was not 
only well versed in his profession, but generally intelli- 
gent, and from him I received the following account, 
which I noted at the time. 

" The men employed in cutting the live oak, after 
having discovered a good hummock, build shanties of 
small logs, to retire to at night and feed in by day. Their 
provisions consist of beef, pork, potatoes, biscuit, rice, 
flour, and fish, together with excellent whiskey. They 
are mostly hale, strong, and active men, from the eastern 
parts of the Union, and receive excellent wages, accord- 
ing to their different abilities. Their labors are only of a 
few months' duration. Such hummocks as are found near 
navigable streams are first chosen, and when it is abso- 
lutely necessary, this timber is hauled five or six miles to 
the nearest water-course, where, although it sinks, it can, 
with comparative ease, be shipped to its destination. 
The best time for cutting the. ' live oak' is considered to 
be from the first of December to the first of March, or 
while the sap is completely clown. When the sap is flow- 
ing the tree is 'bloom,' and more apt to be 'shaken.' 
The white rot, which occurs so frequently in the live oak, 
and is perceptible only by the best judges, consists of 
round spots, about an inch and a half in diameter, on the 

White Rot. 221 

outside of the bark, through which, at that spot, a hard 
stick may be driven several inches, and generally follows 
the heart up or down the trunk of the tree. So deceiving 
are these spots and trees to persons unacquainted w ith this 
defect, that thousands of trees are cut and abandoned. 
The great number of trees of this sort strewn in the woods 
would tend to make a stranger, believe that there is much 
more good oak in the country than there really is ; and 
perhaps, in reality, not more than one fourth of the quan- 
tity usually reported is to be procured. The 'live oakers ' 
generally revisit their distant homes in the middle and 
eastern states, where they spend the summer, returning 
to the Floridas at the approach of winter. Some, how- 
ever, who have gone there with their families, remain for 
years in succession, although they suffer much from the 
climate, by which their once good constitutions are often 
greatly impaired. This was the case with the individual 
above mentioned, from whom I subsequently received 
much friendly assistance in my pursuits." 


Second Florida Episode : TJie Lost One. 

'LIVE OAKER ' employed on the St. John's 
River, in East Florida, left his cabin — situated 
on the banks of that stream — and, with an axe 
on his shoulder, proceeded towards the swamp, in which 
he had several times before plied his trade of felling and 
squaring the giant trees that afford the most valuable tim- 
ber for naval architecture and other purposes. At the 
season which is the best for this kind of labor, heavy fogs 
not unfrequently cover the country, so as to render it diffi- 
cult for one to see farther than thirty or forty yards in any 
direction. The woods, too, present so little variety, that 
every tree seems the mere counterpart of every other ; 
and the grass, when it has not been burnt, is so tall, that 
a man of ordinary stature cannot see over it ; whence it 
is necessary for him to proceed with great caution, lest he 
should unwittingly deviate from the ill-defined trail which 
he follows. To increase the difficulty, several trails often 
meet, in which case — unless the explorer be perfectly ac- 
quainted with the neighborhood — it would be well for him 
to lie down and wait until the fog should disperse. The 
live oaker had been jogging onwards for several hours, and 
became aware that he must have travelled considerably 
more than the distance between his cabin and the ' hum- 
mock ' which he desired to reach. To his alarm, at the 
moment when the fog dispersed, he saw that the sun was 
at its meridian height, and he could not recognize a single 
object around him. Young, healthy, and active, he im* 

Florida Episode. 22;^ 

agined that he had walked with more than usual speed, 
and had passed the place to which he was bound. He 
accordingly turned his back upon the sun, and pursued a 
different route, guided by a small trail. Time passed, and 
the sun headed his course ; he saw it gradually descend 
in the west, but all around him continued as if enveloped 
with mystery. The huge gray trees spread their giant 
boughs over him, the rank grass extended on all sides, 
not a living being crossed his path ; all was silent and 
still, and the scene was like a dull and dreary dream of 
the land of oblivion. He wandered like a forgotten ghost 
that had passed into the land of spirits, without yet meet- 
ing one of his kind with whom to hold converse. 

" The condition of a man lost in the woods is one of 
the most perplexing that could be imagined by a person 
who has not himself been in a like predicament. Every 
object he sees he at first thinks he recognizes ; and while 
his whole mind is bent on searching for more that may 
gradually lead to his extrication, he goes on committing 
greater errors the farther he proceeds. This was the case 
with the live oaker. The sun was now setting with a fiery 
aspect, and by degrees it sunk in its full circular form, as 
if giving warning of a sultry to-morrow. Myriads of in- 
sects, delighted at its departure, now filled the air on buzz- 
ing wings. Each piping frog arose from the muddy pool 
in which it had concealed itself, the squirrel retired to its 
hole, the crow to its roost, and, far above, the harsh croak- 
ing voice of the heron announced that, full of anxiety, it 
was wending its way to the miry interior of some distant 
swamp. Now the woods began to resourd to the shrill 
cries of the owl and the breeze, as it swept among the 
columnar stems of the forest trees, laden with heavy and 
chilling dew. Alas ! no moon, with her silvery light, 
shone on the dreary scene, and the /os^ one, wearied and 
vexed, laid himself down on the damp ground. Prayer 

224 -^^f^ of Auduhon. 

is alwa} s consolatoiy to man in every difficulty or danger, 
and tlie woodsman fervently prayed to his Maker, wished 
his family a happier night than it was his lot to experi- 
ence, and with a feverish anxiety waited the return of day. 
You may imagine the length of that cold, dull, moonless 
night. With the dawn of day came the usual fogs of those 
latitudes. The poor man started on his feet, and with a 
sorrowful heart pursued a course which he thought might 
lead him to some familiar object, although, indeed, he 
scarcely knew what he was doing. No longer had he the 
trace of a track to guide him, and yet, as the sun rose, he 
calculated the many hours of daylight he had before him, 
and the farther he went, continued to walk the faster. 
But vain were all his hopes : that day was spent in fruit- 
less endeavors to regain the path that led to his home, 
and when night again approached, the terror that had 
been gradually spreading over his mind — together with 
the nervous debility induced by fatigue, anxiety, and hun- 
ger—rendered him almost frantic. He told me that at 
this moment he beat his breast, tore his hair, and, had it 
not been for the piety with which his parents had in early 
life imbued his mind, and which had become habitual, 
would have cursed his existence. 

" Famished as he now was, he laid himself on the 
ground, and fed on the weeds and grass that grew around 
him. That night was spent in the greatest agony and 
terror. ' I knew my situation,' he said to me. ' I v/as 
fully aware that, unless Almighty God came to my assist- 
ance, I must perish in those iminhabited woods. I knew 
that I had walked more than fifty miles, although I had 
not met with a brook from which I could quench my 
thirst, or even allay the burning heat of my parched lips 
and bloodshot eyes. 

" ' I knew that if I could not meet with some stream I 
must die, for my axe was my only weapon ; and although 

A 'Tortoise. 225 

deer and bears now and then started within a few yards 
or even feet of me, not one of them could I kill ; and al- 
though I was in the midst of abundance, not a mouthful 
did I expect to procure, to satisfy the cravings of my 
empty stomach. Sir, may God preserve you from ever 
feeling as I did the whole of that day ! ' For several days 
after no one can imagine the condition in which he was, 
for when he related to me this painful adventure^ he as- 
sured me he had lost all recollection of what had hap- 
pened. ' God,' he continued, ' must have taken pity on 
me, one day, for as I ran wildly through those dreadful 
jDine barrens I met with a tortoise. I gazed upon it with 
delight and amazement, and although I knew that, were I 
to follow it undisturbed, it would lead me to some water, 
my hunger and thirst would not allow me to refrain from 
satisfying both by eating its flesh and drinking its blood. 
With one stroke of my axe the beast was cut in two ; in a 
few moments I despatched all but the shell. Oh, sir, 
how much I thanked God, whose kindness had put the 
tortoise in my way ! I felt greatly renewed. I sat down 
at the foot of a pine, gazed on the heavens, thought of my 
poor wife and children, and again and again thanked my 
God for my life, for now I felt less distracted in mind, and 
more assured that before long I must recover my way, 
and get back to my home.' The lost one remained and 
passed the night at the foot of the same tree under which 
his repast had been made. Refreshed by a sound sleep, 
he started at dawn to resume his weary march. The sun 
rose bright, and he followed the direction of his shadows. 
Still the dreariness of the woods was the same, and he 
was on the point of giving up in despair, when he observed 
a raccoon lying squatted in the grass. Raising his axe, 
he drove it with such violence through the helpless ani- 
mal, that it expired without a struggle. What he had 
done with the turtle he now did with the raccoon, the 

226 Life of Auduhon. 

greater part of which he actually devoured at one meal. 
With more comfortable feelings he then resumed his wan- 
derings, — his journey I cannot say, — for although in the 
possession of all his faculties, and in broad daylight, he 
was worse off than a lame man groping his way in the 
dark out of a dungeon, of which he knew not where the 
door stood. Days one after another passed — nay, weeks 
in succession. He fed now on cabbage trees, then on 
frogs and snakes. All that fell in his way was welcome 
and savory. Yet he became daily more emaciated, and 
at length he could scarcely crawl ; fort}' days had elapsed, 
by his own reckoning, when he at last reached the banks 
of the river. His clothes in tatters, his once bright axe 
dimmed with rust, his face begrimed with beard, his hair 
matted, and his feeble frame little better than a skeleton 
covered with parchment, there he laid himself down to 
die. Amid the perturbed dreams of his fevered fancy, he 
thought he heard the noise of oars far away on the silent 
river. He listened, but the sounds died away on his 
ear. It was indeed a dream, the last glimmer of expir- 
ing hope, and now the light of life was about to be 
quenched for ever. But again the sound of oars awoke 
him from his lethargy. He listened so eagerly that the 
hum of a fly could not have escaped his ear. They were 
indeed the measured beats of oars ; and now, joy to the 
forlorn soul ! the sound of human voices thrilled to his 
heart, and awoke the tumultuous pulses of returning hope. 
On his knees did the eye of God see that poor man, by 
the broad, still stream, that glittered in the sunbeams, and 
human eyes soon saw him too, for round that headland 
covered with tangled brushwood boldly advances the lit- 
tle boat, propelled by its lusty rowers. The lost one 
raises his feeble voice on high ; it was a loud shrill scream 
of joy and fear. The rowers pause, and look around. 
Another, but feebler scream, and they observe him. It 

Saved. 11'-] 

comes — his heart flutters, his sight is dimmed, his brain" 
reels, he gasps for breath ! It comes — it has nm upon 
the beach, and the lost one is found. 

" This is no tale of fiction, but the relation of an act- 
ual occurrence, which might be embellished, no doubt, but 
which is better in the plain garb of truth. The notes by 
which I recorded it were written in the cabin of the once 
lost ' live oaker,' about four years after the painful inci- 
dent occurred. His amiable wife and loving children 
were present at the recital, and never shall I forget the 
tears that flowed from them as they listened to it, albeit it 
had long been more familiar to them than a tale thrice 
told. It only remains for me to say that the distance be- 
tween the cabin and the live oak hummock to which the 
woodsman was bound scarcely exceeded eight miles, 
while the part of the river at which he was found was 
thirty-eight miles from his house. Calculating his daily 
wanderings at ten miles, we may believe that they 
amounted in all to four hundred. He must therefore 
have rambled in a circuitous direction, which people gen- 
erally do in such circumstances. Nothing but the great 
strength of his constitution and the merciful aid of his 
Maker could have supported him for so long a time." 


T/tird Florida Episode: Spring Garden. 

fA VING heard many wonderful accounts of a 

certain spring near the sources of the St. John's 

] River, in East Florida, I resolved to visit it, in 

order to judge for myself On the 6th of January, 1832, 
I left the plantation of my friend John Bulow, accompa- 
nied by an amiable and accomplished Scotch gentleman, 
an engineer employed by the planters of those districts 
in erecting their sugar-house establishments. We were 
mounted on horses of the Indian breed, remarkable for 
iheir activity and strength, and were provided with guns 
and some provision. The weather was pleasant, but not 
so our way, for no sooner had we left the ' King's Road,' 
which had been cut by the Spanish government for a 
goodly distance, than we entered a thicket of scrubby 
oaks, succeeded by a still denser mass of low palmettoes, 
which extended about three miles, and among the roots 
of which our nags had great difficulty in making good 
their footing. 

" After this we entered the pine barrens, so extensive- 
ly distributed in this portion of Florida. The sand seemed 
to be all sand, and nothing but sand, and the palmettoes 
at times so covered the narrow Indian trail which we fol- 
lowed, that it required all the instinct or sagacity of our- 
selves and our horses to keep it. It seemed to us as if 
we were approaching the end of the world, The coun- 
try was perfectly flat, and, so far as we could survey it, 
presented the same wild and scraggy aspect. My com- 
panion, who had travelled there before, assured me that 

Haw Creelx. ii(^ 

at particular seasons of the year he had crossed the bar- 
rens when they were covered with water fully knee-deep, 
when, according to his expression, they ' looked most 
awful ; ' and I readily believed him, as we now and then 
passed through muddy pools which reached the saddle- 
girths of our horses. Here and there large tracts covered 
with tall grasses, and resembling the prairies of the west- 
ern wilds, opened to our view. Wherever the country 
happened to be sunk a little beneath the general level, it 
was covered with cypress-trees, whose spreading arms 
were hung with a profusion of Spanish moss. The soil 
in such cases consisted of black uuid, and was densely 
covered with bushes, chiefly of the magnolia family. We 
crossed in succession the heads of three branches of Haw 
Creek, of which the waters spread from a quarter to 
half a mile in breadth, and through which we made our 
way with extreme difficulty. AVhile in the middle of one, 
my companion told me that once, when in the very spot 
where he then stood, his horse chanced to place his fore- 
feet on the back of a large alligator, which, not well pleas- 
ed at being disturbed in his repose, suddenly raised his 
head, opened his monstrous jaws, and snapped off a part 
of the lip of his affrighted pony. You may imagine the 
terror of the poor beast, which, however, after a few plun- 
ges, resumed its course, and succeeded in carrying its 
rider through in safet}'. As a reward for this achievement 
it was ever after honored with the appellation of ' Alliga- 

" We had now travelled about twenty miles, and the 
sun having reached the zenith, we dismounted to partake 
of some refreshment. From a muddy pool we contrived 
to obtain enough of tolerably clear water to mix with the 
contents of a bottle, the like of which I would strongly 
recommend to every traveller in these swampy regions. 
Our horses, too, found something to grind among the herb- 

2 JO Life of Audubon. 

age that surrounded the litde pool ; but as httle time- 
was to be lost, we quickly remounted and resumed oui 
disagreeable journey, during which we had at no time 
proceeded at a rate exceeding tv/o miles and a half in the 
hour. All at once, however, a wonderful change took 
place ; the country became more elevated and undulating, 
the timber was of a different nature, and consisted of red 
and live oaks, magnolias, and several kinds of pine. 
Thousands of ' mole-hills,' or the habitations of an an- 
imal here called the ' sal amander,' and Gopher's btirrows, 
presented themselves to the eye, and greatly annoyed our, 
horses, which every now and then sank to the depth of a 
foot and stumbled, at the risk of breaking their legs, and 
what we considered fully as valuable — our necks. We 
now saw beautiful lakes of the purest water, and passed 
along a green space having a series of them on each side 
of us. These sheets of water became larger and more 
numerous the farther we advanced, some of them extend- 
ing to a length of several miles, and having a depth of 
from two to twenty feet of clear water ; but their shores 
being destitute of vegetation we observed no birds near 
them. Many tortoises, however, were seen basking in 
the sun, and all as we approached plunged into the v/ater. 
Not a trace of man did we see during our journey, scarce- 
ly a bird, and not a single quadruped, not even a rat ; 
nor can one imagine a poorer and more desolate country 
than that which lies between the Halifax River, which we 
had left in the morning, and the undulated grounds at 
which we had now arrived. 

" But at length we perceived the tracks of living be- 
ings, and soon after saw the huts of Colonel Rees' negroes. 
Scarcely could ever African traveller have approached 
the city of Timbuctoo with more excited curiosity than 
we felt in approaching this plantation. Our Indian hors- 
es seemed to participate in our joy, and trotted at a 

A Sulphur- Spring. ' 23 1 

smart rate towards the principal building, at the door ol 
which we leaped from our saddles, just as the sun was 
withdrawing his ruddy light. Colonel Rees was at home, 
and received us with great kindness. Refreshments were 
immediately placed before us, and we spent the evening 
in agreeable conversation. 

" The next day I walked over the plantation, examin- 
ing the country around, and found the soil of good qual- 
ity, it having been reclaimed from swampy ground, of a 
black color, rich, and very productive. The greater part 
of the cultivated land was on the borders of a lake which 
communicated with others leading to St. John's River, 
distant about seven miles, and navigable so far by vessels 
not exceeding fifty or sixty tons. After breakfast our 
amiable host showed us the way to the celebrated spring, 
the sight of which afforded me pleasure sufficient to coun- 
terbalance the tediousness of my journey. 

"This spring presents a circular basin, having a diam- 
eter of about sixty feet, from the centre of which the 
water is thrown up with great force, although it does not 
rise to a height of more than a few inches above the gen- 
eral level. A kind of whirlpool 'is formed, on the edges 
of which are deposited vast quantities of shells, with pie- 
ces of wood, gravel, and other substances, which have 
coalesced into solid masses, having a very curious ap- 
pearance. The water is quite transparent, although of a 
dark color, but so impregnated with sulphur, that it emits 
an odor which to me was very disagreeable, and highly 
nauseous. Its surface lies fifteen or twenty feet below the 
level of the woodland lakes in the neighborhood, and its 
depth in the autumnal months is about seventeen feet 
when the water is lowest. In all the lakes the same spe- 
cies of shells as are thrown up by the spring occur in 
abundance ; and it seems more than probable that it is 
formed of the water collected from them by infiltration, 

232 " Life of Aiiduhon. 

or forms the subterranean outlet of some of them. The 
Lakes themselves are merely reservoirs containing the 
residue of the waters which fall during the rainy seasons, 
and contributing to supply the waters of the St. John's 
River, with which they communicate by similar means. 
This spring pours its waters into ' Rees' Lake,' through a 
deep and broad channel called Spring Garden Creek. 
This channel is said to be in some places fully sixty feet 
deep, but it becomes more shallow as you advance to- 
wards the entrance of the lake, at which you are surprised 
to find yourself on a mud flat covered only by about fif- 
teen inches of water, under which the depositions from 
the spring lie to a depth of four or five feet in the form 
of the softest mud, while under this again is a bed of fine 
white sand. When this mud is stirred up by the oars of 
your boat or otherwise, it appears of a dark-green color, 
and smells strongly of sulphur. At all times it sends up 
numerous bubbles of air, which probably comes of sul- 
phuretted hydrogen gas. The mouth of this curious 
spring is calculated to be two and a half feet square, and 
the velocity of its waters during the rainy season is three 
feet per second. This -would render the discharge per 
hour about 499-500 gallons. 

" Colonel Rees showed us the remains of another 
spring of the same kind, which had dried up from some 
natural cause. 

" My companion the engineer having occupation for 
another day, I requested Colonel Rees to accompany me 
in his boat towards the river St. John, which I was 
desirous of seeing, as well as the curious country in its 
neighborhood. He readily agreed, and after an early 
breakfast next morning, we set out, accompanied by two 
servants to manage the boat. As we crossed ' Rees' Lake 
I observed that its north-eastern shores were bounded by 
a deep swamp, covered by a rich growth of tall cypresses, 

Woodruff' s Lake. 233 

while the opposite side presented large marshes and isl- 
ands ornamented by pines, live oaks, and orange-trees. 

" With the exception of a very narrow channel, th(! 
creek was covered with nymphejE, and in its waters swam 
numerous alligators, while ibises, gallinules, anhingas, 
coots, and cormorants were pursuing their avocations on 
its surface or along its margins. Over our heads the fish- 
hawks were sailing, and on the broken trees around we 
saw many of their nests. We followed Spring Garden 
Creek for about two miles and a half, and passed a 
mud-bar before we entered ' Dexter's Lake. The bar 
was stuck full of union in such profusion, that each 
time the negroes thrust their hands into the mud they 
took up several. According to their report these shell- 
fish are quite unfit for food. In this lake the water had 
changed its hue, and assumed a dark chestnut color, 
although it was still transparent. The depth was uniform- 
ly five feet, and the extent of the lake was about eight 
miles by three. Having crossed it, we followed the creek 
and soon saw the entrance of ' Woodruff's Lake, ' which 
empties its still darker waters into the St. John's River. 
I here shot a pair of curious ibises, which you will find 
described in my fourth volume of ornithology, and landed 
on a small island covered with wild orange-trees, the lux- 
uriance and freshness of which were not less pleasing to 
the sight than the perfume of their flowers was to the 
smell. The group seemed to me like a rich bouquet 
formed by nature to afford consolation to the weary trav- 
eller cast down by the dismal scenery of swamps, and 
pools, and rank grass around him. Under the shade of 
these beautiful evergreens, and amidst the golden fruits 
that covered the ground, while the humming-birds flut- 
tered over our heads, we spread our cloth on the grass, 
and, with a happy and thankful heart, I refreshed myseli 
with the bountiful gifts of an ever-careful Providence. 


Life of Auduhon. 

Colonel Rees informed me that this charming retrea! 
was one of the numerous terrcz incognitce of this region ol 
lakes, and that it should henceforth bear the name of 
' Audubon's Isle.' 

" In conclusion, let me inform 3'ou that the spring has 
now been turned to good account by my generous host, 
Colonel Rees, who, aided by my amiable companion the 
engineer, has directed its current so as to turn a mill 
which suffices to grind the whole of his sugar-cane." 



Fifth Florida Episode : Deer Hunting 

HE different modes of destroying deer are proba- 
bly too well understood and too successful!]) 
practised in the United States ; for notwith- 
standing the almost incredible abundance of these beau- 
tiful animals in our forests and prairies, such havoc is 
carried on amongst them, that in a few centuries they 
will probably be as scarce in America as the great bus- 
tard now is in Britain. 

" We have three modes of hunting deer, each varying 
in some slight degree in the different states and districts. 
The first is termed ' still hunting,' and is by far the most 
destructive. The second is called ' fire-light hunting,' 
and is next in its exterminating effects. The third, which 
may be looked upon as a mere amusement, is named 
' driving.' Although many deer are destroyed by this 
latter method, it is not by any means so pernicious as 
the others. These methods I shall describe separately. 

" ' Still hunting ' is followed as a kind of trade by 
most of our frontier men. To be practised with success, 
it requires great activity, an expert management of the 
rifle, and a thorough knowledge of the forest, together 
with an intimate acquaintance with the habits of the 
deer, not only at different seasons of the year, but also 
at ever}^ hour of the day, as the hunter must be av/are 
of the situations which the game prefers, and in which it 
is most likely to be found at any particular time. I 
might here present you with a full account of the habits 

236 Life of Audubon. 

of our deer, were it not my intention to lay before yoa 
at some future period, in the form of a distinct work, the 
observations which I have made on the various quadru- 
peds of our extensive territories. 

"We shall suppose that we are now about to follow 
the true hunter, as the still hunter is also called, through 
the interior of the tangled woods, across morasses, ra- 
vines, and such places, where the game may prove more 
or less plentiful, even should none be found there in the 
first instance. We shall allow our hunter all the agility, 
patience, and care which his occupation requires, and 
will march in his rear, as if we were spies watching all 
his motions. His dress, you observe, consists of a leath- 
ern hunting-shirt, and a pair of trousers of the same ma- 
terial. His feet are well moccasined ; he wears a belt 
round his waist ; his heavy rifle is resting on his brawny 
shoulder ; on one side hangs his ball-pouch, surmounted 
by the horn of an ancient buffalo, once the terror of the 
herd, but now containing a pound of the best gunpowder. 
His butcher-knife is scabbarded in the same strap ; and 
behind is a tomahawk, the handle of which has been 
thrust through his girdle. He walks with so rapid a step 
that probably few men besides ourselves, that is, myself 
and my kind reader, could follow him, unless for a short 
distance, in their anxiety to witness his ruthless deeds. 
He stops, looks at the flint of his gun, its priming, and 
the leather cover of the lock, then glances his eye to- 
wards the sky, to judge of the course most likely to lead 
him to the game. 

" The heavens are clear, the red glare of the sun 
gleams through the lower branches of the lofty trees, 
the clew hangs in pearly drops at the top of every leaf. 
Already has the emerald hue of the foliage been convert- 
ed into the more glowing tints of our autumnal months. 
A slight frost appears on the fence rails of his little 

Deer-Hunting. 2,37 

" As he proceeds he looks to the dead foliage under 
his feet, in search of the well-known traces of a buck's 
hoof Now he bends toward the ground, on which some- 
thing has attracted his attention. See, he alters his 
course, increases his speed, and will soon reach the op- 
posite hill. Now he moves with caution, stops at almost 
every tree, and peeps forward, as if already within shoot- 
ing distance of his game. He advances again ; but now 
very slowly. He has reached the declivity, upon which 
the sun shines in all its glowing splendor; but mark him, 
he takes the gun from his shoulder, has already thrown 
aside the leather covering of the lock, and is wiping the 
edge of his flint with his tongue. Now he stands like a 
monumental figure, perhaps measuring the distance that 
lies between him and the game which he has in view. 
His rifle is slowly raised, the report follows, and he runs. 
Let us run also. Shall I speak to him, and ask him the 
result of his first essay ? ' Pray, friend, what have you 
killed 'i ' for to say, ' What have you shot at ? ' might im- 
ply the possibility of his having missed, and so might 
hurt his feelings. ' Nothing but a buck.' ' And where 
is it ? ' ' Oh, it has taken a jump or so, but I settled it, 
and will soon be with it. My ball struck, and must have 
gone through his heart.' We arrived at the spot where 
the animal had laid itself down on the grass, in a thicket 
of grape-vines, sumachs, and spruce-bushes, where it in- 
tended to repose during the middle of the day. The 
place is covered with blood, the hoofs of the deer have 
left deep prints in the ground, as it bounded in the ago- 
nies produced by its wound ; but the blood that has 
gushed from its side discloses the course which it has 
taken. We soon reach the spot. There lies the buck, 
its tongue out, its eye dim, its breath exhausted ; it is 
dead. The hunter draws his knife, cuts the buck's throat 
almost asunder, and prepares to skin it. For this pur- 

238 Life of Audubon. 

pose he hangs it upon the branch of a tree. When the 
skin is removed, he cuts off the hams, and abandoning 
the rest of the carcass to the wolves and vultures, re- 
loads his gun, flings the venison, enclosed by the skin, 
upon his back, secures it with a strap, and walks off in 
search of more game, well knowing that in the immedi- 
ate neighborhood another at least is to be found. 

" Had the weather been warmer, the hunter would 
have sought for the buck along the shadowy side of the 
hills. Had it been the spring season, he would have led 
us through some thick canebrake, to the margin of some 
remote lake, where you would have seen the deer 
immersed to his head in the water, to save his body from 
the tormenting mosquitoes. Had winter overspread the 
earth with a covering of snow, he would have searched ■ 
the low, damp woods, where the mosses and lichens, on 
which at that period the deer feeds, abound, the trees be- 
ing generally crusted with them for several feet from the 
ground. At one time he might have marked the places 
where the deer clears the velvet from his horns by rub- 
bing them against the low stems of bushes, and where he 
frequently scrapes the earth with his fore-hoofs; at 
another he would have betaken himself to places where 
persimmon and crab-apples abound, as beneath these trees 
the deer frequently stops to munch their fruits. During 
early spring our hunter would imitate the bleating of the 
doe, and thus frequently obtain both her and the fawn ; 
or, like some tribes of Indians, he would prepare a deer's 
head, placed on a stick, and creeping with it amongst the 
tall grass of the prairies, would decoy the deer within 
reach of his rifle. But, kind reader, you have seen 
enough of the ' still hunter.' Let it suffice for me to add 
that, by the mode pursued by him, thousands of deer are 
annually killed, many individuals shooting these animals 
merely for the skins, not caring for even the most valua- 

Deer- Hunting. 239 

ble portions of the flesh, unless hunger or a near market 
induces them to carry off the hams. 

" The mode of destroying deer hy Jire-Hght, or, as it is 
named in some parts of the country, forest-light, never 
fails to produce a very singular feeling in him who wit- 
nesses it for the first time. There is something in it which 
at times ajDpears awfully grand. At other times a cer- 
tain degree of fear creeps over the mind, and even affects 
the physical powers of him who follows the hunter through 
the thick undergrowth of our woods, having to leap his 
horse over hundreds of huge fallen trunks, at one time 
impeded by a straggling grape-vine crossing his path, at 
another squeezed between two stubborn saplings, whilst 
their twigs come smack in his face, as his companion has 
forced his way through them. Again, he every now and 
then runs the risk of breaking his neck by being suddenly 
pitched headlong on the ground, as his horse sinks into a 
hole covered over with moss. But I must proceed in a 
more regular manner, and leave you, kind reader, to judge 
whether such a mode of hunting would suit your taste or 

" The hunter has returned to his camp or his house, 
has rested, and eaten his game'. He has procured a 
quantity of pine-knots filled with resinous matter, and has 
an old frying-pan, that, for aught I know to the contrary, 
may have been used by his great-grandmother, in which 
the pine-knots are to be placed when lighted. The horses 
stand saddled at the door. The hunter comes forth, his 
rifle slung on his shoulder, and springs upon one of 
them, while his son or a servant mounts the other, with 
the fiying-pan and the pine-knots. Thus accoutred, they 
proceed towards the interior of the forest. When they 
have arrived at the spot where the hunt is to begin, they 
strike fire with a flint and steel, and kindle the resinous 
wood. The person who carries the fire moves in the di- 

24O Life of Audubon, 

rection judged to be the best. The blaze iUuminates the 
near objects, but the distant parts seem involved in deep- 
est obscurity. 

" The hunter who bears the gun keeps immediately in 
front, and after a while discovers before him two feeble 
lights, which are produced by the reflection of the pine 
fire from the eyes of an animal of the deer or wolf kind. 
The animal stands quite still. To one unacquainted with 
this strange mode of hunting, the glare from its eyes might 
bring to his imagination- some lost hobgoblin that had 
strayed from its usual haunts. The hunter, however, no- 
wise intimidated, approaches the object, sometimes so 
near as to discern its form, when, raising the rifle to his 
shoulder, he fires and kills it on the spot. He then dis- 
mounts, secures the skin and such portions of the flesh as 
he may want, in the manner already described, and con- 
tinues his search through the greater part of the night, 
sometimes to the dawn of day, shooting from five to ten 
deer, should these animals be plentiful. This kind of 
hunting proves fatal, not to the deer alone, but also some- 
times to wolves, and now and then to a horse or a cow 
which may have strayed far into the woods. 

" Now, kind reader, prepare to mount a generous, full- 
blood Virginia hunter ; see that your gun is in complete 
order, for hark to the sound of the bugle and horn, and 
the mingled clamor of a pack of harriers. Your friends 
are waiting you under the shade of the wood, and we 
must together go driving \\\& light-footed deef. The dis- 
tance over which one has to travel is seldom felt when 
pleasure is anticipated as the result, so galloping we go 
pell-mell through the woods to some well-known place, 
where many a fine buck has drooped its antlers under 
the ball of the hunter's rifle. The servants, who are 
called the drivers, have already begun their search, their 
voices are heard exciting the hounds, and unless we put 

Deer-Hunting. 241 

spurs to our steeds, we may be too late at our stand, and 
thus lose the first opportunity of shooting the fleeting 
game as it passes by. Hark again ! The dogs are in 
chase, the horn sounds louder and more clearly. Hurry, 
hurry on ! or we shall be sadly behind. Here we are at 
last ; dismount, fasten your horse to this tree, place your- 
self by the side of that large yellow poplar, and mind you 
do not shoot me. The deer is fast approaching ; I will to 
my own stand, and he who shoots him dead wins the prize. 
The deer is heard coming ; it has inadvertently cracked 
a dead stick with its hoof, and the dogs are now so near 
it that it will pass in a moment. There it comes ! How 
beautifully it bounds over the ground ! What a splendid 
head of horns ! How easy the attitudes, depending, as 
it seems to do, on its own swiftness for safety ! All is in 
vain, however ; a gun is fired, the animal plunges, and 
doubles with incomparable speed. There he goes ; he 
passes another stand, from which a second shot, better 
directed than the first, brings him to the ground. The 
dogs, the servants, the sportsmen, are now rushing for- 
ward to the spot. The hunter who has shot it is congrat- 
ulated on his skill or good luck, and the chase begins 
again in some other part of the woods. 

" A few lines of explanation may be required to con- 
vey a clear idea of this mode of hunting. Deer are fond 
of following and retracing the paths which they have 
formerly used, and continue to do so even after they have 
been shot at more than once. Their tracks are discov- 
ered by persons on horseback in the woods, or a deer is 
observed crossing a road, a field, or a small stream. 
When this has been noticed twice, the deer may be shot 
from the places called stands by the sportsman, who is 
stationed there and waits for it, aline of stands being gen- 
erally formed so as to cross the path which the game will 
follow. The person who ascertains the usual pass of 

242 Life of Auduhon. 

the game, or discovers the parts where the animal feeds 
or Hes down during the day, gives intimation to his 
friends, who then prepare for the chase. The servants 
start tlie deer with the hounds, and, by good management, 
generally succeed in making it run the course that will 
soonest bring it to its death. But should the deer be 
cautious, and take another course, the hunters mounted on 
swift horses, gallop through the woods to intercept it, 
guided by the sound of the horns and the cry of the dogs, 
and frequently succeed in shooting it. This sport is ex- 
tremely agreeable, and proves successful on almost every 


Sixth Florida Episode : Sandy Island. 

LEFT you abruptly, perhaps uncivilly, reader, at 
the dawn of day on Sandy Island, which lies 
just six miles from the extreme point of South 
Florida. I did so because 1 was amazed at the appear- 
ance of things around me, which, in fact, looked so 
different then from what they seemed at night, that it took 
some minutes' reflection to account for the change. 
When we laid ourselves down on the sand to sleep, the 
waters almost bathed our feet ; when we opened our eyes 
in the morning, they were at an immense distance. Our 
boat lay on her side, looking not unlike a whale reposing 
on a mud bank ; the birds in myriads were probing their 
pasture-ground. There great flocks of ibises fed apart 
from equally large collections of 'godwits,' and thousands 
of herons gracefully paced along, ever and anon thrusting 
their javelin bills into the body of some unfortunate fish 
confined in a small pool of water. Of fish-crows I could 
not estimate the number, but from the havoc they made 
among the crabs, I conjecture that these animals must 
have been scarce by the time of next ebb. Frigate 
pelicans chased the jager, which himself had just robbed 
a poor gull of its prize ; and all the gallinules ran with 
spread wings from the mud-banks to the thickets of the 
island, so timorous had they become when they perceived 
us. Surrounded as we were by so many objects that al- 
lured us, not one could we yet attain, so dangerous would 
it have been to venture on the mud ; and our pilot hav- 

244 L.ife of J^uduhon. 

ing assured us that nothing could be lost by waiting, 
spoke of our eating, and on this hint told that he would 
take us to a part of the island where ' our breakfast 
would be abvnidant, although uncooked.' Off we went, 
some of the sailors carrying baskets, others large tin pans 
and wooden vessels such as they use for eatuig their 
meals in. Entering a thicket of about an acre in extent, 
we found on every bush several nests of the ibis, each 
containing three large and beautiful eggs, and all hands 
fell to gathering. The birds gave way to us, and ere long 
we had a heajD of eggs, that promised delicious food. 
Nor did we stand long in expectation ; for, kindling a 
fire, we soon prepared, in one way or other, enough to- sat- 
isfy the cravings of our hungry maws. Breakfast ended, 
the i^ilot, looking at the gorgeous sunrise, said, ' Gentle- 
men, prepare yourselves for fun ; the tide is a-coming.' 
Over these mud-flats a foot or two of water is quite suffi- 
cient to drive all the birds ashore, even the tallest heron 
or flamingo ; and the tide seems to flow at once over the 
whole expanse. Each of us, provided with a gun, posted 
himself behind a bush, and no sooner had the water 
forced the winged creatures to approach the shore, than 
the work of destruction commenced. When it at length 
ceased, the collected mass of birds of different kinds 
looked not unlike a small haycock. Who could not with 
a little industry have helped himself to a few of their 
skins .'' Why, reader, surely no one is as fond of these 
things as I am. Every one assisted in this, and even the 
sailors themselves tried their hand at the work. Our pi- 
lot, good man, told us he was no hand at such occupa- 
tions, and would go after something else. So taking 
' Long Tom ' and his fishing-tackle, he marched off quietly 
along the shores. About an hour aftcnvards we saw him 
returning, when he looked quite exhausted ; and on our 
inquiring the cause, said, ' There is a dew-fish yonder, 

A Dangerous Fish. 24^ 

and a few baxacoudas, but I am not al^le to bring them, ox 
even to haul them here; please send the sailors after 
them.' The fishes were accordingly brought, and as I had 
never seen a 'dew-fish,' I examined it closely, and took 
an outline of its form, which some days hence you may 
perhajjs see. It exceeded a hundred pounds in weight, 
and afforded excellent eating. The balacouda is also a 
good fish, but at times a dangerous one, for, according to 
the pilot, on more than one occasion 'some of these gen- 
try ' had followed him, when waist-deep in the water in 
pursuit of a more valuable prize, until in self-defence he 
had to spear them, fearing that the ' gentlemen ' might at 
one dart cut off his legs, or some other nice bit with which 
he was unwilling to part. Having filled our cask from a 
fine well, long since dug in the sand of Cape Sable, either 
by Seminole Indians or pirates, no matter which, we left 
Sandy Isle about full tide, and proceeded homewards, 
giving a call here and there at different keys, with the 
view of procuring rare birds, and also their nests and 
eggs. We had twenty miles to go 'as the birds fly,' but 
the tortuosity of the channels rendered our course fully a 
third longer. The sun was descending fast, when a black 
cloud suddenly obscured the majestic orb. Our sails 
swelled by a breeze that was scarcely felt by us, and the 
pilot, requesting us to sit on the weather gunwale, told us 
that we were 'going to get it.' One sail was hauled in 
and secured, and the other was reefed, although the wind 
had not increased. A low murmuring noise was heard, 
and across the cloud that now rolled along in tumultuous 
masses shot vivid flashes of lightning. Our experienced 
guide steered directly across a flat towards the nearest 
land. The sailors passed their quids from one cheek to 
the other, and our pilot having covered himself with his 
oil jacket, we followed his example. ' Blow, sweet breeze, ' 
cried he at the tiller, ' and we'll reach land before the 

2^6 Life of Audiihon. 

blast overtakes us ; for, gentlemen, it is a furious cloud 
yon.' A furious cloud indeed was the one which now, like 
an eagle on outstretched wings, approached so swiftly, 
that one might have deemed it in haste to destroy us. 
We were not more than a cable's length from the shore, 
when with imperative voice the pilot calmly said to us, 
' Sit quite still, gentlemen, for I should not like to lose 
you overboard just now ; the boat can't upset, my word 
for that, if you will but sit still ; here we have it ! ' Read- 
er, persons who have never witnessed a hurricane, such 
as not unfrequently desolates the sultry climates of the 
south, can scarcely form an idea of their terrific grandeur. 
One would think that, not content with laying waste all 
on land, it must needs sweep the waters of the shallows 
quite dry to quench its thirst. No respite for a moment 
does it afford to the objects within the reach of its furious 
current. Like the scythe of the destroying angel, it cuts 
every thing by the roots, as it were, with the careless ease 
of the experienced mower. Each of its revolving sweeps 
collects a heap that might be likened to the full sheaf 
which the husbandman flings by his side. On it goes, 
with a wildness and fury that are indescribable ; and when 
at last its frightful blasts have ceased, nature, weeping 
and disconsolate, is left bereaved of her beautiful off- 
spring. In instances, even a full century is required be- 
fore, with all her powerful energies, she can repair her 
loss. The planter has not only lost his mansion, his 
crops, and his flocks, but he has to clear his lands anew, 
covered and entangled as they are with the trunks and 
branches of trees, that are everywhere strewn. The bark 
overtaken by the storm is cast on the lee-shore, and if 
any are left to witness the fatal' results they are the 
' wreckers ' alone, who, with inward delight, gaze upon the 
melancholy spectacle. Our light bark shivered like a leaf 
the instant the blast reached her sides. We thought she 

Bird Seeking. 247 

had gone over ; but the next instant she was on the shore, 
and now, in contemplation of the sublime and awful 
storm, I gazed around me. The waters drifted like snow ; 
the tough mangroves hid their tops amid their roots, and 
the loud roaring of the waves driven among them blend- 
ed with the howl of the tempest. It was not rain that 
fell ; (he masses of water flew in a horizontal direction, 
and where a part of my body was exposed, I felt as if a 
smart blow had been given me on it. But enough : in 
half an hour it was over. The pure blue sky once more 
embellished the heavens, and although it was now quite 
night, we considered our situation a good one. The crew 
and some of the party spent the night on board ; the pi- 
lot, myself, and one of my assistants took to the heart of 
the mangroves, and having found high land, we made a 
fire as well as we could, spread a tarpaulin, and fixing our 
insect-bars over us, soon forgot in sleep the horrors that 
had surrounded us. Next day the Marion proceeded on 
her cruise, and in a few more days, having anchored in 
another safe harbor, we visited other keys, of which I 
will, with your leave, give you a short account. 

" The deputy collector of Indian Isle gave me the use 
of his pilot for a few weeks, and I was the more gratified 
by this, that besides knowing him to be a good man and 
a perfect sailor, I was now convinced that he possessed a 
great knowledge of the habits of birds, and could with- 
out loss of time lead me to their haunts. We were a 
hundred miles or so farther to the south. Gay May, like 
a playful babe, gambolled on the bosom of his mother 
nature, and every thing Vas replete with life and joy. 
The pilot had spoken to me of some birds which I was 
veiy desirous of obtaining. One morning, therefore, we 
went in two boats to some distant isle, where they were said 
to breed. Our difficulties in reaching that key might to 
some seem more imaginary than real, were I faithfully to 

248 Life of Auduhon. 

describe them. Suffice it for me to tell you that, after 
hauling our boats and pushing them with our hands for 
upwards of nine miles over the flats, we at last reached 
the deep channel that usually surrounds each of the man- 
grove isles. We were much exhausted by the labor and 
excessive heat, but we were now floating on deep water, 
and by resting under the shade of some mangroves, we 
were soon refreshed by the breeze that gently blew from 
the gulf 

" The heron which I have named ' Ardea occidentalis ' 
was seen moving majestically in great numbers, the tide 
rose and drove them away, and as they came towards us, 
to alight and rest for a while on the tallest trees, we shot 
as many as I wished. I also took under my charge sev- 
eral of their young alive. At another time we visited the 
' Mule Keys ; ' there the prospect was in many respects 
dismal enough. As I followed their shores, I saw bales 
of cotton floating in all the coves, while spars of every 
description lay on the beach, and far off on the reefs I 
could see the last remains of a lost ship, her dismasted 
hulk. Several schooners were around her \ they were 
'wreckers.' I turned me from the sight with a heavy 
heart. Indeed, as I slowly proceeded, I dreaded to meet 
the floating or cast-ashore bodies of some of the unfor- 
tunate crew. Our visit to the ' Mule Keys ' was in no way 
profitable, for besides meeting with but a few birds, in two 
or three instances I was, while swimming in the deep 
channel of a mangrove isle, much nearer a large shark 
than I wish ever to be again," 


Seventh Florida Episode : The Wreckers. 

|ONG before I reached the lovely islets that 
border the south-eastern shores of the Floridas, 
the accounts I had heard of ' The Wreckers ' 
had deeply prejudiced me against them. Often had I 
been informed of the cruel and cowardly methods which 
it was alleged they employed to allure vessels of all na- 
tions to the dreaded reefs, that they might plunder their 
cargoes, and rob their crews and passengers of their 
effects. I therefore could have little desire to meet with 
such men under any circumstances, much less to become 
liable to receive their aid ; and with the name of ' wrecker ' 
there were associated in my mind ideas of piratical dep- 
redation, barbarous usage, and even murder. One fair 
afternoon, while I was standing on the polished deck 
of the United States revenue cutter, the Marion, a sail 
hove in sight, bearing in an opposite course, close-hauled 
to the wind. The gentle sway of her masts, as she rocked 
to and fro in the breeze, brought to my mind the wavings 
of the reeds on the fertile banks of the Mississippi. By 
and by the vessel, altering her course, approached us. 
The Marion, like a sea-bird with extended wings, swept 
through the waters, gently inclining to either side, while 
the unknown vessel leaped as it were from wave to wave, 
like the dolphin in eager pursuit of his prey. In a short 
time we were gliding side by side, and the commander 
of the strange schooner saluted our captain, who promptly 
returned the compliment. What a beautiful vessel, we 
all thought, how trim, how clean rigged, and how well 
manned. She swims like a duck, and now, with a broad 

250 Life of Auduhon. 

sheer, off she makes for the reefs, a few miles under our 
lee. There in that narrow passage, well known to her 
commander, she rolls, tumbles, and dances like a giddy 
thing, her copper sheathing now gleaming, and again dis- 
appearing under the waves. But the passage is made, 
and now, hauling on the wind, she resumes her former 
course, and gradually recedes from the view. Reader, it 
was a Florida wrecker. When at the Tortugas, I paid a 
visit to several vessels of this kind, in company with my 
friend Robert Day, Esq. We had observed the regularity 
and quickness of the men then employed at their arduous 
tasks, and as we approached the largest schoonerj I ad- 
mired her form, so well adapted to her occupation, her 
great breadth of beam, her light draught, the correctness 
of her water-line, the neatness of her painted sides, the 
smoothness of her well-greased masts, and the beauty of 
her rigging. We were welcomed on board with all the 
frankness of our native tars. Silence and order prevailed 
on her decks. The commander and the second officer 
led us into a spacious cabin, well lighted, and furnished 
with every convenience for fifteen or more passengers. 
The former brought me his collection of marine shells, 
and whenever I pointed to one that I had not seen before, 
offered it with so much kindness, that I found it necessary 
to be careful in expressing my admiration of any particu- 
lar shell. He had also many eggs of rare birds, which 
were all handed over to me, with an assurance that be- 
fore the month should expire a new set could easily 
be procured ; for, said he, ' we have much idle time on 
the reefs at this season.' Dinner was served, and we par- 
took of their fare, which consisted of fish, fowl and other 
materials. These rovers were both from down east, were 
stout active men, cleanly and smart in their attire. In a 
short time we were all extremely social and merry. They 
thought my visit to the Tortugas in quest of birds was 

T^he Wreckers. 251 

rather a curious fancy, but notwithstanding, they expressed 
their pleasure while looking at some of my drawings, and 
offered their services in procuring specimens. Expedi- 
tions far and near were proposed, and on settling that 
one of them was to take place on the morrow, we parted 
friends. Early next morning several of these kind men 
accompanied me to a small key called Booby Island, 
about ten miles distant from the lighthouse. Their boats 
were well manned, and rowed with long and steady strokes, 
such as whalers and men-of-war's men are wont to draw. 
The captain sang, and at times, by way of frolic, ran a 
race vvith our own beautiful bark. The Booby Isle was 
soon reached, and our sport there was equal to any we 
had elsewhere. They were capital shots, had excellent 
guns, and knew more about boobies and noddies than 
nine-tenths of the best naturalists in the world. 

" But what will you say when I tell you that the 
' Florida wreckers ' are excellent at a deer-hunt, and that 
at certain seasons, ' when business is slack,' they are 
wont to land on some extensive key, and in a few hours 
procure a supply of delicious venison. Some days after 
the same party took me on an expedition in quest of sea- 
shells. There we were all in the water at times to the 
waist, and now and then much' deeper. Now they would 
dip like ducks, and on emerging would hold up a beauti- 
ful shell. This occupation they seemed to enjoy above all 
others. The duties of the Marion having been per- 
formed, intimation of our intended departure reached 
the wreckers. An invitation was sent me to go and see 
them on board their vessel, which I accepted. Their 
object on this occasion was to present me with some 
superb corals, shells, live turtles of the hawk-billed spe- 
cies, and a great quantity of eggs. Not a picayune would 
they receive in return, but putting some letters in my 
hands, requested me to be so good as to put them in the 

2C2 Life of Audubon. 

mail at Charleston, adding that they were for their wives 
down east. So anxious did they appear to be to do all 
they could for me, that they proposed to sail before the 
Marion, and meet her under weigh, to give me some 
birds that were rare on the coast, and of which they 
hnew the haunts. Circumstances connected with the ser- 
vice prevented this, however, and with sincere regret, and 
a good portion of friendship, I bade these excellent fel- 
lows adieu. How different, thought I, is often the knowl- 
edge of things acquired from personal observation, from 
that obtained by report. I had never before seen Florida 
wreckers, nor has it' since been my fortune to fall in with 
any ; but my good friend Dr. Benjamin Strobel, having 
furnished me with a graphic account of a few days he 
spent with them, I shall present you with it in his own 

" ' On the 1 2th day of September, while lying in har- 
bor at Indian Key, we were joined by five wrecking ves- 
sels. Their licenses having expired, it was necessary to 
go to Key West, to renew them. We determined to ac- 
company them the next morning, and here it will not be 
amiss for me to say a few words respecting these far- 
famed wreckers, their captains and crews. From all that 
I had heard, I expected tO see a parcel of dirty, pirate- 
looking vessels, officered and manned by a set of black- 
whiskered fellows, who carried murder in their very looks. 
I was agreeably surprised on discovering that the vessels 
were fine large sloops and schooners, regular clippers, 
kept in first-rate order. The captains generally were 
jovial, good-humored sons of NejDtune, who manifested a 
disposition to be polite and hospitable, and to afford 
every facility to persons passing up and down the reefs. 
The crews were hearty, well-dressed, and honest-looking 
men. On the i8th, at the appointed hour, we all set sail 
together, that is, the five wreckers and the schooner Jane, 

T^he Wreckers. 253 

As our vessel was not noted for fast sailing, we accepted 
an invitation to go on board of a wrecker. The fleet got 
under weigh about eight o'clock in the morning, the wind 
light but fair, the water smooth, and the day fine. I can 
scarcely find words to express the pleasure and gi'atifica- 
tion which I this day experienced. The sea was of a 
beautiful, soft, pea-green color, smooth as a sheet of glass, 
and as transparent, its surface agitated only by our ves- 
sels as they j^arted its bosom, or by the pelican in pursuit 
of his prey, which, rising for a considerable distance in the 
air, would suddenly plunge down with distended mandi- 
bles, and secure his food. The vessels of our little fleet, 
with every sail set that could catch a breeze, and the 
white foam curling round the prows glided silently along, 
like islands of flitting shadows on an immovable sea of 
light. Several fathoms below the surface of the water, 
and under us, we saw great quantities of fish diving and 
sporting amongst the sea-grass, sponges, sea-feathers, and 
corals, with which the bottom was covered. On our 
right hand the Florida Keys, as we made them in the dis- 
tance, looked like specks upon the water, but as we 
neared them, rose to view as if by enchantment, clad in 
the richest livery of spring, each variety of color and hue 
rendered soft and delicate by a clear sky and brilliant sun 
overhead. All was like a fairy scene \ my heart leaped 
up in delighted admiration, and I could not but exclaim, 
in the language of Scott, 

Those seas behold, 

Round thrice an hundred islands rolled. 

The trade-winds played around us with balmy and re- 
freshing sweetness ; and to give life and animation to the 
scene, we had a contest for the mastery between all the 
vessels of the fleet, while a deep interest was excited in 
this or that vessel, as she shot ahead or fell astern. 

254 ^'^f^ of Audubon. 

About three o'clock of the afternoon we arrived off the 
Bay of Honda. The wind being Ught, and no prospect 
of reaching Key West that night, it was agreed we should 
make a harbor here. We entered a beautiful basin, and 
came to anchor about four o'clock. Boats were launch- 
ed, and several hunting parties formed. We landed, and 
were soon on the scent, some going in search of shells, 
others of birds. An Indian who had been picked up 
somewhere along the coast by some wrecker, and who 
was employed as a hunter, was sent on shore in search 
of venison. Previous to his leaving the vessel a rifle was 
loaded with a single ball, and put into his hands. After 
an absence of several hours he returned with two deer, 
which he had killed at a single shot. He watched until 
they were both in range of his gun, side by side, when 
he fired and brought them down. All hands having re- 
turned, and the fruits of our excursion being collected, 
we had wherewithal to make an abundant supper. Most 
of the game was sent on board of the larger vessel, where 
we proposed supping. Our vessels were all lying within 
hail of each other, and as soon as the moon arose, boats 
were seen passing from one to the other, and all were 
busily and happily engaged in exchanging civilities. 
One would never have supposed that these men were 
professional rivals, so apparent was the good feeling that 
prevailed amongst them. About nine o'clock we started 
for supper. A number of persons had already collected, 
and as soon as we arrived on board the vessel, a German 
sailor, who played remarkably well on the violin, was 
summoned to the quarter-deck, when all hands with a 
good will cheerily danced to lively airs until supper was 
ready. The table was laid in the cabin, and groaned un- 
der its load of venison, wild ducks, pigeons, curlews and 
fish. Toasting and singing succeeded the supper, and 
among other curious matters introduced, the following 

'The Wreckers Song. 25^5 

song was sung by the German fiddler, who accompanied 
his voice with his instrmiient. He was said to be the au- 
thor of the song. I say nothing of the poetry, but mere- 
ly give it as it came on my ear. It is certainly very 


Come all ye good people one and all. 

Come listen to my song ; 
A few remarks I have to make, 

Which won't be very long, 
'Tis of our vessel, stout and goot, 
As ever yet was built of woot ; 
Along the reef where the breakers roar, 
De wreckers on de Florida shore. 

Key Tavernier's our rendezvous. 

At anchor there we lie ; 
And see the vessels in the Gulf 

Carelessly passing by. 
When night comes on we dance and sing, 
Whilst the current some vessel is floating in ; 
When daylight comes, a ship's on shore, 
Among de rocks where de breakers roar. 

When daylight dawns we're under weigh, 

And eveiysail is set ; 
And if the wind it should prove light, 

Why then our sails we wet. 
To gain her first each eager strives, 
To save de cargo and de pepole's lives ; 
Amongst de rocks, where de breakers roar, 
De wreckers on the Florida shore. 

When we get 'longside, we find she's bilged, 

We know veil vat to do ; 
Save de cargo dat we can, 

De sails and rigging too. 
Den down to Key West we soon vill go, 

1^6 Life of Audubon. 

When quickly our salvage we shall know ; 
When every ting it is fairly sold, 
Our money clown to us it is told. 

Den one week's cruise we'll have on shore, 

Before we do sail again ; 
And drink success to the sailor lads 
• Dat are ploughing of de main. 
And when you are passing by this way, 
On Florida Reef should you chance to stray. 
Why, we will come to you on the shore, 
Amongst de rocks where de breakers roar. 

" ' Great emphasis was laid upon particular words by 
the singer, who had a broad German accent. Between 
the verses he played a symphony, remarking, "Gentle- 
mens, I makes dat myself." The choms was trolled by 
twenty or thirty voices, which in the stillness of the night 
produced no unpleasant effect' " 


Eighth Florida Episode : The Turtlers of Florida. 

HE Tortugas are a group of islands lying aboul 
eighty miles from Key West, and the last of 
those that seem to defend the peninsula of the 
Floridas. They consist of five or six extremely low un- 
inhabitable banks, formed of shelly sand, and are resort- 
ed to principally by that class of men called wreckers 
and turtlers. Between these islands are deep channels, 
which, although extremely intricate, are well known to 
those adventurers, as well jfs to the commanders of the 
revenue cutters whose duties call them to that danger- 
ous coast. The great coral reef or wall lies about eight 
miles from these inhospitable isles, in the direction of the 
Gulf, and on it many an ignorant or careless navigator 
has suffered shipwreck. The whole ground around them 
is densely covered with corals, sea-fans, and other pro- 
ductions of the deep, amid which crawl innumerable tes- 
taceous animals ; while shoals of curious and beautiful 
fishes fill the limpid waters above them. Turtles of dif- 
ferent species resort to these banks, to deposit their eggs 
in the burning sand, and clouds of sea-fowl arrive every 
spring for the same purpose. These are followed by per- 
sons called 'eggers,' who, when their cargoes are com- 
pleted, iail to distant markets to exchange their ill-gotten 
ware for a portion of that gold on the acquisition of 
which all men seem bent. 

" The Marion having occasion to visit the Tortugas, I 
gladly embraced the opportunity of seeing those cele- 

258 Life of Audubon. 

brated islets. A few hotn-s before sunset the joyful cry 
of ' land ' announced our approach to them, but as the 
breeze was fresh, and the pilot was well acquainted with 
all the windings of the channels, we held on, and dropped 
anchor before twilight. If you ha\e never seen the sun 
setting in those latitudes, I would recommend you to 
make a voyage for that purpose, for I much doubt if, in 
any other portion of the world, the departure of the orb 
of day is accompanied with such gorgeous appearances. 
Look at the great red disc, increased to triple its ordina- 
ry dimensions. Now it has partially sunk beneath the 
distant line of waters, and with its still remaining half ir- 
radiates the whole heavens with a flood of light, purpling 
the far-off clouds that hover over the western horizon, 
A blaze of refulgent glory streams through the portals of 
the west, and the masses of vapor assume the semblance 
of mountains of molten gold. But the sun has now dis- 
appeared, and from the east slowly advances the gra}'' 
curtain which night draws over the world. The night- 
hawk is flapping his noiseless wings in the gentle sea- 
breeze ; the terns, safely landed, have settled on their 
nests ; the frigate pelicans are seen- wending their way 
to distant mangroves ; and the brown gannet, in search 
of a resting-place, has perched on the yard of the vessel. 
Slowly advancing landward, their heads alone above the 
water, are observed the heavily-laden turtles, anxious to 
deposit their eggs in the well-known sands. On the sur- 
face of the gently rippling stream I dimly see their broad 
forms as they toil along, while at intervals may be heard 
their hurried breathings, indicative of suspicion and fear. 
The moon with her silvery light now illumines the scene, 
and the turtle having landed, slowly and laboriously 
drags her heavy body over the sand, her ' flappers ' be- 
ing better adapted for motion in water than on the shore. 
Up the slope however she works her way, and see how iu- 

T'ortugas Turtles^ 259 

dustriously she removes the sand beneath her, casting it 
out on either side. Layer after layer she deposits her 
eggs, arranging them in the most careful manner, and 
with her hind paddles brings the sand over them. The 
business is accomplished, the spot is covered over, and 
with a joyful heart the turtle swiftly retires toward the 
shore and launches into the. deep. 

" But the Tortugas are not the only breeding-places 
of the turtle : these animals, on the contrary, frequent 
many other keys as well as various parts of the coast of 
the mainland. There are four different species, which 
are known by the names of the green turtle, the hawk- 
billed turtle, the logger-head tiu'tle, and the trunk turtle. 
The first is considered the best as an article of food, in 
which capacity it is well known to most epicures. It ap- 
proaches the shores, and enters the bays, inlets, and riv- 
ers, early in the month of April, after having spent the 
winters in the deep waters. It deposits its eggs in con- 
venient places, at two different times, in May, and once 
again in June. The first deposit is the largest, and the 
last the least, the total quantity being at an average about 
two hundred and forty. The hawk-billed turtle, whose 
shell is so valuable as an article of commerce, being used 
for various purposes in the arts, is the next with respect 
to the quality of its flesh. It resorts to the outer keys 
only, where it deposits its eggs in two sets, first in July 
and again in August, although \tcra7uls the beaches much 
earlier in the season, as if to look for a safe place. The 
average number of its eggs is about three hundred. The 
logger-head visits the Tortugas in April, and lays from 
that period until late in June three sets of eggs, each set 
averaging a hundred and seventy. The trunk turtle, 
which is sometimes of an enormous size, and which has 
a pouch like a pelican, reaches the shores latest. The 
shell and fish are so. soft that one may push the fingei 

2,6o Life of Audubon. 

into them almost as into a lump of butter. This species 
is therefore considered as the least valuable, and indeed 
is seldom eaten, unless by the Indians, who, ever alert 
when the turtle season commences, first carry off the eggs 
which it lays in the season, and afterwards catch the tur- 
tles themselves. The average number of eggs which it 
lays at two sets may be three hundred and fifty. 

" The logger-head and the trunk turtles are the least 
cautious in choosing the places in which to deposit their 
eggs, whereas the two other species select the wildest and 
most secluded spots. The green turtle resorts either to 
the shores of the Main, between Cape Sable and Cape 
Florida, or enters Indian, Halifax, and other large rivers 
or inlets, from which it makes its retreat as speedily as 
possible, and betakes itself to the oj^en sea. Great num- 
bers, however, are killed by the turtlers and Indians, as 
well as by various sjDCcies of carnivorous animals, as cou- 
gars, lynxes, bears, and wolves. The hawk -bill, which is 
still more wary, and is always the most difficult to surprise, 
keeps to the sea-islands. All the species employ nearly 
the same method in depositing their eggs in the sand, and 
as I have sev^eral times obsei-ved them in the act, I am 
enabled to present you with a circumstantial account of 

" On first nearing the shores, and mostly on fine calm 
moonlight nights, the turtle raises her head above the 
water, being still distant thirty or forty yards from the 
beach, looks around her, and attentively examines the 
objects on the shore. Should she observe nothing likely 
on the shore to disturb her intended operations, she emits 
a loud hissing sound, by which such of her enemies as 
are unaccustomed to it are startled, and so are apt to re- 
move to another place, although unseen by her. Should 
she hear any noise, or perceive indications of danger, she 
instantly sinks and goes off to a considerable distance j 

Depositing Eggs. iG\ 

but should every thing be quiet, she advances slowl}^ to- 
wards the beach, crawls over it, her head raised to the! 
full stretch of her neck, and when she has reached a 
place fitted for her purpose she gazes all round in silence. 
Finding 'all well,' she proceeds to form a hole in the sand, 
which she effects by removing it from under her body 
with her hind flappers, scooping it out with so much dex- 
terity that the sides seldom if ever fall in. The sand is 
raised alternately with each flapper, as with a large ladle, 
until it has accumulated behind her, when supporting her- 
self with her head and fore part on the ground fronting 
her body, she, with a spring from each flapper, sends the 
sand around her, scattering it to the distance of several 
feet. In this manner the hole is dug to the depth of 
eighteen inches, or sometimes more than two feet. This 
labor I have seen performed in the short period of nine 
minutes. The eggs are then dropped one by one, and 
disposed in regular layers to the number of a hundred 
and fifty, or sometimes two hundred. The whole time 
spent in this part of the operation may be about twenty 
minutes She now scrapes the loose sand back over the 
eggs, and so levels them and smooths the surface, that 
few persons on seeing the spot could imagine any thing 
had been done to it. This accomplished to her mind, 
she retreats to the water with all possible despatch, leav- 
ing the hatching of the eggs to the heat of the sand. 
When a turtle, a logger-head for example, is in the act of 
dropping her egg, she will not move, although one should 
go up to her, or even seat himself on her back, for it 
seems that at this moment she finds it necessary to pro- 
ceed at all events, and is unable to intermit her labor. 
The moment it is finished, however, off she starts, nor 
would it then be possible for one, unless he were as strong 
as Hercules, to turn her over and secure her. To ujDset 
a turtle on the shore one is obliged to fall on his knees, 

262 Life of Auduhon. 

and placing his shoulder behind her fore-arm, gradually 
raise her up by pushing with great force, and then with a 
jerk throw her over. Sometimes it requires the united 
strength of several men to accomplish this, and if the tur- 
tle should be of very great size, as often happens on that 
coast, even handspikes are employed. Some turtlers are 
so daring as to swim up to them while lying asleep on 
the surface of the water, and turn them over in their own 
element, when, however, a boat must be at hand to ena- 
ble them to secure their prize. Few turtles can bite be- 
yond the reach of their fore-legs, and few, when they are 
once turned over, can^ without assistance, regain their 
natural position. But notwithstanding this, their flappers 
are generally secured by ropes, so as to render their es- 
cape impossible. Persons who search for turtle-eggs are 
provided with a light stiff cane or gun-rod, with which 
they go along the shores, probing the sand near the 
tracks of the animal, which, however, cannot always be 
seen on account of the winds and heavy rains that often 
obliterate them. The nests are discovered not only by 
men but also by beasts of prey, and the eggs are collect- 
ed o r destroyed on the spot in great numbers. 

" On certain parts of the shore hundreds of turtles 
are known to deposit their eggs within the space of a 
mile. They form a new hole each time they lay, and the 
second is generally dug near the first, as if the animal 
were quite unconscious of what had befallen it. It will 
readily be understood that the numerous eggs seen in a 
turtle on cutting it up could not be all laid the same sea- 
son. The whole number deposited by an individual in 
one summer may amount to four hundred ; whereas if the 
animal be caught on or near her nest, as I have witness- 
ed, the remaining eggs, all small, without shells, and as 
it were threaded like so many beads, exceed three thou- 
sand. In an instance where I found that number, the 
turtle weighed nearly four hundred pounds. 

Habits of the T'urtle. 263 

" The young, soon after being hatched, and when 
yet scarcely larger than a dollar, scratch their way through 
their sandy covering, and immediately betake themselves 
to the water. The food of the green turtle consists chief- 
ly of marine plants, more especially the grass-wrack 
{Zoster a marina), which they cut near the roots, to pro- 
cure the most tender and succulent parts. Their feeding- 
grounds, as I have elsewhere said, are easily discovered 
by floating masses of these plants on the flats or along 
the shores to which they resort. The hawk-billed species 
feeds on seaweeds, crabs, and various kinds of shell-fish 
and fishes ; the logger-head mostly on the fish of conch- 
shells, of large size, which they are enabled, by means of 
their powerful beak, to crush to pieces with apparently as 
much ease as a man cracks a walnut. One which was 
brought on board the Marion, and placed near the fluke of 
one of her anchors, made a deep indentation in that ham- 
mered piece of iron that quite surprised me. The trunk- 
turtle feeds on mollusca, fish, Crustacea, sea-urchins, and 
various marine plants. All the species move through the 
water with surprising speed ; but the green and hawk- 
billed in particular remind you by their celerity, and the 
ease of their motions, of the j^rogress of a bird in the air. 
It is therefore no easy matter to strike one with a spear, 
and yet this is often done by an accomplished turtler. 
While at Key West and other islands on the coast, where 
I made the observations here presented to you, I chanced 
to have need to purchase some turtles to feed my friends 
on board the Lady of the Green Mantle — not my friends, 
her gallant officers, or the brave tars who formed her 
crew, for all of them had already been satiated with tur- 
tle soup ; but my friends the herons, of which I had a 
goodly number in coops, intending to carry them to John 
Bachman of Charleston, and other persons for whom I 
felt a sincere regard. So I went to a ' crawl,' accom- 

264 Life of Auduhon, 

panied by Dr. Benjamin Strobel, to inquire about prices, 
when to my surprise I found the smaller the turtles, 
' above ten pounds' weight,' the dearer they were, and 
that I could have purchased one of the logger-head kind, 
that weighed more than seven hundred pounds, for little 
more money than another of only thirty pounds. 

" While I gazed on the turtle I thought of the soups the 
contents of its shell would have furnished for a lord- 
mayor's dinner, of the numerous eggs which its swollen 
body contained, and of the curious carriage which might 
be made of its shell — a car in which Venus herself might 
sail over the Caribbean Sea, provided her tender doves 
lent their aid in drawing the divinity, and provided no 
shark or hurricane came to upset it. The turtler assured 
me that, although the great monster was in fact better 
meat than any other of a less size, there was no dispos- 
ing of it, unless indeed it had been in his power to have 
sent it to some very distant market. I would willingly 
have purchased it, but I knew that if killed the flesh 
could not keep much longer than a day, and on that ac- 
count I bought eight or ten small ones, which ' my friends' 
really relished exceedingly, and which served to support 
them for a long time. Turtles such as I have spoken of 
are caught in various ways on the coasts of the Floridas, or 
in estuaries or rivers. Some turtlers are in the habit of 
setting great nets across the entrance of streams, so as to 
answer the purpose either at the flow or at the ebb of the 
waters. These nets are formed of very large meshes, into 
which the turtles partially get entangled. Others har- 
■ poon them in the usual manner ; but in my estimation, no 
method is equal to that employed by Mr. Egan, the pilot, 
of Indian Isle. 

" That extraordinary turtler had an iron instrument 
which he called a 'peg,' and which at each end had a 
point, not unlike what nailmakers call a brad, it being 

'Turtle Catching. 265 

four-cornered, but flattish, and of a shape somewhat re- 
sembling the beak of an ivory-billed woodpecker, together 
with a neck and shoulder. Between the two shoulders of 
this instrument a fine tough line, fifty or more fathoms in 
length, was fastened by one end, being passed through a 
hole in the centre of the peg, and the line itself was care- 
fully coiled up and placed in a convenient part of the 
canoe. One extremity of this peg enters a sheath of iron 
that loosely attaches it to a long wooden spear, "until a 
turtle has been pierced through the shell by the other ex- 
tremity. He of the canoe paddles away as silently as 
possible whenever he espies a turtle basking on the wa- 
ter, until he gets within a distance of ten or twelve yards, 
when he throws the spear so as to hit the animal about 
the place which an entomologist would choose, were it a 
large insect, for pinning to a piece of cork. As soon as 
the turtle is struck, the wooden handle separates from the 
peg, in consequence of the looseness of its attachment. 
The smart of the wound urges on the animal as if dis- 
tracted, and it appears that the longer the peg remains in 
its shell, the more firmly fastened it is, so great a pressure 
is exercised upon it by the shell of the turtle, which being 
suftered to run like a whale, soon becomes fatigued, and 
is secured by hauling in the line with great care. In this 
manner, as the pilot informed me, eight hundred green 
turtles were caught by one man in twelve months. 

" Each turtle has its ' crawl,' which is a square wood- 
en building or pen, formed of logs, which are so far sepa- 
rated as to allow the tide to pass freely through, and 
stand erect in the mud. The turtles are placed in this 
enclosure, fed and kept there till sold. There is, however, 
a circumstance relating to their habits which I cannot 
omit, although I haveit not from my own ocular evidence, 
but from report. When I was in Florida several of the 
turtlers assured me, that any turtle taken from the depos- 


Life of Audubon. 

iting ground, and carried on the deck of a vessel several 
hundred miles, would, if then let loose, certainly be met 
with at the same spot, either immediately after, or in the 
following breeding season. Should this prove true, and 
it certainly may, how much will be enhanced the belief 
of the student in the uniformity and solidity of nature's 
arrangements, when he finds that the turtle, like a migra- 
tory bird, returns to the same locality, with perhaps a de- 
light similar to that experienced by the traveller who, 
after visiting different countries, once more returns to the 
bosom of his cherished family." 


A^inth Florida Episode : Death of a Pirate. 

^N the calm of a fine moonlight night, as I was 
admiring the beauty of the clear heavens, and 
the broad glare of light that glanced from the 
trembling surface of the waters around, the officer on 
watch came up and entered into conversation with me. 
He had been a turtler in other years, and a great hunter 
to boot, and although of humble birth and pretensions, 
energy and talent, aided by education, had raised him to 
a higher station. Such a man could not fail to be an 
agreeable companion, and we talked on various subjects, 
' principally, you may be sure, birds and other natural pro- 
ductions. He told me he once had a disagreeable ad- 
venture when looking for game, in a certain cove on the 
shores of the Gulf of Mexico ; and on my expressing 
a desire to hear it, he willingly related to me the follow- 
ing particulars, which I give you, not perhaps precisely in 
his own words, but as nearly as I can remember. 

" Towards evening, one quiet summer day, I chanced 
to be paddling along a sandy shore, which I thought well 
fitted for my repose, being covered with tall grass, and as 
the sun was not many degrees above the horizon, I felt 
anxious to pitch my mosquito bar or net, and spend the 
night in this wilderness. The bellowing notes of thous- 
ands of bull-frogs in a neighboring swamp might lull me 
to rest, and I looked upon the flocks of black-birds that 
were assembling as sure companions in this secluded re- 

268 Life of Audubon. 

" I proceeded up a little stream to insure the safety of 
my canoe from any sudden storm, when, as I gladly ad- 
vanced, a beautiful yawl came unexpectedly in view. 
Surprised at such a sight in a part of the country then, 
scarcely known, I felt a sudden check in the circulation 
cf my blood. My paddle dropjDed from my hands, and 
fearfully indeed as I picked it up, did I look towards the 
unknown boat. On reaching it, I saw its sides marked 
with stains of blood, and looking with anxiety over the 
gunwale, I perceived to my horror two human bodies cov- 
ered with gore. Pirates or hostile Indians I was per- 
suaded had perpetrated the foul deed, and my alarm 
naturally increased ; my heart fluttered, stopped and 
heaved with unusual tremors, and I looked towards the 
setting sun in consternation and despair. How long my 
reveries lasted, I cannot tell ; I can only recollect that I 
was roused from them by the distant groans of one ap- 
parently in mortal agony. I felt as if refreshed by the 
cold perspiration that oozed from every pore, and I re- 
flected that though alone, I was well armed, and might 
hope for the protection of the Almighty. 

" Humanity whispered to me that, if not surprised 
and disabled, I might render assistance to some sufferer, 
or even be the means of saving a useful life. Buoyed up 
by this thought, I urged my canoe on shore, and seizing 
it by the bow, pulled it at one spring high among the 

" The groans of the unfortunate person fell heavy on 
my ear, as I cocked and reprimed my gun, and I felt de- 
termined to shoot the first that should rise from the grass. 
As I cautiously proceeded, a hand was raised over the 
weeds, and waved in the air in the most supplicating 
manner. I levelled my gun about a foot below it ; when 
the next moment, the head and breast of a man cov- 
ered with blood were convulsively raised, and a faint 

Death of a Pirate. 269 

hoarse voice asked me for mercy and help ! a death-like 
silence followed his fall to the ground. I surveyed every 
object around with eyes intent, and ears imjDressible by 
the slightest sound, for my situation that moment 1 
thought as critical as any I had ever been in. The 
croakings of the frogs, and the last blackbirds alighting 
on their roosts, were the only sounds or sights ; and I 
now proceeded towards the object of my mingled alarm 
and commiseration. 

" Alas ! the poor being who lay prostrate at my feet, 
was so weakened by loss of blood, that I had nothing to 
fear from him. My first impulse was to run back to the 
water, and having clone so, I returned with my cap filled to 
the brim. 1 felt at his heart, washed his face and breast, 
and rubbed his temples with the contents of a phial, 
which I kept about me as an antidote for the bites of 
snakes. His features, seamed by the ravages of time, 
looked frightful and disgusting. But he had been a pow- 
erful man, as the breadth of his breast plainly showed. 
He groaned in the most appalling manner, as his breath 
struggled through the mass of blood that seemed to fill 
his throat. His dress plainly disclosed his occupation — 
a large pistol he had thrust into his bosom, a naked cut- 
lass lay near him on the ground, and a silk handkerchief 
was bound over his projecting brows, and over a pair of 
loose trousers he wore a fisherman's boots. He was, in 
short, a Pirate ! 

" My exertions were not in vain, for, as I continued to 
bathe his temples, he revived, his pulse resumed some 
strength, and I began to hope that he might perhaps sur- 
vive the deep wounds which he had received. Darkness, 
deep darkness, now enveloped us. I spoke of making a fire. 
'Oh ! for mercy's sake,' he exclaimed, 'don't.' Knowing, 
however, that under existing circumstances it was expe- 
dient for me to do so, I left him, went to his boat, and 

270 Life of Auduhon. 

brought the rudder, the benches and the oars, which with 
my hatchet I soon spHntered. I then struck a light, and 
presently stood in the glare of a blazing fire. The Pirate 
seemed struggling between terror and gratitude for my 
assistance ; he desired me several times in half English 
and Spanish to put out the flames, but after I had given 
him a draught of strong spirits, he at length became 
more composed. I tried to staunch the blood that flowed 
from the deep gashes in his shoulders and his side. I 
expressed my regret that I had no food about me, but 
when I spoke of eating, he sullenly waved his head. 

" My situation was one of the most extraordinary that 
I have ever been placed in. I naturally turned my talk to- 
wards religious subjects; but, alas! the dying man hardly 
believed in the existence of a God. ' Friend,' said he, ' for 
friend you seem to be, I never studied the ways of Him 
of whom you talk. I am an outlaw, perhaps you will say 
a wretch — I have been for many years a Pirate. The in- 
structions of my parents were of no avail to me, for I 
have always believed that I was born to be a most cruel 
man. I now lie here, about to die in the weeds, because 
I long ago refused to listen to their many admonitions. 
Do not shudder, when I tell you these now useless hands 
murdered the mother whom they had embraced. I feel that 
I have deserved the pangs of the wretched death that hov- 
ers over me ; and I am thankful that one of my kind will 
alone witness my last gaspings.' A fond but feeble hope 
that I might save his life, and perhaps assist in procuring 
his pardon, — 'it is all in vain, friend — I have no objection 
to die — I am glad that the villains who wounded me were 
not my conquerors — I want no pardon from any one — • 
give me some water, and let rae die alone.' 

" With the hope that I might learn from his conversa- 
tion something that might lead to the capture of his 
guilty associates, I returnfxl from the creek with another 

Death of a Pirate. 1-^1 

cap full of water, nearly the whole of which I managed 
to introduce into his parched mouth, and begged him, for 
the sake of his future peace, to disclose his history to me. 
' It is impossible,' said he, 'there will not be time, the 
beatings of my heart tell me so ; long before day, these 
sinewy limbs will be motionless ; nay, there will hardly be 
a drop of blood in my body, and that blood will only 
serve to make the grass grow. My wounds are mortal, 
and I must and will die without what you call confession.' 
The moon rose in the east. The majesty of her placid 
beauty impressed me with reverence. I pointed towards 
her, and asked the Pirate if he could not recognize God's 
features there. ' Friend, I see what you are driving at,' 
was his answer, ' you, like the rest of our enemies, feel 
the desire of murdering us all — well — be it so — to die is 
after all nothing more than a jest ; and were it not for tlie 
pain, no one, in my opinion, need care a jot about it. 
But as you really have befriended me, I will tell you all 
that is proper.' 

" Hoping his mind might take a useful turn, I again 
bathed his temples and washed his lips with spirits. His 
sunk eyes seemed to dart fire at mine, a heavy and deep 
sigh swelled his chest and struggled through his blood- 
cl.oked throat, and he asked me to raise him a little, I 
did so, when he addressed me somewhat as follows, for, 
as I have told you, his speech was a mixture of Spanish, 
French and English, forming a jargon the like of which 
I had never heard before, and which I am utterly unable 
to imitate. However, I shall give you the substance of 
his declaration. 

" ' First tell me how many bodies you found in the 
boat, and what sort of dresses they had on.' I mention- 
ed their number and described their apparel. ' That's 
right,' said he, ' they are the bodies of the scoundrels who 
followed me in that infernal Yankee Barge. Bold rascals 

2,72 Life of Audubon. 

they were, for when they found the water too shallow for 
their crafi;, they took to it and waded after me. All my 
companions had been shot, and to lighten my own boat 
I flung them overboard; but as I lost time in this, 
the two ruffians caught hold of my gunwale, and struck 
on my head and body in such a manner, that after I had 
disabled and killed them both in the boat, I was scarcely 
able to move. The other villains carried off our schoon- 
er and one of our boats, and perhaps, ere now, have hung 
all my companions whom they did not kill at the time. 
I have commanded my beautiful vessel many years, cap- 
txu'ed many ships, and sent many rascals to the devil. I 
always hated the Yankees, and only regret that I have 
not killed more of them. I sailed from Mantanzas. I 
have often been in concert with others. I have money 
without counting, but it is buried where it will never be 
found, and it would be useless to tell you of it.' His 
throat filled with blood, his voice failed, the cold hand of 
death was laid on his brow ; feebly and horribly he mut- 
tered, 'I am dying, man, farewell.' 

"Alas! it is painful to see death in any shape ; in 
this it was horrible, for there was no hope. The rattling 
of his throat announced the moment of dissolution, and 
already did the body fall on my arms with a weight that 
was insupportable. I laid him on the ground. A mass 
of dark blood poured from his mouth ; then came a 
frightful groan, the last breathing of that foul spirit ; and 
what now lay at my feet in the wild desert was a mangled 
mass of clay. 

" The remainder of the night was passed in no envi- 
able mood ; but my feelings cannot be described. At 
dawn I dug a hole with the paddle of my canoe, rolled 
the body into it and covered it. On reaching the boat, I 
found several buzzards feeding on the bodies, which I in 
vain attempted to drag to the shore. I therefore covered 

Death of a Pirate. 273 

them with mud and weeds, and launching my canoe, pad- 
dled from the cove, with a secret joy for my escape, 
overshaded with the gloom of mingled dread and 
horror, * 

-Oi,- &>■<>.» ^v-i-o. 


In America : Episode in New Brunswick. 

JlN the beginning of August, Audubon, accompa- 
nied by his wife and two sons, went on a jour- 
ney to the State of Maine, to examine the birds 
in tlie most unfrequented parts ; and the following epi- 
sodes contain the naturalist's own summary of that visit. 
They travelled in a private conveyance through Maine, 
going towards the British provinces, and the country was 
explored at leisure as they travelled. 

Journey in New Brunswick. 

" The morning after that we had spent with Sir Arch- 
ilrald Campbell and his delightful family, saw us proceed- 
ing along the shores of St. John's River in the British 
province of New Brunswick. As we passed the govern- 
ment house our hearts bade its generous inmates adieu ; 
and as we left Frederickton behind, the recollection of 
the many acts of kindness which we had received from its 
i ^habitants came powerfully on our minds. Slowly ad- 
vancing over the surface of the translucent stream, we 
still fancied our ears saluted by the melodies of the un- 
rivalled band of the 43d Regiment. In short, with the 
remembrance of the kindness experienced, the feeling of 
expectations gratified, the hope of adding to our knowl- 
edge, and the possession of health and vigor, we were 
kucuriating in happiness. The Favorite, the bark in which 
we were, contained not only my family, but nearly a score 
and a half of individuals of all descriptions; so that the 

'The St. John s River, 2'j ^ 

crowded state of her cabin soon began to prove rather 
disagreeable. The boat itself was a mere scoza, comman- 
ded by a person of rather uncouth aspect and rude man- 
ners. Two sorry nags he had fastened to the end of a 
long tow-line, on the nearer of which rode a negro youth 
less than half clad, with a long switch in one hand and 
the joined bridles in the other, striving with all his might 
to urge them on at the rate of something more than two 
miles an hour. How fortunate it is for one to possess a 
little knowledge of a true traveller ! Following the ad- 
vice of a good, and somewhat aged one, we had provided 
ourselves with a large basket, which was not altogether 
empty when we reached the end of our agreeable excur- 
sion. Here and there the shores of the river were beau- 
tiful ; the space between it and the undulating hills that 
bounded the prospect being highly cultivated, while now 
and then its abrupt and rocky banks assumed a most 
picturesque appearance. Although it was late in Sep- 
tember, the mowers were still engaged in cutting the grass, 
and the gardens of the farmers showed patches of green 
peas. The apples were yet green, and the vegetation in 
general reminded us that we were in a northern latitude. 
Gradually and slowly we proceeded, until in the afternoon 
we landed to exchange our jaded horses. We saw a 
house on an eminence, with groups of people assembled 
around it, but no dinner could be obtained, because, as 
the landlord told us, an election was going on. So we 
had recourse to the basket, and on the green sward we 
refreshed ourselves with its contents. This done, we re- 
turned to the scow, and resumed our stations. As is 
usual in such cases, in every part of the world that I have 
visited, our second set of horses was worse than the first. 
However, on we went \ but to tell you how often the tow- 
line gave way would not be more amusing to you than it 
was annoying to us. Once our commander was in con- 

276 Life of Audubon. 

sequence plunged into the stream, but after some exeition 
he succeeded in gaining his gallant bark, when he con- 
soled himself by giving utterance to a volley of blasphe 
mies, which it would ill become me to repeat, as it would 
be disagreeable to you to hear. We slept somewhere 
that night ; it does not suit my views to tell you where. 
Before day returned to smile on the Favorite, we pro- 
ceeded. Soon we came to some rapids, when every one, 
glad to assist her, leaped on shore, and tugged a la cordelle. 
Some miles further we passed a curious cataract, formed 
by the waters of the Pokioke. 

" There Sambo led his steeds up the sides of a high 
bank, when, lo ! the whole party came tumbling down 
like so many hogsheads of tobacco rolled from a store- 
house to the banks of the Ohio. He at the steering oar, 
' Hoped, the black rascal had broken his neck,' and con- 
gratulated himself in the same breath for the safety of his 
horses, which presently got on their feet. Sambo, how- 
ever, alert as an Indian chief, leaped on the naked back 
of one, and, showing his teeth, laughed at his master's 
curses. Shortly after this, we found our boat very snug- 
ly secured on the top of a rock, midway in the stream, 
just oj^posite the mouth of Eel River. Next day at noon 
— none injured, but all chop-fallen — we were landed at 
Woodstock Village, yet in its infancy. After dining 
there, we procured a cart and an excellent driver, and 
jDroceeded along an execrable road towards Houlton, in 
Maine, glad enough, after all our mishaps, at finding our- 
selves in our own country. But before I bid farewell to 
the beautiful river of St. John, I must tell you that its 
navigation seldom exceeds eight months each year, the 
passage during the rest being performed on the ice, of 
which we were told that last season there was an unusual 
quantity ; so much indeed as to accumulate, by being 
jammed at particular spots, to the height of nearly fifty 

Frojn Bangor to Houlton. I'-j'i 

feet above the ordinary level of the river, and that when 
it broke loose in the spring the crash was awful. All the 
low grounds along the river were suddenly flooded, and 
even the elevated plain on which Frederickton stands 
\^ as covered to the depth of four feet. Fortunately, how- 
ever, as on the greater streams of the Western and South- 
ern districts, such an occurrence seldom takes place. 

" Major Clarke, commander of the United States gar- 
rison, received us with remarkable kindness. The next 
day was spent in a long, though fruitless, ornithological 
excursion ; for although we were accompanied by officers 
and men from the garrison, not a bird did any of our 
party procure that was of any use to us. We remained a 
few days, however ; after which, hiring a cart, two horses, 
and a driver, we proceeded in the direction of Bangor. 
Houlton is a neat village, consisting of some fifty houses. 
The fort is well situated, and commands a fine view of 
Mars Hill, which is about thirteen miles distant. A cus- 
tom-house has been erected here, the place being on the 
boundary line of the United States and the British prov- 
inces. The road, which was cut by the soldiers of this 
garrison, from Bangor to Houlton, through the forests, is 
at this moment a fine turnpike of great breadth, almost 
straight in its whole length, and perhaps the best now in 
the Union. It was incomplete, however, for some miles, 
so that our travelling over that portion was slow and dis- 
agreeable. The rain, which fell in torrents, reduced the 
newly-raised earth to a complete bed of mud ; and at one 
time our horses became so completely mired that, had 
we not been extricated by two oxen, we must have s])ent 
the night near the spot. Jogging along at a very slow 
pace, we were overtaken by a gay waggoner, who had ex- 
cellent horses, two of which a little ' siller ' induced him 
to join to ours, and we were taken to a tavern at the 
'cross roads,' where we spent the night in comfort. 

278 Life of Audubon. 

While supper was preparing, I made inquiry respecting 
birds, quadrupeds, and fishes, and was pleased to hear 
that all of these animals abounded in the neighborhood. 
Deer, bears, trouts, and grouse, were quite plentiful, as 
was the great gray owl. When we resumed our journey 
next morning Nature displayed all her loveliness, and 
autumn, with her mellow tints, her glowing fruits, and 
her rich fields of corn, smiled in placid beauty. Many 
of the fields had not yet been reaped ; the fruits of the 
forests and orchards hung clustering around us ; and as 
we came in view of the Penobscot River, our hearts 
thrilled with joy. Its broad transparent waters here 
spread out their unn.ififled surface, there danced along the 
rapids, while canoes filled with Indians swiftly glided, in 
every direction, raising before them the timorous water- 
fowl, that had already flocked in from the north. Moun- 
tains which you well know are indispensable in a beauti- 
ful landscape, reared their majestic crests in the distance. 
The Canada jay leaped gayly from branch to twig; the 
kingfisher, as if vexed at being suddenly surprised, rat- 
tled loudly as it swiftly flew off; and the fish-hawk and 
eagle spread their broad wings over the v^'aters. All 
around was beautiful, and we gazed on the scene with de- 
light as, seated on a verdant bank, we refreshed our 
frames from our replenished stores. A few rare birds 
were procured here, and the rest of the road being level 
and firm, we trotted on at a good pace for several hours, 
the Penobscot keeping company with us. Now we came 
to a deep creek, of which the bridge was undergoing re- 
pairs, and the people saw our vehicle approach with much 
surprise. They, however, assisted us with pleasure, by 
placing a few logs across, along which our horses, one 
after the other, were carefully led, and the cart afterwards 
carried. These good fellows were so averse to our rec- 
ompensing them for their labor that, after some alterca- 

Looking for Lumber Lands. I'j^ 

tion, we were obliged absolutely to force what we deemed 
a suitable reward upon them. Next day we continued 
our journey along the Penobscot, the country changing 
its aspect at every mile ; and when we first descried Old 
Town, that village of saw-mills looked like an island cov- 
ered with manufactories. The people are noted for their 
industry and perseverance ; any one possessing a mill, and 
attending to his saws and the floating of the timber into 
his dams, is sure to obtain a competency in a few years. 

" Speculations in land covered with pine, lying to the 
north of this place, are carried on to a great extent, and 
to discover a good tract of such ground many a miller of 
Old Town undertakes long journeys. Reader, with your 
leave, I will here introduce one of them. 

" Gook luck brought us into acquaintance with Mr. 
Gillies, whom we happened to meet in the course of our 
travels, as he was returning from an exploring tour. 
About the first of August he formed a party of sixteen 
persons, each carrying a knapsack and an axe. Their 
provisions consisted of two hundred and fifty pounds of 
pilot bread, one hundred and fifty pounds of salted pork, 
four pounds of tea, two large loaves of sugar, and some 
salt. They embarked in light canoes, twelve miles north 
of Bangor, and followed the Penobscot as far as Wassa- 
taquoik River, a branch leading to the north-west, until 
they reached the Sebois Lakes, the principal of which lie 
in a line, with short portages between them. Still pro- 
ceeding north-west, they navigated these lakes, and then 
turning west, carried their canoes to the great lake 
' Baamchenunsgamook ;' thence north to ' Wallaghdsque- 
gamook ' Lake ; Jhen along a small stream to the upper 
' Umsaskis ' Pond, when they reached the Alleguash 
River, which leads into the St. John's, in about latitude 
47° 3'. Many portions of that countiy had not been vis- 
ited before even by the Indians, who assured Mr. Gillies 

2 8o ' Life of Auduhon. 

of this fact. They continued their travels clown the St. 
John's to the grand falls, where they met with a portage 
of half a mile, and, having reached Medux-mekcag 
Creek, a little above Woodstock, the party walked to 
Houlton, having travelled twelve hundred miles, and de- 
scribed almost an oval over the country by the time they 
returned to Old Town on the Penobscot. While anx- 
iously looking for ' lumber lands,' Ihey ascended the emi- 
nences around, then climbed the tallest trees, and, by 
means of a great telescope, inspected the pine woods in 
the distance. And such excellent judges are these per- 
sons of the value of the timber which they thus observe, 
when it is situated at a convenient distance from water, 
that they never afterwards forget the different spots at all 
worthy of their attention. They had observed only a few 
birds and quadrupeds, the latter principally porcupines. 
The borders of the lakes and rivers afforded them fruits 
of various sorts, and abundance of cranberries, while the 
uplands yielded plenty of wild white onions and a species 
of black plum. Some of the party continued their jour- 
ney in canoes down the St. John's, ascended Eel River, 
and the lake of the same name to Mattawamkeag River, 
due south-west of the St. John's, and, after a few por- 
tages, fell into the Penobscot. I had made arrangements 
to accompany Mr. Gillies on a jovu-ney of this kind, when 
I judged it would be more interesting, as well as useful 
to me, to visit the distant country of Labrador. 

"The road which we followed from Old Town to 
Bangor was literally covered with Penobscot Indians re- 
turning from market. On reaching the latter beautiful 
town, we found very comfortable lodgings in an excellent 
hotel, and next day proceeded by the mail to Boston." 

The following chapter gives some further knowledge 
of what Audubon saw during his journey through the in- 
terior of Maine. 


Episodes in Maine : The Alaine Ltmibermen. 

3]HE men who are employed in cutting down the 
trees, and conveying the logs to the saw-mills or 
the places for shipping, are, in the State of 
Maine, called ' lumberers.' Their labors may be said to 
begin before winter has commenced, and, while the 
ground is yet uncovered by any great depth of snow, they 
leave their homes to proceed to the interior of the pine 
forests, which in that part of the country are truly mag- 
nificent, and betake themselves to certain places already 
well known to them. Their provisions, axes, saws, and 
other necessary articles, together with the provender for 
their cattle, are conveyed by oxen on heavy sleds. Al- 
most at the commencement of their march they are 
obliged to enter the woods ; and they have frequently to 
cut a way for themselves for considerable spaces, as the 
ground is often covered with the decaying trunks of im- 
mense trees, which have fallen either from age or in con- 
sequence of accidental burnings. These trunks, and the 
undergrowth which lies entangled in their tops, render 
many places almost impassable even to men on foot. 
Over miry ponds they are sometimes forced to form 
causeways, this being, under all the circumstances, the 
easiest mode of reaching the opposite side. Then, read- 
er, is the time for witnessing the exertions of their fine 
large cattle. No rods do their drivers use to pain their 
flanks ; no oaths or imprecations are ever heard to fall 
from the lips of these most industrious and temperate 

2 82 Life of Audiihon. 

men ; for in them, as indeed in most of the inhabitants of 
our Eastern States, education and habit have tempered 
the passions and reduced the moral constitution to a 
state of harmony — nay, the sobriety tliat exists in many 
cf the villages of Maine I have often considered as car- 
ried to excess, for on asking for brandy, rum, or whiskey, 
not a drop could I obtain ; and it is probable there was 
an equal lack of spirituous liquors of every other kind. 
Now and then I saw some good old wines, but they were 
always drunk in careful moderation. But to return to 
the management of the oxen. Why, reader, the lumber- 
ers speak to them as if they were rational beings : few 
words seem to suffice, and their whole strength is ajiplied 
to the labor, as if in gratitude to those who treat them 
with so mvich gentleness and humanity. 

" While present, on more than one occasion, at what 
Americans 'call ploughing matches,' which they have an- 
nually in many of the States, I have been highly gratified, 
and in particular at one — of which I still have a strong 
recollection, — and which took place a few miles from the 
fair and hospitable city of Boston. There I saw fifty or 
more ploughs drawn by as many pairs of oxen, which per- 
formed their work with so much accuracy and regularity, 
without the infliction of whip or rod, but merely guided 
by the verbal mandates of the ploughmen, that I was per- 
fectly astonished. 

" After surmounting all obstacles, the lumberers, with the 
stock they have provided, arrive at the spot which they 
have had in view, and immediately commence building a 
camp. The trees around soon fall under the blows of 
their axes, and, before many days have elapsed, a low 
habitation is reared and fitted within for the accommoda- 
tion of their cattle, while their provender is secured on a 
kind of loft, covered with broad shingles or boards. Then 
their own cabin is put up ; rough bedsteads, manufactured 

Wood Cuttinz in Winter. 1 8 ■ 


on the spot, are fixed in the corners ; a chimne}-, com- 
posed of a fi-anie of sticks plastered with mud, leads away 
the smoke ; the skins of bears or deer, with some blankets, 
form their bedding ; and around the walls are hung theii 
changes of homespun clothing, guns, and various neces- 
saries of life. Many prefer spending the night en the 
sweet-scented hay and corn blades of their cattle, ivhich 
are laid on the ground. All arranged within, the lumber- 
ers set around their camp their ' dead falls,' large ' steel 
traps,' and ' spring guns,' in suitable places to procure 
some of the bears that ever prowl around such establish- 
ments. Now the heavy clouds of November, driven by 
the northern blast, pour down the snow in feathery flakes. 
The winter has fairly set in, and seldom do the sun's glad- 
dening rays fall on the woodcutter's hut. In warm flan- 
nels his body is enveloped, the skin of a racoon covers 
his head and brow, his moose-skin leggings reach the 
girdle that secures them round his waist, while on broad 
moccasins, or snow-shoes, he stands from the earliest dawn 
till night hacking away at the majestic pines that for a 
century past have embellished the forest. The fall of 
these valuable trees no longer resounds on the ground ; 
and as they tumble here and there, nothing is heard but 
the rustling and crackling of their branches, their heavy 
trunks sinking into the deep snow. Thousands of large 
pines thus cut down every winter afford room for the 
younger trees, which spring up profusely to supply the 
wants of man. Weeks and weeks have elapsed, the earth's 
pure white covering has become thickly and firmly crusted 
by the increasing intensity of the cold, the fallen trees 
have all been sawn into measured logs, and the long re- 
pose of the oxen has fitted them for hauling them to the 
nearest frozen stream. The ice gradually becomes cov- 
ered with the accumulating mass of timber, and their task 
completed, the lumberers wait impatiently for the break- 

284 J-'^fs of Audubon. 

ing up of winter. At this period they pass the time in 
hunting the moose, the deer and the bear, for the benefit 
of their wives and children ; and as these men are most 
excellent woodsmen, great havoc is made among the 
game ; many skins, sables, martins and muskrats, they 
have procured during the intervals of their labor, or un- 
der night. The snows are now giving way as the rains 
descend in torrents, and the lumberers collect their uten- 
sils, harness their cattle, and prepare for their return. 
This they accomplish in safety. From being lumberers, 
they become millers, and with pleasure each applies the gra- 
ting file to his saws. Many logs have already reached the 
dams on the swollen waters of the rushing streams, and the 
task commences, which is carried on through the sum- 
mer, of cutting them up into boards. The great heat of 
the dog-days has parched the ground ; every creek has 
become a shallow, except here and there where, in a deep 
hole, the salmon and the trout have found a retreat : the 
sharp slimy angles of multitudes of rocks project, as if to 
afford resting-places to the wood-ducks and herons that 
breed on the borders of tliese streams. Thousands of 
' saw-logs ' remain in every pool, beneath and above 
each rapid or fall. The miller's dam has been emptied 
of its timber, and he must now resort to some expedient 
to procure a fresh supply. It was my good fortune to 
witness the method employed for the purpose of collecting 
the logs that had not reached their destination, and I 
had the more pleasure that it was seen in company with 
my little family. I wish, for your sake, reader, that I 
could describe in an adequate manner the scene which 
I viewed ; but although not so well qualified as I could 
wish, rely upon it that the desire which I feel to gratify 
you will induce me to use all my endeavors to give you 
an idea of it. It was the month of Sejjtember. 

" At the upper extremity of Dennisville, which is it- 

Starting the Logs. 2.85 

self a pretty village, are the saw-mills and ponds of the 
hospitable Judge Lincoln and other persons. The creek 
that conveys the logs to these ponds, and which bears the 
name of the village, is interrupted in its course by man}) 
rapids and narrow embanked gorges. One of the latter 
is situated about half a mile above the mill-dam, and is so 
rocky and rugged in the bottom and sides as to preclude 
the possibility of the trees passing along it at low water, 
while, as I conceived, it would have given no slight labor 
to an army of woodsmen or millers to move the thousands 
of large logs that had accumulated in it. They lay piled in 
confused heaps to a great height along an extent of sev- 
eral hundred yards, and were in some places so close as to 
have formed a kind of dam. Above the gorge there is a 
large natural reservoir, in which the headwaters of the 
creek settle, while only a small portion of these ripple 
through the gorge below, during the latter weeks of sum- 
mer and in early autumn, when their streams are at the 
lowest. At the neck of this basin the lumberers raised a 
temporary barrier with the refuse of their sawn logs. The 
boards were planted nearly upright, and supported at 
their tops by a strong tree extended from side to side 
of the creek, which might there be about forty feet in 
breadth. It was prevented from giving way under the 
pressure of the rising waters by having strong abutments 
of wood laid against its centre, while the ends of these 
abutments were secured by wedges, which could be 
knocked off when necessary. The temporary dam was 
now finished. Little or no water escaped through the 
barrier, and that in the creek above it rose in the course 
of three weeks to its top, which was about ten feet high, 
forming a sheet that extended upwards fully a mile from 
the clam. My family were invited early one morning to 
go and witness the extraordinary effect which would I e 
produced by the breaking down of the barrier, and we all 

186 Life of Audubon. 

accompanied the lumberers to the place. Two of th& 
men, on reaching it, threw off their jackets, tied hand- 
kerchiefs round their heads, and fastened to their bodies 
a long rope, the end of which was held by three or foul 
others, who stood ready to drag their companions ashore, 
in case of danger or accident. The two operators, each 
bearing an axe, walked along the abutments, and, at a 
given signal, knocked out the wedges. A second blow 
from each sent off the abutments themselves, and the men, 
leaping with extreme dexerity from one cross-log to an- 
other, sprung to the shore with almost the quickness of 
thought. Scarcely had they effected their escape from 
the frightful peril that threatened them, when the mass of 
waters burst forth with a horrible uproar. All eyes were 
bent towards the huge heaps of logs in the gorge belov/. 
The tumultuous burst of the waters instantly swept away 
every object that opposed their progress, and rushed in 
foaming waves among the timber that everywhere blocked 
up the passage. Presently a slow heavy motion was per- 
ceived in the mass of logs ; one might have imagined that 
some mighty monster lay convulsively writhing beneath 
them, struggling, with a fearful energy, to extricate him- 
self from the crushing weight. As the waters rose this 
movement increased ; the mass of timber extended in all 
directions, appearing to become more and more en- 
tangled each moment ; the logs bounced against each 
other, thrusting aside, submerging or raising into the air, 
those with which they came in contact. It seemed as if 
they were waging a war of destruction, such as the 
ancient authors describe the efforts of the Titans, the 
foaming of whose wrath might, to the eye of the painter, 
have been represented by the angry curlings of the wa- 
ters, while the tremulous and rapid motions of the logs, 
which at times reared themselves almost perpendicularly, 
might by the poet have been taken for the shakings of 

'The Force of the Waters. 287 

the confounded and discomfited giants. Now the rush- 
ing element filled up the gorge to the brim. The logs, 
once under way, rolled, reared, tossed, and tumbled amid 
the foam, as they were earned along. Many of the small- 
er trees broke across ; from others, great splinters were 
sent up, and all were in some degree seamed and scarred. 
Then, in tumultuous majesty, swept along the mangled 
wreck : the current being now increased to such a pitch, 
that the logs, as they were dashed against the rocky 
shores, resounded like the report of distant artillery, or 
the rumblings of the thunder. Onward it rolls, the em- 
blem of wreck and ruin, destruction and chaotic strife. 
It seemed to me as if I witnessed the rout of a rash 
army, surprised, overwhelmed, and overthrown : the roar 
of the cannon, the groans of the dying, and the shouts of 
the avengers, were thundering through my brain ; and 
amid the frightful confusion of the scene there came over 
my spirit a melancholy feeling, which had not entirely 
vanished at the end of many days. In a few hours al- 
most all the timber that had lain heaped in the rocky 
gorge was floating in the great pond of the millers, and 
as we walked homewards we talked of \h& force of the 
waters y 


Visit to the Bay of FiDidy. 

HILE visiting Eastport, Audubon made a trip to 
the Bay of Fundy and some of its neighboring 
islands, in search of the birds which resort there \ 
and the following episode is his own graphic account of 
that journey : — 

" The Bay of Fundy. 

" It was in the month of May that I sailed in the 
United States revenue cutter the Swiftsure, engaged in a 
cruise in the Bay of Fundy. Our sails were quickly un- 
furled, and spread out to the breeze. 

"The vessel seemed to flyover the liquid element, as 
the sun rose in full sjDlendor, while the clouds that floated 
here and there formed, with their glowing hues, a rich 
contrast with the pure azure of the heavens above us. We 
approached apace the island of Grand Menan, of which 
the stupendous cliffs gradually emerged from the deep, 
with the majestic boldness of her noblest native chief 
Soon our bark passed beneath its craggy head, covered 
with trees which, on account of the height, seemed scarce- 
ly larger than shrubs. The prudent raven spread her 
pinions, launched from the cliff, and flew away before us ; 
the golden eagle, soaring aloft, moved majestically along 
in wide circles ; the guillemots sat on their eggs upon the 
shelvy precipices, or, plunging into the water, dived and 
rose again at a great distance ; the broad-breasted eider- 
duck covered her eggs among the grassy tufts; on a 

White-head Island. 289 

naked rock the seal lazily basked, its sleek sides glisten- 
ing in the sunshine ; while shoals of porpoises were 
swiftly gliding through the waters around us, showing by 
their gambols that, although doomed to the deep, their 
life was not devoid of pleasure. Far away stood the bold 
shores of Nova Scotia, gradually fading in the distance, 
of which the gray tints beautifully I'elieved the wing-like 
sails of many a fishing-bark. Cape after cape, forming 
eddies and counter-currents far too terrific to be des- 
cribed by a landsman, we passed in succession, until we 
reached a deep cove near the shores of White-head Isl- 
and, which is divided from Grand Menan by a narrow 
strait, where we anchored secure from every blast that 
could blow. In a short time we found ourselves under 
the roof of Captain Frankland, the sole owner of the isle, 
of which the surface contains about fifteen hundred acres. 
He received us all with politeness, and gave us permission 
to seek out its treasures, which we immediately set about 
doing, for I was anxious to study the habits of certain 
gulls that breed there in great numbers. As Captain 
Coolidge, our worthy commander, had assured me, we 
found them on their nests on almost every tree of a wood 
that covered several acres. What a treat, reader, was it 
to find birds of this kind lodged on fir-trees, and sitting 
comfortably on their eggs ! 

" Their loud cackling notes led us to their place of 
resort, and ere long we had satisfactorily observed their 
habits, and collected as many of themselves and their 
eggs as we considered sufficient. In our walks we no- 
ticed a rat, the only quadruped found in the island, and 
observed abundance of gooseberries, currants, rasps, 
strawberries, and huckleberries. Seating ourselves on the 
summit of the rocks, in view of the vast Atlantic, we 
spread out our stores and refreshed ourselves with our 
simple fare. Now we followed the objects of our pursuit 

250 Life of Audubon. 

through the tangled woods, now carefully picked our steps 
over the spongy grounds. The air was filled with the 
melodious concerts of birds, and all Nature seemed to 
smile in quiet enjoyment. We wandered about until the 
setting sun warned us to depart, when, returning to the 
house of the proprietor, we sat down to an excellent 
repast, and amused ourselves with relating anecdotes and 
forming arrangements for the morrow. Our captain com-. 
pUmented us on our success when we reached the Swift- 
sure, and in due time we betook ourselves to our ham- 
mocks. The next morning, a strange sail appearing in 
the distance, preparations were instantly made to pay her 
commander a visit. 'The signal-staff of 'Whitehead 
Island ' displayed the British flag, while Captain Frank- 
land and his men stood on the shore, and as we gave our 
sails to the wind, three hearty cheers filled the air, and 
were instantly responded to by us. The vessel was soon 
approached, but all was found right with her, and, squar- 
ing our yards, onward we sped, cheerily bounding over 
the gay billows, until our captain set us ashore at East- 
port. At another time my party was received on board 
the revenue cutter's tender, the Fancy, a charming name 
for so beautiful a craft. We set sail towards evening. 
The cackling of the 'old wives,' that covered the bay, 
filled me with delight, and thousands of gulls an<|j cor- 
morants seemed as if anxious to pilot us into ' Head Har- 
bor Bay,' where we anchored for the night. Leaping on 
the rugged shore, we made our way to the lighthouse, 
where we found Mr. Snelling, a good and honest Eng- 
lishman, from Devonshire. His family consisted of three 
wild-looking lasses, beautiful, like the most finished pro- 
ductions of Nature. In his lighthouse, snugly ensconced, 
he spent his days in peaceful forgetfulness of the world, 
subsisting principally on the fish of the bay. When day 
broke, how delightful it was to see fair Nature open her 

Forest Sounds. 291 

graceful eyelids, and present herself arrayed in all that 
was richest and purest before her Creator ! Ah ! reader, 
how indelibly are such moments engraved upon my soul ! 
with what ardor have I at such times gazed around me, 
full of the desire of being enabled to comprehend all that 
I saw ! How often have I longed to converse with the 
feathered inhabitants of the forest, all of which seemed 
then intent on offering up their thanks to the object of my 
own adoration ! But the wish could not be gratified, 
although I now feel satisfied that I have enjoyed as much 
of the wonders and beauties of Nature as it was proper 
for me to enjoy. The delightful trills of the winter wren 
rolled through the underwood, the red squirrel smacked 
time with his chops, the loud notes of the robin sounded 
clearly from the tops of the trees, the rosy grosbeak nip- 
ped the tender blossoms of the maples, and high over- 
head the loons passed in pairs, rapidly wending their way 
toward far-distant shores. Would that I could have fol- 
lowed in their wake ! The hour of our departure had 
come, ar.d, as we sailed up the bay, our pilot, who had 
been fishing for cod, was taken on board. A few of his 
fish were roasted on a plank before the embers, and form- 
ed the principal part of our breakfast. The breeze was 
light, and it was not until afternoon that we arrived at 
Point Lepreaux Harbor, where every one, making choice 
of his course, went in search of curiosities or provender. 
Now, reader, the little harbor in which, if you wish it, we 
shall suppose we still are, is renowned for a circumstance 
which I feel much inclined to endeavor to explain to you. 
Several species of ducks, that in myriads cover the waters 
of the Bay of Fundy, are at times destroyed in this par- 
ticular spot in a very singular manner. When July has 
come, all the water birds that are no longer capable of 
reproducing remain, like so many forlorn bachelors and 
old maids, to renew their jjlumage along the shores. At 

2^2 Life of Audubon. 

the period when these poor birds are unfit for flight, troops 
of Indians make their appearance in Hght bark canoes, 
paddled by their squaws and papooses. They form their 
flotilla into an extended curve, and drive the birds before 
them ; not in silence, but with simultaneous horrific yells, 
at the same time beating the surface of the water with 
their long poles and paddles. Terrified by the noise, the 
birds swim a long way before them, endeavoring to escape 
with all their might. The tide is high, every cove is fill- 
ed, and into the one where we now are thousands of ducks 
are seen entering. The Indians have ceased to shout, 
and the canoes advance side by side. Time passes on, 
the tide swiftly recedes as it rose, and there are the birds 
left on the beach. See with what pleasure each wild in- 
habitant of the forest seizes his stick, the squaws and 
younglings following with similar weapons ! Look at 
them rushing on their prey, falling on the disabled birds, 
and smashing them with their cudgels, until all are de- 
stroyed ! In this manner upwards of five hundred wild 
fovls have often been procured in a few hours. Three 
pleasant days were spent about Point Lepreaux, when 
the Fancy spread her wings to the breeze. In one har- 
bor we fished for shells, with a capital dredge, and in 
another searched along the shore for eggs. The Passama- 
quoddy chief is seen gliding swiftly over the deep in his 
fragile bark. He has observed a porpoise breathing. 
Watch him, for now he is close upon the unsuspecting 
dolphin. He rises erect ; aims his musket : smoke rises 
curling from the pan, and rushes from the iron tube, when 
soon after the report reaches the ear : meantime, the 
porpoise has suddenly turned back downwaixls ; it is 
dead. The body weighs a hundred pounds or more, but 
this, to the tough-fibred son of the woods, is nothing ; he 
reaches it with his muscular arms, and, at a single jerk — 
while with his legs he dexterously steadies the canoe — 

'Tide, 293 

he throws it lengthwise at his feet. Amidst the highest 
waves of the Bay of Fundy, these feats are performed by 
the Indians during tlie whole of the season, when the 
porpoises resort thither. 

"You have often, no doubt, heard of the extraordina- 
ry tides of this bay ; so had I, but, like others, I was loth 
to believe that the reports were strictly true. So I went 
to the pretty town of Windsor, in Nova Scotia,, to judge 
for myself 

" But let us leave the Fancy for awhile, and fancy our- 
selves at Windsor. Late one day in August, my com- 
panions and I were seated on the grassy elevated bank 
of the river, about eighty feet or so above its bed, which 
was almost dry, and extended for nine miles below like a 
sandy wilderness. Many vessels lay on the high banks, 
taking in their cargo of gypsum. We thought the ap- 
pearance very singular, but we were too late to watch the 
tide that evening. Next morning we resumed our sta- 
tion, and soon perceived the water flowing toward us, and 
rising with a rapidity of which we had previously seen no 
example. We planted along the steep declivity of the 
bank a number of sticks, each three feet long, the base 
of one being placed on a level with the top of that below 
it, and when about half flow the tide reached their tops, 
one after another, rising three feet in ten minutes, or 
eighteen in the hour, and at high water the surface was 
sixty-five feet above the bed of the river. On looking 
for the vessels which we had seen the previous eVening, 
we were told that most of them had gone with the night 
tide. But now we are again on board the Fancy ; Mr. 
Claredge stands near the pilot, who sits next to the man 
at the helm. On we move swiftly, for the breeze has 
freshened; many islands we pass in succession ; the wind 
increases to a gale. With reefed sails we dash along, 
and now rapidly pass a heavily-laden sloop, gallantly run- 

294 L'^f^ of Auduhon. 

ning across our course with undiminished sail, when sud- 
denly we see her upset. Staves and spars are floating 
around, and presently we observe three men scrambling 
up her sides, and seating themselves on the keel, where 
they make signals of distress to us. By this time we 
liave run to a great distance ; but Claredge, cool and 
prudent, as every seaman ought to be, has already issued 
his orders to the helmsman and crew, and, now near the 
wind, we gradually approach the sufferers. A line is 
thrown to them, and next moment we are alongside the 
vessel. A fisher's boat, too, has noticed the disaster, and 
with long strokes of her oars, advances, now rising on 
the curling wave, and now sinking out of sight. By our 
mutual efforts the men are brought on board, and the 
sloop is slowly towed into a safe harbor. In an hour af- 
ter my party was safely landed at Eastport, where, on 
looking over the waters, and observing the dense masses 
of vapors that veiled the shore, we congratulated our- 
selves at having escaped from the Bay of Fundy." 


Rettirii to Boston — Wanderings in the Neighborhood— Voyage to Lab' 
radar in the Schooner Ripley — Misadventures at Little River — 
Seal and Mud Islands — The Gnt of Cansean. 

ROM Frederickton Audubon returned in a private 
conveyance to Houlton, thence along the United 
States military road to Bangor, and thence by 
public stages to Boston, where he arrived early in Octo- 
ber. Finding that it would improve his great work on 
the " Birds " to remain another year in America, and visit 
parts of the country yet unexplored by him, Audubon 
determined to send his eldest son Victor to England, to 
superintend the engraving, and to look after his general 
interests there. Victor Audubon accordingly sailed from 
New York for Liverpool, toward the end of October, while 
his father remained in Boston during that and the following 
winter, actively engaged in making drawings of new birds 
which he had discovered, and also in redrawing and 
greatly improving some of his older drawings. He also 
made frequent excursions into the surrounding country. 
" Here," says the Journal, " I was witness to the melan- 
choly death of the great Spurzheim, and was myself sud- 
denly attacked by a short but severe illness, which greatly 
alarmed my family ; but thanks to Providence and my 
medical friends, Parkman, Shattuck, and Warren, I was 
soon enabled to proceed with my labor — a sedentary Hfe 
and too close application being the cause assigned for 
my indisposition. I resolved to set out again in quest of 
fresh materials for my pencil and pen. My wishes direct- 

296 Life of Auduhon. 

ing me to Labiador, I returned eastward, with my young- 
est son, and had the pleasure of being joined by foui 
young gentlemen, all fond of natural history, and willing 
to encounter the difficulties and privations ol the voyage — 
George Shattuck, Thomas Lincoln, William Ingalls, and 
Joseph Coolidge." 

The schooner Ripley was chartered at Boston for fif- 
teen hundred dollars for the trip to Labrador. The 
journal containing the narrative begins at Eastport. 

" June 4, 1833. The day has been fine, and I dined 
with Captain Childs, commanding the United States 
troops here. We had a pleasant dinner, but I am impa- 
tient to be under weigh for Labrador. The vessel is be- 
ing prepared for our reception and departure ; and we 
have concluded to ship two extra sailors, and a boy, to be 
a sort of major-domo, to clean our guns, hunt for nests 
and birds, and assist in skinning them, &c. While ram- 
bling in the woods this morning I discovered a crow's 
nest with five young ones in it, and as I climbed the tree 
the parents came to the rescue of their children, crying 
loudly and with such perseverance, that in fifteen minutes 
more than fifty pairs of these birds had jomed in tlieir 
vociferations, although T saw only a single pair when I 
began to climb the tree. 

" y^uue 6. We sailed from Eastport about one 
o'clock p. M., and the whole male population seemed to 
have turned out to witness our dejDarture, just as if no 
schooner of the size of the Ripley had ever gone from 
this mighty port to Labrador ; our numerous friends came 
^\'ith the throng, and we all shook hands as if we were 
""never to meet again ; and as we pushed off with a trifling 
accident or so, the batteries of the garrison and the can- 
non of the revenue cutter in the stream saluted us with 
stout, loud, and oft-repeated reports. Captain Coolidge 
accompanied us, and was, indeed, our pilot, until we 

'The Bay of Funly. 297 

passed Lubec. The wind was light and ahead, and yet 
with the assistance of the tide we drifted twenty-five 
miles down to Little River during the night. 

" Jun" 7. This morning found us riding at anchor 
near soin i ugly-looking rocks, the sight of which caused 
our captain to try to ^ct out of their way, and the whole 
morning was spent in tr}-ing to get into Little River, but 
the men were unable to tow us in. We landed for a few 
minutes and shot a hermit thrush, but the wind sprang 
up, and we returned to the vessel and tried to put out to 
sea ; we were for a time in danger of drifting upon the 
rocks, but the wind increased, and we made our way out 
to sea. Suddenly, however, the fog came drifting in, and 
was so thick that we could hardly see the bowsprit, and 
the night was spent in direful apprehension of some im- 
pending evil j although, about twelve, squalls of wind de- 
cided in our favor, and when day dawned the wind was 
blowing fresh from the north, and we were driving on the 
waters, all sea-sick, and crossing that worst of all dread- 
ful bays, the Bay of Fundy. 

" jfiine 8. We sailed between Seal and Mud Islands. 
In the latter the procellaria (a species of gull) breed 
abundantly ; their nests are dug in the sand to the depth 
of two feet or more, and the whole island is covered with 
them, looking like rat holes. They lay three white eggs." 

The next two days recorded in the Journal describe 
the winds and sights, and birds which were seen as the 
voyagers scudded from Cape Sable to the Gut of Can- 
seau, so named by the early French voyagers, because 
they found vast quantities of wild geese there. The 
wind was fair, and the captain of the Ripley wished 
to continue his course to Labrador. But Audubon, anx- 
ious to explore every part of the coast along which they 
were sailing, persuaded the captain to come to anchor in 
a harbor in the Gut of Canseau, of tlie same name, 

298 Life of Audubon. 

Here he found twenty sail of Labrador fishermen at 
anchor, and obtained the information which enabled him 
to write the following episode. 

" Although I had seen, as I thought, abundance of 
fish along the coasts of the Floridas, the numbers which T 
found in Labrador quite astonished me. Should your 
surprise while reading the following statements be as great 
as mine was while observing the facts related, you will 
conclude, as I have often done, that Nature's means for 
providing small animals for the use of large ones, vice 
versa, are as ample as is the grandeur of that world which 
she has so curiously constructed. The coast of Labrador 
is visited by European as well as American fishermen, all 
of whom are, I believe, entitled to claim portions of fish- 
ing ground, assigned to each nation by mutual under- 
standing. For the present, however, I shall confine my 
observations to those who chiefly engage in this depart- 
ment of our commerce. Eastport in Maine sends out 
every year a goodly fleet of schooners and ' pick-axes ' to 
Labrador, to prociu'e cod, mackerel, halibut, and some- 
times herring, the latter being caught in the intermediate 
space. The vessels from that port, and others in Maine 
and Massachusetts, sail as soon as the warmth of spring 
has freed the gulf of ice, that is from the beginning of May 
to that of June. 

" A vessel- of one hundred tons or so is provided with 
a crew of twelve men, who are equally expert as sailors 
and fishers, and for every couple of these hardy tars a 
Hampton boat is provided, which is lashed on the deck or 
hung in stays. Their provision is simple, but of good 
quality, and it is very seldom any spirits are allowed ; beef, 
pork, and biscuit, with water, being all they take with 
them. The men are supplied with warm clothing, water- 
proof oil jackets and trousers, large boots, broad-brimmed 
hats with a round crown, and stout mittens, with a few 

Fishing Life in Labrador. igg 

shirts. The owner or captain furnishes them with hnes, 
hooks, and nets, and also provides the bait best adapted 
to insure success. The Iiokl of the vessel is filled with 
casks of various dimensions, some containing salt, and 
others for the oil that may be procured. The bait gen- 
erally used at the beginning of the season consists of 
mussels, salted for the purpose ; but as soon as the cape- 
lings reach the coast, they are substituted to save expense ; 
and, in many instances, the flesh of gannets and other 
sea-fowl is employed. The wages of fishermen vary 
from sixteen to thirty dollars per month, according to the 
qualifications of the individual. The labor of these men 
is^ excessively hard, for, except on Sunday, their allow- 
ance of rest in the twenty-four hours seldom exceeds three. 
The cook is the only person who fares better in this re- 
spect, but he must also assist in curing the fish. He has 
breakfast, consisting of coffee, bread, and meat, ready for 
the captain and the whole crew, by three o'clock every 
morning except Sunday. Each person carries with him 
his dinner ready cooked, which is commonly eaten on the 
fishing-ground. Thus, at three in the morning, the crew 
are prepared for their day's labor, and ready to betake 
themselves to their boats, each of which has two oars and 
lug-sails. They all depart at once, and either by rowing 
or sailing, reach the banks to which the fishes are known 
to resort. The little squadron drop their anchors at short 
distances from each other, in a depth of from ten to 
twenty feet, and the business is immediately commenced.* 
Each man has two lines, and each stands in one end of 
the boat, the middle of which is boarded off to hold the 
fish. The baited lines have been dropped into the wa- 
ter, one on each side of the boat ; their leads have 
touclied the bottom ; a fish has taken the hook, and after 
giving the line a slight jerk, the fisherman hauls up his 
prize with a continued pull, throws the fish athwart a 

300 Life of Auduhon. 

small round bar of iron placed near his back, which forces 
open die mouth, while the weight of the body, howevei 
small , the fish may be, tears out the hook. The bait is 
Still good, and over the side the line again goes, to catch 
another fish, while that on the left is now drawn up, and 
the same course pursued. In this manner, a fisher busily 
plying at each end, the operation is continued, until the 
boat is so laden that her gunwale is brought within a few 
inches of the surface, when they return to the vessel in 
harbor, seldom distant more than eight miles from the 
banks. During the greater part of the day the fishermen 
have kept up a constant conversation, of which the 
topics are the pleasures of finding a good supply of cod, 
their domestic affairs, the political prospects of the na- 
tion, and other matters similaidy connected. Now the re- 
partee of one elicits a laugh from the other ; this passes 
from man to man, and the v/hole flotilla enjoy the joke. 
The men of one boat strive to outdo those of the others 
in hauling up the greatest quantity of fish in a given 
time, and this forms another source of merriment. The 
boats are generally filled about the same time, and all re- 
turn together. Arrived at the vessel, each man employs a 
pole armed with a bent iron, resembling the prong of a 
hay-fork, with which he pierces tlie fish and throws it with 
a jerk on deck, counting the number thus discharged with 
a loud voice. Each cargo is thus safely deposited, and 
the boats instantly return to the fishing ground, when, 
• after anchoring, the men eat their dinner and begin anew. 
There, good reader, with your leave, I will let them pur- 
sue their avocations for awhile, as I am anxious that you 
should witness what is doing on board the vessel. The 
captain, four men, and the cook have, in the course of the 
morning, erected long tables fore and aft of the main 
hatchway. They have taken to the shore most of the 
salt barrels, and have placed in a row their large empty 

Fishing Life in Labrador. 301 

casks to receive the livers. Tlie hold of the \essel ia 
quite clear, except a corner, where is a large heap of salt. 
And now the men, having dined precisely at twelve, are 
ready with their large knives. One begins with breaking 
off the head of the fish, a slight pull of the hand and a 
gash with the knife effecting this in a moment. He slits 
up the belly, with one hand pushes it aside to his neigh- 
bor, tlien throws overboard the head and begins to doctor 
another ; the next man tears out the entrails, separates 
the liver, which he throws into a cask, and casts the rest 
overboard. A third person dexterously passes his. knife 
beneath the vertebree of the fish, separates them from the 
flesh, heaves the latter through the hatchway, and the 
former into the water. Now, if you will peep into the 
hold, you will see the last stage of the process, the salting 
and packing. Six experienced men generally manage to 
head, gut, bone, salt, and pack all the fish caught in the 
morning, by the return of the boats with fresh cargoes, 
when all hands set to work and clear the deck of the 
fish. Thus their labors continue until twelve o'clock, 
when they wash their faces and hands, put on clean 
clothes, hang their fishing apparel on the shrouds, and, 
betaking themselves to the forecastle, are soon in a sound 

" At three next morning comes the captain from his 
berth, rubbing his eyes, and in a loud voice calling, ' All 
hands, ho !' Stiffened in limb, and but half awake, the 
crew quickly appear on deck. Their fingers and hands 
are so cramped and swollen by pulling the lines that it is 
difficult for tiiem even to straighten a thumb ; but this 
matters little at present, for the cook, who had a good 
nap yesterday, has risen an hour before them, and pre- 
pared their coffee and eatables. Breakfast despatched, 
they exchange their clean clothes for the fishing apparel, 
and leap into their boats, which had been washed the 

302 Life of Audubon. 

previous night, and again tlie flotilla bounds to.the fish 
ing ground. As there may be not less than loo schoon 
ers or pick-axes in the harbor, 300 boats resort to the 
banks each day; and as each boat may procure 2,000 
cod per diem, when Saturday night comes, about 600,000 
fishes have been brought to the harbor. This having 
caused some scarcity on the fishing grounds, and Sunday 
being somewhat of an idle clay, the captain collects the 
salt ashore, and sets sail for some other convenient har- 
bor, which he expects to reach before sunset. If the 
weather be favorable the men get a good deal of rest dur- 
ing the voyage, and on Monday things go on as before. 
I must not omit to tell you, reader, that while proceed- 
ing from one harbor to another the vessel has passed 
near a rock which is the breeding place of myriads of 
puffins. She has laid to for an hour or so, while part of 
the crew have landed and collected a store of eggs, ex- 
cellent as a substitute for cream, and not less so when 
hard boiled as food for the fishing grounds. I may as 
well inform you also how these adventurous fellows dis- 
tinguish the fresh eggs from the others. They fill up 
some large tubs with water, throw in a quantity of eggs, 
and allow them to remain a minute or so, when those 
which come to the surface are tossed overboard, and 
even those that manifest any upward tendency share the 
same treatment. All that remain at bottom, you may de- 
pend upon it, good reader, are perfectly sound, and not 
less palatable than any that you have ever eaten, or that 
your best guinea-fowl has just dropped in ycmr barn- 
yard ; but let us return to the cod-fish. The fish already 
ptocured and salted is taken ashore at the new harbor by 
part of the crew, v/hom the captain has marked as the 
worst hands at fishing. There on the bare rocks, or ele- 
vated scaffolds of considerable extent, the salted cods are 
laid side by side to dry in the sun. They are turned 

Marvellous Life in Labrador. 303 

several times a day, and in the intervals the men bear a 
hand on board at clearing and stowing away the daily 
produce" of the fishing banks. Towards evening they re- 
turn to the dr}'ing grounds, and put up the fish in piles 
resembling so many haystacks, disposing those towards 
the top in such a manner that the rain cannot injure 
them, and placing a heavy stone on the summit to pre- 
vent their being thrown down, should it blow hard dur- 
ing the night. You see, reader, that the life of a Labra- 
dor fisherman is not one of idleness. The capelings 
have approached the shores, and in myriads enter every 
basin and stream to deposit their spawn, for now July 
is come, the cods follow them as the bloodhound follows 
his prey, and their compact masses literally line the 
shores. The fishermen now adopt another method. 
They have brought with them long and deep seines, one 
end of which is, by means of a line, fastened to the shore, 
while the other is in the usual manner drawn out in a 
broad sweep, to inclose as great a space as possible, and 
hauled on shore by means of a capstan. Some of the 
men in boats support the corked part of the net, and 
beat the water to frighten the fishes within towards the 
land ; while others, armed with poles, enter the water, 
hook the fishes, and fling them on the beach, the net be- 
ing gradually drawn closer as the number of fishes di- 
minish. What do you think, reader, as to the number of 
cods secured in this manner at a single haul ? — twenty or 
thirty thousand. You may form some notion of the mat- 
ter when I tell you that the young gentlemen of my party, 
while going along the shores, caught cod-fish alive with 
tiieir hands, and trouts of weight with a piece of twine 
and a mackerel hook hung to their gun rods ; and that 
if two of them walked knee-deep along the rocks, holding 
a handkerchief by the corners, they swept it full of 
capelings : should you not trust me in this, I refer you 

304 Life of Audiihon. 

to the fishermen themselves, or recommend you to go to 
Labrador, where you will give credit to the testimony of 
your eyes. The seining of the cod-fish is not, I believe, 
quite lawful, for a great proportion of the codlings which 
are dragged ashore at last are so small as to be con- 
sidered useless, and, instead of being returned to the 
water as they ought to be, are left on the shore, where 
they are ultimately eaten by bears, wolves, and ravens. 
The fishes taken along the coast or fishing stations only 
a few miles off are of small dimensions, and I believe I 
am correct in saying that few of them weigh more than 
two pounds when perfectly cured, or exceed six when 
taken out of the water. The fish are liable to several 
diseases, and at times are annoyed by parasitic animals, 
which in a short time render them lean and unfit for use. 
Some individuals, from laziness or other causes, fish with 
naked hooks, and thus frequently wound the cod without 
securing them, in consequence of which the shoals are 
driven awa)', to the detriment of the other fishers. Some 
carry their cargoes to other ports before drying them, 
while others dispose of them to agents from distant 
shores. Some have only a ^^ick-axe of fifty tons, while 
others are owners of seven or eight vessels of equal or 
larger burden ; but whatever be their means, should the 
season prove favorable, they are generally well repaid 
for their labor. I have known instances of men who on 
their first voyage ranked as ' boys,' and in ten years after 
were in independent circumstances, although they still 
continued to resort to the fishing. ' For,' said they to 
me, ' how could we be content to spend our time in idle- 
ness at home ? ' I know a person of this class who has 
carried on the trade for many years, and who has quite a 
little fleet of schooners, one of which, the largest and 
most beautifully built, has a cabin as neat and comforta- 
ble ar. any that I have ever seen in a vessel of the same 



size. This vessel took fish on board only when perfectly 
cured, or acted as pilot to the rest, and now and then 
would return home with an ample supply of halibut, or a 
cargo of prime mackerel. On another occasion I will 
offer some retnarks on the improvements which I think 
might be made in the cod fisheries (^f the coast of Labi a- 



En Route to Labrador — Gitt of Canseau — Magdalene Island — Thl 
Inhabitants — Ortiithological Notes — Birds on the Rock — First 
Impressions of Labrador — Halifax Eggers. 

" yiine II. From the entrance to the Gut of Canseau, 
where the Ripley lay at anchor, Audubon had the first 
view of the South-eastern coast of Nova Scotia, which he 
describes as ' dreary, rocky, poor and inhospitable look- 
ing.' It snowed the next day, yet when the party went 
ashore, they found not only trees in bloom, but the ground 
plants were in flower, and some tolerably good-looking 
grass ; and they saw also robins, and sparrows, and 
finches, and their nests with young ones. But no custom- 
house officer appeared, nor any individual who could 
give them any valuable information. They found lobsters 
ver}' abundant, and caught forty in a very short time ; 
but to their surprise they did not see a single bird. 

" June 12. To day there has been cold, rain and hail, 
but the frogs are piping in the pools. By-and-by the 
weather became beautiful, and the wind fair, and we 
were soon under way, following in the wake of the whole 
fleet, which had been anchored in the harbor of Canseau, 
and gliding across the great bay under full press of sail. 
'] lie land locked us in, the water was smooth, the sky 
serene, and the thermometer at 46", and the sunshine on 
deck was very agreeable. After sailing twenty-one miles 
we entered the real Gut of Canseau; passing one after 
another every vessel of the fleet with which we had sailed. 

" The land on each side now rose in the form of an am- 
phitheatre, and on the Nova Scotia side to a considerable 

'Ihe Gut of Canseau. ^o") 

height ; dwellings appeared here and there, but the coun- 
try is too poor for comfort : the timber is small, and the 
land too stony ; a small patch of ploughed land planted, 
or ready for potatoes, was all the cultivation we saw. 
Near one house we saw a few apple trees, which were 
not yet in bloom. The general appearance of this pas- 
sage reminded me of some parts of the Hudson River, 
and, accompanied as we were by thirty sail of vessels, 
the time passed agreeably. Vegetation appeared as for- 
ward as at Eastport : saw a few chimney swallows, and 
heard a few blue jays. As we passed Cape Porcupine, 
a high rounding hill, we saw some Indians in birch-bark 
canoes, and clearing Cape George we were soon in the 
gulf of St. Lawrence. From this place, on the 20th of 
May last year, the sea was a sheet of ice as far as the 
eye could reach with the aid of a good spy-glass. 

" We ran dovm the west coast of Cape Breton Island, 
and the country looked well in the distance ; large undu- 
lating hills were covered with many hamlets, and patches 
of cultivated land were seen. It being calm when we 
neared Jestico Island, about three miles from Cape Breton, 
I left the vessel and landed on it. It was covered with 
well-grown grass, and filled with strawberry vines in full 
bloom. The sun shone brightly, the weather was pleas- 
ant, and we found many northern birds breeding there ; 
the wild gooseberries were plentiful, about the size of a 
pea, and a black currant also. The wind arose, and we 
hurried back to the vessel ; on the way my son John and 
some of the sailors nearly killed a seal with their oars. 

" jfjine 13. This morning at four o'clock we came in 
sight of the Magdalene Islands, distant about twenty 
miles. The morning was dull, and by breakfast-time a 
thick fog obscured the horizon, and we lost sight of the 
islands ; the' wind rose sluggishly and dead ahead, and 
several ships and brigs loaded with timber from the Mira- 

3o8 Life of Audubon. 

michie came near us beating their way. to the Atlantic. 
At nine o'clock we dropped anchor, being partly land- 
locked between Breton Island and the Highlands, and 
within a quarter of a mile of an Island, which formed a 
part of the group. The pilot, who is well acquainted here, 
informed me that the islands are all connected by dry 
sand-bars, and with no channel between them excipt the 
one we are in, called Entree Bay, which is formed by 
Entree Island and a long sand-spit connecting it with 
the mainland. The island is forty-eight miles long, and 
three in breadth ; the formation is a red rough sandy 
soil, and the north-west side is constantly wearing away 
by the action of the sea. Guillemots were seated up- 
right along the projecting shelvings in regular order, 
resembling so many sentinels on the look-out ; many gan- 
nets also were seen on the extreme points of the island. 
On one of the islands were many houses, and a small 
church, and on the highest land a large cross, indicating 
the religion of the inhabitants. Several small vessels 
lay in the harbor called Pleasant Bay, but the weather is 
so cold we cannot visit them until to-morrow. 

" yime 14, 1833. Magdalene Islands, Gulf of St. 
Lawrence. It is one week since we left Eastport, and we 
breakfasted with the thermometer at 44° in our cabin, 
and on deck it feels like mid-winter. We landed on the 
island next to us so chilled that we could scarcely use our 
hands ; two large bluffs frowned on each side of us, the 
resort of many sea-birds, and some noble ravens which 
we sz\w. Following a narrow path we soon came upon 
one of God's best finished jewels, a woman. She saw us 
first, for women are always keenest in sight and percep- 
tion, in patience and fortitude and love, in faith and sor- 
row, and, as I believe, in everything else which adorns 
our race. She was hurrying towards her cottage, with a 
child in her arms, having no covering but a little shirt. 

I^he Church. 


The mother was dressed in coarse French homespun, with 
a close white cotton nightcap on her head, and the mild 
est-looking woman I had seen in man}' a day. At a ven- 
ture I addessed her in French, and it answered well, for 
she replied in an unintelligible jargon, about one-third of 
A'hich I understood, which enabled me to make out that 
she was the wife of a fisherman who lived there. 

"We walked on through the woods toward the 
church. Who would have expected to find a church on 
such an island, among such impoverished people ? Yet 
here it was, a Roman Catholic church. And here we 
came suddenly on a handsome, youthful, vigorous, black- 
haired and black-bearded fellow, covered with a long gar- 
ment as black as a raven, and having a heart as light as 
a young lark's. He was wending his way to the church, 
at the sound of a bell, which measured twelve inches by 
nine in diameter, of about thirty pounds weight, which 
could nevertheless be heard for a quarter of a mile. It 
was the festival among the Roman Catholics of La ^^etite 
Fete de Dieu. The chapel was lighted with candles, and 
all the old women on the island had trudged from their 
distant dwellings, staff in hand, backs bent with age, and 
eyes dimmed by time. They crossed their breasts and 
knelt before the tawdry images in the church, with so 
much simplicity and apparent sincerity of heart, that 1 
could not help exclaiming to myself, ' Well, this is religion 
after all.' 

"The priest, named Brunet, was from Quebec, and 
these islands belong to Lower Canada, but are under the 
jurisdiction of the Bishop of Halifax. He is a shrewd- 
looking fellow, and, if I do not mistake his character, 
with a good deal of the devil in him. He told us there 
were no reptiles on the island ; but we found by our own 
observations that he was mistaken, as he was also in the 
representations he made respecting the 'quadrupeds. This 

jio Life of Audubon. 

priest, who I hope is a good and worth}- man, told us that 
the land is very poor and destitute of game, and that the 
seal-fisheries were less profitable last year than common ; 
that there are about one hundred and sixty families on a 
dozen islands, and that cod, mackerel, and herring-fishing 
were the employments of the inhabitants. One or two 
vessels come from Quebec yearly to collect the produce 
(of the sea). The priest said he led the life of a re- 
cluse here, but if we would accompany him to his board- 
ing-house he would give us a glass of good French wine. 

" On our rambles we found the temperature on land 
quite agreeable, and in sheltered situations the sun was 
warm and pleasant. The grass looked well, and straw- 
berry blossoms were plenty. The woods, such as they 
were, were filled with warblers : the robin, thrush, finch, 
bunting, &c. The fox-tailed sparrow and siskin breed 
here, the hermit and tawny thrush crossed our path, the 
black-capped warbler gambolled over the pools, and even 
the^vrens were everywhere. Of water-birds the great 
terns were abundant, and the piping plovers breed here. 
We also collected several species of land-snails, and 
some specimens of gypsum. We crossed the bay in the 
afternoon, and found a man who had some fox-skins for 
sale : he asked five pounds apiece for the black fox, and 
one dollar and fifty cerfts for the red skins. The woods 
here are small, scrubby evergreens, almost impenetrable 
and swampy beneath. Thermometer this evening 44°. 

'■'■ yiine \^. Day dawned with the weather dull, but 
the wind fair, and we pulled up anchor and left the Mag- 
dalene Islands for Labrador, the ultimatum of our present 
desires. About ten o'clock we saw on the distant horizon 
a speck, which I was told was the Rock ; the wind now 
freshened, and I could soon see it plainly from the deck, 
the lop apparently covered with snow. Our pilot said 
that the snow, which seemed two or three feet thick, was 

Gannets, 311 

the white gannets which resort there. I rubbed my eyes, 
and took my spy-glass, and instantly the strange picture 
stood before me. They were indeed birds, and such a 
mass of birds, and of such a size as I never saw before. 
The whole of my party were astonished, and all agreed 
that it was worth a voyage across the Bay of Fundy and 
the Gulf of St. Lawrence to see such a^ sight. The near- 
er we approached, the greater was our surprise at the 
enormous number of these birds, all cahiily seated on 
their eggs, and their heads turned to the windward towards 
us. The air for a hundred yards above, and for a long 
distance around, was filled with gannets on the wing, 
Vv'hich from our position made the air look as if it was 
fiiUed with falling snowfiakes, and caused a thick, foggy- 
like atmosphere all around the rock. The wind was too 
high to allow us to land, but we were so anxious to do so 
that some of the party made the attempt. The vessel 
was brought to, and a small whale-boat launched, and 
young Lincoln and John pushed off with clubs and 
guns ; the wind increased and rain set in, but they gain- 
ed the lee of the rock, but after an hour's absence re- 
turned without landing. The air was filled with birds, 
but they did not perceptibly diminish the numbers on the 
rock. As the vessel drifted nearer the rock, we could see 
that the birds sat so close as almost to touch one another 
in regular lines, looking like so many mole-h lis. The 
discharge of a gun had no effect on those which were 
not touched by the shot, for the noise of the birds stunned 
all those out of reach of the gun. But where the shot 
took effect the birds scrambled and flew off in such mul- 
titudes and such confusion that, whilst eight or ten were 
fillirg in the water dead or wounded, others shook 
down their eggs, which fell into the sea by hundreds in all 
direction?. The sea became rougher, and the boat was 
compelled to return, bringing some birds and some eggs, 

312 Life of Audubon. 

but without the party being able to chmb the rock. 

" The top of the main rock is a quarter of a mile wide 
from north to south, and a little narrower from east to 
west ; its elevation above the sea is between three and 
four hundred feet. The sea dashes around it with great 
violence : except in long calms it is extremely difficult to 
land on it, and much more difficult to climb to its jDlat- 
form. The whole surface was perfectly covered with 
nests, aboui twc feet apart, in rows as regular as a potato 
field. The fishermen kill these birds and use their flesh 
for bait for cod-fish. The crews of several vessels unite, 
and, armed with clubs, as they reach the top of the rock 
the birds rise witii a noise like thunder, and attempt to fly 
in such hurried confusion as to knock each other down, 
often piling one on another in a bank of many feet thick- 
ness. The men beat and kill them until they have ob^ 
tained a supply, or wearied themselves. Six men in this 
way have killed five or six hundred in one hour. The 
birds are skinned and cut into junks, and the bait keeps 
good for a fortnight. Forty sail of fishermen annually 
supply themselves with bait from this rock in this way. 
By the twentieth of May the birds lay their eggs, and 
hatch about the twentieth of June. 

" June 17. The wind is blowing a gale, and nearly 
all my party is deadly sick. Thermometer 43°, and rain- 
ing nearly all day. We laid to all night, and in the morn- 
ing were in sight of Anticosti Island, distant about twenty 
miles. It soon became thick, and we lost sight of it. 

" June ] 8. The weather is calm, beautiful, and much 
warmer. We caught many cod-fish, which contained 
crabs of a curious structure. At six P. M. the wind 
sprung up fair, and we made all sail for Labrador. 

" June I9. I was on deck at three o'clock a. m., and 
although the sun was not above the horizon it was quite 
light. The sea was literally covered with foolish guille- 

Natasquan River. 3 1 3 

mots playing in the very spray under our bow, plunging 
as if in fun under it, and rising like spirits close under 
our rudder. The wind was fair, and the land in sight 
^rom aloft, and I now look forward to our landing on 
Labrador as at hand, and my thoughts are filled with ex- 
pectation of the new knowledge of birds and animals 
which I hope to acquire there. The Ripley sails well, 
but now she fairly skipped over the water. The cry of 
land soon made my heart bound with joy ; and as we ap- 
proached it we saw what looked like many sails of vessels, 
but we soon found that they were snow-banks, and the 
air along the shore was filled with millions of velvet 
ducks and other aquatic birds, flying in long files a few 
yards above the water. 

" We saw one vessel at anchor, and the country looked 
well from the distance ; and as we neared the shore the 
thermometer rose from 44° to 60", yet the appearance of 
the snow-drifts was forbidding. The shores appeared to be 
margined with a broad and handsome sand-beach, and 
we saw imaginary bears, wolves and other animals scam- 
pering away on the rugged shore. About thirty boats 
were fishing, and we saw them throwing the fish on deck 
by thousands. 

" We soon reached the mouth of the Natasquan Riv- 
er, where the Hudson Bay Company have a fishing estab- 
lishment, and where no American vessel is allowed to 
come. The shore was filled with bark-covered huts, and 
some vessels were anchored wilhin the sand-point which 
forms one side of the entrance to the river. We sailed 
on four miles further to the American harbor, and came to 
anchor in a beautiful bay, wholly secure from any winds. 
"And now we are positively at Labrador, lat. 50°, and 
farther north than I ever was before on this continent. 
But what a country ! When we landed and reached the 
summit we sank nearly up to our knees in mosses of dif- 

314 J^if^ of Auduhon. 

ferent sorts, producing such a sensation as I never felt 
before. Tliese mosses in the distance look like hard 
rocks, but under the feet they feel like a velvet cushion. 
We rambled about and searched in vain for a foot of square 
earth ; a poor, rugged, and miserable country ; the trees 
are wiry and scraggy dwarfs ; and when the land is not 
rocky it is boggy to a man's waist. All the islands about 
the harbor were of the same character, and we saw but 
few land birds, one pigeon, a few hawks, and smaller 
birds. The wild geese, eider-ducks, loons, and many 
other birds breed here. 

" June 19. The boats went off to neighboring islands 
in search of birds and eggs, and I remained all day on 
board drawing. Eggers from Halifax had robbed nearly 
all the eggs. 

"The eider-ducks build their nests under the scraggy 
boughs of the fir-trees, which here grow only a few inches 
above the ground. The nests are scraped a few inches 
deep in the rotten moss which makes the soil, and the 
boughs have to be raised to find the nests. The eggs are 
deposited in down, and covered with down, and keep 
warm a long time in absence of the duck. They com- 
monly lay six eggs. 

" June 20. The vessel rolls at her anchorage, and I 
have drawn as well as I could. Our party has gone up 
the Natasquan in search of adventures and birds. It 
seems strange to me that in this wonderfully wild country 
all the wild birds should be so shy. 

" Jwie 21. To-day I went four miles to the falls of 
the little Natasquan River. The river is small, its water 
dark and irony, and its shores impenetrable woods, ex- 
cept here and there a small interval overgrown with a 
wiry grass, unfit for cattle, and of no use if it were, for 
there are no cattle here. We saw several nets in the 
river for catching salmon ; they are stretched across the 

I^he Egg Tirade. J15 

river, and the fish entangle their fins in tr}'ing to pass 
them, and cannot get away. We visited the huts of the 
Canadian fishermen of the Hudson Bay Company. 
They are clothed and fed, and receive eight dollars a 
year besides, for their services. They have a cow, an ox, 
and one acre of potatoes planted. They report seven 
feet of snow in winter, and that only one-third as many 
salmon are taken now as ten years ago ; one hundred 
barrels now is regarded as a fair season. This river is 
twelve miles long, has three rapids, is broad, swift, and 
shallow, and discharges a quantity of fine gravelly sand. 

"jfune 22. Drew all day. Thermometer 60° at 
twelve. AVe are so far north that we have scarcely any 
darkness at night. Our party visited some large ponds 
on a neighboring island ; but they had neither fish, shells, 
nor grass about them ; the shore a reddish sand : saw 
only a few toads, and those pale-looking and poor. The 
country a barren rock as far as the eye could reach, and 
mosses of several species were a foot in depth. So so- 
norous is the song of the fox-colored sparrow, that I 
heard it to-day while drawing in the cabin, from the dis- 
tance of a quarter of a mile. The mosquitoes and black 
gnats are bad on shore. 

'''■June 23. We heard to-day that a party of four men 
from Halifax, last spring, took in two months four hun- 
dred thousand eggs, which they sold in Halifax at twenty 
five cents a dozen. Last year ujDwards of twenty sail of 
vessels were engaged in this business ; and by this one 
may form some idea of the number of birds annually de- 
stroyed in this way, to say nothing of the millions of oth- 
ers disposed of by the numerous fleet of fishermen which 
yearly come to these regions, and lend their hand to 
swell the devastation. The eggers destroy all the eggs 
that are sat upon, to force the birds to lay fresh eggs, and 
by robbing them regularly compel them to lay until na- 


Life of Aiiduhon. 

ture is exhausted, and so but few }'oung ones are raised. 
These wonderful nurseries must be finally destroyed, and 
in less than half a century, unless some kind government 
interposes to put a stop to all this shameful destruction. 
The wind blows here from the south-east, and it brings 
rain continually." 

The following episode epitomizes what Audubon saw 
or learned about the men engaged in hunting eggs on 
those wild and desolate islands. 

CHAPTER xxvin: 

Labrador Episodes : The Eggers of Labrador. 

^HE distinctive appellation of ' eggers ' is given 
to certain persons who follow principally or ex- 
clusively the avocation of procuring eggs of wild 
birds, with the view of disposing of them at some distant 
port. Their great object is to plunder every nest, when- 
ever they can find it, no matter where, and at whatever 
risk. They are the pest of the feathered tribes, and their 
brutal propensity to destroy the poor creatures after they 
have robbed them is abundantly gratified whenever an 
opportunity presents itself Much had been said to me 
respecting these destructive pirates before I visited the 
coast of Labrador, but I could not entirely credit al 
their cruelties until I had actually witnessed their pro 
ceedings, which were such as to inspire no small degree 
of horror. But you shall judge for yourself. 

" See yon shallop shyly sailing along ; she sneaks like 
a thief, wishing, as it were, to shun the very light of 
heaven. Under the lee of every rocky isle some one at 
the tiller steers her course. 

" Were his trade an honest one he would not think of 
hiding his back behind the terrific rocks that seem to 
ha\ e been placed there as a resort to the myriads of birds 
that annually visit this desolate region of the earth for 
the purpose of rearing their young at a distance from alj 
disturbers of their peace. How unlike the open, bold, 
the honest mariner, whose face needs no mask, who 
scorns to skulk under any circumstances ! The vessel 
herself is a shabby thing; her sails are patched with 
stolen pieces of better canvas, the owners of which have 

3i8 Life of Auduhon. 

probably been stranded on some inhospitable coast, and 
have been plundered, perhaps murdered, by the wretches 
before us. Look at her again. Her sides are neither 
painted nor even pitched ; no, they are daubed over, 
plastered and patched with stripes of seal-skins, laid 
along the seams. Her deck has never been washed or 
sanded, her hold, for she has no cabin, though at present 
empty, sends forth an odor pestilential as that of a char- 
nel-house. The crew, eight in number, lie sleeping at 
the foot of their tottering mast, regardless of the repairs 
needed in every part of her rigging. But see ! she scuds 
along, and, as I suspect her crew to be bent on the com- 
mission of some evil deed, let us follow her to the first 
harbor. There rides the filthy thing ! The afternoon is 
half over. Her crew have thrown their boat overboard ; 
they enter and seat themselves, one with a rusty gun. 
One of them sculls the skiff towards an island, for a cen- 
tury past the breeding-place of myriads of guillemots, 
which are now to be laid under contribution. At the ap- 
proach of the vile thieves, clouds of birds rise from the 
rock and fill the air around, wheeling and screaming 
over their enemies ; yet thousands remain in an erect 
posture, each covering its single egg, the hope of both 
parents. The reports of several muskets loaded with 
heavy shot are now heard, while several dead and wound- 
ed birds fall heavily on the rock or into the water. In- 
stantly all the sitting birds rise and fly off affrighted to 
their companions above, and hover in dismay over their 
assassins, who walk forward exultingly, and with their 
shouts mingling oaths and execrations. Look at them ! 
See how they crush the chick within its shell ! how they 
trample on every egg in their way with their huge and 
clumsy boots ! Onwards they go, and when they leave 
the isle not an egg that they can find is left entire. The 
dead birds they collect and carry to their boat. Now 

I^he Eggers of Labrador. 319 

they have regained their filthy shallop, they strip the 
birds by a single jerk of tlieir feathery apparel, while the 
flesh is yet warm, and throw them on some coals, where 
in a short time they are broiled : the rum is produced 
when the guillemots are fit for eating, and after stuffing 
themselves with this oily fare, and enjoying the pleas- 
ures of beastly intoxication, over they tumble on the 
deck of their crazed craft, where they pass the short 
hours of night in turbid slumber. The sun now rises 
above the snow-clad summit of the eastern mount ; 
* sweet is the breath of morn,' even in this desolate land. 
The gay bunting erects his white crest, and gives utter- 
ance to the joy he feels in the presence of his brooding 
mate ; the willow grouse on the rock crows his challenge 
aloud ; each floweret, chilled by the night air, expands 
its pure petals ; the gentle breeze shakes from the blades 
of grass the heavy dewdrops. On the Guillemot Isle the 
birds have again settled, and now renew their loves. 
Startled by the light of day, one of the eggers springs on 
his feet, and rouses his companions, who stare around 
them for awhile, endeavoring to recollect their senses. 
Mark them, as with clumsy fingers they clear their 
drowsy eyes ; slowly they rise on their feet. See how 
the lubbers stretch out their arms and yawn ; you shrink 
back, for verily ' that throat might frighten a shark.' But 
the master, soon recollecting that so many eggs are 
worth a dollar or a crown, casts his eye towards the rock, 
marks the day in his memoiy, and gives orders to depart. 
The light breeze enables them to reach another harbor, 
a few miles distant ; one which, like the last, lies con 
cealed from the ocean by some other rocky isle. Ar- 
rived there, they react the scene of yesterday, crushing 
every egg they can find. For a week each night is pass- 
ed in drunkenness and brawls, until, having reached the 
last breeding place on the coast, they return, touch at 

320 Life of Audiihon. 

every isle in succession, shoot as many birds as they 
need, collect the fresh eggs, and lay in a cargo. At 
every step each ruffian picks up an, so beautiful that 
any man with a feeling heart would pause to consider the 
motive which could induce him to carry it off. But noth- 
ing of this sort occurs to the egger, who gathers and 
gathers until he has swept the rock bare. The dollars 
alone chink in his sordid mind, and he assiduously plies 
the trade which no man would ply who had the talents 
and industrv to procure subsistence by honorable means. 
With a bark nearly filled with fresh eggs they proceed to 
the principal rock, that on which they first landed. But 
what is their surprise when they find others there helping 
themselves as industriously as they can ! In boiling rage 
they charge their guns, and ply their oars. Landing on 
the rock, they run up to the eggers, who, like themselves, 
are desperadoes. The first question is a discharge of 
musketry ; the answer another : now, man to man, they 
fight like tigers. One is carried to his craft with a frac- 
tured skull, another limps with a shot in his leg, and a 
third feels how many of his teeth have been driven 
through the hole in his cheek. At last, however, the 
quarrel is settled, the booty is to be equally divided ; and 
now see them all drinking together. Oaths and curses 
and filthy jokes are all that you hear ; but see ! stuffed 
v/ith food, and reeling with drink, down they drop, one 
by one ; groans and execrations from the wounded mingle 
with the snorings of the heavy sleepers. There let the 
brutes lie ! Again it is dawn, but no one stirs. The sur^ 
is high ; one by one they o^Den their heavy eyes, stretch 
their limbs, yawn and raise themselves from the deck. 
But see a goodly company. A hundred honest fisher- 
men, who for months past have fed on salt meat, have 
felt a desire to procure some eggs. Gallantly their boats 
advance, impelled by the regular pull of their long oars. 

Fishermen* s parrels. 321 

Each buoyant bark displays the flag of its nation. No 
weapon do they bring, nor anything that can be used as 
such, save their oars and fists. Cleanly clad in Sunday 
attire, they arrive at the desired spot, and at once pre- 
pare to ascend the rock. The eggers, now numbering a 
dozen, all armed with guns and bludgeons, bid defiance 
to the fishermen. A few angry words pass between the 
parties. One of the eggers, still under the influence of 
drink, pulls his trigger, and an unfortunate sailor is seen 
to reel in agony. Three loud cheers fill the air. All at 
once rush on the malefactors : a horrid fight ensues, the 
result of which is that every egger is left on the rock 
beaten and bruised. Too frequently the fishermen man 
their boats, row to the shallops, and break every egg in 
the hold. The eggers of Labrador not only rob the 
birds in this cruel manner, but also the fishermen, when- 
ever they can find an opportunity ; and the quarrels they 
excite are numberless. While we were on the coast none 
of our party ever ventured on any of the islands, which 
these wretches call their own, without being well pro- 
vided with means of defence. On one occasion when I 
was present we found two eggers at their work of destruc- 
tion. I spoke to them respecting my visit, and offered 
them premiums for rare birds and some of their eggs ; 
but although they made fair promises, not one of the gang 
ever came near the Ripley. These people gather all the 
eider-down they can find, yet, so inconsiderate are the}', 
that they kill every bird that comes in their way. The 
pufiins and some other birds they massacre in vast num- 
bers for the sake of their feathers. The eggs of gulls, 
guillemots, and ducks are searched for with care also. 
So constant and persevering are their depredations, that 
these species, which, according to the accounts of the 
few settlers I saw in the country, were exceedingly abun- 
dant twenty years ago, have abandoned their ancient 

322 Life of Audubon. 

breeding-places, and removed much farther north, in 
search of peaceful security. Scarcely, in fact, could ] 
procure 'a young guillemot before the eggers had left the 
coast, nor was it until late in July that I succeeded, after 
the birds had laid three or four eggs each instead of one, 
and when nature having been exhausted, and the season 
nearly spent, thousands of these birds left the country 
without having accomplished the purpose for which they 
had visited it. This war of extermination cannot last 
many years more. The eggers themselves will be the 
first to repent the entire disap]Dearance of the myriads of 
birds that made the coast of Labrador their summer resi- 
dence, and unless they follow the persecuted tribes to the 
northward they must renounce their trade." 


^'otcs in Labrador — Indians — Civilities on Board the Quebec Cutter— 
The Fur Compatiy — Severe Weather — Winds and Rain — Excur- 
sions on Shore — Hut of a Labrador Seal- Catcher — Great Maca- 
tine Islands — Officers'' Bivouac Ashore. 

UNE 23. We met here two large boats loaded 
with Mountaineer Indians, about twenty, old 
and young, male and female. The boats had 
small canoes lashed to their sides, like whale boats, for 
seal fishing. The men were stout and good-looking, and 
spoke tolerable French ; their skins were redder and 
clearer than any other Indians I have ever seen. The 
women also appeared cleaner than usual, their hair was 
braided, and dangled over their shoulders, like so many 
short ropes. They were all dressed in European cos- 
tumes except their feet, on which coarse moccasins made 
of seal skin supplied the place of shoes. 

" On leaving the harbor this morning, we saw a black 
man-of-war-like looking vessel entering it, bearing the 
English flag ; it proved to be the Quebec cutter. I 
wrote a note to the commander, sent him my card, and 
requested an interview. He proved to be Captain Bay- 
field of the Royal Navy, the vessel was the Gulnare, and 
he replied that he would receive me in two hours. After 
dinner, taking some credentials in my pocket, I went 
aboard of the Gulnare, was politely received, and intro- 
duced to the surgeon, who seemed a man of ability, and 
is a student of botany and conchology. Thus the lovers 
of nature meet everywhere, but surely I did not expect to 

324 Life of Auduhon. 

meet a naturalist on the Labrador station. The first 
lieutenant is a student of ornithology, and is making col- 
lections. I showed a letter from the Duke of Sussex to 
the captain, and after a pleasant hour, and a promise 
from him to do anything in his power to aid us, I return- 
ed to our vessel. 

" Jjine 24. It was our intention to leave this harbor 
to-day for one fifty miles east, but the wind is ahead, and 
I have drawn all day. Shattuck and I took a walk over 
the dreary hills towards evening, and we found several 
flowers in bloom, among which was a small species of 
the Kulnua Glauca. We visited the camp of the Moun- 
taineer Indians about half a mile from us, and found 
them skinning seals, and preparing their flesh for use. 
We saw a robe the size of a good blanket made of seal 
skin, and tanned so soft and beautiful with the hair on, 
that it was as pleasant to the touch as a fine kid glove. 
They refused to sell it. The chief of this party is well 
informed, talks French so as to be understood, is a fine- 
looking fellow, about forty years old, and has a good- 
looking wife and baby. His brother also is married, and 
has several sons between fourteen and twenty. The 
whole group consists of about twenty persons. They 
came and saluted us soon after we landed, and to my as- 
tonishment offered us a glass of rum. The women were 
all seated outside of their tents, unpacking bundles of 
clothing and provisions. We entered one tent, and seat- 
ed ourselves before a blazing fire, the smoke of which 
escaped through the top of the apartment. To the many 
questions I put to the. chief and his brother, the following 
is the substance of his answers. 

" The country from this place to the nearest settle- 
ment of the Hudson Bay Company is as barren and 
rocky as this about us. Very large lakes of water abound 
two hundred miles inland from the sea : these lakes c6n- 

Extermination of Animals. 325 

tain carp, trout, white . fish, and many mussels vmfit to 
eat ; the latter are described as black outside and purple 
within, and are no doubt ' unios.' Not a bush is to be 
met with ; and the Indians who now and then cross that 
region carry their tent-poles with them, and also their 
canoes, and burn moss for fi.iel. So tedious is the trav- 
elling said to be, that not more than ten miles a day can 
be accomplished, and when the journey is made in two 
months, it is considered a good one. Wolves and black 
bears abound, but no deer nor caraboos are seen, and 
not a bird of any kind except wild geese and brants 
about the lakes, where they breed. When the journey is 
undertaken in winter, they go on snow shoes, without 
canoes. Fur animals are scarce, but a few beavers and 
otters, martins and sables, are caught, and some foxes and 
lynxes, while their numbers yearly diminish. Thus the 
Fur Company may be called the exterminating medium 
of these wild and almost uninhabitable regions, which cu- 
pidity or the love of money alone would induce man to 
venture into. Where can I now go and find nature un- 
disturbed ? 

" yune 25. Drawing all day until five o'clock, when 
I went to dine on board the Gulnare ; quite a bore to 
shave and dress in Labrador. The company consisted 
of the captain, doctor, and three other officers ; we had a 
good sea dinner, cod and mutton, good wine and some 
excellent snuff, of which I took a pinch or two. Conver- 
sation turned on Botany, politics, and the Established 
Church of England, and ranged away to hatching eggs 
by steam. I saw the maps the officers are making of 
the coast, and was struck with the great accuracy of the 
shape of our perfect harbor. I returned to our vessel at 
ten in the evening ; the weather is warm, and the mos- 
quitoes abundant and hungry. 

" jfune 26. We have now been wniting five days for 

326 Life of Auduhon. 

a fair wind to take us eastward in our explorations. The 
waters of all the streams we have seen are of a rusty col- 
or, probably derived from the decomposing mosses which 
form the soil on the rocks. The rivers seem to be the 
drain from swamps fed by rain and melting snow; the 
fioil in the low grounds is of quite a peaty nature. The 
freshets take down sand and gravel from the decom- 
posed rocks, and form bars at the mouths of all the 
rivers. Below the mouth of each stream is the best fish- 
ing ground for cod fish. They accumulate there to feed 
on the fry which run into the rivers to deposit their spawn, 
and which they follow again to sea, when they return to 
strike out into deep water. 

" It is quite remarkable how shy the agents of the 
Fur Company here are of strangers. They refused to 
sell me a salmon : and one of them told me he would be 
discharged if it were known he had done so. They 
evade all questions respecting the interior of the country, 
and indeed tell the most absurd things, to shock you, and 
cut short inquiries This is probably to prevent stran- 
gers from settling here, or interfering with their monop- 
oly. " 

Much of the journal of these dates in Labrador is 
taken uf) with an account of the birds, and nests, and 
eggs found here, and matters relating to ornithology. 
But as these notes were used by Mr. Audubon in compi- 
ling his " Biographies of the Birds," we have omitted 
them here, and used only that part of the records which 
have a more general interest. 

" yune 27. The morning dawned above rain and fogs, 
which so enveloped us below that we could scarcely dis- 
cern the shore, distant only a hundred yards. Drawing 
all day. 

" June 28. The weather shocking, rainy, foggy, dark, 
and cold. Began drawing a new finch I discovered, and 

At Sea. 327 

Dutlined another. At twelve the wind suddenly changed, 
and caused such a swell and rolling of the vessel, that I 
had to give up my drawing. After dinner the wind 
hauled to the south-west, and all was bustle, heaving up 
anchor, loosing sails, and getting ready for sea. AVe 
were soon under weight and went out of the harbor in 
good style ; but the sea was high, and we were glad to go 
to our beds. 

" yime 29. At three o'clock this morning we were 
about fifteen miles from land, and fifty from American 
Harbor. The thermometer was 54°, and the wind light 
and favorable ; at ten the breeze freshened, but our pilot 
did not know the land, and the captain had to find a har- 
bor for himself We passed near an island covered with 
foolish guillemots, and came to for the purpose of landing 
on it, which we did through a great surf; there we found 
two eggers searching the rocks for eggs. They told us 
they visited all the islands in the vicinity, and obtained 
fresh eggs every day. They had eight hundred dozen, 
and expected to increase them to two thousand dozen 
before they returned to Halifax. The quantities of bro- 
ken eggs on this and all the islands where eggs are 
obtained, causes a stench which is scarcely endurable. 
From this island we went to another about a mile distant, 
and caught many birds and collected many eggs. 

" yune 30. I have drawn three birds to-day since eight 
o'clock. Thermometer 50°. 

" yuly I. The thermometer 48^, and the weather so 
cold that it has been painful for me to draw, but I worked 
all day. 

" yiily 2. A beautiful day for Labrador. Went ashore 
and killed nothing, but was pleased with what I saw. 
The country is so grandly wild and desolate, that I am 
charmed by its wonderful dreariness. Its mossy gray- 
clad rocks, heaped and thrown together in hu^e masses, 

328 Life of Auduhon. 

hanging on smaller ones, as if about to roll down from 
their insecure resting-places into the sea below them. 
Ba3'S without end,, sprinkled wilh thousands of rocky- 
inlets of all sizes, shapes, and appearances, and wild 
birds everywhere, was the scene presented before me. 
Besides this there was a peculiar cast of the uncertain 
sky, butterflies flitting over snow-banks, and probing un- 
folding dwarf flowerets of many hues, pushing out their 
tender stems through the thick beds of moss which every- 
where covers the granite rock. Then there is the morass, 
wherein you plunge up to your knees, or the walking over 
the stubborn, dwarfish shrubbery, whereby one treads 
down the forests of Labrador ; and the unexpected bunt- 
ing or Sylvia which perchance, and indeed as if by chance 
alone, you now and then see flying before you, or hear 
singing from the ground creeping plant. The beautiful 
fresh-water lakes, deposited on the rugged crests of great- 
ly elevated islands, wherein the red and black divers 
swim as proudly as swans do in other latitudes ; and 
wherein the fish appear to have been cast as strayed be- 
ings from the surplus food of the sea. All, all is wonder- 
fully wild and grand, ay, terrific. And yet how beautiful 
it is now, when your eye sees the wild bee, moving from 
one flower to another in search of food, which doubtless 
is as sweet to her as the essence of the orange and mag- 
nolia is to her more favored sister in Louisiana. The 
little ring-plover rearing its delicate and tender young ; 
the eider duck swimming man-of-war-like amid her float- 
ing brood, like the guard-ship of a most valuable convoy ; 
the white-crowned bunting's sonorous note reaching your 
ears ever and anon ; the crowds of sea-birds in search of 
places wherein to repose or to feed. I say how beautiful 
all this, in this wonderful rocky desert at this season, the 
beginning of July, compared with the horrid blasts of 
winter which here predominate by the will of God ; when 

Rough Weather. 329 

every rock is hidden beneath snow so deep, that every 
•step the traveller takes, he is in danger of falling in his 
grave ; while avalanches threaten him from above, and if 
he lifts his eyes to the horizon, he sees nothing but dark 
clouds filled with frost and snow, and inspiring him with 
a feeling of despair. 

" jfiilu 3. We have had a stiff easterly wind all da}', 
rainy, and the water so rough we could not go ashore, for 
plants to draw, until late in the afternoon. The view of 
the sea from the highest rocks was grand, the small islands 
were covered with the foam and surf thrown up by the 
agitated ocean. Thank God that we are not tossing on 
its billows. 

" yiily 4. Two parties went out to-day to get birds and 
plants, and I remained on board all day drawing. Cap- 
tain Bayfield sent us a quarter of mutton for our fourth 
of July dinner, and I dare say it is a rarity on this coast 
of Labrador, even on this day. 

" yiily 5. Thermometer 5 o"^. I drew from four o'clock 
this morning until three this afternoon, and then went on 
an expedition for a few miles to a large rough island, 
which I traversed until I was weary, for walking on this 
spongy moss of Labrador is a task no one can imagine 
without trying it ; at every step the foot sinks in a deep 
moss cushion, which closes over it, and requires consid- 
erable exertion to draw it up. When the moss is over a 
marshy tract, then you sink a couple of feet deep every 
step you take, and to reach a bare rock is delightful, and 
quite a relief. This afternoon the country looked more 
terrifyingly wild than ever, the dark clouds throwing their 
shadows on the stupendous masses of rugged rocks, pre- 
sented one of the wildest pictures of nature that the eye 
can find to look on anywhere. 

" y'^b' 6- Thermometer 48°. At noon my fingers 
R'cre so coM that I could no longer hold my pencil tc 

330 Life of Auduhon. 

draw, and I was compelled to go on shore for exercise. 
The fact is I am growing old too fast, alas ! I feel it, and 
yet work I will, and may God grant me life to see the last 
plate of my mammoth work finished. 

" July 7. Drawing all day ; finished the female grouse 
and five young ones, and preparing the male bird. 

" July 8. Rainy, dirty weather, wind east, thermome- 
ter 48°. Began drawing at half-past three a.m, but my 
condition very disagreeable in such weather. The fog 
collects and falls in large drops from the rigging on my 
table, and now and then I am obliged to close the sky- 
light, and work almost in darkness. Notwithstanding, I 
have finished my plate of the cock ptarmigan. 

" July 9. The wind east, wet, disagreeable, and foggy. 
This is the most wonderful climate in the world ; the 
thermometer 52°, mosquitoes in profusion, plants bloom- 
ing by millions, and at eveiy step you tread on flowers 
such as would be looked on in more temperate climates 
with pleasure. I only wish • I could describe plants as 
well as I can the habits of birds. I have drawn all day 
on the loon, a most difficult bird to imitate. 

" July 10. Thermometer 54°. Could I describe one 
of those dismal gales which blow ever and anon over this 
dismal country, it would probably be interesting to any 
one unacquainted with the inclemency of this climate. 
Nowhere else are the north-east blasts, which sweep over 
Labrador, felt as they are here. But I cannot describe 
them. All I can say is, that while we are safe in a land- 
locked harbor, their effects on our vessel ai'e so strong, 
that they will not allow me to draw, and sometimes send 
some of us to our beds. And what the force of these 
horrid blasts outside of the harbor at sea is I can hardly 
imagine ; but it seems as if it would be impossible for any 
vessel to ride safely before them, and that they will rend 
these rocky islands asunder. The rain is driven in sheets, 

Effects of the Storm. 331 

and falls with difficulty vipon its destination of sea or land; 
Nay, I cannot call it rain, as it is such a thick cloud of 
water, that all objects at a distance are lost sight of at 
intervals of three or four minutes, and the waters around 
us come up and beat about in our rock-bound harbor, as 
a newly caught and caged bird beats against the wire 
walls of his prison cage. 

'■'■July II. The gale or hurricane of yesterday subsi- 
ded about midnight, and at sunrise this morning the sky 
was clear and the horizon fiery red. It was my inten- 
tion to have gone one hundred miles further north, but 
our captain says I must be content here. 

" On rambling over the numerous bays and inlets, 
which are scattered by thousands along this coast, as 
pebbles are on a common sand beach, one sees immense 
beds of round stones (boulders ?) of all sizes, and some 
of large dimensions, rolled side by side, and piled up in 
heaps, as if cast there by some great revolution of nature. 
I have seen many such places, and always look on them 
with astonishment, because they seem to have been vom- 
ited up by the sea, and cast hundreds of yards inland, by 
its powerful retchings ; and this gives some idea of what 
a hurricane at Labrador can do. . 

" July 12. Thermometer 48°, and it is raining hard, 
and blowing another gale from the east, and the vessel 
rocks so much that I am unable to finish my drawing. 

" July 13. Rose this morning at half-past three, and 
found the wind north-east, and but little of it. The 
weather is cloudy and dull, as it is always here after a 
storm. I was anxious to stay on board, and finish the 
di awing of a grouse I had promised to Dr. Kelly of the 
Gulnare, But at seven the wind changed, and we pre- 
pared to leave our fine harbor. We beat out to sea, and 
made our course for the harbor of Little Macatine, dis- 
tant forty-three miles. By noon the wind died away, but 

22^ ^if^ of Auduhon. 

the sea rolled, and we were all sea-sick, and glad to go to 
our berths. 

" ytily 14. Awoke this morning to find a cold north- 
east wind blowing, and ourselves twenty miles from our 
/iestinatioh, a hea\^ sea beating against the vessel's bows, 
as she is slowly beating tack after tack against the wind. 
We are in despair of reaching our destination to-day. 
Towards evening however the wind favored us, and as we 
approached the island, it proved the highest land we have 
seen, and looked rugged and horrid. 

"When we came within a mile and ahalf of the shore 
we took a small boat, and pushed off for the land. As 
we came near it, the rocks appeared stupendously high 
and rough, and frowned down on our little boat, as we 
moved along and doubled the little cape which made one 
side of the entrance of Macatine's Harbor, but it looked 
so small to me, that I doubted if it were the place ; and 
the shores were horribly wild, fearfully high and rough, 
and nothing but the croaking of a pair of ravens was 
heard mingling with the dismal sound of the surge which 
dashed on the rocky ledges, and sent the foaming water 
into the air. 

" By the time we reached the shore the wind began to 
freshen, the Ripley's sails now swelled, and she cut her 
way through the water, and rounded the point of land 
which formed part of the harbor, and shot ahead towards 
the place where we were standing. Our harbor repre- 
sents the bottom of a large bowl, in the centre of which 
our vessel is anchored, surrounded by rocks full a thou- 
sand feet high, and the wildest looking place I was ever 
in. We went aboard, ate a hasty supper, and all scam- 
pered ashore again, and climbed the nearest hills. But 
John, Shattuck, and myself went up the harbor, and as- 
cended to the top of a mountain (for I cannot call it a 
hill), and there we saw the crest of the island beneath our 

Macatine Harbor, 233 

feet, all rocks, barren, bare rocks, wild as the wildest 
Apennines. The moss was only a few inches deep, and 
the soil beneath it so moist, that whenever the declivities 
were much inclined, the whole slipped from under us like 
an avalanche, and down we would slide for feet, and 
sometimes yards. The labor of climbing was excessive, 
and at the bottom of each ravine the scrub bushes inter- 
cepted us for twenty or thirty paces, and we scrambled 
over them with great effort and fatigue. On our return 
we made one slide of forty or fifty feet, and brought up 
in a little valley or pit filled with moss and mire. 

"■July 15. We rose and breakfasted at three o'clock, 
every one being eager to go ashore and explore this wild 
country. But the wind was east, and the prospects of 
fine weather not good. But two boats' crews of young 
men rowed off in different directions, while I renewed my 
drawing. By ten the rain poured, and the boats returned. 

" July 16. Another day of dirty weather, and obliged 
to remain on board nearly all the day. Thermometer 
52", mosquitoes plent}'. This evening the fog is so thick, 
that we cannot see the summit of the rocks around us. 

" y^''h' 17- Mosquitoes so annoyed me last night that 
I did not close my eyes. I tried the deck of the vessel, 
and although the fog was as thick as fine rain, the air was 
filled with tl^iese insects, and I went below and fought 
them until daylight, when I had a roaring fire made and 
got rid of them. I have been drawing part of the day, 
and besides several birds, I have outlined one of the 
mountainous hills near our vessel, as a back-ground to my 
willow grouse. 

" July 18. After breakfast, all hands except the cook 
left the Ripley, in three boats, to visit the main shore, 
about five miles off The fog was thick, but the wind 
promised fair weather, and soon fulfilled its promise. 
Directly after landing our party found a large extent of 

334 Life of Audubon. 

marsh land, the first we have seen in this country ; the 
soil was wet, our feet sank in it, and walking was tire- 
some. We also crossed a large savannah of many miles 
in extent. Its mosses were so wet and spongy, that 1 
never in my life before experienced so much difficulty in 
travelling. In many places the soil appeared to wave 
and bend under us like old ice in the spring of the year, 
and we expected at each step to break through the sur- 
face, and sink into the mire below. In the middle of this 
quagmire we met with a fine small grove of good-sized 
white birch trees, and a few pines full forty feet high, 
quite a novelty in this locality. 

" From the top of a high rock I obtained a good view 
of the most extensive and dreary wilderness I ever be- 
held. It chilled the heart to gaze on these barrens of 
Labrador. Indeed I now dread every change of harbor, 
so homdly rugged and dangerous is the whole coast and 
country to the eye, and to the experienced man either of 
the sea or the land. Mosquitoes, many species of horse- 
flies, small bees, and black gnats fill the air. The frogs 
croaked, and yet the thermometer was not above 55°. 
This is one of the real wonders of this extraordinary 
country. The parties in the boats, hunting all day, 
brought back but nineteen birds, and we all concluded 
that no one man could provide food for himself here from 
the land alone. 

" July 19. Cold, wet, blowing, and too much motion 
of the vessel for drawing. In the evening it cleared up 
a little, and I went ashore, and visited the hut of a seal- 
fishei'. We climbed over one rocky precipice and fissure 
after another, holding on to the moss with both hands 
and feet, for about a mile, when we came to the deserted 
hut of a Labrador seal-catcher. It looked snug outside, 
and we walked in ; it was floored with short slabs, all 
very well greased with seal oil. A fire-oven without a 

One Fine Day. 23 S 

pipe, a salt-box hung to a wooden peg, a three-legged 
stool for a table, and wooden box for a bedstead, were all 
its furniture. An old flour-barrel, containing some hun- 
dreds of seine floats, and an old seal seine, comprised 
the assets of goods and chattels. Three small windows, 
with four panes of glass each, were still in pretty good 
order, and so was the low door, w^iich swung on vooden 
hinges, for which I will be bound the maker had asked 
for no patent. The cabin was made of hewn logs, 
brought from the mainland, about twelve feet square, and 
well jDut together. It was roofed with birch bark and 
spruce, well thatched with moss a foot thick; every 
chink was crammed with moss, and every aperture render- 
ed air-tight with oakum. But it was deserted and aban- 
doned. The seals are all caught, and the sailors have 
nothing to do now-a-days. We found a pile of good hard 
wood close to the cabin, and this we hope to appro- 
priate to-morrow. I found out that the place had been 
inhabited by two Canadians, by the chalk marks on the 
walls, and their almanac on one of the logs ran thus : L 
24, M 25, M 26, I 27, V 28, S 29, D So, giving the first 
letter of the day of the week. On returning to the ves- 
sel, I stopped several times to look on the raging waves 
rolling in upon the precipitous rocks below us, and thought 
how dreadful it would be for any one to be wrecked on 
this inhospitable shore. The surges of surf which rolled 
in on the rocks were forty or fifty feet high where they 
dashed on the precipices beneath us, and any vessel cast 
ashore there must have been immediately dashed to 

" y^ify 20. The country of Labrador deserves credit foi 
one fine day. This has been, until evening, calm, warm, 
and really such a day as one might expect in the Middle 
States about the middle of May. I drew until ten 
o'clock, and then made a trip to the island next to us, 

^2^ Life of Audubon. 

and shot several birds. We passed several small bays, 
where we found vast quantities of stones thrown up by 
the sea, and some of them of enormous size. I now 
think that these stones are brought from the sea on the 
thick drift ice, or icebergs, which come down from the 
arctic regions, and are driven in here and broken by the 
jagged rocks ; they are stranded, and melt, and leave 
these enormous pebbles in layers from ten to one hundred 
feet deep. 

"y?//y 21. I write now from a harbor which has no 
name, for we have mistaken it for the one we were look- 
ing for, which lies two miles east of this. But it matters 
little, for the coast of Labrador is all alike, comfortless, 
cold, and foggy. We left the Little Macatine this morning 
at five o'clock, with a stiff south-west breeze, and by ten 
dropped anchor where we now are. As we doubled the 
cape of the island called Great Macatine, we had the 
pleasure of meeting the officers of the Gulnare, in two 
boats, engaged in surveying the coast. We made an ex- 
cursion into the island, but found nothing of interest. 

" In the evening we visited the officers of the Gulnare, 
encamped in tents on shore, living in great comfort ; the 
tea-things were yet on the iron bedstead which served as 
a table, the trunks formed their seats, and the clothes- 
bags their cushions and pillows. Their tent was made 
of tarred cloth, which admitted neither wind nor rain. It 
was a comfortable camp, and we were pleased to find 
ourselves on the coast of Labrador in company with in- 
telligent officers of the royal navy of England, gentlemen 
of education and refined manners ; it was indeed a treat, 
a precious one. We talked of the wild country around 
us, and of the enormous destruction of everything which 
is going on here, except of the rocks ; of the aborigines, 
who are melting away before the encroachments of a 
stronger race, as the wild animals are disappearing before 

Whale Fishers. ^Zl 

them. Some one said, it is rum wliich is destroying the 
poor Indians. I replied, I think not, they are disappear- 
ing here from insufficiency of food and physical comforts, 
and the loss of all hope, as he loses sight of all that was 
abundant before the white man came, intruded on his 
land, and his herds of wild animals, and deprived him of 
the furs with which he clothed himself. Nature herself 
is perishing. Labrador must shortly be depopulated, not 
only of her aboriginal men, but of every thing and ani- 
mal which has life, and attracts the cupidity of men. 
When her fish, and game, and birds are gone, she will be 
left alone like an old worn-out field." 
'-^ " July 2 2. This morning Captain Bayfield and his 
officers came alongside to bid us good-bye, to pursue their 
labors further westward. After breakfast we manned 
three boats, and went to explore a small harbor about 
one mile east of our anchorage. There we found a whal- 
ing schooner, fifty-five tons burthen, from Cape Gaspe. 
We found the men employed in boiling blubber in a large 
iron vessel like a sugar-boiler. The blubber lay in heaps 
on the shore, in junks of six or eight pounds each, look- 
ing filthy enough. The captain or owner of the- vessel 
appeared to be a good sensible man of his class, and cut 
off forme some strips of the whale's skin from under the 
throat, with large and curious barnacles attached to the 
skin. They had struck four whales, and three had sunk, 
and weie lost to them. This, the men said, was a very 
rare occurrence. We found, also, at this place, a French 
Canadian seal-catcher, from whom I gathered the follow- 
ing information. 

" This portion of Labrador is free to any one to settle 
on, and he and another person had erected a cabin, and 
had nets and traps to catch seals and foxes, and guns to 
shoot bears and wolves. They take their quarry to Que- 
bec, receiving fifty cents a gallon for seal oil, and from 

338 Life of Auduhon. 

three to five guineas for black and silver fox skins, and 
others in proportion. In the months of November and 
December, and indeed until spring, they kill seals in 
large numbers ; seventeen men belonging to their party 
killed twenty-five hundred seals once in three days. This 
great feat was done with short sticks, and each seal was 
killed with a single blow on the snout, whilst lying on tlie 
edges of the floating or field ice. The seals are carried 
home on sledges drawn by Esquimaux dogs, which are so 
well trained that, on reaching home, they push the seals 
from the sledges with their noses, and return to the kil- 
lers with regular despatch. (Th's, reader, is hearsay !) 
At other times the seals are driven into nets, one after 
another, until the poor animals become so hampered and 
confined, that they are easily and quickly dispatched with 
gmis. The captain showed me a spot, within a few yards 
of his log cabin, where last winter he caught six fine large 
silver-gray foxes. Bears and caraboos abound during 
winter, and also wolves, hares and porcupines. The 
wolves are of a dun color, very ferocious and daring ; a 
pack of thirty followed a man to his cabin, and they have 
several times killed his dogs at his own door. I was 
surprised at this, because his dogs were as large as any 
wolves I have ever seen. These dogs are extremely trac- 
table, so much so that, when geardU into a sledge, the 
leader immediately starts at the word of command for any 
given course, and the whole pack gallop off at the rate of 
seven or eight miles an hour. The Esquimaux dogs howl 
like wolves, and are not at all like our common dogs. 
They were extremely gentle, and came to us, and jumped 
on and caressed us as if we were old acquaintances. They 
do not take to the water, and are fit only for draught and 
the chase of caraboos ; and they are the only dogs which 
can at all near the caraboo while running. 

" As soon as winter storms and thick ice close the 

Esquimaux Dogs. ^39 

harbors and the intermediate spaces between the main- 
land and the sea islands, the caraboos are seen moving on 
the ice in great herds, first to the islands, where the snow 
is most likely to be drifted, because there in in the shal- 
lows — fi'om which the snow has blown away — he easily 
scrapes down to the mosses, which at this season are the 
only food they can find. As the severity of winter in- 
creases, these animals follow the coast northwest, and 
gradually reach a comparatively milder climate. But 
notwithstanding all this, on their return in the spring, 
which is as regular as the migration of the birds, they are 
so poor and emaciated, that the men take pity on them, 
and will not kill them. Merciful beings, these white 
men! They spare life when the flesh is off from their 
bones, and there is no market for their bones at hand, 

" The otter is tolerably abundant here. These are 
chiefly trapped at the foot of the waterfalls, to which they 
resort, being the latest to freeze and the earliest to thaw 
in spring. A few martins and sables are caught, but every 
year reduces their number. This Frenchman receives 
his supplies from Quebec, where he sends his furs and 
oil. The present time he calls ' the idle season,' and he 
loiters about his cabin, lies in the sunshine like a seal, 
eats, drinks, and sleeps his life away, careless of the bu^y 
world, and of all that is going on there. His partner h s 
gone to Quebec, and his dogs are h:s on'y companions 
until he returns ; . and the dogs, perhaps, are the better 
animal of the two. He has selected a delightful site for 
his castle, under the protection of an island, and on the 
south side, where I found the atmosphere quite warm, 
and the vegetation actually rank, for I saw plants with 
leaves twelve inches broad, and grasses three feet high. 

" This afternoon the wind has been blowing a tre- 
mendous gale, and our anchors have dragged with sbcty 
fathoms of chain out. Yet one of the whaler's boats 

340 Life of Auduhon. 

came with six men to pay us a visit. They wished to see 
some of my drawings^ and I gratified them; and in re- 
turn they promised to show me a whale before it was out 
up, should they catch one before we leave this place for 
Bras d'Or. 

" July 23. We visited to-day the seal establishment of 
a Scotchman, named Robertson, about six miles east of 
our anchorage. He received us politely, addressed me 
by name, and told me he had received infonnation of my 
visit to this country through the English and Canadian 
newspapers. This man has resided here twenty years, 
and married a Labrador lady, the daughter of a Monsieur 
Chevalier of Bras d'Or ; has a family of six children, and 
a good-looking wife. He has a comfortable house, and a 
little garden, in which he raises a few turnips, potatoes, 
and other vegetables. He appeared to be lord of all these 
parts, and quite contented with his lot. He told me that 
his profits last year amounted to three thousand dollars. 
He does not trade with the Indians, of whom we saw 
about twenty of the Mountaineer tribe, and he has white 
men-servants. His seal-oil tubs were full, and he was 
then engaged in loading a schooner bound to Quebec. 
He complained of the American fishermen, and said they 
often acted as badly as pirates towards the Indians, the 
white settlers, and the eggers, all of whom have more than 
once retaliated, when bloody combats have followed. He 
assured me tliat he had seen a fisherman's crew kill 
th6usands of guillemots in a day, pluck off their feathers, 
and throw their bodies into the sea. 

" Mr. Robertson also told me that, during mild* win- 
ters, hii little" harbor is covered with thousands of white 
fulls, and that they all leave on the appproach of spring. 
The travelling here is altogether over the ice, which is 
covered with snow, and in sledges drawn by Esquimaux 
dcgs, of which this man keeps a famous pack. He often 

Esquimaux Dogs. 341 

goes to Bras d'Or, seventy-five miles distant, with his wife 
and children on one sledge, drawn by ten dogs. Scarcely 
any travelling is done on land, the country is so precipi- 
tous and broken. Fifteen miles north of here he says 
there is a lake, represented by the Indians as four hun- 
dred miles long and one hundred broad, and that this 
sea-like lake is at times as rough as the ocean in a storm. 
It abounds with fish, and some water-birds resort there, 
and breed by millions along its margin. We have had a 
fine day, but Mr. R. says that the summer has been un- 
usually tempestuous. The cariboo flies drove our hunt- 
ers on board to-day, and they looked as bloody as if they 
had actually had a gouging fight with some rough Ken- 
tuckians. Here we found on this wonderful wild coast 
some newspapers from the United States, and received 
the latest intelligence from Boston to be had at Labra- 

"y///v 24 and 25 were engaged in hunting birds and 
.(rawing, and contain much valuable information on 
ornithology, which is given in the " Birds of America." 

" yuly 26. We left our anchorage, and sailed with a 
fair wind to visit the Chevalier's settlement, called Bonne 
Esperance, forty-seven miles distant. When we had gone 
two-thirds of the distance the wind failed us ; calms were 
followed by severe squalls, and a tremendous sea rolled, 
which threatened to shake our masts out. At eight 
o'clock, however, we came abreast of the settlement, but 
as our pilot knew notliing of the harbor, the captain 
thought it prudent to stand off", and proceed on to Bras 
d'Or. The coast here, like all that we have seen before, 
was dotted with rocky islands of all sizes and forms, and 
against which the raging waves dashed in a frightful man- 
ner, making us shudder at the thought of the fate of the 
wretched mariners who might be thrown on them. 

*' y^u/y 27. At daylight tliis morning we found our- 

342 Life of Audubon. 

selves at the mouth of Bras d'Or Harbor, where we are 
now snugly moored. We hoisted our colors, and Cap- 
tain Billings, of American Harbor, came to us in his 
Hampton boat, and piloted us in. This Bras d'Or is the 
grand rendezvous c>f almost all the fishermen, that resort 
to this coast for cod-fish ; and we found here a flotilla of 
one hundred and fifty sails, principally fore-and-aft 
schooners, and mostly from Halifax and the eastern 
parts of the United States. 

" There was a life and bustle in the harbor which 
surprised us, after so many weeks of wilderness and lone- 
liness along the rocky coast. Boats were moving to and 
fro over the whole bay, going after fish, and returning 
loaded to the gunwale ; some with seines, others with 
caplings, for bait, and a hundred or more anchored out 
about a mile from us, hauling the poor cod-fish by thou- 
sands, and hundreds of men engaged in cleaning and 
salting them, and enlivening their work with Billingsgate 
slang, and stories, and songs. 

" As soon as breakfast was over we went ashore, and 
called on Mr. Jones, the owner of the seal-fishing estab- 
lishment here, a rough, brown-looking Nova-Scotia man, 
who received us well, and gave us considerable infonna- 
tion respecting the birds which visit his neighborhood. 
This man has forty Esquimaux dogs, and he entertained 
us with an account of his travels with them in winter. 
They are harnessed with a leather collar, belly and back 
bands, through the upper part of which the line of seal- 
skin passes which is attached to the sledge, and it serves 
the double purpose of a rein and trace to draw with. An 
odd number of dogs is used for the gang einployed in 
drawing the sledge, the number varying according to the 
distance to be travelled or the load to be carried. Each 
dog is estimated to carry two hundred pounds, and to 
travel with that load at the rate of five or six miles an 

Sledge Riding. 343 

hour. The leader, which is ahvays a well-broken dog, is 
placed ahead of the pack, with a draft line of from six to 
ten fathoms in length, and the rest with successively 
shorter ones, until they come to within eight feet of the 
sledge. They are not coupled, however, as they aie 
usually represented in engravings, but are attached each 
loose from all others, so that when they are in motion, 
travelling, they appear like a flock of partridges all flying 
loosel}', and yet all the same course. They always 
travel in a gallop, no matter what the state of the country 
may be. Going down hill is most difficult and danger- 
ous, and at times it is necessary for the rider to guide 
the sledge with his feet, as boys steer their sleds sliding 
down hills, and sometimes it is done by long poles stuck 
into the snow. When the sledge is heavily laden, and 
the descent steep, the dogs are often taken off, and the 
vehicle made to slide clown the precipice by the man 
alone, who lies flat on the sledge, and guides it with his 
toes from behind, as he descends head-foremost. The 
clogs are so well acquainted with the courses and places 
in the neighborhood, that they never fail to take their 
master and his sledge to the house where he wishes them 
to go, even should a severe snow-storm come on while 
they are on the journey ; and it is always saP-r for the 
rider at such times to trust to the instincts of the dogs, 
than to attempt to guide them by his own judgment. 
Cases have occurred where men have done this, and paid 
the penalty by freezing to death in a desolate wilderness. 
In such cases the faithful dogs, if left to themselves, 
make directly for their home. 

" When two travellers meet on a journe}', it is neces- 
sary for both parties to come circuitously and slowly to- 
wards each other, and give the separate packs the oppor- 
tunity of observing that their masters are acquainted, or 
otherwise a fight might ensue between the dogs. Mr. 

344 ^^f^ of Audubon. 

Jones lost a son, fourteen years of age, a few years ago 
'in the snow, in consequence of a servant imprudently 
turning the clogs from their course, thinking they were 
wrong. The dogs obeyed the command, and took them 
towards Hudson's Bay. When the weather cleared the 
servant found his mistake ; but, alas ! it was too late for 
the tender boy, and he froze to death in the servant's 

" We saw also to-day the carcasses of fifteen hundred 
seals stripped of their skins, piled up in a heap, and the 
dogs feeding on them. The stench filled the air for half 
a mile around. They tell us the dogs feed on this filthy 
flesh until the next seal season, tearing it piecemeal when 
frozen in winter. 

" Mr. Jones's house was being painted white, his oil- 
tubs were full, and the whole establishment was perfumed 
with odors which were not agreeable to my olfactory 
nerves. The snow is to be seen in large patches on 
every hill around us, while the borders of the water- 
courses are fringed with grasses and weeds as rank as 
any to be found in the Middle States in like situations. 
I saw a small brook with fine trout, but what pleased me 
more was to find the nest of the shore-lark ; it was em- 
bedded in moss, so exactly the color of the bird, that 
when the mother sat on it, it was impossible to distin- 
guish her. We see Newfoundland in the distance, look- 
ing like high mountains, whose summits are far above 
the clouds at present. Two weeks since the harbor 
where we now are was an ice-field, and not a vessel 
could approach it ; since then the ice has sunk, and none 
is to be seen far or near. 

" yuly 28. A tremendous gale has blown all da}', and 
I have been drawing. The captain and the rest of our 
company went off in the storm to visit Blanc Sablons, 
four miles distant. The fishermen have cori-upted die 

» 'The Fuligula Fusca. 345 

French name into the EngUsh of " Nancy Belong." To- 
wards evening the storm abated, and although it is now 
ahnost calm, the sea lams high, and the Ripley rolls in a 
way which makes our suppers rest unquietly in our 
stomachs. We have tried in vain to get some Esquimaux 
mocassins and robes ; and we also asked to hire one of 
them, to act as a guide for thirty or forty miles into the 
interior. The chief said his son might go, a boy of 
twenty-three, but he would have to ask his mother, as she 
was always fearing some accident to her darling. This 
darling son looked more like a brute than a Christian 
man, and was so daring, that he would not venture on 
our journey. 

" We proceeded over the table-lands towards some 
ponds, and I found three young shore-larks just out of 
the nest, and not yet able to fly. They hopped about 
pretty briskly over the moss, uttering a SQitpeeJ>, to which 
the parent birds responded at every call. They were 
about a week old, and I am glad that I shall now have 
it in my power to make a figure of these birds in sum- 
mer, winter, and young plumage. We also found the 
breeding-place of the Fuligula Histrionica, in the corner 
of a small pond in some low bushes. The parent bird 
was so shy, that we could not obtain her. In another 
pond we found the nest also of the velvet duck, called 
here white-winged coot (Fuligula Fusca) ; it was placed 
on the moss, among the grass, close to the edge of the 
water, and contained feathers, but no down, as others do. 
The female had six young, five of which were secured. 
They were about one week old, and I could readily dis- 
tinguish the male birds from the females, the former all 
exhibiting the white spot under the eye. They were 
black and hairy (not downy) all over except under the 
chin, where a patch of white showed itself They swam 
swiftly and beautifully, and when we drove them into a 

346 Life of Audubon. • 

narrow place, for the purjX)se of getting them on land 
and catching them alive, they turned about face and dived 
most beautifully, and made their way towards the mid- 
dle of the pond, where four were shot at one discharge. 
Another went on shore and squatted in the grass, where 
Lincoln caught it ; but I begged for its life, and we left 
it to the care of its mother and of the Maker ! The 
mother showed all imaginable anxiety, and called to her 
young all the while she remained in the pond, with a 
short squeaking note by no means unpleasant, 

"y«/)'29. Bras d'Or. Another horrid stormy day ; 
the fishermen complain, although five or six left the har- 
bor for further east ; and I wish them joy, but for my 
part I wish I was further westward. Our party of young 
men went off this morning early to a place called Port 
Eau, eighteen miles distant, to try to buy some Esqui- 
maux mocassins and dresses. They will not come back 
till to-morrow, and I was glad when the boat returned, 
as I was sure they were on terra firma. I feel quite lone- 
some on account of their absence, for when all are on 
board we have lively times, with music, and stories, and 
jokes, and journalizing. But ] have amused myself draw- 
ing three young shore-larks, the first ever portrayed by 

" These birds are just now beginning to congregate, 
by associating their families together; even those of 
which the young are scarcely able to fly fifty yai^ds are 
urging the latter to follow the flock ; so much for short 
seasons here. In one month all these birds must leave 
this coast or begin to suffer. The young of many birds 
are now fledged, and scamper over the rocks about us, 
amid the stinking drying cod-fish, with all the sprightli- 
ness of youth. The young ravens are out, and fly in 
flocks with their parents also ; and the young of almost 
all the land birds are full fledged. The ducks alone 

An Iceberg Crushed. 34-7 

seem to me to be backward in their growth, but being 
more hardy, they can stand the rigidity of the chmate 
until the month of October, when the deep snows drive 
tliem off, ready or not, for their toilsome journey. 

" The water of our harbor is actually covered with 
oil, and the bottom fairly covered with the offal of cod- 
fish, so that I feel as if smelling and breathing an air 
impregnated with the esse? ce of cod-fish. 

" Jidy 30. The morning was beautiful when I arose, 
but such a thing as a beautiful morning in this mournful 
country amounts almost to an unnatural phenomenon. 
The captain and myself visited Mr. Jones this afternoon. 
We found his wife a good motherly woman, who talked 
well, and gave us some milk ; she also promised us some 
fresh butter, and asked to see my drawings of the birds 
of this vicinity. 

" At Port Eau our young men saw an iceberg of im- 
mense size. At that place there is a large fishing estab- 
lishment, having a store connected with it, belonging to 
fishermen who come yearly from the Island of Jersey. 
It is again blowing a young hurricane. 

" yidy 31. Another horrid hurricane, accompanied by 
heavy rain, and the vessel rolling so that I cannot go on 
with my drawing. 

'■'•August I. The weather has quite changed, the wind 
blows from the south-west ; it s dry, and I have used 
the time in drawing. At noon we were visited by an ice- 
berg, which was driven by the easterly wind and storm 
of yesterday to within three miles of us, and grounded at 
the entrance of the bay. It looks like a large man-of- 
war, dressed in light greenish muslin instead of canvas ; 
and when the sun shines on it it glitters most brilliantly. 

" When these transient monuments of the sea happen 
to tumble or roll over, the fall is tremendous, and the 
sound produced resembles that of loud distant thunder. 

•^48 Life of Auduhon. 

These icebergs are common here all summer, being waft- 
ed from the lower end of the straits with every heavy 
easterly wind or gale. And as the winds generally pre- 
vail from the south and south-west, the coast of New- 
foundland is more free from them than Labrador ; and 
the navigation along the straits is generally performed 
along the coast of Newfoundland. My time and our 
days now weigh heavily on our hands ; nothing to be 
seen, nothing to be shot, therefore nothing to be drawn. 
I have now determined on a last thorough ransack of 
the mountain tops, and plains, and ponds, and if no suc- 
cess follows, to raise anchor and sail towards the United 
States once more ; and blessed will the day be when I 
land on those dear shores where all I long for in this 
world exists and lives, I hope. 

'■'■August 2. Thermometer 58° at noon. Thank God 
it has rained all day. I say thank God, though rain is 
no rarity, because it is the duty of every man to be thank- 
ful for whatever happens by the will of the Omnipotent 
Creator ; yet it was not so agreeable to any of my party 
as a fine day would have been. We had an arrival of a 
handsome schooner, called the Wizard, from Boston to- 
da}^, but she brought neither papers nor letters ; but we 
learned that all our great cities have a healthy season, 
and we thanked God for this. The retrograde movement 
of many land and water birds has already commenced, 
especially of the lesser species. 

'■'■August 3. The Wizard broke her moorings and ran 
into us last night, causing much alarm but no injur}^ 
The iceberg of which I have spoken has been broken 
into a thousand pieces by the late gale, and now lies 
stranded along the coast. One such monster deposits 
hundreds of tons of rocks, and gravel, and boulders, and 
so explains the phenomena which I have before men- 
tioned as observable along the coast. 

I^he Birds Migrating. 349 

" August 4. It is wonderful how quickly every living 
thing in this region, whether animal or vegetable, attains 
its growth. In six weeks I have seen the eggs laid, the 
birds hatched, and their first moult half gone through ; 
their association into flocks begun, and preparations for 
leaving the country. 

" That the Creator should have ordered that millions 
of diminutive, tender creatures, should cross spaces of 
country, in all appearance a thousand times more con- 
genial for all their purposes, to reach this poor, desolate, 
and deserted land, to people it, as it were, for a time, and 
to cause it to be enlivened with the songs of the sweetest 
of the feathered musicians, for only two months at most, 
and then, by the same extraordinary instinct, should 
cause them all to suddenly abandon the countiy, is as won- 
derful as it is beautiful and grand. 

" Six weeks ago this whole country was one sheet of 
ice ; the land was covered with snow, the air was filled 
with frost, and subject to incessant storms, and the whole 
country a mere mass of apparently useless matter. Now 
the grass is abundant, and of rich growth, the flowers are 
met with at every step, insects fill the air, and the . fruits 
are ripe. The sun shines, and its influence is as re- 
markable as it is beautiful ; the snow-banks appear as if 
about to melt, and here and there there is something 
of a summerish look. But in thirty days ail is over ; the 
dark northern clouds will come down on the mountains ; 
the rivulets and pools, and the bays themselves, will begin 
to freeze ; weeks of snow-storms will follow, and change 
the whole covering of these shores and country, and Na- 
ture will assume not only a sleeping state, but one of des- 
olation and death. Wonderful ! wonderfvil ! But it re- 
quires an abler pen than mine to paint the picture of this 
all-wonderful country. 

" August 5. This has been a fine day ! We have had 

350 Life of Auduhon. 

no new hurricane, and I have finished the drawings of 
several new birds. It appears that northern birds come 
to maturity sooner than southern ones ; this is reversing 
the rule in the human species. The migi-ation of birds is 
much more wonderful than that of fishes, because the lat- 
ter commonly go feeling their way along the shores, from 
one clime to another, and return to the very same river, 
creek, or even hole, to deposit their spawn, as the birds 
do to their former nest or building-ground as long as they 
live. But the latter do not feel their way, but launching 
high in the air, go at once, and correctly, too, across im- 
mense tracts of country, seemingly indifferent to them, 
but at once stopj^ing, and making their abode in special 
parts heretofore their own, by previous knowledge of 
the advantages and comforts which they have enjoyed, 
and which they know await them there. 

" August lo. I now sit down to post up my poor book, 
while a furious gale is blowing without. I have neglected 
to make daily records for some days, because I have 
been so constantly drawing, that when night came, I was 
too weary to wield my pen. Indeed, all my physical pow- 
ers have been taxed to weariness by this little work of 
drawing ; my neck and shoulders, and most of all my 
fingers, have ached from the fatigue ; and I have suffered 
more from this kind of exertion than from walking sixty- 
five miles in a day, which I once did. 

'^ To-day I have added one more new species to the 
' Birds of America,' the Labrador falcon ; and may we live 
to see its beautiful figure multiplied by Havell's graver." 

The journal gives a list of the names of one hundred 
and seventy-three skins of birds, which were obtained on 
the coast of Labrador by Audubon and his party on this 
expedition. The episode given in the following chapter 
seems to summarize Audubon's observations of tlie in' 
habitants of Labrador. 


Labrador Episodes : The Squatters of Labrador. 

rO where you will, if a shilling can there be pro- 
cured, you may expect to meet with individuals 
in search of it. In the course of last summer 
I met with several persons as well as families whom I 
could not compare to anything else than what in America 
we understand by the appellation of squatters. The 
methods they employed to accumulate property form the 
subject of the observations which I now lay before you. 
Our schooner lay at anchor in a beautiful basin on the 
coast of Labrador, surrounded by uncouth granite rocks, 
partially covered with stunted vegetation. While search- 
ing for birds and other objects I chanced one morning to 
direct my eyes towards the pinnacle of a small island, 
separated from the mainland by a very narrow channel, 
and presently commenced inspecting it with my telescope. 
There I saw a man on his knees, with clasped hands, and 
face inclined heavenwards. Before him was a small mon- 
ument of unhewn stones supporting a wooden cross. In 
a word, reader, the person whom I thus unexpectedly dis- 
covered was engaged in prayer. Such an incident in that 
desolate land was affecting, for there one seldom finds 
traces of human beings, and the aid of the Almighty, al- 
though necessary everyAvhere, seems there peculiarly re- 
quired to enable them to procure the means of subsist- 
ence. My curiosity having been raised, I betook myself 
to my boat, landed on the rock, and scrambled to the 

;^^2 Life of Auduhon. 

place, where I found the man still on his knees. When 
his devotions were concluded he bowed to me and ad- 
dressed me in very indifferent French. I asked why he 
had chosen so dreary a spot for his prayers. ' Because, 
answered he, ' the sea lies before me, and from it I re- 
ceive my spring and summer sustenance. When winter 
approaches I pray fronting the mountains on the main, 
as at that period the caraboos come towards the shore 
and I kill them, feed on their flesh, and form my bedding 
of their skins.' I thought the answer reasonable, and, as 
I longed to know more of him, followed him to his hut. 
It was low and very small, fomied of stones plastered 
with mud to a considerable thickness. The roof was 
composed of a sort of thatching made of weeds and 
moss. A large Dutch stove filled nearly one half of the 
place ; a small port-hole, then stuffed with old rags, serv-. 
ed at times instead of a window ; the bed was a pile of 
deer-skins ; a bowl, a jug, and an iron pot were placed 
on a rude shelf; three old and rusty muskets, their locks 
fastened by thongs, stood in a corner ; and his buck-shot, 
powder, and flints were tied up in bags of skin. Eight 
Esquimaux dogs yelled and leaped about us. The strong 
smell that emanated from them, together with the smoke 
and filth of the apartment, rendered my stay in it very 
disagreeable. Being a native of France, the good man 
showed much politeness, and invited me to take some re- 
freshment, when, without waiting for my assent, he took 
up his bowl and went off I knew not whither. No sooner 
had he and his strange dogs disappeared, than I went out 
also to breathe the pure air and gaze on the wild and ma- 
jestic scenery around. I was struck with the extraordi- 
nary luxuriance of the plants and grasses that had sprung 
u|:f on the scanty soil in the little valley which the squatter 
had chosen for his home. Their stalks and broad blades 
reached my waist. June had come, and the flies, mos- 

Squatters in Labrador. 2>'^'^ 

quitoes, and other insects filled the air, and were as ti-ou- 
blesome to me as if I had been in a Florida swamp. 
The squatter returned, but he was ' chopfallen ; ' nay, I 
thought his visage had assumed a cadaverous hue. Tears 
ran down his cheeks, and he told me that his barrel of 
rum had been stolen by the ' eggers ' or some fishermen. 
He said that he had been in the habit of hiding it in the 
bushes to prevent its being carried away by those merci- 
less thieves, who must have watched him in some of his 
frequent walks to the spot. 'Now,' said he, 'I can ex- 
pect none till next spring, and God knows what will be- 
come of me in the winter.' Pierre Jean Baptiste Michaux, 
* had resided in that part of the world for upwards of ten 
years ; he had run away from the fishing-smack that had 
brought him from his fair native land, and expected to 
become rich some day by the sale of his furs, skins, and 
eider-ducks' down, seal-skins, and other articles which he 
collected yearly, and sold to the traders who regularly 
visited his dreary abode. He was of moderate stature, 
firmly framed, and as active as a wild cat.' He told me 
that, excepting the loss of his rum, he had never experi- 
enced any other cause of sorrow, and that he felt as 
' happy as a lord.' Before parting with this fortunate 
mortal, I inquired how his dogs managed to find sufficient 
food. * Why, sir, during spring and summer they ramble 
along the shores, where they meet with abundance of 
dead fish, and in winter they eat the flesh of the seals 
which I kill late in the autumn, when these animals return 
from the north. As to myself, everything eatable is good, 
and when hard pushed, I assure you I can relish the fare 
of my dogs just as much as they do themselves.' Pro- 
ceeding along the rugged indentations of the bay with my 
companions, I reached the settlement of another person, 
who, like the first, had come to Labrador with the view 
of making his fortune. We found him after many diffi- 

354 ^^f^ of Auduhon. 

culties ; but as our boats turned a long point jutting out 
into the bay we were pleased to see several small schoon- 
ers at anchor and one lying near a sort of wharf. Sever- 
al neat-looking houses enlivened the view, and on landing 
we were kindly greeted with a polite welcome from a man 
who proved to be the owner of the establishment. For 
the rude simplicity of him of the rum-cask we found here 
the manners and dress of a man of the world. A hand- 
some fur cap covered his dark brow, his clothes were sim- 
ilar to our own, and his demeanor was that of a gentle- 
man. On my giving him my name he shook me heartily 
by the hand, and on introducing each of my companions 
to him he addressed me as follows : ' My dear sir, I have 
been expecting you these three weeks, having read in the 
papers your intention to visit Labrador, and some fisher- 
men told me of your arrival at Little Natashquan. Gen- 
tlemen, walk in.' Having followed him to his neat and 
comfortable mansion, he introduced me to his wife and 
children. Of the latter there were six, all robust and 
rosy. The lady, although a native of the country, was of 
French extraction, handsome, and sufficiently accomplish- 
ed to make an excellent companion to a gentleman. A 
smart girl brought us a luncheon, consisting of bread, 
cheese, and good port wine, to which, having rowed four- 
teen or fifteen miles that morning, we helped ourselves in 
a manner that seemed satisfactoiy to all parties. Our 
host gave us newspapers from different parts of the 
world, and showed us his small but choice collection of 
books. He inquired after the health of the amiable 
Captain Bayfield of the Royal Navy, and the officers un- 
der him, and hoped they would give him a call. Having 
refreshed ourselves, we walked out with him, when he 
pointed to a very small garden where a few vegetables 
sprouted out anxious to see the sun. Gazing on the des- 
olate country around, I asked him how he had thus se- 

Squatters in Labrador. 2>SS 

eluded himself from the world. For // he had no relish, 
and although he had received a liberal education and had 
mixed with society, he never intended to return to it. 
' The country round,' said he, ' is all my own much farther 
than you can see. No fees, no lawyers, no taxes are hei^c. 
I do pretty much as I choose. My means are ample 
through my own industry. These vessels come here for 
seal-skins, seal oil, and salmon, and give me in return all 
the necessaries, and, indeed, comforts of the life I love to 
follow ; and what else could the zvorld afford me ? ' I 
spoke of the education of his children. ' My wife and I 
teach them all that is useful for them to know, and is not 
that enough t My girls will marry their countrymen, my 
sons the daughters of my neighbors, and I hope all of 
them will live and die in the countiy.' I said no more, 
but by wav of compensation for the trouble I had given 
him, purchased from his eldest child a beautiful fox-skin. 
Few birds, he said, came round in summer, but in winter 
thousands of ptarmigans were killed, as well as great 
numbers of gulls. He had a great dislike to all fisher- 
men and eggers, and I really believe was always glad to 
see the departure of even the hardy navigators who an- 
nually visited him for the sake of his salmon, his seal- 
skins, and oil. He had more than forty Esquimaux dogs ; 
and as I was caressing one of them he said, ' Tell my 
brother-in-law at Bras-d' Or that we are all well here, and 
that after visiting my wife's father I will give him a call. 
" Now, reader, his wife's father resided at the distance 
of seventy miles down the coast, and like himself was a 
recluse. He of Bras-d' Or was at double that distance ; 
But when the snows of winter have thickly covered the 
country, the whole family in sledges drawn by dogs travel 
with ease and pay their visits or leave their cards. This 
good gentleman had already resided there more than 
twenty years. Should he ever read this article, J desire 

2^6 Life of Auduhon. 

him to believe tliat I shall always be grateful to him and 
his wife for their hospitable welcome. When our schoon- 
er, the Ripley, arrived at Bras-cTOr, I paid a visit to 
Mr. , the brother-in-law, who lived in a house im- 
ported from Quebec, which fronted the strait of Belle Isle, 
and overlooked a small island, over which the eye reach- 
ed the coast of Newfoundland whenever it was the wind's 
pleasure to drive away the fogs that usually lay over both 
coasts. The gentleman and his wife, we were told, were 
both out on a walk, but would return in a very short time, 
which they in fact did, when we followed them into the 
house, which was yet unfinished. The usual immense 
Dutch stove formed the principal feature of the interior. 
The lady had once visited the metropolis of Canada, and 
seemed desirous of acting the part of a ' blue stocking.' 
Understanding that I knew something of the fine arts, 
she pointed to several of the vile prints hung on the bare 
walls, which she said were elegant Italian pictures, and 
continued her encomiums upon them, assuring me that 
she had purchased them from an Italian who had come 
there with a trunk full of them. She had paid a shilling 
sterling for each, frame included. I could give no answer 
to the good lady on this subject, but I felt glad to find 
that she possessed a feeling heart. One of her children 
had caught a siskin, and was tormenting the poor bird, 
when she rose from her seat, took the little flutterer from 
the boy, kissed it, and gently launched it into the air. 
This made me quite forget the tattle about the fine arts. 
Some excellent milk was poured out for us in clean 
glasses. It was a pleasing sight, for not a cow had we 
yet seen in the country. The lady turned the conversa- 
tion on music, and asked if I played on any instrument. 
I answered that I did, but very indifferently. Her forte, she 
said, was music, of which she was indeed immoderately 
fond. Her instrument had been sent to Europe to be re- 

A Musical Instrument. 2 SI 

paired, but would return that season, when the whole of 
her children would again perform many beautiful airs, for 
in fsjct anybody could use it with ease, as when she or the 
children felt fatigued the servant played on it for them. 
Rather surprised at the extraordinary powers of this fam- 
ily of musicians, I asked what sort of an instrument it 
was, when she described it as follows : ' Gentlemen, my 
instrument is large, longer than broad, and stands on four 
legs like a table ; at one end is a crooked handle, by 
turning which round either fast or slow I do assure you 
we make excellent music' The lips of my young friends 
and companions instantly curled, but a glance from me as 
instantly recomposed their features. Telling the fair one 
it must be a hand-organ she used, she laughingly said, 
'Oh, that is it, it is a hand-organ, bvit I had forgotten the 
name, and for the life of me could not recollect it.' The 
husband had gone out to work, and was in the harbor 
caulking an old schooner. He dined with me on board 
the Ripley, and proved to be an excellent fellow. Like 
his brother-in-law, he had seen much of the world, having 
sailed nearly round it ; and although no scholar, like hiin, 
too, he was disgusted with it. He held his land on the 
same footing as his neighbors, caught seals without num- 
ber, lived comfortably and happily, visited his father-in- 
law and the scholar by the aid of his dogs, of which he 
kept a great pack, bartered or sold his commodities as his 
relations did, and cared about nothing else in the world. 
Whenever the weather was fair he walked with his dame 
over the snow-covered rocks of the neighborhood, and 
during winter killed ptarmigans and caraboos, while his 
eldest son attended to the traps and skinned the animals 
caught by them. He had the only horse that was to be 
found in that part of the country, as well as several cows ; 
but, above all, he was kind to every one, and ever}^ one 
spoke well of him. The only disagreeable thing about 

358 L.ife of Auduhon. 

the plantation or settlement was a heap of fifteen hun- 
dred carcasses of skinned seals, which at the time when 
we visited the place, in the month of August, notwith- 
standing the coolness of the atmosphere, sent forth a 
stench that, according to the idea of some naturalists, 
might have sufficed to attract all the vultures in the Uni- 
ted States. During our stay at Bras-d'Or the kind-heart- 
ed and good Mrs. daily sent us fresh milk and 

butter, for which we were denied the pleasure of making 
any return." 


Azotes on Labrador — Gulf of St. Lawrence — St. George'' s Bay, N'evh 
foiindland — The Village— Fishermen aiid Wotnen — Indian Wig- 
■warns — Beating About at Sea — Land on Rufs Island — Wander- 
ings Overland — Pirtou — Truro and the Bay of Ftmdy — Arrival 
at Halifax, Nova Scotia — Arrival at New York, and Calcidation 
of Expenses. 

UG UST 1 1. At sea, Gulf of St. Lawrence. We are 
now fully fifty miles from the coast of Labrador. 
Fresh water was taken on board, and all prepa- 

rations were made last evening, and this morning we bid 
adieu to the friends we had made at Labrador. 

" Seldom in my life have I left a country with as little 
regret as this ; next in order would come East Florida, 
after my excursion up the St. John's River. As we sailed 
away I saw probably for the last tune the high and rug- 
ged hills, partly immersed in large banks of fog, that usu- 
ally hang over them. 

" Now we are sailing before the wind in full sight of 
the south-west coast of Newfoundland, the mountains of 
which are high, spotted with drifted snow-banks, and cut 
horizontally with floating strata of fogs extending along . 
the land as far as the eye can reach. The sea is quite 
smooth, or else I have become a better sailor by this 
rough voyage. Although the weather is cloudy, it is such 
as promises in this region a fair night. Our young men 
are playing the violin and flute, and I am scribbling in my 

" It is worth telling that during the two months we 
have spent on the coast of Labrador, moving from one har- 

360 Life of Auduhon. 

bor to another, or from behind one rocky island to another 
only three nights have been passed at sea. Twenty-three 
drawings have been commenced or finished, and now I 
am anxious to know if what remains of the voyage will 
prove as fruitful ; and only hope our Creator will permit 
us all to reach our friends in safety and find them well 
and happy. 

"August 13. Harbor of St. George's Bay, Newfound- 
land. By my dates you will see how long we were run- 
ning, as the sailors call it, from Labrador to this place, 
where we anchored at five this evening. Our voyage 
here was all in sight of, and indeed along the north-west 
side of Newfoundland ; the shores presenting the highest 
lands we have yet seen. In some places the views were 
highly picturesque and agreeable to the eye, although the 
appearance of vegetation was but little better than at 
Labrador. The wind was fair for two-thirds of the dis- 
tance, and drew gradually ahead and made us uncomfort- 

" This morning we entered the mouth of St. George's 
Bay, which is about forty miles wide and fifty miles deep, 
and a more beautiful and ample basin cannot be found ; 
there is not a single obstruction within it. The north- 
east shores are high and rocky, but the southern are san- 
dy, low, and flattish. It took us until five o'clock to as- 
cend it, when we came to anchor in sight of a small village, 
.the only one we have seen in two months ; and we are 
in a harbor with a clay bottom, and where fifty line-of- 
battle ships could snugly and safely ride. 

" The village is built on an elongated point of sand 
or sea wall, under which we now are, and is perfectly 
secure from all winds except the north-east. The coun- 
try on ascending the bay became gradually more woody 
and less rough in shape. The temperature changed 
quite suddenly this afternoon, and the weather was so 

Sl George's Bay. 361 

mild that we found it agreeable lolling on deck, and it 
felt warm even to a southron like myself Twenty-two 
degrees diiTerence in temperature in two days is a very 
considerable change. 

" We found here several sail of vessels engaged in 
the fisheries, and an old hulk from Hull in England, called 
Charles Tennison, which was wrecked near here four 
years ago, on her way from Quebec to Hull. As we 
sailed up the bay two men boarded us from a small boat 
and assisted us as pilots. They had a half barrel of 
fine salmon, which I bought from them for ten dollars. 
As soon as we dropped anchor our young men went 
ashore to buy fresh provisions, but they returned with 
nothing but two bottles of milk, though the village contains 
two hundred inhabitants. Mackerel, and sharks of the 
man-eating kind, are said to be abundant here. Some 
signs of cultivation are to be seen across the harbor, and 
many huts of Michmaes Indians adorn the shores. We 
learn that the winters are not nearly as severe here as at 
Quebec, yet not far off I could see dots of snow of last 
year's crop. Some persons say birds are plenty, others 
say there are none hereabouts. 

" The ice did not break up, so that this bay was not 
navigable until the 17th of May, and I feel confident that 
no one can enter the harbors of Labrador before the loth 
or middle of June. 

" August 14. All ashore in search of birds, plants, and 
the usual et ceteras belonging to our vocations, but all 
had to return soon on account of a storm of wind and 
rain, showing that Newfoundland is cousin to Labrador 
in respect. We found the country quite rich however 
in comparison with the latter place ; all the vegetable pro- 
ductions are larger and more abundant. We saw a flock 
of house span"ows, all gay and singing, and on their pas- 
sage to the south-west." 

362 Life of Audubon. 

Audubon names about twenty different species of 
birds which he saw here ; hares and caraboos are among 
the animals, and among the wild plants he found two 
species of roses. 

" The women flew before us as if we were wild beasts, 
and one who had a pail of water, at sight of us, dropped 
it, and ran to hide herself; another who was looking for 
a cow, on seeing us coming, ran into the woods, and after- 
wards crossed a stream waist deep to get home to her hut 
without passing us. We are told that no laws are admin- 
istered here, and to my surprise not a sign of a church 
exists. The people are all fishermen and live poorly ; in 
one enclosure I saw a few pretty good-looking cabbages. 
We can buy only milk and herrings, the latter ten cents a 
dozen; we were asked eight dollars for a tolerable calf, 
but chickens were too scarce to be obtained. Two clear- 
ings across the bay are the only signs of cultivated land. 
Not a horse has yet made its way into the country, and 
not even a true Newfoundland dog, nothing but curs of a 
mixed breed. 

" Some of the buildings looked like miserable hovels, 
others more like habitable houses. Not a blacksmith's 
shop here, and yet one would probably do well. The 
customs of the people are partly Canadian and partly 
English. The women all wear cotton caps covering their 
ears. The passage to and from our vessel to the shore was 
the roughest I ever made in an open boat, and we were 
completely soaked by the waves which dashed over us. 

'■'■August 15. We have had a beautiful day. This 
morning some Indians came alongside of our vessel with 
half a reindeer, a caraboo, and a hare of a species I had 
never seen before. We gave them twenty-one pounds of 
pork for forty-four pounds of venison, thirty-three pounds 
of bread for the caraboo, and a quarter of a dollar for the 
hare. The Indians showed much cleverness in striking 

Newfoundland. 3 6i^ 

the bargain. I spent part of the day drawing, and then 
visited the wigwams of the Indians across the bay. We 
found them, as I expected, all lying down pell-mell in 
their wigwams, and a strong mixture of blood was per- 
ceptible in their skins, shape, and deportment : some 
were almost white, and sorry I am to say, that the nearer 
they were to our nobler race the filthier and the lazier 
they were. The women and children were particularly 
disgusting in this respect. Some of the women were ma- 
king baskets, and others came in from collecting a fruit 
called here the baked apple {Rubus chanuzjirous), and 
when burnt a little it tastes exactly like a roasted apple. 
The children were catching lobsters and eels, of which 
there are a great many in the bay, as there are in all the 
bays of the island, whilst at Labrador this shell-fish is 
very rare. The young Indians found them by wading to 
their knees in eel grass. 

" We bargained with two of the hunters to go with our 
young men into the interior to hunt for caraboos, hares, 
and partridges, which they agreed to do for a dollar a day. 
The Indians cook lobsters by roasting them in a pile of 
brushwood, and eat them without any salt or other con- 
diment. The caraboos are at this date in 'velvet,' their 
skins are now light grey, and the flesh poor but tender. 
The average weight of this animal, when in good condi- 
tion, is four hundred pounds. In the early part of March 
they leave the hilly grounds, where no moss or any other 
food can be obtained, and resort to the shores of the sea 
to feed on kelp and other sea grasses cut up by the ice 
and cast up by the waves along the shore. Groups of 
several hundreds may be seen at one time thus feeding : 
their flesh here is not much esteemed ; it tastes like in- 
different, poor, but very tender venison. 

" August 17. We should now be ploughing the deep 
had the wind been fair, but it has been ahead, and we 

364 Life of Aiiduhon. 

remain here in statu quo. The truth is, we have deter- 
mined not to leave this harbor without a fair jDrospect of a 
good run, and then we shall trust to Providence after that. 
I have added a curious species of alder to my drawing of 
/he white-winged cross-bill, and finished it. We received 
a visit from Mr., Mrs., and Miss Forest ; they brought us 
some salad and fresh butter, and in return we gave them 
a glass of wine and some raisins. The old lady and gen- 
tleman talked well ; he complained of the poverty of the 
country and the disadvantages he experienced from the 
privileges granted to the French on this coast. They 
told me they were relatives of Lord Plunket, and that 
they were well acquainted with our friend Edward Harris 
and his family. I gave them my card, and showed them 
the Duke of Sussex's letter, which they borrowed and 
took home to copy. I had also a visit from an old French- 
man who has resided on this famous island for fifty years. 
He assured me that no red Indians are now to be found ; 
the last he had heard of were seen twenty-two years ago. 
It is said that these natives give no quarter to anybody, 
but, after killing their foes, cut off their heads and leave 
their bodies to the wild beasts of the country. 

" Several flocks of golden-winged jDlovers passed over 
the bay this forenoon, and two lestris pomerania came in 
this evening. The ravens abound here, but no crows 
have yet been seen ; the great tern are passing south by 
thousands, and a small flock of Canada geese were also 
seen. The young of the golden-crested wren were shot. 
A muscipcapa was killed, which is probably new. I 
bought seven Newfoundland dogs for seventeen dollars : 
two bitches, four pups, and a dog two years old. With 
these I shall be able to fulfill promises made to friends to 
bring them dogs. 

" On the i8th of August at daylight the wind promis- 
ed to be fair, and although it was rather cloudy we broke 

At Pictou, Nova Sfotia. ^^c^ 

our anchorage, and at five o'clock were under weigh. We 
joasted along Newfoundland until evening, when the wind 
rose to a tempest fi'om the south-west, and our vessel was 
laid to at dark, and we danced and kicked over the waves 
the whole of that night and the next day. The next day 
the storm abated, but the wind was still so adverse that 
we could not make the Gannet Rock or any part of New- 
foundland, and towards the latter we steered, for none of 
us could bear the idea of returning to Labrador. During 
the night the weather moderated, and the next day we 
laid our course for the Straits of Canseau ; but suddenly 
the wind failed, and during the calm it was agreed that 
we would try and reach Pictou in Nova Scotia, and trav- 
el by land. We are now beating about towards that port, 
and hope to reach it early to-morrow morning. The 
captain will then sail for Eastport, and we, making our 
way by land, will probably reach there as soon as he. 
The great desire we all have to see Pictou, Halifax, and 
the country between there and Eastport is our induce- 

'■^ August 22. After attempting to beat our vessel into 
the harbor of Pictou, but without succeeding, we conclud- 
ed that myself and party should be put on shore, and the 
Ripley should sail back to the Straits of Canseau, the 
wind and tide being favorable. We drank a parting glass 
to our wives and friends, and our excellent little captain 
took us to the shore, whilst the vessel stood up to the 
wind, with all sails set, waiting for the captain. 

" We happened to land on an island called Ruy's Isl- 
and, where, fortunately for us, we met some men mak- 
ing hay. Two of them agreed to carry our trunks and 
two of our party to Pictou for two dollars. Our effects 
were put in a boat in a trice, and we shook hands heart- 
ily with the captain, towards whom we all now feel much 
real attachment, and after mutual adieus, and good 

^66 Life of Audiihon. 

wishes for the completion of our respective 'journeys, we 
parted, giving each other three most hearty cheers. 

" We were now, thank God, positively on the main 
shore of our native land ; and after four days' confine- 
ment in our births, and sea-sickness, and the sea and ves- 
sel, and all their smells and discomforts, we were so re- 
freshed, that the thought of walking nine miles seemed 
nothing more than figuring through a single quadrille. 
The air felt uncommonly warm, and the country, com- 
pared with those we had so lately left, appeared perfectly 
beautiful, and we inhaled the fragrance of the new mown 
grass, as if nothing sweeter ever existed. Even the music 
of crickets was delightful to my ears, for no such insect is 
to be found either at Labrador or Newfoundland. Tl)e 
voice of a blue jay sounded melody to me, and the sight of 
a humming-bird quite filled my mind with delight. 

" We were conveyed to the main, only a very short dis- 
tance, Ingalls and Coolidge remaining in the boat ; and 
the rest took the road, along which we moved as lightly as 
if boys just released from school. The road was good, or 
seemed to be so ; the woods were tall timber, and the air, 
which circulated freely, was all perfume ; and every plant 
we saw brought to mind some portion of the United 
States, and we all felt quite happy. Now and then as we 
crossed a hill, and cast our eyes back on the sea, we saw 
our beautiful vessel sailing freely before the wind, and as 
she diminished towards the horizon, she at last appeared 
like a white speck, or an eagle floating in the air, and we 
wished our captain a most safe voyage to Quoddy. 

" We reached the shore opposite Pictou in two and a 
half hours, and lay down on the grass to await the arrival 
of the boat, and gazed on the sceneiy around us. A num- 
ber of American vessels lay in the harbor loading with 
coal. The village located at the bottom of a fine bay on 
the north-west side looked well, although small. * Three 

Professor McCullough. 367 

churches appeared above the rest of the buildings, all of 
wood, and several vessels v^rere building on the stocks. 

" The whole country seemed to be in a high state ol 
cultivation, and looked well. The population is about 
two thousand. Our boat came, and we crossed the bay., 
and we put up at the Royal Oak, the best hotel in the 
place, where we obtained an excellent supper. The very 
treading of a carpeted floor was comfortable. In the 
evening we called on Professor McCullough, who re- 
ceived us kindly, gave us a glass of wine, and showed us 
his collection of well-preserved birds and other things, 
and invited us to breakfast to-morrow at eight o'clock, 
when we are further to inspect his curiosities. The pro- 
fessor's mansion is a quarter of a mile from the town, and 
looks much like a small English villa. 

"August 23. We had an excellent Scotch breakfast at 
the professor's this morning, and his family, consisting of 
wife, four sons and daughters, and a wife's sister, were all 
present. The more I saw and talked with the professor, 
the more I was pleased with him. I showed him a few 
of my Labrador drawings, after which we marched in a 
body to the university, and again examined his fine col- 
lection. I found there half a dozen specimens of birds, 
which I longed for, and said so, and he offered them to 
me with so much apparent good will, that I took them 
and thanked him. He then asked me to look around and 
see if there were any other objects I would like to have. 
He offered me all his fresh-water shells, and such miner- 
als as we might choose, and I took a few specimens of 
iron and copper. He asked me what I thought of his 
collection, and I gave him my answer in writing, adding 
F.R.S. to my name, and telling him that I wished it might 
prove useful to him. I am much surprised that his valua- 
ble collection has not been purchased by the Governor of 
the province, to whom he offered it for five hundred 
pounds. I think it worth a thousand pounds. 

368 Life of Auduhon. 

"■ On our return to the hotel we were met by Mr. 
Blanchard, the deputy consul for the United States, an 
agreeable man, who offered frankly to do anything in his 
power to make our visit fruitful and pleasant. ' Time 
up,' and the coach almost ready, our bill was paid, our 
birds packed, and I walked ahead about a mile out of 
the town, with Mr. Blanchard, who sjDoke much of Eng- 
land, and was acquainted with Mr. Adamson, and some 
other friends whom I knew at Newcastle-on-Tyne. 

" The coach came up, I shook hands with Mr. Blan- 
chard, jumped in, and away we went for Truro, distant 
forty miles. The rain began to fall, and the wind to 
blow from the east, a good wind for the Ripley, and on 
we rolled on as good a road as any in England, were it 
only a little broader. We now passed through a fine 
tract of country, well wooded, well cultivated, and a won- 
derful relief to our fatigued eyes, which had so long been 
seeing only desolate regions, snow, and tempestuous 

" By four in the afternoon we were hungr}^, and 
stopped at a house to dine, and it now rained faster 
than before. Two ladies, and the husband of one of 
them as I supposed, had arrived before us, in an open 
cart or Jersey waggon ; and I, with all the gallantry be- 
longing to my nature, offered to exchange vehicles with 
them, which they readily accepted, but without express- 
ing any thanks in return. After dinner Shattuck, Ingalls, 
and myself jumped into the open thing; I was seated by 
the side of my so-so Irish dame, and our horse moved off 
at a very good speed. 

" Our exchange soon proved an excellent one, for the^ 
weather cleared up, and we saw the country much better 
than we could have done in the coach, where there were 
so many passengers that we should have been squeezed 
together closely. Directly Professor McCuUough came 

Visits T'rurOy Nova Scotia. 369 

up with us, and told us he would see us to-morrow at 
Truro. Towards sunset we arrived in sight of this pret 
ty, loosely-built village, near the head-waters of the Bay 
of Fundy. The view filled me with delight, and the 
pleasure was deepened by the consciousness that my 
course was homeward, and I was but a few days from the 
dearest being to me on earth. 

"We reached the tavern, which the hotel where we 
stopped was called, but as it could accommodate only 
three of us, we crossed the street to another house, where 
we ordered a substantial supper. Professor McCullough 
came in, and introduced us to several members of the 
Assembly of this province. 

" We tried in vain to get a conveyance to take us to 
Halifax, distant sixty-four miles, in the morning, to avoid 
riding all night in the mail-coach, but could not succeed. 
Mr. McCullough then took me to the residence of Sam- 
uel G. Archibald, Esq., Speaker of the Assembly, who re- 
ceived me most affably, and introduced me to his lady 
and handsome young daughter ; the fonner wore a cap 
fashionable four years ago at home (EnglaAd). I showed 
them a few drawings, and received a letter from the 
Speaker to the Chief Justice at Halifax, and bid them all 
good night ; and am now waiting the mail to resume n^y 
journey. Meanwhile let me say a few words on this lit- 
tle village. It is situated in the centre of a most beauti- 
ful valley of great extent, and under complete cultivation ; 
looking westerly a broad sheet of water is seen, forming 
the head of the famous Bay of Fundy, and several brooks 
run through the valley empt}dng into it. The buildings, 
although principally of wood, are good-looking, and as 
cleanly as any of our pretty New England villages, well 
painted, and green blinds. The general appearance of 
the people quite took me by surprise, being extremely 
genteel. The coach is at the door, the corner of my 

370 Life of Audubon. 

trunk is gasping to swallow this book, and I must put it 
in and be off. 

" August 24. Wind east, and hauling to the north- 
east — all good for the Ripley. We are at Halifax, Nova 
Scotia, and this is the way we got here : — Last night at 
eleven we seated ourselves in the coach ; the moon shone 
bright, and the night was beautiful ; but we could only 
partially observe the country until the day dawned. But 
we found out that the road was hilly and the horses lazy, 
and after riding twenty miles we stopped to change 
horses and warm ourselves. Shortly the cry came, 
'Coach ready, gentlemen.' In we jumped, and on we 
rode for a mile and a half, when the linch-pin broke, and 
we came to a stand-still. Ingalls took charge of the 
horses, and responded to the hoot of the owls, which 
sounded out from the woods, and the rest of the party, 
excepting Coolidge and myself, slept soundly, while we 
were enduring that disagreeable experience of travellers 
— detention — which is most disagreeable in this latitude, 
and especially at night. Looking up the road, the vacil- 
lating glimmer of the candle, intended to assist the driver 
in finding the linch-pin, was all that could be distinguish- 
ed, and we began to feel what is called ' wolfish.' The 
man returned, but found no pin — it could not be found, 
and another quarter of an hour was spent in fumbling 
round with ropes to tie our vehicle together. At length 
the day davv'ned beautifully, and I ran ahead of the coach 
for a mile or so to warm myself; and when the coach 
came up I got up with the driver to try to obtain some 
information respecting the country, which was becoming 
poorer and poorer the further we travelled. Hunger 
again now began to press us, and we were told that it was 
twenty-five miles from the lost linch-pin to the breakfast- 
house. I persuaded the driver to stop at a wayside tav- 
ern, and inquire the prospects for getting some chickens 

Night Ride to Halifax. 371 

or boiled eggs ; but the proprietor said it was impossible 
for him to furnish a breakfast for six persons of om- ap- 

" We passed on, and soon came to the track of a 
good-sized bear in the road, and after a wearisome ride 
reached the breakfast ground, at a house situated on the 
margin of a lake called Grand Lake, which abounds with 
fine fish, and soles in the season. This lake forms part 
of the channel which was intended to be cut for connect- 
ing the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Fundy with the 
Gulf of St. Lawrence at Bay Verte. Ninety thousand 
pounds have been expended on the enterprise, and the 
canal is not finished, and probably never will be ; for the 
government will not assist, and private eflforts seem to 
have exhausted themselves. This point is seventeen 
miles from Halifax, and must afford a pleasant residence 
for summer. 

"The road from that tavern to Halifax is level and 
good, though rather narrow, and a very fine drive for pri- 
vate carriages. We saw the flag of the garrison at Hali- 
fax, two miles before we reached the place, when we sud- 
denly turned short, and brought up at a gate fronting a 
wharf, at which lay a small steam-ferry boat. The gate 
was shut, and the mail was detained nearly an hour wait- 
ing for it to be opened. Why did not Mrs. Trollope visit 
Halifax ? The number of negro men and women, beg- 
garly-looking blacks, would have furnished materials for 
her descriptive pen. 

" We crossed the harbor, in which we saw a sixty-four 
gun flag-ship riding at anchor. The coach drove up to 
the house of Mr. Paul, the best hotel, where we with dif- 
ficulty obtained one room with four beds for six persons. 
With a population of eighteen thousand souls, and two 
thousand more of soldiers, Halifax has not one good 
hotel, and only two very indifferent private boarding- 

3 7 '2 Life of Audubon. 

houses, where the attendance is miserable, and the table 
by no means good. We are, however, settled. 

" We have walked about the town ; but every one of 
as has sore feet in consequence of walking on hard 
gi-ound, after having roamed for two months on the soft, 
deep mosses of Labrador. The card of an Italian was 
sent to bur rooms, telling us that he had fine baths of all 
sorts, and we went off to his rooms and found only one 
tin tub, and a hole underground, into which the sea-water 
filters, about the size of a hogshead. I plunged into this 
hole with Ingalls and Shattuck, then rubbed ourselves 
dry with curious towels, and paid six cents each for the 
accommodation. We then walked to the garrison, listen- 
ed to the music, returned to the hotel^ and have written 
this, and now send in my card to the aide-de-camp of the 
Governor of Newfoundland, who resides in this house. 

" August 25. To-day I walked to the wharves, and was 
surprised to find them every one gated and locked, and 
sentinels standing guard everywhere. In the afternoon 
there was a military funeral ; it was a gi"and sight, the 
soldiers walked far apart, guns inverted, to the sound of 
the finest anthem, and wonderfully well executed by an 
excellent band. 

" There are no signs of style here ; only two ordinary 
barouches came to church to-day (the Episcopal), where 
the bishop said the prayers and preached. All the 
churches receive a certain number of soldiers dressed in 
uniform. The natives of the province are called 'Blue 
Noses,' and to-morrow we intend to see all we can of 

^'■August 26. To-day I delivered letters which I 
brought to BishoiD Inglis and the Chief Justice, but did 
not find them at home. To-morrow we hope to lea^■e 
here for Windsor, distant forty-five miles. 

'■^August 27. At nine o'clock we entered the coach, or 

Prince Edward's Lodge. 373 

rather five of us entered it, as it would hold no more, and 
one was obliged to take an outside seat in the rain. The 
road from Halifax to Windsor is macadamized and good, 
jvinding through undulating hills and valleys ; our horses 
were good, and although we had but one pair at a time, 
we travelled six and a half miles an hour. For more 
than nine miles our course was along the borders of the 
Bay of Halifax ; the view was pleasant, and here and 
there we noticed tolerably gook-looking summer-houses. 
Near the head of this bay, said the driver, an English 
fleet pursued a squadron of seven French ships, and forc- 
ed them to haul down their colors ; but the French com- 
mander, or admiral, sunk all his vessels, preferring to do 
this to surrendering them to the British. The water was 
so deep at this place that the tops of the masts of the 
vessels went deep out of sight, and have been seen only 
once since then, which was more than twenty years ago. 

" We passed the abandoned lodge of Prince Edward, 
who spent about one million of pounds on this building 
and the grounds, but the whole is now a ruin ; thirty 
years have passed since it was in its splendor. On leav- 
ing the waters of the bay, we followed those of the Sal- 
mon River, a small rivulet of swift water, which abounds 
with salmon, trout, elwines, &c. The whole countiy is 
poor, veiy poor, yet under tolerable cultivation all the 
way. We passed the seat of Mr. Jeffries, the President 
of the Assembly, now Acting Governor ; his house is 
good-looking, large, and the grounds around it are in fine 
order. It is situated between two handsome fresh-water 
lakes ; indeed the whole country through which we trav- 
elled is interspersed with lakes, all of them abounding 
in trout and eels. 

" We passed the college and common school, both 
looking well, and built of fine freestone ; a church and 
sevei al other fine buildings line the road, on which the 

374 ^'^f^ of Audubon. 

president and rector reside. We crossed the head of the 
St. Croix River, which rolls its waters impetuously into 
the Bay of Fundy. Here the lands were all dyked, and 
the ci'ops looked very well, and from that river to Wind- 
sor the country improved rapidly. 

" Windsor is a small and rather neat village, on the 
east side of the River Windsor, and is supported by the 
vast banks of plaster of Paris around it. This valuable 
article is shipped in British vessels to Eastport and else- 
where in large quantities. 

" Our coach stopped at the door of the best private 
boarding-house, for nowhere in this province have we 
heard of hotels. The house was full, and we went to an- 
other, where, after waiting two hours, we obtained an in- 
different supper. The view from this village was as novel 
to me as tlie coast of Labrador. The bed of the river, 
which is here about one mile wide, was quite bare as far 
as the eye could reach, say for ten miles, scarcely any wa- 
ter to be seen, and yet the place where we stood was six- 
ty-five feet above the bed, which plainly showed that at 
high tide this wonderful basin must be filled to the brim. 
Opposite us, and indeed the whole country, is dyked in ; 
and vessels left dry at the great elevation, fastened to the 
wharves, had a singular appearance. We are told that 
now and then some vessels have slid sideways from the 
top of the bank down to the level of the gravelly bed of 
the river. The shores are covered for a hundred yards 
with a reddish mud. This looks more like the result of 
a great freshet than of a tide, and I long to see the waters 
of the sea advancing at the rate of four knots an hour to 
fill this basin, a sight I hope to see to-morrow." 

August 28. Here follows the description of the ex- 
traordinary rise and fall of the waters, and they are evi- 
dently the notes from which Audubon wrote his episode 
of the Bay of Fundy. The day was passed in rambling 

Sl Johns by Moonlight. ,ij ^ 

in seaixh of birds in this vicinity. The record for the daj 
conchides : " We intended to have paid bur respects to 
Mr. Halliburton, author of the ' Description of Nova 
Scotia,' and other works, but we learned that he was in 
Boston, where I heartily wished myself. 

" £asfJ>orf, Maine, August t^\, 1833. We arrived here 
yesterday afternoon in the steamer Maid of the Mist, all 
well. We left Windsor a quarter before twelve, and 
reached St. John's, New Brunswick, at two o'clock at 
night ; passed Cape Bio w-me- Down, Cape Split, and 
Cape D'Or ; the passengers were few, and we were com- 
fortable. We traversed the streets of St. John's by moon- 
light, and in the morning I had the pleasure to meet my 
friend Edward Harris, and to receive letters from home ; 
and I am now preparing to leave for Boston as soon as 

The account of the voyage concludes with this sen- 
tence : 

"We reached New York on the morning of the Vth 
of September, and, thank God, found all well. I paid the 
balance of the Ripley's charter (eight hundred and sixty- 
two dollars), and a balance of four hundred and thirty 
dollars to Dr. Parkman, which- he advanced to Dr. Shat- 
tuck for me. And I was not very well pleased that near- 
ly the whole burden of the Labrador voyage was put on 
my shoulders, or rather taken out of my poor purse ; but 
I was silent, and no one knew my thoughts on that 

^'^^tj ^^ro ^*%^'^'^ 


yournal Resumed^ Washmgt07i Irvi7ig — Wanderings South — Florida 
Excu7-sion Abajtdoned — Returns North — Sails for Englattd — 
Visit to Baron Rothschild — Refnoval to Edinburgh — Return to 
Londo7t — Embarks with much Live Stock to N'ew York — Azotes 
by the Way. 

EPTEMBER 7, 1833. After Audubon's return 
from Labrador he remained three weeks in New 
York, and then made all his preparations for a 
journey to Florida. He forwarded to his son Victor, in 
England, thirteen drawings of land birds, which he had 
prepared to complete the second volume of the great 
work; and he left seventeen drawings of sea birds to 
be forwarded in October, for the commencement of his 
third volume. As an evidence of the value Audubon set 
on these drawings, we may note that he insured both par- 
cels for two thousand dollars each. 

September 25. Mr. and Mrs. Audubon left New York 
for Philadelphia on their way to Florida, leaving their son 
John to sail from New York by water, " with all our arti- 
cles of war," for Charleston, where they proposed to meet. 
The journal says : " The weather was delightful, and we 
reached Philadelphia at three o'clock, and took lodgings 
with Mrs. Newlin, No. 112 Walnut Street Here I called 
on some of my former friends and w^as kindly received. 
I visited several public places in the cit\', but no one 
stopped me to subscribe for my book." 

The following letter from Dr. McKenney of Philadel- 
phia is inserted here as a capital specimen of a racy let- 

A Ftiendly Letter. 277 

ter, and as evincing, moreover, how Audubon was es- 
cimated by his friends : 

" Philadelphia, September 30, 1833. 
" My dear Governor, 

" I do not know when I have done a more acceptable 
service to my feelings, nor when I have been just in a sit- 
uation to afford as much gratification to yours, as in jDre- 
senting to your notice, and private and official friendship, 
tlie bearer, Mr. Audubon. It were superfluous to tell you 
who he is ; the whole world knows him and respects him, 
and no man in it has the heart to cherish or the head to 
appreciate him, and such a man, beyond the capacity of 

" Mr. Audubon makes no more of tracking it in all 
directions over this, and I may add other countries, than 
a shot star does in crossing the heavens. He goes after 
winged things, but sometimes needs the aid of — at least 
a few feathers, to assist him the better to fly. He means 
to coast it again round Florida — make a track through 
Arkansas — go up the Missouri — pass on to the Rocky 
Mountains, and thence to the Pacific. He will require 
some of your official aid. I took an unmerited liberty 
with your name and readiness of purpose, and told him 
you were the very man ; and I need not say how happy 
I shall be to learn that you have endorsed my promise 
and ratified it. God bless you. 

" In haste, 
" Thos. L. McKenney. 

"To the Hon. Lewis Cass, Secretary of War, 
Washington City." 

^'•Richmond, Virginia, October {no date). Travelling 
through the breeding-places o/ouR species is far from being 
as interesting to me as it is to inspect the breeding-places 

37 8 • Life of Audubon. 

of the feathery tribes of our country. Yet as it is the lot 
of every man like me to know something of both, to keep 
up the clue of my life, I must say something of the cities 
through which I pass, and of the events which transpire 
as I go along. 

" At Philadelphia I of course received no subscrip- 
tions ; nay, I was arrested there for debt,* and was on 
the point of being taken to prison, had I not met with 
WilUam Norris, Esq., who kindly offered to be my bail. 
This event brings to my mind so many disagreeable 
thoughts connected with my former business transactions, 
in which I was always the single loser, that I will only add 
I made all necessary arrangements to have it paid. 

" We left Philadelphia for Baltimore, where I obtained 
four new subscribers, and received many civilities, and 
especially from Mr. Theodore Anderson, the collector of 
the customs. He is fond of birds, and that made me 
fond of him. 

" From Baltimore we went to Washington, for the pur- 
pose of obtaining permission for myself to accompany an 
expedition to the Rocky Mountains under the patronage 
of the Government. Generals McComb, Jesup, Colonel 
Abert, and other influential persons received me as usual 
with marked kindness. I called on Governor Cass, Sec- 
retary of War, and met with a reception that nearly dis- 
heartened me. He said in an indifferent and cold 
manner that any request of that sort must be made in 
writing to the Department ; and it recalled to my mind 
how poor Wilson was treated by the famous Jefferson 
when he made a similar application to that great diplo- 
matist. I had forgotten to take with me the flattering 
letter of introduction I had received from Dr. McKen- 
ney, and I inquired if he would allow me to send the let- 

* One of his old partnership debts. 

Meets Washington Irving. 379 

ter : he said, ' Certainly, sir,' and I bowed and retired, 
determined never to trouble him or the War Department 

" I was revolving in my mind how I might get to the 
Rocky Mountains without the assistance of the Secretary 
of War, when I suddenly met with a friendly face, no less 
than Washington Irving's. I mentioned my errand to 
him and the answer I had received, and he thought I was 
mistaken. I might have been : but those eyes of mine 
have discovered more truth in men's eyes than their 
mouths were willing to acknowledge. However, I listen- 
ed to good Irving with patience and calmness, and he 
promised to see the Secretary of War ; and he also at 
once accompanied me to Mr. Taney, the Secretary of the 
Treasury, who received me well, and at once kindly gave 
me a letter, granting me the privilege of the revenue cut- 
ters along the coast south of Delaware Bay." 

Mr. Audubon returned to Baltimore, took the bay 
steamer for Norfolk, went aboard the Potomac, which was 
there ready to sail for Richmond, where he arrived at the 
above date. There he called on Governor Floyd, who 
promised to try to induce the State of Virginia to sub- 
scribe for his " Birds of America." 

" October 16. We left Richmond this morning in a stage 
well crammed with Italian musicians and southern mer- 
chants, arrived at Petersburg at a late hour, dined, and 
were again crammed in a car drawn by a locomotive, 
which dragged us twelve miles an hour, and sent out 
sparks of fire enough to keep us constantly busy in ex- 
tinguishing them on our clothes. At Blakely we were 
again crammed into a stage, and dragged about two miles 
an hour. We crossed the Roanoke River by torchlight 
in a flat boat, passed through Halifax, Raleigh, Fayette- 
ville, and Columbia, where we spent the night. Here I 
met Dr. Gibbs, at whose house we passed the evening, 

380 Life of Auduhon. 

and who assisted me greatly ; at his house I met Pres- 
ident Thomas Cooper, who assured me he had seen a 
rattlesnake climb a five-rail fence on his Jand. I received 
fiom the treasury of the State four hundred and twenty 
dollars on account of its subscription for one copy of the 
* Birds of America.' " 

Dreading the railway, he hired a carriage for forty 
dollars to proceed to Charleston, where he arrived in four 
days, and found his son John, and was kindly received, 
with his wife, by the Rev. John Bachman. 

Charleston, S. C, October 24, 1833. Our time ' at 
Charleston has been altogether pleasant. The hospital- 
ity of our friends cannot be described, and now that we 
are likely to be connected by family ties I shall say no 
more on this head." John and Victor Audubon were 
subsequently married to daughters of this gentleman. 

" My time was well employed ; I hunted for new birds 
or searched for more knowledge of old. I drew ; I wrote 
many long pages. I obtained a few new subscribers, and 
made some collections on account of my work. 

" My proposed voyage to Florida, which was arranged 
for the 3d of November, was abandoned on account of 
the removal of my good friend Captain Robert Day from 
his former station to New York, and I did not like to 
launch on the Florida reefs in the care of a young officer 
unknown to me ; and besides this, my son Victor wrote me 
from England desiring my return. So we began to pre- 
pare gradually for a retrograde movement toward the 
north, and on the ist of March we left our friends and 
Charleston to return to New York. We travelled through 
North and South Carolina, and reached Norfolk, Va., on 
the 6th ; went up the bay to Washington, thence to Bal- 
timore, and took lodgings at Theodore Anderson's in 
Fayette Street. 

" At Baltimore we saw all our friends and obtained 

London Once More. 381 

three new subscribers, and lost one, a banker." Here 
Audubon remained about a month ; went to Philadelphia 
to collect money, which he found rather difficult; and 
passed on to New York. 

April 16, 1834. After remaining two weeks in 
New York, Audubon, his wife, and son John, sailed 
on the above date for Liverpool, "in the superb pack- 
et, the North America, commanded by that excellent 
gentleman, Mr. Dixey of Philadelphia. Our company 
was good ; our passage was good ; the first land we 
saw was Holyhead, and in nineteen days after leaving 
America we were put ashore in Old England." Audubon 
saw his friends in Liverpool, who had lost none of their 
former cordiality and kindness ; and after a few days he 
left with his family, by the way of Birmingham, for Lon- 

'•'■May 12. We reached London to-day and found our 
son Victor quite well, and were all happy. My work 
and business were going on prosperously." After re- 
maining several weeks in London, and seeing to mat- 
ters relating to his publication there, Audubon and his 
son Victor went to deliver letters of introduction which 
they had brought. Among those letters was one from one 
of the firm of the distinguished American banking-house 
Prime, AVard, and King, to the famous London bank- 
er, Rothschild. " The letter was addressed to Baron 
Rothschild, the man who, notwithstanding his original 
poverty, is now so well known through his immense wealth, 
which he uses as banker, jobber, and lender of money. 
We found no difficulty in ascertaining the place of busi- 
ness of the great usurer. Business in London is thor- 
oughly matter of fact ; no external pomp indicated the 
counting-house of the baron ; there was nothing to dis- 
tinguish it from those of men of less enormous capital; 
and we walked into his private office without any hin- 

382 Life of Audubon. 

drance, and introduced ourselves widiout any introducer. 

" The Baron was not present, but we were told by a 
gqod-loking young gentleman that he would come in in 
a few minutes ; and so he did. Soon a corpulent man 
appeared, liitching up his trousers, and a face red with 
the exertion of walking, and without noticing any one 
present, dropped his fat body into a comfortable chair, 
as if caring for no one else in this wide world but him- 
self While the Baron sat, we stood, with our hats held 
respectfully in our hands. I stepped forward, and with 
a bow tendered him my credentials. ' Pray, sir,' said the 
man of golden consequence, ' is this a letter of business, 
or is it a mere letter of introduction ? ' This I could not 
well answer, for I had not read the contents of it ,and 
I was forced to answer rather awkwardly that I could 
not tell. The banker then opened the letter, read it with 
the manner of one who was looking only at the temporal 
side of things, and after reading it said, ' This is only a 
letter of introduction, and I expect from its contents that 
you are the publisher of some book or other and need 
my subscription.' 

" Had a man the size of a mountain spoken to me 
in that arrogant style in America, I should have indig- 
nantly resented it ; but where I then was it seemed best 
to swallow and digest it as well as I could. So in reply 
to the offensive arrogance of this banker, I said I should 
be honored by his subscription to the ' Birds of America.' 
' Sir, ' he said, ' I never sign my name to any subscription 
list, but you may send in your work and I will pay for a 
copy of it. Gentlemen, I am busy, I wish you good- 
morning.' We were busy men, too, and so bowing re- 
spectfully, we retired, pretty well satisfied with the small 
slice of his opulence which our labor was likely to obtain. 

" A few days afterwards I sent the first volume of my 
work half bound, and all the numbers besides, then pub- 

T^he Baron Rothschild. 383 

lished. On seeing them we were told that he ordered 
the bearer to take them to his house, which was done di- 
rectly. Number after number was sent and delivered to 
the Baron, and after eight or ten months my son made 
out his account and sent it by Mr. Havell, my engraver, 
to his banking-house. The Baron looked at it with amaze- 
ment, and cried out, ' What, a hundred pounds for birds ! 
Why, sir, I will give you five pounds, and not a farthing 
more ! ' Representations were made to him of the mag- 
nificence and expense of the work, and how pleased 
his Baroness and wealthy children would be to have a 
copy ; but the great financier was unrelenting. The copy 
of the work was actually sent back to ]\Ir. Havell's shop, 
and as I found that instituting legal proceedings against 
him would cost more than it would come to, I kept the 
work, and afterwards sold it to a man with less money 
but a nobler heart. What a distance there is between 
two such men as the Baron Rothschild of London and 
the merchant of Savannah ! " 

Audubon remained in London looking after his work 
and interests there until the fall of 1834, when he went 
with his family to Edinburgh, where he hired a house and 
spent a year and a half. 

There is no journal describing the incidents of that 
residence in Edinburgh ; and it is probable tliat Audubon 
did not keep a daily record there at all. The journal was 
written chiefly with the design to keep his wife and chil- 
dren infomied of all his doings v»'hen he was absent from 
them, and they were with him during this period, and so 
there was no necessit}' for it ; and secondly, he was daily 
so busily occupied with other writing that he had no time 
to devote to that, or even his favorite work of drawing 
and painting. Some idea of the amount of his labor at 
that period may be inferred from the fact, that the intro- 
duction to volume second of his " American Ornitholog- 

384 T^ife of Audiihon. 

ical Biography," which contains five hundred and eighty- 
five pages of closely-printed matter, is dated December 
1st, 1834 ; and that in just one year from that date, the 
third volume, containing six hundred and thirty-eight 
pages, was printed and published. 

In the summer of 1836 lie removed his family to 
London, and ha\'ing settled them in Wimpole-street, Cav- 
endish Square, he again made his preparations to return 
to America, and make the excursion into some of the 
southern States, which he had been contemplating for a 
long time, for the purpose of increasing the new varieties 
of birds for his great work. 

y^uly 30, 1836, the journal begins, saying that Mr. 
Audubon left London that day with his son John for 
Portsmouth, where he arrived the next day, and took pas- 
sage on board the packet-ship Gladiator, for New York. 

'■^August I. Somewhat before the setting of the sun 
we went on board, ate and drank, and laid ourselves down 
in those floating catacombs, vulgarly called berths. When 
the Gladiator left St. Katharine's Dock she had on our 
account two hundred and sixty live birds, three dogs re- 
ceived as a present from our noble friend, the Earl of 
Derby, and a brace of tailless cats from our friend George 
Thackery, D. D., provost of King's College. They had 
been on board several days, and seemed not to have re- 
ceived much care, and some of the birds had died. But 
the dogs and some of the birds were alive, and crossed 
the Atlantic safely. 

August 2. About five this afternoon the anchor was 
apeak, several new persons were hoisted on deck, our 
sails were spread to the breeze, and the Gladiator 
smoothly glided on her course. The passengers were a 
fair average as to agreeability, and among them was Wal- 
lack the actor, who amused us with some admirable puns. 
The voyage was prosperous, and the time passed pleas- 

A New Tori: Packet. ' 385 

antly, until we ajDproached the banlcs of Newfoundland, 
when we began to fear and dream of icebergs and disas- 
ters ] but none came, and the Gladiator kept her course 
steadily onward, when, just five weeks after leaving Eng- 
land, in the afternoon, the highlands of Neversink were dis- 
covered, about fifteen miles distant. The welcome news of 
our approach to the Hook thrilled my heart with ecstacy. 

" The evening was dark, and no pilot in sight ; and 
rockets were thrown up from the ship to attract one. 
This soon brought one alongside, and an American tar 
leaped on board. Oh ! my Lucy, thou knowest me, but 
I cried like a child, and when our anchor was dropped, 
and rested on the ground of America, thy poor husband 
laid himself down on his knees, and there thanked God 
for His preservation of myself and our dear son. 

" All was now bustle and mutual congratulations ; our 
commander was praised for his skill by some, and others 
praised his whiskey punch, which the waiters handed 
about, and the night was nearly spent in revelry ; but 
John and myself retired at two o'clock. 

"It rained hard and blew all night, but I slept com- 
fortably, and awoke the next morning at four o'clock as 
happy as any man could be three thousand miles from the 
dearest friend he had on earth. As a gleam of daylight 
appeared, my eyes searched through the hazy atmosphere 
to catch a glimpse of the land, and gradually Staten Island 
opened on my view ; then the boat of the custom-house 
officer appeared, and soon he boarded us, arranged the 
sailors and passengers on deck, and called their names. 
Then followed breakfast, and soon another boat with a 
yellow flag flying landed the health officer, and there be- 
ing no sickness on board, myself and John returned to 
Staten Island in the doctor's boat, and were taken by the 
steamer Hercules to the city, where we were welcomed by 
relatives and friends." 


In America — Philadelphia — Boston — Friends and Birds — Meeting 
with Daniel Webster — Back to Neiu York — Social Meetings — 
Washington — Two Letters of Washington Irving — Interview 
with the President—Proposed Scientific Expedition. 

EPTEMBER 13. Audubon remained in New 
York until this date, obtained two subscribers 
and the promise of two more, visited the mar- 
kets and found a few specimens of new birds, and left for 
Philadelphia ; paid three dollars for his fare on the 
steamer Swan, and fifty cents for his dinner; "but," the 
journal adds, "we were too thick to thrive. I could get 
only a piece of bread and butter, snatched from the table 
at a favorable moment. 

" I found the country through wliich we passed great- 
ly improved, clotted with new buildings, and the Delaware 
River seemed to me handsomer than ever. I reached 
Philadelphia at six o'clock p. M., and found Dr. Harlan 
waiting for me on the wharf, and he took me in his car- 
riage to his hospitable house, where I was happy in the 
preseiice of his amiable wife and interesting son. 

" September 24. Went to the market with Dr. Harlan 
at five o'clock this morning ; certainly this market is the 
finest one in America. . The flesh, fish, fruit and vege- 
tables, and fowls, are abundant, and about fifty per cent, 
less than in New York ; where, in fact, much of the pro- 
duce of Pennsylvania and New Jersey is taken now-a-days 
for sale — even game ! I bought two soras (cedar birds) 
for forty cents, that in New York would have brought 

Flying Visits. 387 

eighty cents. After breakfast went to the Academy of 
Natural Sciences, met Dr. Pickering, and had a gi-eat 
treat in looking over and handling the rare collection 
made by Nuttall and Townsend in their excursion on and 
over the Rocky Mountains. It belongs to the Academy, 
which assisted the travellers with funds to prosecute their 
journey ; it contains about forty new species of birds, and 
its value cannot be described." 

Audubon spent only a day or two in Philadelphia, saw 
his old friends there, was present at one of the meetings 
of the Academy, obtained a few new birds, and returned 
to New York. Mr. Edward Harris, his old friend, called 
to see him ; and when he was told of the new species of 
birds obtained by Townsend, "offered to give me five 
hundred dollars towards purchasing them. Is not this a 
noble generosity to show for the love of science .'' " 

" Boston, Septemlier 20, 1836. I came here from New 
York, via the steamer Massachusetts and the Providence 
Railroad, for seven dollars, which included supper and 
breakfast. There were three hundred passengers, and 
among them several persons known to me. A thick fog 
compelled the steamer to anchor at midnight ; in the 
morning our sail up the bay to Providence was hke a 
fairy dream. Nature looked so beautiful and grand, and 
so congenial to my feelings, tliat I wanted nothing but 
thy dear self here, Lucy, to complete my happiness. The 
locomotive pulled us from Providence to Boston at the 
rate of fifteen miles an hour ; we arrived at four p. m. ; 
a cart took my trunk, and sitting myself by the side of 
the owner, we drove to the house of my friend Dr. George 
C. Shattuck. The family soon gathered for tea, and I 
was now happy, and after talking for a while I retired to 
rest in the same room and bed where John and I slept 
after our return from Labrador." 

Audubon spent several days in Boston, visiting the 

j88 Life of Audubon. 

public institutions and his friends, among whom he men* 
tions Mr. Everett, Dr. Bowditch, Dr. Gould, and Mr. 

David, " where I found Maria D , now Mrs. Motley, 

as handsome as ever, and her husband not fiir short of 
seven feet high." 

'■'■ Scp'emher 20. Went to the market and bought a 
fine pigeon hawk which is now found in Massachusetts, 
for two cents. Visited Roxbury with Thomas Brewer, a 
young man of much ornithological taste, to see his col- 
lection of skins and eggs : found his mother and family 
very kind and obliging, and received from him seven 
eggs of such species as I have not. Returned and visited 
David Eckley, the great salmon fisher : promised to 
breakfost with him to-morrow. 

" September 21. Went to market and bought a female 
blue teal for ten cents. Called on Dr. Storer, and 
heard that our learned friend Thomas Nuttall had just 
returned from California. I sent Mr. Brewer after him, 
and waited with impatience for a sight of the great travel- 
ler, whom we admired so much when we were in this 
line city. In he came, Lucy, the very same Thomas Nut- 
tall, and in a few minutes we discussed a considerable 
portion of his travels, ad\entures, and happy return to 
this land of happiness. He promised to obtain me dupli- 
cates of all the species he had brought for the Academy 
at Philadelphia, and to breakfast with us to-morrow, and 
we parted as we have before, friends, bent on the promo- 
tion of the science we study. 

'■'■ September 22. This has been a day of days with 
me ; Nuttall breakfasted with us, and related much of his 
journey on the Pacific, and presented me with five new 
species of birds obtained by himself, and which are named 
after him. One of Dr. Sliattuck's students drove me in 
the doctor's gig to call on Governor Everett, who received 
me as kindly as ever ; and then to the house of Presi- 

Flying Visits. 389 

dent Tinnay of Harvard. University, where I saw his fam 
ily ; and then to Judge Story's. Tlien crossing the coun' 
try, we drove to Col. J. H. Perkins', and on the way I 
Dought a fine male white-headed eagle for five dollars. 
On my return I learned that at a meeting of the Nationa' 
History Society yesterday a resolution was passed to 
subscribe for my work. 

" Dr. Bowditch advised me to go to Salem, and with 
his usual anxiety to promote the welfare of every one, 
gave me letters to Messrs. Peabody and Cleveland of that 
place, requesting them to interest themselves to get the 
Athenaeum to subscribe for my work. 

" Saletn, Mass., September 23, 1836. Rose early this 
morning, and made preparations to go to Salem ; and at 
seven o'clock I was in the stage, rolling out of Boston to- 
wards this beautiful and quiet village. The road might 
be called semi-aquatic, as it passes over bridges and em- 
bankments through salt marshes of great extent, bounded 
by wooded hills towards the sea, and distant ones inland. 
We stopped a few moments at Shoemaker Town (Lynn), 
where I paid one dollar for my fare, and reached this 
place afterwards at half-past ten. 

" I was put down at the Lafayette Hotel, and soon 
made my way to Mr. Cleveland's office ; he received me 
kindly, and invited me to dine with him at one o'clock. 
I took some back numbers of my ' Birds of America ' to 
Miss Burley, and found her as good, amiable, and gener- 
ous as ever ; and she at once interested herself to make 
the object of my visit successful. Called on Dr. Pierson, 
to whom I had a letter, and met a most congenial spirit, 
a man of talents and agreeable manners. The Doctor 
went with me to see several persons likely to be interested 
in my work ; and I then called alone on a Miss Sitsby, a 
beautiful ' blue,' seven or eight seasons beyond her teens, 
and very wealthy. Blues do not knit socks, or put on 

3 90 ^tfe of Audubon. 

buttons when needed ; they may do for the parlor, but 
not for the kitchen. Akhough she has the eyes of a ga- 
zelle, and capital teeth, I soon discovered that she would 
be no help to me : when I mentioned subscription, it 
seemed to fall on her ears, not as the cadence of the wood 
thrush or mocking-bird does in mine, but as a shower- 
bath in cold January. Ornithology seemed to be a thing 
for which she had no taste • she said, however, ' I will 
suggest your wish to my father, sir, and give you an an- 
swer to-morrow morning.' She showed me some valuable 
pictures, especially one by that king of Spanish painters, 
Murillo, representing himself, and gun, and dog ; the 
Spanish dress and tout ensemble brought to my mind my 
imaginations respecting Gil Bias. At last I bowed, she 
curtsied, and so the interview ended. 

" September 23. ' Chemin faisant.' I met the curator 
of the Natural History Society of Salem, and gladly ac- 
cepted his invitation to examine the young collection of 
that new-born institution, and there I had the good for- 
tune to find one &g^ of the American bittern. 

" It was now nearly one o'clock, and going to the 
office of Mr. Cleveland, I found him waiting to conduct 
me to his house. We soon entered it and his dining- 
room, where I saw three lovely daughters and a manly- 
looking youth, their brother. The dinner was excellent, 
and served simply ; but as our future bread and buttei 
depend on my exertions, I excused myself as soon as con- 
venient, and went to Dr. Pierson, who accompanied me 
to call on some gentlemen who would be likely to take an 
interest in my work." 

Audubon returned on September 24th to Boston, and 
remained there one week, visiting his friends and looking 
for subscribers to his Birds. 

" September 2^ . The citizens are all excitement ; guns 
are firing, flags flying, and troops parading, and John 

Interview with Daniel Webster. 3 9 1 

Quincy Adams is delivering a eulogy on the late Pres- 
ident Madison. The mayor of Boston did me the hon- 
or to invite me to join in the procession, but I am no 
politician, and declined. 

" I dined with Dr. B. C. Green, President of the Nat- 
ural History Society, with President Quincy, Isaac P. 
Davis, and Mr. Nuttall. In the evening Dr. Shattuck 
finished the subscription list of the society, bypresenting 
me to his lady, who subscribed for one-tenth, and the Dr. 
then put down his son George's name for one-twentieth, 
making in his own family one-fourth of the whole, or two 
hundred and twenty dollars, for which he gave me his 
cheque. Without the assistance of this generous man, it 
is more than probable that the society never would have 
had a copy of the ' Birds of America.' 

^'■September 29. Mr. Isaac P. Davis called to invite me 
to spend the evening at his house, and to meet Daniel 
Webster. I met him at the Historical Society, where I 
saw the last epaulets worn by our glorious Washington, 
many of his MS. letters, and the coat Benjamin Franklin 
wore at the French and English courts. 

" Mr. Davis has some fine pictures, which I enjoyed 
looking at, and after a while Daniel Webster came, and 
we welcomed each other as friends indeed, and after the 
usual compliments on such occasions we had much con- 
versation respecting my publication. He told me he 
thought it likely a copyright of our great work might be 
secured to you and our children. We took tea, talked of 
ornithology and ornithologists ; he promised to send me 
some specimens of birds, and finished by subscribing to 
my work. I feel proud, Lucy, to have that great man's 
name on our list, and pray God to grant him a long life 
and a happy one. Mr. Webster gave me the following 
note : — 

" ' I take this mode of commending Mr. Audubon to 

jg2 Life of Auduhon. 

any friends of mine he may meet in his journey to the 
west. I have not only great respect for Mr. Audubon's 
scientific pursuits, but entertain for him personally much 
esteem and hearty good wishes. 

" ' Daniel Webster.' " 

After obtaining a few more subscribers, and deliver- 
ing some numbers of his birds to former ones, Audubon 
bid adieu to his friends in Boston, and returned to New 

" October lo. Had a pleasant call from \Vashington 
Irving, and promise of valuable letters to Van Buren and 
others in Washington. After dinner went to Mr. Coop- 
er's, the naturalist, who at first with some reluctance 
showed me his birds. We talked of ornithology, and he 
gave me five pairs of sylvia, and promised to see me 

'■'•October ii. At nine o'clock Mr. Cooper came to 
see me, and examined the third volume of our work. 
He remained two hours, conversing on our favorite study, 
and I was pleased to find him more generously inclined 
to forward my views after he had seen the new species 
given me by Nuttall. I went to his house with him, and 
he gave me several rare and valuable specimens, and 
promised me a list of die birds found by himself and 
Ward in the State of New York. 

" October 13. Called on Inman the painter; saw the 
sketch intended for thee, but found it not at all like thy 
dear self He says he makes twelve thousand dollars a 
year by his work. Dined at Samuel Swartwout's, a grand 
dinner, with Mr. Fox, the British minister, Mr. Buckhead, 
secretary of legation, Thomas Moore, the poet. Judge 
Parish, and sundry others. Mrs. S. and her daughter 
were present ; all went off in good style, and 1 greatly 
enjoyed myself Several of the party invited me to visit 

Dinner with S. Swartwout. 393 

them at their residences, and General Stewart of Baltimore 
invited me to make his house my home when I visited 

" October 15. We have packed our trunks and sent 
them on board the steamer, and leave this evening for 
Philadelphia. The weather has been perfectly serene 
and beautiful, and the Bay of New York never looked 
more magnificent and grand to me. We soon glided 
across its smooth surface and entered the narrow and 
sinuous Raritan ; and as I saw flocks of ducks winging 
their way southward, I felt happy in the thought that I 
should ere long follow them to their winter abode. We 
soon reached the railroad, and crossed to the Delaware, 
and before six o'clock reached the house of my good 
friend Dr. Harlan." 

Here Audubon saw many of his old friends, visited 
the public works and institutions, and obtained a few 
new species of birds. After speaking of the great changes 
in that city, the journal says : " Passed poor Alexander 
Wilson's school-house, and heaved a sigh. Alas, poor 
Wilson ! would that I could once more speak to thee, and 
listen to thy voice. When I was a j^outh, the woods stood 
unmolested here, looking wild and fresh as if just from 
the Creator's hands ; but now hundreds of streets cross 
them, and thousands of houses and millions of diverse 
improvements occupy their places : Barton's Garden is 
the only place which is unchanged. I walked in the 
same silent mood I enjoyed on the same spot when 
first I visited the present owner of it, the descendant of 
William Barton, the generous friend of Wilson." 

On November 8th, Audubon arrived in Washington. 
Among many other letters of introduction given to peo- 
ple in Washington, and transcribed carefully in the 
journal, are the two following from Washington Irving. 


394 ^'^f^ of Auduhon. 

Tarrytown, October 19, 1836. 

My dear Sir, 

This letter will be handed to you by our distin- 
guished naturalist, Mr. J. J. Audubon. To one so pure- 
ly devoted as yourself to anything liberal and enlightened, 
I know I need say nothing in recommendation of Audu- 
bon and his works ; he himself will best inform you of 
his views in visiting Washington, and I am sure you will 
do anything in your power to promote them. 

He has heretofore received facilities on the part of 
the government, in prosecuting his researches along our 
coast, by giving him conveyance in our revenue cutters 
and other public vessels. I trust similar civilities will 
be extended to him, and that he will receive all aid and 
countenance in his excursions by land. 

The splendid works of Mr. Audubon, on the sale of which 
he depends for the remuneration of a life of labor, and for 
provision for his family, necessarily, from the magnificence 
of its execution, is put beyond the means of most individ- 
uals. It must depend therefore on public institutions for 
its chief sale. As it is a national work, and highly cred- 
itable to the nation, it appears to me that it is particular- 
ly deserving of national patronage. Why cannot the de- 
partments of Washington furnish themselves with copies, 
to be deposited in their libraries or archives ? Think of 
these suggestions, and, if you approve of them, act accord- 

With the highest esteem and regard, 

I am, dear sir. Yours very truly, 

Washington Irving. 
Benjamin F. Butler, Esq., 
Attorney-General of the United States, Washington, D. C. 

Tarrytown, October, 19, 1836. 
My dear Sir, 

I take pleasure in introducing to you our distin* 
guished and most meritorious countryman, J. J. Audubon, 

Letter to M. Van Bur en. 395 

whose splendid work on American ornitliology must of 
course be well known to you. That work, while it re- 
flects such great credit on our country, and contributes so 
largely to the adv^ancement of one of the most delightful 
departments of science, is likely, from the extreme ex- 
pense attendant upon it, to repay but poorly the indefati 
gable labor of a lifetime. The high price necessarily put 
on the copies of Mr. Audubon's magnificent work places 
it beyond the means of the generality of private individ- 
uals. It is entitled therefore to the especial countenance 
of our libraries and various other public institutions. It 
appears to me, that the different departments in Washing- 
ton ought each to have a copy deposited in their libraries 
or archives. Should you be of the same opinion you 
might be of great advantage in promoting such a meas- 

Reference is then made to the assistance rendered to 
Audubon by the revenue cutters and public vessels, and 
the letter continues : — 

" I trust similar facilities will still be extended to him ; 
in fact, as his undertakings are of a decidedly national 
character, and conducive of great national benefit, the 
most liberal encouragement in every respect ought to be 
shown to him on the part of our government. 
I am, my dear Sir, 

Your attached Friend, 

Washington Irving." 
" The Honorable Martin Van Bcren." 

" November 8. Called on Colonel Abert, who received 
me with his wonted civility, promised to assist me in all 
my desires, and walked with me to the President's, to pre- 
sent my letters. There we found Colonel Donaldson and 
Mr. Earle, both nephews, I believe, of General Jackson, 
and in a moment I was in the presence of this famed 

396 Life of Auduhon. 

man, and had shaken his hand. He read Mr. Swartvvout's 
letter twice, with apparent care, and having finished, said, 
' Mr. Audubon, I will do all in my power to serve you, 
but the Seminole war will, I fear, prevent you from hav- 
ing a cutter ; however, as we shall have a committee at 
twelve o'clock, we will consider this, and give you an an- 
swer to-morrow.' The general looked well, he was smok- 
ing his pipe, and gave his letters to Colonel Donaldson, 
who read them attentively, and as I left the room he fol- 
lowed us, and we talked to him respecting the subscrip- 
tion of the different departments. I like this man and 
his manners ; and I gave him the letters of the Duke of 
Sussex and the Governor of the Hudson Bay Company 
to read, and went to see Colonel Earle, who is engaged 
in painting General Jackson's portrait. 

" Colonel Abert then took me to Mr. Woodbury, Sec- 
retary of the Treasury, who received me very politely, 
and after reading my letters to him, promised me the use 
of the cutter. The subscription was also broached to 
him, but nothing decisive was said ; and so we passed 
over to Mr. Butler's office, who is a young man. He read 
Washington Irving's letter, laid it down, and began a long 
talk about his talents, and after a while came round to my 
business ; saying, that the government allows so little 
money to the departments, that he did not think it proba- 
ble that their subscription could be obtained without a 
law to that effect from Congress. This opinion was any- 
thing but gratifying ; but he made many courteous prom- 
ises to bring the matter before the next Congress, and I 
bid him adieu, hoping for the best. 

"Called on Mr. John S. Mechan, librarian to Con- 
gress, and found him among his books. After some 
agreeable conversation respecting his work and my own, 
he asked me to dine with him to-day, and to-morrow to 
visit the curious chimney-sweep possessing curious knowl- 

Celebrities in Washington. 397 

edge of the Sora Rail, a water bird vulgarly sujDposed to 
bury itself in the mud and lie torpid all winter. Accom- 
panied by John, I took tea at Colonel Abert's, and ther, 
walked to Mr. Woodbury's, to spend the evening. There 
the Colonel handed me an order for the use of the cutter, 
and informed me that the Treasury Department had sub- 
scribed for one copy of our work. Mr. Woodbury also 
offered us a passage to Charleston in the cutter, Camp- 
bell, about to sail for that station. The vessel is only. 
fifty-five tons ; and although Columbus crossed the Atlan- 
tic in search of a new world in a barque yet more frail, 
and although thy husband would go to the world's end 
after new birds on land, he would not like to go from Bal- 
timore on such a vessel carrying three guns and twenty- 
one men. I am now hoping soon to see again the breed- 
ing grounds of the wood ibis, and the roseate spoonbill. 
'•'■ Novenibe}' 9. To-day Colonel Abert called with me 
on Secretary Dickinson, of the navy. He received us 
frankly, talked of the great naval and scientific expedition 
round the world now proposed to be fitted out by the 
government. To my surprise and delight his views co- 
incided exactly with mine. He said he was opposed to 
frigates and large ships, and to great numbers of extra 
sailors on such an enterprise, when only peaceful objects 
were intended. We differed, however, respecting the 
number of the scientific corps : he was for a few, and I 
for duplicates at least; because in case of death or illness 
some of the departments of science would suffer if only 
one person were sent. He asked me respecting the fit- 
ness of certain persons whose names had been mentioned 
for the voyage. But I gave evasive answers, not wishing 
to speak of individuals who are both unfit and inimical to 
me to this very day. Most sincerely do I hope that this, 
our'first great national (Expedition, may succeed, not only 
for the sake of science, but also for the honor of our be- 

39 S hife of Auduhon. 

loved countiy, I strongly recommended George Lehman, 
my former assistant, as he is in every respect one of the 
best general draftsmen I know. I also recommended the 
son of Dr. McMurtrie (how strange, you will say), and 
young Reynolds, of Boston, as an entomologist. 

"The secretary paid me some compliments, and told 
me the moment the expedition had been mentioned he 
had thought of me, and Nuttall, and Pickering — a glorious 
trio ! I wish to God that I were young once more ; how 
delighted I would be to go in such company, learned men 
and dear friends. He also took us to his house, to see 
the work published by the French government, of the 
voyages of L'Athalie, and presented by that government 
to our own. It is a magnificent production, quite French, 
and quite perfect. I next took John to the White House, 
which is the vulgar name for the President's residence. 
Mr. Earle introduced us, and John saw for the first time 
that extraordinary man. General Andrew Jackson. He 
was very kind, and as soon as he heard that we intended 
departing to-morrow evening for Charleston, invited us to 
dine with him enfamille. At the named hour we went to 
the White House, and were taken into a room, where the 
President soon joined us. I sat close to him ; we ipoke 
of olden times, and touched slightly on politics, and I 
found him very averse to the cause of the Texans. We 
talked also of the great naval expedition, European af- 
fairs, &c. Dinner being announced, we went to the table 
with his two nephews, Colonel Donaldson being in the 
truest sense of the word a gentleman. The dinner was 
what might be called plain and substantial in England ; 
I dined from a fine young turkey, shot within twenty miles 
of Washington. The general drank no wine, but his 
health was drunk by us more than once ; and he ate very 
moderately, his last dish consisting of bread and milk. 
As soon as dinner was over we returned to the first room, 

Dines with General Jackson. ^93 

where was a picture, ay, a picture of our gi-eat Washing- 
ton, painted by Stewart, when in the prime of his age and 
art. This picture, Lucy, was found during tlie war with 
England by Mrs. Madison, wlio had it cut out of the 
frame, rolled up, and removed to the country, as Mr. 
Earle told me. It is the only picture in the whole house 
— so much for precious republican economy. Coffee was 
handed, and soon after John and I left, bidding adieu to 
a man who has done much good and much evil to our 


Excursiott South — Starts in Cutter for Galveston Bay, Texas — Bara- 

taria Bay — Great Htittting Exctlrsion with a Squatter — Notes in 

Texas — Wretched Population — Buffalo Bayou — Texan Capitol 

and Houses of Congress — Reaches New Orleans — Charleston — In 

England Again — Literary Labors — Back to America. 

HARLESTON, S. C, November 17, 1836. We 
arrived here last evening, after an irksome and fa- 
tiguing journey, and seemingly very slowly per- 

formed, in my anxiety to reach a resting place, where 
friendship and love would combine to render our time 
happy, and the prosecution of our labor pleasant. We were 
hungry, thirsty, and dusty as ever two men could be ; but 
we found our dear friends all well, tears of joy ran from 
their eyes, and we embraced the whole of them as if born 
from one mother. John Bachman was absent from home, 
but returned at nine from his presidential chair at the 
Philosophical Society." 

Audubon passed the winter of 1836 and 1837 in 
Charleston, with his friend Dr. Bachman, making occa- 
sional excursions into the country, to the neighboring sea 
islands, and also to Savannah and Florida. But the 
Seminole war then raging, he was unable to penetrate 
much into the interior. This winter he began the studies 
in Natural History, which led to the publication of the 
Quadrupeds of North America, in connection with Dr. 
Bachman. Early in the spring, he appears to have left 
Charleston, in the revenue cutter Campbell, Captain 
Coste, for explorations in the Gulf of Mexico. The jour- 
nals are lost which describe the interval between the 17th 
of January and the ist of April, under which latter date 

Bar at aria Bzy. 401 

we read that Audubon, his son John, and Mr. Edward 
Harris, came down from New Orleans, in the cutter, to 
the S. W. pass, provisioned for two months, and bound 
westwardly from tlie mouth of the Mississippi to Galves- 
ton Bay, in Texas, with the intention of exploring the 
harbors, keys, and bayous along the coast, and to examine 
the habits of the birds of this region, and to search for 
new species, to furnish materials for the completion of the 
fourth volume of the " Birds of America." 

'■'■ April Ty. We were joined this day by Captain W. B. 
G. Taylor, of the Revenue sendee, with the schooner 
Crusader, twelve tons burden, two guns, and four men 
completely equipped for our expedition, with a supply of 
seines, cast-nets, and other fishing-tackle." 

The same day they entered Barataria Bay, and began 
operations, and found a variety of birds which are de- 
scribed in the journal. The next day the party landed, 
and made excursions in different directions, in pursuit of 
birds and eggs. Among the sjDoils of game taken this 
day, were two white pelicans, of which there was an 

The next three weeks were spent in visiting the 
islands and bayous, and penetrating some of the rivers 
which pour into the latter that occur along the coast be- 
tween the Mississippi river and Galveston, 'fhe parties 
landed at various points, and found many new species of 
birds, and other interesting objects of Natural History. 
In the course of one of these rambles, Audubon made 
the acquaintance of a squatter, a great hunter, and with 
whom he went on an excursion, which is thus de- 
scribed : — 

" I entered the squatter's cabin, and immediately 
opened a conversation with him respecting the situation 
of the swamp and its natural productions. He told me ' 
he thought it the very place I ought to visit, spoke of the 

402 Life of Audubon. 

game which it contained, and pointed to some bear and 
deer skins, adding, that tlie individuals to which they had 
belonged formed but a small portion of the number of 
those animals which he had shot within it. My heart 
swelled with delight ; and on asking if he would accom- 
pany me through the great swamp, and allow me to be- 
come an inmate of his kumble but hospitable mansion, I 
was gratified to find that he cordially assert<.d to all my 
proposals, so I immediately unstrapped rr y drawing ma- 
terials, laid up xm gun, and sat down to partake of the 
homely but wholesome fare intended for the supper of 
the squatter, liis wife, and his two sons. The quietness 
of the evening seemed in perfect accordance with the 
gentle demeanour of the family. The wife and children, 
I more than once thought, seemed to look upon me as a 
strange sort of person, going about, as I told them I was, 
in search of birds and plants ; and were I here to relate 
the many questions which they put to me, in return for 
those which I addressed to them, the catalogue would oc- 
cupy several pages. The husband, a native of Connecti- 
cut, had heard of the existence of such men as myself, 
both in our oaati countr\- and abroad, and seemed greatly 
pleased to have me under his roof Supper over, I ask- 
ed my kind host what had induced him to remove to this 
wild and solitary spot. ' The people are growing too 
numerous now to thrive in New England,' was his an- 
swer. I thought of the state of some parts of Europe, 
and calculating the denseness of their population, com- 
pared wdth that of New England, exclaimed to myself, 
how much more difficult must it be for men to thrive in 
those populous countries ! The conversation then 
changed, and the squatter, his sons and myself spoke of 
hunting and fishing, until at length tired, we laid our- 
selves dowTi on pallets of bear-skins, and reposed in peace 
on the floor of the only apartment of which the hut con- 

A Panther Hunt. 403 

sisted. Day dawned, and die squatter's call to his hogS; 
which, being almost in a wild state, were suffered to seek 
tlie greater portion of their food in the woods, awakened 
me. Being ready dressed, I was not long in joining him. 
The hogs and their young came grunting at tiie well- 
known call of their owner, who threw them a few ears of 
corn, and counted them, but told me that for some weeks 
their number had been greatly diminished by the ravages 
committed upon them by a large panther, by which name 
the cougar is designated in America, and that the raven- 
ous animal did not content himself with the flesh of his 
pigs, but now and then carried off one of his calves, not- 
withstanding the many attempts he had made to shoot it. 
The 'painter,' as he sometimes called it, had on several 
occasions robbed him of a dead deer ; and to these ex- 
ploits, the squatter added several remarkable feats of au- 
dacity which it had j^erformed, to give me an idea of the 
formidable character of the beast. Delighted by his de- 
scription, I offered to assist him in destroying the ene- 
my ; at which he was highly pleased, but assured me that 
unless some of his neighbors should join us with their 
dogs and his own, the attempt would prove fruitless. 
Soon after, mounting a horse, he went off to his neigh- 
bors, several of whom lived at a distance of some miles, 
and appointed a day of meeting. The hunters accord- 
ingly made their appearance one fine morning at the door 
of the cabin, just as the sun was emerging from beneath 
the horizon. They were five in number, and fully equip- 
ped for the chase, being mounted on horses, which in 
some parts of Europe might appear sorry nags, but 
which in strength, speed, and bottom, are better fitted 
for pursuing a cougar or a bear through woods and mo- 
rasses than any in their country. A pack of large ugly 
curs was already engaged in making acquaintance with 
those of the squatter. He and myself mounted his two 

404 Life of Audubon. 

best horses, whilst his sons were bestriding others of in« 
ferior quaUty. Few words were uttered by the party 
until we had reached the edge of the swamp, where it 
was agreed that all should disperse, and seek for the 
fresh track of the ' painter,' it being previously settled 
that the discoverer should blow his horn, and remain on 
the spot until the rest should join him. In less than an 
hour the sound of the horn was clearly heard, and stick- 
ing close to the squatter, oif we went through the thick 
woods, guided only by the now-and-then repeated call of 
the distant huntsman. We soon reached the spot, and in 
a short time the rest of the party came up. The best 
dog was sent forward to track the cougar, and in a few 
mom Jilts the whole pack was observed diligently trailing 
and bearing in their course for the interior of the swamp. 
The rifles were immediately put in trim, and the party, 
followed the dogs at separate distances, but in sight of 
each other, determined to shoot at no other game than 
the panther. 

" The dogs soon began to mouth, and suddenly 
quickened their pace. My companions concluded that 
the beast was on the ground, and putting our horses to a 
gentle gallop, we followed the curs, guided by their 
voices. The noise of the dogs increased, when all of a 
sudden their mode of barking became altered, and the 
squatter urging me to push on, told me that the beast 
was treed, by which he meant, that it had got upon some 
low branch of a large tree to rest for a few moments, and 
that should we not succeed in shooting him when thus 
situated, we might expect a long chase of it. As we ap- 
proached the spot, we all by degrees united into a body, 
but on seeing the dogs at the foot of a large tree, sejDa- 
rated again, and galloped off to surround it. Each hunt- 
er now moved with caution, holding his gim ready, and 
allowing the bridle to dangle on the neck of his horse, as 

A Panther Hunt. 405 

it advanced slowly towards the dogs. A shot from one 
of the party was heard, on which the cougar was seen to 
'eap to the ground, and bound off with such velocity as 
to show that he was very unwilling to stand our fire 
longer. The dogs set off in pursuit with great eagerness, 
and a deafening cry. The hunter who had fired came up 
and said that his ball had hit the monster, and had prob- 
ably broken one of his forelegs, near the shoulder, the 
only place at which he could aim. A slight trail of ' 
blood was discovered on the ground, but the curs pro- 
ceeded at such a rate that we merely noticed this, and 
put spurs to our horses, which galloped on towards the 
centre of the swamp. One bayou was crossed, then 
another still larger and more muddy, but the dogs were 
brushing forward, and as the horses began to pant at a 
furious rate, we judged it expedient to leave them, and 
advance on foot. These determined hunters knew that 
the cougar, being wounded, would shortly ascend another 
tree, where in all probability he would remain for a con- 
siderable time, and that it would be easy to follow the 
track of the dogs. We dismounted, took off the saddles 
and bridles, set the bells attached to the horses' necks at 
liberty to jingle, hoppled the animals, and left them to 
shift for themselves. Now, kind reader, follow the group 
marching through the swamjD, crossing muddy pools, and 
making the best of their way over fallen trees, and 
amongst the tangled rushes that now and then covered 
acres of ground. If you are a hunter yourself all this 
will appear nothing to you ; but if crowded assemblies of 
'beauty and fashion,' or the quiet enjoyment of your 
' pleasure grounds ' delight you, I must mend my pen be- 
fore I attempt to give 3^ou an idea of the pleasure felt on 
such an expedition. After marching for a couple of 
hours, we again heard the dogs : each of us pressed for- 
ward, elated at the thousfht of terminating the career of 

4o6 Life of Audubon. 

the coug-ar. Some of the dogs were heard whining, al- 
though the greater number barked vehemently. We felt 
assured that the cougar was treed, and that he would rest 
for some time to recover from his fatigue. As we came 
up to the dogs, we discovered the ferocious animal lying 
across a large branch, close to the trunk of a cotton-wood 
tree. His broad breast lay towards us ; his eyes were at 
one time bent on us and again on the dogs beneath and 
around him ; one of his fore-legs hung loosely by his side, 
. and he lay crouched, with his ears lowered close to his 
head, as if he thought he might remain undiscovered. 
Three balls were fired at him at a given signal, on which 
he sprang a few feet from the branch, and tumbled head- 
long to the ground, attacked on all sides by the enraged 
curs. The infuriated cougar fought with desperate 
valour ; but the squatter advancing in front of the party> 
and, almost in the midst of the dogs, shot him immedi- 
ately behind and beneath the left shoulder. The cougar 
writhed for a moment in agony, and in another lay dead. 
The sun was now sinking in the west. Two of the hunt- 
ers separated from the rest to procure venison, whilst the 
squatter's sons were ordered to make the best of their 
way home, to be ready to feed the hogs in the morning. 
The rest of the party agreed to camp on the spot. The 
cougar was despoiled of his skin, and the carcass left to 
the hungiy dogs. Whilst engaged in preparing our 
camp, we heard the report of a gun, and soon after one 
of our hunters returned with a small deer. A fire was 
lighted, and each hunter displayed his ' pone ' of bread, 
along with a flask of whisky. The deer was skinned in 
a trice, and slices placed on sticks before the fire. These 
materials afforded us an excellent meal ; and as the night 
grew darker, stories and songs went round, until my com- 
panions, fatigued, laid themselves down, close under the 
smoke of the fire, and soon fell asleep. I walked for 

Galveston Harbor. 407 

some minutes rijund the camp to contemplate the beauties 
of that Nature, from which I have certainly derived my 
greatest pleasure. I thought of the occurrences of the 
day ; and glancing my eye around, remarked the singular 
effects produced by the phosphorescent qualities of the 
large decayed trunks, which lay in all directions around 
me. How easy, I thought, would it be for the confused 
and agitated mind of a person bewildered in a swamp 
like this to imagine in each of these luminous masses 
some wondrous and fearful being, the very sight of which 
might make the hair- stand erect on his head ! The 
thought of being myself placed in such a predicament 
burst upon my mind ; and I hastened to join my com- 
panions, beside whom I laid me down and slept, assured 
that no enemy would approach us without first rousing 
the dogs, which were growling in fierce dispute over the 
remains of tha- cougar. At daybreak we left our camp, 
the squatter bearing on his shoulders the skin of the late 
destroyer of his stock, and retraced our steps until we 
found our horses, which had not strayed far from the 
place where we left them. These we soon saddled ; and 
jogging along in a direct course, guided by the sun, con- 
gratulating each other on the destruction of so formidable 
a neighbour as the panther had been, we soon arrived at 
my host's cabin. The five neighbours partook of such 
refreshments as the house could afford, and, dispersing, 
returned to their homes, leaving me to follow my favorite 

'■'■ Ap?'il 2Af. Arrived in Galveston Bay this afternoon, 
having had a fine run from Atchafalaya Bay, We were 
soon boarded by officers from the Texan vessels in the 
harbor, who informed us that two days before the U. S. 
sloop of war Natchez fell in with the Mexican squadron 
off the harbor of Velasco, captured the brig Urea, and 
ran two other v^essels ashore ; another report says they 

4o8 Life of Auduhon. 

sunk another ship, and went in pursuit of the squadron. 
These vessels were taken as pirates — the fleet having 
sailed from Vera Cruz without being provisioned, had 
been plundering American vessels on the coast. There 
is also a rumor that the Texan schooner Independence 
has been captured by a Mexican cruiser. The American 
schooner Flash was driven ashore a few days since by a 
Mexican cruiser, and now lies on the beach at the lower 
end of the island. 

" April 2^. A hea\'y gale blew all night, and this morn- 
ing the thermometer in the cabin is 63°, and thousands 
of birds, arrested by the storm in their migration north- 
ward, are seen hovering around our vessels, and hiding 
in the grass, and some struggling in the water, completely 

"We had a visit this morning from the Secretary of 
the Texan navy, Mr. C. Rhodes Fisher, who breakfasted 
with us. He appeared to be a well-informed man, and 
talked a great deal about the infant republic, and then 
left us for the seat of government at Houston, seventy 
miles distant, on the steamer Yellow Stone, accompanied 
by Captains Casto and Taylor, taking the Crusader in tow. 

" April 26. Went ashore at Galveston. The only ob- 
jects we saw of interest were the Mexican prisoners ; they 
are used as slaves ; made to carry wood and water, and 
cut grass for the horses, and such work ; it is said that 
some are made to draw the plow. They all appear to be of 
delicate frame and constitution, but are not dejected in 

" April 27. We were off at an early hour for the island, 
two miles distant ; we waded nearly all the distance, so 
very shallow and filled with sandbanks is this famous Bay. 
The men made a large fire to keep off the mosquitoes, 
which were annoying enough for even me. Besides 
many interesting birds, we found a new species of rat- 

Galveston Island. 


tlesnake, with a double row of fangs on each. side of its 

'■'■April -28. We went on a deer hunt on Galveston 
Island, where these animals are abundant ; we saw about 
twenty-five, and killed four. 

'■'■ April 2(^. John took a view of the rough village of 
Galveston, with the Lucida. We found much company 
on board on our return to the vessel, among whom was 
a contractor for beef for the army ; he was from Connecti- 
cut, and has a family residing near the famous battle- 
ground of San Jacinto. He promised me some skulls 
of Mexicans, and some plants, for he is bumped with 
botanical bumps somewhere. 

" Galveston Bay, May i, 1837. I was much fatigued 
this morning, and the muscles of my legs were swelled 
until they were purple, so that I could not go on shore. 
The musk-rat is the only small quadruped found here, 
and the common house-rat has not yet reached this part 
of the world. 

""'May 2. Went ashore on Galveston Island, and landed 
on a point where the Texan garrison is quartered. We 
passed through the troops, and observed the miserable 
condition of the whole concern ; huts made of grass, and 
a few sticks or Sods cut into square pieces composed the 
buildings of the poor Mexican prisoners, wliich, half clad, 
and half naked, strolled about in a state of apparent inac- 
tivity'. We passed two sentinels under arms, very unlike 
soldiers in appearance. The whole population seemed 
both indolent and reckless. We saw a few fowls, one 
pig, and a dog, which appeared to be all the domestic 
animals in the encampment. We saw only three women, 
who were Mexican prisoners. The soldiers' huts are 
placed in irregular rows, and at unequal distances; a 
dirty blanket or coarse rag hangs over the entrance in 
place of a door. No windows were seen, except in one 

4IO Life of Audubon. 

or two cabins occupied by Texan officers and soldiers. 
A dozen or more long guns lay about on the sand, and 
one of about the same calibre was mounted. There was 
a look-out house fronting and commanding the entrance 
to the harbor, and at the point where the three channels 
meet there were four guns mounted of smaller calibre. 
We readily observed that not much nicety prevailed among 
the Mexican prisoners, and we learned that their habits were 
as filthy as their persons. We also found a few beautiful 
flowers, and among them one which Harris and I at once 
nicknamed the Texan daisy ; and we gathered a number of 
their seeds, hoping to make them flourish elsewhere. On 
the top of one of the huts we saw a badly-stuffed skin of 
a grey or black wolf, of the same species as I have seen 
on the Missouri. When we were returning to the vessel 
v/e discovered a large sword-fish grounded on one of the 
sandbanks, and after a sharp contest killed her with our 
guns. In what we took to be a continuation of the stom- 
ach of this fish, we found four young ones, and in another 
part resembling the stomach six more were packed, all 
of them alive and wriggling about as soon as they were 
thrown on the sand. It would be a fact worth solving to 
knov/ if these fish carry their young like viviparous rep- 
tiles. The young were about thirty inches in length, and 
minute sharp teeth were already formed. 

" May 8. To-day we hoisted anchor, bound to Hous- 
ton : after grounding a few times, we reached Red Fish 
Bar, distant twelve miles, where we found several Ameri- 
can schooners and one brig. It blew hard all night, and 
we were uncomfortable. 

" Afay g. We left Red Fish Bar with the Crusader and 
the gig, and with a fair wind proceeded rapidly, and soon 
came up to the new-born town of New Washington, 
owned mostly by Mr. Swartwout the collector of customs 
of New York. We passed several plantations ; and the 

At Houston^ 'Texas. ' 411 

general appearance of the country was more pleasing thai; 
othenvise. About noon we entered Buffalo Bayou, at 
the mouth of the San Jacinto River, and opposite the 
famous battle-ground of the same name. Proceeding 
smoothly up the bayou, we saw abundance of game, and 
at the distance of some twenty miles stopped at the 
house of a Mr. Batterson. This bayou is usually slug- 
gish, deep, and bordered on both sides with a strip of 
woods not exceeding a mile in depth. The banks have a 
gentle slope, and the soil on its shores is good ; but the 
prairies in the rear are cold and generally wet, bored by 
innumerable cray-fish, destitute of clover, but covered 
with coarse grass and weeds, with a sight here and there 
of a grove of timber, rising from a bed of cold, wet clay. 

It rained and lightened, and we passed the night at 
Mr. Batterson's. The tenth it rained again, but we 
pushed on to Houston, and arrived there wet and hungry. 
The rain had swollen the water in the bayou, and in- 
creased the current so that we were eight hours rowing 
twelve miles. 

'^ May 15. We landed at Houston, the capital of Texas, 
drenched to the skin, and were kindly received on board 
the steamer Yellow Stone, Captain West, who gave us his 
state-room to change our clothes, and furnished us re- 
freshments and dinner. 

" The Buffalo Bayou had risen about six feet, and the 
neighboring prairies were partly covered with water : 
there was a wild and desolate look cast on the surround- 
ing scenery. We had already passed two little girls en- 
camped on the bank of the bayou, under the cover of a 
few clap-boards, cooking a scanty meal ; shanties, car- 
goes of hogsheads, barrels, &:c., were spread about the 
landing ; and Indians drunk and hallooing were stum- 
bling about in the mud in every direction. These poor 
beings had come here to enter into a treaty proposed by 

412 Life of Auduhon. 

the whites ; many of them were young and well looking, 
and with far less decorations than I have seen before on 
such occasions. The chief of the tribe is an old and cor- 
pulent man. 

" We walked towards the President's house, accom- 
panied by the secretary of the navy, and as soon as we 
rose above the bank, we saw before us a level of far-ex- 
tending prairie, destitute of timber, and rather poor soil. 
Houses half finished, and most of them without roofs, 
tents, and a liberty pole, with the capitol, were all exhib- 
ited to our view at once. We approached the President's 
mansion, however, wading through water above our 
ankles. This abode of President Houston is a small log- 
house, consisting of two rooms, and a passage through, 
after the Southern fashion. The moment we stepped 
over the threshold, on the right hand of the passage we 
found ourselves ushered into what in other countries 
would be called the ante-chamber ; the ground floor how- 
ever was muddy and filthy, a large fire was burning, a 
small table covered with paper and writing materials, 
was in the centre, camp-beds, trunks, and different ma- 
terials, were strewed around the room. We were at once 
presented to several members of the cabinet, some of 
whom bore the stamp of men of intellectual ability, sim- 
ple though bold, in their general appearance. Here we 
were presented to Mr. Crawford, an agent of the British 
Minister to Mexico, who has come here on some secret 

" The President was engaged in the opposite room on 
national business, and we could not see him for some 
time. Meanwhile we amused ourselves by walking to the 
capitol, which was yet without a roof, and the floors, 
benches, and tables of both houses of Congress were as 
well saturated with water as our clothes had been in the 
morning. Being invited by one of tlie great men of the 

President Sam. Houston. 413 

place to enter a booth to take a drink of grog with him, 
we did so ; but I was rather surprised that he offered his 
name, instead of the cash to the bar-keeper. 

" We first caught sight of President Houston as he 
A^alked from one of the grog-shops, where he had been to 
prevent tlie sale of ardent spirits. He was on his way to 
his house, and wore a large gray coarse hat ; and the 
bulk of his figure reminded me of the appearance of Gen- 
eral Hopkins of Virginia, for like him he is upwards of 
six feet high, and strong in proportion. But I observed 
a scowl in the expression of his eyes, that was forbidding 
and disagreeable. We reached his abode before him, but 
he soon came, and we were presented to his excellency. 
He was dressed in a fancy velvet coat, and trowsers 
trimmed with broad gold lace ; around his neck was tied 
a cravat somewhat in the style of seventy-six. He re- 
ceived us kindly, was desirous of retaining us for awhile, 
and offered us every facility within his power. He at 
once removed us from the ante-room to his private cham- 
ber, which by the way was not much cleaner than the 
former. We were severally introduced by him to the 
different members of his cabinet and staff, and at once 
asked to drink grog with him, which we did, wishing suc- 
cess to his new republic. Our talk was short ; but the 
impression which was made on my mind at the time by 
himself, his officers, and his place of abode, can never be 

" We returned to our boat through a melee of Indians 
and blackguards of all sorts. In giving a last glance back 
we once more noticed a number of horses rambling about 
the grounds, or tied beneath the few trees that have been 
spared by the axe. We also saw a liberty pole, erected 
on the anniversary of the battle of San Jacinto, on the 
twenty-first of last April, and were informed that a brave 
tar, who rigged the Texan flag on that occasion, had been 

414 Life of Audubon. 

personally rewarded by President Houston, with a town 
lot, a doubloon, and the privilege of keeping a ferry 
across the Buffalo Bayou at the town, where the bayou 
forks diverge in opposite directions. 

'■'■ May \(i. Departed for New Washington, where we 
received kind attentions from Col. James Morgan ; cross- 
ed San Jacinto Bay to the Campbell, and the next day 
dropped down to Galveston. 

" Alay 18. Left the bar of Galveston, having on board 
Mr. Crawford, British Consul at Tampico, and a Mr. Al- 
len of New Orleans. 

" May 24. Arrived at the S. W. Pass, and proceeded 
to the Balize, and thence to New Orleans, where we ar- 
rived in three days. 

'•'■ Netv Orleans, May 28. Breakfast with Ex-Governor 
Roman and his delightful family, with Mr. Edward Har- 

Audubon suffered greatly during this expedition to 
Texas, and lost twelve pounds in weight. He found New 
Orleans nearly deserted, and dull, and the weather op- 
pressively hot and disagreeable. 

" May 31. We bid adieu to our New Orleans friends, 
leaving in their care for shipment our collections, cloth- 
mg, and dog Dash for Mr. W. Bakewell. Harris went up 
the river, and we crossed to Mobile in the steamer Swan, 
paying fare twelve dollars each, and making the trip of 
one hundred and fifty miles in twenty-one hours. If New 
Orleans appeared prostrated. Mobile, seemed quite dead. 
We left in the afternoon for Stockton, Alabama, forty-five 
miles distant, where we were placed in a cart, and tum- 
bled and tossed for one hundred and sixty-five miles to 
Montgomery ; fare twenty-three dollars each, miserable 
road and rascally fare. At Montgomery we took the 
mail coach, and were much relieved ; fare to Columbus 
twenty-six dollars each. Our travelling companions were 

Settles in New York City. 415 

without interest, the weather was suffocating, and the 
roads dirty and very rough ; we made but three miles an 
hour for the whole journey, walking up the hills, and gal- 
loping down them to Augusta, and paying a fare of thir- 
teen dollars and fifty cents each, and thence by rail to 
Charleston for six dollars and seventy-five cents each, 
distance one hundred and thirty-six miles, and making 
eight andji half days from New Orleans." 

After remaining a short time in Charleston, Audubon 
returned to New York, and in the latter part of the sum- 
mer sailed for Liverpool. After landing there and greet- 
ing his friends, he went to London, taking the new 
drawings he had made to Mr. Havell, and then, after 
spending a few days with his family, departed for Edin- 
burgh. There he went diligently to work in preparing 
the fourth volume of his " Ornithological Biography " for 
the press. The work held him until the Fall of 1838, and 
was published in November of that year. His family 
now joined him in Edinburgh, and the winter was devo- 
ted to finishing the drawings for the completion of his 
great volume on the " Birds of America," and also to pre- 
paring Ills fifth volume of the " Ornithological Biography," 
which was published in Edinburgh in May, 1839. 

In the Fall of 1S39 he returned to America with his 
family, and settled in New York city, there to spend the 
remainder of his days. But he did not intend to be idle, 
but immediately began preparing his last great ornitho- 
logical work, wliich is a copy of his original English pub- 
lication, with the figures reduced and lithographed, in 
seven octavo volumes. The first volume Vv'as published 
within a little more than a year after his return, two more 
volumes appeared in 1842, another in 1843, while he was 
absent on his expedition to the Yellow-stone River, aaid 
the last one after his return. 

Besides all this labor, he devoted occasional spare 

41 6 Life of Auduhon. 

hours to improving and increasing the drawings of the 
quadrupeds of North America, which he had begun some 
years before in connection with the Rev. John Bachman 
of South Carolina. 

The early pages of the journal show that Audubon 
had been anxious to visit the great interior valley of the 
Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains ever since he be- 
gan to devote his time exclusively to ornithological re- 
search ; and twenty years before his return to America, 
he had traced out the course he wished to go. During 
all those years of unremitting toil, the desire and hope of 
seeing the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains never 
deserted him. But after he had resolved to complete and 
publish his work on the Quadrupeds of America, he felt 
that it would be impossible for him to do it satisfactorily 
until he had seen with his own eyes the buffaloes of the 
plains, and other animals of those regions whose habits 
had never been described. 

Much of his earthly work was done ; the infirmities 
of age were stealing upon him ; and the Journal often 
alludes to the fact that his physical powers were not 
equal to his mental longings. He seems to have de- 
termined therefore to make an effort to accomplish the 
long-cherished desire of his heart, to look on the magnifi- 
cent scenery of the prairies and mountains of the West, 
and to gather the materials for his Quadrupeds, which he 
knew would probably be his last work on earth. So as 
soon as he had settled his family at Minnie's land, where 
he invested all the money he had made by his publica- 
tions up to that date, he prepared at once for his last 
great journey, the grandest of all his journeys, to the Wes- 
tern Wilderness. 


Excursion to the Great Western Prairies — Up the Missouri — Rivet 
Pictures — Ijidians — The Alandans — The '■'■Medicine Lodge"^ 
Ricaree Indians — Fort Union — Arrival at Yellow Stone Ri2:er — 
Buffalo Hunt — Small-Pox among the Indians — Return to New 

\ARCH \\, 1843. Left" New York this morning 
with my son Victor, on an expedition to the Yel- 
low-stone River, and regions adjacent and un- 

known, undertaken for the sake of our work on the ' Quad- 
rupeds of North America,' and arrived in Philadelphia 
late in the evening. 

" As we landed, a tall, robust-looking man, tapped me 
on the shoulder, whom I discovered in the dim darkness 
to be my friend, Jedediah Irish, of the Great Pine Swamp. 
I also met my friend, Edward Harris, who, besides John 
G. Bell, Isaac Sprague, and Lewis Squires, were to ac- 
company me on this long campaign. The next morning 
we left for Baltimore, and Victor returned home to Min- 
nie's Land." 

There are four folio volumes of MS. containing a de- 
tailed account of that whole journey, which lasted about 
eight months. But as most of the journals were inwoven 
into the three volumes on the " Quadrupeds of North 
America," which were published in the years 1846, 185 1, 
and 1854, we give but an outline of the journey, and the 
gleanings of such incidents as were not used in those 

Audubon and his party crossed the Alleghany Moun- 

41 8 Life of Audubon. 

tains to Wheeling, went from tliere to Cincinnati and St 
Louis by steamers, where they arrived on the 28th of 
March. From thence they ascended the Missouri River 
to Jefferson City, the capital of the State, about one hun- 
dred and seventy miles from St. Louis. There they saw 
nothing worthy of note except the State House and Peni- 

The town was a poor-looking place, and the neighboi- 
ing country poor and broken ; but the public buildings 
commanded a fine view up and down the river. " Yester- 
day," says the Journal, " we passed many long lines of 
elevated banks, ornamented by stupendous rocks of lime- 
stone, having many curious holes, into which we sav/ vul- 
tures and eagles enter towards evening. 

" As we ascended the river the strength of the current 
increased, and in some places we stemmed it with diffi- 
culty ; and near Willow Islands it ran so rapidly, that we 
found ourselves going down stream, and were compelled 
to make fast to the shore. 

'■'■ Mairh 2)0. As we sail along the shores, I notice 
young willows and cotton-trees half submerged by the 
freshet, waving to and fro, as if trembling at the rage of 
the rushing water, and in fear of being destroyed by it ; 
and it really seemed as if the mighty current was going 
to overwhelm in its rage all that the Creator had lavished 
on its luxuriant shore. The banks are falling in and tak- 
ing thousands of trees, and the current is bearing them 
away from the places where they have stood and grown 
for ages. It is an awful exemplification of the course of 
Nature, where all is conflict between life and death. 

'■^ March 31. As we sail up the river, squatters and 
planters are seen abandoning their dwellings, which the 
water is overflowing, and making towards the highlands, 
that are from one to four miles inland. AVe passed two 
houses filled with women and children, entirely surround- 

Fort Leavenworth. 419 

ed by water ; the whole place was under water, and all 
around was a picture of utter desolation. The men had 
gone to seek assistance, and I was grieved that our cap- 
tain did not offer to render them any ; the banks kept on 
falling in, and precipitating majestic trees into the devour- 
ing current. 

"May 2. We are now three hundred and eighty miles 
from St. Louis, and are landing freight and traders for 
Santa Fe. 

"May 3. We reached Fort Leavenworth this morning. 
The garrison here is on a fine elevation, commanding a 
good view of the river above and below for a consider- 
able distance. Leaving here, we entered the real Indian 
country on the west side of the river ; for the State of 
Missouri, by the purchase of the Platte River country, 
continues for two hundred and fifty miles farther; and 
here only are any settlements of white inhabitants. 

"May 5. After grounding on sand-bars, and contend- 
ing against head-winds and currents, we reached the 
Black Snake Hills settlement, which is a delightful site 
for a populous city that will be here some fifty years 
hence. The hills are two hundred feet above the level 
of the river, and . slope down gently on the opposite side 
to the beautiful prairies, that extend over thousands of 
acres of the richest land imaginable. Here the general 
aspect of the river greatly changes ; it becomes more 
crooked, and filled with naked sand-bars, from which the 
wind whirls the sand in every direction. We passed 
through a narrow and swift chute, which, in the time of 
high water, must be extremely difficult to ascend. 

" May 6. We fastened our boat to the edge of a beau- 
tiful prairie, to land freight and passengers. Here eighty 
Indians came to visit us, some on foot and some on horse- 
back, generally riding double, on skins and Spanish sad- 
dles ; some squaws rode, and rode well. We landed 

4-20 Life of Auduhon. 

some Indians here, who came as passengers with us, and 
I noticed that when they joined their relatives and friends, 
they neither shook hands nor exchanged any congratula- 
tions I saw no emotion, nothing to corroborate Mr. 
Catlin's views of savage life. 

"When the boat started, all these Indians followed us 
along the shore, running on foot, and galloping on hoise- 
back to keep up with us. When we approached the next 
landing, I saw some of these poor creatures perched on 
the neighboring banks, while others crowded down to oui 
landing-place. They belonged to the Iowa and Fox In- 
dians : the two tribes number about twelve thousand, and 
their country extends for seventy miles up the river. 

" May 8. To-day we passed the boundary of Missouri, 
and the country consists of prairies extending back to the 
inland hills. 

" May 9. This evening we arrived at the famous set- 
tlement of Belle Vue, where the Indian agent, or custom- 
house officer, as he might better be called, resides. Here 
a large pack of rascally-looking, dirty, and half-starved 
Indians awaited our arrival ; and here we paid for five 
cords of wood, with five tin cups of sugar, and three cups 
of coffee, all worth twenty-five cents at St. Louis. And 
we saw here the first plowed ground we had seen since 
leaving the settlements near St. Louis. 

" May 10. Arrived at Fort Croghan, named after an 
old friend of that name, with whom I hunted raccoons on 
his father's plantation in Kentucky, thirty-five years be- 
fore. His father and mine were well acquainted, and 
fought together with the great General Washington and 
Lafayette, in the Revolutionary War against ' Merry Eng- 
land.' The parade-ground here had been four feet under 
water in the late freshet. 

"May II. The officers of this post last July were 
nearly destitute of provisions, and they sent off twenty 

At Council Bluffs. 42 1 

dragoons and twenty Indians on a buffalo hunt ; and 
within eighty miles of the fort, they killed fift}'-one buffa- 
loes, one hundred and four deer, and ten elks. 

" We were told that the Pottowatomie Indians were for- 
merly a warlike people, but recently their enemies, the 
Sioux, have frequently killed them, when they met them 
on hunting excursions, and that they have become quite 
cowardly, which is a great change in their character. 

" We cast off our lines from the shore at twelve 
o'clock, and by sunset reached the Council Bluffs, where 
the river-bed is utteily changed, though that called the Old 
Missouri is now visible. These Bluffs rise from a truly 
beautiful bank about forty feet above the river, and slope 
down into as beautiful a prairie to the hills in the rear, 
which render the scenery very fine and very remarkable. 

'■'■May 12. We have arrived at the most crooked part 
of the river yet seen, the shores on both sides are lower, 
the hills are more distant, and the intervening plains are 
more or less covered with water. W^e passed the Black- 
bird Hills, where a famous Indian chief of this name was 
buried, and his horse buried alive with him at his request. 

"May 13. To-day we passed some beautiful bluffs, 
composed of a fine white sandstone, of a soft texture, but 
beautiful to the eye, and covered with cedars. We saw 
also many fine prairies ; and the bottom lands appeared 
to be of an extremely rich soil. Indians hailed us along 
the shore, but no notice was taken of them : they follow- 
ed us to the next landing, and boarded us ; but our cap- 
tain hates them, and they go away without a chew of to- 
bacco, and I pity the poor creatures with all my heart. 

"This evening we came to the Burial-ground Bluff; 
so called by the ever-memorable expedition of Lewis and 
Clark, because here they buried Sergeant Floyd, as they 
were on the way to the Pacific Ocean across the Rocky 
Mountains. The prairies are novvmore frequent and more 

42 2 Life of Audubon. 

elevated ; and we have seen more evergreens to-day than 
m the two preceding weeks. 

"We have entered the mouth of the Big Sioux River, 
which is a clear stream, abounding with fish : on one of 
its branches is found the famous red clay of which the 
Indians make their calumets. We saw on the banks of 
the river several Indian canoe frames, formed of bent 
sticks made into a circle, the edges fastened together by a 
long pole or stick, with another one in the bottom, hold- 
ing the frame like the inner keel of a boat. Outside of 
this frame the Indians stretch a buffalo-skin with the hair 
on, and it is said to make a safe boat to convey two or 
three persons, even when the current is rapid. Here, as 
well as on the shores of the Mississippi and Missouri, the 
land along the river banks is higher than further inland ; 
tangled brushwood and tall reeds grow along the margins, 
while the prairies abound with mud and muddy water. 
Willows are plenty, and the general asjDect of the country 
is pleasing. 

" May 1 6. Came to an Indian log-cabin, which had a 
fence enclosure around it. Passed several dead buffaloes 
floating down the stream. A few hundred miles above 
here the river is confined between high steep bluffs, many 
of them nearly perpendicular, and impossible for the buf- 
falo to climb : when they have leaped or fallen down 
these, they try to ascend them or swim to the opposite 
shore, which is equally difficult ; but unable to ascend 
them, they fall back time and again until they are ex- 
hausted ; and at last, getting into the current, are borne 
away and drowned : hundreds thus perish every year, and 
their swollen and putrid bodies have been seen floating as 
low down as St. Louis. The Indians along shore watch 
for these carcasses, and no matter how putrid they are, if 
the ' hum]D ' is fat, they drag them ashore and cut it out 
for food." 

Indian Life. 423 

Many pages of the Journal describe the daily inci 
dents of the next few weeks, in which the party were slow 
]y pushing their way up the river, and making occasional 
excursions from the boat in pursuit of the objects of they" 
journey. The country was inundated in many places, 
and from the tops of the neighboring hills it is repre- 
sented as about equally divided between land and water j 
on the eastern side of the river the flat prairies had be- 
come great lakes. And they noticed that the floating ice 
had cut the trees on the banks of the river as high as 
the shoulder of a man. Barges from above passed them, 
bringing down the spoils of the hunters, and one from St. 
Pierre had ten thousand buffalo-robes on board. The 
men reported that the country above was filled with buf- 
faloes, and the shores of the river were covered with 
the dead bodies of old and young ones. 

As they ascended they found the river more shallow 
in some parts, and again opening into broad places like 
great lagoons. They passed Vermillion River, a small 
stream mnning out of muddy banks filled with willows. 
At a landing near there, a man told them that a hunter had 
recently killed an Indian chief near the foot of the Rocky 
Mountains, and that it would be dangerous for white men 
to visit that region. 

They also found on the river's bank the plant called 
the white apple, much used by the Indians for food, 
which they dry, pound, and make into mash. It is more 
of a potato than apple, for it grows six inches under 
ground, is about the size of a hen's egg, covered with a 
dark-brown woody hard skin the sixteenth of an inch 
thick : the fruit is easily drawn from the skin, and is of a 
whitish color. It has no flowers, the roots were woody, 
leaves ovate and attached in fives. When dry, the apple 
is hard as wood, and has to be pounded for use. 

The country grew poorer the farther they ascended 

424 T^ife of Auduhon. 

the river ; and the bhiffs showed traces of iron, sulphur, 
and magnesia. 

" May 28. We now see buffaloes every day : they 
are extremely poor, but they are sporting among them- 
selves, beating and tearing up the earth. They have 
'roads to the river, along which they go and come for wa- 

" To-day some Indians hailed us from the shore, and 
when the captain refused to stop for them, they began fir- 
ing at us with rifles : several of the balls hit our vessel, 
and one passed through the pantaloons of a Scotch pas- 
senger. These rascals belong to a party of the Santeo 
tribe, which range across the country from the Missouri 
to the Mississippi River. 

'■'■May 29. This morning a party of Indians came on 
board the boat at a landing-place, and it was some hours 
before we could get rid of these beggars by trade. Both 
banks of the river were covered with buffaloes, as far as 
the eye could see ; and although many of them were near 
the water, they did not move until we were close upon 
them, and those at the distance of half a mile kept on 
quietly grazing. We saw several buffaloes and one large 
gray wolf swimming across the river only a short distance 
ahead of us. 

" The prairies appear better now, and the grass looks 
green, and the poor buffaloes, of which we have seen more 
than two thousand this morning, will soon grow fat. . 

'''■May 30. We reached Fort George this morning, 
which is called ' The Station of the Opposition Line.' 
We saw some Indians, and a few lodges on the edge of 
the prairie, and sundry bales of buffalo-robes were taken 
aboard. Major Hamilton is acting Indian Agent during 
the ■absence of Major Crisp. AVe are a long way beyond 
the reach of civil law^, and they settle disputes here wath 
sword and pistol. The major pointed to an island where 

At St. Pierre. 425 

Mr. , a New Yorker belonging to the opposition line. 

killed two white men recently, and shot two others, who 
were miserable miscreants. 

" We are yet thirty miles below St. Pierre, and do not 
expect to reach it until to-morrow. Indians were seen 
along both sides of the river : many trade at this post and 
at St. Pierre ; at the latter I am told there are five hun- 
dred lodges. The Indian dogs resemble die wolves so 
much that I should readily mistake the one for the other 
were I to meet them in the woods. 

" Soon after leaving Fort George, we sounded and 
found only three and a half feet of water, and the captain 
gave orders to ' tie up,' and we started on a walk for St. 
Pierre. On reaching the camp, we found it a strongly- 
built low log-cabin, in which was a Mr, Cutting, who had 
met my son Victor in Cuba. Yesterday, while he was 
on a bufif;ilo-hunt, a cow hooked his horse, and threw him 
about twenty feet, and injured his ankle. This he 
thought remarkable, as the cow had not been wounded. 
He showed me a petrified head of a wolf, which I dis- 
covered to be not a wolf's but a beaver's. There were 
fifteen lodges here, and a great number of squaws and 
half-breed children ; and these are accounted for by the 
fact that every clerk and agent has his Indian wife as she 
is called. 

Jime I. The party had arrived at St. Pierre, and from 
thence the Omega, in which they had made their trip, was 
expected to return to St. Louis, The Journal continues : 
" I am somewhat surprised that Sprague asked me to al- 
low him to return in the Omega. I told him he was at 
liberty to do so of course if he desired it, though it will 
cause me double the labor I expected to have. Had I 
known this before leaving New York, I could have had 
any number of young artists, who would have been glad 
to have accompanied and remained with me to the end of 
the expedition. 

426 Life of Audubon, 

" yune 2. We have left St Pierre and are going on up 
the river, deeper and deeper in the wilderness. We 
passed the Cheyenne River, which is quite a large 

Audubon hired a hunter named Alexis Bouibarde at 
St. Pierre to accompany him to the Yellow-stone River, 
and thus describes him : ' He is a first-rate hunter, pow- 
erftilly built, is a half-breed, and wears his hair loose 
about his head and shoulders, as I formerly did. . . .' 

" I am now astonished at the poverty of the bluffs 
we pass : there are no more of the beautiful limestone 
formations which we saw below, but they all appear to 
be poor and crumbling clay, dry and hard now, but soft 
and sticky whenever it rains. The cedars in the ravines, 
which below were fine and thrifty, are generally dead or 
dying, probably owing to their long inundation. To-day 
we have made sixty miles ; the country is much poorer 
than any we have passed below, and the sand-bars are 
much more intricate. 

" yune 4. The country we have seen to-day is a little 
better than what we saw yesterday. We passed the old 
Riccaree village, where General Ashley was beaten by 
the Indians, and lost eighteen of his men, with the very 
weapons and ammunition he had sold the Indians, 
against the remonstrances of his friends and the inter- 
preter. It is said that it proved fortunate for him, for he 
turned his course in another direction, where he pur- 
chased one hundred packs of beaver-skins for a mere song. 

" Passed the Square Hills, so called because they are 
more level and less rounded than the majority of the 
hills. From the boat the country looks as if we were get- 
ting above the line of vegetation ; the flowers are scarce, 
and the oaks have hardly any leaves on them. We are 
now sixteen miles below the Mandan village, and hope 
to reach there to-morrow. 

A ^^ Medicine'' Lodge. 427 

" yune 7. We are now at Fort Clark and the Mandan 
village ; a salute was fired from the Fort in honor of our 
arrival, and we answered it. The Fort is situated on a 
high bank, quite a hill ; here the Mandans have their 
mud huts, which are not very picturesque, and a few en- 
closed fields, where they grow corn, pmnpkins, and 
beans. We saw more Indians here than at any other 
place since we left St. Louis ; they have about one hun- 
dred huts, and they resemble the potato winter-houses 
in our Southern and Eastern States. As we approached 
the shore, every article that could be taken conveniently 
was removed from the deck and put under lock and key, 
and all the cabin-doors were closed. The captain told 
me that last year, when he was here, the Indians stole 
his cap, shot-pDuch, hone, and such like things. These peo- 
ple appeared very miserable ; as we approached the land- 
ing they stood sliivering in the rain, wrapped in buffalo- 
robes and red blankets ; some of them were curiously be- 
smeared with mud. They came on board, and several 
shook me by the hand, but their hands had a clammi- 
ness that was quite repulsive ; their legs were naked, feet 
covered with mud ; and they stared at me with apparent 
curiosity because of my long beard, which also attracted 
the Indians at St. Pierre. It is estimated that there ai-e 
three thousand men, women, and children, who cram 
themselves into these miserable houses in winter ; they 
are said to be the ne plus ultra of thieves, and most of tlie 
women are destitute of virtue. 

" At the request of the interpreter, one of the Indians 
took me into the village to see the Medicine lodge. I 
followed my guide through mud and mire to a large hut, 
built like all the rest, but measuring twenty-three yards 
in diameter, with a large square opening in the centre of 
the roof six feet long by four feet in width. We entered 
this curiosity-shop by pushing aside an elk-skin stretched 

428 Life of Auduhon. 

on four sticks. Among the medicines I saw a number of 
calabooses, eight or ten skulls of otters, two large buffalo- 
skulls with the horns on, some sticks, and other magical 
implements, with the use of which no one but a great 
Medicine is acquainted. There lay crouched on the floor 
a lousy Indian, wrapped in a dirty blanket, with nothing 
but his head sticking out : the guide spoke to him, but 
he made no reply. At the foot of one of the props that 
support this large house lay a parcel, which I took for a 
bundle of buffalo-robes, but directly it moved, and the 
emaciated body of a poor blind Indian crej^t out of it ; 
he was shrivelled, and the guide made signs that he was 
about to die. We shook hands with him, and he pressed 
mine, as if glad of the sympathy of even a stranger ; he 
had a pipe and tobacco-box, and soon lay down again. 
As we left this abode of mysteries, I told the guide I was 
anxious to see the inside of one of their common dwell- 
ings, and he led us through the mud to his own lodge, 
which had an entrance like the other. All the lodges 
have a sort of portico that leads to the door, and on the 
top of most of them I observed skulls of buffaloes. This 
lodge contained the wife and children of the guide and 
another man, whom I took for his son-in-law ; all these, 
except the man, were in the outer lodge, squatting on the 
ground, and the children skulked out of the way as we 
approached. Nearly equi-distant from each other were a 
kind of berths, raised two feet above the ground, made of 
leather, and with square apertures for the sleepers. The 
man of whom I have spoken was lying down in one of 
these. I walked up to him, and after disturbing his seem- 
ingly happy slumbers, shook his hand, and he made signs 
for me to sit down. I did so, and he arose, and squatted 
himself near us ; and taking a large spoon made of a 
buffalo's horn, handed it to a young girl, who brought a 
large wooden bowl filled with pemmican mixed with corn 

An Indian Council. 429 

and some other stuff; I ate a mouthful of it, and found 
it quite palatable. Both lodges were alike dirty with wa« 
ter and mud ; but I am told that in dry times they are kept 
more cleanly. A round shallow hole was in the centre, 
and a chain hung from above near the fire, and on this 
they hang their meat and cook. On leaving I gave our 
guide a small piece of tobacco, and he seemed well pleas- 
ed, but followed us on board the boat : and as he passed 
my room, and saw my specimens of stuffed animals and 
birds, manifested some curiosity to see them. 

" The general appearance of the fort is poor, and the 
country around is overgrown with the weed called ' family 
quarter.' And I saw nothmg here corresponding to the 
poetical descriptions of writers who make their clay-banks 
enchanted castles, and this wretched savage life a thing 
to be desired, even by the most happy civilized men. 
These Indians are mostly Ricarees ; they are tall, lank, 
and redder than most others that I have seen, but they 
are all miserable-looking and dirty. They occupy the 
village where the powerful tribe of Mandans once lived, 
but which were swept away by the dreadful scourge of the 
small-pox ; only twelve or fifteen families survive, and 
they removed three miles up the river. 

" yune 8. To-day we have had a famous Indian coun- 
cil on board our boat. It consisted of thirty-four Indians 
of the first class ; they squatted on their rumps on both 
sides of our long cabin, and received refreshments of 
coffee and ship-bread, and I assisted in doing this duty ; 
and a box of tobacco was then opened and placed on the 
table ; the captain then made a speech to them, and one . 
Indian interpreted it to the others. They frequently ex- 
pressed their approbation by grunting, and were evident- 
ly much pleased. Two Indians came in, dressed in blue 
uniforms, with epaulettes on their shoulders, and feathers 
in their caps, and with ornamented mocassins and leg- 

430 Life of Auduhon. 

gings : these were the braves of the tribe^ and they did 
not grunt or shake hands with any of us. 

" As soon as the tobacco was distributed, the whole 
company rose simultaneously, and we shook hands with 
each one, and gladly bid them good riddance. The two 
braves waited until all the others were on shore, and then 
retired majestically as they had entered, not shaking 
hands even with the captain, who had entertained them 
and made the speech. This is a ceremony which takes 
place yearly as the Company's boat goes up. Each In- 
dian carried away about two pounds of tobacco. Two 
of the Indians who distributed the tobacco, and were of 
the highest rank, were nearly naked, and one by my side 
had only a clout and one legging on. They are now all 
goi^ebut one, who goes with us to the Yellow- stone River. 

"This morning the thermometer stood at 37°. We 
have passed the village of the poor Mandans, and' of the 
Grosventres, to-day: the latter is cut off from the river 
by an enormous sand-bar, now covered with willows. We 
saw a few Indian corn-fields ; the plants were sickly-look- 
ing, and about two inches high. The prairies are very 
extensive, stretching away to the hills, and there are deep 
ravines in them filled with water sufficiently saline to be 
used by the Indians for seasoning their food. 

'■'■June 13. Fort Union. Thermometer 53°, 72°, 68°. 
We arrived here to-day, and have made the shortest trip 
from St. Louis on record, just forty-eight days. We have 
landed our effects, and established ourselves in a log- 
house, with one room and one window, intending to spend 
three weeks here before launching into the wilderness. 

" There has been no ardent spirits sold here for two 
years, and the result is, the Indians are more peaceable 
than formerly. On the plains we saw the mounds where 
many Indians had been buried who died here of the 
small-pox. There were apparently several bodies in each 

Small-pox Among the Indians. 43 1 

mound, and a buffalo's skull was put over each one : this 
relic has some superstitious value in the estimation of 
these poor ignorant creatures. 

" Our boat has been thronged with these dirty savages 
ever since we fastened her fo the landing, and it is with 
difficulty we can keep them from our rooms. All around 
the village the filth is beyond description, and the sights 
daily seen will not bear recording ; they have chspelled 
all the romance of Indian life I ever had, and I am satis- 
fied that all the poetry about Indians is contained in 
books ; there certainly is none in their wild life in the 
woods. The captain of our vessel told me that on his 
first trip here in a steamer, the Indians called her a great 
' Medicine,' supposed that he fed her with whisky, and ask- 
ed, how much he gave her at a time. To which he repli- 
ed,- ' a whole barrel.' " 

It appears that the Omega did not, as originally in- 
tended, return from St. Pierre, but kept on to the Yellow- 
stone River. There Audubon bade the captain adieu, 
with much regret, and wrote him a complimentary letter, 
which all the passengers signed. 

" jtnne 14. To-day, Mr. Chouteau, and Mr. Murray, a 
Scotchman, arrived from the Crow Indian nation. They 
told me the snow was yet three feet deep, and quite 
abundant near the mountains. I learned to-day, that the 
Prince of Canino, with his secretary and bird-stuffer, oc- 
cupied the rooms I novv' have, for two months." 

The interval between this and the 20th of June was 
employed in various excursions and exciting hunts after 
the buffalo. 

jfune 20. A stormy day prevents out-door excursions, 
and Audubon employs it in recording in his Journal an 
account of the ravages of the small-pox among the Indi- 
ans, .which he received from an eye-witness. The Man- 
dans and Ricarees suffered most, though many Sioux and 
Blackfoot Indians perished with them. 

^43 2' Life of Audubon. 

" Early in the spring of 1837 tlie steamer Assiniboine 
anived at Fort Clark, with several cases of small-pox -on 
board. There an Indian -stole a blanket belonging to a 
watchman on the boat^ who was then at the point of death, 
and took it away to sow the "seeds of this disease among 
his tribe, which caused his own death and the death of 
thousands of his nation. When it was known that he 
had taken it, a benevolent person on the boat went to one 
of the chiefs, told him the fatal consequences which would 
follow, and offered to give a new blanket and a reward 
besides if he would have it returned ; but suspicion, fear, 
or shame prevented the man from giving it up, and the 
pestilence broke out and began to spread among the 
Mandans at first, to which nation the thief belonged. 

" Most of the Indians were distant eighty miles at 
that time killing buffaloes and preparing their winter food ; 
and the whites sent an express begging them not to re- 
turn to their villages, and telling them what would be the 
fatal consequences. The Indians sent back word that 
their corn was suffering to be worked, and that they would 
return and face the danger, which they thought was fab- 
ulous. Word was again sent them that certain destruc- 
tion would attend their return ; but it was all in vain, come 
back they would, and come back they did, and the plague 
began in its most malignant form, their habits and im- 
proper food making them a ready prey, and a few hours 
sometimes terminating the loathsome disease by death. 

" The Mandans were enraged because at first it was 
confined to them, and they supposed the whites had 
caused it, and saved themselves and the Ricarees from 
the pestilence ; and they threatened the lives of all the 
former, supposing they had a medicine to prevent it, 
which they would not give them. But by-and-by Rica 
rees and whites died also; the disease increased iii 
malignity — hundreds died daily, and their bodies were 

Extermination of the Mandans. 433 

thrown beneath the bkiffs, and created an intolerable 
stench, which added to its fatality. Men shot each other 
when they found they were attacked : one man killed his 
wife and children, and then loaded his gun and placing 
the muzzle in his mouth, touched the trigger with his toe 
and blew out his own brains. One young chief made his 
friends dig a grave for him, and putting on his war-robes, 
he tottered out to it, singing his death-song, and jumping 
in, cut his body nearly in two with a knife, and was bu- 
ried there ; and others committed suicide after they were 
attacked, rather than die of the loathsome disease. The 
annals of pestilence do not furnish another such example 
of horrors, or where the mortality was so great in propor- 
tion to the population : of the once powerful tribe of Man- 
dans only twenty-seven persons remained, and one hun- 
dred and fifty thousand persons perished, and the details 
are too horrible to relate. Added to this, the few whites 
were alarmed lest the Indians should massacre them as 
the cause of the evil. One influential chief attempted to 
instigate the Indians to kill all the whites, but he was him- 
self seized and died before his plans were matured; but 
in his last moments he confessed his wickedness, and ex- 
pressed sorrow for it, and begged that his body might be 
laid before the gate of the fort until it was buried, with 
the superstitious belief that if this were done the white 
man would always think of him and forgive his meditated 

The Journal is taken up until the end of July with 
narratives of almost daily excursions in various directions 
in search of all kinds of game. Many anecdotes are re- 
lated of the Indians, their mode of life, habits, and pecu- 
liarities, most of which have been described by other 
writers, and hardly merit repeating here. Audubon 
found this region so rich in novelties of the kinds he had 

434 ^^f^ of Auduhon. 

come in pursuit of, that he was anxious tliat some of the 
young men of his party should remain through the winter 
" My regrets that I cannot remain myself are beyond de- 
scription, and I now sadly regret that I promised you all 
that I would return home this Fall. 

" August 3. We observed yesterday for the first time 
that the atmosphere wore the hazy appearance of the In- 
dian summer. The nights and mornings are cool, and 
summer clothes are beginning to be uncomfortable." 

This seems to have caused Audubon to begin to think 
seriously of turning his course homeward. The exposure 
and hardships he had encountered in this long journey, 
and on his hunting excursions, had made an impression 
on his health. 

He began to find that his age was telling on his ener- 
gv, and that he could not endure hardships as formerly. 

The Journal continues for ten days more, then abruptly 
ends, from which we conclude that the writer began to 
make preparations to return home. He reached New 
York early in October, 1843. 


Audubon'' s Last Days — His Habits — Love of Music — Description 
cf Audubon Park — His Library and Studio — Visitors — Ex- 
hibition of Draivings — Mental Gloaming — Loss of Sight — 
The Naturalist'' s Death and Funeral. 

jHEN" Audubon returned from his expedition to 
the Western Prairies, he was between sixty and 
seventy years old, yet he began at once to work 
with his usual energy and diligence. In a little more than 
two years appeared the first volume of the " Quadrupeds 
of North America ; " and this was almost his last work. 
The second volume was prepared mostly by his sons Vic- 
tor and John, and was jjublished the year their father 

The interval of about three years which passed be- 
tween the time of Audubon's return from the West and 
the period when his mind began to fail, was a short and 
sweet twilight to his adventurous career. His habits 
were simple. Rising almost with the sun, he proceeded 
to the woods to view his feathered favorites till the hour 
at which the family usually breakfasted, except when he 
had drawing to do, when he sat closely to his work. Af- 
ter breakfast he drew till noon and then took a long walk. 
At nine in the evening he generally retired. 

He was now an old man, and the fire which had burn- 
ed so steadily in his heart was going out gradually. Yet 
there are but few things in his life more interesting and 
beautiful than the tranquil happiness he enjoyed in the 
bosom of his family, with his two sons and their children 

4-3^ l^tfe of Audiihon. 

under the same roof, in the short interval between his re- 
turn from his last earthly expedition, and the time when 
his sight and mind began to grow dim, until mental 
gloaming settled on him, before the night of death came 
He was very fond of his grandchildren, and used often to 
take them on his knees and sing to them amusing French 
songs that he had learned in France when he was a boy. 

His loss of sight was quite peculiar in its character. 
His glasses enabled him to see objects and to read, long 
after his eye was unable to find a focus on the canvas. 
The first day he found that he could not adjust his glass- 
es so as to enable him to work at the accustomed dis- 
tance from the object before him, he drooped. Silent, 
patient sorrow filled his broken heart. From that time 
his wife never left him ; she read to him, walked with him, 
and toward the last she fed him. Bread and milk were 
his breakfast and supper, and at noon he ate a little fish 
or game, never having eaten animal food if he could 
avoid it. 

He took great pleasure in listening to reading and to 
the singing of one of his daughters-in-law, who had an 
exceedingly sweet and well cultivated voice. He found 
much amusement too in walking through his grounds. 
His home, on the banks of the Hudson, was just such 
a spot as a lover of Nature would choose for his closing 
days. It was a piece of land extending from where the 
Tenth Avenne now is, to the river ; it contained twenty- 
four acres, about half of which was high level ground, the 
other half a gradual slope to the river. There was no 
Hudson River Railroad then, and the waves dashed 
upon the sandy beach near the house. From a little pro- 
jection called The Point, there was a beautiful and exten- 
sive view down the river ; the view towards the north was 
obstructed by Fort Washington. On the hill were corn- 
fields and a peach orchard, and two or three little cot- 

Auduhon Park. 437 

cages where the men Hved who worked on the place. In 
the valley were the dwelling-house, a large barn and sta- 
ble, and a little cottage where the coachman lived with 
his wife and family. A beautiful little stream ran through 
the grounds, widening out in one place into a pond, at the 
lower end of- which was a waterfall five or six feet high 
<ind very broad ; the water fell into another pond, and 
below that the brook divided into tvv'o parts, forming a 
little island. Just before the brook reached the river, it 
was crossed by a picturesque bridge which was quite an 
ornament to the scene. This estate he named Minnie's 
Land, Minnie, the Scotch word for mother, being the 
name by which he generally addressed his wife, and to 
her he left the whole of it at his death. 

About half of this beautiful place forms what is now 
called " Audubon Park," so named by some of the gen- 
tlemen, friends of the Audubon family, who resided there 
after the naturalist's death ; but no one would recognize 
the spot ; where formerly there was but one dwelling- 
house, there are now about forty. The portion called 
Audubon Park contains above a dozen houses, and though 
it is still very beautiful, there is of course a total change 
in the arrangement of the grounds, and the very house 
Mr. Audubon lived in, is so metamorphosed that he 
would scarcely recognize it for the one that once was 

Rufus W. Griswold, who visited Audubon in 1846, 
gives us the following picture of his home : " The house 
was simple and unpretending in its architecture, and beau- 
tifully embowered amid elms and oaks. Several graceful 
fawns, and a noble elk, were stalking in the shade of the 
trees, apparently unconscious of the presence of a few 
dogs, and not caring for the numerous turkeys, geese, and 
other domestic animals that gabbled and screamed around 
them. Nor did my own approach startle the wild, beau- 

438 Life of Auduhon. 

tiful creatures, that seemed as docile as any of their tame 

" ' Is the master at home ? ' " I asked of a pretty maid- 
servant, who answered my tap at the door ; and who, af- 
ter informing me that he was, led me into a room on the 
left side of the broad hall. It was not, however, a par- 
lor, or an ordinary reception-room that I entered, but evi- 
dently a room for work. In one corner stood a painter's 
easel, with a half finished sketch of a beaver on the pa- 
per j in the other lay the skin of an Am.erican panther. 
The antlers of elks hung upon the walls ; stuffed birds 
of every description of gay plumage ornamented the 
mantel-piece ; and exquisite drawings of field-mice, ori- 
oles, and woodpeckers, were scattered promiscuously in 
other parts of the room, across one end of which a long 
rude table was stretched to hold artist materials, scraps 
of drawing-paper, and immense folio volumes, filled with 
delicious paintings of birds taken in their native haunts. 

" '■ This,' said I to myself, ' is the studio of the natu- 
ralist,' but hardly had the thought escaped me, when the 
master himself made his aj^pearance. He was a tall, thin 
man, with a high arched and serene forehead, and a bright 
penetrating gray eye ; his white locks fell in clusters upon 
his shoulders, but were the only signs of age, for his form 
was erect, and his step as light as that of a deer. The 
expression of his face was sharp, but noble and com- 
manding, and there was something in it, partly derived 
from the aquiline nose and partly from the shutting of the 
mouth, which made you think of the imperial eagle. 

" His greeting, as he entered, was at once frank and 
cordial, and showed you the sincere, true man. ' How 
kind it is,' he said, with a slight French accent, and in a 
pensive tone, ' to come to see me ; and how wise, too, to 
leave that crazy city ! ' He then shook me warml}'' by the 
hand. 'Do you know,' he continued, 'how I wonder 

His Last Days. 439 

that men can consent to swelter and fret their lives away 
amid those hot bricks and pestilent vapors, when the 
ft'oods and fields are all so near ? It would kill me soon 
to be confined in such a prison-house ; and when I am 
forced to make an occasional visit there, it fills me with 
loathing and sadness. Ah ! how often when I have been 
abroad on the mountains has my heart risen in grateful 
praise to God that it was not my destiny to waste and 
pine among those noisome congregations of the city.' " 

Another visitor to the naturalist's happy home has 
left the following admirable description of the sunset of 
Audubon's life : " In my intei-view with the naturalist, 
there were several things that stamped themselves indel- 
ibly upon my mind. The wonderful simplicity of the man 
was perhaps the most remarkable. His enthusiasm for 
facts made him unconscious of himself To make him hap- 
py, you had only to give him a new fact in natural history, 
or introduce him to a rare bird. His self-forgetfulness 
was very impressive. I felt that I had found a man 
who asked homage for God and Nature, and not for 

"The unconscious greatness of the man seemed only 
equalled by his child-like tenderness. The sweet unity 
between his wife and himself, as they turned over the 
original drawings of his -birds, and recalled the circum- 
stances of the drawings, some of which had been made 
when she was with him ; her quickness of perception, and 
their mutual enthusiasm regarding these works of his 
heart and hand, and the tenderness with which they un- 
consciously treated each other, all was impressed upon 
my memory. Ever since, I have been convinced that 
Audubon owed more to his wife than the world knew^, or 
ever would know. That she was always a reliance, often 
a help, and ever a sympathising sister-soul to her noble 
husband, was fully apparent to me. I was deeply im- 

440 Life of Auduhon. 

pressed with the wonderfal cliaracter of those orighial 

"Their exquisite beauty and hfc-likeness, and the 
feeling of life they gave me, I have preserved in my 
:nemory ; and the contrast between these impressions 
and those of the pubhshed works of Audubon is very 
marked. The great work recalls the feelings I then had, 
but by no means creates such emotions. The diiTerence 
is as great as the difference between the living Audubon 
and his admirable picture by Cruikshank. I looked 
from him to his picture in that interview. It was the 
naturalist, and yet it was not. There was a venerable 
maturity in the original that had been gained since the 
features and the the spirit of the young and ardent enthu- 
siast had been imprisoned by the artist. The picture 
expressed decidedly less than the living man who stood 
before me. It had more of youth and beauty and the 
prophecy of greatness, and less of the calm satisfaction 
of achievement ; the sense of riches gained, not for him- 
self, but for the world, and less of all that makes a man 

" I could sympathize with the manhood that looked 
out of the picture — I could find a certain equality be- 
tween myself and the man whom Cruikshank had paint- 
ed. I could have followed him .like his dog, and carried 
his gun and blanket like a younger brother ; but before 
the man Audubon, who turned over the d.awings, and 
related anecdotes of one and another, I could have knelt 
in devotion and thankfulness. He had done his work. 
He was a hero, created and approved by what he had ac- 
complished, and I bowed my spirit before him and asked 
no endorsement of my hero-worship of Carlyle or the 
Catholic Church. 

" When I left, I said to him, ' I have seen Audubon, 
and I am very thankful.' 

His Last Days. 441 

" 'You have seen a poor old man,' said he, clasping 
my hand in his — and he was then only seventy years of 
age. He had measured life by what he had done, and 
he seemed to himself to be old. 

" It is hard to confine one's self to dates and times 
when contemplating such a man as Audubon. He be- 
longs to all time. He was born, but he can never die." 

A few years before Audubon's death he exhibited in 
New York his wonderful collection of drawings, consist- 
ing of several thousands of animals and birds, all of 
which the naturalist had studied in their native homes, 
all drawn of the size of life by his own hand, and all rep- 
resented with their natural foliage around them. A por- 
tion of this collection was exhibited in Edinburgh, and as 
Prof Wilson has said of the same pictures, the spectator 
immediately imagined himself in the forest. The birds 
were all there, — " all were of the size of life, from the 
wren and the humming-bird to the wild turkey and the 
bird of Washington. But what signifiied the mere size ? 
The colors were all of life too, bright as when borne in 
beaming beauty through the woods. There too were 
their attitudes and postures, infinite as they are assumed 
by the restless creatures, in motion or rest, in their glee 
and their gambols, their loves and their wars, singing, or 
caressing, or brooding, or preying, or tearing one another 
to pieces. The trees on which they sat or sported all 
true to nature, in bole, branch, spray, and leaf, the flow- 
ery shrubs and the ground flowers, the weeds and the 
very grass, all American — as were the atmosphere and 
the skies. It was a wild and jDoetical vision of the heart 
of the New World, inhabited as yet almost wholly by the 
lovely or noble creatures that " own not man's dominion." 
It was, indeed, a rich and magnificent sight, such as we 
would not for a diadem have lost." 

" Surrounded " wrote Audubon in 1846, "by all the 

442 Life of Audubon. 

members of my dear family, enjoying the aftection of nu- 
merous friends, who have never abandoned me, and pos- 
sessing a sufficient share of all that contributes to make 
Hfe agreeable, I lift my grateful eyes towards the Supieme 
Being and feel that I am happy." 

After 1848 the naturalist's mind entirely failed him; 
and during the last years of his life his eye lost its bright- 
ness, and he had to be led to his daily walks by the hand 
of a servant. This continued until the Monday before 
his death. In the words of William Wilson : 

" Waning life and weary, 

Fainting heart and limb, 
Darkening road and dreary, 

Flashing eye grown dim ; 
All betokening night-fall near, 
Day is done and rest is dear." 

On Monday morning he declined to eat his breakfast, 
and was unable to take his usual morning walk. Mrs. 
Audubon had him put to bed, and he lay without apparent 
suffering, but refusing to receive any nourishment, until 
five o'clock on Thursday morning, January 27th, 185 1, 
when a deep pallor overspread his countenance. The 
other members of his family were immediately sent for to 
his bedside. Then, though he did not speak, his eyes, 
which had been so long nearly quenched, rekindled into 
their former lustre and beauty ; his spirit seemed to be 
conscious that it was approaching the spirit-land. One 
of the sons said, " Minnie, father's eyes have now their 
natural expression ; " and the departing man reached out 
his arms, took his wife's and children's hands between his 
own, and passed peacefully away. 

Four days later the friends and neighbors, together 
with numerous men of letters and savants from New 
York, who were not deterred by the stormy day from at- 

Memento Mori. 


tending Audubon's unostentatious funeral, accompanied 
the family from the residence to the resting place he had 
chosen for himself in Trinity Church cemeter}', adjoining 
his own estate, and saw his remains laid tenderly away 
by those who loved him best, in the family vault, where 
his sons have since been placed by his side. 


f''fHoi477 5852