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Full text of "Men and times of the Revolution; or, Memoirs of Elkanah Watson, includng journals of travels in Europe and America, from 1777 to 1842, with his correspondence with public men and reminiscences and incidents of the Revolution"

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MEN AND TIMES 



OF 



IHE EEVOLUTION; 



OR, 



MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON, 



INCLUDING 



lonrnalB of %xMb in Europe anb %mtxm, 



FROM 1777 TO 184^ 



HIS CORRESPONDENCE WITH PUBLIC MEN A.ND REMINISCENCES 
AND INCIDENTS OF THE REVOLUTION. 



EDITKD BY HIS SON, 



WINSLOW C. WATSON 



NetD-IJark : 

DANA AND COMPANY, PUBLISHERS 

No. 381 Broadway. 

1856. 






Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by 
DANA AND COMPANY, 

In the Clerk's Ojffice of the District Court of the United States, for the Southern 
District of New-York. 



PUDNEY & RUSSELL, PRINTERS, 
79 John-Street, N. Y. 



PREFACE. 



My father, from the age of nineteen to near the close of his 
life, which was protracted to more than four-score of years, 
was in the habit of recording his observations of men and 
incidents, as the events occurrred to which they relate. 

This period embraced the epoch of the War of Independ- 
ence, and of those amazing mutations which have marked the 
transformation of dependent colonies into a mighty nation ; 
and of a rude and sequestered wilderness into a territory teem- 
ing with beauty, cultivation and affluence. 

In Europe and America he was in the midst of the scenes 
of this pregnant era, an intimate associate with many of the 
individuals who impelled or guided these changes, and a vigi- 
lant observer of the occurrences connected with their devel- 
opment. 

The journals of my father form a large body of manuscript, 
which, in connection with a multiplicity of publications on 
various and most diversified subjects, and a highly extensive 
correspondence with some of the most eminent men of our 
annals, comprehend many volumes. These materials consti- 
tute the elements of the work I now respectfully submit to the 
public. 

I have intended to compress it iAto as narrow space as 
practicable ; although the mass of original documents in my 
possession, is far from having been exhausted by the contents of 
this publication. In my selections from the correspondence of 
my father, I have refrained, with a few and special exceptions, 



IV PREFACE. 

from the introduction of any letters written by men who are 
still living. 

In 1821, my father revised and compiled a considerable por- 
tion of his earlier journal, and arranged them in a consolidated 
form. Several years preceding his death, I had advanced in 
the preparation of this work, to nearly the period of his return 
from Europe. This part of it received his careful revision. 
My labors were, at that point, arrested by feeble health ; but, 
at his decease, all of his literary papers were confided to me, 
as his literary executor. 

In arranging the narrative of personal incidents, and the 
correspondence, for publication, I have felt constrained to 
withhold much of a private and confidential character, although 
it possesses peculiar intrinsic value and interest. I have been 
deeply solicitous to avoid not only all appearance, but to escape 
every suspicion of having violated, in any instance, the sanctity 
of friendship, or of exposing to the public eye the frank and 
unguarded communications of confidential intercourse. 

A remarkable prescience will be often observed in the writ- 
ings of my father, when results and effects will appear to have 
been anticipated with singular sagacity, from existing causes. 
Many other coincidences of a still more striking character, I 
have omitted, from an apprehension that the idea might be ex- 
cited, that the speculations had been recorded after the events 
occurred, which they profess to foreshadow. 

The extraordinary and perilous journey of my father, in the 
crisis of the Revolution, from Massachusetts to Georgia; his 
subsequent expedition from New-England to North Carolina, 
soon after its termination ; his travels, at a later period, in 
newly occupied territories ; and his explorations of districts, 
almost in their primeval condition, opened to him capacious fields 
of observation and reflection. His journals reflect, during 
these events, his daily impressions, formed by occurrences as 
they transpired. They contain a critical exhibition of the 
state of the country, the aspect of society, the modes of inter- 
course, the existing prospects, the population and condition of 
cities and villages, the industrial pursuits, the commerce and 



PREFACE. V 

internal communications of the country, recorded at the time, 
and from personal inspection. I think no similar memorial of 
that period exists. 

Presuming that these features of his works would be re- 
garded with interest by the American people, I have preserved 
them with considerable minuteness. 

1 venture to hope, that the account he presents of the inci- 
dents of his travels ; his descriptions of the various districts of 
America he explored, and his illustrations of the appearance 
and state of the country, and the varied phases of its society, 
will be found of value, and instructive. They will, I trust, be 
esteemed an important acquisition to our sources of national 
history, as they afford data by which the vast progress of the 
Republic, in its prosperity and power, may be best realized 
and most adequately appreciated 

These views will explain to the reader the object of my present- 
ing, with so much occasional particularity, notices of places, geo- 
graphical observations, descriptions of the means of travelling — 
of the exposures and inconveniences to which he was subjected 
and the absence of facilities and accommodations which he 
encountered in his extended American wanderings. The facts, 
thus exhibited, will portray more vividly to the mind, than any 
elaborate comments, the magic changes and the unparalleled 
advance, which, in three-fourths of a century, have signalized 
the career of our country. 

While sojourning in Europe, during the Revolution, for the 
term of about five years, my father travelled extensively in 
France, England, Flanders and Holland. 

The patronage and friendship of Doctor Franklin and Mr. 
-Adams, introduced him into the refined circles of French soci- 
ety, and to an intercourse with the eminent statesmen and philo- 
sophers of England. He was the bearer of despatches from 
Paris to London, connected with the preliminary negotiations 
which resulted in the treaty of peace ; and, among a very 
limited number of Americans, was present in the House of 
. Peers, when the King of Great Britain acknowledged the inde- 
pendence of the American colonies. His journals embrace 



ample details of these events, and descriptions of tlie countries 
he visited — their scenery, resources and conditions, and the 
manners and peculiarities of their people, with reminiscences 
of the distinguished persons with whom he associated. 

In my anxiety to secure brevity, I may have too much con- 
tracted this portion of my materials. 

The portion of this work devoted to an account of the ori- 
gin, history and influence of the Berkshire Agricultural Soci- 
ety, and my father's labors in the cause of agriculture, may not 
have interest to the mere politician or student, but to that large 
and growing class of intelligent readers, who are connected 
with husbandry, either in its practical pursuits, or as promoters 
of its scientific progress, the views and facts contained in that 
department, will possess, I think, more than ordinary value. 
It will be enriched by the voluminous correspondence of John 
Adams, Chancellor Livingston, Colonel Humphreys, Richard 
Peters, and other eminent rural and political economists on 
agriculture and its kindred topics. 

The influence of my father's New-England education, will 
be discovered in incidental remarks on subjects of local pecu- 
liarities and domestic interest ; revealed, however, without 
bitterness or intolerance : the fervor of the whig sentiment of 
'76 is exhibited in severe strictures upon the character and 
policy of England ; the prejudices of his puritan birth are 
occasionally betrayed — ^excited, however, by the abuses, as he 
regarded them, of some of its institutions, rather than the 
tenets of the Roman Catholic Church. 

These I have deemed it expedient to preserve, as the expres- 
sion of opinions and sentiments which were cherished at that 
remote period, without assuming either their defence or repu- 
diation. 

It has not been my design to present a minute detail of the 
life of a private citizen, but merely to trace an outline of it, in 
order to form a tissue upon which I may interweave, with some 
symmetry and system, his journals, his observations and reflec- 
tions ; the projects he initiated, the speculations he advanced ; 
his notices of men and incidents, and the public events with 



JPREFACB!. vii 



wKIch he was connected, or had contemplated as a close and 
attentive observer. 

It is proper I should state, in conclusion, that I have not in- 
troduced into this work any portion of the correspondence of 
my father with many eminent persons, which I have in my 
possession ; and that, generally, I have selected only a part of 
the letters from the writers, whose correspondence I have 
used. 

These materials form a large volume of documents, which I 
contemplate publishing at some future period. 

W. C. Watson. 

Port Kent, Essex Co., N. Y., 
August, 1855. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 



Birth — School — Generals Scammel and tV^adsworth — Premonitions of the 
Revolution — Military Companies — Lexington — Carry Supplies to the Army — 
Military Tyro — Seizure of John Brown — Schooner Gaspee — First cruise against 
British Flag — Inoculation — Magic Egg — Retort on Tories — Service — Prospect 
of Colonies.— 1-26. 



CHAPTER n. 

Journey to South Carolina — Connecticut — Suffering Patriot — New-Jersey — 
Capt. Hoogland — German Population — Lafayette — Moravian Brethren — Rope 
Ferry— Reading — Penn — Dunkers— Lancaster — Enter Virginia — Slares .—27-33 . 



CPIAPTER ni. 

Night Travelling — An Incident — Fredericksburgh—Williamsburgh— Jamestown 
— James River — Suffolk — Arrest — Dismal Swamp— Edenton — Hugh Williamson 
— Hutchinson Letters — Scenery — Pamlico Sound — Deer — Wild Turkeys — Tur- 
pentine making — River Neuse — Newbern — A Night Bivouac — Wilmington — 
Deer Hunting — Opossum — The Ocean — Gen. Mcintosh — Capture of Burgoyne 
— Southern Hospitality — Runaway Negroes — Wingan Bay — Georgetown — 
Charleston.— 34-43. 



CONTENtg. 



CHAPTER IV. 



Orange Orchard — Fire at Charleston — Gov. Rutledge — Tour in Georgia — 
Warmth of Season — Gouging Match — Amusing Scene — Indians — Little Carpen- 
ter — Port Royal Island — Cotton Picking by hand — Eli Whitney's Cotton Gin — 
Beaufort— Dr. Zubley— Silk— Tea— Savannah.— 44-51 . 



CHAPTER V. 

Rice — Cotton — Whitefield — Ogeechee River — Planter's Residence — Slaves^ 
Face of the Country — Products — Health — Woods on Fire — Charleston — Fort 
Moultrie — Females — Departure — Sergeant Jasper — Night Adventure — Negro 
Sale — Tarborough — Halifax — Roanoke River — Horned Snake — Blazed Trees — 
James River. — 52-59. 



CHAPTER VI. 

^« 
Hanover Court-House — Election — Manners — Fight — Alexandria — Potomac — 

Inland Navigation — Slavery — Washington City — Baltimore — Pennsylvania — ■ 
Contrast — Pennsylvania Farmer — Valley Forge — Bethlehem — Moravian Cere- 
mony — Continental Troops — Small-Pox — General Reflections. — 60-66. 



CHAPTER VII. 

Rhode Island — Newport — Providence — Plymouth — Boston— Marblehead— 
Salem — New-Hampshire — Lexington — Climate — General Remarks — Painful 
Scene— Mrs. Rennals— Siege of Newport— John Hancock— James Otis— Count 
D'Estaing — Gen. Sullivan — Battle — Determine to go to France — Packet Mercury 
— Henry Laurens. — 67-75. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Sail for Europe — St. George's Banks — Porpoises — Whales — Take a Dolphin — 
France— St. Martins— Isle De Rhe— Manners— La Rochelle— French Vehicle- 
Postillion— La Vendee— Nantes— Horse Patrol— Safety in Travelling— Amiens 
—Angers— Beggars— Peasantry— Versailles— Lanterns— Paris.— 76-85. 



CONTENTS. XI 



CHAPTER IX. 

Dr. Franklin — Count De Vergennes— King and Queen — French Dinner and 
Manners — Paris — Gates — Police— Manufactures— Louvre— Dr. Franklin's Stand- 
ing and Influence— Notre Dame— St. Germain's — Marlie — St. Cloud's — Elysian 
Fields — City of Orleans — Payed Road — Vineyards — Peasantry— Forest— Fuel of 

France — Canals — Orleans — Burgundy — Languedoc — Blois — Illumination 

Grand CauBeway — Night Travelling — Roman Work — Tours — Angers.— 86-97. 



CHAPTER X. 

Ancinis— Invasion of England— Importance of American Revolution— Wed- 
ding — Wooden Shoes — Peasantry— Dancing— Degradation of the People — Effects 
of the Revolution— Musical Taste— Taking the Veil— Letter from John Adams- 
Count D'Artois— Regal Hunting— Royal Privileges. — 98-104. 



CHAPTER XI. 

Rennes—Moreau— Customs— Fashionable Dinner— Tom. Paine— Contest with 
a Priest— Louis Littlepage— Journey to Paris— Country Cure— Monks of La 
Trappe — Mrs. Wright— FrankUn's Head— Anecdotes.— 105-123. 



CHAPTER XII. 

Chantilly— Lisle— Ostend— Canals Bruges — Ghent— Silas Dean — Letter 

from Author of McFingal— Tomb of Rousseau— Dr. Franklin— Capture of Corn- 
wallis— De Vergennes' Circular.— 124-134. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

Correspondence with Washington — Mercantile Prosperity— Influenza— Col. 
Laurens — Henry Laurens — Paris— Envoys— Journey to England— Amiens- 
Boulogne — Calais — Mon. Dessein—Yorick— Cross the Channel— Changes- 
Reynolds' Escape— Dover— London— Lord Shelburne— Comparison of France 
and England— Duke of Manchester— English Society— Greenwich Hospital— 
Blackheath— Dr. Price. — 135-149. 



XII CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER Xrv. 



Royal Family — Child, the Banker — Irish Giant — Anecdote — English Travel- 
ling — Country — Oxford — Woodstock — Stratford on Avon— Shakspeare — Birming- 
ham—Tory Relatives— Peter Oliver— Dr. Priestly— Mr. Watt— Letter of Dr. 
Franklin — Anecdote — Letters from John Adams — Dr. Moyes — Sister of Garrick 
— Litchfield — Road to Liverpool — Alarm — Impressment — Liverpool — Warrington 
— Country Frolic — Manchester — Worsley Mills — Subterranean Navigation — 
Rockdale Church — Tempest — Beautiful Scenery — Halifax. — 150-166. 



CHAPTER XV. 

Establishment— Leeds— Clothier's Hall — Political Sentiments — Sheffield — Mat- 
lock — Lead Mine — Singular Petrifaction — Derby — Broom Grove — Worcester — 
Tevpksbury — Bristol — Bath — Death of Col. Laurens — Devizes — Rottcnborough — 
Earl of Effingham — English Nobility — Edmund Burke — Prince of Wales — Des- 
tiny of England — Opera — Portrait by Copely — House of Lords — King's Speech 
Recognizing American Independence — Reflections — House of Commons — Inter- 
view with Lord Shelburne — Windsor — Royal Family — Return to Paris — Treaty 
— Anecdote — Letter of Monsieur Demmartin. — 167-183. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

Nantes — Roman Tower — Leave Nantes — Royal Hunt — Commercial Distress 
— Margate — Portsmouth— Isle of Wight — Salisbury— Old Sarum — English Elec- 
tion — Fox and Howe — Ignorance of America — Wildman — Bees — London and 
Paris.— 184-193. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

Passage to Holland— Helvoetsluys— Storks— Brielle— Revolution — The Maese 
—Rotterdam— American Flag— Dutch Chimes— Braakle—Truckscutes Country 
— Delft— William of Orange — Hague — Churches— Mr. Adams — North Sea — Gar- 
dens— Mon. Dumas— La Maison du Bois—Ryswick— Incident— Letter of Mr. 
Adams — His Position and Character— Letter from him — Description of Hague — 
Leyden — Mon. Luzac — Description of Leyden — Monument to Boerhaave. — 194- 
213. 



CONTENTS. XttI 



CHAPTER XVm. 



Haarlem — Koster — Printing — Faust — Haarlem Organ — Lake — Amsterdam — 
Public Buildings — Spill House — Rasp House — Punishment — Sardam — Bruck — 
Utrecht — Political Excitement — Canal Travelling — Rhine — The Seven Provinces 
— Scheldt — Antwerp — Roads — Country Manners — Holland — Zealand — Friedland 
— Reflections— Form of Government— American Confederacy— Canals. — 214-230. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

Land in England — Tea Drinking — Anecdote — Incident — Granville Sharp — Ig- 
natius S^ncho — Homeward Voyage — Gale — Sailor's Superstition — Land— Amer- 
ican Farmer — Discontents — Lecture — Home — Gen. Green. — 231-238. 



CHAPTER XX> 

Passage to New-York — Hurl-Gate — New- York — Long-Island — Dr. Moyes — 
Journey to Philadelphia — Robert Morris — Philadelphia — Journey to Baltimore — 
Baltimore — Alexandria — Visit Mt. Vernon — Washington — Falls of the Potomac 
— Canals — Annapolis — Stage Sleighs — Journey North — Journey to North Car o' 
lina — Norfolk — Mode of Travelling — Interior of North Carolina — Marine Shells 
— Mrs. Ashe and Col. Tarleton—Halifax—Warrington — Anecdote — Deer-Hunting 
—Nut-bush Adventure— Scotch-Irish— Battle-Ground of Guilford.— 239-254. 



CHAPTER XXT. 

Moravians — Quakers — Yadkin — Mecklenburgh — Gen. Polk — Visit Catawba 
Indians — Indian Chief — New River — Educated Indian — Indian Queen — Hanging 
Rock — Gen. Sumpter — Flat Rock — Camden — Battle-Field — Gates and Green — 
Adventure — Western Emigration — Yankee Trick — Cock-Fight — New Constitu- 
tion—Election—Party Contest— Return North.— 255-264. 



CHAPTER XXII. 

Materials for the Work — Marriage — Springfield, Western Massachusetts — 
Hudson — Albany — John De Neuville — Schenectady — Col. Talbot — Johnson Hall 
— Mohawk Valley — German Population — Revolutionary Sufferings — Site of Utica 
— Privations — Whitesborough — Settlers — Mohawks — Gen. Herkimer — Battle- 



XIV CONTENTS. 

Field — Indians — Fort Stanwix — Treaty — Wood Creek — Inland Navigation — 
Peter Otsequette — Descent of the Mohawk — Site of Troy — Lansingburgh — Half- 
Moon — Cohoes Falls — The Hudson — Romance in Real Life — ThriUing Incident 
— Residence in Albany — Freedom of the City — Local Improvements — Albany 
Bank — Incident — Grave of Franklin — Last Interview^ v^rith him — Franklin and 
Adams.— 265-287. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

New Lebanon Springs — Shakers — Saratoga — Ballston — Western Tour — Ger- 
man Population — Mohaw^k Valley — Bateau Travelling — Night Bivouac — Fort 
Stanwix — Wood Creek — Canal Improvements — Write Home — Oneida Lake — 
Fish — Anticipations — Hermit — Fort Brewerton — Onondaga River — Salmon — 
Indian Fishing — Indians — King Kiadote and Queen — Indian Tongue — Seneca 
River— Salt Lake— Salt Works— Canals.— 288-302. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

Robbery — Indian Salt Makers — Indian Royal Family — Indian Habits — Seneca 
River — Encampment — Aromatic Grass — Salt Deposites — Salt Manufactures — 
Salt Marshes — Cayuga Lake — Medical Practice— Pioneers — Healthiness of Sav- 
age Life — Seneca Falls — Canals — Prospects — Country — Seneca Lake — Geneva 
— Appletown — Indian Orchard — Gen. Sullivan — Senecas — Religious Meeting — 
Navigate Seneca Lake — Ovid — Return — Description of Cayuga and Seneca 
Lakes — Aspect of the Country — Want of Water — Indian Navigation — Attrac- 
tions of the Country — Speculative Views — ^^Connection of the Lakes and Susque- 
hanna River— First Western Stage.— 303-315 



CHAPTER XXV. 

N^ Appeals to the Legislature and public on the subject of Inland Navigation- 
Labors in that Cause — Gen. Schuyler — Letter from him — Canal Law, '92 — Let- 
ter from Gen. Schuyler — Letter from Robert Morris — Tribute to him — Cana' 
Companies — Effects of Improvement — Niagara Falls Canal — Company Organ- 
ized — Canal Controversy of 1820 — De Witt Clinton — Hosack's Memoirs of him 
. — Letter of Robert Troup to Dr. Hosack — Letters of John Adams. — 316-331. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

Attacks on Land Office— Character of Gen. Schuyler— Gen. Varnum— Sketch 
of his Life — Letter to his Wife — Talleyrand — French Emigrants — War with 



CONTENTS. XV 

France — Truxton — Projects of Local and Public Improvements — Chancellor Liv- 
ingston — His Character and Services — Letters from him — Louisiana Treaty — 
Introduces Merino Sheep — Sheep Shearing Festival — Prices of Merinos — Doctor 
Mitchell — Gen. Humphreys — Letter from him — Steamboats — Mr. Muller — Music 
from Jews' Harps — Letters to and from John Adams — Hostility of Hamilton to 
him.— 332-348. 



CHAPTER XXVIL 

Tour to Vermont and Lake Champlain — Ballston — Sans Souci — Manners — 
Saratoga — Congress Hall — Culture of Sand Plains — Glenn's Falls— Lake Geprge 
— Sail Down — Beautiful Scenery — Fish — Outlet of Lake George — Ticonderoga — 
Crown Point — Lake Champlain — Vermont — Farms and Farmers — Vergennes — 
Arnold's Fleet — Burlington — Sand Bar — Grand Isle — Cumberland Head — Platts- 
burgh — Saranac Indians — Country — Peru —Quakers— Splendid View from Hal- 
lock's Hill — Historic Ground — Au Sable River — Adgates' Falls — Walled Banks 
of the x\u Sable — Willsboro' Mountains — Ferry — Valley of Otter Creek — Middle 
bury — Gen. Nixon — Rutland — Union College — Dr. Nott — Sermon on Death of 
Hamilton— Incident — Politics — Letters from Dr. Nott — Party Contest, 1807 — 
Letters on that subject from Eli.' ha Jenkins, Thomas Tillotson, and E. C. Genet 
—349-363. 



CHAPTER XXVIIL 

Removal to Pittsfield — Berkshire County — State of Manufactures and Agricul- 
ture—Introduction of Improved Stock— First Exhibition— Efforts to Promote 
Improvements — Letter From Elbridge Gerry — Organization of Berkshire Agri- 
cultural Society — Plan, Operations, and History of it — Its Influences and Effects 
—Description of a Fair by a Virginian— The War of 1812— Letters from Chan- 
cellor Livingston and Col. Humphreys — Letters from John Adams on that subject 
and Agriculture.— 364-381, 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

Gen. Hull — Letters from him — Letter from Robert Fulton— Patriotic Extract 
— Jewish Phylactery — Letter to Dr. Williamson — Return to Albany — Testimo- 
nials of Respect— Tariff Policy— Destiny of New-England— Address before Berk- 
shire Society — Agricultural Labors in New- York — Otsego County Agricultural 
Society — Gov. Clinton — Report on Agriculture— Correspondence— Organization of 
County Societies — Foreign Circular — Introduction of Seeds — Letters from 
Richard Peters— Correspondence with Hartford County Society.— 382-403. 



XVI CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER XXX. 



Agricultural Law — National Board of Agriculture — Correspondence with 
Thomas Jefferson — Letter from James Madison — Letter from Dr. Mitchell — Pat_ 
tern Farm — Tour to Detroit — Canal Boat — Incident — Syracuse — Progresi of 
Improvement — Auburn — Cayuga Agricultural Society — Letter from Col. Myn- 
derse — Geneva — Canandaigua — Batavia — Causeway — Holland Purchase — Penn- 
sylvania Wagons — Buffalo Harbor — Black Rock — Gen. Porter — Steamboat — 
Niagara—Ferry— Battle of Chippewa — Rapid Falls — Battle of Bridgewater — Gen. 
Riall— Anecdote— Fort Erie— Attack.— 404-419, 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

Voyage up Lake Erie — Discomforts — Land at Erie — Harbor — Perry's Fleet — 
Hulks — His Victory — Influence and Nature of it — Anecdote of Ship Lawrence — 
Constitution and Java — Gen. Hyslop's Testimony — Plan for Improving the Har- 
bor — Old French Fort — Gen. Wayne — Grand River — Cleveland — Harbor— Storm 
— Archipelago of the West — Put-In Bay — Detroit River — Detroit — Fourth of 
July — View of Lake Erie — Anticipated Progress — Description of Detroit — River 
and Island — Wretched Agriculture — Face of the Country — Explorations — Wolves 
— Old Orchards — Indians — Disgusting Scenes — Hull's Surrender — Return Voy 
aore — Reflections and Anticipations on Michigan. — 420-431. 



CHAPTER XXXII. 

Correspondence with Mr. Adams — Letters from him — Letter from John Q. 
Adams — Tour into Canada — St. John's — La Prairie — St. Lawrence — Montreal — 
La Chine Canal — Account of Works — Prospect and Effect of Canadian Canals — ■ 
American Tourists — Speculative View of the Future. — 432-442. 



CHAPTER XXXIII. 

Removal to Port Kent — Aids Public Improvements — Crooked Lake Canal — 
Letter of Gen. McClure — Letter of W. W. McKay — Conception of the Crooked 
Lake Canal — Retirement — Project of Connecting Boston and the St. Lawrence 
— Rail Road — Convention at Montpelier — Speech — Comments of the Press — 
/ Labors — Au Sable Valley Rail Road — Temperance Reform — Address— Cholera — 
Last Visit to Berkshire — Address to the Society — Testimonials of Respect — 
Theory of Future Population — Mr. Clay — Gov. Seward and Mr. Van Buren — 
— Incident — Tribute to Henry Coleman — Letter from him — Sickness— Ruling 
Passion— Reflections— Death— Epitaph. — 443-460. 



MEN AND TIMES 



OF 



THE EEYOLUTION. 



CHAPTER I. 



Birth — Gens. Scammel and Wadsworth — Premonitions of the Revolu- 
tion — Military Companies — Lexington — Carry Supplies to the Army 
— Military Tyro — Seizure of John Brown — Schooner Gaspee — First 
Cruise against British Flag — Inoculation — Magic Egg — Retort on 
the Tories — Service — Prospect of Colonies. 

I WAS born on the 22(1 day of January, 1758, in Plymouth, 
Mass., within rifle-shot of that consecrated rock, where, in 
New-England, the first European foot was pressed. Among 
the pious and devoted pilgrims of the May-Flower, Edward 
Winslow, the third governor of the infant colony, was an 
energetic and conspicuous leader. From him I am descended 
in the sixth generation on my mother's side. Born and nur- 
tured among the descendants of the Puritans, I was early im- 
bued with tlieir high sentiments of religious and political lib- 
erty. My father and all my relatives, with a few exceptions, 
were zealous and active Whigs, aiding with their hands and 
purses the glorious struggle for Independence. I remained at 
the ordinary common-school until the age of fourteen. This 
school was kept by Alexander Scammel and Peleg Wadsworth, 

2 



y 



18 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EE VOLUTION ; 

both afterwards distinguished officers in the revolutionary 
\ army. In common with the other patriotic spirits of the age, 
they evidently saw the approach of the coming tempest. I 
>^^^^\x remember them as early as 1771, intently studying military 
-^^ tactics, and have often seen them engaged in a garden adjoin- 
ing my father's, drilling each other. They formed the boys 
into a military company, and our school soon had the air of a 
miniature arsenal, with our wooden guns and tin bayonets sus- 
pended around the walls. At twelve o'clock, the word was 
given, " to arms," and each boy seized his gun ; then, led by 
either Scammel or Wadsworth, we were taught military evo- 
lutions, and marched over hills, through swamps, often in the 
rain, in the performance of these embryo military duties. A 
sad and impressive commentary upon the effect of these early 
influences, is affi^rded by the fact that half this company per- 
ished in the conflicts of the Revolution. Scammel was tall in 
person, exceeding six feet, slender and active. He was kind 
and benevolent in his feelings, and deeply beloved by his pupils. 
He was eminently distinguished during the Revolution for his 
conduct and bravery. In 1777, he was very conspicuous at 
the battle of Saratoga, leading his regiment of the New-Hamp- 
shire troops, in a desperate charge upon Burgoyne's lines. At 
the siege of Yorktown, he held the important station of Adju- 
tant-General to Washington's army, and there fell in a recon- 
noisance upon the British works. 

In the month of September, 1773, at the age of fifteen, I left my 

native place, and proceeded to Providence, Rhode Island, to 

^-^^^ engage in my apprenticeship with John Brown, the founder of 

Brown University, and then one of the most extensive and 

energetic merchants of ximerica. 

In the December of that year, the tea was destoyed at Bos- 
ton, and our disputes with the mother country began to assume 
a serious aspect. The public mind was gradually ripening to 
the fearful appeal to arms. During the summer of this year 
the youth of Providence formed themselves into military asso- 
ciations. We often met to drill, were well equipped, and in 
uniform dresses. I enrolled myself in the cadet company 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 19 

commanded by Col. Nightingale, consisting of seventy- 
five youths, the flower of Providence. The uniform of this 
company was scarlet coats, faced with yellow. These com- 
panies, five in number, were reviewed by the distinguished 
Gen. Lee, in the autumn of 1774, and received from him the 

highest encomiums. In a letter to the Duke of , October 

29th, 1774, after speaking of the preparations in progress in 
the different colonies to resist oppression, he adds, "I was 
present at a review of some of their companies in Providence, 
R. I. I really never saw anything more perfect." 

The storm now thickened in our political horizon — some 
acts of hostihty had already been committed near Salem. The 
whole country was agitated as if passing over a threatening 
volcano. Liberty companies in every community were or- 
ganizing. The intelligence of the march upon Lexington 
reached Providence in the afternoon of the 19th of April, 1775. 
Our five companies flew to arms. The whole population was 
convulsed by the most vehement excitement. AYe were un- 
provided w^ith cartridges, and were compelled to defer our 
march until morning. I spent the most of that agitated night 
with many of our company, in running bullets and preparing 
ammunition. We mustered early the next morning, and march- 
ed for the scene of action. The royal governor, Wanton, 
issued a proclamation, which was little regarded, interdicting 
our passing the colony fine, under the penalty of open rebel- 
lion. Capt. Green, afterwards the celebrated Gen. Green, 
with his company of Warwick Greens, and Capt. Varnam, 
afterwards a revolutionary general, with his company of 
Greenwich Volunteers, marched with us at the same time 
towards Lexington. 

We had advanced six miles amid the cries and tears of 
w^omen, every road we passed enveloped in a cloud of dust 
from the march of armed men, hastening onward, when an 
express met us, with the information that the regulars had 
been driven back into Boston. 

These exhilarating, though tragic scenes, began to unsettle 
my mind, and incapacitate it for the dull drudgery of a store. 



20 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

Many of my acquaintances had determined to enter the army ; 
anxious to pursue the same course, I appHed to my father and 
Mr. Brown, but in vain, to be released from my indentures. 

On the 3d of July, 1775, Gen. Washington assumed the 
command of the forces then besieging Boston. He found an 
army animated with zeal and patriotism, but nearly destitute 
of every munition of war, and of powder in particular. Mr. 
Brown, anticipating the war, had instructed the captains of his 
vessels to freight on their return voyages with that article. 
At this crisis, when the army before Boston had not four rounds 
to a man, most fortunately one of Mr. Brown's ships brought 
in one-and-a-half tons of powder. It was immediately forward- 
ed, under my charge, to head-quarters at Cambridge. I took 
with me six or eight recruits to guard it. I delivered my let- 
ter to Gen. Washington in person, and was deeply impressed 
with an awe I cannot describe in contemplating that great 
man, his august person, his majestic mien,' his dignified and 
commanding deportment, more conspicuous perhaps at that 
moment from the fact that he was in the act of admonishing a 
militia colonel with some animation. He directed a young 
otBcer to accompany me and superintend the delivery of the 
powder at Mystic, two miles distant. Whilst delivering it at 
the powder-house, I observed to the officer, " Sir, I am happy 
to see so many barrels of powder here." He whispered a 
secret in my ear, vnth an indiscretion that marked the novice 
in military affairs. " These barrels are filled with sand." 
"And wherefore?" I inquired. "To deceive the enemy," he 
replied, " should any spy by chance look in." Such was 
the wretched appointment of that army upon which rested the 
hopes of American liberty. 

Soon after this occurrence, Mr. Brown, having .contracted 
to supply the army of Washington with fiour, sailed for Pro- 
vidence with a cargo from Newport. The British not having 
seized any American vessels, he apprehended no danger, 
although Commodore Wailis, with tw^o twenty-gun ships, lay in 
the harbor. His vessel was, however, seized, and himself sent 
a prisoner to Boston in irons, charged with heading a party in 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 21 

1772, disguised as Indians, which burnt his Majesty's schooner 
Gaspee in Providence river. The charge was true, although 
the British government could never obtain any evidence of the 
fact. That bold and successful enterprise was one of the 
prominent events which accelerated the impending revolu- 
tion.* 

Mr. Brown had occupied a father's place to me : 1 ftlt 
grateful, and in common with the whole community, indignant 
and exasperated at his seizure. A consultation was imme- 
diately held, and it was decided to send an express to Plymouth, 

* The following narrative of that occurrence was written by Colonel Ephraim 
Bowen, a prominent and highly respectable citizen of Providence, Rhode 
Island, who was a youthful actor in the scene, and a member of our cadet 
company. It is due to history, and the memory of the daring spirits who 
accomplished the deed, that a narrative of it so authentic and reliable, should 
be perpetuated. " In the year 1772, the British government had stationed 
at Newport, Rhode Island, a sloop-of-war, with her tender, the schooner 
called the Gaspee, of eight guns, commanded by William Duddingston, a lieu- 
tenant in the British Navy, for the purpose of preventing the clandestine landing 
of articles subject to the payment of duty. The captain of this schooner made 
it his practice to stop and board all vessels entering or leaving the ports of 
Rhode Island, or leaving Newport for Providence. 

On the 17th of June, 1772, Captain Thomas Lindsey left Newport, in his 
packet, for Providence, about noon, with the wind at north, and soon after the 
Gaspee was under sail, in pursuit of Lindsey, and continued the chase as far as 
Namcut Point. Lindsey was standing easterly, with the tide on ebb, about two 
hours, when he hove about at the end of Namcut Point, and stood to the west- 
ward ; and Duddingston in close chase, changed his course and ran on the point 
near its end and grounded. Lindsey continued in his course up the river, and 
arrived at Providence about sunset, when he immediately informed Mr. John 
Brown, one of our first and most respectable merchants, of the situation of the 
Gaspee. Mr. Brown immediately resolved on her destruction, and he forthwith 
directed one of his trusty shipmasters to collect eight of the largest long boats in 
the harbor, with five oars to each, to have the oar locks well muftled to prevent 
noise, and to place them at Fenner's wharf, directly opposite to the dwelling of 
Mr. James Sabin. Soon after sunset, a man passed along the main street, beat- 
ing a drum, and informing the inhabitants that the Gaspee was aground on Nam- 
cut Point, and inviting those persons who felt a disposition to go and destroy 
that troublesome vessel, to repair in the evening to Mr. James Sabin's house. 
About nine o'clock I took my father's gun, and my powder-horn and bullets, and 
went to Mr. Sabin's, and found it full of people, where I loaded my gun, and all 
remained there till ten o'clock, some casting bullets in the kitchen, and others 
making arrangements for departure, when orders were given to cross the street 
to Fenner's wharf and embark, which soon took place, and a sea-captain acted 



22 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

in order to fit out two armed schooners to intercept, if possible, 
the captured flour-vessel, in her circuitous passage around 
Cape Cod, and release Mr. Brown. In the service of Mr. 
Brown, and a native of Plymouth, I was entrusted with the im- 
portant mission. With my musket at my back, I mounted a 
fleet horse, and arrived in Plymouth by two o'clock in the 
morning, alarmed the town by the cry of fire, and roused up 
the Committee of Safety. At sunrise I was awakened by the 
beat of the drum to muster volunteers for the enterprise, and 
without hesitation fell into the ranks. By two o'clock the same 

as steersman of each boat, of whom I recollect Captain Abraham Whipple, Cap- 
tain John B. Hopkins, (with whom I embarked) and Captain Benjamin Dunn. A 
line from right to left was soon formed, with Captain Whipple on the right, and 
Captain Hopkins on the right of the left wing. The party thus proceeded till 
within about sixty yards of the Gaspee, when a sentinel hailed, " Who comes 
there 1" No answer. He hailed again, and no answer. In about a minute 
Duddingston mounted the starboard gunwale, in his shirt, and hailed, " Who 
comes there V No answer. He hailed again, when Captain Whipple answered 
as follows : " I am the Sheriff of the County of Kent ; I have got a warrant to 
apprehend you ; so surrender, d — n you.'' 

I took my seat on the thwart, near the larboard row-lock, with my gun by my 
right side, and facing forward. As soon as Duddingston began to hail, Joseph 
Bucklin, who was standing on the main thwart by my right side, said to me, 
" Ephe, reach me your gun, and I can kill that fellow." I reached it to him ac- 
cordingly, when, during Captain Whipple's replying, Bucklin fired, and Dud- 
dingston fell ; and Bucklin exclaimed, "I have killed the rascal!" In less time 
than a minute after Captain Whipple's answer, the boats were alongside the 
Gaspee, and boarded without opposition. The men on deck retreated below as 
Duddingston entered the cabin. 

As it was discovered that he was wounded, John Mawney, who had, for two or 
three years, been studying medicine and surgery, was ordered to go into the 
cabin and dress Duddingston's wound, and I was directed to assist him. On ex- 
amination it was found the ball took effect directly below the navel. Dudding- 
ston called for Mr. Dickinson to produce bandages and other necessaries for the 
dressing of the wound, and, when finished, orders were given to the schooner's 
company to collect their clothing and everything belonging to them, and to put 
them into the boats, as all of them were to be sent on shore. All were soon col- 
lected and put on board of the boats, including one of our boats. 

They departed and landed Duddingston at the old still-house wharf at Pau- 
tuxet, and put the chief into the house of Joseph Rhodes. Soon after, all the 
party were ordered to depart, leaving one boat for the leaders of the expedition, 
who soon set the vessel on fire, which consumed her to the water's edge. 

The names of the most conspicuous actors are as follows, viz : — Mr. John 



28 



afternoon, we embarked on board of two dilapidated fish- 
ing schooners, equipped with two old cannon each, with 
powder loose in barrels, and between thirty and forty men to 
a vessel, black and white, all officers and all men. Thus 
equipped, we plunged into the ocean, reckless of every conse- 
quence, determined to rescue Mr. Brown. We had no com- 
mission, and had we been captured, would, in all probability, 
been hung as pirates, with little formality. We cruised ten 
days east of Cape Cod, without success, and being pursued by 
a twenty-gun ship, escaped into the harbor of Plymouth. Thus 
it fell to my singular destiny, to sail from the place of my na- 
tivity, at the age of seventeen, in probably the first American 
vessel that opposed the British flag. We embarked, on this 
occasion, within a few rods of the rock upon which, one hun- 
dred and fifty-five years before, the Pilgrims had landed, in the 
assertion of that liberty of which they implanted the earliest 
seeds, and which was now endangered in the hands of their de- 
scendants. 

Mr. Brown was carried into Boston, and soon after released 
by the interposition of his brother Moses Brown, a conspicuous 
and influential quaker, and truly a great man. 

In the month of December following. Gen. Lee arrived at 
Providence, under orders to inspect the position at Newport 
harbor, then in possession of the British. He solicited and re- 
ceived an escort of our company. We embarked on board of 
two vessels, and landed on the north end of the island. On 
the ensuing day, we marched and counter-marched through 
the streets of Newport, without annoyance, although the Brit- 
ish fleet were moored in the harbor in full view. Thus unde- 
fined and equivocal was our posture towards England at that 
period. 

Soon after I was inoculated for the small-pox, in corn- 
Brown. Captain Abraham Whipple, John B. Hopkins, Benjamin Dunn, 
and five others whose names I have forgotten, and John Mawney, Benjamin 
Page, Joseph BuckUn, and Toupin Smith, my youthful companions, all of whom 
are dead — I believe every man of the party, excepting myself; and my age is 
ighty-six years this twenty-ninth day of August, eighteen hundred and thirty- 
nine. 



24 MEN AND TIMES OF THE KEVOLUTION ; 

pany with one hundred and one persons, and confined in a large 
barrack, in a secluded position. The weather was intensely 
cold, and although reduced to almost starvation by our severe 
regimen, we were not permitted to approach the only fire- 
place the barrack contained. Our sufferings were severe, in 
passing through this then established process of inoculation. 

About the time we left the hospital. Major Thomas, of the 
army, arrived at Plymouth, from head-quarters. He had left 
Washington retreating through New-Jersey. I spent the 
evening with him, in company with many devoted "Whigs. 
We looked upon the contest as near its close, and considered 
ourselves a vanquished people. The young men present de- 
termined to emigrate, and seek some spot where liberty dwelt, 
and where the arm of British tyranny could not reach us. 
Major Thomas animated our desponding spirits by the assu- 
rance that Washington was not dismayed, but evinced the 
same serenity and confidence as ever. Upon him rested all 
our hopes. 

On the ensuing Sunday morning, as the people were on 
their way to church, I suddenl}^ witnessed a great com- 
motion in the street, and a general rush to the back door 

of Mrs. H 's dwelHng. Supposing the house to be on fire, 

I darted into the crowd, and on entering the house, heard the 
good w^oman's voice above the rest, exclaiming, with an egg 
in her hand — " There, there, see for yourselves." I seized the 
magic egg, and to my utter astonishment read upon it, in legi- 
ble characters formed by the shell itself, " Oh, America, Ameri- 
ca, Howe shall be thy conqueror /'' The agitation and de- 
spondency produced, will hardly b^ appreciated by those unac- 
quainted with the deep excitability of the public mind at that 
period. We were soon relieved from our gloom and appre- 
hension, by ascertaining from an ingenious painter, who hap- 
pily came in, that the supernatural intimation was the effect of 
a simple chemical process. We were convinced it was a de- 
vice of some Tory to operate on the public feeling. In the 
afternoon, an express arrived from Boston ; a hand-bill was 
sent into the pulpit, and at the close of the service our venera- 



25 



ble Whig Parson Robins, read from his desk the heart-thrilling 
news of the capture of the Hessians at Trenton— a happy re- 
tort upon the Tories. 

In the following February, a British army then being in the 
occupation of Rhode Island, our company was detached on 
duty to Pawtucket. The standing sentinel in the severity of 
winter weather, and the performance of other actual military 
duties, were severe trials to our patriotism. 

In the early part of 1777, great preparations were made in 
the Northern States to close the struggle with Great Britain, 
by an energetic and united effort, in the campaign of that 
year. I was deeply anxious to unite with many of my asso- 
ciates, w^ho were again embarking in the cause of liberty, and 
renewed in the most earnest spirit my solicitations to join the 
army ; but my father interdicted the measure, and my inden- 
tures held me enchained. i 

The commerce of Providence was at this time prostrated, — 
all business in a measure paralyzed. I was languishing, com- 
paratively, without employment for my hands, or occupation 
to my mind, when in the latter part of August, I w^as aroused 
from my lethargy by an unexpected proposition from Mr. 
Brown and his brother Nicholas, for me to proceed to South 
Carolina and Georgia, in trust of a large sum of money, about 
850,000, to be placed in the hands of their agents in the 
Southern States, to be invested in cargoes for the European 
markets. 

The responsibility was a heavy one, and appalling to an 
inexperienced youth of nineteen. It was in the crisis of the 
Revolution, Burgoyne bearihg down with a veteran army 
upon Albany, Howe approaching Philadelphia with a power- 
iul armament, the royalists in every section of the Union con- 
vulsing the country, and the negroes in some of the Southern 
States in partial insurrection. All these circumstances con- 
spired to render the enterprise hazardous, and difficult to be 
achieved. 

My anxiety for change, and desire of seeing the world, pre- 
ponderated ; and notwithstanding these obstacles, I embraced 



26 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

the proposition with avidity. During my trying and pro- 
tracted journey, I was most assiduous in keeping a daily jour- 
nal. It became quite voluminous — containing a great fund of 
matter of interest only to myself and my immediate friends, 
but I feel assured that it also embraced notices of incidents 
and of men, as well as statistical facts, which will tend to 
illustrate the manners and customs of the people at that period, 
and shed some new light upon the events and characters of 
the Revolution. That portion of my journal having, as I 
imagine, this interest to the general reader, I have very con- 
siderably condensed. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 27 



CHAPTER II. 

Journey to South Carolina — Connecticut Suffering Patriot — New-Jersey — 
Capt. Hoogland — La Fayette — Moravian Brethren — Rope Ferry — 
German Population — Reading, Penn, Dunkers, Lancaster — Enter Vir- 
ginia — Slaves. 

On the 4th of September, 1777, 1 left Providence, on my way 
to South Carolina. With a good horse under me, a hanger at 
my side, and a pair of pistols in my holster, I crossed the 
great bridge at Providence, and on the fourth day reached 
Fairfield, Connecticut. From Providence to Windham the 
country, though broken and hilly, was thickly inhabited by a 
hardy and independent race of farmers. In approaching the 
Connecticut River, the land becomes more level, and the soil 
good and well tilled. I found Hartford a respectable and 
wealthy place, of about three hundred houses, with a State House 
and other public edifices. New Haven is a delightful village, con- 
taining about four hundred dwellings. Many of its inhabitants 
are wealthy. The place has owed much of its support to its lite- 
rary institution, Yale College — its commerce having been very 
limited. Whilst at Fairfield I was not a little agitated by a 
discharge of alarum guns in the dead of night. A marauding 
party of British and Tories had landed near the village, and 
the inhabitants were aroused to repel them. 

I travelled over the road to Danbury, pursued by the British 
the spring before, in their successful attempt upon the public 
stores collected at that place. Gen. Wooster was here killed, 
and Arnold on this occasion evinced his usual fearless intre- 
pidity. He had a horse shot under him, and killed with his 
pistol a soldier who attempted to transfix him with a bayonet 
as he lay entangled beneath his dead horse. 

On approaching Danbury, I noticed a venerable old man 
looking intently at the ruins of a small house, which had re- 



28 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

cently been burnt. His appearance excited my sympathy, and I 
inquired the cause of his evident distress. He replied, that he 
was cast upon the world, at the age of seventy-eight, without a 
home or property. " There," continued he, pointing at the ruins, 
"I resided with my aged wife for fifty years, in contentment and 
comfort ; our little all was in that dwelling collected. When 
the British approached, although warned to flee, we decided 
to remain. A British ofHcer promised us protection, and con- 
tinued with us for some time. When he left it, my own nephew^ 
entered the house, fired it, and dragged me away a prisoner.'' 
He added, that he was carried to Long Island, and had just 
returned. 

From Danbury I proceeded to Peekskill, through a country 
infested by Tories and outlaws. The following morning after 
my arrival here, Col. Talbot came express, bearing the des- 
ponding news of the defeat of Washington at Brandywine. 
I crossed the Hudson at King's Ferry, and proceeded to Mor- 
ristown, in New-Jersey. To this place Gen. Washington re- 
tired after his glorious exploits at Trenton and Princeton. 
The country is principally settled by the Dutch and Germans. 

I was amused and impressed (being only conversant with 
the customs of New-England) with the manners and habits I 
witnessed among this people. Their table customs struck me 
forcibly. Instead of our elaborate grace before meat, the mas- 
ter of the house, bare-headed, holding his hat before his face, 
remained for some time in silence. The good woman, instead 
of the generous New-England supply of sugar, placed a lump 
near the cup, to be bitten off as occasion required. The farm- 
houses, generally of stone, were neat and well built. At Mor- 
ristown I met Capt. Hoogland, an intimate old friend, whom I 
knew at Newport in 1774. He had been taken prisoner at the 
battle of Long Island, and was now escorting some British 
officers prisoners to New-England.* 

* The history of poor Hoogland, his self-sacrificing, devoted patriotism, and 
illy requited services, had many a parallel in the lives of the officers of the 
Revolution. It found them buoyant in hope, rich in the promises of youth, or 
the vigor of manhood — it left many of those who survived maimed in person, 



OE, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 29 

I associated myself at Morristown with two gentlemen jour- 
neying towards South Carolina. On the 23d of September, I 
resumed my journey in company with my new" companions, 
and here relinquished my saddle, and pursued the residue of 
my long route in a sulkey. At Princeton, we saw" a large four- 
story college, which had been occupied by the British on the 
assault of Washington. The battle-ground of the preceding 
winter was pointed out to us. At Trenton we were shown the 
orchard in which the Hessians laid down their arms. If ever 
the fate of a nation hung upon the issue of an hour, it was on 
the 2d of January, 1777, when Washington held the south, 
and the British army the north part of this village, separated 
only by a narrow creek. 

Trenton contains about seventy dwellings, situated principal- 
ly on two narrow streets, running parallel. 

On reaching Burlington, upon the Delaware, hoping to es- 
cape the British, we learned to our inexpressible chagrin, that 
their light dragoons had, two hours before, taken possession of 
Philadelphia. This event compelled^ us to change our plans, 
and take a circuitous route, about one hundred and fifty miles 
further, by way of Reading, Lancaster, York, &c. We cross- 
ed the Delaware at Cowles' Ferry, and were arrested under 
suspicion (which resulted from my minute inquiries) of being 
British spies. In the morning we were released. We passed 
over a wretched new country, occupied almost exclusively by 
the German's log hut, until we reached the Lehigh river. We 
forded this stream with extreme difficulty and danger, being in 
one place compelled to swim our horses. At Bethlehem we re- 
broken in constitution, and inadequately remunerated by their country. . When 
I first knew Hoogland in 1774, he was a handsome, facetious, high-spirited 
youth of eighteen. W^c mingled together in the gaieties of the beautiful island, 
then in the rich enjoyment of plenty and repose. Too soon it became the theatre of 
contending armies. Three years after I again met him, a sun-burnt veteran, 
who had already seen much hard service. In 1788, fourteen years afterwards, I 
again saw him, a merchant in Lansingburgh, N. Y. He was then, although 
young in years, old in suffering. He appeared like an old man hobbling on 
crutches. Thus he lingered a few years longer, and sank into a premature 
grave, a martyr in the cause of liberty. Posterity can never estimate the sacri- 
ces and sufferings of the patriots of the Revolution. 



30 MEN AND TIMES OP THE REVOLUTION; 

mained two days, enjoying the comforts of a spacious tavern. 
The Marquis de La Fayette,* and other officers wounded at 
the Brandywine battle, were quartered at the same house. 
This is an interesting place, fifty-four miles N. W. of Philadel- 
phia, situated on a declivity facing the Lehigh. It contains about 
fitty stone houses, and was inhabited by a religious sect of Ger- 
mans, called Moravians. The village was supplied with water, 
forced up the hill, in logs, from the river, by means of machi- 
nery. A conspicuous object in this village is a large stone 
edifice, occupying a romantic situation on the banks of the 
river, and appropriated to the education of young females of 
the sect. They are required to observe a strict seclusion, and 
are only permitted to leave its walls in the exercise of some 
religious duties at the church, and on formal occasions. We 
crossed the Lehigh by a rope ferry, a contrivance new to me? 
and which combines much economy with a saving of labor 
and machinery. A strong rope is attached to a post on each 
side of the river ; along the rope a pulley or block runs, 
through which passes another rope. Each end of the latter 
rope is secured to the head and stern of the boat. The bow 
of the boat being directed up stream, the current strikes her 

* He had just been brought on a litter from the battle-ground, where he held a 
distinguished command, and acquitted himself with high applause. I saw him a 
few years subsequent, on board of a frigate at Providence. He was then tall and 
slender, and of rather light complexion. After a lapse of forty-seven years, I again 
met him, the day after his landing at New- York, August 3d, 1824. It was with the 
utmost difficulty I could realize him to be the same man whom I had seen almost 
half a century before at Bethlehem. I could scarcely discover the slightest re- 
semblance. Age, and wounds, and care, had completely metamorphosed him, in 
person and features. The last time I met him was in June, 1825, at Burlington, 
Vt. He spent the evening with a crowded party, at the house of Governor Van 
Ness, whence we conducted him at midnight to the steamboat. The wharf was 
thronged with men, women and children. Three steamboats were in waiting to 
join the escort, all brilliantly illuminated, with many a proud streamer waving 
in the breeze. He departed amid the pealing of cannon, the ringing of bells, the 
clangor of music, and the cheers of a thousand grateful hearts. The night was 
serene, the moon shone brightly ; everything above and below seemed to give 
splendor and solemnity, and to communicate interest to the thrilling scene. He, 
some months after, embarked for France, to engage in new scenes of glory, of 
di«sinterested patriotism, and blood. 



OR, MEMOIES OF ELEANAH WATSON. 81 

obliquely, producing a strong eddy under her stern. She is 
thus propelled with considerable velocity, the moment she is 
unmoored. We found the country but partially settled. The 
prevailing population is German. I first noticed here the Ger- 
man girls at work in the fields, a custom most strange and re- 
pulsive to the eye of an inhabitant of New-England. 

Reading is situated near the Schuylkill river, in a well-culti- 
vated wheat-growing district. It contained about four hundred 
houses. It was settled by Penn in 1700. His and his successors' 
ground-rents amounted to £500 sterling, previous to the Revo- 
lution, This system of quit rents, retained by Penn, prevailed 
extensively in the State, and reached to oppression in many 
cases. It was unceasingly assailed by Franklin, and with ulti- 
mate success.* 

At Reamstown I was placed between two beds, without 
sheets or pillows. This, as 1 was told, was a prevailing Ger- 
man custom, but which, as far as my experience goes, tends 
little to promote either the sleep or comfort of a stranger. 

Early on the morning of the 4th we entered the village of 
Euphrates, within sound of the thunder of Washington's artil- 
lery at Germantown. This village is inhabited by a most ec- 
centric and remarkable sect of fanatics. They call themselves 
Bunkers. They own a large tract of land in this vicinity, and 
founded this village about 1724, in a romantic and sequestered 
position, well adapted to their professed abstraction from the 
rest of the human family. They profess to believe themselves 
unconnected with a sinful world, and that they move among 
ethereal spirits. Their community numbered about one hun- 
dred souls. They dressed in long tunics reaching to the heels, 
girded with a sash, and with woollen caps falling over their 
shoulders. They baptize by immersion. They believe in a 
future state, and that salvation is attained only by penance and 

* The Patriots of Pennsylvania, by the influence of the Revolution, were en- 
abled, I believe, to expunge this relic of feudal assumption from their system. 
It would have been wise if other States, overburthened by enormous manors, 
could have devised some equitable scheme, by which they might have extirpated 
this anti-republican fungus. [1821.] 



82 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

the mortification of the flesh. They never shave. The sexes 
have no intercourse, Hving in separate habitations, and even 
occupying different places of pubhc worship. They sleep in 
apartments of only sufficient size to hold them, occupied by a 
wooden bench, a little inchning, on which they sleep. In the 
place of pillows they rest the head on wooden blocks, so pre- 
pared as to receive it up to the ears. They carry on quite im- 
portant manufactures, and amuse themselves in rudely painting 
scripture scenes, which are suspended in their chapel. They 
subsist exclusively on vegetables and roots, except at their oc- 
casional love-feasts. Rumor, with her thousand tongues, is, of 
course, not sparing of their reputation. As we were taking our 
departure, we heard the brethren chanting their melodious 
hymns in plaintive notes that thrilled our souls. 

Lancaster was, at this period, the largest inland town in Ame- 
rica, containing about one thousand houses, and 6,000 inhabi- 
tants, with a State house and five edifices for public worship. 
Many of the houses were large, and built with brick. It is situ- 
ated in one of the most lovely and luxuriant regions in the 
country, delightfully diversified with waving hills, pleasant dales, 
adorned by lovely scenery, and highly cultivated farms — in a 
word, all that can invite to a pastoral life. Here existed exten- 
sive manufactures, especially of the rifles so fatal in the hands 
of our patriotic yeomanry. 

At York the Congress was at that time assembled after 
its dispersion from Philadelphia. Protected by Washing- 
ton, whose forces interposed between them and the British 
army, they held daily secret sessions. Here we procured pass- 
ports for our Southern journey. We entered Maryland on the 
5th of October, and passed through Hanover and Fredericks- 
town into Virginia, over the Potomac at Newland's ferry. 
We found the country, through a wilderness region, infested by 
a semi-barbarian population. We liberated an unfortunate 
traveller assailed by one of these wretches, who, in his techni- 
cal language, swore he "would try the strength of his eye-ball 
strings." Soon after entering Virginia, and at a highly re- 
spectable house, I was shocked, beyond the power of language 



88 



to express, at seeing, for the first time, young negroes of both 
sexes, from twelve even to fifteen years old, not only running 
about the house, but absolutely tending table, as naked as they 
came into the world, not having even the poor apology of a fig 
leaf to save modesty a blush. What made the scene more extra- 
ordinary still, to my unpractised eye, was the fact that several 
young women were at table, who appeared totally unmoved at 
the scandalous violation of decency. I find custom will recon- 
cile us to almost everything. 



84 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 



CHAPTER HI. 

Night Travelling— An Incident — Fredericksburgh — Williamsburgh— 
Jamestown — James River — Suffolk — Arrest — Dismal Swamp— 
Edenton— Hugh Williamson— Hutchinson Letters— Scenery— Pam- 
lico Sound— Deer-Wild Turkeys— Turpentine Making— River Neuse 
— Newbern — A Night Bivouac — Wilmington — Deer Hunting — 
Opossum — The Ocean — Gren. Mcintosh — Capture of Burgoyne — South- 
ern Hospitality — Runaway Negroes — Wingan Bay — Georgetown 
— Charleston. 

Proceeding on our journey from Leesburgh, night overtook 
us in the midst of a wild and secluded region. A wretched 
ordinary, filled with a throng of suspicious characters, afforded 
us the only refuge ; but as the moon was just rising, we chose 
to press forward through the woods, rather than to encounter 
its hospitalities. We travelled thus until a late hour in the 
night, amid stately forests of tall, venerable pines, our three 
carriages in a line, and man Tom, our servant, in advance. 
Suddenly Tom came galloping back in a terrible fright. " What 
is the matter, Tom ?" we cried. " Oh massa, T see the d — 1 
just this minute flying in dem woods !" Mr. Scott being 
ahead, stopped, and exclaimed, " What can it be ! Don't you 
see it moving in the air among those trees ?" We distinctly 
saw the object of Tom's terror. " Well !" says Scott, " let it 
be the d — 1, or a d — nd tory, or what, I'll find out !" He dis- 
mounted, pistol in hand, and dashed into the wood, calling 
upon Tom to follow. They had not proceeded far, when Tom 
whirled about, and was in full career towards us, applying whip 
and spur at a merciless rate, his hat off, and his naked head in 
a line with the horses' mane. Mr. Scott pressed forward with 
due caution towards the terrific object, which still seemed to 
float in the air. We were all impatience and anxiety for the 
fate of our gallant companion. In a moment more he made 
the old forest ring with his powerful voice. " I have got the 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 35 

d — 1, or some dead tory fast by the leg ; a man in gibbets !" 
After this absurd scene, we advanced five miles fm'ther through 
the woods to a small tavern, where we found rest and comfort. 
Here we learned that the cause of our alarm was a negro hung 
in chains, for the murder of his master. 

As we approached Fredericksburgh, we passed many ele- 
gant plantations, whose owners appeared to enjoy the splendor 
and affluence of nabobs. My New-England feelings were 
constantly aroused and agitated by tbe aspect of slavery in 
this land of freedom. About two miles from the town, on the 
north bank of the Rappahannock, we examined the extensive 
factory beloDging to Colonel Hunter, for the manufacture of 
small arms, bar iron, steel, files, &c. Fredericksburgh is situ- 
ated on the Rappahannock, and contains about eight hundred in- 
habitants. The river is navigable to the falls — a mile above the 
town. These falls are eminently beautiful and romantic — a series 
of several cascades following each other in rapid succession. 
From an eminence near this village the Blue Ridge is dis- 
tinctly visible. At this place the mother of our Washington 
resides, and was pointed out to me. She is a majestic and 
venerable woman. 

On the nth. of October we reached Williamsburgh. Here, 
I separated from my travelling companions. This city con- 
tains three hundred and twenty dwelling-houses, principally 
built of wood, on one street three-fourths of a mile in length. 
At one extremity is placed the old college of William and 
Mary, and at the other the State House is situated. It em- 
braces the public offices of the State, and in it the Legislature 
has been accustomed to hold its sessions. Here I saw a mar- 
ble statue, at full length, of Lord Boutetourt. A little retired 
from the street stands the palace of the infamous Lord Dun- 
more, the last royal Governor of Virginia, who makes a con- 
spicuous figure in her annals, in the years 1774 and 1775. I 
learned with pleasure, from an intelligent gentleman of Rich- 
mond, that the first canal commenced in America^ was then 
constructing from Waltham to Richmond, a distance of seven 
miles. Its immediate object is to gain access to a coal mine 



86 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

recently discovered on the estate of Mr. Divol. At Williams- 
burgh I associated myself with a Captain Harwood, who was 
proceeding also to Charleston. We passed the Httle village of 
Jamestown, on James river, interesting only from its early as- 
sociations and venerable ruins. Here, in 1607, English adven- 
turers first landed on the continent. Here Pocahontas, the 
noble daughter of Powhattan, shielded the remnant of the 
colony from famine and treachery. James river is one of the 
finest streams in America. It is two and a half miles wide at 
this place, and has thirty feet water in its channel. 

From Cobham, until we approached Suffolk, the country is 
level, but covered with woods. Near Suffolk it becomes more 
cultivated. Suffolk is situated at the head of Nansemond river, 
a navigable, but winding, shallow stream. Here we found our- 
selves again in the hands of the civil authorities, on a com- 
plaint which had been lodged against us upon a suspicion of our 
being spies. My exact and curious inquiries had again excit- 
ed jealousy of our character. We were compelled to go 
before a magistrate two miles out of town, exhibit our pass- 
ports, take the oath of abjuration, and pay the fees of office. 

Proceeding from Suffolk to Edenton, North Carolina, we 
passed over a spacious, level road, through a pine forest, which, 
beginning in this district, extends quite across North Carolina. 
We travelled near the North border of the great Dismal swamp, 
which, at this time, was infested by concealed royalists, and 
runaway negroes, who could not be approached with, safety. 
They often attacked travellers, and had recently murdered a 
Mr. Williams. 

We entered North Carolina late in the day, availing 
ourselves of that hospitality so characteristic of southern 
manners, and threw ourselves upon the kindness of Mr. 
Granby, a w^ealthy planter and merchant. From this gentle- 
man I learned that the Dismal swamp extends about fifty miles 
north and south ; that it is generally covered with water, and 
has in its centre, a lake called Drummond Lake, well stored 
with fish. He informed me that, previous to the Revolution, 
Washington and two other gentlemen had contemplated open- 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 37 

ing a canal, for the purpose of drawing off the water and re- 
claiming the land for cultivation.* 

Edenton is situated on the Albemarle Sound. It is defend- 
ed by two forts, and contained one hundred and thirty-five dwel- 
lings and a brick court-house. The town was nearly overrun by 
the busy sons of commerce, from its being protected against the 
access of an enemy, by the difficult navigation of a shallow 
water. At Edenton I met the celebrated Dr. Wilhamson, then 
a resident at that place. f 

At this place we crossed the sound, twelve miles, and en- 
tered a romantic creek, up which we sailed some distance 
before landing. We were delighted and soothed by the serenity 
of the close of the day, and the serenade of innumerable song- 
sters of the forest, perched upon the bushes which overhung the 
boat as we ascended the creek, and formed in some places natural 
canopies over us. After landing, we travelled eleven miles to 
Colonel Blount's, where we arrived late at night in Egyptian 
darkness. We were attacked in his yard by a pack of hounds, 

* A canal has recently (1821) been constructed through the swamp, connect- 
ing the Chesapeake with Albemarle Sound. 

t This was the identical person who obtained possession of the celebrated let- 
ters of Governor Hutchinson to the British Ministry. Dr. Williamson having 
heard that the letters were deposited in London, at a place different from that in 
which they ought regularly to have been filed, and having understood that there 
was little exactness in the business of that office, he repaired to it, and stated 
that he had come for the last letters received from Governor Hutchinson and 
Mr. OHver, mentioning at the same time the office in which they should have 
been placed. The letters were delivered to him, which he carried to Dr. Frank- 
lin, and left the next day for Holland. These treacherous and malignant letters 
were the approximate cause of the Revolution. They instigated the British Gov- 
ernment to adopt those harsh measures, which goaded a brave people to a resist- 
ance, which resulted in their independence. The publication of the letters in 
Boston was a torch applied to the revolutionary train. They will consign the 
name of their author to the execration of posterity. Suspicion attached to Dr. 
Franklin, who was arraigned before the Privy Council, in January, 1775, and in- 
famously abused by Wedderburn. Williamson guarded the secret with wonder- 
ful success. ^ His achievement of the affair was not publicly disclosed until Dr. 
Hosack, in his memoirs, developed the interesting fact. The matter involved Sir 
John Temple in a duel with Mr. Whate. The fear of a recurrence of similar 
affairs induced Dr. Franklin publicly to avow his reception of the letters, but he 
denied all agency in the procuring of them.— Editor. 



S8 MEN" AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION ; 

but, by the exertion of the half-clad negroes, who came flying 
from their huts to our aid, and the assistance of our own whips, 
escaped injury. 

From Colonel Blount's we proceeded to Bath on Pamlico 
Sound. In the morning our ears were suddenly assailed by the 
sound of the very pack of hounds which attacked us before, in 
full cry after a panting deer. The deer, dogs, and huntsmen 
all darted across the road, just ahead of us. The face of the 
country being level, with here and there a straight, " cloud- 
capped" pine, and with no underwood, we hallooed and saw 
the chase with great delight, far away into the woods. The 
deer was soon in their gripe, and although the scene was at the 
moment most animating, when it closed, I could not suppress 
a sigh at the fate of the inoffensive hunted animal. 

We arrived late in the day at Bath, after travelling over a 
most sterile and desolate sandy plain. The dreariness was 
scarcely relieved by the appearance of a house, except a few 
miserable tar burner's huts. We crossed Pamlico Sound in an 
open ferry-boat, a distance of five miles. After landing, we 
travelled the whole day amid a gloomy region of sands and 
pines. The road w^as spacious, and in a direct line. The ma- 
jestic perpendicular pines, apparently towering to the clouds, 
imparted an imposing and solemn aspect to the scenery. The 
only relief from this monotony, and the cheerless and painful 
silence we found, was in noticing the watchful and timid deer 
grazing in the woods. The moment they perceived us ap- 
proach, their long necks were arched, and their ears pricked 
up ready for a spring. Sometimes, however, they would gaze 
intently at us with a wild and anxious eye, and remain station- 
ary until we passed. We gave chase to a wild Turkey who 
maintained his equal right to the road, like a true North Caro- 
lina republican, and in spite of our efforts he stretched away 
upon his long legs, far beyond our reach. The few inhabi- 
tants scattered here and there in the forest, subsist by the 
chase, burning tar, and collecting turpentine. In the latter 
process, they strip the trees, to a certain height, of the bark, 
by which means the turpentine is conducted into deep reser- 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 89 

voirs cut in the trunk of the tree, whence it is collected. This 
is called blazing the trees. 

It was nearly dark when we reached the river Neuse. It 
rained, and the wind began to blow, yet we determined, con- 
trary to the advice of the owner of the boat, to risk the pas- 
sage of a stream two miles wide. Harwood, a high-spirited, 
daring fellow, persisted in urging the attempt, but we soon had 
reason to deplore our indiscretion. Our boat was small and 
conducted by two stupid negroes, one of whom was a female. 
The wind rose to a side gale, and as we advanced the storm in- 
creased. Our horses became restive — the night was intensely 
dark, and the sea began to break over the boat's side. At this 
crisis (having been accustomed from my youth to water and 
boats) I seized upon a broken oar to steer with, and implored 
Harwood to bail the water out with his hat, and steady the 
horses. Happily I caught a glimpse of a light at the ferry-house, 
and by it was enabled to direct our course. But for this for- 
tunate circumstance, we must have been bewildered on the 
river and almost inevitably perished, as the water had half 
filled the boat when we gained the shore, in despite of Har- 
wood's efforts. Although my tongue was silent, my heart 
poured forth its thanks for preservation to that Eternal Father 
who had shielded us, and into whose hands I committed my- 
self on mounting my horse at Providence. We rewarded the 
poor negroes, again mounted our horses, and proceeded on to 
Nevvbern, the capital of North Carolina, groping our way in 
the dark along unknown roads, and drenched by the heavy rains. 

On our arrival, excessively wearied, and needing re- 
pose and shelter, we wandered in pursuit of quarters, from 
street to street, and were turned from tavern to tavern, every 
house being filled by French adventurers. At one of these 

taverns, kept by one T , we were repulsed by the landlord 

with so much rudeness as to produce a severe quarrel in the 
piazza, where we stood soliciting quarters. Newbern was the 
metropolis of North Carolina, situated at the confluence of the 
Neuse and Trent rivers, and contained about one hundred and 
fifty dwellings. It was defended by a strong fort and an armed 



40 MEN AND TIMES OF THE KEVOLUTION ; 

ship. Previous to the war it exported corn, naval stores, bees- 
wax, hams, and deer skins to a considerable amount. 

The next morning Harwood proceeded to a barber's 
shop to be shaved. I soon after started in pursuit of the 
same barber. I had not gone far before I met Harwood, 
his pace somewhat quickened, and with one side only of 
his face shaved. He soon informed me that the barber 
had been impertinent, that he had knocked him down, 
and left him sprawling on the floor. We agreed that to 
avoid trouble he should push on, and that I should fol- 
low. He was soon on his way through the streets of the 
capital of North Carolina, in the ludicrous predicament I have 
described. I left Newbern soon after upon Harwood's track, 
and crossed the Trent by a rope ferry seventy feet wide. I 
journeyed the entire day alone, through a wilderness of pines, 
over a flat, sandy country, with scarcely an inhabitant to be 
seen. Towards the close of the day 1 found myself entangled 
among swamps amid an utter wilderness, and my horse almost 
exhausted in my efforts to overtake Harwood. As night 
closed upon me, I was totally bewildered, and without a vestige 
of a road to guide me. Knowing the impossibility of retra- 
cing my steps in the dark, through the mazes I had traversed, 
I felt the absolute necessity of passing the night in this soli- 
tary desert. Feeling no apprehension that my horse would 
wander far from me, I turned him to shift for himself. I then 
placed my box under the sulky, and with my pistols fresh 
primed on one side, and my hanger on the other, I drew around 
me my grego, and, prostrated on the ground along with these, 
my only companions, half asleep and half awake, I passed the 
night in no trifling apprehension of falling a prey to wild beasts 
before morning. 

At length, to my inexpressible satisfaction, the eastern hori- 
zon began to kindle up, and gradually to brighten more and 
more into the full blaze of day. I found my faithful horse true 
to his allegiance, and within reach. I harnessed up, and press- 
ed with as much speed as possible out of this dreary retreat of 
solitude and desolation. My movements were somewhat accel- 
erated by observing a large bear stepping slowly along at a 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 41 

little distance from me. After several miles travelling I regained 
the road, and in the course of the forenoon overtook Harwood. 

We crossed Neuse river, and passed over a continu- 
ous pine barren to Wilmington, on Cape Fear river. This 
was a compact town, ten miles from the sea, and is surrounded 
by sand hills. It was defended by two forts, and two brigs of 
sixteen guns each.* It formerly exported large quantities of 
naval stores, pork, furs, &c., which it received by the river 
from the fertile country in the interior. The killing of deer 
by torch-light was a favorite amusement of the inhabitants of 
this region. A negro precedes the sportsmen, bearing a 
piece of burning pitch pine ; the foolish animal, fascinated by 
the light, remains stationary, with his head erect, and his eyes 
steadily fixed on the blaze. The glare of his eyes expose him 
to the sportsman's aim, who approaches the deer as near as he 
pleases. Thus it often happens among men — that the unwary 
are allured by a deceptive glitter, are beguiled by false promi- 
ses, and fall victims to their own credulity. 

On leaving Wilmington we crossed the Cape Fear river, which 
is here two hundred yards wide, and navigable by vessels of twen- 
ty feet draught. At Brunswick nearly all the houses had been de- 
serted from apprehension of the enemy. From this place to 
Lockwood's Folly, twenty-two miles, is an unbroken wilderness ; 
not a house, not even a wild tar-burner's, was presented to our 
view the whole distance. Fortunately forewarned, we had pre- 
pared ourselves with supplies to encounter this desert. At night 
we encamped at a wretched hovel, without floor or furniture. We 
luckily ran down a fat opossum in the woods, which, with 
sweet potatoes, made a fine repast. Hunger supplied the want 
of dainties. The opossum has much the taste of a fat pig. 
Our poor horses fared badly. They were compelled to stand 
tied to a tree, with nothing to eat, after the fatigue of a hard 
day's journey. We slept on a bare ox hide, with no covering 
but our clothes. 

The next day we crossed Little river, the country continu- 

* In two or three years afterwards it was taken by the British, and occupied 
by Lord Cornwallis as a point of retreat. 



42 MEN- AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

ing to exhibit the same dreary and desolate aspect. The en- 
suing morning we passed a dangerous wash, at the north en- 
trance of Long Bay. Suddenly the ocean and several ships burst 
upon our view. The contrast was a great relief to our minds 
and eyes after travelling so many days over a waste of sand. 

We rode along this bay for sixteen miles on the edge 
of the surf, upon a hard, firm beach. The swell roared and 
curled upon the shore, and as we advanced, the variety of sea- 
birds starting on the wing, and a school of porpoises rolling up 
their black backs on the surface of the sea, amused us as we 
passed along this beautiful scene. Sand hillocks ran parallel 
with the shore on our right, over which land birds were con- 
tinually hovering. We were alarmed and surprised as we en- 
tered on the circuit of this bay, to observe, as we thought for 
the moment, several men, with horses and carriages, at a dis- 
tance, swimming in the sea. We were soon, however, re- 
lieved by noticing an exhalation in that direction, which had 
produced the mirage. About half way across the beach we 
met a group of travellers, who proved to be General Mcintosh 
and suite going to the north to join the army. 

We mutually stopped to exchange civilities and learn the 
news. Our minds had for several days been depressed in reflect- 
ing upon the critical condition of our national affairs. Gracious 
God! how were we astonished and transported with joy, on hear- 
ing from the General that Burgoyne and his whole army were 
prisoners of war. In confirmation of the intelligence, he presented 
us a handbill, printed at Charleston, containing the articles of 
capitulation. We involuntarily took off our hats and gave three 
hearty cheers in concert with the roaring of the surge. All 
considered this glorious event as deciding the question of our 
eventual Independence. In triumph we carried the joyous 
new^s to the hospitable seat of William Alston, Esq., one of the 
most respectable and affluent planters in South Carolina. We 
arrived at the close of the day, but were received with open 
arms, and entertained in the most sumptuous style. With 
music and his best madeh'a, we celebrated the great event we 
had announced, in high glee, to a late hour of the night. 



43 



We had been cautioned to be on our guard against the at- 
tacks of runaway negroes, in the passage of swamps near 
Wingan Bay. As w^e entered the second swamp, fourteen 
naked negroes armed with poles, presented themselves in the 
attitude of hostility, across the road. Harwood seized one of 
my pistols and charged them at full speed, making the wood 
resound with his thundering voice. I pressed forward close 
to his heels in my sulky, armed with the other pistol. They 
threw down their rails and dashed into the woods, and we 
passed on without further interruption. 

As evening closed in, we embarked in a good ferry-boat, 
manned by four jolly, well-fed negroes, to cross Wingan Bay, 
a distance of four miles. The evening was serene, the stars 
shone brightly, and the poor fellows amused us the whole way 
by singing their plaintive African songs in cadence with the 
oars. We reached Georgetown in the evening. It stands on 
Wingan river, and is the second place of importance in the 
State. After leaving Georgetown we passed the Black river, 
and crossing a second ferry, travelled over Santee island. 

At length, on the 18th of November, 1777, the city of 
Charleston presented itself to our view. We left our horses and 
crossed Cooper's river in a yawd. I was delighted with the 
view^ of this splendid city, and the shipping in its harbor. 
After a seventy days' journey from Providence, having travel- 
led 1,243 miles, it was to me almost like the entrance of the 
Israelite into the promised land. I performed the whole route 
either on horseback or in a sulky.'^ 

* At that day, and under the circumstances of the country, this was the most 
commodious and practicable way of travelling. A fact almost surpassing belief, 
in these days of stage-coach and railroad facilities. 



44 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 



CHAPTER IV. 

Orange Orchard — Fire at Charleston — Governor Rutledge — Makes Tour 
in Georgia — Warmth of Season — Gouging Match — Amusing Scene — 
Indians — Little Carpenter — Port Eoyal Island — Cotton Picking by 
Hand— Eli Whitney's Cotton Gin— Beaufort— Dr. Zubley— Silk— Tea 
— Savannah. 

On my arrival I delivered the funds which had been confided 
to me, and which I had carried the whole length of my jour- 
ney, securely quilted in the lining of my coat, at their place of 
destination, and made the preliminary arrangement to carry 
out Mr. Brown's plans. I again crossed Cooper's river to the 
plantation of a Mr. Townsend, where we had left our horses. 
I here examined an orchard of eleven hundred orange trees, in 
full bearing. The fruit proved rather bitter to the taste, but 
exceedingly beautiful. In December one of Mr. Brown's 
brigs was burnt in sight of the town ; several of his ships had, 
however, arrived. 

In the intervals of business I mingled, with delight, in 
the elegant and gay society of this refined metropolis, 
under the wing of Mr. Russel, the consignee of Mr. Brown, 
a gentleman of New-England origin, but occupying a distin- 
guished position in the mercantile community of Charleston. 
My prospects were brilliant and auspicious, when a deep pub- 
lic and private calamity cast a dark pall over the whole. I 
had parsed the evening of the 15th of January, '78, with a 
brilliant party, at the splendid mansion of a wealthy merchant 
of the city. In two hours after we had left the scene of ele- 
gant refinement, the stately edifice, the rich furniture, and all 
its gorgeous appliances were wrapt in flames. In the mid 
hours of a cold and tempestuous night, I was aroused by the 
cry of fire, and by a loud knocking at the door, with the ap- 
palling intelligence — " The town 's in flames." I pressed for- 
ward to the theatre of one of the most terrific conflagrations 
that probably ever visited Charleston. The devastation was 
frightful. The fire raged with unmitigated fury for seventeen 



45 



hours. Every vessel, shallop, and negro-boat was crowded 
with the distressed inhabitants. Many who, a few" hours 
before, retired to their beds in affluence, were now reduced, by 
the all-devouring element, to indigence. 

After laboring at the fire for many hours, I returned 
to my quarters to obtain a brief respite. I had scarcely 
seated myself before a man rushed in, exclaiming — " Your 
roof is on fire !" The mass of the conflagration was yet 
afar off, but it as it were, rained fire. When we had 
extinguished the flame on the roof, 1 thought it time to 
remove my trunk, containing funds to a large amount. Not 
being able to procure assistance, I was constrained to shoulder 
it myself. Staggering under my load, (a burden which, in or- 
dinary times, I could scarcely have lifted) I proceeded along 
Main-street. The fire had extended far and wide, and was 
bearing down, in awful majesty, a sea of flame. Almost the 
whole of this spacious street exhibited, on one side, a continu- 
ous and glaring blaze. My heart sickened at beholding half- 
dressed matrons, delicate young ladies and children, wandering 
about unprotected, and in despair. 

I soon found myself prostrated on the ground, along- 
side of my trunk, by the explosion of a large building. 
Fortunately being uninjured, I hastened on until I reached 
an elegant house in the suburbs of the city. Without 
hesitation I entered it, and, seeing no one, went into a 
splendid parlor, deposited my trunk in a closet, locked the 
door, and put the key in my pocket. Early the next morning 
I went in pursuit of my trunk. I everywhere saw heart-rend- 
ing spectacles amid the smoking ruins, and the constant falling 
of walls and chimneys. I reached the house where I had left 
my trunk, which I then first discovered was the residence of 
Governor Rutledge. A young gentleman answered my knock, 
of whom I requested my trunk. He eyed me with attention, 
and casting a suspicious glance upon my person and clothes, 
replied, that not knowing me, he could not deliver it. My face 
and hand had been injured, and my clothes torn in the confu- 
sion of the fire. I was mortified, but conscious that my ap- 
pearance justified his suspicion. I forthwith proceeded to a 



46 MEN" AND TIMKS OF THE KEVOLUTION ; 

friend, borrowed a clean shirt and decent clothes, (my own 
being locked up in the Governor's parlor) got shaved and pow- 
dered, and again proceeded after my trunk. I knocked with 
confidence, was politely received by the same young gentle- 
man, who evidently did not recall my features. I was ushered 
into the presence of the Governor. I stated to him where I 
had placed my trunk, and was apologizing for the liberty, when 
he interrupted me, remarking that the fearful crisis justified 
me. He continued — '' Sit down, sir — will you take a glass of 
wine ? My secretary informed me that a person called for the 
trunk an hour or two ago, but not liking his appearance he 
had declined delivering it." The Governor was much amused 
at understanding that I was the person who had called. I re- 
cord this incident to show the importance of external appear- 
ance to a man's success in the world, and more particularly, 
among strangers. 

Having arranged my affairs in Charleston (for the occur- 
rence of the fire had totally broken up and prostrated my busi- 
ness operations) I determined, in company with a Mr. Bloom- 
field, of Boston, and Mr. Clark, of New-Haven, to extend my 
tour to the south as far as prudence should warrant. In pur 
suance of this plan we left Charleston on the 29th of January, 
1778, I transcribe a synopsis of my journal. 

The road to Ashley river is delightful. We passed many 
elegant seats, wdth fine gardens and grounds. The road in 
some places is shaded by lofty trees, from which we were 
sweetly serenaded by the music of beautiful birds, offering up, 
we could believe, their evening praises to our common Bene- 
factor. To a northern constitution the heat is rather uncom- 
fortable, exceeding that usual to the month of May in New- 
England. Many of the early vegetables had already appeared. 
In this month garden seeds, with us, are ordinarily sown. A 
tranquil summer sky, fanning breezes from the south, the ver- 
dure of evergreens, the croaking of frogs and the chirping of 
birds, all indicated the advent of spring. 

On this river are situated the choicest plantations, and the 
most elegant and numerous country-seats in the State. The 



47 



extensive marshes bordering upon this and other adjacent 
streams, had recently been converted into highly productive 
rice plantations, to which culture they are well adapted. In 
the evening of this day we were much annoyed by the quarrel 
of two overseers in an adjoining room, who soon gave us a 
fair (or rather foul) specimen of a genuine Georgia gouging- 
match. They rushed upon each other with the fury and 
ferocity of bull-dogs, and made every effort to gouge out each 
other's eyes. We at length succeeded in separating them. 
This house afforded us neither rest nor comfort. The sheets 
were smutty, the rooms filthy, and literally alive with fleas and 
bed-bugs. We turned in with all our clothes on, and yet the 
ravenous fleas penetrated to the skm. 

In the morning, as we were about leaving the inn, an 
old French officer rode up and tied his horse to the post, 
and passing us with a profound bow, entered the house. 
He wore a three-cornered cocked hat, a laced coat, a long 
queue tied close to his head, with a ribbon in a large 
double bow, his hair powdered, and a long sword dang- 
ling by his side. He spoke only French. Immediately after 
him came up a negro riding on a mule, which, in despite of 
his rider's efforts, dashed in between the post and the horse. 
In the struggle the horse's bridle broke, and away went the 
horse into the woods, with a heavy portmanteau dancing at 
his side. The Frenchman, no doubt, thinking it all design, 
(for he did not seem to comprehend a word of the negro's ex- 
planation) drew his long sword, his eyes flashing fury. The 
moment the negro saw the sword, he sprang off his mule, and 
darted for the forest, with Monsieur in full chase after him, 
vociferating most vehemently. At first we were alarmed, but 
perceiving the negro to be too nimble for him, were exceed- 
ingly amused by the chase. Despairing of overtaking the lad, 
the Frenchman darted his sword after him, exclaiming — 
'•' Belitre — diable, &c. !" We soon after started, and saw the poor 
terrified black still scudding away, far off among the pines. 

The next day we passed Pond Pond, and travelled over an 
interesting country, interspersed with fine plantations. The 
roads are as level as a bowling-green, and generally in a direct 



48 MEN AND TIMES OF THE KEVOLUTION ; 

line. We noticed peas in blossom. Near the Ashepoo we 
observed several Indians seated on a log. We ascertained 
that they were the celebrated warrior Little Carpenter, king 
of the Cherokees, with his queen and several councillors, on 
their way to Charleston, to " brighten and strengthen," as he 
told us, in good English, " the chain of union." They were 
alternately whiffing out of a great wooden pipe, which was 
passed from one to the other, whilst an elbow was rested on 
the knee, and the body a little projected forward. I seated 
myself by the king, and took my whiffin turn, and finding him 
of a social cast, did not fail to ply him pretty closely with my 
Yankee questions. 

We passed Barnard Elliot's magnificent residence, and 
those of other planters, in the distance, on avenues cut 
through the woods, and surrounded by their Uttle villages 
of negro huts. The 1st of February we had a succes- 
sion of showers, with heavy thunder, similar to our northern 
April w^eather. The next day we crossed over to Port Royal 
island. At the ferry-house, where we stopped for the night, a 
party of the young folks of the lower order had assembled, and 
willing to contribute to their amusement, as well as my own, 
I took out my flute, and playing some jigs, set them dancing, 
shuffling, and capering in merry style. 

This island is about ten miles square. The land is generally 
poor, affording but a few rice plantations. The staple is indigo, 
which grows on a light soil. Some cotton is cultivated here for 
domestic purposes ; but as it is so difficult to disentangle the fibre 
from the seed, its extensive culture is not attempted, although 
it eminently flourishes in this climate, and is a most important 
article. Every evening we have noticed the negroes, old and 
young, clustered in their huts, around their pine-knot fires, 
plucking the obstinate seed from the cotton.* 

* This, it is not necessary to add, was before the days of Eli Whitney, one of 
the great benefactors of the South. Mr. Whitney was a native of Connecticut, 
early distinguished for his mechanical genius, who visited Georgia in the pros- 
pect of securing a situation of private tutor. He was disappointed in the hope, 
and was received, almost in charity, under the benevolent roof of Mrs. Green, the 
widow of General Green. A party of gentlemen conversing incidentally on the 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 49 

Deer and foxes abound on this island. Beaufort is hand- 
somely situated, and contains about seventy houses, besides 
public buildings, and is defended by a respectable fort, two 
miles below the town. We retraced our steps, and again 
crossed the ferry. At noon, stopping at a very decent looking 
house, which we supposed to be a tavern, we ordered our din- 
ner, wine, (fee, with the utmost freedom. What was our 
amazement and mortification, when inquiring for the bill, our 
host replied — '' Gentlemen, I keep no tavern, but am very 
much obliged to you for your visit." In the true spirit 
of southern liberality, he insisted upon our taking a bed with 
him on our return from Georgia. This incident exhibits the 
beautiful trait of hospitality, for which the south is so distin- 
guished. 

On the 6th of February we reached the Savannah 
river at Zubley's ferry. At the same time Dr. Zubley and his 
son crossed the river from the Georgia side. Dr. Zubley, a 
very learned and eminent man, is a Swiss by birth, and recent- 
ly was a distinguished preacher in Savannah. Zealous in the 
cause of American liberty, he represented Georgia in the first 
Congress which assembled at Philadelphia, in September, 

subject, were lamenting that there was no means of separating the seed from the 
cotton ; and remarked, that until ingenuity could devise some machine to effect 
the purpose, it was vain to think of raising cotton to export. " Gentlemen," 
said Mrs. Green, *' apply to my young friend, Mr. Whitney, he can make any- 
thing." When the matter was proposed to Whitney, he replied that he had 
never seen cotton or cotton seed in his life. The subject was thus, however, 
suggested to his mind, and with tools most inadequate, and much of the mate- 
rials made by himself, in the course of a few months, he perfected a machine 
which answered every desired purpose. Thus, by the force of intuitive genius, 
one man called into practical being the staple of an entire country, revolution- 
ized its affairs, and added millions to its wealth. When the fact of such a dis- 
covery was known, the populace was so determined to possess the machine, 
that they broke open his house and seized it. Before Whitney was able to 
make his model and procure his patent, many machines were already in opera- 
tion. This violent procedure robbed the inventor of much of the benefit of his 
discovery. It was emphatically stated by Whitney, in a subsequent application 
to Congress for remuneration (and in which, by singular ingratitude, he was de- 
feated, by the efforts of Southern members) " that his invention had been the 
source of opulence to thousands of the citizens of the United States, and that as 
a labor-saving machine, it would enable one man to perform the work of one 
thousand men." 

4 



50 



1774. This measure tended to weaken the chain by which a 
mighty continent was held in colonization by a little island 
thr ee thousand miles distant. Dr. Zubley informed us that he 
could not conscientiously sustain the cause of Independence, 
and in consequence, that he and his son were this day banish- 
ed from Georgia, and his estate confiscated. He expressed 
strong indignation at the ingratitude and harshness he had ex- 
perienced. Although much depressed and extremely agitated, 
his conversation was in the highest degree interesting and in- 
structive. He concluded the evening with an eloquent and 
affecting appeal to the throne of grace to vindicate the recti- 
tude of his intentions. 

We had been constrained to stop the night before at a 
wretched hovel, kept by an old Irish ghole. We fared in the 
worst possible manner. The old woman was covered with 
filth and snufF, there w^as no light but pine-knots, and the room 
was filled with smoke, A decrepid, dirty wench was busy about 
the fire cooking our supper ; but we saw enough to stay pro- 
ceedings, and contented ourselves with a meal of sweet pota- 
toes, peeled by our own hands, and pure water. Soon after 
we had finished our repast, the infuriated hag burst into our 
room, and seizing one of our whips, rushed into an adjoining 
bed-room, with a pine torch in her hands, an impersonation of 
fury. Here she applied her heavy strokes to the poor, helpless 
wench, who could scarcely crawl, with the most diabolical 
purpose. Knocking the negress down, she commenced pound- 
ing her head with the but end of the whip. Fearing she 
might commit murder, we arrested her infernal arm, when she 
turned the full battery of her Billingsgate on us, swearing she 

had a right " by J • to kill her own nager if she plased." This 

painful scene illustrated a remark I often heard at the South, 
that Northern overseers were the hardest task-masters, and 
foreign owners the most cruel masters. The relation between 
the native master and his slave, seems generally to be of the 
fondest and most affectionate character. At the dawn of the 
ensuing morning, we rejoiced to leave this den, after confer- 
ring our blessing upon mother Adamson. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 51 

The next day we crossed the river and entered Georgia. 
We traversed a bad causeway, and for the first time in several 
hundred miles, ascended a steep hill, and passed several rivu- 
lets running briskly across the road. This was a new and 
cheering sight. From the ferry to Savannah, a distance of 
twenty-four miles, we noticed many valuable plantations, 
where rice, tobacco, and indigo are cultivated with success. 
We also remarked extensive orchards of white mulberries, de- 
signed to supply silk-worms. The silk culture has taken deep 
root in this State, and will doubtless become an important sta- 
ple for exportation in a few years.* We crossed some small 
bridges, traversed several hills, and then entered Savannah, the 
capital of Georgia. We delivered our letters to General Wal- 
ton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, 
Commodore Bowen and other gentlemen, which gained us 
early admission into the delightful society of the city. Savan- 
nah is situated on the south side of the river, upon a high sand- 
bluff' overlooking the river, and commanding a beautiful view 
of the adjacent country, which is principally appropriated to 
rice plantations. 

* 1821. Silk has long been cultivated at the north (in Connecticut) as well as 
Georgia, and it should now be pursued with augmented energy. Its successful 
culture would save to the nation millions of dollars annually, which now are ab- 
stracted from the country to pamper the manufactures of the old world. Another 
analogous interest demands the earnest attention of southern patriots. I allude 
to the tea culture. The history of this extraordinary herb is involved in much 
obscurity. China and Japan being the seats of its growth, Europeans have 
been excluded from any observation or knowledge of its mode of cultivation. It 
is ascertained, however, that it delights in valleys and the sides of hills affording 
a southern exposure ; that it is congenial to mild and temperate climates, grow- 
ing between 30° and 45® N. latitude, which probably corresponds to about lO'^ 
less on this continent. It flourishes most on rocky land, and succeeds equally 
well on poor and on rich soils. Tea was first introduced to Europe in 1610, and 
was then only used for m.edicinal purposes. It has now become almost a staff 
of life. From 1717 to 1726. only seven hundred thousand pounds were annually 
imported into Great Britain. The import of the article now, 1821, exceeds each 
year twenty millions, and is rapidly increasing. Thus the soil of China, and 
the industry of her people, is more productive to the nation than the mountains 
of gold and silver of South America are to Spain. The successful agriculture of 
China renders Europe and America tributary to her. Why should not the agri- 
cultural societies of the South turn their attention to this subject 1 



62 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REYOLUTION ; 



CHAPTER V. 

Rice — Cotton — Whitefield — Ogeechee River — Planter's Residence — 
Slaves — Face of the Country— Products — Health — Woods on Fire- 
Charleston — Fort Moultrie — Females — Departure — Sergeant Jasper 
— Night Adventure — Negro Sale — Tarborough — Halifax — Roanoke 
River — Horned Snake — Blazed Trees — James River. 

The culture of rice and the process of preparing it for mar- 
ket are deeply interesting. Near the 1st of April it is sown in 
rows, about three feet apart, and by the 1st of June it be- 
comes from six to eight inches high. The weeds are then 
taken out, and water admitted by means of sluices, from some 
adjacent stream. The water is occasionally drawn off, and a 
fresh supply introduced. When in blossom, the rice presents 
a most beautiful appearance, the flowers seeming to float on 
the surface of the water, and perfuming the air with a most 
delicious fragrance. In September, when the waving harvest 
rises considerably above the water, it is said to exhibit a curi- 
ous and very rich aspect. After the grain is ripe, and the 
water drawn off, the rice is reaped and stacked in the manner 
of wheat. After threshing, it is pounded in mortars, ten or 
twelve in a row, each containing about half a peck. The 
pounders are lifted by a simple machinery, with the application 
of horse-power. After this process, it is sifted and cleansed 
for packing. When I considered the vast expense of preparing 
the swamps for the cultivation of rice, and stocking the planta- 
tions with negroes, together with the cheapness of the article, 
I have been astonished at the large fortunes which have been 
realized from the cultivation of this commodity. An acre of 
rich swamp-land adapted to the rice culture, will produce 
twenty-five casks of five hundred pounds each. The Georgia 
rice is confessedly the best, it being larger than that produced 



OK, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 53 

in the Carolinas. The indigo of the latter is, however, de- 
cidedly superior to that of Georgia. 

Cotton, as I have already observed, was then beginning to 
be cultivated for domestic purposes, as we raise flax and wool 
in New England.* 

We decided to attempt the prosecution of our tour into East 
Florida. Previous to this, our curiosity induced us to make an 
excursion to the celebrated Orphan House, established by 
Whitefield. He passed and repassed the Atlantic repeatedly, 
traversing the extent of the colonies like a flaming meteor, 
constantly soliciting charity, as well in Europe as America, 
for this object, by the most energetic strains of the most power- 
ful eloquence, touching alike the heads and pockets of his de- 
lighted audiences, f 

The avowed object of the collecting of these funds, was the 
establishment of an asylurti for the numerous orphan children 
of the early adventurers to Georgia, who fell victims, and in 
impoverished circumstances, to the ravages of the climate. 
Their forlorn condition called forth the sympathy, and secured 
the patronage of Whi'tefield. 

We travelled twelve miles through a succession of fine plan- 
tations, and were politely received by Mr. Piercy, an Episco- 
palian clergyman, who was left in charge of the property by 
Mr. Whitefield. The occurrence of the war, and the destruc- 
tion of the centre building (which left only the two wings 
standing) have frustrated the design^f the founder. 

Mr. Piercy showed us an elegant painting of the Countess 
of Huntington, the friend of Whitefield and patroness of this in- 
stitution. We found the family of Mr. Piercy highly refined 
and intelligent, and enjoyed their kind hospitality with much 
interest. Meeting people of their cultivation and delicacy in 

* The sea island cotton, I have been informed recently, (1821) by a respecta- 
ble planter, was only introduced within the present century. The compass of a 
note will not authorize a view of the interesting history of the cotton culture 
since 1778, now, by far, the most valuable staple of America. The average of 
cotton exported in 1817,-18 and '19, was 88,705,8.'^0 lbs., and its average value 
$25,014,410. 

t See Dr. Franklin's account of his experience. 



54 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION 



this remote and solitary abode, was the source to us of equal 
surprise and gratification. The religious duties of the evening 
were performed with great solemnity and impressiveness. At 
the ringing of a small bell, the negroes, with their children, all 
came in to unite with the family in their devotions. 

Mentioning our purpose of visiting Florida to Mr. Piercy, 
he dissuaded us from it, stating that it was not only in the oc- 
cupation of the English, but that we should also be exposed 
to the attack of hostile Indians, who were hovering about the 
borders. However ardent our desire to advance still farther 
towards the South would have been under other circumstan- 
ces, we, at length, concluded to limit our journey to the river 
Ogeechee. Mr. Piercy's brother accompanied us on the expe- 
dition. After traversing a pine barren the greater part of the 
distance, we reached the river, which is about a mile wide, 
mantled on the opposite side by extensive forests. 

Having travelled about fifteen hundred miles from North to 
South, it was with delight that I turned to the right about on 
the banks of the Ogeechee, and once more faced my dear 
native New-England. 

On our return we deviated from our route to visit a wealthy 
planter, George A. Hall, who had urgently invited us to his 
plantation. We turned from our direct road into a muddy 
avenue, two miles in length, cut through the forest. At its 
termination, we found ourselves in an open space, occupied by 
a miniature palace, elegant in its exterior, and embellished by 
the most refined taste, in the midst of a noble plantation, and 
surrounded by a little village of negro huts. Everything in 
and about the house announced wealth and elegance. A 
highly ornamented flower-garden I saw blooming on the 16th 
of February, in all the glory and beauty of spring in New- 
England. In wandering over the grounds, we observed a 
large collection of negroes, seated upon rice straw, making a 
miserable meal upon boiled rice and pure water. It is truly 
astonishing how the slave can sustain life with this wretched 
pittance, and even appear in good health and condition, com- 
pelled to labor from dawn to night, through the long summer 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 65 

days, under the scorching rays of the intense sun, with no 
shelter for his head, and in most instances his black and oily 
skin exposed to its full beams ; yet they seemed joyous and hap- 
py. In contemplating the wealth, and splendor, and magnifi- 
cence of the Southern planter, I cannot divest my mind of the 
idea that they are all produced by the sweat and blood of the 
slave.* 

The face of the country in South Carolina and Georgia, 
along the sea-board, and from fifty to one hundred miles inland, 
is generally level, clothed with wood, principally forests of 
pines of immense size and height. In the interior the country 
rises into waving hills. On the creeks and rivers a deep allu- 
vial soil prevails, which is devoted to the rice plantations. In 
the interior, wheat, tobacco, and corn, are cultivated in great 
abundance. This region is healthy, whilst the territory bor- 
dering on the sea, is subject, during the summer and fall 
months, to noxious vapors exhaling from the low lands. 

On our return to Charleston we had an opportunity of wit- 
nessing a scene of appalling, and yet extreme interest. Trav- 
elling after dark, we found ourselves in the midst of a forest 
on fire. For several miles the country was in a blaze. The 
wind blew fresh, which moved and agitated the fire, giving it 
the appearance of a sea of flames, rolling and convulsed. The 
gigantic pines, blazing and crackling, covered with fire to their 
tops, were falling with tremendous crashes in every direction. 
We extricated oui^selves with no small hazard from the burn- 
ing and falling timber. 

After an absence of nineteen days, occupied in a most de- 
lightful excursion, we returned to Charleston. This city is 
situated on a point of land, at the confluence of Cooper and 
Ashley rivers. Its harbor is spacious, and might conveniently 
contain five hundred ships. The bar at the mouth, however, 

* Northern men, in yielding to the instincts which revolt at slavery, and in- 
dulging in strictures upon its existence and atrocities, should contemplate the 
fact that the impulses of Northern cupidity aided its introduction, by the agency 
of Northern ships and capital. How many of the princely fortunes of New- 
England had their basis in the slave trade ! 1831. 



56 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION 



does not admit of the passage of vessels carrying more than elev- 
en feet water. Although this circumstance affords some protec- 
tion against the approach of an enemy, the navigation is hazard- 
ous in tempestuous weather. It is defended (and was well defended 
the year before) by Fort Moultrie. Fort Johnson lies on the south 
side of the harbor, about two miles from the city. There are 
also three other forts for its protection, mounting in all two 
hundred pieces of cannon. Previous to the late fire, Charleston 
contained one thousand eight hundred houses, besides its pub- 
lic edifices.* 

In Broad-street is placed a fine marble statue of the great 
Pitt, with an appropriate inscription. 

Among the females of Charleston, we observed many ele- 
gant, accomplished women, but generally of sallow complex- 
ions, and without that bloom which distinguishes the daughters 
of the North. Perhaps no city of America exhibits, in propor- 
tion to its size, so much splendor and style as Charleston. The 
rich planters of the State live in almost Asiatic luxury, and 
usually, before the Revolution, educated their sons in Europe. f 

On the 8th of March, 1778, we departed from Charleston on 
our return to New-England. Several gentlemen, with great 
kindness and courtesy, accompanied us to the ferry. Our 
company consisted of my former companion, Mr. Broomfield, 
Mr. Gibbs, of Philadelphia, and Captain Paul Hussey, of Provi- 
dence, accompanied by old Silas and the dog Watch, both of 

* Before the Revolution about one hundred and forty ships were annually 
freighted at Charleston, Georgetown, and Beaufort, and principally at the former, 
with rice, indigo, tobacco, skins, and naval stores ; about seventy thousand casks 
of rice, and thirty thousand deer-skins, were yearly exported. Numerous eviden- 
ces exist that the whole region of the flat sea-board has, at some former period, 
escaped from the dominion of the ocean. Among these evidences numerous fossil 
remains of marine shells are everywhere revealed. 

t I procured a passport from Governor Rutledge for my protection. I intro- 
duce a copy from the original, which I still retain as an interesting memorial of 
those times of trial and suspicion : 

" Mr. Elkanah Watson is permitted to go from hence to Pennsylvania. 
To J. Rutledge. 

all whom it may concern. Charleston, So. Carolina, 

March, 1778." 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 57 

whom were with us in our Georgia expedition. Hussey we 
found a jovial, excellent companion, always unfortunate, but 
always cheerful, full of humor and of story, which he had col- 
lected from most extensive reading, and garnered up in a re- 
tentive memory. He always had a laugh in his squint eye, 
and a good story upon his lips. He named his horse (an 
animal as unique as his master) De Casto. Hussey 's excel- 
lent wit and knowledge of the world, always secured us good 
fare.* 

From the ferry we proceeded to Sullivan's island, to view 
Fort Moultrie. Here Sir Peter Parker was killed, in June, 
1776, and his fleet disgracefully defeated, with the loss of a 
frigate, by raw and hastily-collected troops. The fort is con- 
structed of palmetto wood, a timber very similar to cork in 
some of its properties. Balls could not effectually penetrate it. 
The fort was then defended by four hundred and fifty troops, 
and mounted sixty-five guns. During the attack upon it, Ser- 
geant Jasper performed an heroic exploit, that will consign his 
name to posterity. In the heat of the engagement the 
American flag- staff was shot away ; Jasper leaped over the en- 
trenchment, and amid the most tremendous fire, restored it to 
its place. 

We were overtaken by Hussey at the ferry-house near Wil- 
mington, he having been detained at Georgetown. Pie came 
in early in the morning, covered with mud, and jaded out with 
fatigue, giving us a most piteous account of his trials the 
night previous. Eager to overtake us, he had pressed forward 
through the pine wilderness in the region of Lockwood's Folly, 
and when night overtook him, he fell into a by-path, became 
bewildered among swamps, and at length totally lost. His 
horse failed, exhausted by hard travelling without food. For- 
tunately for Hussey, he carried flint and steel, and thus lighted 
a fire. He spent the night in fighting wolves, attracted by the 
light from the wilds, with pitch-pine flaming brands. At day- 
light he ascended a tall sapling, as he termed it, " to look out 
for land," and saw Wilmington and the ferry-house not far off. 

* He was shipwrecked and drowned some years after on the coast of France. 



58 



Whilst at Wilmington, I witnessed a heart-rending spectacle, 
the sale of a negro family under the sheriff's hammer. They 
were driven in from the country, like swine for market. A 
poor wench clung to a little daughter, and implored, with the 
most agonizing supplication, that they might not be separated. 
But alas, either the master or circumstances were inexorable — 
they were sold to different purchasers. The husband and 
residue of the family were knocked .off to the highest bidder. 

Between Wilmington and Tarborough the face of the coun- 
try gradually changes, presenting more undulating land, and 
frequent brooks rippling across the road. It abounds in luxu- 
riant peach orchards. During our journey, we were overtaken 
by a dark, stormy evening, and were compelled to take posses- 
sion of a deserted log hut, where we soon kindled a fire, and 
encamped on the floor for the night. Tarborough is a small 
village, situated on Tar river, and will, I think, in time, 
become a place of consequence. The country around it is 
healthy and elevated, and much appropriated to the tobacco 
culture. 

Halifax is on the Roanoke river, which, rising beyond the 
Blue Ridge, leaves Virginia fifteen or twenty miles from this 
place, and discharges itself into Albemarle Sound at Plymouth, 
a point sixty miles distant. The borders of this river are es- 
teemed the wealthiest region of North Carolina. Its soil is rich 
and highly cultivated, producing corn, peas, and tobacco, in im- 
mense quantities, and also some rice. We noticed vast droves 
of hogs ranging among these plantations. A Mr. Hall, a planter 
in this vicinity, produces, it was stated, annually, three thou- 
sand barrels of corn, and four thousand bushels of peas. Many 
elegant seats are situated on the margin of the Roanoke, 
although the district is esteemed unhealthy. Halifax contains 
about forty-five dwellings, occupying one wide street, and as- 
cending to a high sand-bluff. The society in this vicinity is 
considered among the most polished and cultivated in the 
State. 

On our way from Halifax to Williamsburgh, Hussey's curi- 
osity exposed him to imminent danger. The creeks through 



59 



this territory are infested by a most venomous reptile — the 
horned snake — whose sting is death. In passing a swamp we 
noticed one of them, coiled up in a position that made us sup- 
pose it dead. Hussey dismounted to examine it minutely. 
The moment his whip touched it, the snake coiled itself in an 
attitude of attack, its head horribly flattened, its eyes sparkling 
fire, its execrable tongue darting out of its mouth. After the 
danger was over, we laughed heartily at Hussey's fright and 
discomfiture. This snake has sharp, fine teeth, but its subtle 
venom is embedded in a horn, tapering to a fine point, at the 
end of the tail, whence it is ejected. I was told that the 
poison was fatal to a tree, if it is stung by the snake when the 
sap is ascending. 

A method prevails in this country of blazing the trees at cer- 
tain distances, which furnishes a guide to the traveller, even 
in the ordinary obscurity of night. This is produced by 
simply slashing a strip of bark from two opposite sides of a 
tree. The white spots thus formed, may be seen for a great 
distance in an open forest. We remarked the country 
towards James river to be thinly settled, and generally 
clothed with forests. We again crossed this river in a 
small boat, wdth a stupid negro ferryman. James river 
is a most majestic stream, second in importance only to 
the Hudson, Delaware, and Potomac. It receives in its course 
seven large confluents. It is stated, that before the Revolution 
its commerce embraced the exportation of thirty thousand 
hogsheads of tobacco. 



60 MEN AND TIMES OF THE KEVOLUTION ; 



CHAPTER VI. 

Hanover Court-IIouse — Election — Manners— Fight — Alexandria — Poto- 
mac — Inland Navigation — Slavery — Washington City — Baltimore — 
Pennsylvania — Contrast — Pennsylvania Farmer — Valley Forge — 
Bethlehem — Moravian Ceremony — Continental Troops — Small-Pox 
— General Eeflections. 

In passing Hanover Court-House, Virginia, we found the 
whole county assembled at an election. The moment I alight- 
ed, a wretched pug-nosed fellow assailed me to swap watches. 
I had hardly shaken him ofl', when I was attacked by a wild 
Irishman, who insisted on my " swapping horses " with him, 
and in a twinkling ran up the pedigree of his horse to the 
grand dam. Treating his importunity with little respect, I 
became near being involved in a boxing-match, the Irishman 
swearing that I did not " trate him like a jintleman." I had 
hardly escaped this dilemma when my attention was attracted 
by a fight between two very unwieldy, fat men, foaming and 
pufRng like two furies, until one succeeding in twisting a fore- 
finger in aside-lock of the other's hair, and in the act of thrusting, 
by this purchase, his thumb into the latter's eye, he bawled out 
" king's cruse," equivalent, in technical language, to "enough.'' 

From Fredericksburgh to Alexandria, we found frightful bad 
roads. The latter place is situated on the Potomac, on 
an elevated plain overlooking the river. Its streets are laid 
out after the plan of Philadelphia, and upon a large scale in the 
anticipation of a great city. Considering its peculiar advanta- 
ges of position, at the head of the bold navigation of one of 
the noblest rivers of the world, I see nothing to prevent their 
anticipations being fully realized. The Potomac is sur- 
passed only by the Hudson in magnificence and utility. It 
rises far west, near the sources of the Monongahela. A com- 
munication is therefore practicable between the waters of the 
Ohio and the Potomac. I understood that the latter, with the aid 



61 



of locks to pass three falls, may be made navigable for large 
boats to Fort Cumberland, two hundred miles west of Alexan- 
dria. It is ten miles wide at its mouth. Ten miles below this 
city, its majestic flood laves Mount Vernon, the sequestered 
seat of the immortal Washington. 

The influence of slavery upon southern habits is peculiarly 
exhibited in the prevailing indolence of the people. It would 
almost seem as if the poor white man had rather starve than 
work, because the negro works. 

On the 10th of April we reached Baltimore. After leaving 
Alexandria, we crossed the Potomac near Mason's island'^'* to 
Georgetown. This place contains about twenty-five good 
stone houses, erected on the side of a hill. After leaving 
Georgetown, we abandoned, by mistake, the main road, and 
soon becoming entangled among plantations and by-roads, 
spent several hours before we recovered our route. f Near 
Elk Ridge we observed several iron works, and also a cannon 
foundry. Baltimore is situated on the Patapsco, and contains 
about six thousand inhabitants. The harbor foims a basin, 
around which the city is built. Heavy vessels load, and dis- 
charge at Fell's Point, which is itself a small city. An immense 
iron chain is stretched across the harbor, for the protection of 
the town, which is defended by Fort McHenry, mounting sixty 
guns. A strong commercial rivalry will, it is supposed, soon 
spring up between Baltimore and Alexandria. It appears 
probable that the peculiarly favorable position of Alexandria 
will secure to that city the f>re-eminence. We crossed the 
Susquehannah river near its mouth. This river rises from sev- 
eral sources in New-York, and after traversing Pennsylvania, 
discharges itself into the Chesapeake. It is shallow throughout 
its whole extent, and has not afforded any position for a city. 

On the 14th of April we again entered the State of Pennsyl- 
vania, and travelled the wdiole day through a delightful coun- 
try, richly improved by the industry of its Dutch and German 

* The present delightful residence of the excellent Gen. John Mason. 1821. 
t The scene of these wanderinfrs was undoubtedly the locality now occupied 
by the city of Washington. 1821. 



62 



population. Our road lay along the heights of undulating 
hills, which stretched from the Susquehannah to the Schuylkill. 
Another range runs parallel to this chain. The valley between, 
and most of the slopes of the hill-sides are laid out into regular 
farms, and are under high cultivation. The verdure of the 
fields, and the neatness and superior tillage of the farms in the 
rich vales, were so grateful to the eye, alter being long accus- 
tomed to southern aspects, as to make us almost insensible to 
the bad roads we were traversing. The contrast, so obvious 
and so strong, in the appearance of these farms and of the 
southern plantations, will strike every observer, and can be im- 
puted to but one cause. Here we witness the impulses and re- 
sults of honest industry, where freemen labor for themselves. 
There we see the feeble efforts of coerced labor, performed by 
the enervated slave, uninspired by personal interest, and unim- 
pelled by a worthy ambition. These distinctions are percepti- 
ble even between Maryland and Pennsylvania, separated only 
by an imaginary line. 

On our journey to Valley Forge, a heavy storm, and roads 
almost impassable, compelled us to seek shelter at the house of 
an opulent farmer. Here we were received with the kindest 
hospitality, and found our host an intelligent, sensible man. 
He had a fine library, and was well informed on most subjects. 
His house was spacious and neat, and well supplied with the 
comforts and substantials of life. Independence, wealth, and 
contentment were conspicuous in everything, within and with- 
out the house. This man was but a specimen of his class, — 
virtuous, affluent, and intelligent republican freemen. 

On the morning of the 16th, we reached Washington's 
camp at Valley Forge, situated on the heights of the Schuyl- 
kill. Here I met friends and relatives from New-England. 
The army continues yet in winter-quarters, the fourth campaign 
being at hand. God grant that it may be as fortunate as the last I 
I spent a day in the camp, attending the reviews and examin- 
ing the condition and situation of the army. My heart bled at 
the recital of their sufferings and privations the past winter. 
Exalted virtue and patriotism, and the strong attachment of 



63 

the officers to General Washington, only held the army- 
together. The poor soldiers were half naked, and had been 
half starved, having been compelled, for weeks, to subsist on 
simple flour alone, and this too in a land almost literally flow- 
ing with milk and honey. Oh, these detestable tories ! I saw 
Washington on horseback, attended by his aids, passing 
through the camp. 

Between Valley Forge and Bethlehem the country is well 
cultivated. The streams are spanned by stone arch bridges, 
and occupied by valuable flouring-mills. The country in the 
vicinity of the camp, and occupied by a tory population, was 
in a disorganized condition. The roads, infested by maraud- 
ers, rendered travelling dangerous. Arriving at our stopping- 
place for the night, we found it crowded with soldiers and 
wagoners, and a perfect Babel. We hired a soldier to guard 
our horses, and I fortunately secured a berth for the night 
between two drunken wagoners. 

I again visited Bethlehem, and we remained a day to wit- 
ness an interesting Moravian religious ceremony, Avhich was 
to commence before the next mornina;. Soon after midnight 
Hussey gave me a jog. I heard the distant music of a band. 
The night was dark and serene, and all nature was hushed in 
silence. We dressed and repaired to the Moravian Chapel. 
The men entered by one door, at the same moment the sisters 
w^ere ushered in at the other, marching two and two, and pre- 
senting a ghastly appearance, with their peculiar dress and 
light white caps. As they entered, the music continued to 
sound. A priest then ascended the pulpit, made a short prayer 
in German, which was followed by an anthem. The Mora- 
vians then formed a procession, the men in advance, and the 
spectators following the females ; all marching in the dark to 
the solemn and slow music of the band, performing a dead 
march. 

In this manner we proceeded to their burial-ground, 
where the whole formed a square, facing inwards, with the 
band in the centre. This cemetery forms an area of about two 
acres. The graves are elevated about eight inches. On the 
centre of each is placed a flat stone about eighteen inches 



64 MEN" AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION- ; 

square, upon which is inscribed a brief epitaph. A calm, im- 
pressive silence prevailed, until the first appearance of the sun. 
Then all was bustle and commotion. The musicians marched 
along the spacious alleys, playing a funeral dirge. The priest 
was occupied in reading, in an audible voice, the inscription 
on the stone, now commenting, and now praying, the eyes of 
all being turned the while, devoutly raised to heaven. The 
whole ceremony concluded with a prayer, and the Moravians 
again formed a procession, and returned to the Chapel. This 
ceremony, I understood, was commemorative of the resurrec- 
tion of the Saviour. The whole spectacle was eminently 
solemn and imposing. Our curiosity gratified, we left Bethle- 
hem, and crossing the Delaware at Easton, entered New- 
Jersey. We met, in our progress through New- Jersey, Col. 
Van Schaick's regiment of the New-York line,* and numerous 
bodies of troops on their march to Valley Forge. The coun- 
try was badly cultivated, and thinly settled, and very much 
exhausted by the constant passage of troops. Our fare was 
very indifferent ; one night we spent in a house, without food, 
and were obliged to sleep in a garret upon a pile of oats, with 
no covering but our clothes. In this house I noticed a woman 
sitting by a roaring fire, wrapped up in blankets, " to sweat out 
the small-pox," as they said. Her face exhibited the most 
frightful deformity ; what was once " the human face divine," 
was now a loathsome mass of disease and putrescence. 
Having been inoculated myself, two years before, at the dead 
of winter, in an open barrack, and not permitted to approach a 
fire, I prevailed on these ignorant people to remove her from 
the fire and withdraw the blankets. 

I reached Providence 29tQ of April, 1778, after an absence 
of about eight months, having traversed ten States, and travel- 
led nearly two thousand seven hundred miles. 

* The organization of the Revolutionary army into lines of the different 
States, tended greatly to animate and foster that spirit of local feeling and State 
jealousies, which so much obstructed the progress of the Revolution. Wash- 
ington felt and appreciated the evil, but the existing form of government was 
unable to correct it. 



65 



Having, in this protracted tour, just completed throughout 
the extensive sea-board of the United States, devoted my daily 
attention to inquiries and a personal examination, and having 
habitually committed the result of my observations to my 
journal, whilst fresh in my mind, I can now take a general 
retrospect of the whole subject, and exhibit the impressions I 
have received. 

" When the extent of America is duly considered, boldly 
fronting the Old World, blessed wath every climate, capable of 
every production, abounding with the best harbors and rivers 
on the globe, overspread by three millions of souls, mostly of 
English descent, inheriting all their ancient enthusiasm for lib- 
erty, and enterprising, almost to a fault, what may not be 
expected from such a people, in such a country, and doubling 
in population every twenty-five years. 

The partial hand of nature has laid out America on a much 
larger scale than any other country. What are called moun- 
tains in Europe are hills in America ; rivers, brooks, trees, 
bushes, and lakes, are reduced to ponds. In short, the map of 
the world presents to view no country which combines so 
many natural advantages, so pleasantly diversified, and which 
offers to agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, so many 
resources ; all of which cannot fail to conduct America to the 
first rank among nations. This I prophecy. It must be so. 
In contemplating future America, the mind is lost in the din of 
cities, in harbors, and rivers, crowded with sails, and in the im- 
mensity of its population."* 

Taking three millions, the number at this time, as a basis, 
and admitting our population to double each twenty-three 
years, the result in a hundred years will be sixty-two mil- 
lions of repubhcan freemen, approaching one hundred millions, 

* The above paragraph, marked as a quotation, was first published in Morse's 
Geography, in 1789, as an extract from my Journal, and after being republished 
in other works, in 1829 I read it in Dr. Hosack's Memoir of De Witt Clinton, 
extracted from " Tatham on Inland Navigation," an English work, where it ap- 
peared as original. I notice the fact as an evidence of unjust plagiarism. 

5 



66 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEYOLUTION ; 

in the year A. D. 1900, which will be nearly equal to that of 
all Europe at the present day. 

The sagacious statesmen of Europe realize these truths, and 
already dread the influence that the greatness and prosperity of 
America is destined to exercise upon the world. The Euro- 
pean possessions in the West India Islands will pass away like 
a cloud, and will be held as appendages to the American Re- 
public, or will be emancipated, and independent governments 
themselves. 

Though European politicians may consider these events too 
remote to aflbct any portion of the present generation of men, 
still they will obstruct our progress by every means in their 
power. Their efforts will be as vain as presumptuous, and they 
will prove as powerless as an attempt to check the flowing of 
the tide. Their schemes will, in fact, be an effort to arrest the 
decrees of the Almighty, who has evidently raised up this na- 
tion to become a lamp to guide degraded and oppressed hu- 
manity, and to direct other nations, even the nation of our 
oppressors, to liberty and happiness. 



67 



CHAPTER VII. 

Rhode Island— Newport— Providence— riymouth— Boston— Marblehead 
—Salem New-Hampshire Lexington Climate— General Re- 
marks— Painful Scene— Mrs. Rennals— Siege of Newport— John 
Hancock— James Otis— Count D'Estaing— Gen. Sullivan— Battle- 
Determine to go to France— Packet Mercury— Henry Laurens. 

On my return to Rhode Island, the British forces were in 
the occupation of A^ewport, and the commerce of Providence 
was still obstructed and paralyzed by the operations of the war. 
Uneasy and restive in my unemployed situation, I still retained 
my travelling propensity, and visited during this time various 
sections of the State of Rhode Island. 

After all my wanderings and observation of other parts of 
the Confederacy, I still look upon Rhode Island as one of the 
most delightful and interesting of the States. The year before 
the Revolution, it contained nearly sixty' thousand souls. It 
produced butter, beef, lumber, horses, pot and pearl ashes, and 
two hundred thousand pounds of inferior tobacco. 

Narraganset Bay, formed by Rhode Island on one side, and 
the fertile shores of Narraganset upon the other, and studded 
with numerous lovely islands, presents the most delightful sce- 
nery. 

Newport is beautifully situated, and was a favorite resort of 
Southern people, on account of its cool and salubrious position. 
It had been one of the most commercial places in America, but 
was then falling into decay. Its fortunes were waning before 
the superior activity and enterprise of its rival. Providence. 

This city had, within forty years, emerged from the obscurity 
of an inconsiderable village into a great trading mart, that em- 
braced a body of perhaps the most intelligent merchants on the 
continent. It contained at this time, about five thousand in- 
habitants. 

I proceeded from Providence to Plymouth. Before entering 



68 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

my native place, I passed, for about four miles, through a pine 
wood, along a sandy road,— but how different from the pine 
forests of North Carolina. There, free from underwood, the 
trees, straight and majestic, stretch towards the sky. Here 
they are low and scrubbed, and matted together by briars and 
bushes. Yet, amid the dreary forests, clustered a thousand de- 
lightful associations of my boyhood. 

°I spent a few happy days (the happiest of my hfe) among 
my relatives, and in rambling alone about the vicinity of Ply- 
mouth. Every tree, rock, bush, and even the ^and-hills, re- 
minded me of some youthful gambol. The visit to the house 
and the room of my nativity, which was in the hands of stran- 
gers, my father's garden, the spring bubbling up its pure crys- 
tal water, all affected me, even to tears. Here too, alone, I 
visited the grave of my sainted mother. 

Plymouth is overlooked by a high hill, commanding a wide 
view of the ocean. When a boy, I recollect seeing from this 
hill a British fleet, containing three regiments of troops, on 
their way to Boston, to overawe and coerce her rebellious 
spirit. 

I proceeded by sea to Boston. It was then among the first 
class of American towns, containing about twenty-five thousand 
population, and is situated on a peninsula, at the foot of a spa- 
cious harbor, defended from the sea by thirty-six small islands. 
The streets were irregular, badly paved, without side-walks, 
• and descending towards the centre. The prospect from the 
beacon at the back of the town is very fine, embracing an ex- 
tensive view of the ocean, the harbor and the interior. Bos- 
ton is two miles long and a half mile broad. The " Long 
Wharf" is probably the finest quay in America, extending half 
a mile into the harbor, with a line of warehouses and stores 
upon each side. 

Marblehead is singularly laid out amidst rocks. It is cele- 
brated for its fish trade, the school of a hardy and courageous 
race of seamen. 

Salem, once the seat of the detestable witch excitement, was 
at this time a place of important commercial business, and 



OK, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 69 

contained about four hundred dwelling-houses. The mer- 
chants are wealthy and enterprising, and have embarked 
spiritedly in privateering. Advancing northward, I crossed 
the Merrimack river at Dracut, and entered the State of New- 
Hampshire. 

On my return to Boston, I stopped at Lexington, where the 
tragic ball opened on April 19th, 1775, and traversed, with no 
ordinary emotion, the route the British pursued in their re- 
treat., 

I visited the old brick college at Cambridge, the most ancient 
literary institution of America, and from which the rays of 
science have been widely spread throughout New-England. 
I stood upon Bunker Hill, an hour, wrapt in meditation upon 
the amazing event of which it had been so recently the theatre. 
My mind's eye witnessed the British veterans twice repulsed 
by the sons of the Pilgrims, determined to be free, and with 
scarcely no weapons but their fowling-pieces ; the adjacent 
hills, the houses, the steeples, the shrouds of ships, covered 
with twenty thousand spectators of the terrific scene, whose 
hearts were filled with the most intense excitement of hopes 
and fears. A spectacle of such deep and thrilling interest, 
America, if the world, never before witnessed. 

On the 4th of September, 1777, I left Providence, Rhode 
Island, on my Southern expedition, and arrrived at Charleston, 
South Carolina, on the 13th of November ensuing ; thus, in 
a journey of seventy days, receding from a Northern climate, 
in the most pleasant season of the year, and enjoying through 
the whole journey an equal and delightful temperature. 

On the 29th of January following I proceeded South to the 
Ogeechee river, in Georgia, the extreme Southern point of my 
journey, and on the 13th of February after, as I have remarked, 
the flowers were in bloom in that latitude, and the gardens in 
some forwardness, the peas being in full blossom. 

I left Charleston on the 8th of March ensuing, and from that 
period to the first week in June, advanced northward, until I 
reached New-Hampshire, bearing with me the whole distance, 
the same advance of the season, the same bloom and fragrance. 



70 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

The gardens of New-Hampshire were in the same state of ad- 
vancement as those which I had left in Georgia the four 
nionths previous. What a commentary upon the vast magni- 
tude and expanse of the nation ! 

How dehghtful will be such a tour, at the precise season in 
which I made it, when America shall have arrived at that 
stage of population I have anticipated in a preceding page. 
Perhaps no two nations of Europe exhibit a greater contrast 
in climate, in customs and manners, in their productions, and 
the physical features of the country, than the Southern and 
Northern States of America. Mutual antipathies and prejudi- 
ces predominated previous to the Revolution, and we have had 
every reason to apprehend that, if not allayed by wise and 
prudent measures, they would have resulted in a dismemberment 
of the Confederacy. 

The middle States observe a medium, alike in climate, in 
customs, and the face of the country ; neither so level and hot 
as the Southern States, nor so hilly and cold as those of the 
North and East. 

The people of the Northern section of the Confederacy 
are generally a hardy, industrious, and frugal race. At the 
South they are less energetic, more indolent and imperious, 
but ardent, generous, and hospitable. I speak of the masses. 

The fisheries, commerce, and infant manufactures are the 
sinews of the North. Rice, tobacco, and indigo, the resources 
of the South. 

Eventually, it is probable that the North will supply the 
South with manufactures, and receive in return, provisions 
and raw materials. All the elements of a manufacturing peo- 
ple are incorporated in the genius of New-England. Its cli- 
mate, the comparative barrenness of the soil, its salubrity, its 
waving hills and abundant streams, all point to its certain and 
inherent destiny. 

Should an event so desirable be ever realized, and the re- 
spective sections of the great American Republic become re- 
ciprocally dependent upon each other, with our immensely 
augmented and increasing population, our vast surplus product 



OK, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 71 

will, as China does at the present day, make the precious me- 
tals of all other countries tributary to our own. 

Soon after my return from Georgia, I was painfully involved 
in, and witnessed one of those events of domestic trial and 
affliction, which constitute some of the most thrilling incidents 
of the Revolution. 

Edward Winslow, a near relative of my mother's, had been 
a prominent citizen of Plymouth, and lived in great affluence 
and unbounded hospitality. He was, previous to the Revolu- 
tion, the royal collector of that district, and an ardent and zeal- 
ous royalist. His son Edward inherited his virtues and his 
political sentiments. 

When the contest with England had assumed its decided as- 
pect, the son was compelled to escape to Boston, and seek pro- 
tection under the British flag. He joined the army, and in the 
expedition to Lexington, was its guide, acting as aid to Lord 
Piercy. In that battle he had a horse shot under him. He 
was, a manly, noble, splendid fellow ; generous to a fault, a gen- 
tleman in feeling, and elegant in person. An only son, to bear 
up his distinguished name, he was naturally the idol of his 
father, as well as of two maiden sisters of rare accomplisii- 
ments. His father remained in Plymouth, isolated among his 
whig relations, and deprived, by the disasters of the times and 
the approaching conflict, of every means of support, although 
accustomed to all the luxuries of wealth. 

In the year 1776, the British held occupation of the island of 
Rhode Island. The son was there, in the capacity of aid to the 
Commander-in-Chief. His heart bled for the fate of kindred 
reduced to indigence in the midst of enemies. His parents and 
sisters felt the keenest anguish from their separation. The 
father and a sister came to Providence in June, '78, and soli- 
cited me, a mere youth, (so depressed was their condition.) to 
intercede with General Sullivan, then in command at Provi- 
dence, and obtain permission for him to have an interview with 
his son, upon one of the islands in Narraganset Bay. The 
chance of success appeared to me hopeless, but I plead in the 
cause of humanity with all the eloquence I possessed — first 



72 



with Mr. Brown, to intercede with Sullivan ; then with his 
aids, with whom I was famihar ; and ultimately, I approached 
the General himself, and had the good fortune to prevail. 

A flag was despatched to Newport with an open letter, from 
the father to the son, appointing the time and place for the 
proposed interview. The place was the south end of Provi- 
dence Island. Lieut. Coleman, of the Virginia Artillery, a gal- 
lant soldier, who was killed at the battle of Camden, under 
Gates, was designated to escort the father ; and, at his solici- 
tation, 1 accompanied them. Sullivan exacted a pledge of 
honor from Mr. Winslow, that he would make to his son no 
communications of a public nature. 

We embarked in a cartel boat, at Greenwich. As the place 
appointed was nearly equi-distant from Newport and Green- 
wich, it was understood that the two boats should start at the 
same time. The father, sister, Coleman and myself, with five 
oarsmen and a cockswain, occupied one boat. We hardly 
opened the bay, with an uninterrupted view towards Newport, 
where there was a forest of British masts, when we discovered 
a speck upon the water, which Coleman, with the aid of a glass, 
pronounced a boat. On this announcement, the father became 
deeply agitated: tears of joy rolled down his furrowed cheeks. 
The daughter was equally excited. We descended rapidly 
with the tide and our oars. 

The boat, containing a charge so precious to my relatives, 
approached nearer and nearer, each boat directed to the same 
point. A doubt no longer existed. We landed some minutes 
before the other boat reached the shore. The son rose in the 
stern, and waved a white handkerchief. At this sight, Mr. 
Winslow and the daughter darted towards the shore, and the 
former would have rushed into the water, had not Coleman 
restrained his impetuosity. Oh ! had I the pen of Sterne to 
portray this pathetic scene ! but words recede from my feeble 
pen. When the boat had reached within ten feet of the shore, 
the son stood braced in the bow, prepared for ,a spring, and, 
in another moment, leaped half-leg deep into the sea. The 
three were in an instant entwined in one impassioned embrace, 
and in deep silence. 



OE, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 73 

The hichest-toned feelinf]cs of the human heart were stretched 
to the utmost tension, and overtasked nature seemed exhausted. 
The spectacle was too sacred and affecting to be gazed upon, 
and Coleman seemed to forget his duty in not witnessing the 
interview. We walked aside, in silence and respect, while the 
boats hauled off shore to a little distance. 

On our return to Greenwich, we spent part of the day with 
other victims of this destructive civil war, the beautiful young 
widow and two children of Lieut. Rennels, She was an Irish 
lady, in the bloom of youth, prostrated by grief and melancholy. 
Her husband, an officer in Burgoyne's army, was killed in the 
battle at Bemis' Heights ; while she, in company w^th Lady 
Harriet Ackland and other, ladies, was protected in a cellar. 
The event has been pathetically described by the classic pen 
of Burgoyne. 

From the period of the above interview until 1779, I was the 
medium through which Edward sent supplies to his father. I 
was much blamed by my w^hig relatives for my intercourse 
with them, but they were ever deeply grateful. They died re- 
fusjees in Nova-Scotia. 

France having acknowledged our independence, and em- 
barked energetically in the war, all America was rejoiced and 
animated at the appearance of a French fleet of twelve sail-of- 
the-Une, commanded by Count D'Estaing, off Sandy Hook, in the 
summer of 1778. In co-operation with Washington, an attack 
upon New- York was supposed to be their object. In a few 
days, however, we were surprised by the approach of a detach- 
ment of 1,500 men from Washington's army, to Providence, 
where General Sullivan then commanded. Suddenly the 
French fleet appeared off Newport ; one or two British frigates 
were burnt, and the residue of the British fleet sought refuge in 
the harbor. At once, the whole country was all bustle and ac- 
tivity. The militia came pouring in from every quarter. 

Newport was the point upon which the storm was to fall, 
and all supposed that the Royal army, of six thousand veterans, 
on Rhode Island, and the British fleet, were within our grasp. 
The American army was principally assembled at Tiverton, 



74 



opposite Rhode Island. Our Providence companies, with which 
I had again mustered, also marched to that point. 

The army crossed over to the island, and amounted to 
about 10,000 men. Sullivan was an intrepid, although unfor- 
tunate officer. Generals Greene and La Fayette were also in 
command on the occasion. John Hancock was likewise 
present, in command of the Massachusetts militia. James 
Otis, a martyr to the cause of hberty, was there a strolUng 
lunatic about the camp. The great and fervid mind, that first 
grasped the idea of independence, was then a melancholy 
ruin. 

As I do not design to write a history of the siege, I shall 
merely trace the outline of events. The British retreated, and 
our army regularly invested the town. General Sullivan re- 
ceived daily assurances that D'Estaing would enter the harbor, 
and land 3,000 troops, to co-operate with the American forces. 
The surrender of the British army seemed inevitable. Lord 
Howe, in the interim, appeared off the harbor with an inferior 
fleet, and D'Estaing pursued him out to sea, for the purpose of 
bringing him to action. On the ensuing day, there occurred 
one of the most terrific storms ever known at the season in this 
latitude. Both fleets were disabled and scattered. The 
French fleet gradually re-assembled at their former position. 
The ships were promptly repaired, and then, instead of prose- 
cuting the siege, sailed for Boston, leaving the army to its fate. 
Sullivan remonstrated in violent terms, and La Fayette ad- 
vanced every argument, and urged every expostulation, but the 
decision of the council of officers, convened by D'Estaing, was 
irrevocable. Had we been attacked at this moment of dejec- 
tion and disorganization, with vigor and promptitude by the 
enemy, the capture of our whole army was almost assured to 
them. An immediate retreat was ordered — the British pur- 
sued, and an engagement took place near Quaker Hill. Our 
company was posted behind a stone wall, and attacked by a 
corps of Hessians. After a sharp action, the British withdrew, 
and during the night we effected our retreat to the main land, 
without the loss of our cannon or baggage. Our retreat was 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON 75 

most opportune, as General Clinton ariived the day after with 
4,000 men, and a formidable fleet. 

On the 22d of January, 1779, I attained the age of twenty- 
one, with the wide world before me, and having been deeply 
disappointed in the expectations I had formed in respect to my 
establishment in life, I was induced to embrace proposals 
made to me by Mr. Brown and others, to proceed to France, 
in association with them. 

I engaged my passage on board the Mercury packet, Capt. 
Sampson.* This vessel had been built at Plymouth for the 
government, and was constructed for rapid sailing, being only 
seventy tons burthen, and expressly to carry dispatches to Eu- 
rope. She had been manned at Plymouth, and a part of her 
crew were unfortunate schoolmates and companions of my 
youth. The position and prospects of several, in boyhood, 
had. been equal to my own. Such, however, is the inscrutable 
dispensations of Providence. Men arise and disappear upon 
the stage of hfe, possessing the same original advantages, and 
yet how diversified their destiny ! Could society, by a Divine 
decree, be placed on a perfect equality of position, and even 
talenst, the succeeding generation would present as varied 
an aspect in their condition, as the lints of the rainbow. 

■* The following year, Henry Laurens, President of Congress, was going out 
in the "Mercury," as secret emissary to Holland, when she was captured by a 
British frigate. Mr. Laurens threw his dispatches overboard. The act was 
seen, however, by an intrepid British sailor, who sprang into the sea from the 
frigate, and secured the papers. All our affairs with Holland were thus devel- 
oped, and in consequence England declared war. 



76 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 



CH AFTER VIII. 

Sail for Europe — St. George's Banks — Porpoises — Whales — Take 
a Dolphin — France — St. Martinis — Isle De Rhe — Manners — La Ro- 
chelle — French. Vehicle^Postillion — La Yendee — Nantes^Horse 
Patrole — Safety in Travelling — ximiens — Angers — Beggars — Pea- 
santry — Versailles — Lanterns — Paris. 

On the 4th of August, 1779, we embarked on board the 
packet, and fell down to Nantasket roads. My fellow-passen- 
gers were Major Knox, brother to General Knox, an English 
and an Irish gentleman. 

The French frigate "La Sensible," from Brest, having on 
board John Adams, and the first French ambassador to tbe 
young republic, Mr. Gerard, liad dropped anchor about an 
hour before. We went on board to receive their commands 
for France. 

At dawn the next morning we weighed anchor, and stood 
out to sea. The mighty ocean spread out before us, and the 
blue hills of Dorchester, and the numerous steeples of Boston 
gradually sinking in the horizon. Sailing within sight of my 
native village, this morning, my eyes were riveted to the spot 
until the faintest ghmpse was lost. Adieu, my native shore ? 
adieu ! 

The whole day, all hands were employed in clearing ship 
and stowing away spars and boats. 

Although deadly sea-sick, I was delighted with the rapid 
flight of our little " Mercury " across the waves, with all our 
sails displayed. Some hump-backed whales appeared, and nu- 
merous shoals of porpoises were gamboling and playing about 
our bows. 

The second day after our departure, we were off St. 
George's Bank, in a perfect calm. The sea was hushed and 
placid. We saw distant vessels with their sails flapping against 
the masts. This bank extends about fifty leagues. The 



OR 



MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 77 



Gulf Stream sets rapidly across it ; and undoubtedly creates 
the formation, by the deposit of sand, scooped out of the shores 
of tropical regions, which it bears in its current to this place. 
The cod fisheries on these banks have been, since the earliest 
settlement of New-England, an unfailing source of wealth to 
her enterprising sons. 

At dawn, on the 8th of August," we discovered ourselves 
within a league of a British frigate, bearing down upon us. 
We instantly wore ship, and the wind rising with the sun, the 
little Mercury soon darted away from her pursuer. The frigate 
then fired a gun to the leeward, in token of friendship, but as 
there was no trusting to professions of this character, in those 
depraved days, we kept our course. She continued the chase 
for several hours, but at length we ran her out of sight. This 
evening the western sky exhibited a most beautiful and gorge- 
ous illumination. The variegated and vivid tints of the gold- 
edged clouds, could be adequately copied by no human hand. 
This lovely display of Almighty power was deeply impressed 
on my mind, and remained, like the recollection of a highly 
brilliant picture, but infinitely beyond its influence. Sailing 
under a brisk breeze by moonlight, and our vessel laying low in 
the water, a flying-fish flew over our bows upon deck. 

In a dead calm, we were amused by the appearances of por- 
poises and large whales, coming from the " vasty deep," spout- 
ing up floods of water. Suddenly, a school of dolphins appeared 
under our stern. Nothing can exceed the beauty of their fan- 
ciful and changeable colors, when the bright sun-beams play 
upon them in the water. I succeeded in taking one, but as 
soon as he left his native element, the beautiful coloring, in a 
measure, disappeared. 

The dolphin is pronounced by sailors generally, to be poison- 
ous, yet we had my prize cooked with some precautions, and 
found him a sumptuous feast. 

Off the Western Islands, we were again chased, in a rough 
sea and stiflfgale. The result of the chase, for two hours, was 
very doubtful. Half the time we were almost under water. 



78 MEN AND TIMES OP THE REVOLUTION; 

At length the wind lulled, we changed our course, spread more 
canvas, and escaped. We experienced a severe gale in enter- 
ing, as v^e supposed, the Bay of Biscay. It was the first time 
I had witnessed a storm at sea. I crawled up the companion- 
way to behold the sublime, yet terrible scene. We were quite 
snug — our spars well lashed. Our little Mercury sinking into 
the deep abyss, and mounting the white, curling waves, with 
ease and grace, seemed to bid defiance to the vast watery 
mountains, which every moment threatened to overwhelm her. 
We surmounted the gale without injury. 

The following morning we saw land-birds, observed grape- 
vines floating in the sea — the color of the water changed. 
All these indicating our approach to land. 

September 3d, a strong westerly wind wafted us. during the 
night, rapidly towards the coast of France, and at the earliest 
dawn, the man aloft cried out " land." The most delightful 
sound a poor landsman can hear. 

We all hastened upon deck, when, to our utter dismay, the 
same man sung out, " A fleet a-head !" We at once prepared 
to surrender ourselves prisoners of war, and secreted our valu- 
able papers about our persons. Soon after, however, as the 
day advanced, he again cried out, " A city ahead, with steeples, 
and no fleet," — to our inexpressible comfort. 

As the sun arose, we found ourselves nearing the coast of 
France ; spires and domes in prospect, and no hostile cruisers 
in the offing. A pilot came on board, and we soon dropped 
anchor abreast of the walls of St. Martin, a city of the Isle de 
Rh^. Our waving stripes had attracted general attention, 
and the ramparts of the city, fronting the sea, was lined with 
citizens and soldiers. Our Consul, Mr. Craig, with several of- 
ficers, came on board, our Captain and Maj. Knox receiving 
them in full rebel uniform. 

We saw neither city nor port, until we approached the im- 
mense wall which guards the entrance of the harbor. Here 
making a sudden turn, we found ourselves in a fine artificial 
harbor, constructed of hewn stone, and crowded with vessels. 
We mounted a flight of steps, and through an archway ascend- 



OE, MEMOIES OF ELKANAH WATSOX. 79 

ed the quay, which was thronged by the populace, to see, as I 
afterwards understood, the North American savages ; for such 
w^as the idea entertained of us by the mass of the French 
people. After a sail of twenty-nine days, I was standing on a 
quay in France. What a transition ! 

Our consul conducted us to call upon the governor, who re- 
sided in a splendid edifice, and w^ho received us with great cour- 
tesy and respect ; and introduced us to several swarthy, black- 
eyed French ladies, with richly-painted faces. For* several 
hours I could scarcely walk, awkwardly lifting up one foot, and 
waiting for the motion of the vessel, and when seated at the 
governor's, it appeared as if the house was at sea. The re- 
freshing fragrancy of the land soon restored my equilibrium, 
and dispelled from my mind The miseries of a floating prison, 
and the constant apprehension of a real one. 

We strolled through the city with Mr. Craig, gazed at by 
the crowd, and followed by boys, from street to street. My 
own entire thoughts and attention w^ere absorbed by the novel- 
ties around me: new faces— new objects— strange customs 
and lanoruage. 

The clattering of wooden shoes along the pavement, the 
jackasses, young ladies astride of mules, cantering through the 
streets, and the appeals at every corner, " La Charite,"~were 
all spectacles new and strange to my untravelled eye. At our 
consul's we were feasted with delicious fruits and dainties- 
being treated with that kind of politeness so characteristic of 
the French. 

Our destination had been Nantes, but having in charge des- 
patches of the utmost importance to the French Government, 
and our ambassador. Dr. Franklin, then at Passy, the gov- 
ernor advised us to proceed by land. 

The Isle de Rh6 is a small island, nine miles by three, and 
is principally devoted to the grape culture— from which is 
made annually between 20 and 80,000 tons of wine, and be- 
tween 3 and 4,000 pipes of brandy. It contains about 22,000 
inhabitants. The citadel forms a square of spacious buildings, 
constructed of hewn stone. In the centre of the parade of St 



80 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION ; 

Martin's is a colossal statue of Louis XV., on horseback. Be- 
tween 30 and 40,000 tons of dirty salt is manufactured on the 
island, from sea-water by evaporation. 

We found four mules at our consul's door, on which we 
mounted, and trotted briskly over the pavements of St. Mar- 
tin's, our ears constantly assailed by the cry of " Voila les 
braves Bostones," (there go the brave Bostonians,) from the 
populace. The appellation of Bostonians, Mr. Craig informed 
me, is given generally, throughout France, to the American 
Insurgents. The insurrection having commenced in Boston, 
they confound the whole nation with that city. 

We proceeded across the island, in the midst of vineyards 
of ripe grapes, hanging in delicious clusters, to the very edge 
of the roads ; there being no fences or ditches intervening. 
The ferry is on the south side of the island. Our consul kindly 
accompanied us to Rochelle, six miles from St. Martin's. Near 
the ferry we viewed the venerable old Fort La Free, where 
the Duke of Buckingham was defeated in 1627, after an un- 
successful attempt on Eochelle. 

We embarked on board of a long gabbone, with a half-deck, 
and about thirty passengers. Soon after embarking we were 
attacked by a liirious thunder-squall and tempest of rain, which 
drove us all, for shelter, under deck. The women screamed— 
the children squalled— and a Roman Catholic priest, (an Irish- 
man,) swore most furiously in English. 

After a passage of six miles across the bay, we doubled 
around a point of land, and were at once in still water. The 
squall subsided, and all was well. Thus it is often in the magic 
scenes of life. We passed two venerable castles at the en- 
trance of the harbor. The news of the arrival of the " Bos- 
tones" at St. Martin's had preceded us, and we were soon 
surrounded by a throng of people, anxious to see the new allies 
of France. Rochelle is a very old city. The streets are nar- 
row and dirty. The houses are built of hewn stone, four and 
five stories high, with each story projecting over the other. 
The upper stories approach so near as to darken the narrow 
streets, and almost exclude the rays of the sun. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON". 81 

I occupied my first French bed in this city, and was surprised 
to see the immense profusion of feathers — bed accumulated 
on bed. It was not without an effort that I reached the soft 
summit. 

Rochelle was a strong-hold of the Huguenots of France, 
who here sustained a siege of thirteen months, against the 
whole power of Cardinal Richelieu, in 1628. The Edict of 
Is^antes, which had been granted by the great Henry, and con- 
ferred upon those Huguenots their civil immunities, was re- 
voked by Louis XIV. in 1685. To this event, and the perse- 
cutions which preceded it, America was indebted for many 
valuable emigrants ; who fleeing from oppression in the Old 
World, carried those sentiments of liberty to the New, which 
are now receiving their full fruition. 

Early in the morning of the 6th Sept., we were stowed 
away, one before the other, in a vehicle of the most awkward 
and heavy construction. It was supported on two wheels, almost 
as large as ox-cart wheels in America, and drawn by three 
horses abreast, one supporting the shaft. The postillion was 
mounted upon a little bidet, and wore monstrous boots, hoop- 
ed w^ith iron. His hair was powdered and frizzed, with a long 
queue hanging down his shoulders. An old cocked hat, which 
had been once laced, and a short coatee, completed his attire. 
Thus arranged and conducted, we rattled through the narrow 
streets of La Rochelle, and soon were galloping, for the first 
time, along his Most Christian Majesty's highway. The pos- 
tillion, cracking his whip, merrily singing, and politely accost- 
ing all we met, seemed perfectly devoid of care. 

From La Rochelle to Nantes is one hundred and five miles. 
In that distance we exchanged horses nine times, making from 
six to fifteen miles each stage or relay. This region is the La 
Vendee, whose population was nearly exterminated by the civil 
war of the French Revolution. A gen tleman, who passed through 
the country a year after the war terminated, assured me that 
the villages were literally without inhabitants ; and that the 
unburied bodies of men and horses strewed the fields. We 
passed several villages, and two or three large towns in our route. 



82 MEN" AND TIMES OP THE REVOLUTION ; 

The country is occasionally hilly, with now and then a 
marsh on the seaboard ; but, generally, is a wide and beautiful 
champaign. We found the tavern affording very indifferent 
fare, with the exception of delicious fruit. Each traveller, I 
noticed, was obliged to supply his own knife. 

The postillions have little mercy on their horses, rattling up 
liill and down, reckless of consequences. In going down 
rather a steep descent at this rate, our shaft-horse fell with 
great violence, breaking one of the shafts in the fall. The 
postillion, boots and all, were dragged down with him, and I 
was enabled to perceive tlie great advantage of this uncouth 
contrivance; for he drew out his legs, perfectly uninjured, 
leaving his boots in the midst of the wreck. I was told a pair 
of these boots, with the long spurs attached, weigh about thirty 
pounds. We were compelled to trudge on a-foot. The after- 
noon, however, was delightful ; and we were regaled on the 
road by the sweet music of birds, and helped ourselves to the 
luscious grapes, clustering on the wayside. Our misfortune 
compelled us to stop at a miserable " auberge," in the little vil- 
lage of Chantenay. Just as we were preparing for bed, seve- 
ral officers arrived. The landlord soon rushing into our room 
in apparent agitation, addressed himself to the Major. The 
result was, that although dark and raining, we must immediately 
proceed on, or risk the chance of detention, as a Seigneur had 
sent an express to detain all the horses. There was no rea- 
soning the matter of right, as we do in America ; but yield we 
must, to his Excellency. My companions were inclined to 
submit to this dictation, and we decamped, leaving our beds to 
the officers. We heard no more of the Seigneur, till some 
time after, we understood these officers boasted how adroitly 
they had out-manoeuvred the American savages. 

The country, as we approached Nantes, was in a high state of 
improvement. The roads were adorned with venerable orna- 
mental trees. We rode through the dirty streets of the sub- 
urbs for a mile, and then the river and city suddenly burst 
upon our view, with the stone bridges over the Loire, and its 
branches, the shipping in the harbor, and a fleet of lighter ves- 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 83 

sels pressing up the river. We traversed a bridge near the 
Exchange, where I saw a crowd of merchants, collected under 
the shade of some beautiful trees. The same evening I made 
an arrangement to proceed to Paris the succeeding morning, 
with my dispatches, accompanied by an interpreter. 

Sept. 9th. Left ISTantes, and, in conformity with the usual 
custom in France, we provided ourselves with provisions and 
wine for our journey. The carriages were so arranged as to 
enable the passengers to sleep with considerable comfort, who 
are thus enabled to travel night and day. This custom, prob- 
ably, originated from the wretched accommodations formerly 
found upon the road. 

The highways in France were everywhere patrolled, night 
and day, by numerous companies of armed horsemen. Robbe- 
ries were, therefore, extremely uncommon ; and even baggage, 
and small articles left in the carriage over night, were compara- 
tively secure. This immunity from petty thefts was owing, in a 
great degree, to the restraints imposed on the bigoted populace 
by the influence of their monthly confessionals. I was de- 
lighted, as we galloped through the city, with the appearance 
of the Loire, the bustle of active commerce, and the elegance 
of large white stone edifices, occupying the islands, which are 
embraced in the city, and situated on the public squares. 

Late in the evening we reached Ancenis, a considerable 
town, of 5,000 inhabitants, situated on the borders of the Loire. 
The next day we passed over hills, through vales, enlivened by 
numerous herds of fine cattle, and through many considerable 
villages, to the great city of Angers, containing a population of 
60,000, who were engaged in extensive manufactures, especially 
that of sail-duck, for the royal navy. We travelled the two 
succeeding days 213 miles, and on the third, at noon, Sept. 
12th, I entered the city of Paris, the capital of the world, as 
the Parisians assert. 

The roads were excellent, ornamented near the towns by vis- 
tas of trees. From La Fleche to La Loupe, a distance of 90 
miles, the country is generally hilly, its principal productions 
wheat and grapes. The pastures are luxuriant in the valleys, 



84: MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

and animate with cattle ; while the eminences are whitened 
with coarse woolled sheep, of an inferior quality. 

From Dreux to Paris, a distance of fifty miles, the roads are 
paved. The country is beautiful and luxuriant. Venerable 
Roman towers — Gothic cathedrals — noblemen's seats — and 
flourishing towns and villages, all conspired to give animation 
and interest to our journey. Yet, the universal and disgusting 
prevalence of street-beggary was in strange, though strong con- 
trast, with all this magnificence and apparent prosperity. 
Every village and town swarmed with vociferous beggars. 
Every hill seemed occupied with its droves of paupers and va- 
grants, ready to assail the traveller as he ascends it. I am as- 
tonished, that a people so full of expedients as the French, 
have not devised some system to correct this burning shame to 
their national character. At a small village, we passed in the 
afternoon, 1 found myself in the midst of a little host of dwarf 
beggars, in rags, and most loathsome in their appearance, all 
demanding, in a vociferous chorus, *' La Charite, La Charite ! 
au nom de Dieu!" and, with tattered hats and caps, pressing up 
to my very face. 

The labor of the field was performed by a degraded and ignor- 
ant peasantry, the tenants of the nobles and the clergy, who 
held two-thirds of the soil of France. 

At Versailles, the approach to which is distinguished by a 
highly-cultivated country and delightful roads, we passed the 
magnificent palace of the king — entered the public square 
through a gate of the city — changed horses, and pushed for- 
ward to the capital. 

This being the last stage, and in the track of royalty, was call- 
ed the post-royal, and, in consequence, we had to pay double 
fare, but were compensated by having a postillion dressed like 
a gentleman, with an uncommonly long queue, and his hair friz- 
zed and powdered, nay, perfumed. 

The road from Versailles to Paris, a distance of twelve 
miles, was superb — spacious — well-paved,— ornamented with 
avenues of trees, and lighted by large lamps, suspended over 
the centre of the road, with double reflectors, casting a strong 



OR, MEMOIES OF ELKANAH WATSON. 85 

light in both directions. The road was all animation, thronged 
with foot passengers and carriages of every description. We 
rode along the banks of the Seine, in approaching Paris, and 
were stopped at the barrier, and our baggage inspected. 

The first object which fixed my attention, was a statue of 
Louis XIV. Next, I was attracted by the superb royal gar- 
dens — the Tuilleries — near which we crossed the river on the 
Pont Neuf, opposite the Louvre, and were soon landed at the 
Hotel d'York, Fauxbourg St. Germain. 



86 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 



CHAPTER IX. 

Dr. Franklin — Count De Yergennes — King and Queen — French Dinner 
and Manners — Paris — Gates — Police — Manufactures — Louvre — Dr. 
Franklin's Standing and Influence — Notre Dame — St. Germain's — 
Marlie — St. Cloud's — Elysian Fields — City of Orleans — Paved Road 
— Vineyards — Peasantry — Forest — Fuel of France — Canals— Orleans 
— Burgundy — Languedoc — Blois — Illumination — Grand Causeway — 
Night Travelling — Roman Work — Tours — Angers. 

Immediately after shaking off the dust of travel, 1 proceeded 
with my dispatches to Dr. Franklin, at Passy. I was delighted 
to come into contact with this great man, of whom I had heard 
familiarly from my cradle.* 

At his request, I repaired to the Count De Vergennes, Prime 
Minister of France, with the dispatches, bearing a hne of in- 
troduction from Dr. Franklin. I was received by that accom- 
plished statesman with great civility. Having taken a bird's- 
eye view of the splendid palace and gardens of Versailles, I 
expressed a wish to the Count's Secretary, to see the Royal 
family ; he accompanied me to the Eoyal Chapel, where they 
were about to engage in the performance of religious exercises. 
We entered into the body of a middle-sized, but most magnifi- 
cent church, by a door facing the gallery, in the midst of an 
audience, all standing. Soon after, the King and Queen en- 
tered the gallery by a side door, and seated themselves in front^ 
under a rich canopy. On their entrance, the music resounded, 
and High Mass forthwith was performed. They both appeared 
absorbed in the religious solemnities. 

The King's person was somewhat robust, with a full face, Ro- 
man nose, and placid countenance. The Quefen had an elegant 

* His image is vividly impressed on my mind, and is v^rell delineated in 
Trumbull's picture of the Declaration of Independence. (1820.) 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSOK. 87 

person, a fine figure, and imposing aspect, and florid complex- 
ion, with bright grey eyes, full of expression, 

The ensuing day, I returned to Passy, to dine, by invitation, 
with Dr. Franklin. At the hour of dinner, he conducted me 
across a spacious garden of several acres, to the princely resi- 
dence of M. Le Ray de Chaumont.* This was the first occa- 
sion of my dining in a private circle in Europe, and being 
still in my American style of dress, and ignorant of the 
French language, and prepared for extreme ceremony, I felt 
exceedingly embarrassed. 

We entered a spacious room, I following the Doctor, where 
several well-dressed persons (to my unsophisticated American 
eyes gentlemen) bowed to us profoundly. These were servants. 
A folding-door opened at our approach, and presented to my 
view a brilliant assembly, who all greeted the wise old man in 
the most cordial and affectionate manner. He introduced me 
as a young American just arrived. One of the young ladies 
approached him with the familiarity of a daughter, tapped him 
kindly on the cheek, and called him " Pa-pa Franklin." 

I was enraptured with the ease and freedom exhibited in the 
table intercourse in France. Instead of the cold ceremony 
and formal compliments, to which I have been accustomed 
on such occasions, here all appeared at ease, and well sustained. 
Some were amusing themselves with music, others in singing. 
Some were waltzing, and others gathered in little groups, in 
conversation. At the table, the ladies and gentlemen were 
mingled together, and joined in cheerful conversation, each se- 
lecting the delicacies of various courses, and drinking of deli- 
cious light wines, but with neither toasts nor healths. 

The lady of the house, instead of bearing the burden and in- 
convenience of superintending the duties of the table, here par- 
ticipates alike with others in its enjoyment. No gentlemen, I 



* The son of this opulent French gentleman, bearing his name, is now a dis- 
tinguished citizen of Jefferson county, N. Y., and the patriotic President of its. 
Agricultural Society. (1831.) 



88 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; \ 

was told, would be tolerated in France, in monopolizing the 
conversation of the table, in discussions of politics or religion, 
as is frequently the case in America. A cup of coffee ordinari- 
ly terminates the dinner. 

I trust that our alliance and intercourse with France may 
enable us, as a nation, to shake off the leading-strings of Brit- 
ain — the English sternness and formality of manner, retaining, 
however, sufficient of their gravity, to produce, with French 
ease and elegance, a happy compound of national character 
and manners, yet to be modeled. The influence of this alli- 
ance will tend to remove the deep prejudice against France. 

I remained in Paris fourteen days. Were I to detail all my 
adventures — the strange sights I saw, and my reflections in 
comparing the customs and aspect of France and America, I 
should occupy too much space. I shall condense from the 
mass of my journals, a few remarks illustrating my observa- 
tions during that interesting period. 

Paris was then about six miles in circumference, nearly form- 
ing a circle, and bisected by the Seine. It is happily situated in a 
temperate climate, and in the heart of a fertile country, richly 
cultivated. It has a water communication with the sea by the 
canal of Orleans, and the river Loire. The Seine is navigable 
by large boats, to Havre-de-Grace on the British Channel. The 
city is built of hewn stone, and contained about twenty-six 
thousand houses, from four to seven stories high, and eight 
hundred thousand inhabitants. 

At every entrance to the city, there was a gate, where carria- 
ges entering were inspected. A guard of eight hundred Swiss 
patrole the city night and day. The admirable organization 
of the police of Paris, was the astonishment of all Europe. Thefts 
are detected, and stolen goods recovered, in a manner that is 
incredible. The late Chancellor Livingston informed me, that 
either himself or a friend, lost a watch, and left its number and 
description with the police. It was restored to him by the 
police, after a delay of eight months, the watch having been 
traced to Rome. 



89 



The manufactures of Paris were extensive. That of tapestry- 
unequalled in the world. The fabrics of Paris were generally 
of the lighter and more costly kinds — as satins, velvets, 
ribbons, &c. 

This immense city, having no maritime commerce, derives 
most of its wealth and support from its political consequence. 

Having no business to occupy my time during the few pre- 
cious days whilst I was delayed for the dispatches to be con- 
veyed to the " Mercury," which lay at Nantes awaiting them, 
I took in pay a respectable servant, dressed like a gentleman, 
and also a carriage in accordance with the custom of the 
place, and devoted every hour to the examination of objects of 
interest in and about Paris. In the contemplation of these 
new and attractive scenes, I was constantly bewildered in 
astonishment and admiration. 

The first morning after this arrangement, I found my recep- 
tion room occupied by several men. I at once supposed them 
to be of the police, and whilst I was ruminating as to the prob- 
able occasion of the visit, a portly gentleman advanced, and 
drawing a tailor's measure from his pocket, unravelled the mys- 
tery. They were mechanics, introduced by the agency of 
Monsieur Blanchard, my servant, who doubtless participated 
in the contributions thus levied on my pockets. 

Among the public buildings I examined at Paris, with inter- 
est, the Louvre was conspicuous. It was erected by Louis 
XIV,, and faces the Tuilleries on one side, and the Seine at the 
Pont Neuf. It is a most magnificent pile of buildings, forming 
a large square. 

In a gallery of paintings in the Louvre, I was much gratified 
in perceiving the portrait of Franklin near those of the King 
and Queen, placed there as a mark of distinguished respect 
and, as was understood, in conformity with royal directions. 
Few foreigners have been presented to the Court of St. Cloud 
who have acquired so much popularity and influence as Dr. 
Franklin. I have seen the populace attending his carriage in 
the manner they followed the King's. His venerable figure, the 



90 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

ease of his manners, fornied in an intercourse of fifty years 
with the world, his benevolent countenance, and his fame as a 
philosopher, all tended to excite love, and to command influence 
and respect. He had attained, by the exercise of these quali- 
ties, a powerful interest in the feelings of the beautiful Queen 
of France. She, at that time, held a strong political influence. 
The exercise of that influence, adroitly directed by Frank- 
lin, tended to produce the acknowledgment of our Indepen- 
dence, and the subsequent efficient measures pursued by 
France in its support. 

The old Gothic Church of Notre Dame is an object of strong 
interest. It has braved the storms of nature, and the rageof 
wars, for centuries. It is about four hundred feet long. Its 
painted windows, of immense size, and the superb decoration 
of the altar, excited my strongest admiration. A spacious gal- 
lery surrounds this noble edifice, supported by one hundred and 
eight fluted columns of marble. We ascended to the summit 
of one of the towers, where I had a commanding view of all 
Paris ; the vast population of the city, that thronged the streets, 
in all their pride, ambition, and pomp, seemed like the merest 
pigmies. 

I carefully examined all the public edifices of Paris ; but they 
have been so often and so elaborately described, that I have 
concluded not to transcribe from my journals the minute de- 
scriptions they contain. The " Hospital des Invalides" is 
an imposing structure, and deeply interests the benevolent 
feelings of the heart. It is one of the noblest monuments of 
the reign of " Louis le Grand." It occupies an open space 
fronting the Seine. One of the most splendid churches of 
Paris is devoted to the invalids. Several buildings, forming five 
squares, are appropriated to the soldiers, and an equal num- 
ber, of larger dimensions, to the oflicers. At this asylum 3,200 
invalids were then quartered, in comfort and repose. I spent half 
a day in viewing superb paintings, commemorative of the 
wars and battles of Louis, and the beautiful marble ornaments, 
with the paintings in the dome of the church. The Sarbonne 
contains Cardinal Richelieu's celebrated monument, represent- 



OE, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 91 

ing him in a sitting posture, with figures, as large as hfe, 
one supporting him and the other rechning at his feet — exe- 
cuted in the most exquisite style, from a solid block of dark 
grey marble. 

The garden of the Tuilleries is an extensive public promenade, 
or garden, laid out parallel with the river, and fronting the palace 
of the Tuilleries. Next to the palace is situated a large flower- 
garden, embellished by small circular pond^ — ^jets d'eau in full 
play — various statues of white marble — spacious gravel walks, 
and ornamented by venerable forest trees, which afford a de- 
lightful resort to all Paris. 

I often attended the theatre. Having seen no other, I can 
make no comparisons. Doctor Franklin, however, assured me 
that the English excel in tragedy, whilst the French surpass 
them in the opera, comedy, farce, and pantomime. The popu- 
lace of Paris could hardly exist without the resource of the 
theatre, to beguile the long winter evenings. When I had be- 
come able to observe and understand the gross double en- 
tendre and shameful indecencies, which characterized their 
performances, 1 confess they shocked my American modesty ; 
and I deeply wonder that a refined woman should permit her- 
self to hear and witness such revolting spectacles. Custom, 
however, disguises and tolerates all things. 

The " Palais Royal," belonging to the Due de Chartres, of 
tlie Royal family, was but a mass of moral corruption. The 
magnificent garden was a public walk, and the splendid galleries 
of paintings were the chief attractions. I saw one large piece, 
representing the Descent from the Cross, which an English no- 
bleman offered to cover with guineas, as its price, and was re- 
fused by the Due. The Luxembourg was one of the most 
gorgeous and magnificent structures in Paris. 

At Marly I examined the once favorite palace of Louis XIV. 
The walls were ornamented with the rich tapestry of the Gob- 
lins, representing, in bright colors, the feats of Don Quixote. 
At this place existed the complicated and heavy machinery for 
forcing the water of the Seine up a hill, into an aqueduct, car- 
rying it seven hundred feet, over a valley, supported by thirty- 



92 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

nine arches, which conducts it towards Versailles. The gar- 
dens of Marly are very spacious, situated between two hills, 
the sides of which appear to be covered with natural shrub- 
bery and groves. In these groves, as well as in the garden, are 
cascades, fountains, and statues. The artificial cascades are 
very beautiful and magnificent. 

Having been invited to the wedding of Mr. Williams, our 
American Agent at? "Nantes, and, I think, the nephew of Doct. 
Franklin, which was to be celebrated at St. Germain's, twelve 
miles from Paris, I proceeded to Passy on foot, to accompany 
the ambassador, on the occasion. He was entering his carriage 
in the courtyard when I arrived, and Mr. Williams and myself 
were supplied with saddle-horses from his stables. Our route 
led us by the Madrid Palace, (the residence of Francis L, after 
his return from Spain,) and through the beautiful forest of the 
'' Bois du Boulogne." We crossed the Seine by a fine stone 
bridge, and traversed a long stretch of woodland, where the 
king often hunts ; and, after ascending, by a paved road, up a 
steep acclivity, from whence we commanded a most enchant- 
ing view, we reached the residence of Mr. Alexander, the father 
of the bride, at St. Germain's. Here I dined with Dr. Frank- 
lin, the Mayor of Nantes, and other distinguished guests ; and 
after dinner visited the palace, long the residence of James II., 
in his exile, and a favorite retreat of Louis XIV., as well as of 
the present royal family. The gardens are magnificent ; and 
the noblest promenade in Europe, probably, is on the grand 
terrace, upon the summit of the hill. The river Seine mean- 
ders at the base of the mountain. Five thousand acres of 
woodland spreads along the valley, studded here and there 
with villages. Mr. Alexander was formerly an eminent banker 
in Scotland ; a man of distinguished talents, and on terms of 
intimacy with Dr. Franklin. He was regarded here as a secret 
emissary of the British Government. 

The Sunday following I again dined with Dr. Franklin, in a 
numerous mixed company of Americans, and literary and mili- 
tary men of France : all equally admiring this wonderful man 
— eminent almost equally as a statesman and a philosopher. 



98 



After dinner I proceeded, with the young gentlemen, to the 
highly-celebrated gardens and palace of St. Cloud. They are 
near the Seine, and belonged to the Duke of Orleans. There 
were many fine paintings in the galleries ; but my attention was 
more directed to the beautiful garden, filled with cascades, jets 
d'eau from the mouths of animals, throwing it even to the tops 
of the lofty elms, and the broad alleys, filled with gay assem- 
blages. On our return to Paris we passed the Elysian Fields, 
formed by four spacious avenues, through noble elms, and each 
thronged by the giddy population of Paris, embracing all ranks 
and conditions. Some were dancing in circles, indiscrimi- 
nately mingled, to the music of the violin. Sunday was the hey- 
day of French enjoyment, a day of recreation and pleasure. 
In the morning they devoutly attended Mass, and devoted the 
rest of the day to the theatre, ball, and every other species of 
amusement.* 

In the suburbs of Paris I was conducted into a subterranean 
labyrinth, the construction of which tradition imputes to the 
Romans, in their labors to obtain stone for building purposes. 
I wandered two hours by torch-light in this deep and dark 
abyss. Brilliant and sparkling petrefactions hung, like icicles, 
from the roof and sides. 

Having received the despatches for America, both from Dr. 
Franklin and the French Government, I proceeded, Sept. 25th, 
1779, on my return to Nantes, accompanied by my interpreter. 
By the advice of Dr. Franklin I returned by the way of Orleans, 
along the banks of the Loire, which he represented to be the 
most interesting and charming route in Europe. 

The road from Paris to Orleans, a distance of ninety-four 
miles, was a continued pavement, formed by large blocks of 
stone. The country is level generally, and no trees or bushes 
intercepting the prospect, our view extended as far as the eye 

* I have noticed a striking condescension and courtesy, of the rich and power- 
ful in France, in their intercourse with the lower classes. Sailors, soldiers, and 
servants, appear to be on the most familiar terms with their officers and masters. 
These manners, undoubtedly, are formed by the warm and benevolent feelings 
of the French people. 



94 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REYOLUTION ; 

could reach, over boundless vineyards and wheat fields. There 
being no fences along the road, the grapes hung in delicious clus- 
ters within our reach the whole day. This apparent liberality 
to the traveller, secures the interior of the vineyards from dep- 
^redation. Would not the farmers of America be profited by 
adopting this wise and benevolent pohcy, and planting fruit- 
trees along the margin of the roads ? 

Over this extensive prospect, we saw the vineyards every- 
where dotted with peasants, staggering under their loads of 
grapes, which they bear in large baskets upon their backs. 
The peasantry of France possess no property, and are but a lit- 
tle elevated above the condition of serfs. They live on " soup 
maigre," coarse black bread, and a small wine about equal to 
cider. Yet they are always cheerful, and sing and dance over 
the cares and troubles of life, with light hearts and half-filled 
stomachs. 

The forest of Orleans contains the largest territory occupied 
as woodland, in the kingdom. It embraces about fifteen thou- 
sand acres, and belongs to the Duke of Orleans, who, it is said) 
realizes about $20,000 annually, from the sale of decaying 
wood. We rode through part of this forest, towards the close 
of the day, and I felt myself almost restored to the woodlands 
of America. 

In France, wood is used for fuel, almost universally. The 
forests of the kingdom are under municipal regulation, so as to 
secure the growth of wood equal to the consumption of the 
country. The cuttings of the vineyards in the autumn, affords 
a considerable supply of fuel to the peasantry. Even in this 
glowing and rich region of France, I noticed the unmitigated 
prevalence of street beggars and vagrants. 

Near Orleans, at the small village of Pont Morant, commen- 
ces the Orleans canal, which connects the Seine with, the 
Loire, by a water communication of thirty miles. Its construc- 
tion began in 1675. It forms a junction with the Burgundy 
canal, near tbe town of Mont Garnis. The latter also connects 
the above mentioned rivers. In high water, fleets of large 



OB, MEMOIES OF ELKANAH WATSON. 95 

boats ascend the Loire from Nantes, and proceed by the Or- 
leans canal to Paris. Before seeing the canal, which was the 
first I ever examined, I had my attention turned to the subject 
of the French canals, by Dr. Franklin. In relation to the 
great canal of Languedoc, which unites the Bay of Biscay 
with the Mediterranean, he informed me that it w^as projected 
by Riquet, in 1661, and cost two millions of crowns; it 
is conveyed by aqueducts over deep valleys, and in one place 
is conducted along the side of a mountain, being supplied in its 
course by large reservoirs, constructed on the tops of the 
mountains. It passes through one mountain by an artificial 
tunnel of seven hundred and twenty feet. It is six hundred 
and thirty-nine feet high at the summit level, and descends 
towards the Mediterranean by a flight of forty-five locks. Hav. 
ing derived immense benefit from this stupendous work, the 
government (Dr. Franklin informed me) had in contemplation 
the construction of other similar works, at the close of the 
war. 

Orleans was a large city, containing many elegant public and 
private buildings, but its streets were filthy, badly paved, and 
narrow. It was the great emporium of East and West Indian 
goods, and of wheat, wine, and brandy, for the Paris market. 
The principal manufactures of the city, are silk and woollen 
goods, and leather. Here occurred the wonderful events that 
illustrate the name of the Maid of Orleans. A monument, 
erected to her memory, occupies one of the public squares in 
this city, and bears an enthusiastic inscription. 

Between Orleans and Blois, a distance of forty miles, the 
country is elevated and level. Occasionally, a beautiful view 
of the Loire, gemmed by its numerous islands, was displayed. 
The whole region was a continuous vineyard, whence le- 
gions of peasantry, old and young, male and female, were issu- 
ing, bearing their delicious burthens. 

Blois is a celebrated and venerable city, standing on both 
banks of the Loire. It was then extensively engaged in the 
silk manufacture, and the exportation to Nantes of wines and 
brandies. In the evening the city was brilliantly illuminated 



yb MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

on account of the capture of Grenada by Count D'Estaing^ 
Whilst detained at the door of the post-house, my interpreter 
dropped a hint to some of the bystanders, that I was a young 
" Bostone," just arrived from North America. In afew mo- 
ments I was surrounded by a crowd, gazing at me with great 
interest. So strong and universal was the feeling in France, ex. 
cited by our Revolution. Some young women brought baskets 
loaded with delicious fruit, which they pressed upon me. After 
remaining at Blois part of the evening, to witness the illumi- 
nation, we started by a bright moonlight, and in conformity to 
general custom, determined to travel all night. In addition to 
the fruit the kind girls had supplied us, we provided a few 
stores, and entered on the famous causeway (levee). We gal- 
loped the whole night along this wonderful artificial road, which 
is elevated from fifteen to thirty feet above the level of the adja- 
cent meadows and river. It is designed for two carriages to go 
abreast, and extends one hundred and fifty miles parallel to the 
Loire, and on its very banks. On our right, we could see, by 
the bright moonlight, a valley of from a half to two miles wide, 
bounded by a range of undulating hills, their sides bespangled 
with lights from the cottages, and cultivated with wheat and 
interspersed with vineyards. The valleys are devoted to flax, 
hemp, and meadows. 

Nothing could be more delightful than this journeying by 
moonlight, in a serene night. It was far more interesting than by 
day, although we were deprived of a view of distant objects. A 
large glass in front of our carriage, and two side glasses, afforded 
every convenience for observation. We often saw whole fleets 
of loaded shallops, with their broad sails, ascending the river 
before a light breeze, and half concealed by the mist. The 
moon, at the same time, shedding its quivering light on the 
surface of the river, the exhalations on the land obscuring our 
prospect, and rendering the objects indistinct, produced a 
pleasing and complicated scenery. 

About six miles from the large city of Tours, I was surprised 
to see smoke issuing from the tops and sides of a chain of 
rocky hills, running parallel to the road, and people issuing 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 97 

from doors at their base. Curiosity impelled me to stop and 
examine the mystery. We were conducted into the body of 
the hills, in several places, and found many apartments hand- 
somely furnished, and in one instance, a church hewn out of 
the soft freestone. In some places we noticed rooms cut out of 
the hard rock. We were informed the excavations extended 
seven miles. Popular tradition ascribes this stupendous work 
to the Romans, who, it is supposed, constructed it as a depot 
and a refuge, if required. We remained at Tours only to pro- 
vide a relay, and hurried along vine-clad hills, through villages, 
and in sight of venerable fortresses, ancient towns, and noble- 
men's seats, to Angers. There I found several gentlemen 
from Boston, acquiring the French language, and moving in 
the best circles. I reached Nantes on the 28th of September, 
and delivered my dispatches on board the " Mercury," which 
had been detained for them. 

I determined to establish, in that city, a mercantile house, 
although sustained by few advantages, either of connection or 
capital, and almost ignorant of the French language. I invested 
the funds which had been intrusted to me in goods, and pur- 
chased an equal amount on my own credit, and was fortunate. 
The result was propitious. 1 also transmitted circulars to all 
the ports in America, in which I had formed personal acquaint- 
ances. Thus commenced my commercial career, which, in 
three years, enabled me to rear up an establishment equal to 
any in the city for respectability, and known throughout Ame- 
rica and in Europe for the extent of our operations. 



98 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 



CHAPTER X. 

Ancinis — Invasion of England — Importance of the American Revolution — 
Wedding — Wooden Shoes — Peasantry — Dancing — Degradation of 
the People — Effects of the Revolution — Musical taste — Taking the 
Veil — Letter from John Adams — Count D'Artois — Regal Hunt- 
ing — Royal Privileges. 

I DETERMINED, Oil a recovcry from a severe sickness, in 
which, for many days, I had trembled upon the verge of eter- 
nity, to devote the winter to the study of the language, and for 
that purpose connected myself with the college at Ancinis, 
twenty-four miles from Nantes. My letters gave me intimate 
access to the first society of the city, and in consequence 
afforded me an excellent opportunity of becoming acquainted 
with the manners and customs of the people. 

I arrived at the college late in the night, and retired to my 
room, without even having an interview with tlie President- 
At an early hour, a professor entered my apartments, and com- 
menced his first lesson in French. I was then conducted to 
the Refectory, where we had an excellent breakfast on bread 
and butter, white wine, meat, and onions. I was placed next 
the officers. They all crossed themselves, and regarded me, 
doubtless, as a forlorn heretic. The professors and students 
were unremitting in their efforts to promote my progress and 
comfort. In a few weeks I found myself rapidly advancing in 
the attainment of the language. A room, board, tuition, and wash- 
ing, were supplied me at an annual charge only of about 8150. 

On my first arrival in France, the public mind was highly 
elated by the belief that a combined French and Spanish fleet 
of seventy-six sail, under D'Orvillier, was blockading the Brit- 
ish fleet in Plymouth, and that sixty thousand troops had as- 
sembled in the vicinity of Havre, to co-operate with the fleet 
in the invasion of England. Under all these favorable aspects, 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 09 

no one doubted but that the British fleet, at least, would be an- 
nihilated. But, alas ! the iVrdent, of sixty-four guns, was 
captured, and the combined fleet returned into Brest, with 
eight thousand of their crews sick. I confess my spirit of retal- 
iation was gratified, in noticing in the English papers, accounts 
of the alarm excited by these movements on the coast of Eng- 
land, and of the inhabitants seeking security in the interior. 
Such spectacles of distress I had often witnessed in America, 
when the people were fleeing from the violence and cruelty of 
England's hireling armies. I formerly supposed that we at- 
tached too much importance to our revolution, in considering 
it the cause of man, and that it was preparing an asylum for 
the oppressed and persecuted of all nations ; but the more 1 re- 
flect, and the more I regard the opinions of older heads, the 
stronger my conviction becomes of the truth of this solemn . 
and animating thought. 

For two centuries, an ineffectual struggle has been main- 
tained, to fasten upon some corner of Europe the principles of 
liberty, but the bayonets of a million of mercenaries have se- 
cured the thrones of European despots. Freedom, established 
and maintained in America, in a more liberal age, may diffuse 
her influence over Europe. 

England has fairly rocked us out of her cradle, a sleeping 
infant ; she may soon find us an armed giant. Should I live 
to the age prescribed to man, I have no doubt but I shall wit- 
ness America standing in the first rank among the nations of 
the earth. Many of my countrymen dread the magnitude of 
the debt, the price of our independence. When, however, we 
cast our eyes upon the vast regions of the exuberant interior, 
that debt will dwindle into a shadow, compared with the avails 
of the miUions of fertile acres, which have never yet been dis- 
turbed by a plough. 

I accompanied our good Abbe to witness a country wedding. 
We entered the cottage at the verge of evening, and found 
the wooden-shoe gentry collected, and merrily dancing, and 
singing as a substitute for liie violin, with light hearts and 
heavy heels. The Abbe and myself soon figured in the dan- 



100 MEN AND TIMES OF THE KEVOLUTION ; 

cing circle, composed of old and young, indiscriminately mixed. 
Madam bride in her sabots, or wooden shoes, was only dis- 
tinguished by a boquet, which her swain, in great gallantry, 
placed over her heart. Their manner of dancing is much like 
that of the Indians of America, but more animated. We 
stamped around, hand-and-hand, all singing a dancing tune, 
advancing and retiring, and at the close of every cadence, giv- 
ing a general yell, their wooden shoes clattering the while in 
concert. 

After the dancing I was surrounded by the whole group, 
when they heard I was a " Boston^," but they were greatly 
astonished, that although I had a head and tongue like their 
own, I could not talk French. The bridegroom led the bride 
through the crowd, and introduced her with " viola ma femme.^' 
I gave her a hearty American smack, which excited a shout of 
merriment from all, at finding, although dumb, I was not in- 
sensible, and they soon learned that in the discussion of their 
rustic viands, I could play a game of the knife and fork with 
the best of them. We remained dancing and laughing until 
midnight, as much amused as if I had spent the night in a " bon 
ton" circle at Versailles. Indeed, while dancing, I could not 
refrain from the mental inquiry — are not these humble and illit- 
erate peasants to be envied rather than pitied ? Philosophy 
would not hesitate to decide. If happiness depends upon free- 
ness from care and buoyancy of heart, the French peasantry 
have the advantage of every other race. Ambition they have 
none ; they aspire to nothing but what they possess. Their 
cottage, their wives and children, black bread, and the "petite 
vin du pays.'' 

The ignorance and degradation of the peasants of France, 
deprived of the rights of freehold property, shut out from rank 
in the army and navy, living on the coarsest fare, and the mere 
slaves of a proud noblesse and corrupt clergy, must strike 
every liberal mind as the worst political feature of the in- 
stitutions of France.* 

* (1821.) Since that day, a revolution has passed over France, like a deluge 
of blood and woe, directed by the destroying angel, involving in one common 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 101 

I have frequently observed, in private genteel circles, some 
one of the gentlemen playing on the violin, to a dancing circle, 
himself being one of the dancers ; but I was truly delighted to 
see, at Chateuse, near Ancinis, an elegant young lady take up 
a violin and play to admiration, whilst she performed most 
gracefully in the dance. Almost every Frenchman is an adept 
at some musical instrument. 

In my wanderings about the country, a friend conducted me 
on one occasion to the cottage of a peasant, who supported a 
family of seven persons, on his wages of only twelve sous 
(equal to twelve cents) per diem, and paid to his majesty 
twenty livres ($4) a year. They subsist on black bread and 
vegetables, and in carnival, once a year, enjoy a small portion 
of meat. Yet content and happiness marked the features of 
all. 

Whilst at Ancinis I witnessed the ceremony of taking the 
veil. The process, and my own feelings in witnessing it, will 
be exhibited in the following extract from a letter written at 
the time, to my sister in America : — 

" I was an eye-witness to a very solemn ceremony at the Convent 
yesterday— the admission of a nun. I was admitted into the Chapel, 
with many spectators, the parents and brothers of the girl among the 
number. In an adjoining gloomy, dark room, with a heavy arch, I 
saw through ponderous gratings, forty-three nuns, ranged in lines, 
each holding a lighted torch, and singing an anthem, that echoed 
through the vaulted rooms. 

" After prayer, mass, &c., a new pupil — a fresh, beautiful young 
lady — came into the same apartment with the nuns, dressed in the 
most gaudy, fashionable style. The grating then rolled away, by 
some invisible machinery, and the young lady was interrogated by a 

ruin the Royal family, the Noblesse, and the Clergy. The dynasty of the Bour- 
bons has been again imposed on France, by foreign bayonets. Still great good 
has resulted from the misery and violence of the Revolution. The throne is restrict- 
ed, the nobility are humbled, the clergy are curtailed in their power and wealth, and 
the peasantry are elevated in their condition, and secured in their privileges. The 
light of education, to some extent, is diffused among them ; they can become own- 
ers of the soil they till, and the liberal professions are opened to them. Who shall 
pronounce that the bloody ordeal of the Revolution has not left France elevated 
and improved 1 



102 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

priest, if she wished to renounce the world, and devote herself to 
Christ and the Blessed Virgin. She replied in the affirmative, and 
instantly disappeared. She soon after re-appeared, disrobed of her 
worldly habiliments, and dressed in the simple garb of a nun. She 
then made her solemn vows, and was admitted on probation. 

*' Her sister then presented herself in the dress of a nun, before the 
awful tribunal, having completed her probationary year, to take the 
vows for life. It was her choice, and her parents, with a crowd of re- 
lations, signed their approbation, which was witnessed on the records 
of the Convent, by myself with others. My God ! is it possible ! The 
unnatural approbation of a father and mother, to the burial of two 
charming daughters, in this gloomy retreat, is a violation of the laws 
of God and nature. After the performance of many religious rites, 
the last extended herself in the midst of the chapel, flat upon her face, 
and was then covered by two of the nuns, with a black pall, as if abso 
lutely dead. In this position she remained half an hour, whilst the 
nuns" addressed hymns to the Virgin Mary, recommending the new- 
sister to her beneficence. She was then covered with a black veil, 
and led to the priest at the grating, where, bathed in tears, she took 
leave of her parents, and then the grating closed upon her — ' the 
world forgetting, by the world forgot.' I found my sensibility se- 
verely tried, by this affecting and novel scene. In a word, I was 
most solemnly amused. A deep silence succeeded the ceremony, 
like the stillness of the grave." 

1 addressed a letter, while in Ancinis, to John Adams, at 
Paris, who had returned from America, requesting his advice 
and direction, in regard to my movements and course whilst in 
Europe. I soon received a reply, which is subjoined, which was 
the commencement of a long series of confidential intercourse, 
both personal and by letter, extending over a period of more 
than half a century, marked, on his part, with the warmest 
kindness and cordiality, and on mine, by the deepest venera- 
tion for his character and devoted patriotism. 

" Paris, Hotel de Valois, Eue de Richelieu, 

" April 30th, 1780. 
*' Sir :— 

"Your letter of the 16th March I received yesterday. 
Your family I know well to be one of the most respectable in the 
county of Plymouth. Your father I had the honor to know well. 



OR, MEMOIES OF ELKANAH WATSON. 108 



I know, too, that in ancient times (for I must speak to you like an 
old man) when the friends to the American cause were not so nu- 
merous, nor so determined as they are now, we always found your 
father firm and consistent as a friend to his country. This I knew 
for more than ten years before the war commenced, and, therefore, I 
have no difficulty in believing that he has been, since that period, 
uniformly strenuous in support of Independence. 

" You tell me. Sir, you wish to cultivate your manners before you 
begin your travels, and since you have had so much confidence in me, 
as to write me on this occasion, permit me to take the liberty of ad- 
vising you to cultivate the manners of your own country, not those 
of Europe. I don't mean by this, that you should put on a long face, 
never dance with the ladies, go to a play, or take a game of cards. 
But you may depend upon this, the more decisively you adhere to a 
manly simplicity in your dress, equipage and behavior, the more you 
will devote yourself to business and study , and the less to dissipation and 
pleasure — the more you will recommend yourself to every man and 
woman in this country, whose friendship and acquaintance is worth 
your gaining or wishing. There is an urbanity, without ostenta- 
tion or extravagance, which will succeed everywhere, and at all 
times. 

" You will excuse this freedom, on account of my friendship for 
your father, and consequently for you, and because Iknow that some 
young gentlemen have come to Europe with different sentiments, and 
consequently injured the character of their country at home and 
abroad. 

" All Europe knows that it was American manners which have pro- 
duced such great effects in that young and tender country. I shall 
be happy to meet you in Paris, and receive any intelligence from 
America. 

" I am, &c., 

" JOHN ADAMS. 

"Mr. Elkanah Watson, Ancinis." 

In September, 1780, I accompanied my former ship captain, 
Sampson, to Paris, by the road I travelled on a former occasion. 
We noticed near Paris a novel mode of hunting. The Count 
D'Artois, with several royal bloods, we saw riding leisurely 
along, upon the neighboring hills, whilst a concourse of people 
were tracing the woods, and a line of soldiers firing away with 
as much industry as if in pursuit of an enemy in ambush, in- 



104: MEN AND TIMES OP THE REVOLUTION; 

stead of shooting hares and partridges, starting up on every 
side. I observed formerly, that partridges were almost as tame 
as domestic fowls in the vicinity of Paris. The galleys are the 
doom of any, except those of the blood royal, who shoots one, 
even on the highway. Blessed America ! there we know no 
nobles but the nobles of nature. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKA-NAH WATSON. 105 



CHAPTER XI. 

Rennes — Moreau — Customs — Fashionable Dinner— Tom Paine — Contest 
with a Priest — Louis Littlepage — Journey to Paris — Country Cure — 
Monks of La Trappe — Mrs. Wright — Franklin's Head — Anecdotes. 

The winter of 1780-81 I passed in the city of Rennes, per- 
fecting myself in my French. It contained a population of 
about sixty thousand. As I was the first American who had 
visited Rennes, the popular curiosity to see me was inconceiv- 
able, and I was subsequently assured, by the most intelligent 
and refined circles, that they had difficulty in detaching the 
idea of a savage from a North American. I had repeatedly 
noticed the prevalence of this ignorance in France, of the con- 
dition of America, and the character of Americans. When I 
went to Ancinis, I arrived at the College at night, and retired 
to my room without having an interview with the officers. 
Early in the morning, many of the students entered my room, 
and supposing me asleep, cautiously, one after another, ap- 
proached my bed, and drawing aside the curtain, gazed at me. 
I afterwards understood, that hearing an American had arrived 
at the College, an impression at once prevailed that I was an 
American Indian. The lady of the Procureur of Rennes 
frankly said to me, that she was greatly surprised when I was 
introduced to her, as she had supposed the North Americans 
to be " une espece du sauvage." 

Rennes was the capital of Brittany, and the seat of the Pro- 
vincial Parliament. Brittany having been united by treaty to 
France, retained higher privileges, guaranteed in its cession, than 
any other province of France. The Parliament was elected by 
the people, and had alone the power of levying taxes. The King 
made his requisition, which may, or may not have been registered 
by the Parliament. Brittany was exempt from a duty on salt, 
which was a most oppressive burthen in the adjacent provinces. 



106 



The Loire divides Poitou from Brittany. A man convicted 
of smuggling the smallest quantity of salt across the river, v\'as 
doomed to the galleys for life. 

I frequently listened to the debate in the Parliament, and 
was astonished to hear with what freedom the Representatives 
discussed subjects of politics. 

I was on familiar terms, at Rennes, with several young gen- 
tlemen, law students, who were pursuing their professional 
studies. I met the celebrated General Moreau, many years 
afterwards in New- York, and was surprised to find that he was 
one of the number, and recollected the circumstance of seeing 
me at Rennes. 

A new game of cards had been introduced into the fashion- 
able circles at Rennes, which they called Boston. I soon per- 
ceived that a determined spirit of gambling entered into their 
purposes ; a rock that I have always shunned. I was hard 
pressed by a veteran devotee of the art to be her partner. I 
protested, in vain, my ignorance of cards, and soon convinced 
her, to our mutual loss, of the sincerity of my protestation. 
She very willingly gave me up as bad game. 

Rennes was a highly dissipated place, but distinguished for 
the correctness of its French idiom. My object in selecting 
it, was to attain the language in its purity, and to rub off my 
American rust, by a near connection with the polished society 
of France. The gentleness and elegance of French manners 
can only be attained, I am persuaded, by a domestic French 
education. The ease and blandishment of their manners, are, 
no doubt, chiefly attributable to the gentleness and familiarity 
v/hich mark the intercourse between children and parents. 
They are at home, the joyous, laughing and dancing compan- 
ions of eaclv other. I have more than once seen grandmothers 
dancing in the same circle with the grandchildren. In Ame- 
rica, children are too often treated with an austerity and re- 
serve that closes the door to social intercourse. Schools for 
manners are thus enjoyed in France, from the cradle. To be 
graceful, is an essential in France, from the Prince to the pos- 
tillion. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 107 

The death of the Queen of Hungary had blackened all 
France and Germany. As soon as I had supplied myself with 
mourning, in compliance with an arbitrary custom, I was con- 
ducted by a French colonel, to offer my respects to the Mar- 
shal de Biron, Governor of the Province. We were admitted 
by the guards into an elegant palace, and entered an expansive 
circle of dukes, governors, bishops, officers, &c., and among 
them the distinguished Admiral La Motte Piquet, who had just 
returned from a successful cruise. We were received with 
marked attention and civility. I observed, during this levee, 
that no persons, except Bishops, presumed to be seated. We 
accepted an invitation to dine with the Marshal, and in a few 
moments after our entrance, a folding-door opened on one side 
of the saloon d'audience, and the Duchess, accompanied by her 
maids of honor, and other ladies, appeared. Her long dress 
trailed behind her, the extremity being supported by two little 
black boys. 1 was introduced by the Governor of Belle Isle 
to the Duchess. The etiquette was, to advance a few steps, 
with chapeau-bras under the left arm, and make a profound 
bow. A long sword by the side, was an indispensable article 
of dress in fashionable society. 

Immediately, on her appearance, another folding-door on the 
opposite side flew open. After mutual salutation between the 
ladies and gentlemen, the Duchess continued her progress, fol- 
lowed by the company, through several apartments, one of 
which was occupied by the life-guard of the Marshal. I was 
amused at noticing the tactics acquired by the ladies, in pass- 
ing their court-dresses through the doors. The gentlemen in 
escort fall back, and the lady, by a dexterous cant of the hoop, 
sideways, effects the passage. We entered a spacious dining 
hall, cheered by an elegant Italian band of music. The Gov- 
ernor of Belle Isle was placed at the right of the Marshal, the 
Governor of Rennes on his left, and myself next to the former. 
The splendor, elegance, and taste of the occasion, far surpass- 
ed anything I had ever witnessed, and both astonished and de- 
lighted me. As I have uniformly remarked, the ladies were 



108 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

intermixed at the table, and fully participated in the table con- 
versation, on every subject. We were about forty at table ; 
the knives, forks, dishes, tureens, &c., were all of massive sil- 
ver. At least forty different dishes were served up in succes- 
sive courses, and all on silver utensils. In the midst of the 
table was arranged a large and beautiful representation of a 
flower-garden, in minature, with Liliputian statues, flowers, 
grottos, artificial cascades, &c. 

By a spontaneous movement, we left the table, and passed 
into a magnificent adjoining hall, where we received a cup of 
strong coffee, and were again delighted by the music of the 
band. Madame was marked in her attention to me, and plied 
me with delicious dishes, by the hands of a little pet black boy, 
always at her elbow. This hall commanded a view of a de- 
lightful garden, into which we strolled, each directed in his 
movements and occupations by his own tastes. We were 
again charmed with the music of nature from an aviary in the 
vicinity. We returned to the hall indiscriminately, and such 
as were disposed took themselves oflf, or in other words, took 
" French leave," without ceremony. This is an excellent cus- 
tom, which I trust will be interwoven into our improved sys- 
tem of American manners ; they are now too frigid, formal and 
awkward — an inheritance derived from our English progeni- 
tors. 

On my return to Nantes, 1 was half French in everything, 
save the graces ; these, I fear, I never shall possess. They 
must grow with your growth, for they never can be wooed 
like a fair lady. 

About this period, the notorious Tom Paine arrived at Nantes, 
in the Alliance frigate, as Secretary of Colonel Laurens, 
Minister Extraordinary from Congress, and took up his quar- 
ters at my boarding-place. He was coarse and uncouth in his 
manners, loathsome in his appearance , and a disgusting egotist ; 
rejoicing most in talking of himself, and reading the effusions 
of his own mind. Yet I could not repress the deepest emotions 
of gratitude towards him, as the instrument of Providence in 
accelerating the declaration of our Independence. He certainly 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH "WATSON. 109 



was a prominent agent, in preparing the public sentiment of 
America for that glorious event. The idea of Independence 
had not occupied the popular mind, and when guardedly ap- 
proached on the topic, it shrunk from the conception, as fraught 
with doubt, with peril, and with suffering. 

In 1776 I was present, at Providence, Rhode Island, in a so- 
cial assembly of most of the prominent leaders of the State. 
I recollect that the subject of independence was cautiously in- 
troduced by an ardent Whig, and the thought seemed to excite 
the abhorrence of the whole circle. 

A few weeks after, Paine's Common Sense appeared, and 
passed through the continent like an electric spark. It every- 
where flashed conviction, and aroused a determined spirit, 
which resulted in the Declaration of Independence, upon the 
4th of July ensuing. The name of Paine was precious to every 
Whig heart, and had resounded throughout Europe. 

On his arrival being announced, the Mayor, and some of the 
most distinguished citizens of Nantes, called upon him to ren- 
der their homage of respect. I often officiated as interpreter, 
although humbled and mortified at his filthy appearance, and 
awkward and unseemly address. Besides, as he had been 
roasted alive on his arrival at L'Orient, for the * * * * 
and well basted with brimstone, he was absolutely offensive, 
and perfumed the whole apartment. He was soon rid of his 
respectable visitors, who left the room with marks of astonish- 
ment and disgust. I took the liberty, on his asking for the 
loan of a clean shirt, of speaking to him frankly of his dirty ap- 
pearance and brimstone odor, and prevailed upon him to stew 
for an hour, in a hot bath. This, however, was not done with- 
out much entreaty,- and I did not succeed, until, receiving a file 
of English newspapers, I promised, after he was in the bath, he 
should have the reading of them, and not before. He at once 
consented, and accompanied me to the bath, where I instructed 
the keeper in French (which Paine did not understand) to 
gradually increase the heat of the water, until " le Monsieur 
etait bien bouilli." He became so much absorbed in his read- 



110 ME^ AND TIMES OP THE REVOLUTION; 

ing that he tvas nearly par-boiled before leaving the bath, 
much to his improvement and my satisfaction. 

One of the most critical and remarkable events of my life 
occurred in the month of March, 1781. The Marshal de Cas- 
tries, the Minister of Marine, was passing through Nantes, on 
his way to Brest, for the purpose of dispatching the Count De 
Grasse with the fleet, which subsequently acted with so much 
efficiency against Cornwallis. 

Half the population of the city, prompted by their curiosity, 
poured in a torrent beyond the gates, to meet the Marshal and 
his retinue. I threw myself into this living current. As soon 
as the " avant courier" appeared in the distance, the immense 
crowd paraded on either side of the road. At the moment the 
minister and his retinue approached, a little bell tinkled on the 
opposite side, in directing the passage of the "Bon Dieu," en- 
closed in a silver vase, and held by a Catholic priest, on his 
way to administer the Sacrament to a dying believer. The 
bell was held by a small boy, who preceded the sacred proces- 
sion ; four men supported a canopy over the priest's head, and 
forty or fifty stupid peasants, in wooden shoes, followed. Cus- 
tom obliged all to kneel, as this venerated " Bon Dieu," passed 
by ; but on this occasion, most of the spectators, owing to the 
deep mud, leaned on their canes, with hats in their hands, in a 
respectful posture. The couriers checked their horses — the 
carriages stopped, and all were thrown into confusion by the 
unfortunate presence of the " Bon Dieu." At this moment 
the priest, as if impelled by the spirit of malice, halted the pro- 
cession, and stopped the host directly in front of the place 
where I stood, and to my utter amazement, pointing directly at 
me with his finger, exclaimed, " aux genoux," (upon your knees). 
I pointed, in vain, to the mud, and the position of those about me 
similar to my own. He again repeated, in a voice of thunder* 
" aux genoux." My Yankee blood flamed at this wanton attack, 
I forgot myself, and, with a loudv oice, replied in French, '' no 
sir, I will not." The populace, thunderstruck to see their " Bon 
Dieu" thus insulted, fired with fanaticism, broke their ranks, 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. HI 

and were pressing towards me, with violent imprecations. A 
German gentleman, an acquaintance, and then at my side, ex- 
claimed to me, " for God's sake, drop in an instant." Alarmed 
at my critical situation, I reluctantly settled my knees into a 
mud-puddle. Every one within my hearing who were respect- 
able, Catholics and Protestants, condemned the rash and in- 
excusable conduct of the priest. 

My keenest sensibilities were outraged, and I vowed ven- 
geance upon the audacious priest. The next afternoon, I set 
off, armed with a good hickory, to trace out his residence, and 
to effect my determination. I proceeded to the spot where the 
offence had been committed, entered the hut of a peasant, and 
inquired the name of the priest who, the day before, had 
passed with the " Bon Dieu." He replied, " ma foi, oui, ce 
Monsieur Barage," (yes, faith, it is M. Barage.) He pointed 
to the steeple of the church where he officiated, near the sub- 
urbs of the city. I soon found his house, and pulled a bell- 
rope. A good-looking, middle-aged woman, the house- 
keeper, soon appeared. Contrary to her interdiction, I sprung 
into the court-yard, and proceeded directly to the house, and 
made my way to his library. The priest soon appeared, 
demanded my business, exclaiming, "that I was a murderer or 
robber," and ordered me to quit his house. I sprung to the door, 
locked it, and placing the key in my pocket, approached him 
in a hostile attitude. I compelled him to admit that he re- 
cognized my features. I then poured forth my detestation of 
him, and of the tyranny of the French clergy. I told him I was 
a native of North America, the ally of France ; that I was 
under the protection of Dr. Franklin, and would not leave him 
until I had received adequate remuneration for the unprovoked 
insult I had received. In a word, I insisted upon his apologiz- 
ing to me, in the same posture in which I had been placed. In 
taking my leave, I assured him I should proceed with the Ame- 
rican Consul, and enter my formal complaint against him to the 
Bishop. This threat alarmed him, and he fervently urged my for- 
bearance. I went, however, immediately to our Consul, Colonel 
Williams, and communicated to him these incidents. He ap- 



112 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

prised me of tlie extreme clanger I should be subjected to from 
the hostihty of the priests, and admonished me, as the safest 
course, to prosecute the affair no further. By his advice, and 
ttjat of Tom Paine, I changed my lodgings, and for two or three 
weeks avoided the streets. No further unpleasant consequence 
resulted from this extraordinary occurrence.* 

Although 1 escaped with impunity on this occasion, it is far 
from my wish to inculcate a spirit of opposition to established 
forms of I'eligion in any country. It is at best a dangerous 
business, and one treads among thorns and pit-falls. 

During my residence at Nantes, I became intimately ac- 
quainted with one of the most remarkable characters of the 
age. Louis Littlepagef arrived at Nantes in the winter of 
1779-80, on his way to Madrid, under the peculiar patronage 
of Mr. Jay, our stern and able ambassador at the court of 
Spain. He was then a mere youth, of a fine manly figure, 
with a dark, penetrating black eye, and a physiognomy pecu- 
liar and striking. At that early period he was esteemed a 
prodigy of genius and acquirements. When I again heard of 
him, he had separated himself from Mr. Jay's family, and en- 
tered as a volunteer and aid to the Due de Ciellon, at the siege 
of Minorca. At the a ttack on Gibraltar, he was on board of 
one of the floating batteries, and was blown up, but saved. 
Young Littlepage participated, in a conspicuous manner, in 
the thrilling incidents of that memorable siege. 

* I have repeatedly heard the late Colonel Elisha Jenkins, of Albany, former- 
ly Comptroller of the State, who was in Nantes, soon after the occurrence of the 
above incidents, advert to them. He stated that the subject was a familiar 
topic of conversation in that city, during his residence there. — Editor. 

t Louis Littlepage was the son of Colonel James Littlepage of Hanover, who 
married Betty (sometimes called Elizabeth) Lewis, daughter of Zachary Lewis, 
Senior, of Spottsylvania county, Virginia. 

Louis Littlepage was appointed by the late King of Poland, Chamberlain and 
confidential Secretary in his cabinet, and was created by him a Knight of the 
Order of St. Stanislaus. He acted as the King's Special Envoy in important ne- 
gotiations. When the unfortunate Stanislaus Augustus was sent a prisoner to 
St. Petersburgh, after the dismemberment of his kingdom, General Littlepage 
wished to accompany him, but was separated from him at Grodno, and prohibited 
from going further hy the expres orders of the Empress. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON ll3 

Whilst at Gibraltar, I held a familiar correspondence with 
him. After his catastrophe in the floating battery, he con- 
trived to obtain a situation on board of the Spanish Admiral's 
ship, and in one of the engagements occupied himself, upon 
the quarter-deck, during the battle, in sketching the various 
positions of both fleets. On the return of the Spanish fleet to 
Cadiz, he was sent with an officer to Madrid, bearing the dis- 
patches. He exhibited to the minister an ingenious and sci- 
entific view of the battle, and was received with great applause 
and distinction at the court of Madrid. 

In the April following the close of the war, I dined with 
him at Dr. Franklin's, in Passy, to whom he stated the above 
fact, and exhibited the sketch. At Paris and Versailles he 
moved in the first circles, and attracted marked attention. 

In the following June, lie made a visit at my bachelor's hall, 
in Beliter square, London. I never saw him again. He sub- 
'sequently made the tour of Europe ; established himself at 
Warsaw; became, in effect. Prime Minister; went to St. Pe- 
tersburgh as Ambassador from Poland ; acquitted himself with 
distinguished ability, and became one of the favorites of the 
Empress Catharine. After the dismemberment of Poland, 
Littlepage returned to America, and died in Fredericksburgh, 
Virginia. 

A violent and acrimonious controversy occurred between 
Mr. Jay and Littlepage, originating in the abrupt departure of 
the latter from the family of Mr. Jay, and his refusing to re- 
fund advances made to him by Mr. Jay. He assailed that 
pure and eminent patriot, in a pamphlet, that bore the impress 
of the genius as well as the bitterness of a Junius. 

A merchant of Nantes, and a friend, learning of my intended 
journey to Paris, solicited me to conduct his wife under my 
protection, to that city. Our carriage was arranged for the 
convenience of two passengers. On the second evening, a 
wheel broke near the village of La Fleche, and we were neces- 
sarily obliged to stop for repairs. Madame, on a former jour- 
ney, had made the acquaintance of the Curate of the parish, 
and we determined to shelter ourselves under the wings of his 

8 



114 MEN" AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

hospitality for the night. It was about eight o'clock when we 
entered the Curate's yard. His servants took charge of our 
baggage, and we found the old gentleman seated with two or 
three priests at supper, upon hashed mutton and raw onions. 
Had I been an old friend, and rendered him a thousand servi- 
ces, he could not have received me with a more cordial wel- 
come. His face was as serene as a summer evening ; a few 
grey hairs were mingled with his dark locks. '' A Boston^ 
and an ally," exclaimed the good man, " doubly entitle you to 
my attention ;" "mon ami," said he, kissing me on each cheek, 
with much fervency, (for men kiss men, in France,) " Je suis 
charme, de vous voir chez moi." He stepped back, and I 
looked full in his eyes, and thought I read in them so much 
benignity and truth, that I felt not only a strong predilection 
for him, but an assurance of his sincerity. '' I am heartily 
mortified," said he, pointing to the mutton hash, "that we have 
nothing better on the table, but have the complaisance to wait 
ten minutes, and we will have something plus comme ilfaut — 
Johnton — Twinet — venez ici." 

Madame was to spend the night with a friend in the vicinity, 
and having only myself to consult, I borrowed Johnton's " cou- 
teau," and attacked the mutton, altho' as tough as leather, and 
mixed up with raw onions, which I abominate. The old man's 
goodness, and a fine appetite, supplied all deficiencies. The 
supper removed, and dessert on the table, the good Curate gave 
me a detail of his life. 

" He had served," he said, " his king, for sixteen years, with a 
musket on his shoulder, but being disposed naturally to piety, 
he had changed the musket for the " eglise," and obtained his 
curacy, which secures him a quiet and virtuous life. An old 
soldier, he felt an instinctive curiosity to learn the progress of 
military events in America; and was very inquisitive about 
" Le grand Vas-sang-ton." When I had finished an account 
of the affair at Trenton, the Curate insisted on drinking to his 
health and prosperity : " Allons! a la sante du grand Vas-sang- 
ton." He conducted me to my chamber, and himself adjusted 
my night-cap. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 115 

Early the next morning, I strolled into an extensive garden 
near the house, and feasted on delicious fruit, still moistened 
with the dew of the night. ' ^ * '; 

I was soon joined by the worthy " padre," who made every 
effort to withdraw me from the dangerous paths of heresy into 
the fold of the true church. This led us into a curious dia- 
logue, discussing the respective tenets of the Catholic and Pro- 
testant religions. 

We left this hospitable mansion with deep sensibility. As 
Madame had some business two or three posts out of our way, 
and being anxious myself to visit the celebrated religious insti- 
tution of" La Trappe," we left the Paris road, taking a north- 
erly direction. My companion chose to be cash-keeper, and 
necessarily cash-payer, on the road. Whilst Madame was dis- 
puting with the postillion, how much was overpaid, I was trip- 
ping ahead, seeing the country, and amusing myself chatting 
with the peasantry along the road. On our way to La Trappe, 
I imprudently did so just at night-fall, and found myself half a 
league in advance of the post-house, in the dark. It occurred 
to me that I might have taken the wrong route, or that an ac- 
cident had befallen the carriage. I soon heard wheels grind- 
ing along the flinty road, at the foot of the hill. Standing in 
the middle of the road, patiently awaiting the approach of the 
vehicle, I ran before the horses, crying out " postilion, arrete ! 
arrete !" — but what was my astonishment, to hear a grum voice 
exclaim, " Sacre — postilion — qu'est ce qu'il y'a?" Thun- 
derstruck at my blunder, and expecting he would send a ball at 
me, I made the best of my way down the hill, and the postillion, 
made the best of his over it ; being mutually afraid of each 
other. He had certainly every reason to suspect me of being 
a foot-pad. The place — the darkness — everything fortified the 
conclusion. Descending the hill precipitously, I was rejoiced 
to meet my own carriage, which I approached with caution. I 
left Madame the next morning at the village of Mortagne, and 
proceeded alone, a distance of eight miles from the main road, 
to the sequestered establishment surrounded by woodlands, and 
known as the " L'abbaye da La Trappe," inhabited by perhaps 



Il6 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

the most singular and austere religious order among man- 
kind. 

The order was instituted on the confines of Normandy, 
by the Compt De Perche, a gloomy and disappointed officer, 
who, under the influence of a melancholy misanthropy, desired 
to bury himself in seclusion from the rest of the world. I was 
greeted by the official with great hospitality. They gave me 
for breakfast, in a secluded room of the monastery, a small dish 
of meat, roots, bread and cider. Here I observed edifying in- 
scriptions upon the walls, and directions as to the conduct of 
visitors. 

The austerities and penances they impose upon themselves 
by their religious rites, would be insupportable to the human 
frame, unless sustained by their extravagant fanaticism, or 
possibly earnest devotion. They drink no wine, and abstain 
•even from eggs and fish. They work three hours each day in 
the field, and retire at eight o'clock, P. M., in the summer, and 
seven o'clock in winter. They rise at two o'clock, A. M., and 
repairing to the church, continue at their devotions until four 
o'clock ; they then return to their respective cells, and at half- 
past five o'clock again repair for half an hour to the church. 
At seven o'clock they commence their labor, and when the 
weather confines them within doors, they engage themselves 
in cleaning the church, or some domestic avocations. 

The most extraordinary feature of their institution, particu- 
larly for Frenchmen, is, that they hold no oral communication 
with each other ; neither are visitors permitted to speak to 
them. They maintain, throughout their walls, except when en- 
gaged in religious duties, a profound silence — like the stillness 
of the tomb. 

They find some occupation in the mechanical arts, and in 
writing for religious publications. After working an hour and 
a half, they again returned to their rites in the church, and then 
retire to their cells. Again they repair to their chapel to unite 
in hymns and anthems ; this brings them to twelve o'clock^ 
their dinner hour. 

Their table is clean, but without cloths; each brother 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH "VTATSOlSr. 117 

has a cup, a knife, a towel, a spoon, and a wooden fork. 
They eat black bread, and drink a half pint of cider. They 
have at their meals roots without butter or oil ; occasionally, 
beans or light soup, with a dessert of two apples. 

They proceed from the table to the church, and then labour 
for another hour and a half. Then each retires to his solitary 
cell, where he reads or meditates until four o'clock, when 
they again resume their devotions in the church. At five 
o'clock they take their supper, consisting of black bread, with 
a little cider and apples. They again return to the church, 
and continue there engaged in their pious rites until seven or 
eight o'clock, when they all retire to their lonely cells and mi- 
serable straw. The dying are placed on straw strewn with 
ashes. Thus live, and thus die, these infatuated men. 

The scene I contemplated, and the recital of their privations 
and endurances, which I derived from a gentleman of the vici- 
nity, whom I fortunately met here, excited in my mind emotions 
of grief and despondency, that made me desire no further indul- 
gence of my curiosity on my route to Paris. I again mingled 
in the elegant festivities of the city, for two months, in the sum- 
mer and autumn of '81. 

I came oddly in contact with the eccentric Mrs. Wright, on 
my arrival in Paris from Nantes. Giving orders from the bal- 
cony of the Hotel d'York, to my English servant, I was as- 
sailed by a powerful female voice, crying out from an upper 
story, " Who are you? An American. I hope !" ''Yes, Mad- 
am," I replied, " and who are you ?" In two minutes she 
came blustering down stairs, with the familiarity of an old 
acquaintance. We were soon on the most excellent terms. 
I discovered that she was in the habit of daily intercourse with 
Franklin, and was visited and caressed by all the respectable 
Americans in Paris. She was a native of New -Jersey, and 
by profession a moulder of wax figures. The wild flights of 
her powerful mind stamped originality on all her acts and lan- 
guage. She was a tall and athletic figure ; walked with a firm, 
bold step, and erect as an Indian. Her complexion was some- 



118 



what sallow — her cheek-bones high — her face furrowed, and 
her olive eyes keen, piercing, and expressive. Her sharp 
glance was appalling; it had almost the wildness of the 
maniac. 

The vigor and originality of her conversation corresponded 
with her manners and appearance. She would utter language 
in her incessant volubility, as if unconscious to whom directed, 
that would put her hearers to the blush. She apparently pos- 
sessed the utmost simplicity of heart and character. 

With the head of wax upon her lap, she would mould the 
most accurate likenesses, by the mere force of a retentive 
recollection of the traits and lines of the countenance ; she 
would form her likenesses by the manipulation of the wax with 
her thumb and finger. Whilst thus engaged, her strong mind 
poured forth an uninterrupted torrent of wild thought, and an- 
ecdotes and reminiscences of men and events. She went to 
London about the year 1767, near the period of Franklin's ap- 
pearance there as the agent of Pennsylvania. The peculiarity 
of her character, and the excellence of her wax figures, made 
her rooms in Pall Mall a fashionable lounging-place for the 
nobility and distinguished men of England. Here her deep 
penetration and sagacity, cloaked by her apparent simplicity 
of purpose, enabled her to gather many facts and secrets im- 
portant to "dear America'' — her uniform expression in refer- 
ring to her native land, which she dearly loved. 

She was a genuine Republican and ardent Whig. The 
King and Queen often visited her rooms-; they would induce 
her to work upon her heads, regardless of their presence. She 
would often, as if forgettin^i herself, address them as George and 
Charlotte. This fact she often mentioned to me herself. 
Whilst in England, she communicated much important infor- 
mation to Franklin, and remained in London until '75 or '76, 
engaged in that kind of intercourse w^ith him and the Ameri- 
can government, by which she was placed in positions of ex- 
treme hazard. 

I saw her frequendy in Paris, in '81, and in various parts of 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 119 

England, from '82 to '84. Her letters followed me in my 
travels through Europe. I had assisted her at Paris ; had ex- 
tended aid to her son at Nantes, and given him a free passage 
in one of our ships to America. Her gratitude was unbounded. 
This son was a painter and artist of some eminence, and in 
1784, took a model of Washington's head, in plaster. I heard 
from Washington himself an amusing anecdote connected 
with this bust. 

In January, 1785, I enjoyed the inestimable privilege of a 
visit under his roof, in the absence of all visitors. Among the 
many interesting subjects which engaged our conversation in 
a long winter evening, (the most valuable of my life) in which 
his dignified lady, and Miss Custis united, he amused us by re- 
lating the incident of the taking this model. " Wright came 
to Mount Vernon," the General remarked, " with the singular 
request, that I should permit him to take a model of my face 
in plaster of Paris, to which I consented with some reluctance. 
He oiled my features over, and placing me flat upon my back, 
upon a cot, proceeded to daub my face with the plaster. 
Whilst in this ludicrous attitude, Mrs. Washington entered the 
room, and seeing m}^ face thus overspread with the plaster, in- 
voluntarily exclaimed. Her cry excited in me a disposition to 
smile, which gave my mouth a slight twist, or compression of 
the lips, that is now observable in the busts, Wright afterwards 
made." These are nearly the words of Washington. 

Sometime after my acquaintance with Mrs. Wright com- 
menced, she informed me that an eminent female chemist of 
Paris had written her a note, that she would make her a visit at 
twelve o'clock the next day, and announced also, that she could 
not speak English. Mrs. Wright desired me to act as inter- 
preter. At the appointed hour, the thundering of a carriage 
in tho court-yard announced the arrival of the French lady. 
She entered with much grace, in which Mrs. W. was no match 
for her. She was old, with a sharp nose — with broad patches 
of Vermillion spread over the deep furrows of her cheeks. I 
was placed in a chair between the two originals. Their 



120 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION"; 

tongues flew with velocity, the one in English and the other in 
French, and neither understanding a word the other uttered. I 
saw no possibility of interpreting two such volleys of words, 
and at length abruptly commanded silence for a moment. 

I asked each — "^do you understand ?" " Not a word," said 
Mrs. Wright." " N'importe," replied the chemist, bounding 
from her chair, in the midst of the floor, and dropping a low 
curtsy — was off. " What an old painted fool," said Mrs. W., 
in anger. It was evident that this visit was not intended for 
an interchange of sentiment, but a mere act of civility — a 
call. 

I employed Mrs. W. to make the head of Franklin, which 
was often the source of much amusement to me. After it was 
completed, both being invited to dine with Franklin, I con- 
veyed her toPassyin my carriage, she bearing the head upon 
her lap. No sooner in presence of the Doctor, than she had 
placed one head by the side of the other. " There !" she ex- 
claimed, " are twin brothers." The likeness was truly ad- 
mirable, and at the suggestion of Mrs. Wright, to give it more 
effect, Franklin sent me a suit of silk clothes he wore in 1778. 
Many years afterwards, the head was broken in Albany, and 
the clothes I presented to the " Historical Society of Massachu- 
setts." 

An adventure occurred to Mrs. Wright in connection with 
this head, ludicrous in the highest degree, and although almost 
incredible, is literally true. After the head had been modeled, 
she walked out to Passy, carrying it in a napkin, in order to 
compare it with the original. In returning in the evening she 
was stopped at the barrier, in course to be searched for contra- 
band goods; but as her mind was as free as her native Ameri- 
can air, she knew no restraint, nor the reason why she was 
detained. She resisted the attempt to examine her bundle, and 
broke out in the rage of a fury. The oflicers were amazed, 
as no explanation, in the absence of an interpreter, could take 
place. She was compelled, however, to yield to power. The 
bundle was opened, and to the astonishment of the officials, ex- 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 121 



hibited the head of a dead man, as appeared to them in the 
obscurity of the night. They closed the bundle without 
further examination, believing, as they aftewards assured me, 
that she was an escaped maniac, who had committed murder, 
and was about concealing the head of her victim. 

They were determined to convey her to the police station, 
when she made them comprehend her entreaties to be taken to 
the Hotel d'York. I was in my room, and hearing in the pas- 
sage a great uproar, and Mrs. Ws. voice pitched upon a higher 
key than usual, I rushed out, and found her in a terrible rage, 
her fine eye flashing. I thrust myself between her and the 
officers, exclaiming, " Au mon Dieu, qu'est ce qu'el y-a ?" 
An explanation ensued. All except Mrs. W. were highly 
amused at the singularity and absurdity of the affair. 

The head and clothes I transmitted to Nantes, — they were the 
instruments of many frolics, not inappropriate to my youth, but 
perhaps it is hardly safe to advert to them in my age. A few 
I will venture to relUte. On my arrival at Nantes, I caused 
the head to be properly adjusted to the dress, which was arran- 
ged in a natural shape and dimensions. I had the figure placed 
in the corner of a large room, near a closet, and behind a table. 
Before him I laid an open atlas, his arm resting upon the table, 
and mathemiatical instruments strewn upon it. A handker- 
chief was thrown over the arm stumps, wires were extended to 
the closet, by which means the body could be elevated or de- 
pressed, and placed in various positions. Thus arranged, some 
ladies and gentlemen were invited to pay their respects to Dr. 
Franklin, by candle-light. For a moment, they were com- 
pletely deceived, and all profoundly bowed and curtsied, which 
was reciprocated by the figure. Kot a word being uttered, the 
trick was soon revealed. 

A report soon circulated that Doctor Franklin was at Mon- 
sieur Watson's, " sour I'lsle de Frydeau. At eleven o'clock 
the next morning, the Mayor of Nantes came in full dress, to 
call on the renowned philosopher. Cossoul, my worthy part- 
ner, being acquainted with the Mayor, favored the joke, fpr a 



122 

moment after their mutual salutations, Others came in, 
and all were disposed to gull their friends in the same 
manner. 

The most amusing of all the incidents connected with this 
head, occurred in London, where I had sent it after the peace 
of '83, when I had established a bachelor's hall in that city. I 
placed the figure in full dress, with the head leaning out of the 
window, apparently gazing up and down the square. He had 
formerly been well known in that part of the city, and was at 
once recognized. Observing a collection of people gather- 
ing at another window, looking at him, I ordered him 
down. 

The morning papers announced the arrival of Doctor Frank- 
lin at an American merchant's in Beliter square, and I found 
it necessary to contradict the report. In the interval, three 
Boston gentlemen who were in the city, expressed a wish to 
pay their respects to the Doctor. I desired them to call in 
the evening, and bring their letters of introduction, which 
they had informed me they bore, expecting to see him at 
Paris. I concerted measures with a friend, to carry the harm- 
less deception to the utmost extent on this occasion. Before 
entering, I apprised them that he was deeply engaged in ex- 
amining maps and papers, and begged they would not be dis- 
turbed at any apparent inattention. Thus prepared, I con- 
ducted them into a spacious room. Franklin was seated at the 
extremity, with his atlas, &c., &c., and my friend at the 
wires. I advanced in succession with each, half across the 
room, and introduced them by name. FrankUn raised his 
head, bowed, and resumed his attention to the atlas. I then 
retired, and seated them at the further side of the room. 

They spoke to me in whispers : " What a venerable figure,'* 
exclaims one. '' Why don't he speak," says another. " He 
is doubtless in a reverie," 1 remarked, " and has forgotten the 
presence of his company ; his great age must be his apology. 
Get your letters, and go up again with me to him." When 
near the table, I said, "Mr. B , Sir, from Boston." The 



123 



head raised up. " A letter," says B , " from Doctor Cooper." 

I could go no further. The scene was too ludicrous. As B. 
held out the letter, I struck the figure smartly, exclaiming, 
" Why don't you receive the letter like a gentleman ?" They 
were all petrified with astonishment, but B. never forgave me 
the joke. 



124 MEX AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTIOK 



CHAPTER XIL 

Chantilly — Lisle — Ostend — Canals — Bruges- Ghent — Silas Dean — Let- 
ter from Author of McFingal — Tomb of Rousseau — Dr. Franklin — 
Capture of Cornwallis — De Vergennes' Circular. 

On the 27th October, 1781, I left Paris upon a tour, intend- 
ed to embrace the northern provinces of France and the Ne- 
therlands. After paying a short visit in St. Denis to the tomb 
of the deceased monarchs of France, we proceeded to Chan- 
tilly, over a paved road, and along an avenue, formed by a 
double row on each side of ornamental trees. The couniy 
was everywhere em^ ellished by splendid villas. 

The palace of Chantilly belonged to the Prince of Condo. It 
was esteemed one of the most magnificent palaces, and beautiful 
seats in Europe. We roved about the grounds for some time, 
delighted at every step. The palace was surrounded by an arti- 
ficial canal : near the former was a double pavilion of stables, 
containing three hundred fine English horses. 

These stables are built of hewn stone, ornamented with 
columns and marble statues and glass windows, covered (Oh ! 
Eepublican America,) with silk curtains. The afternoon was 
serene, and our delighted sensations can hardly be expressed, 
while strolling through the gardens and about the palace. Here 
were marble statues, jets d'eau, cascades, labyrinths, grottos, ar- 
tificial ponds and islands, canals with pleasure boats, and a thou- 
sand other pleasing and enchanting impresses of taste and 
affluence. 

I was indeed enraptured, for it exceeded, alike in taste, variety, 
and splendor, all I had yet seen. The scene seemed to com- 
bine the influence of European elegance and refinement, with 
Asiatic profusion. 

Whilst walking along the canal, near the palace, our conduc- 
tor gave a whistle, and the whole surface was in a moment 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 125 

alive with old carp, struggling out from the mud. A little in ad- 
vance I observed ladies seated upon cushions on the bank of the 
canal, calling the carp up and feeding them with crumbs of 
bread. 

The forest appertaining to this magnificent estate was twenty- 
three leagues in circumference, and contained a vast number of 
deer, wild boars, and other animals. Here the nobility hunt. 
In the palace we examined numerous fine pictures of the bat- 
tles and sieges of the great Conde. 

Leaving Chantilly the next morning, ^ve took a private road 
passing through the grounds, and along the canal already de- 
scribed. In the forest we travelled twelve miles, through a 
continuous road, passing several barriers without seeing a 
house or human being. It was in truth as much in a state of 
primeval wilderness, as the wildest forests of America ; being 
exclusively devoted to the amusement in hunting of the royal fa- 
mily, and favored Nimrods of the nobility. 

We reached Lisle, the capital of French Flanders. I observ- 
ed in our passage from Chantilly, that the country was princi- 
pally devoted to the wheat culture ; the vineyards of the south- 
ern region do not prosper in the northern provinces. 

Peronne was strongly fortified, having gate \ ithin gate. "We 
passed through them in the ni ht, and with g eat difficulty ob- 
tained admittance into the city, the gates^ being cloied on our 
arrival. Lisle was the key of northern France, guarded by one 
of the best fortifications of Europe. 

As we advanced towards the north, we discovered a material 
and striking change in the aspect of th^ cities, in the mode of cul- 
tivation, and in the manners, appearance, and language of the 
peasantry. Instead of hewn stone, the cities were built in a 
great degree, of brick, assimilating to those of England and 
America; the streets neat and spacious, were generally orna- 
mented by trees. I could with difficulty comprehend the jargon 
of the common people, who speak an infamous " patois" com- 
pounded of vulgar French and Flemish. 

Near Lens we crossed a bridge leading over a fine canal, 
which we afterwards noticed at various points of ur journey. 
I was delighted to perceive with what facility and rapid move- 



126 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

ment heavily ladened boats were drawn along by a horse, trot- 
ting upon the embankment. Contemplating these useful im- 
provements, my mind would revert to my native America, 
and calculate the probable influence of similar works, uniting 
her majestic streams, and connecting her mighty inland seas 
with the waters of the Atlantic. 

Lisle was one of the first cities of Europe, and ranked 
among the most elegant. It embraced extensive manufac- 
tures, consisting of silks, cambrics, camlets, and a variety of 
other articles, from which it derived its wealth and impor- 
tance. 

I left my carriage at Lisle, intending to pursue my journey 
in Flanders upon their canals. We entered the dominions 
of the Emperor Joseph, near Manheim. 

I saw the Emperor at Paris during the last summer, who was 
then travelling in-cog., under the title of Count De Lisle. 

He is a philosopher and a statesman, possessing a liberal and 
original mind, but marked by extravagant and eccentric pecu- 
liarities. He was at this time introducing great and liberal re- 
forms throughout his extensive dominions, and had already 
suppressed several orders of Monks, those drones in the hive of 
society. The government of France felt the example, and had 
already innovated upon the prerogatives of clerical orders. 
The American Revolution could not fail to diffuse this dawn of 
light, that was evidently enkindling in the horizon of Europe. 

The country from Manheim to Ostend is level and pleasing ; 
producing grain, and tobacco of an inferior quality. I devoted 
a day in an examination of Ostend, its harbour, and adjoining 
coast. It was a small, but interesting commercial city. The 
Emperor Joseph was leveling its fortifications, having consti- 
tuted it a free city. 

The harbour was capacious, but shallow, and its entrance dan- 
gerous in bad weather. Commercial men were attracted there, 
it being a neutral port, from every quarter of the globe. An im- 
mense amount of shipping was in the harbour, said to amount 
to five hundred vessels, many of which are received into an 



127 



extensive dry-dock, by locks or sluices. I walked the whole 
length of the quay, extending about a mile toward the sea, to 
the very entrance of the harbor, both sides of which were lined 
with vessels of every grade. The confusion of tongues among 
the merchants and sailors of almost every maratime nation, as- 
sailed my ears, as we proceeded, not unlike the tumult of Babel. 
It was a scene of deep interest and animation. 

From Ostend we proceeded to Bruges, by a noble and spa- 
cious canal ; one of the most magnificent works of the kind in 
Europe. The boat upon which we embarked was designed to 
accommodate one hundred passengers. It was, in fact, a float- 
ing hotel ; arranged by the division of apartments, to separate 
the different classes of society. The line of demarcation in rank 
was very strongly drawn in Germany. The after-room of the boat 
was reserved for the nobility, and those who could afford to pay 
for the luxury it provided. It was an elegant parlour in appear- 
ance, with gilded ceiling, velvet cushions, silk curtains, &c. The 
next apartment was on a larger scale ; decent and comfortable in 
its arrangement, and designed fur the next gradation in society. 
The residue of the boat was cut up into a kitchen, and subdivi- 
sions for the inferior classes of passengers. 

This celebrated canal was constructed amid forests, during 
the twelfth century. It is upon a very enlarged scale, and its 
shoalest part is twelve feet deep. It is adapted to vessels of 
two hundred tons, from the ocean to Bruges. - ;• . 

Anterior to the rise of Amsterdam, Antwerp, and the cities 
upon the canals, were the emporiums of Europe. Their com- 
mercial glory declined from that era, and has never been re- 
trieved. We were drawn by two horses, trotting on the broad 
and elevated embankment, which is lined with ornamental trees. 
Our progress was about three miles an hour. As the surface 
of the canal is elevated several feet above the level of the coun- 
try, which is an uniform flat without a hill, we were enabled to 
view a delightful region, under high culture. I found this no- 
vel mode of travelling exceedingly amusing and agreeable. 

This whole territory has probably been reclaimed from the 
ocean, and is now the garden of Europe ; distinguished for the 



128 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

industry of its people, and the skill and science of their agri- 
culture. 

We were annoyed, although somewhat amused, by crowds 
of young beggars, of both sexes, running after the boat, along 
the embankment, soliciting " charite/' To induce us to be 
liberal, they performed many dexterous feats of tumbling, roll- 
ing upon the ground, and casting their feet upon the trees, with 
their heads down, often in the most indecent and disgusting at- 
titudes. 

We landed in the suburbs of the town' and delivered our 
luggage to the care of a soldier. I followed him into the heart 
of this magnificent city. Bruges contained about 30,000 in- 
habitants ; and its appearance evinced its former opulence. 

The position of the city is very fine. The houses have a 
lively and cheerful appearance, and the streets are spacious and 
clean, with many beautiful squares. Some of the churches 
are upon a scale of elegant magnificence. The exterior of the 
tower of the cathedral is loaded with bells, producing a harmo- 
nious musical chime. The summit of the tower is very high ; 
we saw it distinctly at Ostend, and it serves as a landmark to 
ships upon the coast. I examined, in this city, many admirable 
paintings by Van Dyke, and other Flemish artists; they excel 
in rural views, and night scenes, in which they give amazing 
effect to deep transparent shades, contrasted with the strong 
reflections from fire or moonlight. 

Bruges covered a large space, and was extensively engaged in 
manufactures, particularly of linens. Several canals, penetrating 
through fertile regions, unite at this point, and infuse animation^ 
and vigour into its commerce and manufactures. 

Whilst contemplating the wonderful effects of these canals, 1 
could not but envy the fortune of those regions which are blessed 
by them, and regretted that I cannot live to witness their diffusion 
in infant America. 

I embarked upon another canal, on my way to Ghent, a dis- 
tance of twenty-four miles. We traversed a lovely country, 
rich in the profusion of nature, and the acquisitions of art and 
industry. From the canal-boat,'we overlooked, as far as the eye 



129 



could reach, a continued plain, laid out with regularity, into 
square lots ; generally separated by rows of trees, and in the 
highest cultivation. 

The meadows were thronged with fine, high-fed cattle. The 
children of the happy peasantry were dancing in groups, or 
skipping along the embankments of the canal. I was charmed 
and delighted in the contemplation of this noble country, and 
its animating and lovely scenes. My pen cannot do justice to 
the beauty of the scenery I witnessed, and the elegance and 
comfort of the mode of travelling. 

The eminent agricultural reputation of this region, it is said, 
was attained by the practice of the red-clover culture, as a 
fertilizer. The process was long held a secret. It was at 
length, and about the period of the settlement of New-England, 
discovered by the English, who used it in connection with a 
rotation of crops, and thus produced a new era in the agricul- 
ture of England. 

Ghent occupied a large extent of ground in proportion to its 
population ; its walls being twenty-one miles in extent. In 
evidence of this fact, the French re'ate a '' bon-mot" of Louis 
XIV,, who boasted after its surrender to him, that he " could 
put Paris in his glove" — Ghent, or "gant" in French, is 
glove. In the era of its power and glory, it was densely 
inhabited. The whole aspect of the city was neat and opulent ; 
the streets were wide and clean, and the dwellings somewhat 
scattered ; nearly all having a small garden or grounds attach- 
ed to them. It is advantageously and agreeably situated, at the 
head of the canal, and the junction with it of the Scheld, and 
also of the Lis and Lieve. These rivers, with the canal 
concentrating in the midst of the city, divide it into twenty- 
four small islands, which are connected by innumerable little 
bridges. 

Its extensive manufactures consisted of cheap linens, ticking, 
lace, thread, &c. ; their exports were various, especially wheat. 
English coal is much used. The old Gothic cathedral exhi- 
bits rare architecture, and contained many fine paintings. 



180 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

The city was inundated by monks. The Roman Catholic re- 
ligion predominated, but the recent edict of the sagacious 
Joseph, will, I trust, effect a new epoch, and remove from the 
people the thraldom of a mercenary priesthood.* 

The road from Ghent to Brussels was excellent ; it is leveh 
and paved tbe whole distance. I travelled over it in a crowded 
carriage, containing a motley assemblage, and among them 
priests and noblemen. I dined this day at a table d'hote, with 
a mixed/genteel company of English, Americans, and French, 
in a sumptuous manner, with wine included, at only twenty- 
geven French sous. 

Brussels is pleasantly situated in the midst of a fertile coun- 
try. It is enclosed by a brick wall. I examined, with much' 
interest, the magnificent collection of paintings contained in 
the Gothic cathedral ; one especially attracted my attention 
representing a Jew in the act of robbing a church of the "bon 
Dieu." In the State House I noticed a fine painting of Joseph. 
His wise and liberal measures of free trade, toleration, and 
other analogous acts, allured to this growing city vast emigration 
and wealth. The influence of this policy was perceptible in the ex- 
pansion of the city, the erection of elegant buildings, and the 
formation of new and spacious squares. It contained about 
seventy thousand inhabitants. 

On my return from Brussels, I called upon the once celebra- 
ted Silas Dean, at Ghent. He was a member of the first Con- 
gress, a sensible and intriguing man, and our early secret agent 
at the court of France. He had lost his high standing both in 
France and America. I found him a voluntary exile, misan- 
thropic in his feelings, intent on getting money, and deadly 
hostile to his native land. His language was so strong and de- 
cided on the subject of American affairs, and evinced so much 
hostility to his native land, that I felt constrained upon my return 

* In 1791, ten years after this period, the Roman priests of Austrian Flanders 
were exterminated or driven into exile. In my repeated strictures upon the 
monk, whose idleness and bad character demands animadversion, I in no respect 
intend to assail the Roman Catholic religion. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 131 

to Paris, to announce to Dr. Franklin my conviction that Mr. 
Dean must be regarded an enemy alike to France and Ame- 
rica. He observed to me that similar reports had reached him 
before, but that he had been unwilling to admit their truth.* 

Cambray was strongly fortified, and has sustained numerous 
sieges. Its manufactures consisted chiefly of cambrics. On 
the great square, I contemplated, with respect, an ancient pal- 
ace, the former residence of the great and good Fenelon, the 
immortal author of Telemachus. The old cathedral and La 
Maison de Ville are interesting objects. In the latter are two 
statues of full size, which, advancing from a recess, strike the 
hours v^^ith ponderous hammers. The streets were badly 
paved, and, like most other French towns, narrow, and exces- 
sively dirty. 

Douaj^ is also strongly fortified. Here convened, what w^as 
called the Flemish Parliament. This city embraced a Uni- 
versity, founded by Louis XIV., two colleges, and several con- 
vents. 

Senlis contains a cathedral, the steeple of which was said to 
be the highest in France ; we discerned it at the distance of 
thirty miles. Here we viewed the ruins of a Roman tower. 

I returned to Paris, by the way of Douay, Cambray, Senlis, 
&c. From Senlis we diverged to Ermenonville, to visit the 
tomb of Rousseau. He died at the chateau of his friend, the 
Marquis de Girardin, as is asserted, in an apoplexy, whilst 

* Such, at the time, were my impressions, and the opinions I formed of Mr. 
Dean. I owe it to truth and justice, to record his vindication from these stric- 
tures, by a potent pen. John Trumbull, the brilliant author of McFingal, to 
whose perusal and criticism I submitted the compilation of my manuscripts, 
expressed the following views of Dean's character, in a letter dated January, 
1823 : — " Silas Dean, you say, among other things, * was intent on getting money, 
and a deadly enemy to his native land.' But ambition, not avarice, was his rul- 
ing passion. In his early transactions at the court of France, as the political and 
commercial agent of Congress, he rendered important services to his country, 
but by exceeding his powers, he made his recall necessary. Exasperated at the 
cool reception he met with on his return, and at the delay in settling his ac- 
counts, he became engaged in a contest with many of the most influential mem- 
bers of Congress. Defeated in many of his purposes, he repaired again to 
France. He found his political influence lost, with the loss of his official cha- 



132 



others profess to believe his death was caused by poison. He 
was buried on an island, situated in'a small pond, and embo- 
somed by venerable trees. It is a lovely and sequestered spot, 
where he often meditated with delight, and which he selected 
for his final resting-place. The tomb which contains his ashes 
is visible from the road. Our curiosity led us to visit this re- 
markable chateau and garden, and above all, the grave of the 
sensitive Rousseau. Over his tomb is inscribed : — 

"ICI REPOSE l'hOMME DE LA NATURE, 

ET DE LA VERITE. 

VITAM IMPENDERE VERO, 

HIC JACET OSSA J. J. ROUSSEAU." 

Soon after my return to Paris, I dined and spent the evening 
with the immortal Franklin. Arriving at an early hour, I dis- 
covered the philosopher in a distant room, reading, in the 
exact posture in which he is represented by an admirable en- 
graving from his portrait, his left arm resting upon the table, 
and his chin supported by the thumb of his right hand. The 
mingling in the most refined and exalted society of both hem- 
ispheres, had communicated to his manners a blandness and 
urbanity, well sustained by his native grace and elegance of 
deportment. His venerable locks waving over his shoulders, 
and the dignity of his personal appearance, commanded rever- 
ence and respect ; and yet his manners were so pleasant and 
fascinating, that one felt at ease and unrestrained in his pres- 

racter. The publication of a number of his letters, written during his residence 
in France, and charging the French Court with intrigue and duplicity in their ne- 
gotiations with us, rendered him obnoxious, and drove him into voluntary exile 
in the Netherlands, dissatisfied, exasperated, and impoverished, almost to 
penury. Thus forced into an unnatural and friendless residence in foreign 
countries, he gave himself up to rage, resentment, and actual despair, and vented 
his passions in execration against France, America, and mankind. In this con- 
dition you found him in the interview you mention. He considered himself as a 
man, not only abused and ill- requited for important services, but denied those 
pecuniary rewards, which had been promised him, for his agency in Europe. 
His subsequent situation and end, you probably know." 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKAKAH WATSON. 188 

ence. He inquired if I knew that he was a musician, and con- 
ducted me across the room to an instrument of his own 
invention, which he called the Harmonica. The music was 
produced by a peculiar combination of hemispherical glasses. 
At my solicitation he played upon it, and performed some 
Scotch pastorales with great effect. The exnibition was truly 
striking and interesting ; to thus contemplate an eminent states- 
man, in his seventy-sixth year, and the most distinguished phi- 
losopher of the age, performing a simple pastorale on an instru- 
ment of his own construction. The interest was not dimin- 
ished by the fact, that this philosopher, who was guiding the 
intellects of thousands ; that this statesman, an object of ven- 
eration in the metropolis of Europe^ and who w^as influencing 
the destiny of nations, had been an untutored printer's boy in 
America. 

Our conversation during the evening, was turned to the all- 
absorbing subject, of the great combination of the French and 
American forces against Cornwallis. Our last information left 
the affairs in Virginia in a precarious and doubtful posture. 
De Grasse had entered the Chesapeake. Washington and 
Rochambeau had united their forces. De Barras, with seven 
sail of the line, had left Rhode Island to join De Grasse. The 
British fleet had sailed from New- York, with ten thousand 
troops to relieve Cornwallis, and it was reported that a rein- 
forcement had departed from England for New- York. Thus 
stood the general aspect of our intelligence, at a crisis which 
seemed to involve the existence of a young empire. We 
weighed probabilities, balanced possible vicissitudes, dissected 
maps. We feared that the British fleet might intercept De 
Barras, at the capes of Virginia, and thus retrieve its superior- 
ity over De Grasse, attack and overwhelm him, and landing 
their army, defeat and break up the combinations of Washing- 
ton. The philosophy and self-possession, even of Frankhn, 
seemed almost to abandon him The vibrations of hope and 
fear occupied his mind, and still I could perceive in him a 
deep conviction of a successful issue to the operations of 
Washington. I left him at night, in the company of Dr. Ban- 



134 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION 



croft, an American, residing in London, but an ardent Whig, 
and returned to Paris in deep despondency, sighing over the 
miseries of our bleeding country. 

At dawn the next morning, I was aroused by a thundering 
rap at my door. It brought me a circular from Dr. FrankHn, 
struck off by a machine somewhat similar to the copying ma- 
chines of the present day ; and with what unspeakable thank- 
fulness and thrilling interest I read its contents ! It was as 
follows : 

" Copy of a note from Count de Vergennes to Dr. Franklin, dated 
Versailles, Idtk Nov., 1781, 11 o\lock at night. 

" Sir : — I cannot better express my gratitude to you, for the news 
you often communicate to me, than by informing you that the 
Due de Lausan arrived this evening, with the agreeable news that the 
combined armies of France and America have forced Cornwallis to 
capitulate. The English garrison came out of Yorktown the 19th of 
October, with honors of war, and laid down their arms as prisoners. 
About six thousand troops, eighteen hundred sailors, twenty-two 
stand of colors, and one hundred and seventy pieces of cannon — 
seventy-five of which are brass — are the trophies which signalize this 
victory ; besides, a ship of fifty guns was burnt, also a frigate, 
and a great number of transports. 

" I have the honor, &c., 

"De Vergennes. 

"To his Excellency, Dr. Franklin.*" 

The next day I waited on Dr. Franklin, in common with 
many American and French gentlemen, to offer our mutual 
congratulations. He appeared in an ecstacy of joy, observing, 
" There is no parallel in history of two entire armies being cap- 
tured from the same enemy in any one war." 

The delight and rejoicings of all classes of the people were 
excessive. Paris was illuminated for three successive nights. 
On my return to Nantes, along the banks of the Loire, I found 
all the cities in a blaze of illumination, and Nantes in the 
midst of it on my arrival, 

*The original of this deeply interesting document, and, indeed, the originals of 
nearly all the correspondence and documents referred to in this work, arc in the 
possession of the editox. 



135 



CHAPTER XIII. 

Correspondence with Washington — Mercantile Prosperity — Influenza— CoL 
Laurens — Henry Laurens — Paris — Envoys— Journey to England — 
Amiens — Boulogne — Calais — Mon. Dess iin — Yurick — Cross the 
Channel — Changes — Reynolds' Escape — Dover — London — Lord Shel- 
burne — Comparison of France and England — Duke of Manchester — 
English Society — Greenwich Hospital — Blackheath — Dr. Price. 

The following winter, wishing to pay some mark of respect 
to our beloved Washington, I employed, in conjunction with 
my friend M. Cossoul, nuns in one of the convents at Nantes 
to prepare some elegant nr.asonic ornaments, and gave them a 
plan for combining the American and French flags on the apron 
designed for his use. They were executed in a superior and 
expensive style. We transmitted them to America, accompa- 
nied by an address, and received from him a beautiful and 
appropriate acknowledgment. The following are copies of our 
letter and the reply : 

" To his Excellency, General Washington, America. 

'*MosT Illustrious and Respected Brother: 

"In the moment when all Europe admire and feel the effects o 
your glorious efforts in support of American liberty, we hasten to 
offer for your acceptance a siriall pledge of our homage. Zealous 
lovers of liberty and its institutions, we have experienced the most 
refined joy in seeing our chief and brother stand forth in jts defence, 
and in defence of a new-born nation of Republicans. 

"Your glorious career will not be confined to the protection of 
American liberty, but its ultimate effect will extend to the whole 
human family, since Providence has evidently selected you as an 
instrument in his hands, to fulfil His eternal decrees. 

" It is to you, therefore, the glorious orb of America, we presume to 
offer Masonic ornaments, as an emblem of your virtues. May the 
grand Architect of the universe be the Guardian of your precious days, 
for the glory of the Western Hemisphere and the entire universe. 
Such are the vows of those who have the favor to be by all the known 
numbers, " Your affectionate brothers, 

" Watson & Cossoul. 

"JEast of Nantes, 23d: \st Month, 5782." 



136 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

''State ofNew-Tork, Aug. lOtk, 1782. 

" Gentlemen : — The Masonic ornaments which accompanied your 
brotherly address of the 23d of January last, though elegant in them- 
selves, were rendered more valuable by the flattering sentiments and 
affectionate manner in which they were presented. 

" If my endeavors to avert the evil with which the country was 
threatened, by a deliberate plan of tyranny, should be crowned with 
the success that is wished, the praise is due to the Grand Architect 
of the universe, who did not see fit to suffer his superstructure of 
justice to be subjected to the ambition of the Princes of this world, 
or to the rod of oppression in the hands of any pewer upon earth. 

".For your affectionate vows permit me to be grateful, and offer 
mine for true brothers in all parts of the world, and to assure you of 
the sincerity with which I am, 

"Yours, 

"Geo. Washington. 
" Messrs. Watson & Cossoul, East of Nantes." 

Nothing of material interest occurred for several months. I 
continued ardently devoted to my mercantile pursuits. Good 
fortune and prosperity had attended all our enterprises, so that 
in '82 we had estimated our net profits at 40,000 guineas. Our 
house had attained a high eminence. We employed seven 
clerks ; had a little fleet of six ships and brigs lying at the 
mouth of the Loire. I was at the zenith of my commercial 
prosperity; but other destinies of a far different cast, as will 
appear in the sequel, were in reserve for me. 

I have been induced to present these details to demonstrate 
to my descendants how important it is for young men to seek 
resources in their own minds — to rely on their own hands — to 
earn their bread by the sweat of their brow, and to spurn the 
props of wealth earned by others. 

In proportion to our prosperity contributions were levied on 
my purse, by needy friends in America, as well as by distressed 
American officers, held in rigorous confinement at Mill prison, 
near Plymouth, England. Through the medium of the 
Rev. Mr. Heath, near that place, it was my good fortune to 
relieve many, and to enable some to effect their escapes . 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 137 

the gallant Col. Talbot and Capt. Smeadley were of their 
number.* 

During the year 1781, I prepared for publication and trans- 
mitted to America, an article suggested by my observations in 
both countries, and contrasting, in some particulars, their man- 
ners and customs. My strictures were somewhat severe upon 
my own country, but the production was extensively repub- 
lished in America, and, I have reason to hope, was not unfa- 
vorably received. I conjecture a few extracts from it may not 
be inappropriate at this period. 

" In all civilized countries, we find many customs dictated 
by reason, and worthy of imitation. On the other hand, many 
have crept into society, which are only supported by the arbi- 
trary mandates of fashion. Those who have only vegetated 
beneath the smoke of their native land, seldom discover any 
improprieties or imperfections in customs become familiar by 
habit ; but an observing traveller, who posts through other re- 
gions, emancipated from the shackles of his youth, with a 
mind open to conviction, discovers at once the absurdities of 
his own country, as well as those he traverses. 

'' Although taught at an English school, from infancy, that 
the French people eat frogs ; make soup from old bones, and 
are a half-starved nation ; that politeness in France is formed 
by ceremony, and the grimaces of the monkey ; yet I am firmly 
persuaded there is no people, under high Heaven's broad ca- 
nopy, who understand the secret of making the most of life, 
and of good living, so well as the French ; and that in no 
country does genuine politeness, the emanations of the kindly 
feelings of the heart, and the true spirit of " sans souci," so ge- 

*I find among the papers of Mr. Watson a letter on this subject from Col. 
Talbot, of which the following is a copy : 

Mill Prison, Eng., 9 Aug. 1781. 

Sir : — The twenty-five guineas which you have generously sent me, while it 
lays me under a deep obligation, is much enhanced by your attention in writing 
Mrs. Talbot my situation, as bad as it is. I thank you most cordially. Many 
others of my fellow prisoners have experienced your goodness, and pray with me 
that Heaven may bless and prosper you. 

Your obliged friend, Silas Talbot. 

Mr. E. Watson, Merchant, Nantes, France. 



138 



nerally predominate, as in France ; while in no land does 
there prevail so much gloom, formality and awkwardness, as 
in England, whence we have derived our tone. 

*' The ridiculous habit of drinking healths at table prevailed 
in France, but is now confined to the lower grades in society. 
A simple salute to the lady of the house at present suffices.^ 

" In large circles in America it is almost impossible for a 
man to eat his dinner in peace, whilst attacked on every side, 
at the same moment, and obliged by custom, to return so many 
thanks. In France every man eats his dinner quietly, and" 
drinks when and what he pleases. 

" In America, we take our formal awkward leave of large 
circles, hobbling out of the room, as if treading among eggs, or 
apprehensive of being arrested in our course. In France, when 
one is disposed to quit, he takes his cane and hat, and slips 
off without a word ; thus, no person is disturbed. 

" Our young men in America are wont to play the character 
of a ' hearty fellow,' one of whose properties is to get drunk, 
which many do without a blush ; and what would be degrading 
to savages, it is not unusual to turn the key upon the sober, to 
compel them to yield to the barbarous practice. In France, no 
gentleman gets drunk ; he would be debarred, and forever dis- 
carded from the society of virtuous females. None but the 
dregs of community are thus degraded." 

In the summer of 1782, the influenza made the circuit of Eu- 
rope, commencing, as it was said, at St. Petersburgh. It reach- 
ed Nantes, and our family, clerks, servants, officers and sailors 
in our employment, were all prostrated by it, and our opera- 
tions suspended. I was stricken down by the attack, and for 
many weeks was so debilitated, as to be disabled from attend- 
ing to business. 

With a view to the recovery of my health, and to take advan- 
tage of any commercial changes which might result from the 
general peace, that now seemed imminent, I determined, if prac- 
ticable, to proceed to England. In pursuance of this plan, I 
made preparations for this extensive tour. I was to set off in 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 139 

company with Mr. Laurens, who then was in the vicinity of 
my residence. 

This venerable gentleman was the father of Col. Laurens, 
who, the last year, had been sent on a special mission to the 
court of France. The loan which he accomplished, and the 
expedition of De Grasse, resulted in the capture of Cornwallis. 
Although a youth of only twenty-eight years, he achieved, by 
his consummate tact and extraordinary abilities, what the 
powerful influence of Franklin had failed to effect. 

Mr. Laurens was formerly President of Congress, and was 
appointed Ambassador to Holland, but, as I have already rela- 
ted, was captured, and committed to the tower. Through the 
interposition of Mr. Burke and others, he was temporarily re- 
leased on parole, and was now on his return. 

Mr. Laurens acted a conspicuous part in the drama of the 
Revolution. He was a citizen of South Carolina ; a man of 
great wealth and high position. He had a swarthy complexion, 
was of medium size, and slender form. He was a pleasant and 
facetious gentleman, and a pure and devoted Whig. Failing 
to accompany me, he was to rejoin me at Paris or London. 

On the 31st August, 1782, I left Nantes, boxed up in a con- 
venient post-chaise, by the great Paris road, with my servant, 
La Fieur, galloping in advance. As this faithful attendant will 
be frequently adverted to, I will briefly sketch his history. He 
was born in a valley of Auvergne, contiguous to Switzerland, 
whose peasantry are proverbial for their honesty and faithful- 
ness. La Fleur having a tincture of enterprise in his compo- 
sition, emerged from his native mountains in the character of 
a pedlar. Chance directed him to Nantes, where he dropped 
the pedlar, and assumed the eminent profession of chimney- 
sweep. 

Passing one day the corner of a lane, I caught a glance of 
his eye, enveloped in soot. I spoke to him ; his answer, the 
expression of his eye, the peculiarity of his smile and features, 
and his being a peasant of Auvergne, prepossessed me in his 
favor. A whim decided me to take him under my wing, and 
I bade him follow me, and then sent him to the river to 



140 



wash away his filth and soot. 1 soon arrayed him in new 
apparel, and drilled him to my service. A more faithful ser- 
vant no poor traveller was ever blessed with. He wandered 
with me nearly two thousand miles. In wet and dry, in cold 
and heat, in every incident, La Fieur was at my call. 

In leaving Nantes, in '83, forever, I placed him with a mas- 
ter cooper. He ran after my carriage through the city, in the 
warmth of his affection and gratitude, even to the Paris road; 
and the last I saw of him, at a mile's distance, he was still wav- 
ing his white handkerchief —Adieu, La Fleur! 

In describing this extensive tour, I shall avoid the dry de- 
tail of a diary, and propose to compress the leading features of 
my journal in a concise review of the whole ground, as it em- 
braces my observation of men, places, manners and customs. 

I had so often traversed the road to Paris, that the postil- 
lions exclaimed, " viola encore moh Boston^." 

The day after my arrival at Paris, I waited on several 
distinguished American functionaries — Dr. Franklin, Mr. 
Adams, Mr. Jay, and our Consul-General, Mr. Barkley, who 
were concentrated at that point. This fact, and the knowledge 
of the presence of Mr. Vaughan, an intimate personal friend 
of Lord Shelburne, and the secret agent of the British govern- 
ment, induced the behef that an informal negotiation was in 
progress.* 

It was pretty loudly whispered in private circles, that the 
pride of John Bull was so far humbled, particularly by the sur- 
render of Cornwallis, as to be prepared to yield the great point 
in controversy — the admission of American Independence. I 
noticed, however, with deep pain, that the venerable Franklin 
was probably in the last stages of life, which I feared might 

* Mr. Vaughan was of American lineage. He was member of Parliament, 
upon the Whig side of the house ; friendly to the cause of American Indepen- 
dence, and essentially aided our ministers in Europe in promoting the acknow- 
ledgment of our nationality. Although a friend to order and good government, his 
liberal views rendered him, in '93, obnoxious to the British government. He 
emigrated to America, and settled in Hallowell, Maine, where he died at an ad- 
vanced age. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 141 

terminate, even before the first object of all his wishes was 
consummated — the establishment of our Independence. His 
triumph then would be complete over the insolent Wedderburn, 
and the regal George be humbled into the dust. 

I determined to avail myself, if possible, of the packets now 
established between Dover and Calais, with the sole object of 
facilitating diplomatic communications, to plant my foot upon 
old England, the land of my forefathers. 1 found serious im- 
pediments crossing my path. If I should surmount the diffi- 
culties of effecting a passage. Doctor Franklin suggested in the 
most friendly manner, that I would encounter extensive hazard 
in going into an exasperated enemy's country, an avowed rebel, 
and exposed as I would be to the suspicion, from my commer- 
cial relations, of communicating information to American pri» 
vateers, as well as diplomatists. He yielded, however, to my 
importunity, granted me a passport, and furnished me with 
letters to some of the most eminent philosophers and statesmen 
of England ; and among them. Dr. Priestly of Birmingham ; 
Dr. Price, of Hackney, and Mr. Burke. Mr. Vaughan en- 
trusted me with a packet to Lord Shelburne, which I engaged 
to deliver the moment of my arrival in London. This fact 
gave me every assurance of safety and protection, shielded as I 
should thus be by the wing of the Minister. 

I left Paris on the 9th Sept., 1782, for London, again passing 
through St. Denis and Chantilly. 

The next day we travelled on one of those pure and exhila- 
rating days, so cheering in France, along a level and highly 
cultivated country, passing through Clermont, Amiens, and 
Abbeville, in Picardy. We rode all night, and just as the day 
dawned, heard the distant roar of the surges beating upon the 
shore of the British Channel. We stopped upon the brow of a 
hill to listen, and soon after the sun rose in splendour and ge- 
nial warmth, revealing in full view, the panorama of Boulogne 
" sur mer" — the channel, and the English coast. This was my 
first glimpse of the land of my fathers. 

We continued upon an elevated road, parallel to the coast, 
with the spires of Calais towering before us. Poor La Fleur 



142 



had been pounding in the saddle on a bidet, all night and all 
the day before ; sometimes in the dirt, and again astride of the 
horse, galloping away, reeling and pitching, half dead from the 
want of sleep and excessive fatigue. Yet he persisted, with 
the fidelity of a Newfoundland dog. 1 pitied him, but we must 
all pay for our curiosity. 

At Amiens I had been perfectly enveloped by a crowd of 
beggars, of all sizes and descriptions. The prominent charac- 
ter among them presented a most ludicrous appearance, with 
his ragged ruffles hanging in shreds, and his clothes in tatters, 
begging vociferously, ** Au mon Dieu !" 

Boulogne is pleasantly situated, upon the declivities of a hill 
and commands an extensive prospect. It was strongly fortified, 
and claimed to be a harbor, although the anchorage was bad and 
dangerous, being exposed to the sweep of the sea. The celebra- 
ted " Courier de I'Europe," edited by Brissot, was, from this 
point, diffused throughout Europe, guardedly disseminating re- 
publican sentiments. 

At Calais, we thundered into the court-yard of Monsieur 
Dessein, immortalized by Yorick. We had hardly entered, 
before I saw him approaching, with his hat under his arm, and at 
once recognized him by the accuracy of Sterne's description. 
His manner, the position of the hat, his wig, and polite civili- 
ties, all attested the identity of the man, and whilst conversing 
with him, the scene of Sterne's description seemed to be real- 
ized by the approach of a monk, begging for his convent. The 
harbor is formed like that of Ostend, by a quay projecting into 
the sea for half a mile. 

The remembrance of Yorick was familiar to Monsieur Des- 
sein. I observed to him — '' Sir, you are immortalized by 
Sterne ; you are known to all civilized nations, and will live 
through many generations." " Ah ! yes !" he replied, " but I 
do not thank Monsieur Sterne for comparing me to a Jew or 
a Turk." 

We crossed the channel in about a three hours sail, ran 
along the white cliffs of Dover for some distance, and then, 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 143 

suddenly doubling a point, dropped anchor in the harbor of 
Dover. We were at once boarded by the emissaries of 
hungry landlords, and in obedience to my rebellious propensi- 
ties, I repaired to the " King's Head." I had been habituated, 
for the last three years, to the language, manners, and habits of 
the French and Germans. In a moment, as it were, the mas- 
sive white structures of- France gave place to the brick build- 
ings of England — the whole scene was changed. I every- 
where heard my native tongue. I saw the architecture and 
customs of my country, and even the boys in the streets were 
engaged in the games of my youth. I felt as if the workings 
of magic had transported me to America. This was the land of 
our rancorous foe and imperious tyrants ; still it was the land of 
our forefathers. 

On the eve of my departure from Paris, Mr. Sayer, an Ame- 
rican by birth, but a former resident of London, who had been 
committed to the Tow^r on a ridiculous charge of plotting to 
seize the person of George III., and subsequently had been ex- 
patriated, solicited me to aid in the escape of a young English- 
man, the son of an eminent barrister in London. 

It was impossible to insert the name of Reynolds in my pass- 
port. There was no alternative but for him to pass as my 
servant and associate with La Fleur. He was equipped as a 
servant, and accompanied me in that capacity. Whilst La 
Fleur, however, was galloping along the road from Paris to 
Calais, Reynolds was snugly napping in the corner of my car- 
riage. At Calais, whilst I was negotiating with the Commis- 
sioner for my passport to Dover, that of Dr. Franklin terminat- 
ing at Calais, Reynolds was trembling in the court-yard, await- 
ing with La Fleur to be inspected and described. I succeeded 
in passing both as my servants, and marched to the wharf of 
embarcation, through the streets, with each of my servants 
bearing a bundle, to screen Reynolds. 

When we arrived at Dover, my brother traveller, to the 
wonderment of La Fleur, threw otf the masque, and as he 
stood on British ground, seemed an inch taller. With me the 
case was reversed. I felt apprehensive in an enemy^s country, 



144 MEN AND TIMES OF THE KEVOLUTION; 

and thought in turn I might want the protection of Reynolds, 
or of his powerful connections. Such are the vicissitudes of 
life ! 

I confess I could not divest myself of apprehension, standing 
alone upon the soil of that country, which for seven long years 
had torn my native land at every point, and had devastated her 
coast with fire and desolation. Even there, I could not 
repress the exulting reflection, that we had gloriously avenged 
ourselves, by the capture of two entire armies, by numerous 
victories, and by ravaging her commerce in every sea, and even 
along her own coast. 

Dover was not large ; its streets were narrow, long, and dirty. 
It is romantically situated in a valley, with high, impending cliflTs 
on either side. The castle which defends it is about half a 
mile east of the city, and was very strong and capacious. Its 
site spread over nearly thirty acres of ground. Here was the 
celebrated " pocket pistol" of Queen EHzabeth, that had a lie 
engraved upon its face, in the boastful promise of carrying a 
hall to Calais hill, a distance of twenty-one miles. I was 
shown at the castle a remarkable well of immense depth, per- 
forating the solid chalk ; its sides were perfectly smooth, and a 
mere pebble, dropped from the hand, and bounding in its de- 
scent from side to side, produced an astonishing report. From 
Dover Castle we enjoyed a fine panoramic view of the British 
channel, the French coast, a distant glimpse of the German 
ocean, with the town and harbor of Dover at our feet, and 
the waving fields of old England, spreading far west and 
north, studded by villages and towering spires. 

We passed through Canterbury ; its cathedral is in the style 
of the Gothic models of France, and other Roman Catholic 
countries. We traversed, in our progress towards the capital, 
an undulating, but richly cultivated and interesting country. 
In our rapid journey we passed through Chatham, Rochester, 
Dartford, Greenwich, and Woolwich. From various positions 
during the day, we caught a view of the Thames, covered 
with ships, like bees returning to their hives, bearing the col- 
lected sweets of every clime. The lofty dome of St. Paul's 
seemed to welcome our approach to London; now gilded 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSOl^. 145 

spires began to appear, then vast piles of chimneys, forests of 
masts, and the confused scenes of a world within a world, rap- 
idly opened to our enraptured gaze, and. attracted and absorbed 
all our faculties, as they thickened around and bewildered us. 
I stopped at the rendezvous appointed with Mr. Laurens, at 
Nantes, and then immediately proceeded with my dispatches 
to Lord Shelburne, who graciously received me, and spent some 
time in a free conversation about American affairs, and inqui- 
ries relative to Dr. Franklin. 

Since the first hour of my landing in England, I have been 
amazed at the difference in the aspect of every thing onthe two 
sides of the channel. These old countries, in actual view of 
each other, are as unlike as if separated by the expanse of 
mighty oceans. The houses, the face of the country, the figure 
and size of the people, nay, the very animals, are changed. 
Everything but the houses are on an amplified scale in Eng- 
land. Most of the men at Dover seemed like moving butts of 
porter, compared to the meagre inhabitants of Calais. The 
Englishwoman appeared heavy and clumsily built, in contrast 
with the gay females of France. 

In delivering my various letters, I waited first on the Duke 
of Manchester, at his splendid residence. His elegant person 
and imposing manners, impressed me with a high estimation of 
the dignity and character of the English nobleman. Sitting 
with him alone, I was not a little surprised by his introduction 
of the conversation. 

" I observed by one of the morning papers," he remarked, 
" that a messenger of peace had arrived the preceding evening ; 
are you the person, sir ?" '' Yes," I replied, " I brought dis- 
patches to Lord Shelburne, and trust that this circumstance will 
ensure me personal safety, and an opportunity of freely travel- 
ling in England." He replied, " Undoubtedly, sir ;" and I then 
perceived by his questions, that he was sounding me as to my 
knowledge of the fact, that the government had just come to a 
decision to acknowledge our Independence. He then gave 
me the first assurance I had obtained of that event. 

In a few days after my arrival in London, I went to Black- 

10 



146 MEN AND TIMES OP THE REVOLUTION; 

heath, near the city, to pass the day at one of the sumptuous 
seats in that vicinity. This was the first exhibition I had wit- 
nessed of English hospitahty, and fashionable manners at 
their board. Everything was conducted on a style of great 
splendour and magnificence. Their table customs are very 
similar to those of the refined circles of America. The man- 
ners of the ladies of England and America are cold, distant 
and forbidding, when contrasted with the airy and animated car- 
riage of the females of France. In gracefulness and elegance of 
manners, the ladies of France incomparably surpass those of 
England and America. Cordiality and simplicity character- 
ize the manners of America. 

Our scattered population, and the absence of the luxurious 
habits and customs incident to a greater progress in wealth 
and refinement, create these desirable distinctions ; but as we 
advance in the march of empire, and our population becomes 
more condensed, our manners will more assimilate to those of 
Europe, and become less simple and more impure. 

I have often speculated upon the probable influence on the 
happiness and progress of society, if the Sovereign of the Uni- 
verse should, by His Almighty fiat, interpose a wall of separa- 
tion between the Eastern and Western continents, The one, 
sinking into the dotage and imbecility of decay, would be de- 
prived of the renovating influence of its young offspring, whilst 
the other would be protected from the contaminating effects of 
the matured corruptions of the old world. 

The servants attending upon my friend's table were all 
neatly dressed, and extremely active and adroit in performing 
their offices, and glided about the room, silent and attentive. 
Their silence was in striking contrast with the volubility of the 
French attendants, who, to my utter astonishment, I have of- 
ten observed in France, intermingling in the conversation of 
the table. Here, the servant, however cherished, is held at an 
awful distance. The English servant is generally an ignorant 
and servile being, who has no aspiration beyond his present de- 
pendent condition. 

In America, our domestic feels the consciousness, that he in 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 147 

turn may become himself a master. This feeling may, per- 
haps, impair his usefulness as a servant, but cannot be depre- 
cated, whilst it adds to his self-respect as a man. 

J noticed another custom of the English table, that associ- 
ates it with the habits of America, and strongly variant from 
those of France. Instead of the ladies mingling in the ar- 
rangement at the table as in France, they are clustered around 
the lady of the house, at one extremity, as if seeking her pro- 
tection. The effect of this usage is, to withdraw the ladies 
from the conversation of the social board, and to throw around 
them a studied reserve and chilling constraint. 

The ladies of France take the lead in social intercourse, and 
talk upon every subject, whether they understand it or not. 
The day previous to my departure from Paris, I had an oppor- 
tunity of witnessing a delightful exhibition of the warmth and 
tenderness of the French female character. 

Whilst dining in a large circle, the awful catastrophe of the 
*'Eoyal George" was announced. It was amid the heated ex- 
citement and burning animosities of a sanguinary war ; yet 
every female was bathed in tears, and seemed to be oppressed 
by the most sincere sorrow and regret. I am aware this deep 
sympathy was evanescent, for the light-hearted French never 
dwell upon, or cherish any sorrow, but habitually dance over 
the ills of life. 

We devoted the afternoon to rambling over Blackheath, 
Greenwich Hospital, and the Park. I noticed many elegant man- 
sions upon the borders of the heath, and amongst others the 
residence of the late Earl of Chesterfield, where he spent the 
latter years of his life, and whence he wrote his celebrated 
letters to his son. Greenwich Hospital is a noble and benevo- 
lent Institution, worthy of the munificence of a great nation. 
In this last harbor of poor Jack, are moored about five thou, 
sand maimed and worn-down sailors, who have devoted their 
lives to sustain the glory of the flag of old England. Here they 
are comfortably maintained and preserved from want and suf- 
fering. The hospital occupies an imposing position, command- 
ing a fine view of the Thames. Its noble terrace in front, 



148 MEN AND TIMES OF THE KEVOLUTION ; 

and extensive park behind the building, the court and colon- 
nades, are all on a splendid scale of magnificence. The park 
fs adorned by venerable oaks, and enlivened by herds of tame 
deer. In its centre is situated the Royal Observatory. On a 
side hill descending towards the park, we observed multitudes 
of the citizens of London, regaling themselves in sports and, 
popular pastimes. 

Blackheath and Shuter's hill, which descend towards it, 
have long been notorious in the annals of highwaymen. A 
gentleman with whom I had dined, witnessed in the evening, 
as he crossed the heath, the robbing of a coach. The gross 
violation of public safety, in the daring excesses of English 
highwaymen, casts a deep imputation upon the state of society 
in- England. Nothing of the kind is apprehended in France. 
The excellence of the police of France, in the country as well 
as the city, affords an almost perfect security against the out- 
rages so common in England. I travelled in France whole 
nights without a shade of apprehension. Loose articles of bag- 
gage may be left in a carriage, standing in an open court-yard 
during the night, with almost as much safety as in the wilds 
of America. 

I had been favored by Dr. Franklin with a letter to Dr. 
Price,* of Hackney, and took an early occasion to proceed to 
that place, to hear this celebrated philosopher preach. The 
building and audience were plain, but respectable. After the 
congregation had withdrawn, the Doctor approached, with great 

*Dr. Price was eminent as a divine, and writer upon the subjects of finance 
and politics. He was a zealous and eloquent advocate of civil liberty. He was 
enthusiastically regarded in America as a champion of her rights. His works 
bearing upon the American question had an important and decided influence. 
They were entitled, " Observations on Civil Liberty and the Justice of the War 
with America, 1776," — ''Additional Observations, 1777," — " The Importance of the 
American Revolution, and the means of making it useful to the World." It is said 
that Dr. Price was freely consulted by Mr. Pitt in instituting his financial 
schemes. Dr. Price ardently espoused the cause of the French Revolution, and 
publicly avowed his exultation in its triumph. His sermon on this occasion is 
said to have produced Mr Burke's "Reflections," in which he was assailed with 
much acrimony and violence. I still possess the former work, which he presented 
me on that occasion. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 149 

politeness, and conducted us into his private room, behind the 
pulpit, and unbent himself, on various subjects, in a kind and 
social manner. My friend delicately alluded to his great repu- 
tation as a philosopher and financier, and to the obligation 
America owed his pen, and the effect* of his influence in her 
cause. He replied, "however he might be esteemed among 
men, he had lived long enough to know that he knew 
nothing." 



150 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Royal Family — Child, the Banker — Irish Giant — Anecdote — English Tray- 
eliing — Country — Oxford — Woodstock — Stratford on Avon — Shaks- 
peare — Birmingham — Tory Relatives — Peter Oliver — Dr. Priestly — 
Mr. Watt — Letter of Dr. Franklin — Anecdote — Letters from John 
Adams— Dr. Moyes— Sister of Garrick — Litchfield — Road to Liverpool 
— Alarm — Impressment — Liverpool — Warrington — Country Frolic — 
Manchester — Worsley Mills — Subterranean Navigation — Rockdale 
Church — Tempest — Beautiful Scenery — Halifax. 

I OCCUPIED the succeeding week in exploring the spectacles 
of London. I naade an excursion to Richmond, where I walked 
in the train of the Royal family, and saw the King for the first 
time. I went on a pilgrimage to Twickenham, and made a 
visit to the lovely *Richmond Hill. In this vicinity is the mag- 
nificent villa of Child, the banker, whose only daughter recently 
eloped with a dissolute scion of the nobility. Child was worth 
an immense estate, one half of which, it is said, he had squan- 
dered on this princely edifice and its appendages. It was said to 
contain seventy-five apartments, the architecture of each of 
which is peculiar to some distinct nation, and that, at a vast 
expense, he procured from the different countries their appro- 
priate furniture. As if to mark the reprobation of Heaven 
upon this absurd prostitution of wealth, which, worthily direct- 
ed, would have carried blessings to thousands, within two days 
after he received the keys of this earthly palace from the hands 
of the builder. Child was himself consigned to the silent tomb, 
his only offspring in the arms of a bankrupt debauchee. 

Near St. James' Park I observed a sign, " The Irish Giant to 
be seen here." I was alone, and had heard nothing of this per- 
sonage, but, impelled by curiosity, I was induced to pay my 
fee and enter. I was alone in a room with a monster in hu- 
man form. He was sitting upon a chair as high as an ordinary 
table. As I entered, he arose like a cloud ; as he appeared 
intoxicated and ferocious, I involuntarily retreated towards the 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKAKAH WATSON. . 151 



door. His height was eight feet and two inches ; and when I 
again ventured to approach him, I found my head (my height 
being about five feet eight inches), reached but little above 
his hip bone. The name of this monster was Burns. I after- 
ward learned that he had sold his body to an association of 
surgeons, for five hundred guineas. 

Having ascertained that the King would acknowledge our 
National Independence at the opening of Padiament, early in 
December, I determined to remain in England to witness the 
interesting and glorious event, and in the interval to occupy 
myself in attaining information and extending my views of men 
and things in that attractive country. In pursuance of this 
purpose, 1 hired, in connection with a friend, a post-chaise, and 
left London October 6th, 1782, on a contemplated tour into 
some of the most important sections of England. I proposed 
to visit their manufacturing districts, and to examine their 
agriculture, and the general improvements in roads and canals. 

The day before leaving London, I dined at the " Cock " 
CofFee-House, near the Royal Exchange. Leaning over the 
piazza, I observed a carriage drive up with four fine horses, 
and servants in rich livery. I observed to an English gentle- 
man with whom I was standing, " It seems we are to have 
some nobleman with us to-day." He laughed, and replied, 
" That nobleman is our landlord ; having made an immense 
fortune in this house, he bought a large estate in the vie in t/ 
but after a year's trial of indolence, he returned to his old pursuit, 
necessary to him from the habits of twenty years. He comes 
in every day, in this style, and returns to his estate in the even- 
ing." I took my seat in a dining-box, and the landlord soon 
appeared with a white apron tied up to his chin. I cried out, 
rather more audibly than usual, "Waiter;" he promptly gave 
the "Coming, sir!" and ran up to me with all humility. Such 
is the supreme force of habit. 

The stranger is delighted in England by their noble and 
fleet horses, comfortable carriages, excellent roads, sumptuous 
taverns, devoted landlords and landladies, and neat and civil 
post-boys, with their jockey caps. The postillions in France, I 
should remark, are often rude and brutal. If a man has his 



152 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

pockets well-lined with guineas, no country equals England in 
the pleasures and facilities af travelling. 

I left London, throwing myself upon the tide of circumstan- 
ces, without any definite plan of movement; but governed by 
a desire of making a comparative view of my own country in 
its infancy, with the institutions and usages of the old and 
rival nations of France and England. In the two former I had 
already extensively travelled. 

The afternoon was fine, and for the first time I found myself 
in a light and elegant post-chaise, bounding over the spacious 
gravelled turnpike to Brentford. Instead of heavy boots 
hooped with iron, and enormous spurs — heavy post-chaises, 
with shafts and ox-wheels — three horses, heavy and clumsy? 
abreast — and paved roads — as in France, I found in England 
handsome, fine-limbed horses, as fleet as the wind ; light post- 
chaises, in form resembling chariots ; the post-boys trim and 
neat, polite and civil; and roads well-gravelled. 

We passed Maiden-head at full speed, where a fine stone 
bridge crosses the Thames, from which is commanded a bril- 
liant view of meadows and valleys richly cultivated, spreading 
far and wide, with the placid river winding its peaceful course 
towards the capital we had left. The hills descend on each 
side gradually towards the plain, and are embellished with 
splendid seats and villas. Maiden-head is an animated place, 
full of fine houses ; it being one of the great avenues towards 
the metropolis, and is all in commotion. 

The little village of Bray, destined to immortality through 
its vicar, is situated at the foot of the hill. 

At dawn the next morning we were rattling through the 
streets of Henly, on our way to Oxford, and in the evening 
descended at Portugal house, the elegant residence of my 
friend, Mr. Green, in Birmingham ; having passed during the 
day through the counties of Oxfordshire, Buckingham, and 
Warwickshire. The country is generally level or undulating, 
and in an admirable state of cultivation. The peasantry have 
ruddy and healthy countenances. 
We passed a turnpike-gate in every ten or fifteen miles, with an 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSOK. 153 

average charge of fifty cents each. All the other disbursements 
of the road were proportionably extravagant, and were at least 
double those of France. 

The expense of living in England is exorbitant. A gentle- 
man of fortune assured me, that he moved with his carriage and 
family to the south of France, and lived for five hundred gui- 
neas annually, in a style that would have cost him, in England, 
two thousand. 

Malt liquor is the universal beverage of the country, and in 
consequence, I believe I have seen more portly men in England 
in one day, than I met in three years in France. 

Descending from an elevated country to low grounds, we 
crossed the Magdalen bridge, six hundred feet long, and imme- 
diately entered Oxford, the celebrated seat of learning. He.re 
I could only devote the cursory examination of a few hours 
to objects that demand the close attention of days. The streets 
are spacious and clean, and the place healthy. 

Oxford is highly interesting for its twenty colleges, and numer- 
ous students and professors. There is nothing marked or en- 
gaging in the architecture of these colleges, it being antiquated 
and inelegant. They are richly endowed, and contain exten- 
sive and valuable libraries. 

The surrounding grounds are spacious and ornate, embel- 
lished by extensive walks, groves and gardens. The whole 
number of students and officers was estimated at three thousand. 
Three or four bridges cross the Cherwel, which glides by the 
town, and falls into the Thames. In an adjacent meadow we 
discovered the ruins of a nunnery, an interesting relic of by- 
gone ages. 

We made a short stay at Woodstock, sufficient to enable us 
to run over the splendid palace of Blenheim, erected by the 
nation to commemorate the victory of Marlborough. 

We entered Stratford-upon-Avon, after crossing a large 
stone- arch bridge over the Avon, and alighted at the White 
Lion Inn, near the house in which Shakspeare was born. The 
sign at this Inn is a painting of the immortal bard, with the 
lines of his brother bard — 



154 



" Here sweetest Shakspeare, fancy's child, 
Warbled his native wood-notes wild." 

Stimulated by an ardent and deeply excited enthusiasm, I 
abandoned my friend at the Inn, and hastily ran to contemplate 
the object of my anxious inquiries — a little, old and dilapidated 
dwelling — the birth-place of Shakspeare. There I saw a de- 
crepit old woman, who pronounced herself the only surviving 
descendant of the illustrious poet. She pointed out to me the 
remnant of an antiquated chair, which he had occupied ; it is 
cherished as an^interesting memorial. A considerable propor- 
tion of it had been cut off by visitors, in the course of several 
generations, and is often seen wrought into rings and bracelets, 
worn by ladies in memory of their bard. 

From the house I proceeded to the parish church, to view 
the grave and monument of Shakspeare. The monument was 
erected by his wife, and a bust of him is placed against the 
wall. Opposite to this, in the centre of the chancel, is a white 
marble slab, embedded in the paved floor, upon which is in- 
scribed the following lines, written by himself — 

" Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear 
To move the dust that resteth here ; 
Blest be the man that spares these stones, 
And cursed be he who moves these bones." 

Either the reverence that attached to the poet's name, or the 
dread of his malediction, has exempted his remains from the 
desecration too common to the tombs in English church-yards. 
Opposite the grave of Shakspeare, on the outside of the 
church, is a large charnel-house, with a door opening from the 
charnel into it. In accordance with ancient usage, when a 
new corpse is to be interred in the body of the church, the old 
and decaying bones exhumed in preparing the fresh grave are 
removed and thrown into a promiscuous pile, in the charnel' 
house, constituting an unhonored and forgotten wreck of poor 
mortality. How solemn and repulsive the contemplation ! 

Shakspeare, doubtless, from childhood, had watched the 
operation of this system, and had felt his sensitive mind agitated 



OK, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 165 

and revolted in witnessing it. Hence arose the foregoing 
frightful denunciation. 

Stratford is an incorporated city. The Avon washes it, and 
falls into the Severn at Tewkesbury. 

We proceeded with rapid speed from this place to Birming- 
ham, where I became delightfully domesticated in the family 
of my fritindMr. Green, brother-in-law to theEail of Ferrers. 
On my arrival in Birmingham, I was surprised to learn that 
several of my Tory connections, exiles from America, were re- 
sidents in the city ; among the number was Chief Justice Oli- 
ver, of conspicuous distinction, in the early stages of the 
Revolution ; and also a son of the notorious Governor Hutch- 
inson. 

Whilst walking with Judge Oliver, in the streets of Birming- 
ham, he pointed out to me three gentlemen walking together, 
with the remark, that they were amongst the most eminent 
philosophers of Europe. 

They were Doctor Priestly, Mr. Watt, the inventor of the 
steam-engine, which had recently excited so much interest, and 
Doctor Moyes, of Scotland, who was totally blind ; but who 
was then engaged in giving a course of philosophical 
lectures. I was introduced to them by the Judge, and after- 
wards frequently visited Doctor Priestly,* (to whom 1 had a 
letter from Dr. Franklin,) at his residence, about a mile from 
the city. 

Doctor Priestly was a thin man, with a sharp nose and face, 
and wore a full, bushy wig. He exhibited to me his extensive 
electrical apparatus, wbich occupied a room ; and his labora- 
tory, which filled another apartment. No man has effected 

'* This eminent theologian and accomplished philosopher was of low origin, 
and descended from Calvinistic parents. Dr. Priestly passed through various 
stages of belief, some eccentric and peculiar, from Calvinism to Unitarian doc- 
trines ; but it is asserted, he was a uniform opponent of infiJelity. He was 
highly distinguished as a man of science, in all its avenues ; and eminent as a 
metaphysician. The known affinity of his feelings with the French Revolution, 
excited the outrage of a mob at Birmingham, which destroyed his house, and 
consumed with it his library, manuscripts, and philosophical apparatus. In 1794 
he emigrated to America, and died in comparative obscurity in February, 1805. 



156 MEN ANI> TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

more interesting developments in science. He showed me 
also his extensive library, but he himself was a library, a living 
ency.clopedia. He was esteemed, I believe, throughout Europe, 
as one of ihe most distinguished and learned men of the age. He 
regularly officiates in a plain church, in the suburbs of the city, 
his tenets being Socinian. 

I often met Mr. Watt at Doctor Priestly's, who was his 
brother-in-law, and was said to aid him in his steam investiga- 
tions. Mr. Watt was entirely absorbed in his steam-engine 
projects. He informed me that he had erected several in the 
tin mines of Cornwall, at the expense of the proprietors, and that 
he received one half of the savings produced by his machines, 
compared with the former mode of working the mines. He 
assured me that he already received from this source a revenue 
of five hundred pounds sterling per annum. He was also con- 
cerned in the extensive works at Soho, near the city, where 
he had introduced his steam-engines, with great utility. 
Here they worked by ingenious mechanical contrivances in- 
vented by Mr. Watt, in gold and silver, and a variety of compo- 
sitions. Their plate work is an admirable imitation of pure 
silver, and their ornamental work was much admired all over 
Europe. Previous to our Revolution these extensive works 
employed about twelve hundred operatives, but the number was 
at that time reduced about one half. 

Birmingham may be pronounced one of the most active and 
busy cities of the world. Its manufactures were chiefly hard- 
ware, and scattered over the marts of the whole earth. Its 
business had been greatly enhanced by the various canals 
which concentrate here, and communicate with Liverpool and 
Manchester, upon one side, and Bristol and Oxford upon the 
other. These canals promoted the prosperity of the city, as 
well by rendering the coal region easily accessible to them, as 
by affording cheap transportation for the raw material they re- 
quire for their own manufactured fabrics. 

The city was enveloped night and day in a cloud of coat 
smoke, pleasant to the citizens, but exceedingly offensive to 
the olfactories of a stranger. It contained about forty thousand 



157 



inhabitants, being handsomely built upon a side hill, nearly in 
the form of a crescent. Mr. Watt informed me that the Bir- 
mingham canal, which unites with the StrafFordshire and Wor- 
cestershire canal, about two miles from this city, is carried 
down the hill by twenty locks, which cost five hundred pounds 
sterling each, making in that distance one hundred and thirty- 
six feet fall, or about seven feet lift, to each lock. The boats 
which ply on it are seventy feet long, and very narrow. The 
stock divided from twelve to twenty-four per cent, annually. 
This canal was commenced twelve years before, under the 
charge of the famous Briniey, the self-created engineer, and 
has enriched the whole region. 

On one occasion of my visiting Doctor Priestly, he read to 
me a letter from Doctor Franklin, describing the terrific bat- 
tle between Eodney and De Grasse's fleets, in deadly conflict 
for several hours. It detailed the manoeuvres of the former, 
said to have been suggested by the theoretical plan of a mer- 
chant, and then first put in practice, by which the enemy's line 
being broken in the centre, one half of it was enclosed in a 
double line of hostile ships, whilst the remainder was compelled 
to remain in the excrutiating agony of passive spectators of the 
dreadful work of destruction and death. Franklin imagined 
himself and Priestly suspended in a cloud, hovering over the 
scene, and witnessing its dreadful progress. 

The first Sunday I spent in Birmingham I accompanied 
J^ dge Oliver to church, and when the clergyman in an audi- 
ble voice pronounced, " Oh Lord ! turn the hearts of our re- 
bellious subjects in America," the Judge gave me a smart jog 
on the elbow, as if to make a personal application of the prayer. 
The progress of events enabled me to return the hint l)y a "re- 
tort courteous." I was again at Birmingham after the formal 
recognition of our Independence, and occupied with Judge 
Oliver a seat in the same church. After the service, I whis- 
pered to him, " Well, Sir, I w.ited in vain, this time, for a jog 
on the elbow." 

The Tory refugees were vindictive and bitter in their hos- 
tility to the men and events of the Kevolution. Judge Oliver 



158 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

imputed much in its earlier movements to the influence and 
untiring energy of John Adams. He pronounced him one of 
the most dangerous men to British domination in America. 
This conversation I partly communicated to Mr. Adams after- 
wards in Paris. 

In a letter, December 16th, 1790, Mr. Adams remarks tome 
in allusion to this topic :-• — 

" I remember that you once told me at the Hague, ' that the Ameri- 
can tories and refugees in England^ dreaded me more than any^ or all 
other men in the world.'' These expressions, although very strong, 
are of an ambiguous construction. There were some forged letters 
printed in my name in the London newspapers, breathing ven- 
geance against that description of people, which was never in my 
feeling?:, nor consistent with my principles. From these coun- 
terfeits, they might be led to expect from me vindictive measures 
against them, which I never dreamed of. The refugees might enter- 
tain hopes, however weak and visionary, of again seeing the domina- 
tion of Britain re-established in America, and think me their most 
determined opponent. In such a guess as this, they would not have 
been much out. I will thank you to explain the matter, as you 
know their sentiments." 

In a letter I received from him in July, 1812, he again al- 
ludes to the subject thus : — 

" You once gave me some dark and broken hints of a conversation 
you had with Judge Peter Oliver, in England, which appeared to me 
to have entered deeply into the causes of our Revolution. 

"1 know of no reason, why, at this time of day, that conversation 
or any other information relative to that event, should be concealed 
or withheld from the public. But if you will communicate it to me, 
though it should be in confidence, I should esteem it as a favor. 

" / have long expected and earnestly wished to see a Tory history of 
the Revolution^ its causes, rise, prognss and completion. That such a 
thing will appear, I have 7io doubt, and should be very happy to see 

r 

Again, in November, 1817, he refers to the subject, after re- 
ceiving some explanations from me. He says : — 

"When Chief Justice Oliver said to you, in 1782, that he dread- 
ed rne more than any man in America, he did not explain his reasons. 
He knew that I luas the first projector oj" the impeachment of the Judges, 
and he believed that measure to be the critical event on which the 
revolution turned.'''' 

No man familiar with the Revolution, could hesitate to ac- 



OR, Memoirs of elkanah watson. 159 

cord to Mr. Adams one of the highest points of eminence 
among the patriots who animated the spirit, and who guided 
the measures of the Revolution. 

Mr. Green, the night previous to my departure from Bir- 
mingham, gave a supper to the Americans in the city. There 
was about the board twenty-five besides myself, and I was the 
only avowed rebel in the group. It was agreed that they 
might talk tory, whilst I should be permitted to talk rebel ; and 
thus being unconstrained, we passed an amusing evening. 

On the point of resuming my excursion to the north, J sought 
from my friends information as to my route, and the objects of 
my journey; and it is a remarkable fact, that upon these subjects, 
and in respect to the road, country, manufactures, agriculture, 
&;c., I received the most accurate and detailed information from 
Dr. Moyes, the blind philosopher, who never saw any of them. 
He was a man of very interesting scientific and literary attain- 
ments, endowed with fine native talent, which had been ma- 
tured and invigorated by thought and reflection. Mechanical 
employment was the favorite occupation of his youth. At an 
early age he made himself familiar with the use of edge tools ; 
and although totally blind, succeeded in constructing with his 
own hands, many nice and complicated pieces of machinery. 
The fund of intelligence he collected, and stored up in his me- 
mory, was truly wonderful. From these resources, always at 
command, he would pour forth in conversation the richest 
strains of wisdom and information. 

He was not merely a distinguished lecturer upon chemistry, 
but his mind had garnered up rich treasures in the various de- 
partments of learning. 

He possessed, it was said, an acute and general knowledge of 
most of the profounder sciences embraced in the Newtonian 
philosophy. The fact, that from infancy, he had been deprived 
of the use of his eyes, made him a prodigy of wisdom and at- 
tainments. He afforded a wonderful evidence of the triumph of 
genius and energy over the highest and most diflicult of human 
obstacles. 

Mr. Green accompanied me as far as Litchfield, and in the 



160 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

last exercise of his kindness, introduced me to a sister of Gar- 
rick, with whom I passed an evening. Her eyes were full, pe- 
netrating, and jet black, like her brother's. 

Litchfield is a venerable and well-built city, with streets clean, 
spacious, and well paved. The cathedral is one of the most 
magnificent old Gothic churches in England. I always con- 
templated these monuments of other ages, with awe and deep 
veneration. 

I spent an hour in a sad sojourn in the church-yard, viewing 
the cathedral and the tombs around. The structure still re- 
mains in grandeur and beauty, whilst the hands that created it 
have long since crumbled into dust. I noticed an almost in- 
finite number of rooks or ravens croaking around the towers, 
and sailing through the arches of this ancient pile. 

Travelling in one day from Litchfield to Liverpool, and 
making a journey fraught with continued interest and excite- 
ment, we crossed the Trent twice, and often passed over, and 
once under the Duke of Bridgewater's canal, riding along its 
margin during most of the day. We galloped over a most in- 
teresting country. The scenery was enchanting, and constantly 
presented new features and changes. 

Near Newcastle, we were enraptured by a most gorgeous 
and lovely view from an eminence, formed of a widely spread 
plain, diversified with fields and groves, and glittering streams, 
studded by villages and elegant villas, and animated by a thou- 
sand herds, lowing along its meads. During this day I noticed 
numerous country seats, of various peculiarities of architecture, 
and embellished by all the appliances of wealth and refinement. 
We traversed some bad roads, through artificial forests, plant- 
ed by the hand of man ; and over hills and dales, and along 
beautiful water-courses. 

At Warrington I left my carriage, and took a seat in the 
stage coach for Liverpool. I was alone with La Fleur, and 
placing my loaded pistols under the cushion, was soon sound 
asleep, with folded arms, pitching and reeling in sympathy with 
th3 n otion of the carriage. Suddenly I was awoke by a check 
to the full speed of our horses — rubbed my eyes — heard a con- 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 161 

fused noise of voices, and looking out, saw by the light of the full 
moon, that we were surrounded by a band of armed men, their 
suspended hangers flashing in the moonlight. I heard a voice 
exclaim, '' we will hang him, by G—d." At the same instant the 
carriage door was thrust rudely open, and in an authoritive 
tone, I was ordered to " come out." I was in dismay and 
astonishment at finding myself encompassed, as I supposed, by 
a numerous body of armed foot-pads ; and the thought flashed 
through my mind, that by some unlucky event, the approach 
of a rebel might have been intimated to an excited populace, 
who designed to avenge the death of poor Andre. 

I had no time to hesitate, but dropping a valuable watch in 
the carriage, seized and cocked my pistols, and ordered them 
to stand off*. They hesitated, and then demanded " if I was 
not the commanding oflicer of the press-gang." I assured 
them I was not the man they sought, and to satisfy them I 
sprung out, and to my no small joy was permitted to pass. 
They were sailors who had been hunted down by the blood- 
hounds of the government, until driven to desperation, and were 
in pursuit of an officer of the press-gang, to avenge themselves 
for the cruelties to which they had been subjected by him. 
He had been pointed out to me that evening at Warring- 
ton, and thus narrowly escaped the hands of these self-con- 
stituted avengers. 

The barbarous and demoralizing system of impressment 
would disgrace the most despotic government on the earth ; 
and yet in this country of boasted liberty and laws, it is toler- 
ated by the government, and sanctioned by estabhshed cus- 
tom. 

When the peril of this scene was over, I trembled like an 
aspen leaf; but, happily, when the hazard was imminent, I 
retamed full control of my nerves. The excitement of danger, 
I have often noticed, will sustain us in the crisis. 

Late in the evening, we penetrated into the heart of the 
great commercial emporium, Liverpool, drove into the court- 
yard of the Golden Lion, and were conducted, without cere- 
mony, into a dirty little chamber in the attic, which produced 

11 



162 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION J 

the shrewd remark from honest La Fleur, in French, "Monsieur, 
if we rattled around the court-yard in our own carriage, and 
made a thundering noise, comme en France, Par Dieu! nous 
aurions vn beau chambre en 'primier etage." I devoted the next 
day to the examination of this interesting city and its vicinity. 

Liverpool is situated upon the east side of the Mersey, and 
lies low. The adjacent country is flat and sandy. In 1699 
it was only constituted into a parish, and in 1710 the first 
dock was constructed. A little more than a century ago, it 
was an insignificant fishing borough, giving a precarious occu- 
pation to about one hundred sailors. It now contained nearly 
40,000 inhabitants, and was rapidly advancing in wealth and pop- 
ulation. Elegant new houses were erecting upon large and 
capacious streets. From the summit of the Exchange, I had 
a fine view of the city and environs. The merchants, I noticed^ 
transacted much of their business in the street fronting the 
Exchange. 

In spring-tides, it is stated, the water rises thirty feet; in 
consequence, wet and dry docks are much required for the 
facilities of commerce. Previous to our Revolution, the com- 
merce of Liverpool with America was very extensive and 
important. Canals connecting it with various points in the 
interior are already constructed, and others are projected. On 
this point they are deeply indebted to the enterprise of the 
Duke of Bridge water, and the genius of Brinley.* Like all 

*James Brinley was born in 1716, and was early distinguished by his remark- 
able mechanical inventions. He served an apprenticeship to a millwright. His 
wonderful and intuitive genius soon elevated him into fame and consequence, as 
the inventor of many ingenious and important mechanical improvements and 
labor-saving machinery. His powerful mind was at length turned to internal 
navigation. He was advised with by the Duke of Bridgevvater, on the subject 
of his contemplated scheme of running a canal from Worsley to Manchester. 
Brinley declared 'the project practicable, and was employed to perform it. At 
Barton he proposed to carry it over the Irwell by an aqueduct, at an elevation of 
thirty-nine feet above the surface of the water. The project was ridiculed as wild 
and chimerical ; yet, supported by his noble patron, he began and accomplished 
the design. This was the first work attempted in England with navigable subter- 
ranean tunnels and elevated aqueducts. To preserve the level of the water, he 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON". 163 

Other projectors, they were esteemed wild and visionary in 
their contemplations; but the result has proved the wisdom 
arid sagacity of their plans. The authors of projects designed 
to advance and meliorate the condition of man, are too often 
sneered at and derided by the multitude, who bow down and 
shout hosannas to a long purse, whilst they consign native 
merit over to the gratitude of posterity. 

I disposed of part of the day in an interesting examination 
of the manufactures and commercial resources of Liverpool. 
The extensive salt-works, which afforded the article of com- 
merce so universally known as Liverpool salt, was an object of 
much interest, and a source of great wealth to the place. 
The water is pumped by machinery and evaporated in large 
pans, and, in som.e instances, the salt is raised from its bed by 
the same process. 

I returned to Warrington, whicli presents a very uninterest- 
ing appearance, with antiquated buildings and narrow streets. 
I here resumed my carriage and proceeded towards Manches- 
ter, through an interesting country. Allured by the animating 
tones of a violin, we stopped at a farm-house, and found a 
country frolic in full tide, lads and lasses dancing with all 
their might and hearts their four-handed reels. I soon mingled 
with them, drank their slops, warmed myself, and took my 
leave. Divested of their broad pronunciation, I could easily 
have imagined myself at a frolic in the bosom of New England ; 
yet one Yankee, in the same sphere, possesses more mother wit 
than half this circle. I beheve this remark may be made with 

carried his canal over rivers, and many deep and wide valleys. Brinlcy was sub- 
sequently engaged in many other equally important and extensive operations 
His whole energies were absorbed in his professional pursuits. He had no relish 
for the ordinary relaxations of life ; he was once induced to visit a play in London, 
but declared nothing should persuade him to witness another, as it disturbed his 
mind, and incapacitated him, several days, for business. When any unusual 
difficulty occurred to him, in the execution of his works, he would retire to bed, 
and sometimes remain there three days till he had surmounted it. This extraor- 
dinary man was almost mean in his appearance, and uncultivated in his man- 
ners, and could scarcely read or write, and yet was one of the most consummate 
civil engineers that has ever lived. 



164 



justice in reference to a large mass of the rural population of 
England. 

Manchester is very conspicuous as a manufacturing city. 
The manufacture of cotton, in every variety of fabric, forms its 
most important business. The introduction of machinery has 
wonderfully facihtated the processes of this work. They per- 
form, by this means, almost the entire labor, to the exclusion 
of thousands of famishing poor, who are thus deprived of their 
ordinary occupation. 

Manchester derives immense benefits from the canal of the 
Duke of Bridgewater and the Leeds canal, which proceeds on- 
ward to Liverpool. I hope, most ardently, that I may live to 
witness in America the application of machinery to these pur- 
poses, and the introduction of canals, with all their infinite 
advantages. Manchester is an opulent and elegant city, with 
fine streets and extensive squares ; it is one of the largest 
inland cities of Great Britain, containing about 30,000 inhab- 
itants, and is situated at the junction of the Irwell and Irk. 
The city is ancient, but much of it is of modern construction. 

I went to Worsley Mills, a distance of seven miles from 
Manchester, to view the stupendous works of the Duke of 
Bridgewater, accomplished by the surpassing genius of Brin- 
ley. The execution of these projects was attended with vast 
expense and hazard, but secured to their projectors an immense 
estate. Not content with skimming along the surface, with 
traversing valleys, and crossing rivers by their artificial navi- 
gation, they decided to plunge into the very bowels of a moun- 
tain, in pursuit of coal. A vast reservoir is constructed at the 
foot of the. mountain, from which a subterranean tunnel 
extends nearly three-fourths of a mile, to the coal pits in the 
heart of the mountain ; at this point the tunnel divides and 
shoots off into two branches, of about three hundred yards 
each, in the midst of an immense mass of coal. The tunnel is 
about seven and a half feet high, including three feet of water, 
and six and a half feet wide. The boats which navigate it 
are about fifty feet long, four and a half broad, and two feet 
deep. The tunnel is occasionally arched with brick or stone. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELK AN AH WATSON. 165 

The circuit going and returning by the tunnel and branches 
is about three miles of dark and subterranean navigation- 
Having procured a ticket, we proceeded v^^ith lighted torches, 
towed along by the railway. The sensation that one feels is 
indescribable, in approaching through this gloomy avenue 
the dark colliers, who were just discernible by the red glare of 
their lights, in the region of blackness and night. The coal is 
brought from the pits in low wagons, propelled on a platform to 
the sides of the boats, which hold about eight tons, and several 
being connected, are drawn on the canals to Manchester and 
elsewhere. Shafts or funnels are opened at intervals, from the 
top of the mountain, a depth of from thirty to forty yards, 
for the purpose of ventilation. These works form an aston- 
ishing exhibition of the ultimate and certain success of enter- 
prise and genius. 

Leaving Manchester, we crossed over a mountainous road 
to Halifax, the first bad road I had seen in England. Our 
progress was tedious and uncomfortable. The church at 
Rochdale (which, situated in a valley, is encircled by moun- 
tains,) stands on an eminence that is approached from the 
town by a long flight of stairs. We ascended it, and had an 
extensive view of the surrounding scenery, with the mountains 
already (October 17th) capped with snow. The air was keen 
and wintry. In ascending the fearful mountain at Blackstone- 
edge, we were assailed, when half-way up, by such a pitiless 
storm of hail and wind, that my apprehensions were seriously 
excited for the safety of the post-boy, carriage and horses. I 
descended from the post-chaise for greater security, but could 
hardly sustain myself amid the raging of the tempest. The 
atmosphere was wild and squally, and whilst this circumstance 
in some measure obstructed the prospect, it added infinitely to 
the grandeur and novelty of this wild mountain scene. A 
snow storm next attacked us, whilst still ascending, and ia a 
few minutes, the surrounding hills and mountains held up their 
heads, as if rejoicing in their white mantles. In truth it was, 
in all its phases, a regular transatlantic snow-storm. 

We continued on to Halifax, eight miles, travelling over a 



166 



dreary mountain tract, and as night approached, houses began 
to appear in closer contact, and drawing nearer the city, the 
lights from the villages in the valleys, and along the hill-sides, 
with the solitary rays streaming from the numerous farm- 
houses, gave animation and beauty to the scenery. The 
mountains we had traversed, were filled with vast bodies of 
coal, and bright streamlets were constantly bounding down their 
declivities. 

Near almost every house I noticed tenters, on wliich were 
stretched shaloons, kerseys, or cloths. The manufacture of 
these fabrics, was the occupation of the spare hands of the cot- 
tages. 

The loveliness and repose of the scenes exhibited to us in 
descending the hills towards Halifax, were indescribably im- 
pressive. At their base, the river Calder gently glides, divid- 
ing them from another parallel chain of hills upon the opposite 
side. As soon as the moon had disengaged herself from the 
mass of clouds which still hovered about the mountains, and 
had obscured her during the evening, she emerged in great 
beauty and brilliancy, tipping the surrounding clouds with a 
silver edging, and then poured her light upon us — through the 
trees — upon the hill-tops mantled in snow, and gently touched 
by her tremulous beams the little river, in the valley below\ 

Immediately upon leaving this picturesque scene, we de- 
scended a long declivity, and entered Halifax, which is situat- 
ed in a valley, and environed by a circle of abrupt hills. Hali- 
fax was a considerable town, of about six thousand inhabitants, 
irregularly built, and offered nothing remarkable to the observa- 
tion of the traveller, except a Clothiers' Hall, which includes 
five hundred rooms. To this mart, all the adjacent country 
bring, on every Saturday, all their cloths for sale. The streets 
and tops of the houses were covered with snow, and presented 
a wintry aspect like an American December. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 167 



CHAPTER XV, 

Establishment — Leeds — Clothiers' Hall — Pohtical Sentiments — Sheffield 
— Matloek — Lead Mine — Singular Petrifaction — Derby — Broom 
Grove — Worcester — Tewksbury — Bristol — Bath — Death of Colonel 
Laurens — Devizes — Rottenborough — Earl of Effingham — English No- 
bility — Edmund Burke — Prince of Wales — Destiny of England — 
Opera — Portrait by Copely — House of Lords — King's Speech Recog- 
nizing American Independence — Reflections — House of Commons — 
Interview with Lord Shelburne — Windsor — Royal Family — Return to 
Paris — Treaty — Anecdote — Letter of Monsieur Demmartin. 

The road continued rugged and mountainous, until we ap- 
proached Leeds. We journeyed very pleasantly along the 
b^nks of the river Aire, near which we saw the ruins of an an- 
cient monastery. Happily for England, popish institutions no 
longer preponderate upon her soil, but in their stead, however, 
the people of England are ground to the earth by the intolera- 
ble abuses of a political national religion. To this establish- 
ment every religious sect is made tributary. The poor farmer, 
no matter to what mode or form of worship his conscience 
may direct him, is compelled to yield one tenth of his hard earn- 
ings, to sustain a host of bishops and priests, a class of whom 
riot in wealth and luxuriance. 

Leeds was a populous commercial and manufacturing city, 
situated on the Aire. Its inland navigation, by the river on 
the east, and the canal on the west, which connects the two 
seas, confers upon it great advantages. There was a cloth fair 
in this city twice in each week. I attended one of them in 
their spacious Clothiers' Hall. As soon as the Hall bell began 
to ring, each man shouldered his piece of cloth, and took his 
position in a very large room, at the side of tables running 
parallel through the entire length. When the bell ceased, the mer- 
chants entered without noise or confusion, and passed through 



168 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION ; 

the room, inspecting the cloths. They whispered their price in 
the clothier's ear, and thus, with privacy and dispatch, and 
without a knowledge of each other's business, a traffic amount- 
ing to from £15,000 to £30,000 was accompHshed in the period 
of an hour. 

I spent the evening in a large and elegant circle, at the 
mansion of a gentleman to whom I brought letters. 1 perceiv- 
ed to my astonishment, that the group were warmly and 
openly American in their feelings, whether selected in compli- 
ment to me I am ignorant, but I really felt myself as if in the 
midst of my rebel friends in America. 1 noticed during 
my progress in England, that the popular feeling upon the sub- 
ject of American affairs, appeared to run in a sympathetic vein. 
In one locality, I remarked the prevailing sentiment to be deeply 
and inveterately hostile, whilst in another our cause was almost 
universally cherished, and advocated with the most decided, 
cordial, kind feeling; but our enemies, and even the Tories, 
treated us with much more respect after the recent and decisive 
events. In general I avoided politics. 

I determined, October 22d, from the general aspect of the 
w^eather, to abandon my projected tour into Scotland, and 
to turn my face again towards sunny France. 

In approaching Sheffield, I was agreeably surprised by a 
sudden view bursting on my vision, of this large manufacturing 
city, which rests upon the side of an opposite hill, and appear- 
ed to great advantage, although half immerged in coal dust 
and smoke. We descended a long declivity, and crossing a 
bridge over the Dan, entered the city by a steep ascent. 

I here found a precious packet of letters from friends in Eu- 
rope and America, affi3rding the choicest solace to a way-worn 
and solitary sojourner. In the evening I attended the play, 
with a party to whom I had been introduced by my letters. 
The audience was thin ; the actors bad ; and in truth, this 
people appeared too much absorbed by their manufactures, to 
encourage or participate in amusements. 

After devoting two days to examining the interesting manu- 
factories and hydraulic w^orks of Sheffield, we left that city, 



OR, MEMOIES OF ELKANAH WATSON. 169 

and travelled by moonlight to Matlock. Sheffield is situated 
at the confluence of the rivers Dan and Sheaf, and contained 
about 30,000 inhabitants. The land in the vicinity com- 
mands a high rent ; the farmers make extensive use of an ex- 
cellent fertilizer, formed by bones and horn shavings, pulver- 
ized by grinding. 

The road passed along the borders of the little river Der- 
went, amid a range of craggy mountains. The post-boy gal- 
loped oflf at a rapid rate upon the edge of precipices, through 
narrow defiles, and beneath rocks impending over us. This 
rugged avenue, combined with the murmurings of the river be- 
low, among the rocks and rapids, and the effect of the moon- 
light glimmering upon the various points of the scene, produced 
one of the most romantic and curious associations I have ever 
witnessed. We drew up in front of a long building, planted in 
the midst of the mountains. I soon introduced myself into the 
room where was assembled the sadrehcsofa brilliant sum- 
mer company, which had resorted to this celebrated bathing- 
place, and had been dispersed by the frosts of autumn. I spent 
one day, perched upon this mountain rock. The scenery 
was grand and imposing, the view ranging over several 
counties. 

At the foot of one of these mountains, I entered a lead mine, 
penetrating with my guide, who bore a torch, one thousand 
yards, which brought us to a point directly beneath the top of 
the mountain, towering five hundred feet over our heads. Here 
the miners were at work, wearing out a wretched existence. 
The atmosphere was damp and confined, although ventilated 
by shafts. 

The mountains in the vicinity of Matlock abound in a great 
variety of the most curious petrifactions, which are converted 
into many highly polished and beautiful ornaments. Singular 
stones are also often found in this region, which, when polished, 
exhibit neat and striking landscapes. I prevailed upon the head 
workman to accompany me in search of some of them, and was 
fortunate enough to discover one, that apparently afforded, after 
being polished, a beautiful rural scene, of about six by twelve 



170 MEN" ANI> TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

inches in size, presenting a view of a river, with three small 
islands covered with trees. In another view was displayed a 
variegated scene of hills, trees in rich foliage, and clouds. This 
strange vagary of nature was seen by Doctors Priestly, Frank- 
lin, and a vast many other persons, who all pronounced it a 
most wonderful natural curiosity. I brought it with me to 
America, and presented it to one of our literary institutions. 

In the evening I enjoyed a refreshing bath. The water is 
of the temperature and mild softness of new milk. The bath is 
lined with polished white marble. 

In journeying towards Derby, we wound up a long hill, to a 
great height, and then gradually descended into a level coun- 
try, highly improved, laid off in regular lots, here and there oc- 
cupied by clusters of trees, or devoted to gardens, but generally 
covered with cattle and sheep grazing, and checkering and ani- 
miting the landscape. After traversing this extensive and 
luxurious plain, we entered the city of Derby. 

I devoted some time to exploring this interesting city, and 
examining, in the suburbs, a silk manufactory, on an expanded 
scale. It employed two hundred persons, who tend one hundred 
thousand movements, all propelled by a single water-wheel, 
which revolves three times in a minute, and at each revolution 
works upwards of seventy thousand yards of silk, ready for the 
w^arp. 

There was also, in this city, a large porcelain manufactory, 
which made a very admirable imitation of China porcelain ; 
the blue and gold coloring was executed with exquisite beauty 
and perfection. 

On my return to Birmingham, I again enjoyed the courte- 
ous and refined hospitalities of my friend, Mr. Green. During 
my sojourn, I visited the seat at Hagley, of many of the extra- 
ordinary exploits of the younger Littleton. 

There he made his remarkable exit from life, under circum- 
stances which are the constant theme of conversation. We 
also made a trip to the seat of the Earl of Ferrers, a relation of 
the lady of my friend. Mr. Green assured me, that at this 
house he introduced the unfortunate Major Andre to Miss 



ELKANAH WATi^OK. 171 

Seward, afterwards so well known for her genius, her connec- 
tion with Andre, and hei: sorrows. Whilst in Birmingham I 
enjoyed much intercourse with Doctor Priestly and Mr. Watt, 
and felt my mind elevating and expanding under its influence. 

I left Birmingham on the 10th of November for London, by 
way of Bristol and Bath, and passed through a charming agri- 
cultural region, and many cities and towns fraught with inter- 
resting associations of the past, and filled with objects claiming 
the attention and examination of a stranger. 

Broomgrove was a large town, in which the linen trade was 
extensively conducted. 

We next entered the fine city of Worcester ; it is neat, well 
built, admirably paved, and situated in a valley on the Severn 
river. Many of its public and private edifices are very elegant 
structures. Its manufactures were chiefly gloves, carpets, cloths, 
and porcelain of an inferior quality. 

Riding fifteen miles farther along the banks of the Severn, 
we reached Tewksbury. Travelling on both sides of the river, 
amid spacious orchards of apples and pears, I could scarcely 
divest my mind of the idea, that I was journeying over the 
most highly cultivated districts of New-England. At this 
place the river Avon enters the Severn. 

Gloucester is another important town, through which we rap- 
idly passed, and reached Bristol at about ten o'clock in the 
evening, utterly exhausted with fatigue, after riding eighty-nine 
miles over, in many parts, a rough road, and in an open, pound- 
ing stage-coach. I devoted the forenoon to the delivery of my 
letters, and an examination of the city. 

Bristol is built chiefly in a vale, surrounded by pleasant emi- 
nences ; it stands upon a narrow, but very deep river, that ad- 
mits to the bridge vessels of one thousand tons. The quay was 
a mile in length and very spacious ; the cranes in use upon it 
were very ingenious, and well calculated to economize labor in 
loading and unloading vessels. The dry and floating docks 
were also great conveniences, one of the latter, two miles below 
the city, would contain one hundred and fifty ships. Bristol had 
about sixty thousand population, and embraced twenty sugar- 



172 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

houses, and numerous manufactories, which gave employment 
to all the surplus hands not engaged in commerce. In the 
American maritime cities, a large proportion of the inhabitants 
eat the bread of idleness, from the absence of manufactories. 

Early the ensuing morning, I proceeded on foot to Bran- 
don hill, near the celebrated hot-wells bathing-place. At this 
point I had a glorious view of the city and adjacent country — 
hills and towers — Bath — the Welsh mountains, and the Avon, 
I descended from the hill to the hot-wells, a fashionable sum- 
mer resort. Music was here discoursed every morning. The 
water is warm, and very efficacious in nervous and scorbutic 
diseases. Ascending from the bath, another lofty pinnacle, I 
discovered ships at anchor in King's roads — others sailing ap- 
parently at the foot of the hill, and had a wide distant view of 
South Wales. Between Bristol and Bath, the country which 
stretches along the borders of the Avon is delightful. 

I approached Bath in the evening, riding along the banks of 
the Avon. The lights glowing in front of the splendid crescent, 
presented an animated and enlivening scene, for some miles 
before I entered the city. I remained several days, filled with 
delight and fascination, in the gay and dissipated circles of 
Bath. It is large, magnificent, and almost entirely sustained 
by the fashionable and opulent, who resort here, allured by its 
celebrated waters. The city is principally built upon the de- 
clivity of a hill, gradually descending towards the river Avon. 
Many of the public and private edifices were truly elegant and 
imposing. Public and private baths abounded in every part of 
the town. At the King's bath, the buildings are constructed 
on a scale of gorgeous magnificence and splendor. An obelisk, 
seventy feet high, rises from the centre of the bath, having re- 
cesses and seats at the base, to accommodate those who are 
boiling out their various disorders. Strange to relate, after 
performing this expurgatory office, the same water is pumped 
up and drank by the diseased, in the room which overlooks the 
bath. This bath is sixty-five by forty feet wide, and sur- 
rounded by apartments containing small rooms, with steps con- 
ducting into the water. In these rooms persons of both sexes 



OR, MEMOIRS or ELKANAH WATSON. 173 



were equipped in proper dresses, and indiscriminately descend 
into the bath, and walk about in the water up to their necks. 
The Bath Guide has it : — 

** 'Twas a glorious sight to behold the fair sex, 

All wading, with gentlemen, up to their necks, &:c." 

I looked down from the pump-room into the bath. The heat 
of the water produced a vapor, which, gathering over the heads 
of the bathers, partially hid them from view ; but an occasion- 
al pufFof wind would present to me a most singular and ludi- 
crous spectacle ; old and young, matrons and maidens, beaus 
and priests, all promiscuously wading and splashing in the bath, 
a band of music the while playing some solemn march or ex- 
hilarating dance. 

At my lodgings I found my highly esteemed and distinguish- 
ed friend, Henry Laurens, whom I had not been able to rejoin 
since our separation at Nantes. I was at his own apartments 
the day after, when he received a packet from London, an- 
nouncing the death of his gallant son, Colonel Laurens, who 
had been killed in a skirmish near Charleston, South Carolina. 
The intelligence burst upon him with the force and sudden- 
ness of a thunderbolt. 

At first his faculties seemed to be crushed and paralysed ; 
his philosophy forsook him, and he abandoned himself to the 
agonies of a bereaved father. His anguish no human means 
could mitigate, and 1 could only yield him my tears and my 
sympathies. 

After a few days, he became more calm and submissive, and 
proceeded to London, where I engaged to meet him. 

Leaving Bath, I returned to London. We passed Devizes, 
a large town, in the market-place of which, the magistracy have 
caused to be erected a monument, commemorative of a striking 
interposition of Divine judgment. 

The fact perpetuated by the inscription is this : — A woman 
having purchased some commodities in the market, upon pay- 
ment being demanded, an altercation ensued, when she utter- 
ed the imprecation, " May God strike me dead, if 1 have not 
paid it." She fell down, and immediately expired, and in the 



174 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION; 

clenched hand, which she had impiously raised to Heaven, to 
attest hei' perjury, was found the money in controversy. 

I afterwards knew in America a gentleman of great respec- 
tabihty, a native of Devizes, who assured me he was an eye- 
witness of this memorable judgment and remarkable coinci- 
dence. Let sceptics deny, and philosophers deride ; facts hke 
this bear fearful and powerful admonition of the interposition 
of an Omniscient God in the affairs of man. 

We next reached Marlboro'. This town consisted of one 
broad street, containing about five hundred inhabitants, and 
yet sent two members to Parliament, whilst many of their 
large modern cities were deprived of all representation. The 
rotten Borough system of England is one of the most corrupt 
and abhorrent features of their political institutions. 

From Marlboro' I proceeded through Hungerford, the spa- 
cious town of Reading, and Maidenhead to London, where I 
was rejoiced to find Mr. Laurens, surrounded by kind and 
sympathising friends. In this circle was the celebrated 
Edmund Burke, to whom I was introduced by Mr. Laurens. 
Mr. Burke treated me with much polite and cordial attention, 
and invited me to attend the approaching debates in Parliament. 
He had a noble and dignified countenance ; his language, even 
in common conversation, flowed in a copious stream of pure and 
elegant diction. As an American protege of Mr. Laurens, I 
found myself moving at once in the high circles of the 
Metropolis. Dining on one occasion at Mr. Vaughans, the 
father of the secret negotiator at Paris, I met a brilHant circle^ 
and among them the Earl of Effingham, at whose side I was 
seated at table. The Earl was emphatically a friend of America, 
and his name had resounded through our continent, for the 
early and decisive course he adopted in the House of Lords in 
our vindication and support. Congress, in gratitude, named a 
frigate the "Effingham." 

In moving among the nobility of England, I have been 
astonished to discover so much ignorance and vulgarity in the 
same class that exhibit so much that is exalted and ennobling 
in the character of man. With a few admirable exceptions, 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSOX. I75 

the distinction is vast and obvious between those Noblemen of 
nature, who, by the force of native energy and greatness, have 
attained that eminence, and those creatures of accident, who 
are Noblemen by inheritance. 

I had the gratification of breakfasting in a familiar manner 
with Mr. Burke, the distinguished author, eloquent orator, and 
accomplished statesman. He was, even in the ordinary inter- 
course of life, a most extraordinary man. I felt my own insig- 
nificance in his presence, but as he conversed freely, I was 
rather a listener than speaker, and relieved from the necessity 
of revealing my powers, in contrast with this intellectual giant. 
In my variegated life, 1 have often been brought into intimate 
intercourse with great and accomplished men, and have always 
found myself at ease and self-possessed; yet the glare of this 
transcendent luminary humbled and embarrassed me. With 
Dr. Franklin, always kmd and familiar, I could hold converse 
as with a venerated father ; but Burke seemed a being of 
another sphere. He had ever been a devoted friend to America, 
and in co-operation with Fox, Sheridan and Conway, has been 
the primary cause of wresting from the reluctant King a 
decision to recognize our Independence. 

The Earl of Ferrers presented me with a card of admission 
to the House of Lords, on the occasion of the delivery of the 
King's speech. At the Opera I met the Prince of "Wales, the 
heir-apparent to the throne. He is elegant and dignified in 
his appearance, but debauched and profligate in his private 
life. During the interludes, I walked in the promenade 
near his person, contemplating the features of one who would 
probably soon wield a mighty influence over this great nation, 
for evil or for good. What destiny awaits this powerful nation ? 
was a question that often occurred to my mind. All mighty 
empires have their epochs. Savage in their origin — civilized- 
potent — warlike — luxurious, and finally sinking into decay and 
imbecility. Is such to be the fate of Britain ?— and was this 
man to be an agent in accelerating her downfall ? 

The Opera, although formed of foreign material, and pufl^ed 
by fashion, was not congenial to the habits or genius of the Eng- 



176 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

lish. The stage dances of the English, and indeed all their 
dances, (although a mania pervaded every city and village in 
England to possess an elegant ball-room,) hold no comparison 
with the gay and lively movements of the graceful French. 
To me an opera is a most insipid jargon of nonsense. The 
music and singing are unintelligible and an unnatural affectation, 
a jumble of musical sounds, grating to my savage American 
ears. 

Soon after my arrival in England, having won at the insur. 
ance office one hundred guineas, on the event of Lord Howe's 
relieving Gibraltar, and dining the same day with Copley, the 
distinguished painter, who was a Bostonian by birth, 1 deter- 
mined to devote the sum to a splendid portrait of myself. 
The painting was finished in most admirable style, except the 
back-ground, which Copley and myself designed to represent a 
ship, bearing to America the intelligence of the acknowledgment 
of Independence, with a sun just rising upon the stripes of the 
union, streaming from her gaff. All was complete save the 
flag, which Copley did not esteem prudent to hoist under 
present circumstances, as his gallery is a constant resort of 
the royal family and the nobiUty. 

I dined with the artist on the glorious 5th of December, 
1782, after listening with him to the speech of the King, 
formally receiving and recognizing the United States of 
America into the rank of nations. Previous to dining, and 
immediately after our return from the House of Lords, he 
invited me into his studio, and there with a bold hand, a mas- 
ter's touch, and I believe an American heart, attached to the 
ship the stars and stripes. This was, I imagine, the first 
American flag hoisted in old England."^ 

*I brought this splendid painting with me to America, and it is still in my 
possession. It is pronounced by artists, second to no painting in America, and 
has, at their earnest request, been deposited in Academies and schools of paint- 
ing, as a study for young artists. Copley assured me that it would not, in his 
own language — " ripen in forty years" — and now, after an interval of more than 
half a century, its colors appear clearer and more brilliant than on the day they 
left the painter's pallet, (1821.) 



.X5R, MEMOIRS OF ELKA.NAH WATSON. l77 

At an early hour on the 5th December, 1782, in conformity 
with previous arrangements, I was conducted by the Earl of 
Ferrers to the very entrance of the House of Lords. At the 
door he whispered, " Get as near the throne as you can — fear 
nothing." I did so, and found myself exactly in front of it, 
elbow to elbow with the celebrated Admiral Lord Howe. The 
Lords were promiscuously standing as I entered. It was a 
dark and foggy day, and the windows being elevated and con- 
structed in the antiquated style, with leaden bars to contain 
the diamond cut panes of glass, augmented the gloom. The 
walls were hung with dark tapestry, representing the defeat 
of the Spanish Armada. I had the pleasure of recognizing in 
the crowd of spectators, Copley, and West the painter, with 
some American ladies. I also noticed some dejected American 
royalists in the group. 

After waiting nearly two hours, the approach of the King 
was announced by a tremendous roar of artillery. He entered 
by a small door on the left of the throne, and immediately 
seated himself upon the Chair of State, in a graceful attitude, 
'with his right foot resting upon a stool. He was clothed in 
royal robes. Apparently agitated, he drew from his pocket the 
scroll containing his speech. The Commons were summoned, 
and after the bustle of their entrance had subsided, he pro- 
ceeded to read his speech. 

I was near the King, and watched, with intense interest, 
every tone of his voice, and every emotion of his countenance. 
It was to me a moment of thrilling and dignified exultation. 
After some general and usual remarks, he continued : 

" I lost no time in giving the necessary orders to prohibit 
the further prosecution of offensive war upon the continent of 
North America. Adopting, as my inclination will always 
lead me to do, with decision and effect, whatever I collect to 



This magnificent painting, equal, probably, to any in America, in style and 
execution— becomincr, by age, more brilliant in its coloring, and mellowed and 
ripened by time, is now at the mansion of Charles M. Watson, Port Kent, Essex 
County, N. Y. Copley was the father of Lord Lyndhurst, Lord Chancellor of 
England, and present head of the Tory party. — Ed. 

12 



178 MEN" AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION; 

be the sense of my Parliament and my people, I have pointed 
all m); views and measures, in Europe, as in North America, 
to an entire and cordial reconciliation with the colonies. Find- 
ing it indispensable to the attainment of this object, I did not 
hesitate to go to the full length of the powers vested in me, 
and offer to declare them'' — Here he paused, and was in 
evident agitation; either embarrassed in reading his speech, by 
the darkness of the room, or affected by a very natural emotion. 
In a moment he resumed : — " and offer to declare them fi-ee 
and independent States. In thus admitting their separation 
from the crown of these kingdoms, I have sacrificed every 
consideration of my own to the wishes and opinions of my 
people. I make it my humble and ardent prayer to Almighty 
God, that Great Britain may not feel the evila which might 
result from so great a dismemberment of the Empire, and that 
America may be free from the calamities which have formerly 
proved, in the mother country, how essential monarchy is to 
the enjoyment of constitutional liberty. Religion, language 
interests and affection may, and I hope will, yet prove a bond 
of permanent union between the two countries." 

It is remarked, that George III. is celebrated for reading 
his speeches in a distinct, free, and impressive manner. On this 
occasion, he was evidently embarrassed ; he hesitated, choked, 
and executed the painful duties of the occasion, v/ith an ill 
grace that does not belong to him. I cannot adequately por- 
tray my sensations, in the progress of this address ; every 
artery beat high, and swelled with my proud American blood. 
It was impossible not to revert to the opposite shores of the 
Atlantic, and to review, in my mind's eye, the misery and woe 
I had myself witnessed, in several stages of the contest, and 
the wide-spread desolation, resulting from the stubbornness of 
this very King, now so prostrate, but who had turned a deaf 
ear to our humble and importunate petitions for relief. Yet I 
believe that George III. acted under what he felt to be, the high 
and solemn claims of constitutional duty. 

The great drama was now closed. The battle of Lexington 
exhibited its first scene. The Declaration of Independence 



OR, MEMOIKS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 179 

was a lofty and glorious event in its progress, and the ratifica- 
tion of our Independence by the King, consummated the 
spectacle in triumph and exultation. This successful issue of 
the American Revolution, will, in all probability, infiuence 
eventually the destinies 'of the whole human race. Such had 
been the sentiment and language of men of the profoundest 
sagacity and prescience, during and anterior to the conflict, 
in all appeals to the people. In leaving the house, I jostled 
Copley and West, who I thought were enjoying the rich 
political repast of the day, and noticing the anguish and 
despair depicted on the long visages of our American Tories. 

The ensuing afternoon, having a card of admission from 
Alderman Wool, I attended in the gallery of the House of 
Commons. There was no elaborate debate, but much acri- 
mony evinced in the incidental discussions. Com. Johnson 
assailed Lord Howe's late expedition to Gibraltar, because he 
had not gained a decisive victory, alleging that with proper 
effort he might have done so ; when Mr. Townsend defended 
him with zeal and spirit. Capt. Luttrell, a naval officer, then 
attacked Fox with much severity, accusing him of treating 
the Navy, in some of his speeches, with disrespect. Fox re- 
plied with his wonted keen and sarcastic style, in a short and 
rapid speech. Mr. Burke at length arose, and attacked the 
King's Address, of the day before, in a vein of satire and ridi- 
cule ; he said "it was a farago of nonsense and hypocrisy." 
Young Pitt, the newly created Chancellor of the Exchequer, 
replied to Mr. Burke, and handled him with dignified severity, 
imputing to him buffoonery and levity. Gen. Conway said — 
"the recognition of American Independence was explicit and 
unconditional." 

When the House was about adjourning. Alderman Wool 
came to me in the gallery, and invited me to descend to the 
floor of the house. On my entrance, I was met by Mr. Burke, 
who introduced me as a messenger of peace, to Messrs. Pitt, 
Fox, Sheridan, Gen. Conway, and other members, grouped 
together on the floor. Mingling thus by a happy concurrence 
of events with the great luminaries of England, I felt that I 



180 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION ; 

was occupying exalted and privileged ground. It would be 
preposterous, were I to attempt to decide as to the relative 
merits of these distinguished men. Their acts belong to history, 
and their high fame to their common country and posterity.* 

I made a visit to Windsor, the royal residence, situated 
twenty-one miles from London. It will sustain no compari- 
son, in point of architecture and grandeur, or in the splendor 
of its palaces and gardens, with the French palaces and gardens, 
but in its natural position infinitely surpasses them, and, indeed, 
is unrivalled. The town of Windsor rests upon the bank of the 
Thames. The castle is a venerable fortress, crowning an emi- 
nence, within which is the regal palace, and two courts, with a 
tower between them. The royal apartments command a view 
of the terrace. The prospect is most delightful, and the air pure 
and invigorating. Pope has exhausted his poetic extasies in de- 
scribing this interesting situation. 

The road from London to Windsor is beautiful and engaging, 
passing for several miles along the margin of the Thames. I 
walked upon the noble terrace, which, covered with fine gravel, 
and always dry, affords a charming promenade. It was Sun- 
day, and the king and royal family were walking here, with 
a long train of the nobility, in a free and unconstrained man- 
ner mingling with the people. I attended Divine service at 
the King's Chapel, which is much inferior, in stylerand compass, 
to the royal chapel at Versailles ; the King and Princesses 
were present. 

Circumstances again calling me to France, I left London on 
the I2th December, 1782, and reached Paris on the 15th, late 

*I find among the documents of Mr. Watson, notes from Lord Shelburne, 
addressed to him both before and after the Speech of the King, Dec. 5th. One 
of these, couched in the following language : 

" Lord Shelburne presents his compliments to Mr. Watson, and shall be glad 
to see him to-morrow morning between nine and ten. 

Shelburne House, Dec. 9th." 
and has this endorsement, in Mr. Watson's writing : " This card of invitation from 
the Prime Minister of England, was written four days after the Speech of the 
King, acknowledging our Independence. The object of the interview was to in- 
quire relative to commercial intercourse under existing circumstances." 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 181 

at night. About noon, on the ensuing day, I was awoke by 
an earnest debate, in a room adjoining mine, and separated 
only by a folding-door, and was surprised to learn that it was 
the English and American Commissioners, who, having assem- 
bled in the room of Mr. Laurens, were discussing the subject of 
the Canadian boundary. The next day I dined at Mr. Adams', in 
company with the Commissioners, and was gratified to learn 
th'at the minor points in controversy would soon be adjusted, and 
that a definitive treaty of peace would, at an early day, be 
signed. 

Immediately on my return I waited upon Dr. Franklin, and 
presented him with a recent London paper, containing a par- 
ticular and detailed account of his death and funeral. He was 
very much amused, and assured me that this was the third 
instance, since his residence at Passy, that the London papers 
had buried him alive. My journey, from Paris to Nantes, 
occupied three days and nights, owing to the excessively bad 
condition of the roads. At the dawn of the second morning, 
I perceived poor La Fleur, reeling and pitching upon his bidet, 
overcome by drowsiness. The bidet is a small and active 
horse, trained to canter from one post-yard to another, in 
advance of a post-chaise, with a servant, or ' avant courier," 
to announce its approach, and to prepare a relay of horses. 
Perceiving the condition of La Fleur, and actuated, in part, by 
compassion, and to gratify the whim of the moment, I placed 
him in the carriage, and mounting, myself, the bidet, went off 
in advance, at full speed. In this style I cantered through the 
streets of Angers, into the yard of the Post-house. The bidets 
are well known on the road they traverse, and I perceived, as 
I passed through the streets, that I attracted more than the 
curiosity ordinarily excited by a courier, and when I descend- 
ed in the post-yard, the astonishment of the master and postil- 
lions were but ill-disguised. I could at times overhear the 
remarks and inquiries advanced in respect to my rank, or 
rather, that of the person whose approach I was supposed to 
announce. I heard some assert that my master must be a 
Prince of the blood. A little barber, at length, more curious or 



182 MEN AND TIMES OF THE KE VOLUTION ; 

impudent than the rest, approached, and inquired in direct 
terms, " What nobleman I attended." I readily replied, "My 
• Lord Bostono." The news flew rapidly in all directions, and 
the populace began to assemble to see an American lord. I 
hastened upon the back of a fresh bidet, and struck off in a 
quick gallop, on the high-road to Nantes, leaving the court- 
yard just as the carriage with my Lord Boston^^ approached. 

Upon my arrival at Nantes, among a mass of letters from 
Europe and America, I found the subjoined from Capt. Dem- 
martin, an officer of the French army, of great literary distinc- 
tion in France, and who, at a subsequent period, became a 
General under Bonaparte's dynasty, I introduce this letter 
to illustrate the state of feeling in respect to our Revolution, 
and the liberal sentiments which prevailed at that time in the 
French army and throughout the French nation, which was 
daily exhibited to my observation. 

I supposed at the time that Dr. Franklin had instigated 
Demmartin to furnish the translation he speaks of, with the 
purpose of animating the liberal sentiments diff'using in France, 
by the promulgation of the events, and a knowledge of the prin- 
ciples of our Revolution. It was by these influences, acting 
upon the seed scattered by the writings of Voltaire, Rousseau, 
and others, and the spirit of liberty introduced by the French 
army, on its return from America, that the elements of the 
French Revolution were matured and quickened : 

'''Nancy, Lorraine, Dec. 30, 1782. 

"My Dear Sir: — The hurry of ray affairs, since my return to 
Lorraine, has hindered me from making my best thanks, for I owe to 
your letter of civility, the kind reception of your excellent Dr. 
Franklin. I have been so happy as to dine with him at Passy, and 
hid neither sufficient eyes nor ears to admire and listen enough to that 
noble and learned man, who has acted so considerable a part in the 
revolution of your country. 

" I consulted his Excellency upon my design of translating the 
History of the Revolution in North America. He showed me the 
two first volumes, already printed in French, but he informed me 
another and more elaborate history was soon to be published in 
America, which would be superior, both in exactness and in exhibiting 
the order of events. 



'OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 183 

"As you know, my dear sir, that it was not in my power to em- 
f)loy my sword in the service of your country, I desire to indulge my- 
•self in the pleasure of giving to ray own country, notice of the great 
-events performed in a cause so illustrious. 

"The names of your heroes are known and famous throughout the 
world, and will live in the memory of posterity, as long as noble 
spirits and magnanimity are honored by mankind. It will be deeply 
interesting to exhibit to the politician, the events and incidents which 
prompted the revolution, and the means which accomplished it; and 
to the miK'tary, the art of disciplining raw recruits, ill furnished with 
arms and material, and yet enabled, in a few months, to cope with 
and achieve victories over veteran, accomplished, and well-armed 
troops, as much by their own gallantry, as by the wisdom of their 
generals, in the face of internal factions. 

^'You will add to the obligations 1 am already under, by sending 
me a copy of the work referred to, as soon as it shall be published in 
America." 

" Ja. De Demmartin. 

-'^MoNS. Watsoit, Nantes." 



184 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEYOLUTION ;: 



CHAPTER XVI. 

Nantes — Roman Tower — Leave Nantes — Royal Hunt — Commercial Dis- 
tress — Margate — Portsmouth — Isle of Wight — Salisbury — Old Sarum 
— English Election — Fox and Howe — Ignorance of America — Wild- 
man — Bees — London and Paris.. 

The city of Nantes is situated on the river Loire, about 
thirty miles from its mouth. In the ancient section of the 
city, the houses are four and five stories high, each story 
projecting over the lower as they ascend ; so that in narrow 
streets, the attics approach very near, excluding the sun in a 
great measure, and rendering their ill-paved streets dark, 
muddy, and damp. This awkward and absurd mode of build- 
ing cities universally prevailied in Europe two centuries ago, 
but is now entirely exploded. The modern houses in Nantes> 
fronting the river, and upon the public squares, are most splen- 
did edifices, constructed generally of white hewn stone. I 
have never heard the cry of " fire," (so appalling in English 
and American cities,) during my residence in France. Indeed, 
it would be no slight effort of skill, for an incendiary to 
accomplish his work in a French house. The inner and 
outer walls, and stairs, are formed of stone, the roofs are 
slate or tile, and the floors brick, or formed of a composition 
that is incombustible. 

The internal trade of Nantes is very productive ; their do- 
mestic manufactures, which are very extensive and valuable, 
occupy all the surplus hands of the community. There are 
several convents in the city, and also an Institution where 
husbands have the power of confining wives guilty of infidelity„ 

Near the venerable Cathedral there stood a Roman tower, 
which the corporation of the city found expedient to demolish^, 
i witnessed the first attempts, and saw it blown to pieces with. 



€>E, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. l85 

powder, like a solid rock. The Roman mortar was so excel- 
lent in its composition, as to perfectly incorporate with the 
stone, and to form an entire and infrangible mass. In blasting 
this tower, I observed that the fracture was oftener through 
the solid stone, than at the seams or junction. 

In the large cities of France, few families occupy more than 
one story ; the stairs wind from story to story, and are as 
common and as dirty as the adjacent street. Although in the 
habit of perpetually passing those who live above and. below 
you, under the same roof, you may reside there for years,, 
without a knowledge, even, of their names. 

Having adjusted all my affairs, and determined my plans, I 
bade a final adieu to Nantes, on the 30th March, 17&3. I met, 
on the confines of the city, my faithful La Fleur, my compan- 
ion in many trying scenes, and my devoted servant for several 
years. He was in waiting to take his farewell^ and I parted 
from him with deep emotion. 

We stopped at Versailles to examine the royal palace, and 
had an opportunity of seeing the King and Queen departing 
for a hunt, attended by hounds, horses, and huntsmen. We 
rambled over the palace and grounds, with interest viewing 
the numerous exhibitions of taste, luxury, and magnificence. 
On the road to Paris^ we perceived a cloud of dust in the 
distance, and were soon met by couriers, following each other 
in rapid succession, to announce the approach of the hunt, 
and to clear the road. We instantly drew up, in accordance 
with etiquette, and dismounted to witness the sport. The 
affrighted deer soon appeared at its greatest speed, approach- 
ing us in Ihe road — the King close at his heels, with all his 
train in full cry. Within twenty feet of us, the deer bounded 
over a hedge, and darted off in a'new direction. This move 
in the chase brought his Majesty very near us; he seemed 
much animated and absorbed in the chase. He was attired 
in a lace cocked hat, short coatee, and heavy boots and spurs. 
Quickl}^ dismounting, he cried out in a loud voice, " vite don- 
nez moi un cheval frais," instantly remounted, and sprang 
over the hedge, followed by his retinue. We lost sight of the 



186 MEN AND TIMES OF THE KEVOLUTION- 

•chase, and could only hear the sound of the hounds and 
iiorns gradually sinking upon our ears. 

During the spring of this year, the National Bank of 
France, by a royal decree, was ordered to suspend payment 
for one year. The army and navy bills on the government 
had been made payable at this Institution, and the distress and 
prostration of commercial affairs, which resulted from this 
measure, were universal and most disastrous. In common 
with all other Americans, whose business connections were 
complicated with French fiscal operations, our House was 
overwhelmed by the effect of this ordinance, and I returned 
to London, in the summer of 1783, prostrated and impoverished- 

In September I visited Margate, the fashionable resort for 
bathing. The town is small, but spread over an extended 
suface, being built in the form of an amphitheatre. It enjoys 
a, fine view, and the advantage of a free circulation of the 
fresh invigorating sea-breezes. I was amused at the mode 
of bathing at. Margate; horse carts are constructed for the 
purpose, forming, with canvas, a very convenient and private 
apartment, provided with chairs, a table, looking-glass, and 
other necessary appliances. At the end of the cart, steps 
are formed, which descend into the water. The bather em- 
barks — the cart is driven into the sea, and backed towards 
the ocean. These vehicles are stretched along side by side, 
in a line ; the bathers descend the steps, or plunge fr.)m them 
into the water. They make, it is said, sometimes ludicrous, 
il not serious mistakes, in regaining their respective carts. 

Invited by a kind friend, who sympathized in my affliction, 
to accompany him, in a tour to the Isle of Wight and South 
of England, I left London in March, 1784, for that purpose. 

Portsmouth is the principal depot for the English Navy. 
It has a noble and capacious harbor, protected on the South 
and West by the Isle of Wight. I saw several ships of the 
line at anchor in the harbor and at Spithead; and the top-gal- 
lant masts of the " Royal George " projecting above the waten 
Portsmouth is built upon a peninsula, and was then esteemed 
the best fortified place in England. Gosport, which contained 



ELKANAH WATSO]^-. 187 

the Military hospital, is situated upon the opposite side of the 
port. We examined every thing of interest at Portsmouth 
and Portsea n ar y adjoining, where we inspected the ex- 
tensive Naval arsenal. Here lie the sinews and power of old 
England. 

The country still wore its winter drapery. As we ap- 
proached Portsmouth, a most extensive and exhilarating view 
of the city was revealed to us, with the harbor studded 
with ships, and in the distarce that Ocean gem, the Isle of 
Wight. At this place, we embai ked on board a miserable 
passage boat. In our transit to the Isle, we ran along side 
several of the ships at anchor — passed Calshot Castle, at the 
entrance of the harbor, and proceeded under a brisk gale 
along the coast to Cowes. I noticed numerous country seats, 
and was charmed with the appearance of the Isle of Wight, 
its gently sloping hills descending towards the sea, and evi- 
dently in a superior state of cultivation. We remained on 
this lovely island fourteen days, making daily excursions on 
horseback in different directions ; but the season and the 
weather limited our rambles. Cowes is the stopping haven 
for American vessels, seeking the most advantageous Euro- 
pean markets ; here they wait for orders. 

Newport is the capital of the island. It is built upon a 
plain, encircled by hills ; the houses are neat and pretty ; the 
population about 2,500. In the vicinity of Newport still 
stands, upon a lofty hill, the venerable castle of Carisbrook, 
rendered famous by the treacherous reception and delivery 
of Charles I. The island is generally broken, especially on 
the South. From the summit of a steep hill, we commanded 
a fine view of the channel, enlivened by ships sailing in every 
course : among their waving flags, I was gratified to per- 
ceive the proud stripes of America, now in their infancy; but 
if I mistake not, destined in the next century to be borne in 
triumph through the domains of Old Neptune. Scarcely a 
tree was to be seen upon the island, save fruit trees and those 
of ornament. It was totally stripped of the livery of Nature, 



188 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION 



but was remarkably healthy and pleasant — celebrated for its 
agricultural productions, excellent sheep, &c. 

We passed in a gale, from the Isle of Wight to Southamp- 
ton, in an open packet-boat. This city contains about 7,000 in- 
habitants, and is environed by ancient fortifications and Ro- 
man towers. The same evening we reached the venerable 
city of Salisbury. A small river runs- through the town; 
and from it flowing streams are conducted along many of the 
streets. In summer these streamlets necessarily have a cool- 
ing and healthful influence upon the atmosphere. I spent 
a long time, the next day, in exploring a noble cathedral, 
which is pronounced one of the most perfect and magnificent 
specimens of Gothic architecture in England. 

About two miles north of Salisbury lie the venerable ruins 
of old Sarum. Although it contains no inhabitants, it sends two 
members to Parliament; it has happened that one man ex- 
ercised the franchise which elected the two members. Six 
now hold the poll under a tree ; while some of the most po- 
pular cities of England are deprived of all representation. 
What an outrage upon common sense, as well as political justice 
and equality! This is with emphasis called a rotten borough. 
Such incongruities demand a radical change — a revolution, if 
need be, although it may pass through the confines of blood. 
If abuses such as these cannot be corrected by pacific means, 
to purge and purify this noble nation, a temporary sacrifice 
must be made for the welfare of millions yet unborn. 

On Salisbury plains are fed the choicest flocks of sheep in 
England. They are guarded by shepherds and well trained 
dogs. The country between Salisbury and Plymouth was in al} 
the exuberance of high tillage and beauty ; abounding with 
cattle and fine sheep, and adorned by hills and valleys, hedges, 
and costly mansions ; but destitute of forests and white cot- 
tages to cheer and enliven the face of the country. 

Plymouth is situated at the bottom of a spacious bay. The 
harbor is more exposed than that of Portsmouth, but affords a 
safe anchorage. At its mouth stands Eddystone light-house, 
built upon a rock, amid the surges and tempests of the ocean, 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 189 

and presents a wonderful triumph of human art and energy. 
Plymouth was well -fortified, and defended against a naval attack 
by three hundred heavy cannon. Had D'Ovilliers, who invest- 
ed this place with his 76 sail in 1779, landed the 60,000 men 
which were on the coast of France, ready to be embarked, it 
is more than probable that the fleet in the harbor would have 
been destroyed, and other momentous consequences achieved. 
Near Plymouth is situated Mill Prison, in which so many suf- 
fering Americans were confined and oppressed, during the late 
war. 

I attended, for three successive days, in Covent Garden 
Square, the violently-contested election for Parliament, be- 
tween Fox, Lord Hood, and Wray. It was a spectacle of 
the deepest excitement and interest ; but disgraceful in the 
outrages and violence constantly attending it. I occupied a 
position near the hustings, upon a temporary stage, which 
aflforded me a view of every occurrence. 

The candidates, with their immediate friends, were stationed 
in front of a small church, the hustings being enclosed within a 
railway. From my elevated station, looking upon the sea of 
faces, I judged there were assembled within the square, at the 
windows commanding a view of it, and in the adjacent streets, 
twenty-thousand spectators, to witness freemen giving in their 
suffrages. 

The contest had already continued several weeks. Instead 
of the silent dignity that usually characterizes an American 
election, here all was confusion and conflict ; bloody noses and 
broken heads — intimidation and corruption. In the midst of 
the canvas, two self-created armies were seen entering the 
square, at diff*erent points ; the one headed by a son of Lord 
Hood, (a Captain in the navy,) consisting of sailors, and armed 
with bludgeons ; the other led by a champion of Fox, com- 
posed principally of hardy Irish chairmen. They bore ban- 
ners inscribed with the names of their respective candidates. 

The purpose of each party was to secure to its friends ac- 
cess to the polls. These zealous and intelligent champions of 
British liberty and free elections, met with a rude shock 



190 MEN AND TIMES OE THE EETOLUTION 



exactly in front of the hustings. A violent conflict ensued ; 
each party made great efforts to prostrate the standard of its 
opponents. They fought with proverbial English ferocity. 
The excitement instantly spread in every direction, and clubs, 
fists and canes were in brisk motion throughout the crowd. 
Such a. scene I had never witnessed. Victory soon declared 
for the sailors ; the chairmen were scouting through every 
avenue, with the sailors in brisk pursuit. 

The poll was in consequence open exclusively to the friends 
of Hood and Wray. Within two hours, the chairmen, strongly 
reinforced, returned, and a new conflict ensued. saw Fox, 
in front of the hustings, clapping his hands and shouting with 
the utmost engagedness. The sailors, in turn, were compelled 
to fly, leaving many of both parties mangled and bloody, who 
were borne into the adjacent houses. A French gentleman at 
my elbow, justly exclaimed, " If this be liberty. Heaven deliver 
my country from it."* 

I was highly entertained by a conversation between two 
ladies, genteelly dressed, and evidently of a respectable class 
in society, in a coach, near London, and record it as illustra- 
tive of the prevailing ignorance in England, of the people and 
condition of America. One remarked to the other, " I have 
seen a wonderful sight — a little girl born in a place called 
Boston, in North America ; and what is very astonishing, but 
I pledge you my word it is true, she speaks English as well 
as any child in England ; and, besides, she is perfectly white !" 
"Is it possible!" exclaimed the other, in no counterfeit aston- 
ishment at the recital. Many of the people of England sup- 
pose us to be a nation of Indians, Negroes, or mixed blood. 

During several weeks of the summer of 1784, I stopped at 
Highgate, near London. My residence was upon a height, 
which commanded a view of the city, like a picture, before me. 
In front, a diversified scene of villages, gardens, verdant 
meadows, and fields in luxurious vegetation ; whilst in the 
back ground, I viewed the distant undulating hills of Kent. 

*This was only five years before the bursting forth of the French Revolution. 



OK, MEMOIRS OF ELEAKAH WATSOIT. 19l 

Whilst sojourning at Highgate, I became intimately ac- 
quainted with Wildman, so distinguished through Europe for 
his almost magic power over bees. He was a gentleman of 
fortune. Wildman was accustomed to take a hive, and in an 
incredibly short time would make the mass of bees totally 
subservient to his purpose, in performing many astonishing 
feats. Among other exhibitions, 1 saw him form, by his 
amazing influence over them, a hive, in the shape of a capj 
upon his daughter's head. In a moment, at the word of com- 
mand, they were dispersed. He was in the receipt of a large 
income, derived from his bees, which he had arranged in glass 
hives, in various gardens, near the city of London. 

He invited me to visit him, at one of his principal depots, 
on a particular morning, when, he said, " he expected fine 
sport." I fortunately entered the garden at a critical moment, 
when two or three hives were swarming and intermingling. 
He saw me, and exclaimed, *'Run! run! I am now exercising 
my highest skill." He stripped off his coat and dashed into 
the midst of them, crying out to me, ''come up — they dare 
not hurt you in my presence." Although I confided in his 
assurance, I approached him with caution, apprehensive I 
might be stung to death. I saw the bees engaged in a terri- 
ble conflict, the dead falling like rain drops. Wildman was 
all motion and activity, performing his hocus-pocus operations, 
in the midst of a cloud of bees. At length they separated, 
filing off to their respective hives. He came up to me, all in 
a foam, like a general from a great battle, saying, " the rascals, 
this time, have given me a great deal of trouble."* 

Circumstances afforded me the control of a few weeks ; I 
decided to occupy them by a tour upon the continent, without 
any definitive plan as to its extent or course. 'The brief 
term of twelve months had witnessed the deepest vicissitudes 
in my affairs and position. At its commencement, moving in 
the first circles of London, associating with the eminent 

*An article in the Edinburgh Encyclopedia, under the head of " Wildman," 
fully explains the instrumentality used in effecting these truly wonderful and 
mysterious performances. (1821.) 



192 MEN ANI> TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

statesmen and philosophers of England ; at its close, the vic- 
tim of misfortunes, and humbled to the dust. 

Whilst in prosperity and affluence, I had kept an open table 
at Nantes twice a week, for French and American guests alter- 
nately ; and had my purse constantly put under contribution 
by clamorous friends. At the end of the period I refer to, 
many of those who basked in the sunshine of my favor, pass- 
ed me in silence as a stranger. Misfortunes, to such minds, 
appear a crime, and expose the unfortunate to the con- 
tempt of the despicable, whose abject souls have once bowed 
to them in cringing servility. While in health, and gliding 
pleasantly along the tide of prosperity and happiness, and all 
things bearing a cheerful and smiling face, we are prone to for- 
get the source of these blessings ; but deprived of them, and shun- 
ned by the cold and heartless world, we recollect with anguish 
what we have been, and leaning upon a holier Arm, we are 
taught submission and contentment. Adversity tests our 
virtues, and tries sincerity ; above all, teaching us to look deep- 
ly into the treacherous volume of the human heart. In these 
trying scenes, the man of honor and spirit must think and act 
superior to the world. 

Before leaving London, 1 was induced to combine some 
reflections, upon the relative character and interests of that 
metropolis and Paris. The houses in London of the better 
class, are generally three or four stories high, occupied usual- 
ly by one family; those of Paris are from five to seven stories, 
each story containing ordinarily one family. The external 
aspect of the buildings of Paris, (which are constructed of 
white hewn stone,) is like the character of their occupants, 
lively and cheerful. In London, the houses, equally character- 
istic of their inmates, are of smoked brick — dark and gloomy. 
The internal arrangement of the latter is more neat and ele- 
gant, while the palaces and hotels of Paris, its gardens and mon- 
uments, far excel those of London. In London the streets 
are clean and spacious, with comfortable side-walks; in 
Paris ihey are narrow and muddy, and destitute of side- 



on, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 19B 

'Walk. The London street is paved arching, that of Paris, 
«concave. 

Paris, unequalled for its police, is protected by a horse- 
patrol ; London by numerous watchmen. Few thefts escape 
undetected in Paris ; in London you are every moment ex- 
posed to a foot-pad or pickpocket. The population of Paris 
is civil, and that of London, brutal. The light and fanciful 
<jharacter of the French excels in the opera and pantomime, 
while the deep toned sentiment of the English better sustains 
the blood and horror of the tragedy. This peculiarity of the 
English is strongly exemplified by their almost universal 
fondness for pugilistic exhi-bitions ;~ a practice alike brutal and 
abhorrent to Chj^istian civilization. The shops and stores of 
Paris far surpass in beauty, richness and decorations, those 
of London; particularly in the evening, when dazzlingly 
illuminated. 

The lam.ps of London are more numerous, but badly ar- 
ranged on the margin of the walk, and dimly lighted ; those 
•of Paris, suspended over the streets, are much larger, and are 
provided with reflectors ; their light shining upon the white 
buildings, produces a pleasing moonlight effect. Paris is 
awkwardly supplied with water by horse-carts ; London has 
the new river poured in iron conduits along its streets. Lon- 
don occupies one of the most commanding commercial posi- 
tions in the world ; Paris, situated in the interior, is divided 
by a small river, and depends principally upon its canals for 
foreign intercourse. London is sustained by its commerce ; 
Paris by its manufactures, and the fascinating charms that 
allure ail nations within its wajls. 



13 



194 MEN AND TIMES OP THE RETOLtlTrON ; 



CHAPTER XVII. 

Passage to Holland — Helvoetsluys— Storks — Brielle — Revolution— The' 
Maese — Rotterdam — American Flag— Dutch Chimes — Braakle— 
Truckscutes Country — Delft — William of Orange — Hague— Churches' 
— Mr. Adams— North Sea — Gardens — Mon. Dumas — La Maison du 
Bois — Ryswick — Incident— Letter of Mr. Adams — His position and 
Character — Letter from him — Description of Hague — Leyden — Mon. 
Luzac — Description of Leyden — Monument to Boerhaave. 

On the 26th of May, 1784, I left London, bound for Holland' 
by the way of Harwich. After resisting unsuccessfully the 
villainous exactions of the British revenue officers at Har- 
w^ich, we submitted to their extortions, and embarked in the 
evening, on board of the packet, bound for HelvoetsluySc 
On the afternoon of the next day we approached the coast of 
Holland, without having seen it, until very near, from the 
fact of its lying even lower than the Ocean. 

We sailed along the coast of Zealand upon our right, 
where windmills, light-houses, avenues of trees, and distant 
spires, were continually arising to our view. The breeze im- 
proving, pressed us rapidly forward to the pier of Helvoetsluys, 
which we soon doubled, and in another instant were in its 
harbor, with the town directly before us. The pier was lined 
with spectators, and the first object that engaged my notice^ 
was a Dutchman smoking his long pipe, his national char- 
acteristic. 

The pier is strong, constructed of piles, driven deep into the 
mud, and calculated to resist the utmost impetuosity of the 
waves. The streets are well paved, with small Dutch clinkers 
or bricks as hard as stone, which are placed edgeways. 
The town is small but well fortified. The streets neat in the 
extreme, being daily thoroughly washed. In truth, the 
houses, dress, and every thing around us, bore the impress of 
that peculiar neatness so distinguishing to this people. 

The transition had been so sudden and so marked since we 
landed, that I could scarcely realize my position. The archi- 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON-. 195 

lecture of many of their old buildings indicates the Spanish 
style., which almost loses the atlic story in a narrow peak. 
The women of the lower classes were singularly dressed ; their 
caps set tight upon the head, and they generally wear enor- 
mous common brass ear-rings. 

We crossed the Island of Voorn, over miserable and muddy 
roads, to Brielle. We could not prevail upon our mulish driver 
to receive the baggage at our quarters, although starting within 
six doors, its remove being a perquisite of the porter's. Placing 
our baggage in one wagon, six of us mounted into another, and 
dragged slowly through the mud. I observed upon almost 
every church immense storks' nests. These birds enjoy pro- 
tection and security from a superstitious prejudice in the po- 
pular mind. The swan is here known as the imperial bird, 
and none but the higher ranks are allowed to keep them. 

In approaching Brielle, we passed along an avenue of beau- 
tiful trees across a drawbridge leading over a wide fosse, and 
then entering the gate, traversed the. best part of the city. 
The Brielle is memorable in the history of human liberty as 
the scene of the first event in the tremendous conflict that 
severed Holland from the tyranny of Spain. Here a band of 
exiles first planted the standard of revolt, and maintained pos- 
session of the city, in defiance of the power of the Duke of 
Alva. The flame thus enkindled spread with electric veloci- 
ty through the seventeen provinces, which were soon sup- 
ported by the great William, who w'as at the time employed 
in levying forces in Germany. The patriots of Holland were 
habitual in imploring the blessing of Heaven upon their ef- 
forts, and were animated through their fearful struggle by the 
conviction, that the arm of the Almighty was stretched forth 
as their avenger. Such was the prevailing sentiment during 
the progress of our revolution; and no class of our citizens 
were more devoted and zealous patriots than the clergy of 
New England. The descendants of the Hollanders in Ameri- 
ca exhibited, during our Revolution, the same love of liberty 
which distinguished their ancestors, and were eminent for 
their patriotic devotion. 

There is a certain unique peculiarity combined with ele- 



196 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLtJTlON ; 

gance about the venerable edifices of the Breille, which cannot 
readily be described, that communicates to them a high de^ 
gree of interest. The streets are wide and lined with two rows 
of trees, along the banks of the canals, which run through 
their centres. The deep verdure of these ancient trees, 
strongly reflected from the large windows of mirror-like glass, 
which are bright and free from dust, add much to their 
lustre and richness. A custom prevails here, which has an 
odd appearance to my untutored American notions. A re- 
flecting glass is arranged upon the outside of the most gen- 
teel windows, thus affording madam the opportunity of sitting 
unobserved in her own window, and at her ease reconnoitering 
every thing that occurs in the^^ street. It would seem, that 
the great business of life, in this city, is washing and scrubbing, 
for it is the apparent vocation of all, from early dawn to night. 
' Ships sailing up the Maese, to Rotterdam, pass directly 
under the ramparts of this city. The river is, at this place, 
one and a half miles wide. We sailed up the Maese, through 
a charming country, to Rotterdam, passing many fine villages, 
among them, Delfhaven, famous as the birth-place of Van 
Tromp, the pride and glory of Holland, and will be ever dear 
and memorable to the heart of an American as the point of 
embarkation of our Puritan forefathers. The country, from 
the deck, appeared on a line with the water, and nothing im* 
peded our view but the intervening trees. The drooping 
willows, along the margin of the river, seemed as if floating 
upon the stream. A fascinating feature in the scenery of 
Holland, is their numerous ornamental trees, arranged in the 
most tasteful and judicious manner. The reclaimed meadows 
afford the finest pasturage for cattle, who seem to be rioting 
in clover. 

As we sailed along the front of Rotterdam, I admired the 
beautiful effect of the line of trees, planted upon the margin 
of the river; standing so thick as to interlace their limbs and 
mingle their foliage, and half depriving us of a view of the 
most magnificent dwellings I can recollect to have seen any- 
where. Our skipper informed me that the promenade under 
these trees is eminently attractive, and a great resort for the 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 197 

heau monde of Rotterdam. As we occasionally glided by 
an avenue, or an opening among the trees, we penetrated, 
with the help of our glasses, into the heart of this lovely 
city. When I contemplated the singular confusion of masts, 
spires, trees, canals, and houses, all jumbled together, I was 
almost led to think that nature and art, in a whimsical mo- 
ment, had combined to plan this enchanting compound. All 
the embellishment and verdure of Holland is, however, the 
creation of the industry and energy of man ; and yet the 
mighty ocean, as if indignant at this usurpation of his do- 
main, has often resumed his terrible empire, and overwhelmed 
the land. 

Rotterdam is the second emporium of the republic. The 
harbor is secure from naval attack, but inconvenient of ac- 
cess, on account of its remoteness from the sea, and the 
shallowness of the water. The port is, however, very com- 
modious, and admits, by means of large canals, heavy ships, 
quite up to the doors of the ware-houses, in every part of 
the city. Rotterdam is populous, the houses large and elegant, 
and constructed with flat ground brick, neatly seamed with 
white. The streets are wide and well-paved, and along the 
canals, have broad side-walks, often made of polished white 
marble, in front of the dwellings. 

Walking in a pleasant promenade, under the shade of a 
fine grove, I observed many of the citizens pass on the way 
to their country-seats. Their horses are good, but the car- 
riages are heavy and clumsy ; some of them I observed built 
in the form of triumphal cars. The Dutch gentlemen seldom 
ride on horse-back, and never without being exposed to the 
ridicule of the rabble. Their habits in this respect singularly 
contrast with those of England. The English pride them- 
selves on their superb horses, and are unequalled equestrians ; 
even the ladies of England ride with great courage and ele- 
gance, often leaping, at full speed, high fences and wide ditches, 
with infinite spirit. 

We were often puzzled, in the streets, for an interpreter ; but 
seldom failed to be understood, when we addressed persons of 
genteel appearance, in French. It surprised me to perceive 



198 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION ; 

how universally this language is now spoken throughout 
Europe. Indeed, as far as my own observation has extended, 
it is almost vulgar in the heau mo7ide, to speak the native 
tongue. A knowledge of French is becoming almost the 
criterion to distinguish a gentleman. A foreigner is always 
addressed in this popular and charming language. 

No two dialects bear a greater affinity than the Dutch and 
English. When I first arrived in France, it was several 
weeks before I could understand a consecutive French phrase; 
but the moment I landed in Holland, I recognised and com- 
prehended entire sentences, English in their structure, but 
divested of its hissing sound. In examining a letter written 
in Dutch, I discovered so many words and phrases of English 
analogy, as to have no difficulty in collecting its import. And 
yet the English cockney habitually sneers at what he calls 
the uncouth jargon of the Dutch. 

The John Bull London cockney, of all civilized men, is the 
most national, the most illiberal, and the most ignorant, save 
in his immediate vocation. He tests everything in nature 
and art, by the scale affiDrded by England, (in his exclusiveness,) 
the standard of perfection. Even the fruits of America 
growing ten degrees nearer the equator, suffer with him in 
this comparison. He pronounces our soldiers and sailors 
inferior to those of England, and yet we have discovered the 
secret of relieving them from two entire armies, and our gal- 
lant tars have almost uniformly beaten them, gun for gun. 

The market-place of Rotterdam contains a fine statue of 
Erasmus, who was born here. At the Church of St. Lawrence, 
we ascended a lofty tower, whence an extensive view is 
commanded. The city appeared like a highly finished and 
curious picture below us, and the country beyond, cultivated 
like a continuous garden, furnished a rich back-ground, spot- 
ted here and there by walled-cities, and slightly shaded by 
two or three small forests, and intersected in every direction 
by long lines of blue canals. I know not that I ever passed a 
more pleasant hour than in thus gazing upon the beauties of 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 199 

this wonderful country, which seemed like an enchanted fairy- 
land. 

In ranging with our glasses over the extended prospect 
afforded by our elevated position, we encompassed, in our 
view, Delft, Dort, Hague, Brielle, Utrecht, and Amsterdam, 
which embrace the best part of the province of Holland. It 
seems beyond the power of the most brilliant and active imagi- 
nation to conceive a spectacle more attractive. This country 
never fails to impress even Europeans, (habituated to superior 
agricultiyx'al cultivation,) with wonder and admiration ; but the 
-effect is still m.ore powerful upon the mind of an American, 
accustomed to contem.plate nature in her wild and unadorned 
'Condition. This is a region of art, moulded by industry and 
labor into beauty and productiveness. 

My heart bounded, when I saw our glorious stripes stream- 
ing among the shipping in the harbor of Rotterdam. Notwith- 
standing their youth, they are forward in introducing them- 
selves into the company of the antiquated flags of Europe, 
which have waved upon the ocean until they have begun to fade 
with age; but the stars and stripes shine with the lustre of a 
rainbow after a thunder-storm. The tempest has subsided, 
and a serene repose pervades the nations. In addition to the 
American ships, we observed several large Dutch vessels, 
freighted to carry over to the United States more than one 
thousand German emigrants. 

What a proud satisfaction the consideration affords that by 
a bold and arduous conflict, America has opened in her bosom 
an asylum for the oppressed and suffering of every nation. 
This ennobling fact — when we reflect on its extended effects 
and probable duration — is worth all the dangers and woes we 
have endured in the fearful struggle. The persecuted, under 
the benign protection of our laws, will find security and peace, 
and tortured virtue and exiled worth, through succeeding gen- 
erations, will receive among us refuge and defence. I pray 
Ood, our recent fabric may never be shattered by the clashing 
interests of the different States, that the Confederacy will pur- 
sue its illustrious career, and that local views will be nobly 



200 MEN. AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

sacrificed to the common weal. Such were the sentiments- 
and hopes inscribed on my original journal. 

The Dutch chimes are so exceeding musical and sweet, that 
I often stopped in the middle of the street to listen to their 
harmonious notes. The bells are clustered in great numbers, 
in niches around the towers of the churches. In the church 
of St. Lawrence, we noticed graves, from which bones and 
skulls were protruding. A horrid spectacle! An old sexton 
was busily employed in collecting the bones and arranging 
them in separate boxes, about three feet square, to be re-in- 
terred in this compact form. This I find in the ancient cities 
of the continent is the prevailing custom, and is less abhorrent 
to the human mind than the promiscuous and unhonoring 
mingling of them in the piles of the charnel-houses of England- 
There is a monument erected in the church of St. Law- 
rence, which bears a Latin inscription of the following 
inr»port : 

" John Braakel, 

The terror of the sea. To whom 

Fire,. earth and water submitted, 

Is covered with this stone. 

His spirit, even now, seems ready to burst into flame, 

And to break from its earthly habitation,. 

As he broke the chains of iron." 

I was impressed and pleased with the bold and poetical 
thoughts of this epitaph, and on examining the history of 
Holland, I found that Braakel was a Dutch Admiral from 
Harlem, who distinguished himself in a memorable exploit in 
the Holy War, in 1245. The passage of the Nile, near Damietta^ 
was obstructed by an enormous iron chain, which Braakel suc- 
ceeded in severing, by means of an immense saw, attached io 
three of his vessels. The invention was successful, and the 
fall of Damietta ensued in consequence. The idea was said 
to have been suggested by a Harlem boy. The city has^ 
adopted, from that incident, the motto — " Valour overcomes 
power." 

Holland presents the aspect of an extensive cultivated gar.- 



» 



OK, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. SQl 

den; but it wants that variety of scenery, so essential to 
engage and fix the imagination. England and France are 
more diversified and romantic, and are generally under ahnost 
as high improvement, In each of these countries we meet 
here and there an artificial forest; we admire their spacious 
and extended canals, their venerable castles, splendid country 
mansions, their large and magnificent edifices, their delightful 
roads, and infinite other objects of interest and attraction, 
which allure and fasten the attention of an American. When 
we abandon the contemplation of these exhibitions, the results 
^f art, and enter upon the broad domain of nature, we find 
her works on this side of the Atlantic but in miniature, when 
contrasted with the vast lakes, the immeasurable rivers, the bold 
harbors, the giant trees, and lofty mountains of America. 

We jumped on board of the truckscute, or packet boat, just 
without the gates of Rotterdam, and were put in m,otion by a 
single horse, trotting along the embankment of the canal. Our 
boat was a floating house, sixty feet long. The cabin, which was 
situated upon the deck, was calculated to hold conveniently eight 
or ten persons, who secure it by a small extra charge. It was 
prettily arranged, with a narrow table, cushioned benches and 
sash windows. The rest of the boat was covered by a flat roof, 
strewn over v/ith small shells or gravel cemented in tar, which 
forms, for the passengers, a pleasant and secure foothold. The 
progress of the boat was exact, being three miles an hour. The 
Dutch compute distances along their canals by hours, and not 
unfrequentl}^ by the number of pipes smoked. Clouds of 
tobacco smoke were constantly issuing from the little windows 
attached to the common room below us. I was surprised to 
notice with what dexterity the boats avoid each other, and 
pass below the numerous bridges. The higher classes of the 
Dutch people reside most of the summer at their villas, many 
of which are constructed on the most elegant and magnificent 
scale ; all are neat and picturesque, and generally situated near 
a canal, with a fairy summer house directly on its banks. 
These houses are comparatively all windows. The gardens ap- 
peared^as we moved along the canal, picturesque and beautiful* 



202 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION 



not unlike splendid and extended paintings. The Dutch seem 
inordinately attached to evergreens and box ; many of their 
summer-houses are enveloped with them, and we often noticed 
them shaped into grottos, arches, and other pleasing and 
fantastical forms. The fragrancy of the meadows and flower- 
gardens enhance, at this season, the pleasure of this agreeable 
mode of travelling in Holland. From the top of our boat, we 
ever and anon caught a transient glimpse into their airy dwel- 
lings, where we perceived the happy citizens regaling them- 
selves in parties, sipping their tea, smoking, playing cards, 
hearing music, reading, or enjoying some other domestic com- 
fort. I almost envied them the calm and delightful repose oi 
their country life. 

Delft appeared a pleasant and elegant place, containing 
about 20,000 inhabitants. It was well defended from enemies 
and the sea, by an old wall and three embankments. The 
Stadthouse is a stately, ancient, Gothic structure; it contains 
many excellent paintings ; one that demands particular atten- 
tion, represented the assassination of William of Orange, which 
was affectingly impressive and finely executed. They pointed 
out to us the spot where he fell, and a hole in the wall, perforated 
by the ball which had passed through his head. 

Both the old and new churches were noble structures 
adorned by lofty spires. The chimes were unusually harmo- 
nious ; they were in active performance as we entered a 
Stupendous pile, where rests the ashes of the Prince of Orange. 
In contemplating his magnificent tomb, my heart swelled with 
the deepest emotion. The struggle of Holland for freedom, so 
fraught with blood and suffering, seemed like a type of our own 
conflict for emancipation. 

The character of William of Orange ; his untiring and 
devoted patriotism ; his stern and unyielding integrity ; his fixed 
and determined purpose, and firm reliance upon the support of 
Heaven, presents the portraiture of our own immortal Wash- 
ington. Their fame and their achievements entitle their names 
to be inscribed in letters of light upon the arch of heaven. As 
these thoughts revolved in my mind, standing beside the mau- 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 203 

soleum, I felt the tear involuntarily start, and my breast heave 
with the s\crh of enthusiasm and homage. The Prince's statue, 
in marble, lies upon the top of the tomb, with the effigy of his 
favorite dog at his feet, which, tradition says, died of grief im- 
mediately after the death of his master. The succeeding 
Princes of Orange have all been interred in this Church. 

Delft was celebrated for its earthenware, and formerly pro- 
duced a fine imitation of porcelain,; but the English have 
eclipsed them in the manufacture of the former, whilst the 
French have superseded them in the latter. The streets of 
Delft are very broad ; two of them extend a mile in length- 
The pavement in front of many dwellings was constructed of 
black and white marble, beautifully inlaid in fanciful forms. 

We reached the Hague late in the evening, and although 
the moon shone brilliantly in the heavens, the dense exhala- 
tions from the canal obscured our view of the adjacent coun- 
try. The lights from the summer-houses glimmering through 
the mist, had a fine efl^ect. The dampness of the evening air 
in Holland is exceedingly uncomfortable, and must prove 
very unhealthy. The stench arising from the canals as we 
approached the Hague, was almost intolerable. We were 
astonished at being offended by such a nuisance so near one of 
the most elegant cities of the world. 

I had formed an exalted conception of the splendor and 
richness of the Hague, but I found what is so unusual, the 
reality far surpassing my most ardent imaginings. My first 
visit of observation was to the churches of the city. All 
Dutch churches which I have seen, are divested of those 
gaudy and flaunting ornaments, so common in France and 
other Roman Catholic countries. The walls of the former 
are occupied by the arms of the principal families, worked 
upon velvet, and encased with broad, black frames. They 
present the appearance, or at least the idea of the interior of 
large tombs, and communicate a dark and gloomy air to the 
spacious apartment. The ministers were speaking to crowd- 
ed and attentive audiences, who all wore their hats. 

From the churches I repaired to the grand parade, where 



204 



the garrison was reviewed by the Prince of Orange, amid a great 
concourse of the nobility and citizens. The troops appeared 
soldierlike, and well drilled. The uniform was blue, faced with 
red. After the parade, I strolled through this most magni- 
ficent and interesting city. Every thing bears the aspect of 
splendor and grandeur. I called at the hotel recently pur- 
chased by Mr. Adams for the American government. It is 
respectably furnished in accordance with Republican simplici- 
ty — contains a fine library, and has attached to it a tasteful 
little garden. 

I was received in the most cordial manner by the Ambas- 
sador, and in the^afternoon took an airing with him through the 
most interesting sections of the city, and extended our ride to 
the pleasant fishing-town of Schjrewling, two miles from the 
Hague, upon the margin of the sea. The weather was fine, 
and the roads and avenues thronged with people, all pressing 
onward, on foot and carriages, to inhale the sea-breezes, and 
to walk upon the beach. The Ambassador's livery is the 
same as the American uniform, and is recognized by all ranks 
of the citizens, who pay so much respect to it, that a few more 
jaunts with him to Schrewling, would have compelled me to 
buy a new hat. 

The road was charming, and in the whole length shaded by 
a row of trees on each side, so precisely in lines, that we saw the 
steeple of the village church from the gates of the city, through 
an arch formed by the limbs of the trees. The North Sea 
opened suddenly to our view, at the termination of the avenue. 
Nature has provided a very effectual barrier against the ocean, 
in the Downs, which have been thrown up by the waves, along 
most of the coast of this low country. I noticed the same 
circumstance on the coast of the Austrian Netherlands. The 
principal and permanent security of the country, however, rests 
upon their artificial dykes and embankments. 

We passed in this route the celebrated gardens of the Count 
de Bentick, and stopped to examine them. They are distin- 
guished from other gardens in the province by their style, 
simplicity and picturesque views. They had a fine orangery. 



OH, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 205 

grottos, water spouts, a forest, lake, and hills, in miniature, a 
terrace walk and menagerie. On every side the eye was enrapt 
and fascinated by objects of interest and novelty. 1 spent the 
evening with Mr. Adams, in company with the eminent M. 
Dumas, who made himself conspicuous by his diplomatic 
qualities in the early part of our contest, at the court of France, 
as well as in Holland. Communing with two gentlemen of 
such enlightened genius and deep learning, I could not fail to 
collect all the information I was eager to obtain relative to 
this country and the present convulsed state of its compli* 
cated government. I shall recur to this subject in a succeed- 
ing page. 

I visited, the succeeding day, with Mr. Adams, "La Maison 
du Bois," which is situated about one mile from the Hague, in 
the midst of the largest natural forest of Holland. This" place 
was built by the widow of the Prince Henry Frederick, to 
consecrate and perpetuate his memory. It is an elegant 
structure, and entirely sequestered from the gay world, being 
in a manner embosomed in a thick grove, which is penetrated 
by numerous romantic walks, leading from the palace. Over 
the gate we observed the arms of Orange-Nassau. The grand 
saloon, with its exquisite paintings, is the peculiar object of 
attraction. They were principally the works of the great 
masters, Rubens and Van-der-worf, exhibiting, in very large 
pictures, the brilliant triumphs of Frederick Henry, who con- 
solidated that fabric of Independence, which was erected by his 
immortal father, and vigorously protected by his gallant brother. 
Prince Maurice. Full length portraits of William I. and 
Maurice, are also preserved here, and their marble busts 
adorn the mantel. The floors of this palace were of black-wal- 
nut, with rich carpets. In one apartment we saw an India 
japanned-railing, inclosing the princess' bed, which is inlaid 
with mother-of-pearl, and cost 28,000 guilders. We also ex- 
amined a splendid painting, forming a flower-piece, by a re- 
markable Flemish master, and another, "Vulcan in his Shop," 
by Rubens. 

Mr. Adams discharged his carriage, and we occupied an 
^hour or two in strolling about the forest. The lofty oaks, 



206 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

thrown promiscuously together, revived lively recollections of 
American scenery. The trees were alive w^ith birds of bril- 
liant plumage, whose sweet melody echoed through the woods. 
In the afternoon we made an excursion to the village of Rys- 
wick, situated between the Hague and Delft. The road is 
ornamented by lofty trees, and skirted by verdant meadows. 
This village is memorable for the Peace of 1697, concluded 
here. A palace belonging to the Prince of Orange stood in the 
environs, eleborately built of hewn stone, but at the period of 
my visit was rapidly falling into decay. 

The ensuing day was occupied in generally exploring objects 
worthy of attention, in the city, and in the afternoon, accom- 
panied by Mr. Adams, I went to Delft. Returning in the even- 
ing, along the border of the canal, Mr. Adams suddenly espi- 
ed a child struggling in the canal ; he instantly darted forward, 
and was in the act of bounding into the canal to the rescue, 
when I restrained him, as I perceived a lusty fellow already 
in the water, in aid of the child. This incident is alluded to 
by Mr. Adams, in a letter to me dated Philadelphia, December. 
16, 1790: 

"I have this moment received your favor of November 30th ; and 
the volume* inclosed with it, an acceptable present, for which I thank 
you. I have not had time to read it, and therefore can form no opin- 
ion of its merit. By a kind of ' Sortes Virc/ilianae,^'' I stumbled upon 
the anecdote of the child drowning in the canal at the Hague, which 
brought to my recollection the feelings by both experienced at that 
distressing moment, which was abundantly compensated by the joy 
at the unexpected deliverance of the little urchin. ***** 

" My rambles abroad appear to me like a dream, and if your book 
had not recalled the drowning babe, I might never have thought of it 
again. My imagination is always refreshed by the recollection of 
my walks and rides about the Hague, and by those in the 'Bois de 
Boulogne ' which are charming^ much more than by the splendid 
scenes at the courts and in cities." 

The lofty position occupied by Mr. Adams in the diploma- 
tic body at this Court, was alike honorable to himself and 
elevating to the American character. He was universally 
esteemed for his deep sagacity and extensive political acquire- 
ments. He talked but little, but thought profoundly. Con- 
versant at a momentous crisis with the politics of two hemis- 
*" Tour in Holland," printed in 1790. 



OE, MEMOIES OF ELEANAH WATSON. 207 

pheres, his comprehensive and discriminating mind seemed 
readily to grasp, and intuitively comprehend, all the conflicting 
questions of the day. He did not ape the graces of a Chester- 
field, but yet had fully attained every important accomplish- 
ment of the statesman. America was deeply and essential- 
ly indebted to Mr. Adams for those important measures — the 
extension of our boundaries, and the protection of our fisheries. 
The defeat of Sir Joseph York secured the support of Hol- 
land at a critical epoch. His talents, and the stern republican 
simplicity of his character, endowed him with a strong and 
peculiar influence in the government at the Hague, and Hol- 
land, I then believed, may yet probably be indebted to his prac- 
tical judgment for suggesting some radical reforms in its un- 
wieldy and convulsed system. 

The mind of this devoted patriot was then intently engaged 
in meditating upon the policy, and in promoting the glory 
and power of his country. On one occasion at the Hague, 
dining alone with Mr. Adams, the dessert upon the table, and 
the servants withdrawn, a long silence ensued ; he seemed 
unconscious of my presence, his eye was fastened upon the 
table, and his mind apparently absorbed in a deep reverie. 
This posture of affairs continued so long as to arouse some 
degree of excitement in my feelings, and I was in the act of 
leaving the table, when his countenance suddenly flashed and 
brightened up, and turning to me, he exclaimed, with much 
animation, " Yes, it must be so ; twelve sail of the line support- 
ed by a proportion of frigates. When America, my friend, 
shall possess such a fleet, she may bid defiance upon her own 
coast to any naval power of Europe." 

In connection with this anecdote, I transcribe a letter from 
Mr. Adams, written thirty-four years after this period, and 
containing a familiar and playful allusion to my imputing to 
him the paternity of the American Navy. 

"QuiNCY, April, 14, 1819. 

" Dear Sir — Your letter of the 3d inst, is like the recognizance 
of an old friend, after the separation of several years. 

" I lay no serious claim to the title, of father of the American 
Navy, or of any thing else, except my own lamily. Have you seen 




^8 



the History of the American Navy, written by a Mr. Clark, and 
edited by Mat. Carey 1 I gave the name of Alfred, Columbus^ 
Cabot, and Andrew Doria, to the first ships that sailed under the 
flag of the United Colonies. 

" My country has been to me so very capricious and fastidious a 
mistress, that she would never receive my addresses long enough to 
give me an opportunity of becoming a father, legitimate or illegiti- 
mate, of any child, son or daughter. You have a much better claim 
to the character of father of American Agricultural Societies. You 
have preached with more success and much better effect. I claim no 
fatherhood but that of a family. 

"I have had six children, two of whom Heaven took to itself in 
their cradles. Four grew up, and had families ; two have departed 
and left children. Two, thank God, yet live. I have now living, 
two sons— fourteen grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Of 
this ti'ibe, 1 claim to be a father 5 but I assure you, the duties I owe 
to this little flock are greater than I can perform with my utmost 
exertions. Talk not then to me in future, of any other fatherhood 
than this ; for my capacity is inadequate even to this. 1 am, Sir, 
with agreeable re<3ol lections of our acquaintance in different coun- 
tries, 

" Your friend, 

"John Adams." 

Hague is situated two miles from the sea. Although it was 
called a village (from the fact of its not being walled, and sending, 
no deputy to the states) it enjoyed other advantages suflicient 
to place it in the class of the first cities of Europe, for opulence 
and luxury. Lord Chesterfield pronounced it " the most ele* 
gant city in the world." It is environed by a spacious canal, 
ornamented by lofty trees. The situation is somewhat eleva- 
ted, and is esteemed healthy. It occupies a favorable position, 
in the heart of a fertile country, surrounded by fortified cities 
and villages — splendid villas — fine gardens — and rich mea* 
dows. Most of the streets are pleasantly shaded, and general- 
ly broad. The houses were many of them large and elegant, 
being chiefly built of hewn stone, and yet scarcely a pebble 
could be gathered in a natural deposit, in the whole Republic. 
The squares are numerous, and planted with ornamental trees. 
The inhabitants of the Hague are modelled upon the Parisians : 
exceedingly polite, entirely a la Fran^ais ; seldom speaking 
their native language, and much addicted to dissipation. The 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 209 

ladies are generally very handsome and refined. The Vyver- 
burg was occupied on one side by a range of elegant edifices, 
and opposite to them a stately row of trees ; between these 
was a spacious basin of water, formed of hewn stone, with a 
romantic little island in the centre, crowned with shrubbery. 
Near this, is a large grove embracing a Mall, which is en- 
closed. 

The Hague is the seat of government of Holland, and of 
course the residence of the diplomatic corps. This gives it 
a glare of splendor and show, which I fear adorns merely the 
surface. The Council of State, the Council of Nobility, the 
Courts of Justice, and every description of national business 
concentrates at the " Court," the residence of the Stadtholder. 
This was surrounded by a deep fosse, and approached by three 
draw-brid_es, where guards were stationed to raise them on 
any emergency. The idea of thus interposing a barrier between 
the people and their legislators, is totally repugnant to Ameri- 
can notions of the free f'ebates of a Republican Assembly. 
The t^x stence of this fact in Holland, seemed more extraordi- 
nary, as history attests the strong and too well founded jealousy 
of the Dutch, in respect to their Stadtholders. 

The palace is very old, and more remarkable for its venera- 
ble aspect than elegance. The great saloon is in the antique 
style, and filled with historical paintings and trophies of 
their victories. The chamber of the States General was hung 
upon one side with rich tapestry, ornamented by the portraits 
of several Stadtholders, and on the other side by many excel- 
lent paintings. The chamber in which the twelve years' truce 
was established between Spain and Holland, in 1609, still 
retained its original ornaments ; the republic was personified by 
a female figure, occupying aposition over the mantel. In the 
audience room there was a fine portrait of William HI. The 
Prince's cabinet, on the opposite side of the court, was proba- 
bly one of the most striking curiosities at the Hague. The 
collection embraced among other objects of interest, ve y curi- 
ous and beautiful specimens of precious stones, fossils, minerals, 
petrefactions, and every department of inanimate natural his- 

14 



210 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

tory. The gallery of paintings, embracing sacred and histori- 
cal pieces, landscapes, and portraits — principally the works 
of Raphael, Rubens, Holbein and Van Dyke — was eminently 
interesting, and demanded the closest examination. 

The celebrated De Witts, two patriotic brothers, and ene- 
mies to the aspirations of the Prince of Orange, w^ere massa- 
cred in a prison near this palace, by an infuriated mob. Mr. 
Adams conducted me to the spot, and warmly execrated this 
dark event in the history of Holland. 

The canal between the Hague and Leyden is fifty feet wide. 
The country, rich in culture and loveliness, is equal to that I 
had already crossed over. Leyden is distinguished for the 
terrific siege (one of the most tragic in the annals of war), it 
maintained against the Duke of Alva. The city was ulti- 
mately relieved by the bold and desperate expedient of opening 
the dykes, by which the country was immediately inundated. 
Leyden is second only to Amsterdam in population. The 
city was well laid out, adorned with trees, and traversed by 
elegant streets and spacious canals. 

The Stadthouse is an ancient structure, built in the pure 
Dutch architecture. We noticed many superior pictures in it, 
and were struck with the peculiar appropriateness of one, 
representing the relief of the city from the siege referred to, by 
boats ladened with provisions, approaching it over the artificial 
sea, formed by the inundation. I visited at Leyden, with deep 
and thrilling emotion, the humble church where the Puritans 
worshipped, before their emigration to Plymouth. The build- 
ing is old and inelegant, but I viewed it with greater satisfac- 
tion than a palace. The deacon of the church, who accom- 
panied me to the edifice, remarked that Mr. Adams, when 
visiting it, was deeply affected, and could not refrain from 
weeping. A descendant of the Pilgrims should not stand with- 
in these consecrated walls, without yielding the homage of his 
tearful veneration. 

I owed to the letters of Mr. Adams the most marked kind- 
ness from Mons. Luzac, a very eminent lawyer, but more 
distinguished still for his remarkable abilities as a political 



211 

writer, and editor of the Leyden Gazette. In returning from 
Mens. Luzac's, along the line of the canal, about eleven at 
night, I was astonished to notice the repose and silence, almost 
that of the country, which rested upon this quiet city. 

Leyden yielded alone to Amsterdam in importance. It then, 
however, contained only 40,000 population. Mons. Luzac 
informed me that it formerly was computed to embrace 70,000. 
The increase of the woollen manufactories of England had 
greatly depressed its prosperity. This city was strongly forti- 
fied, and surrounded by a broad ditch, which is adorned with 
rows of trees. The edifices were elegant, die streets spacious 
and clean. The principal avenue, which stretches from the 
Hague gate to the Utrecht gate, the entire length of the city, 
was elevated, finely paved, and without a canal. Most of the 
other streets had canals running along their centres, orna- 
mented, as usual in this country, by lofty trees, standing occa- 
sionally in three parallel rows. This arrangement gave to the 
canals the aspect and effect of long alleys in a beautiful 
garden. The city is built on the old Rhine, which divides 
it into fifty islands, thirty of which may be sailed around by 
boats. It had one hundred and forty-five stone bridges, and 
forty-two towers on its walls. The Stadthouse is a large 
structure, built in 1597, in the pure Dutch architecture. 

The large church of Leyden is a vast pile, with no particu- 
lar beauty or interest, except as it contains a monument of 
great beauty and simplicity, raised to consecrate the memory 
of the illustrious physician and distinguished philosopher, 
Boerhaave. The reputation of this great man extended into 
China, and the tradition at Leyden asserts that a Mandarin 
addressed him with this superscription — " To Boerhaave in 
Europe," and that the missive came duly to his hands. The 
monument erected to him in the church of St. Peter, bears the 
inscription, " Salatifero Boerhaave genio sacrum." It is formed 
by an urn, resting upon a pedestal of black marble, which 
represents the four ages of life, and two of the sciences in which 
Boerhaave excelled. The capital of the base is decorated by 
a drapery of white marble, in which is exhibited, by the artist, 



212 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

emblems of diseases and their remedies. Above, upon the 
pedestal, is the medallion of Boerhaave; at the extremity of 
the same, a ribbon displays his private motto, " Simplex, vigil- 
lum, veri." 

I visited an old castle, in the centre of the city, called the 
Burg, which is said to have been built in the ninth century. 
It is more than six hundred feet in circumference. We 
ascended by fifty steps to the summit, from which we enjoyed 
an expanded and delightful view of the city and the adjacent 
country, the Downs and Haarlem lake. Within the Burg, a 
well has been constructed, of vast depth, in which, the annals 
of the city aver, the inhabitants, during the memorable siege, 
caught a large fish, which they in triumph exhibited from the 
walls to the Spaniards. 

The university of Leyden possesses great eminence, and is 
the principal Institution of learning in Holland. It was found- 
ed in 1575 by the States, as a tribute of gratitude for the glori- 
ous defence of the city. The building is antiquated. The 
Professors are probably among the most distinguished in 
Europe. The botanical garden attached to the University, 
with its statues, the cabinet of natural curiosities, the library, 
anatomical preparations, and petrified remains, are all highly 
interesting. In the garden we saw the American aloe, the tea 
and coffee plants. This University enjoyed great, and some 
singular privileges, even the infliction of death ; but the Pro- 
fessors are subordinate to the government of Holland. The 
manufactories of this place were formerly very extensive, 
especially in broadcloths, which tbey possessed the secret of 
dyeing in great perfection. Their fabrics also embraced nar- 
row cloths and camlets. A peculiarity of manner and feeling 
is said to characterize tlie middle classes of the Dutch. Their 
sensibilities are keen, their manners quiet and serious ; they 
can suffer neither a jest nor a compliment — the first, their 
jealousy construes into an insult ; the last confuses them. They 
seldom laugh, and never without an adequate cause. When 
the laugh of a company|falls upon an individual, his sensibility 
is always deeply affected, and is proclaimed to all by messengers 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 213 

flying from the heart, and bursting into a blaze upon the cheek. 
Such being the effect of a joke in Holland, surely every gen- 
erous mind will avoid this resource for amusement, and will 
wisely graduate his conduct here, as he should in every coun- 
try, by the prejudices and prevailing customs of its people, 
who are prone to be governed by some common caprice pecu- 
liar to themselves. 



214 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

Haarlem — Koster— Printing — Faust — Haarlem Organ — Lake — Am sterdam 
— Public Buildings— Spill House — Rasp House — Punishment— Sardam 
— Bruck— Utrecht— Political Excitement— Canal Travelling— Rhine — 
The Seven Provinces — Scheldt — Antwerp— Roads — Country Manners 
—Holland— Zealand— Friedland— Reflections — Form of Government 
— American Confederacy — Canals. 

Early the next morning we were moving towards Haarlem, 
upon the smooth surface of another splendid canal. 1 cannot 
find words of sufficient energy to express my admiration, and 
the delightful influence upon my mind, excited by this sailing 
above the surface of this beautiful, but artificial country. We 
traversed a pleasant district between the downs of Haarlem 
Lake, on our right, and the downs which run parallel to the 
ocean on the left. Within a few miles of Haarlem, the coun- 
try assumed a new aspect, and was beautifully diversified by 
elegant country-seats, cottages, an extensive forest, villages, and 
charming views. It was in this forest that Koster, an Alder- 
man of Haarlem, as the Dutch allege, first suggested the inven- 
tion of printing with types, in 1440. He was rambling, the 
legend runs, carelessly, and amusing himself in forming, with 
his knife, letters upon pieces of wood ; with these he made 
impressions, and from the circumstance derived the conception 
of movable types. John Faust, a servant of Koster, stole the 
types, and transported them to Metz, and assumed the merit of 
the discovery. This was the Doctor Faustus, so familiar to the 
minds of the vulgar in America, for his reported league with the 
Prince of Darkness. I saw at Haarlem specimens, which 
were carefully preserved, of the first essay Koster made 
with his wooden types. A statue had been erected to him, 
with an elegant Latin inscription, and was standing in the 
Town House of that city. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSOK. 215 

I saw in the old cathedral at Haarlem the finest organ in 
existence, made by the ingenious Miiller, in 1738. It is a 
stupendous work, as vast in its dimensions as it is ingenious in 
its execution and contrivance, containing eight thousand pipes 
the largest of which is sixteen inches in diameter, and thirty- 
eight feet long. It combines sixty-eight stops. This organ 
imitates, with admirable accuracy, the human voice, both solos 
and in chorus, various kinds of birds, trumpets, fifes, flutes, and 
the kettle-drum. The deep-toned flourish of trumpets is suc- 
ceeded by the softer notes of gentler instruments, and then sinks 
into the melodious harmony peculiar to the organ itself. Its 
power and the variety of its tones are most wonderful. The 
instrument is played twice a week for the gratification of the 
citizens and strangers, and on other occasions by paying gra- 
tuities to the performers. There are two silver bells upon the 
church, which were captured by the famous Braakel, at Dami- 
etta. There were three small ships suspended on the inside 
of the buildings, with saws adjusted to their sterns, to com- 
memorate the sawing of the chain across the Nile, an incident 
I have already referred to. Bullets were exhibited to me 
which were cut out from the ceiling, into which they had been 
fired by the Spaniards, during the terrific siege the city sus- 
tained in 1572, against the Duke of Alva's army. The city 
was gallantly defended on that occasion by 4,000 troops, 
heroically supported by the women, but were obliged by famine 
ultimately to surrender, when 2,000 persons, in infamous viola- 
tion of the terms of the capitulation, fell victims to Spanish 
barbarity. 

The architecture of Haarlem, and the arrangement of the 
streets, assimilate it to Leyden. The population had decreased 
from 50,000 to 30,000. The Irish formerly sent immense 
quantities of linen to this place to be bleached, the water of 
Haarlem Lake being esteemed peculiarly favorable to this pro- 
cess. The fields in this vicinity were as white with linen, 
spread upon them for bleaching, as our American meadows 
are after a snow-storm. Haarlem Lake is about fourteen miles 



216 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EE VOLUTION ; 

square, and was formed by an inundation three centuries 
before. This appalHn^ catastrophe overwhelmed seventy-two 
villages in its flood, with a frightful destruction of life and 
property. This body of water would be ranked scarcely above 
the ponds of America, and yet the Hollander regards it with as 
much admiration as the American esteems his Lake Superior, 
which would embrace several republics like Holland upon the 
area of its bosom. Between Haarlem and Amsterdam we 
crossed a narrow causeway which separated the river Wye 
from Haarlem Lake, and we had from its summit a full view of 
the lake and river, with the stately palace Zwanenberg. From 
the causeway to Amsterdam, the course of the canal was 
direct, enabling us to see the city the entire distance. I was 
disappointed in the approach to Amsterdam — nothing of 
interest was presented, while the stench from the stagnated 
water of the canals was excessively offensive. 

The harbor of this commercial metropolis presented a forest 
of shipping, but far inferior to that upon the Thames. The 
magnificent docks contained several new ships of war of the 
largest dimensions, and some old ones. These ships are con- 
veyed in and out of these artificial docks, and quite to the TexeL 
by the agency of very curious and ingenious machines, which 
receive the hull of the vessel within their bodies, and thus 
securely transport them. These machines are appropriately 
called "camels." 

Amsterdam stands upon the river Wye, near the Zuyder 
Zee, and contained at that time about 300,000 inhabitants- 
The number of dwellings was equal, and they were of the 
same size, as those of Paris, although the inhabitants were on® 
half less. This city was scarcely known in the thirteenth 
century, and owes its subsequent rise and magnificence to the 
flood of population which poured into it from Antwerp during 
the civil commotion. It is built in the form of a crescent^ 
and was well fortified with a strong wall and bastions. The 
ditch which encompassed it formed a spacious canal, em bel 
lished by a double row of trees. It was esteemed hardly second 
to London in the extent and value of its commerce, although 



217 

then conceded to be upon the wane. More than two thousand 
ships, from every quarter of the globe, annually enter the Wye. 
The shallowness of the Zuyder Zee is a serious embarrassment 
to this commerce, but it effectually protects the city from 
naval enemies. Amsterdam is built on the site of a salt 
marsh. Its edifices principally stand upon piles prepared at 
an enormous expense. Thirteen thousand piles were required 
to create the foundation of the Stadthouse. The streets are 
usually wide and well paved ; canals are constructed through 
the centre of many of them. The vista of stately and um- 
brageous trees which uniformly almost bordered the canals in 
the cities of Holland, communicates to the scenery a beauti- 
ful and agreeable feature. 

The squares of Amsterdam were small and inelegant. The 
Stadthouse stands upon the most considerable of them. This 
edifice was a noble structure, and the principal object of beauty 
and attraction in the city. It is 282 feet long, 235 wide, and 116 
feet high, constructed^of hewn stone at an expense of two million 
pounds sterling. The material points of interest in this huge 
pile, are the armory, the bank, the Burgher's Hall, and its bells 
and paintings. The Hall is a spacious and gorgeous room, 120 
feet long, 57 broad, and 90 high, entirely built of marble. The 
floor exhibits a representation of the earth and heavens, with the 
constellations curiously inlaid in marble. The dwelling-houses 
of Amsterdam are chiefly constructed of brick, and occasionally 
of hewn stone, but in general they are not so elegant as those 
of Rotterdam. The arsenal and the dock-yard adjacent, 
which contained a vast amount of naval stores, were worthy 
of careful examination. The hospitals and other charitable 
institutions were very numerous in the city, and highly import- 
ant. They supported, it was estimated, 20,000 paupers. 
Every religion was tolerated, but Calvinism predominated. 
Bells were allowed upon the churches of no other denomination. 
Trumpeters were maintained upon the steeples and towers 
during the night, to sound the alarm in case of fire. The 
revenue of Amsterdam was computed at 50,000 florins per 
diem. Its trade extended to every sea, but the most lucrative 



218 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EE VOLUTION; 

commerce was at this period with the Indies. The chime on the 
Stadthouse was said to be the finest in Europe. 1 examined 
it minutely, and found it truly a stupendous work. We remain- 
ed on the roof until it sounded " the hour, and our ears were 
almost stunned by the ponderous tones. It is similar to an 
organ in its mechanism, and a person can play upon it with 
equal facility. 

Among the splendid paintings in the Stadthouse, I was par- 
ticularly impressed by one of Van Dyke's, which represented 
the Duke of Alva in conference with the bourgeois of Amster- 
dam before they abjured the Spanish yoke. It singularly por- 
trayed that dark and bloody character he afterwards exhibited, 
combined with a bold and martial expression of countenance. 

I proceeded to the Exchange, during the hours of business. 
to deliver my letters from Mr. Adams. The room was not so 
large as the Exchange in London, nor could it compare, in 
neatness and elegance, with that, or the one at Rotterdam. It 
was built of brick, and totally destitute of all ornamental 
arrangement. At " full-change," it was completely crowded. 
I retired into a corner to indulge my curiosity, and contem- 
plate the busy scene. I could compare it to nothing so appro- 
priately as the glass bee-house I had recently examined at 
Wildman's garden. The latter was, in truth, the Amsterdam 
Exchange in miniature ; there was the same buzzing sound, the 
same eagerness of the bees to enter, the same industry and ardor 
in the accumulation of the"^ honey in each. These active mer- 
chants are roaming abroad from flower to flower in the wide 
world, everywhere sucking atid collecting the sweets of com- 
merce. 

I have seldom read in books, or heard in conversation, a par- 
ticular reference to the character of Amsterdam, without 
observing an allusion to a singular institution, known as the 
spill-houses, or legalized brothels, under the license and regula- 
tion of the police. The apology for their creation is in the 
idea that they accomplish a protection to virtuous females. I 
felt a curiosity to examine them, and under the guidance of an 
official of the pohce, visited one of the most celebrated. The 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 219 



spectacle, however, was too loathsome and abhorrent to be 
endured, and we remained but a few minutes. At the door 
we were compelled to pay for a bottle of vinegar, which they 
called wine, with the option of drinking it or not. A dense 
cloud of smoke enveloped the apartment, which was thronged 
by Jack-tars, boors, and. vulgar citizens. We pressed our way 
through this assemblage to the farther extremity of the room, 
where a strapping negro was dancing with a spill-house lady, 
to the music of an old reprobate, sawing upon a broken violin. 
The dancing was unique ; they seemed to slide heavily upon 
their heels, sailing along the floor without either figure or ani- 
mation. There were about forty of these debased and wretched 
victims, arranged around the room like so many painted dolls. 
They presented to my mind the idea of a butcher's^shamble, 
where the lambs are hung up for the highest bidder. Alas, 
poor humanity, in scenes like this, fallen and degraded below 
the beasts of the field ! 

I also visited the rasp-house, a place of punishment of great 
celebrity. I found it an excellent institution, but with no 
remarkable feature. The punishment, in addition to the con- 
finement, seemed merely to consist in their being compelled to 
cut lignum vitae with a rasp saw. We were closely followed 
during our inspection, and stunned by the cry of "charity, 
charity !" 

Another curious mode of correction prevailed in Holland : 
those who obstinately persisted in refusing to work, were 
placed in a cistern with water up to their chins, where they 
were fastened to a pump, and compelled by involuntary labor 
to avoid drowning, as the water is made to run in as fast as it 
is discharged by the pump. 

I dined in Amsterdam at the house of an eminent merchant, 
with a brilliant company. On leaving the hospitable table of 
the wealthy Dutchman, we paid our two florins to the servant 
at the door, with as much precision as at a table d' bote in 
Paris. . This disgraceful custom had been exploded only a few 
years before in England, where it formerly cost a gentleman a 
half guinea to dine with his friend. 



220 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

I made an excursion from Amsterdam to Sardam, which is 
situated upon the Wye, six miles from the former. The har- 
bor was filled with shipping, arranged with perfect order and 
system. In approaching Sardam we perceived a battalion of 
windmills drawn up on our front. This extraordinary town 
appears small, when viewed from a distance, but I was aston- 
ished at the deception in this respect, and delighted by the pecu- 
liarity of the architecture, and by the arrangement of the 
houses, gardens, and, indeed, of almost every object. All were 
strange, and indeed unlike anything I had before seen. Sardam 
is situated in North Holland, and contained nearly 40,000 in- 
habitants, who were conspicuous for their great wealth. They 
have acquired their affluence by the wood trade, ship-building, 
and the operation of a multiplicity of curious mills, appropriated 
to the manufacturing of paper, tobacco, boards, &c. 

I examined here a saw-mill that worked forty saws simul- 
taneously by one movement. It was intended to keep in a 
state of preparation timber, well seasoned in the ship-yard, 
adequate to the average construction of one ship a week. 
Three hundred vessels were usually built at Sardam every year. 
This city looked like a finished Chinese palace, and realized the 
idea of perfect beauty and elegance. The buildings were 
small, but unique, and universally beautiful. They were paint- 
ed in various colors, and had their roofs constructed of glazed 
tiles. Handsome porticos spread in front of their dwellings, 
with gardens arranged with a magnificence and skill that 
cannot be described, which extended very far in the rear, 
Sardam covers a large area. The canals run along the streets 
in every direction, bordered on each side by long chains of 
these fairy houses. Rambling for hours with unabated de- 
light through this charming place, we were at length conduct- 
ed to the small house in which Peter the Great boarded among 
the common operatives, the most faithful and laborious man in 
the yard, whilst he was here practically learning the trade of 
ship-carpenter. The woman of the house exhibited, with 
much exultation, a gold medal which had been presented her 
by the Empress of Russia. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 221 

The habits and genius of the people of North Holland are 
strikingly dissimilar to those of the other province^ and many 
of them are very strange and peculiar. They extend their ideas 
of neatness to such an excess, that I was assured the master of 
the house was positively constrained by custom to pull off his 
shoes at his own threshold, where a servant was placed pre- 
pared to supply him with a pair of slippers. The front doors 
of their dwellings were only opened on occasions of deaths 
and marriages. The women were strangely metamorphosed, 
and totally unlike their more Southern sisters in their attire 
and taste. Their heads were encircled by broad gold or 
brass bands ; across the forehead the}^ wore tight caps, with 
the hair cut short in front. Immense ear-rings dangled at the 
sides of their faces, which were surmounted by broad flat 
calico hats, cocked up in the cir. Under all these disadvan- 
tages I saw many beautiful faces ; but the female figure was 
generally bad. I noticed a remarkable uniformity in their 
features, that made them all appear like sisters. 

We extended our excursion to Bruck, which, in many re- 
spects, is even more curious and impressive than Sardam. In 
beauty and style, as well as cleanliness, it was the very model of 
a perfect pity. It was mainly inhabited by merchants who had 
retired from Amsterdam, immersed in wealth. Banking and 
insurance operations are their peculiar occupation. Neither 
carriages nor horses were allowed to enter the precincts of 
this enchanted village. The streets were finely paved with 
variegated stones, fancifully marked in various figures, and 
strewn lightly over with sand, as carefully as the inside of their 
houses. Everything we saw glittered so strongly in neatness, 
that our eyes were fairly pained in gazing upon them. This 
people are represented as exceedingly coy of strangers, and as 
usually intermarrying among themselves. On our return to 
Amsterdam we were overtaken by a severe thunder storm, 
and about a hundred passengers were crowded together in the 
dark, beneath the hatches. Even Dutch phlegm, in such a 
situation, yielded to merriment and frolic. A Dutch Jew in 
the boat had a peculiar talent of imitating the crying of a child, 
with an empty pipe. This he did with the nicest perfection, 



222 MEN AND TIMES OF THE KEVOLUTION ; 

whenever the curtains were dropped. Every one supposing 
a child to be in the canal, thrust out their heads into the rain, 
when the crying would instantly cease, and we hunted in 
vain for the sufferer. This artifice was repeated several 
times before we detected the imposture. 

I left Amsterdam on board a truckschute for Utrecht, and in 
nine hours reached that city, a progress of twenty-three miles. 
We traversed a beautiful country, more profusely occupied by 
elegant country-seats and villas than I had seen in any part of 
Holland, especially as we approached Utrecht, where we saw 
a continuous series of splendid residences, some exhibiting the 
gorgeousness and magnificence of palaces. 

Utrecht occupies a small natural elevation, and was esteem- 
ed a healthy city. It is rendered conspicuous in history for 
the celebrated treaty in 1579, which cemented the union of 
the Seven Provinces. It contained between 20,000 and 30,000 
population. Party spirit was highly exasperated in the city. 
The citizens were arming and exercising in military evolu- 
tions, preparing to oppose the Prince of Orange, whose party 
denounced these movements as rebellious, and instigated by a 
French faction. The citizens were so deeply hostile to Eng- 
land, that it was almost dangerous for an Englishman to ap- 
pear in the streets. Martial excitement beat high in every 
vein. My mind revolted at the thought that these blooming 
fields might soon be occupied by parks of bellowing artillery, by 
encampments and scenes of civil war, in which kindreds would 
be darting at each, other's bosoms the weapons of death. I 
visited the ruins of the old Cathedral, the centre of which had 
fallen, but the tower remained. I saw here a monument of 
a Bishop, with several others in basso-relievo, the heads of 
which had been battered off during the harsh religious persecu- 
tions which produced the revolt under Philip 11. We ascended 
the tower, which is three hundred and seventy feet high. From 
this elevation the view stretched far over the Low Country, the 
Downs, Haarlem Lake and the Zuyder Zee. The atmosphere 
was hazy, and thus limited our horizon. I was informed that in 
a clear day fifty walled cities might be comprehended in one 
view from this summit. The country in the vicinity of 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 223 

Utrecht appeared like a broad and unbroken garden. The 
wind blew a gale, and I was almost apprehensive that the 
crazy old tower, which had withstood sieges and tempests for 
almost a thousand years, would at length tumble down and 
bury me in its ruins. The teirific roar of the wind through the 
hollow arches, and amid the ruins of the old church beneath 
us, was calculated to excite these emotions. I hastened down 
and proceeded to visit the University. A celebrated garden 
next attracted my attention, which belonged to a Mad. Van 
Mollem. It was constructed on a magnificent plan, and seem- 
ed to embrace every object that can render such a spot curi- 
ous and delightful. It was copiously adorned by cascades 
variously arranged, grottos, statues, vases, and evergreens 
formed to represent innumerable objects, -Riid with the utmost 
ingenuity. Two grottos, chiefly constructed with rare collec- 
tions of marine shells, collected from different parts of the earth, 
were formed in unrivalled taste and beauty, at an expense, we 
were informed, of ten thousand pounds each . Near this garden 
a silk manufactory was established, and constructed nearly 
upon the plan of the one at Derby, which I have described. A 
single water-wheel, which is a marked curiosity in Holland, 
propelled the entire machinery. 

The Mall of Utrecht is said to be the largest in Europe. 
It is three quarters of a mile in length, and enclosed by four 
double rows of lofty and venerable trees. When Louis XIV. 
seized the city in 1672, he gave special instructions for the 
preservation of this delightful promenade. Utrecht possessed 
no particular curiosities or imposing public edifices. 

On my departure from Amsterdam I had embraced in my 
contemplated movements a tour through Saxony and West- 
phalia, that I might see and pay my homage to the immortal 
Frederic ; but I received letters at Utrecht which compelled 
me to retrace my steps, and hasten to London. I embarked 
in a truckschute for Leyden, and the first time since my arri- 
val in Holland found my French unintelligible to all on board. 
I occupied a cabin alone, but wandered into the smoke and 
crowd of the boat in search of society, and after a vain pursuit 
returned to my seclusion, and spent the night upon the 



22 i MEN" AND TIMES OF THE EiEVOLUTION ; 

cushioned benches, reading, sleeping, and contemplating the 
country through the cabin windows, by a glowing moonlight. 
We travelled upon the canal to the city of Worden, where 
we entered a branch of the Rhine, and yielded the boat to its 
gentle current. We descended the river in this pleasant and 
luxurious manner, passing many beautiful residences, and 
through a charming country, until we reached Leyden. I 
was charmed with this mode of travelling — the wide river, 
the clear and pure water, the splendid scenes afforded by the 
adjacent country, viewed through the trees, which lined the 
shores of the stream, by the moonlight beaming upon it. 
Hastily passing through Leyden to embark upon the Delft 
canal, I perceived some of the bourgeoise under arms at the 
Stadthouse, and understood that the antagonistic parties, 
since my visit to the city, had had a slight conflict. 

The Seven Provinces which constituted the Eepublic of Hol- 
land, and once attracted the gaze and admiration of the world, 
were Holland, Zealand, Friesland, Guelderland, Overyssel, 
Groningen and Utrecht. They embraced an area of about 
150 miles wide and 100 miles broad, including the Zuyder Zee 
and Haarlem Lake. The surface of water they contained, 
combined with the numerous canals and rivers, make it 
doubtful whether the land or water occupies the greatest space 
within the boundary of the country. Travelling was cheaper 
at the period of my tour, in Holland, than in any other region 
I had visited. The ordinary disbursement did not exceed one 
penny sterling the mile. The level and depressed face of the 
country, often lower than tide water, creates the impression 
upon the traveller's mind that it has been wrested from the 
dominion of the ocean, and that he may, at some period, 
resume his empire, seems almost probable from the frightful 
events which appear in the history of the country. The 
heavy and moist atmosphere that envelops Holland is undoubt- 
edly healthy to the acclimated inhabitants. Their winters usu- 
ally commence in October, and terminate in March. The 
summers are generally hot, short, and subject to severe 
changes. The estimates of the population were extremely dis- 
cordant, but from the best data I could procure, it did not 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 225 

exceed two and a half millions, and was evidently on the de- 
cline. This fact is chiefly attributable to the insensible but 
progressive decline in their manufactures, which naturally 
bore with it a depression in their commerce. More luxurious 
living and less industry than characterized their lofty spirited 
ancestors, were regarded as other causes of this declension. 
Those who assume to pry deeply into the future, predicted the 
total annihilation of the Republic as an independent power. 
They remarked that should the Emperor of Germany persevere 
in his wise and ambitious design of opening the Scheldt, and 
reviving the commerce of Antwerp (once the Emporium 
and commercial glory of Europe), it must inevitably tend to 
accelerate the fall of Holland. The Scheldt is a noble river, 
and is capable of admitting ships of any burthen quite up to 
the city, which had also secure access to the North Sea, and 
a communication with the Rhine, Meuse and Lis. In the 
event of this navigation being restored, a doubt was not en- 
tertained that Antwerp would regain its former splendor. As 
Amsterdam had arisen to opulence on the ruins of Antwerp, 
it was regarded as possible that the latter might be restored 
to prosperity by the decline of the former. 

The main spring of Dutch wealth existed in the East India, 
and chiefly in the spice trade ; and in this they were considered 
then in great danger of meeting formidable competitors and rivals. 

The canals in Holland were so generally used that the roads 
were neglected, and almost uniformly bad. No regular post- 
coaches existing, travellers were compelled to use wagons, 
and the charges of these not being regulated by law, they were 
subjected to every imposition and extortion. The country 
was curious because it resembled no other ; but a continued 
uniformity soon cloys the mind of a traveller, although the 
objects he views are pleasant and beautiful. After seeing one 
city of Holland, you may form a pretty accurate idea of the rest. 
The country, without the walls of the cities, maintained the same 
general symmetry — a prolonged marshy plain, thronged by 
cattle. The Dutch, in high hfe, are counterparts of the French. 
The merchant, and those of that rank in society, are esteemed 

15 



226 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION 

more elegant and refined than the English of [the same class, 
The Dutch are esteemed a cold, phlegmatic, and inhospitable 
people, especially in their intercourse with strangers, but are 
brave, frugal, and industrious. 

The province of Holland was divided into North and South 
Holland, and is partially separated by the river Wye. The 
customs and style of life between these divisions were very 
unlike. The province of Holland exhibited an entirely flat 
surface, except the downs along the sea-coast. The soil is 
light. In November, the country, particularly North Holland, 
is almost submerged. Few objects appear above the waste of 
waters, but dykes, steeples, and buildings. The inhabitants, at 
this season, seemed almost like amphibious animals. These 
inundations, after fertilizing the fields, are drawn off in Febru- 
ary. The process is accomplished by machinery worked by 
windmills which discharges the water with great rapidity into 
the canals. The country is protected from the sea by artifi- 
cial dykes and the downs. They had little arable land. The 
meadows afford fine grazing for the vast flocks of cattle which 
covered them. Holland is, indeed, a wide-spread meadow, inter- 
sected by rivers, lakes, and canals, which are profusely stored 
with fish. 

The commerce of Holland once knew no limits but the confines 
of the globe. It had no grain of its own culture, but was the 
granary of Europe — no vinej^ards, but it supplied Europe with 
the choicest wines. It had no staple of its own production, but 
supplied in its own ports every commodity cheaper than any 
other nation. Such are the energies and effects of industry 
and enterprise. But alas, poor Holland! thy sun had passed 
its meridian splendor, and, as in a long summer's day, it was 
slowly approaching the horizon. In power and wealth, Hol- 
land equalled all the other six provinces. 

The province of Zealand is situated at the mouth of the 
Scheldt, and is divided into eleven islands by that river. It is 
entirely protected from the sea by dykes, which are main- 
tained at an enormous expense. The land lies low, and is sub- 
ject to frequent inundations. It was reputed to be more 
fertile, but less healthy than Holland. The inhabitants car- 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 227 

ried on extensive herring fisheries, principally upon the coast 
of England. Their fisheries are an admirable nursery of sea- 
men, and a source of great wealth. It surprised me that so 
enterprizing a people as the English, should permit their great 
commercial rivals to monopolise this immense business on the 
very shores of England. The people of Zealand possessed few- 
manufactories. 

Friedland is the most northern province. The soil is gen- 
erally very fertile. In some sections it was sparsely inhabited. 
It produced considerable grain, and possessed very superior 
horses, cows, and sheep. The latter were peculiar for their 
long and soft wool. Occasional forests occurred, which were 
filled by great quantities of wild fowl. Their commerce was 
extensive. Their linens were highly esteemed. The people 
of this province had preserved, in an eminent degree, the 
habits and customs of their ancestors. The remaining 
provinces were less important, and similar to the others 
in their general physical features, and the characteristics of 
their people. 

The following remarks and reflections upon the government 
and prospects of Holland, as they existed at that period, I have 
deemed proper to preserve, although the whole fabric has, 
since they were written, been swept away in the overwhelm- 
ing tide of change and revolutions. Each province, in most of 
its functions and prerogatives, was independent of the others, 
while many of the cities possessed powers and immunities 
independent of the provinces in which they were situated. 
Their " High Mightinesses," or Deputies of the States General, 
could neither make war nor conclude peace without the con- 
currence of every State represented by Deputies in the 
General Assembly. In this the people were most unequally 
represented. Thus the province of Overyssel exercised the 
same voice as Holland, the latter paying half the expenses of 
the Union. And the little city of Purmeren enjoyed the same 
power as Amsterdam, which bore half the financial burdens of 
the whole province. 

The States General assembled regularly four times a year at 
the Hague, and in case of emergency were convened at any 



228 



time by the Council of State. One negative arrested a deci- 
sion. This power often produced tedious procrastination, and 
disastrously clogged the wheels of public operations. Hence 
arose their slow and feeble efforts in the war with England 
which had just terminated. The chamber of accounts man- 
aged the revenues of the Republic. The States General was 
composed of thirty-four members. No Stadtholder, Governor, 
nor officer, could vote in the National Assembly. They 
change the President every week, each Province supplying him 
in^ turn. In common cases the majority of votes decided a 
question, but in specified, extraordinary matters, the vote must 
be unanimous. Five courts of Admiralty existed, and were 
located at different ports. These held the control of naval 
operations, subject to instructions of the Assembly. The 
powers and duties of the Stadtholder were merely those of 
Commander-in-Chief of the Armies and High Admiral, and 
were exercised in subordination to their High Mightinesses. 

The legislative authority of each city was vested in a Senate 
composed of thirty or forty members. These held their of- 
fices for life. A vacancy was filled by the survivors. The 
Representatives of the several Provinces were chosen from this 
Senate. Practically, therefore, the people (with all their 
boasted liberty) had no voice in the selection of the power by 
which they were governed with so much despotism. 

In contemplating the ponderous and complicated ma- 
chinery of the government of the Dutch Republic, I thus re- 
corded my sentiments at the time. 

" 1 fear we shall realize in our confederated system the in- 
conveniences and weaknesses the Dutch experience under their 
ill-modelled government, which, whilst it seems to be ground- 
ed on the basis of a scrupulous jealousy of power, in its 
operations exhibits the most grinding despotism. During the 
external pressure of a common enemy, our temporary govern- 
ment answered all the purposes for which it had been or- 
ganized; but now that weight is removed, every State may 
draw into itself, and, like the sensitive plant, shrink from the 
representative body of the Union. Our Confederacy em- 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 229 

braces many of the defects, without the coercive power 
and energetic independence of the Dutch government. God 
only knows what will be the end — but I dread to look for- 
ward, from a deep conviction that we cannot long be bound 
together by the feeble ties which now unite the States. 
State will soon contend with State, hatred and alienation 
will ensue, and perhaps the whole continent is destined 
to be deluged in the mutual slaughter of Americans, whilst 
yet smoking with the blood of our foes. And finally, we 
shall become a prey to some power of Europe ; or some 
audacious Cromwell will step forth to impose despotic laws 
and more than kingly protection. I cannot, I will not in- 
dulge in these gloom)^ apprehensions, but will rather hope 
that the lofty anticipations of an admiring world will not so 
soon be blasted, and that the Providence which conducted 
us, with so much glory, through the Revolution, will com- 
bine the wisdom of the nation to devise a form of government 
that will bless this and future generations." 

The revenue of Holland amounted to almost twenty-one 
millions of florins per annum, and was produced principally 
by the Custom and Excise duties, which are so extended as 
to meet almost every article. Upon an emergency, they had 
recourse to the hundredth penny. 

The naval armament consisted of seventy sail of all classes. 
The army w^as composed of thirty thousand troops. 

The canals of Holland can scarcely be enumerated, or their 
number computed. They traverse the country and intersect 
each other in every direction. They are substitutes for 
roads — the medium of intercourse in summer by boats, 
and when frozen they afford delightful avenues for business 
or pleasure. These canals were the channels of an im- 
mense trade with Germany and France. The proprietors of 
these works derived a large revenue from them, which is 
estimated to average a net annual income of 82,500 per 
mile. The original capital stock had ages before been re- 
imbursed. The canals of Holland usually require two acres 
of land for each mile ; those of England an acre and a half. 



230 



England embraced, in 1784, almost 600 miles of artificial in- 
land navigation, which yielded from 10 to 30 per cent, on its 
stocks. 

The first canal in that country was constructed to convey 
the New river into London. The year 1758 may be adopted as 
the epoch of the introduction of the policy into Great Britain, 
through the agency of the Duke of Bridgewater, and from the 
genius of Brindley, who was an accomplished engineer, from the 
instincts of nature. The canals of Holland possess a vast 
advantage over those of nearly every other country, from the 
fact that its low and level surface almost universally exempt 
them from the inconvenience and expense of locks. 

I reached the packet at Helvoetsluys at the moment of her 
departure. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 231 



CHAPTER XIX. 

Land in England — Tea Drinking — Anecdote — Incident — Granville Sharp 
— Ignatius Sancho — Homeward Voyage — Gale — Sailor's Supersti- 
tion — Land — American Farmer — Discontents — Lecture — Home — 
Gen. Green. 

After a tempestuous passage of twenty-four hours, we made 
the English coast near Yarmouth, and ran along its lofty cliffs 
until abreast of Lestoffe. The passengers, fourteen in num- 
ber, were obliged to embark on board an open fishing-boat, 
two miles from shore, in a heavy sea, and beneath dark and 
threatening clouds. We landed safely, however, amid a rolling 
surge, and soon refreshed ourselves, and settled our giddy 
heads with a comfortable dish of tea. I have often experi- 
enced the salutary effects of this favorite herb after a fatiguing 
journey or sea-sickness. It produces a relief as effectual 
as opium does in other cases. The French use tea as a 
medicine, the English, Dutch and Americans, to an infatuated 
extent, as a beverage. Consumptions and bad teeth were 
generally imputed to the excessive use of the hot tea. I will 
not assert the truth of the theory, but it is rendered plausible 
by the fact that in Francs consumptions are almost unknown, 
and the teeth of the French are generally fine, while in the 
tea-drinking countries that disease is frightfully prevalent, and 
the teeth of the people are very generally bad. 

On landing, we immediately started for London, but, in the 
absence of every better vehicle, w^ere compelled to travel twenty- 
five miles in a common horse-cart, across the country to Sexmun- 
dy, like so many condemned criminals on their way to Ty- 
burn. This mode of travelling was novel in England, and 
afforded us no small amusement, although we were incommod- 
ed by the rain, and subjected to the wit and ridicule of the 
country people. 



232 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

After my return from Holland until my departure for 
America, in the following August, I was employed in the final 
adjustment of my affairs and the enjoyment of the hospitality 
of my friends in the vicinity of London. 

A ludicrous incident, which occurred during this interval, 
afforded general amusement to the metropolis for the hour. A 
newly arrived and verdant Irish merchant requested a friend 
to show him Bedlam. Without explanation, he was taken into 
the midst of the Jews, at the Stock Exchange, at the height of 
its uproar, who began to hustle him as a green duck. He rush- 
ed to his friend and exclaimed in a loud whisper, " They're 
all loose, By J ! and I am off," and rushed out of the room. 

My last adventure in London was of a ridiculous character, 
but quite illustrative of EngHsh habits. The day previous to 
my departure, I was on my way to dinner with a friend, dress- 
ed according etiquette, with silk stockings, powdered hair, and 
all the other appliances of fashion, and was threading a narrow 
lane near St. Paul's, when I detected a pick-pocket in the act of 
flirting a handkerchief from the pocket of a gentleman. On 
such occasions custom had ordained a summary punishment 
on the spot. The culprit was dragged to the nearest pump, 
placed under it, and deluged with water until half drowned. 

Indignant at witnessing this daring transaction in open 
daylight, I seized the villain by the collar. In the struggle we 
both fell into the muddy gutter. I clung to him, and assisted 
in holding him under the pump until I was completely drench- 
ed with mud and water. 

The last evening I spent in England was in the capacious 
library of Surgeon Sharp, a man of eminence, and brother 
of the philanthropist Granville Sharp, who was a bachelor and 
an inmate of his brother's house. I was, in a manner, enchained, 
for several hours, by this noble enthusiast in the cause of 
African emancipation and colonization. His ardor was so 
intense that I could not extricate myself from the earnest 
outpourings of his devoted zeal. With untiring effort, he had 
secured a territory on the coast of iVfrica, which he had nam- 
ed Sierra Leone, and had, at his individual expense, fitted 



OH, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 233 

out an expedition bearing the first emigrants, but the ship 
was unfortunately lost, and all had perished. Still he was 
boldly persevering. 

Mr. Sharp confided two bundles of books to my care, em- 
bracing his entire publications on emancipation and other 
congenial topics, directed to Washington, which I subse- 
quently delivered to him at Mount Vernon. 

Some months before, while lounging in the same library, I 
had accidentally looked into a book, which had riveted my 
attention. It was an odd volume of a work which contained 
occasional, and chiefly domestic letters of Ignatius Sancho, an 
educated African. I purchased and read the work, and was 
impelled by the interest it excited, to seek the humble residence 
of his widow, of whom be spoke with so much deep affection. 
As a pretext to cover the real object of my visit, I purchased 
a few articles from her little shop, and soon introduced my- 
self, by a reference to the letters, frankly confessing that my 
call was induced by sympathy and naked curiosity. 1 entered 
her dwelling with strong prepossessions in her favor, which were 
amply confirmed by her general appearance, the intelligence of 
her conversation, and her warm sensibilities. She showed the 
original letters of Sancho, written with a free and manly hand. 
Her tears flowed copiously in referring to her deceased hus- 
band. She conducted me into a neat back parlor, prettily 
furnished, and introduced me to her family. Sancho was a 
jet black Negro, and she a Mulatto. One of the daughters, 
when we entered, was sitting at a harpsichord, and a white 
gentleman, in appearance, singing with her in concert. One 
or two other white persons came in, and we spent a pleasant 
hour in conversation, interspersed with singing and music, and 
yielded to the females the same respectful attention that we 
should have extended to white ladies. — " And why not V ex- 
exclaims the philanthropist. The potent influence of prejudice 
cannot readily be subdued. A family of cultivated Africans, 
marked by elevated and refined feelings, was a spectacle I had 
never before witnessed. 

On the 21st of August, 1784, I embarked on board the ship 



234 MEN AND TIMES OF THE KEVOLUTION ; 

George Washington, Capt. Smith, on my return to America. 
We weighed anchor in a stiff gale and threatening atmos- 
phere, and by the time we reached Godwin Sands were in 
the midst of a violent storm, surrounded by breakers, with the 
whole rake of the German ocean beating tremendously upon 
our larboard side. We were running under a reefed fore- 
sail ; the foremast rocking and straining at every plunge. 
The old Captain, with his mouth half full of tobacco, and his 
under jaw in constant motion, was discharging the tobacco 
juice in every direction. I heard him say to the mate, ''if 
the sail or topmast gives away, we are gone." Fortunately 
we had a most resolute and skilful pilot. A man forward 
critically watched the buoys, as we were obliged to follow a 
channel in the midst of breakers, the spray thick, the rain 
pouring in nearly a horizontal sheet. These obscurities made 
it extremely difficult to trace the buoys, by which alone 
we were guided ; and the failure of a moment would probably 
have caused our immediate destruction. Happily we arrived 
off Deal in safety, and there landed our gallant pilot. We 
then steered directly before the gale towards the Atlantic ; but 
during the night the wind veered to the West, and we were 
detained for several days beating about the Channel. 

Although it was impossible for me to contemplate England, 
the home of my ancestors, in which I had found much to ad- 
mire, and had left many valued friends, without interest and 
emotion ; yet I frankly confess my sensations were warmer 
and deeper, as I viewed the hospitable shore of happy, bright, 
joyous France. 

During the voyage I was involved in a serious difficulty 
with our worthy skipper, by a most frivolous occurrence. I 
record the incident to exemplify the singular superstition, 
which then prevailed among the most intelligent class of our 
seamen. Capt. Smith I had known from my boyhood, as a 
man of sense, and of more than ordinary intelligence and cul- 
tivation. 

I had observed that our cook was in the habit of bringing 
the egg-shells on deck, and carefully breaking them into small 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 235 

pieces, before they were thrown into the sea. I was persuaded 
there was a hidden superstition under this singular practice. 
Determined to decide my suspicions, I one evening seized the 
bowl containing the shells, and cast them overboard unbro- 
ken. The cook darted into the cabin, and in a moment the 
captain rushed on to the quarter-deck, and approaching in a 
menacing attitude, abused me most vehemently. I could 
hardly believe him in earnest, until I saw his countenance ac- 
tually distorted by rage and apprehension. It was casting 
feathers against the wind to reason, and it was dangerous to 
ridicule. He swore that he had been to sea forty years, and 
had never known egg-shells thrown whole into the sea, but 
that old bitch, Mother Carey, got into them, and raised 
a gale of wind. I could scarcely suppress a smile, and was 
amazed that a man of his intelligence and judgment should be 
the victim of such folly. 

However, the second or third night after, I was aroused by 
an unusual noise on deck, and the agitated motion of the ves- 
sel. The egg-shells and the captain's denunciations flashed 
upon my mind. I hastened up the companion-way, and, by 
the vivid flashes of the lightning, saw the sailors aloft, striking 
yards and topmasts, preparing for a gale. The aspect was 
most appalling. The Captain caught a glimpse of my face. 
" There !" he cried, " didn't I tell you so !" 
We were soon involved in all the horrors of a hurricane. At 
dawn I crawled upon deck, and contemplated the frightful 
scene. The wind roared and whistled among the rigging and 
blocks, the atmosphere was black and ominous, the ocean, 
swollen into mountains, was fearfully convulsed — the rain was 
dashing in torrents. Our ship was tight and sound ; and, by 
the vigilance of our old Captain, under Providence, we sur- 
vived the storm. To our great joy the wind lulled, the clouds 
dispersed, and a bright sun gladdened our hearts ; although for 
several hours after we were exposed to a tremendous swell, 
which rolled our yards almost into the water. What connec- 
tion existed between the storm and the egg-shells I could not 
determine ; but I had reason to believe that the coincidence 



236 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

tended to confirm the faith of the skipper and sailors in the 
powerful influence of Mother Carey. 

On the 30th of September we struck soundings, in thirty- 
fathoms water, off* the coast of New- Jersey, as was determined 
by the coarse black gravel, vvhich became attached to the tal- 
low, at the bottom of our sounding lead. Standing N. E., on 
the 3d of October we were rejoiced by the cry of " Land." 
The wind was in our favor, and we ran along the coast of 
Long Island, by Point Judith ; then passed Block Island, and 
were soon in the midst of the beautiful islands of Narraganset 
Bay. 

An absence of more than five years, occupied in traversing 
various sections of Europe, had much obscured the recollec- 
tion of the features of my native land, and familiarized my 
mind to those of other countries. In returning to America I 
was able to view objects comparatively with a foreign eye. 
A clear blue sky, brighter and more numerous stars, broad 
fields of corn, wooden farm-houses, expanded forests, all varied 
the scene from an European landscape, and led me into a wide 
range of contemplation. I exulted in the comparative view of 
Europe and America, although scarcely two centuries had 
elapsed since the latter was the home of the untutored Indian 
and savage beasts. I hoped to act my humble part, in con- 
tributing to the high destiny which I felt awaited my country. 

Wejdropped anchor abreast of Warwick Neck. The Cap- 
tain being anxious to forward his letters, I tendered my ser- 
vices, and was put on shore about ten o'clock at night. I 
wandered about with my three sailors, from dwelling to dwel- 
ling, in pursuit of a horse, and at length entered the spacious 
yard of a respectable farm-house. We knocked, and the first 
word I heard from an inhabitant on this side of the Atlantic, 
was the well-remembered salutation, '' walk in." I entered with- 
out ceremony, at this familiar sound, the door being without a 
bolt, and discovered, by a momentary flash, an old man blow- 
ing up a light. As the candle caught the flame, he surveyed 
us, and " Sit down, sit down, my friends," was his cordial 
greeting. " Where from ?" 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKAKAH WATSON. 237 

" London," I replied, " and I wish a horse to proceed to 
Providence." 

" It is too late," he responded, " to-night. You are welcome 
to a bed with us." 

I decided to embrace his kindness, and having dispatched 
the sailors, lighted a pipe with this hospitable farmer, whose 
curiosity led him to ask a thousand questions, and his wife, 
lying abed, in the corner of the kitchen, soon joined in our 
chat. She expressed great regret at not being able to provide 
me with a warm supper ; but baked apples, rye and Indian 
bread, and a pan of milk, afforded the materials of a delicious 
repast, and vividly recalled the recollections of my boyhood. 
I then retired to a neat and comfortable bed, in a commodious 
and well- furnished room. " These," I exclaimed, as I reposed 
my head on the pillow, " are the blessings of an independent 
American farmer !" 

At early dawn all was in motion, below and about the house. 
I arose also, and with infinite pleasure contemplated, from my 
chamber windows, which were nicely shielded by paper cur- 
tains, a fine farm, in excellent order, and a barn-yard filled with 
noble cows, which the boys and women were engaged in milk- 
ing. I soon took my generous host by the hand in the farm- 
yard, and was expressmg to him my delighted emotions in 
glowing language, when, to my utter astonishment, he respond- 
ed with a heavy sigh, and evident marks of despondency and 
discontent. 

" Oh, yes, I have a fine farm, well-stocked, and owe nothing ; 
but these horrible taxes are devouring a poor farmer." 

Not knowing his burthens, although every appearance indi- 
cated that they could not be very severe, " Pray, sir," I in- 
quired, " how much taxes do you pay in a year?" 

" About thirty dollars," he replied, " and before the war they 
did not exceed three dollars." 

" Is it possible so small a burthen can give so much uneasi- 
ness. You are now, for thirty dollars annually, in the enjoy- 
ment of the blessings of liberty and independence. You know 
not hovv to prize the great privilege. Can you so soon have 



238 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION ; 

forgotten the common language during the Revolution, ' I will 
sacrifice half my property to secure the rest.' I wish," I con- 
tinued, " it had been possible for every farmer in the nation to 
have passed over the ground 1 have traversed the last five years 
in Europe, and witnessed the suffering and oppression I have 
seen among the farmers there, governed at the point of the 
bayonet, and even in England, overwhelmed by taxes, tithes, 
and rents. They would kiss the soil of America, and call it 
blessed, and raise their hearts in pious gratitude to the Giver 
of all ^good." 

I was pleased to see that my morning lecture had made a 
favorable impression, and I wished that I could have uttered it 
in the hearing of every discontented citizen of the republic. 

I called upon Mr. Brown immediately on my arrival in Pro- 
vidence ; but was so much changed by time and travel, that I 
was compelled to announce to him my name. The same in- 
cident occurred a few days after, with my own father. I re- 
mained in the vicinity of Providence for several weeks, and 
there became familiarly acquainted with Gen. Green, second 
alone in the annals of our country to Washington himself, for his 
military exploits and fame. He favored me with a letter of 
introduction to his immortal chief, which was of inestimable 
service in affording me a delightful interview with him, at a 
subsequent period. 



239 



CHAPTER XX. 

Passage to New- York — Hurl-Gate — New- York — Long-Island — Dr. Moyes 
— Journey to Philadelphia — Robert Morris — Philadelphia — Journey to 
Baltimore — Baltimore — Alexandria — Visit Mt. Vernon — Washington — 
Falls of the Potomac — Canals — Annapolis — Stage Sleighs — Journey 
North — Journey to North Carolina — Norfolk — Mode of Travelling — 
Interior of North Carolina — Marine Shells — Mrs. Ashe and Col. Tarleton 
— Halifax— Warrington — Anecdote — Deer-Hunting — Nutbush Adven- 
ture — Scotch-Irish — Battle- Ground of Guilford. 

On the 3d December, '84, I embarked on board a sloop 
packet, for New- York, with Rufus King, Elbridge Gerry, and 
Judge Sullivan, on their way to Congress. I record this fact, 
to exhibit a striking illustration of the mode and facilities of 
travelling existing at that period, even upon so important an 
avenue as the direct route between Boston and New-York. 
We were driven through Long Island Sound by a furious gale. 
The shores on both sides appeared in an advanced stage of im- 
provement, mingled with tracts of unreclaimed forest-land. 
We passed Hurl-gate with considerable exposure. A short 
canal on Long Island, with a lock, would readily obviate this 
dangerous navigation. 

I landed in New- York for the first time. It had been deeply 
involved in the sufferings and sacrifices of a long civil war, 
and I was surprised to see, in approaching it, a vast multitude 
of masts already clustered in its docks. The elasticity of its 
rebound has been truly wonderful, and I saw in it a sure pre- 
sage of its ultimate destiny, sustained, as it will be, bj the 
vigorous impulses of a youthful interior country, in the full 
glow of health, native affluence, and independence. 

Here I remained a month, under the roof of my uncle, John 
Sloss Hobart. In this interval I made an excursion upon Long 
Island. At Brooklyn I passed over the scene of the murder- 
ous conflict, in 1776. Had the British pressed their advan- 
tages on that disastrous day with vigor, Washington's entir^ 



240 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

army must have been sacrificed ; and we should, probably, 
have remained British Colonies, for a long term of persecution 
and suffering. 

Hampton Plains spread before me hke a sea, without a tree 
to interrupt the view over the wide expanse. The pretty vil- 
lage of Hampton stands upon its western border. Huntington 
was then a small village, with a secure harbor, from which 
light craft plyed to New- York, bearing the produce of the 
country. The soil of this island is light, requiring, to ensure 
successful culture, to be constantly replenished with manure. 
I feel confident that the practice prevalent in Englajid of using 
marine sand, which is transported some distance into the in- 
terior, or salt itself, would be highly advantageous upon this 
land. 

On my return, I again met in New- York the Blind Philoso- 
pher, Dr. Moyes, with whom I became acquainted at Birming- 
ham. At his request I conducted him to the Hudson, a little 
north of the Battery, and described the course of the river. 
He then pointed his cane up the stream, desiring me to explain 
the objects and distances in that direction ; continuing to move 
his cane from point to point, he inquired relative to every spot 
with the utmost exactness. When this examination of the 
bay and river was concluded, he exclaimed, " It is the finest 
harbor, and the most beautiful view, I have ever seen, and it 
will never be effaced from my memory !" 

New- York then contained about 1,400 houses, and 20,000 
population. The streets were very irregular, The sad vestige 
of a desolating war met the eye at every point. In the sub- 
sequent tour from New- York to Philadelphia, I passed over 
and examined many scenes of thrilling interest, associated 
with our recent history. We crossed the Hudson in an open 
ferry boat, to Paulus' Hook ; and the Hackensack and the 
Passaic, upon the ice. 

The first night we spent at Newark, a handsome town, with 
spacious streets, bordered by rows of trees ; the contiguous 
country was celebrated for its fine orchards and advanced 
culture. 



^R, MEXtOIRS OF EL1S:ANAH WA^TSON. 241 

Bince my return, I noticed, with regret, the general absence 
•of that agricultural science, and high tillage, so characteristic 
of England. 

The next morning we proceeded in a stage-sleigh, and late 
in that evening reached Princeton, and the day after arrived 
in Philadelphia. During my sojaarn in that city, I dined with 
Robert Morris. He lived in great splendor, and bore upon 
his marked features the stamp of that nervous and powerful 
genius which he had so eminently displayed in his vast mer- 
cantile enterprizes, and the -distinguished financial ability he 
manifested in the critical crises of the last campaigns. When 
I contemplated the advanced condition of Philadelphia, and 
recollected the fact that in 1681, its site was occupied by a 
primeval forest, my mind was impressed with wonder and 
admiration. The streets are generally broad, extending from 
the Delaware to the Schuylkill river, a distance of three miles, 
and crossed by others at right angles. It is known that the 
original plan of that city was conceived in the enlarged mind 
of Penn, who embraced posterity in his views. Most of the 
other American cities originated by chance, and received their 
formation from accident or caprice. 

Philadelphia embraced numerous squares ; the streets were 
well paved with wide and clean side-walks. It was dimly 
lighted in the same manner as London, but efficiently guarded 
by a police and watch. It contained about 6,000 dwellings, 
chiefly built of brick, and a population of 60,000. The prison 
and the State Hall were the only public edifices of interest; 
the latter gloriously associated with the events and progress of 
Independence. It was here the first Congress assembled in 
1774,* and here was enacted the Declaration of Independence, 
July 4th, 1776. The exports of Philadelphia were transported 
to every section of the world, and comprehended flour, wheat^ 
iron, lumber and provisions. I was gratified to observe an 
infusion of French manners and habits in the social amuse- 
ments of the people, and in the aspect of their refined circles. 

♦I think this an error. The first Congress met in Carpenters' Hall, Philadel* 
phia. — Editor. 

16 



242 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

I left Philadelphia on the 13th of January, 1785, in a stage, 
and crossed the Schuylkill over a floating bridge of three hun- 
dred feet in length, jointed with large hinges, by which it was 
elevated and depressed in the action of the tide. This bridge 
was constructed by the British in '78. Our road run parallel 
to the Delaware. We found the country pleasantly occupied 
by spacious farms, with excellent enclosures, and orchards, and 
adorned by villages and country seats. 

Wilmington, in the State of Delaware, is pleasantly situated 
upon an eminence on the Delaware river. It appeared regu- 
larly laid out, and contained about two hundred and fifty neat 
brick dwellings, nearly all of recent erection. At the Brandy- 
wine creek, near this village, we stopped to examine the most 
extensive flouring mills on the continent, which had in opera- 
tion a new kind of machinery, invented by Evans, and calcu- 
lated to eflfect, in manufacturing, an immense saving of manual 
labor. 

The country, along the road to Christina, was principally 
covered by the original forest. We arrived that evening at 
Elktown, near the confluence of the Elk Creek, with the 
Chesapeake. At this place Washington was encamped upon the 
landing of Howe in '77, and here he commenced his retreat. 
The roads from the Elk to Baltimore were excessively bad, the 
country thinly settled, and chiefly in its primitive forest con- 
dition. The stage was merely a connmon wagon, with spring 
seats, and canvas top and sides. In the character of these 
accommodations, we were a century behind England. 

The appearance of Baltimore had totally changed since my 
visit in '78. It included at that time about 1,000 dwellings and 
6,000 inhabitants ; both had doubled in the short term of seven 
years. I proceeded to Alexandria from Baltimore, travelling 
over infamous roads and through extensive woodlands, as if in 
a newly-occupied territory. The second day after our depart- 
ure from Baltimore, we reached the banks of the Potomac, 
opposite the former city, and crossed the river in a barge, con- 
tending at considerable risk with the floating ice. Alexandria 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANi^H WATSON. 243 

had made decided advances since '78, but exhibited no com- 
parison, in its progress, to its vigorous rival, Baltimore. 

I had feasted my imagination for several days in the near 
prospect of a visit to Mount Vernon, the seat of Washington. 
No pilgrim ever approached Mecca with deeper enthusiasm. 
I arrived there in the afternoon of January 23d,^;'85. I was 
the bearer of the letter from Gen. Green, with another from 
Col. Fitzgerald, one of the former aids of Washington, and 
also the books from Granville Sharp. Although assured that 
these credentials would secure me a respectful reception, I 
trembled with awe as I came into the presence of this great 
man. I found him at table with Mrs. Washington and his 
private family, and was received in the native dignity. and 
with that urbanity so peculiarly combined in the character of 
a soldier and eminent private gentleman. He soon put me at 
ease, by unbending, in a free and affable conversation. 

The cautious reserve, which wisdom and policy dictated, 
whilst engaged in rearing the glorious fabric of our independ- 
ance, was evidently the result of consummate prudence, and 
not characteristic of his nature. Although I had frequently 
seen him in the progress of the Revolution, and had corres- 
ponded with him from France in '81 and '82, this was the first 
occasion on which I had contemplated him in his private 
relations. I observed a peculiarity in his smile, which seemed 
to illuminate his eye ; his whole countenance beamed with in- 
telligence, while it commanded confidence and respect. The 
gentleman who had accompanied me from Alexandria, left in 
the evening, and I remained alone in the enjoyment of the 
society of Washington, for two of the richest days of my life. 
I saw him reaping the reward of his illustrious deeds, in the 
quiet shade of his beloved retirement. He was at the matured 
age of fifty-three. Alexander and Caesar both died before they 
reached that period of life, and both had immortalized their 
names. How much stronger and nobler the claims of Wash- 
ington to immortality ! In the impulses of mad and selfish 
ambition, they acquired fame by wading to the conquest of the 
world through seas of blood. Washington, on the contrary, 



244 MEN AKD TIMES OF THE KEVOLUTIOK ; 

was parsimonious of the blood of his countrymen, and stood 
forth, the pure and virtuous champion of their rights, and 
formed for them, (not himself,) a mighty Empire. 

To have communed with such a man in the bosom of his 
family, I shall always regard as one of the highest privileges, 
and most cherished incidents of my life. I found him kind and 
benignant in the domestic circle, revered and beloved by all 
around him ; agreeably social, without ostentation ; delighting 
in anecdote and adventures, without assumption ; his domestic 
arrangements harmonious and systematic. His servants 
seemed to watch his eye, and to anticipate his every wish ; 
hence a look was equivalent to a command. His servant 
Billy, the faithful companion of his military career, was always 
at his side. Smiling content animated and beamed on every 
countenance in his presence. 

The first evening I spent under the wing of his hospitality, 
we sat a full hour at table by ourselves, without the least 
interruption, after the family had retired. I was extremely 
oppressed by a severe cold and excessive coughing, contracted 
by the exposure of a harsh winter journey. He pressed me 
to use some remedies, but 1 declined domg so. As usual after 
retiring, my coughing increased. When some time had elapsed, 
the door of my room was gently opened, and on drawing my 
bed-curtains, to my utter astonishment, I beheM Washington 
himself, standing at my bed-side, with a bowl of hot tea in 
his hand. I was mortified and distressed beyond expression. 
This little incident, occurring in common life with an ordinary 
man, would not bave been noticed ; but as a trait of the benev- 
olence and private virtue of Washington, deserves to be 
recorded. 

He modestly waived all allusions to the events, in which he 
had acted so glorious and conspicuous a part. Much of his 
conversation had reference to the interior country, and to the 
opening of the navigation of the Potomac, by canals and locks, 
at the Seneca, the Great and Little Falls. His mind appeared 
to be deeply absorbed by that object, then in earnest contem- 
plation. He allowed me to take minutes from his former 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 245 

journals on this subject, of which the following is a partial 
summary : 

" The Stock of the company is divided into five hundred 
shares, at £50 sterling each. The canal Company has been 
incorporated by both Maryland and Virginia." (Washington 
had accepted the Presidency.) " The preliminary preparations 
are in full train, to commence operations in the ensuing Spring, 
not only to remove the obstacles in the Potomac to a boat 
navigation from Georgetown to Fort Cumberland, a distance 
of one hundred and ninety miles, but to the ultimate construc- 
tion of a canal to Lake Erie, which is intended not only to give 
a direction of the fur trade from Detroit to Alexandria, but to 
attract the eventual trade of the country north of the Ohio, 
which now slumbers in a state of nature." This scheme was 
worthy the comprehensive mind of Washington. 

To demonstrate the practicability and the policy of diverting 
the trade of the immense interior world yet unexplored to the 
Atlantic cities, especially in view of the idea that the Mississippi 
would be opened by Spain, was his constant and favorite 
theme. To elucidate also the probability that the Detroit fur 
trade would take this direction, he produced to me the follow- 
ing estimates, which 1 copied, in his presence and with his aid, 
from the original manuscript : 

''From Detroit, at the head of Lake Erie, via Fort Pitt, 
(now Pittsburgh,) and Fort Cumberland, to the head of the 
Potomac, is - - - - 607 miles. 
To Richmond, - - . . 349 " 
" Philadelphia, - - - 741 " 
" Albany, - - . . 943 « 

" Montreal, - - . . 955 « 
Thus it appeared that Alexandria is 348 miles nearer Detroit 
than Montreal, with only two carrying places of about forty 
miles. 

Since my travels in 1779, I had been deeply and constantly 
impressed with the importance of constructing canals to con- 
nect the various waters of America. This conviction was 
confirmed by the examination of numerous canals in Europe, 



246 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

and travellingextensively on several of them. Hearing little 
else for two days from the persuasive tongue of this great man, 
I confess completely infected me with the canal mania, and 
enkindled all my enthusiasm. 

Washington pressed me earnestly to settle on the banks of 
the Potomac. At his suggestion I proceeded up the southern 
shore of the river, twenty-two miles from Alexandria, to 
examine the proposed route of the canal. The extent of this 
artificial navigation was designed to be about a mile respect- 
ively at the Seneca, Great, and Little Falls. Eleven miles 
above Alexandria occur the Lower Falls, where the river de- 
scends in curling weaves thirty-six feet in a quarter of a mile. 
Here the contemplated canal will be a mile and a quarter, sit- 
uated on the north side of the river. . We reached, eleven 
miles further, the Great Falls, which are a stupendous exhibi- 
tion of hydraulic power. The whole river rushing down amid 
rocks and impediments, wave pressing upon wave, like the 
surging of the ocean in a tempest, produced a roaring which 
we distinctly heard at the distance of a mile. At this place the 
entire fall is seventy feet, embracing a vertical descent of 
twenty-three feet, which adds infinitely to the imposing scene. 
Here existed the most serious obstacle to the execution of the 
work.* 

I travelled across the country on horseback, from Alexan- 
dria to Annapolis, a distance of twenty-four miles ; the roads 
were excellent, but obstructed by innumerable gates. I crossed 
the Severn, a bold stream, that admitted vessels of three hun- 
dred tons for twelve miles. Annapolis, situated at the mouth 

*In 1808 I again visited these places. Canals and locks had been completed 
round the Little and Great Falls, and also at the Shenandoah and Seneca Falls. 
Considerable improvements had been made in the bed of the river, above these 
works. The navigation of the Shenandoah, an important branch of the Poto- 
mac, had been opened at an expense of nearly half a million of dollars ; but 
much still remained to be done to perfect the navigation of the Potomac to Fort 
Cumberland. As the Potomac is a rapid stream, this inland navigation can 
never successfully compete with the Lake Erie Canal, to the Hudson River, 
especially as the sloop navigation, from Albany to New- York, is superior to any 
n America, if not to any in the world. (182L) 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 247 

of the river, commands a fine view of the Chesapeake. The 
State House, the Capitol of Maryland, was reputed to be the 
largest and most elegant edifice in America. The chamber in 
which Washington presented his resignation, contains an ex- 
cellent painting of him, with Rochambeau and La Fayette in 
the group. 

On my return, I rode in a stage-sleigh from Philadelphia to 
New- York, slipping over the snow at the rate of eight or ten 
miles an hour. I had never, previous to the present journey, 
travelled in this manner, and thought it preferable, even to 
English post-chaises, for ease and expedition. I resumed my 
travels eastward from New- York on horseback to the Harlem 
river ; the island appeared barren, rocky, and broken. The road 
which ran parallel to the Sound was unpleasant and without 
interest. In this journey I became personally acquainted with 
two of the most eminent poets of America, whom I met at 
Fairfield, in Connecticut — John Trumbull and Dr. Dwight. 

My former partner in France, Mons. Cossoul, came to 
America the following summer. We renewed our connection ; 
he was to proceed to Port-au-Prince, and I was to return to 
North Carolina in co-operation with him. In conformity with 
this arrangement, I left Newport for the South, in March, 
1786. I proceeded from Baltimore in a Norfolk packet, and 
occupied three days in sailing down the noble Chesapeake. 
We dropped anchor in the bold harbor of Norfolk, in which 
were lying many large ships and numerous craft, loaded with 
tobacco and other products from James river. 

Norfolk was the most prosperous town of Virginia, before it 
was burned by Dunmore in '75. It was, at the time I saw it, 
recoveiing from the blow, and already presented the aspect of 
a thriving city. Here I was obliged to delay two or three 
days, wailing for some conveyance to Edenton, North Caro- 
lina. Despairing of success, I hired two negroes to convey 
me, with my baggage, in a canoe, up Nansemond river to 
Suffolk, a distance of thirty-five miles. It was not only an 
extremely awkward and unpleasant mode of travelling, but 
hazardous, and exposed me to many inconveniences and mor- 



248 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EETOLUT10N ;■ 

tifications on the route. Yet I enjoyed it, as affording a iine 
opportunity of seeing tlie river, and the beautiful plantations 
©n its shores. 

At Suffolk, I had no alternative but to embark in a returning 
coal cart, and with one miserable horse, and a black boy as driver. 
I embraced this mode of conveyance in order to reach the housfr 
of Mr. Granby, a wealthy planter of Gates County, where 1 had 
been hospitably entertained in '77. I was compelled to travel 
two hours in intense darkness in this Tyburn-like style, 
amid a storm of rain, and arrived dripping with wet and be- 
spattered with mud. On my arrival in this humble condition, 
I found the mansion occupied by a dancing party, and although 
I endeavored to recall to his mind the previous hospitality I 
had received, Mr. Granby received me coldly, and had no 
recollection of my person, and evidently from my suspicious 
mode of travelling, hesitated in receiving my story. Yet I had 
no al'ternative, as it began to rain furiously, and there was no 
tavern within several miles. At length he began to unbend, 
and my experience in the world enabled me to soon surmount 
his scruples ; but my sensibility w^as deeply wounded by the 
occurrence. I was in the habit, in the succeeding two or three 
years, of often seeing Mr. Granby, who never ceased his apol- 
ogies. In the succeeding summer, during a journey which I 
shall immediately narrate, I again,, at the close of day, for the 
third time in my wanderings, approached the mansion of this 
gentleman. He now received me as he might have received a 
General, as in truth I and my man Mills made quite a military 
display. I in obedience to the fashion of the day wore a 
cocked hat and a blue coat, with a crimson velvet cape, while 
Mills was equipped in a half- military coatee with pistol-holsters,, 
and a buffalo skin over his saddle. Mr. Granby appeared 
much gratified at the opportunity, as he said, of expiating his- 
previous offence against Southern hospitality. Such are the 
ordinary effects, which I have often observed, produced by 
external appearances. 

I remained at Edenton and in its vicinity for several; 
months. In August, I commenced an extensive tour ia> 



' OR, MEMOIES OF ELKANAH WATSON. 24S^ 

the interior of North Carolina. The pursuit of health in 
its elevated districts and the pronnptings of curiosity, were 
my motives. 

I started in a sulky, with a sprightly black lad, as my at- 
tendant, named Mills, on horseback, both well armed. Our 
route lay along the South borders of the great Dismal Swamp. 
A scheme had been suggested by Washington previous to the 
Revolution, of connecting the Chesapeake with Albemarle 
Sound, by a canal to penetrate this tract, which may be sup- 
plied with water from Lake Drummond, lying in the centre 
of the swamp. 

Our road traversed the country, near the boundary of Vir- 
ginia and North Carolina, which is generally low and sandy, al- 
though bearing majestic pines. We crossed the Black River near 
its confluence with the Nottoway. At one point I was com- 
pelled to employ oxen to transport my luggage through the 
slough of the deep muddy roads. On crossing this ferry, we 
ascended a considerable hill, the first I had seen in three 
months, and which seemed to afford a purer air. From 
thence to Murfree's landing, on theMeherrin, the road was good^ 
the country level; producing corn, flax, and some inferior to- 
baccex, but sparsely settled. 

After crossing the river in a wretched flat, we ascended a 
sharp hill to Murfree's plantation, then a mere Janding-place, 
but which has since expanded into the important town of 
Murfreesboro'. In an excavation, on this ascent, I observed a 
Avide stratum of perfectly defined marine shells. Their posi- 
tion is one hundred miles from the ocean. Here I spent a day 
with Major Murfree, an intrepid oflicer of the Revolution, and 
found his mind full of projects for the development of the 
great natural advantages of his position. 

Approaching Halifax on the Roanoke, I was delighted to 
see the country broken by small hills, here and there streams 
purling and fretting along, and an occasional exhibition of 
slight veins of rock. While receiving the hospitality of CoL 
Ashe at this place, his lady related to me the following 
amusing anecdote. When Corn wallis' army passed the resi- 



250 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION 



dence of Col. Ashe, she remained to protect the property. 
Cornwallis and Tarleton visited her. In the course of conver- 
sation, the latter remarked, that he had a great desire to see 
his famous rival in partizan warfare — Col. Washington : — to 
which she fearlessly replied, " If you had looked behind you, 
Sir, at the battle of the Cowpens, you would most certainly 
have seen him." The retort was severe and cutting, as the 
fact was notorious, that Washington was in full chase of 
Tarleton, personally, for a considerable distance, on that oc- 
casion. 

Immediately after leaving Halifax, the country assumed all 
the characteiistics of a northern region. Our road led us up 
and down hills, over an abundance of stones; the brooks danc- 
ing briskly across the track. The children were ruddy, and 
the people healthy and vigorous. Warrenton was just 
emerging from the forest ; but possessed a refined neighbor- 
hood, a salubrious air, temperate climate, and pure, delight- 
ful water. Just extricated from the baneful malaria of the 
low country, I seemed to receive here a new tenure of life. 

At Warrenton, I met in the midst of a crowd, at a tavern, 
Col. H., formerly a member of Congress, to whom I had a 
letter of introduction from Philadelphia. After exchanging the 
usual civilities, and promising to visit him at his plantation, 
we parted. I proceeded to the new court-house standing 
amid trees and stumps, to witness a N^orth Carolina election, 
then in full progress. I unhappily met there a little Irish- 
man, whom I had known in Edenton, and who was the un- 
lucky cause of involving me in a most mortifying predica- 
ment. He soon exclaimed, " Have you seen the sight ?'' 
" What sight ?" — '' Follow me." — We pressed through the 
mob, intermixed with some respectable planters, and a few 
females. " There !" says he, '' did you ever look upon the 
like?" pointing to the most obese woman I had ever seen; 
and what was more striking, she appeared to be an active 
leader at the polls. On retiring, my malignant star led me 
again to stumble on Col. H. " Well, Colonel," I remarked, 
*' I have seen one of the strangest sights in the world, — a 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 251 

real phenomenon; I will show you;" and in pretty nauch the 
same language the Irishman had used, I pointed out to him the 
lady. He made no reply, but observed he should expect me 
at his plantation to meet some friends at dinner, the next day. 
I thought no more of the adventure, until approaching the 
mansion of Col. H., just as we emerged from a little copse of 
trees, I perceived, to my utter dismay, the same lady I had 
pointed out to him, sitting on a piazza, the Colonel walking 
near her, and a group of ladies and gentlemen at the extremity. 
I reined up my horse, determined to make a precipitate retreat, as 
the best course to extricate myself from the evident dilemma; 
but as Mills assured me we had been observed, I saw my re- 
treat was cut off, and decided to make the best of the affair 
possible. 

Col. H. met me cordially, and I was immediately introduced 
to the lady as his mother. My embarrassment and mortifica- 
tion was evident ; but I was soon relieved by her kindness 
and affability from my awkward position. I at once formed 
one of the members of the family, and passed in it several of 
the most agreeable days. I never met a more sensible, spirit- 
ed old lady. She was a great politician ; and I was assured 
she had more political influence, and exerted it with greater 
effect, than any man in her county. Col. H. had been educat- 
ed at Princeton, was a prominent party leader, and had been a 
distinguished member of Congress. 

My time was amply occupied in social convivialities, wan- 
dering about the country — in deer hunting and other rural 
amusements. At one of these hunting parties 1 made another 
ridiculous "faux pas." Col. H. had invited a party of neigh- 
boring gentlemen to dine, and a hunt after dinner, in compli- 
ment to his guest. I was no sportsman, but anxious to see the 
sport, and mounted with my gun, we rode to an abandoned 
old tobacco field. A party of negroes had preceded us with a 
pack of hounds, to range a circuit of woods, and to insure us 
game. We were placed in proper positions across the field* 
and it was insisted, against my earnest expostulation, that I 
should occupy the point, where it was very certain the deer 



252 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION ; 

would break upon us. In a few minutes we heard the distant 
yell of the hounds, approaching nearer and nearer. All drop- 
ped upon one knee, our guns cocked. We heard the rust- 
ling of leaves and bushes — I was all animation, alive with excite- 
ment at the opening scene. In a twinkling, two noble deer 
burst into the clearing directly in front of my position, with 
the hounds in full cry at their heels. They paused an instant 
— their heads erect — their eyes expanded. Instead of instant- 
ly firing, as I should have done, by a sudden impulse, fearing 
they would escape, I cried out, " here they come !" In a mo- 
ment they darted off, and I fired at random among the bushes. 
All raised a hearty laugh at my expense, and required no 
further evidence that I was no sportsman. 

On the evening succeeding my departure from the mansion 
of Col. H., I arrived at the elegant seat of Judge Williams, at 
Nutbush, whom I had engaged to visit. This was the same 
gentleman, who was called a Mulatto in a book of travels by 
one Smith, a worthless Tory. The judge had a swart com- 
plexion, but was an accomplished gentleman, possessing high 
talents, and genuine Southern hospitality. Travellers with 
any pretensions to respectability seldom stop at the wretched 
taverns, but custom sanctions their freely calling at any plant- 
er's residence, who seems to consider himself the party oblig- 
ed by this freedom. 

The country was beautiful in the vicinity of Nutbush. Its 
productions were chiefly tobacco, corn, peas, wheat, and large 
quantities of pork, lard, deer-skins and beeswax, were also 
exported. A happy forbearance preserved me from commit- 
ting an act, which would have embittered my subsequent life. 
TraveUing after dark in the neighborhood of Nutbush Mills, 
a man suddenly sprang from the wood on horseback, upon 
Mills, who was in advance, with the apparent intention of 
dismounting him and robbing me. Mills recoiled back on my 
carriage, pistol in hand. I ordered him to hold his fire, and 
at the same time drew and cocked my own pistol. The per- 
son followed close in the rear of the carriage. I commanded 
him to keep off, and several times was almost in the act of 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSOl^. 253 

firing on him. On reaching the Nutbush opening, he disap- 
peared. While in the act ol" narrating the adventure to Judge 
WilHams, the very man entered the room, and, to my utter 
astonishment, proved to be his own son, a wandering lunatic. 

From this place I proceeded westward, crossing the head of 
Tar and Neuse rivers. The land was generally of a superior 
quality, the weather was temperate and delightful, although 
in mid-summer. The country was comparatively new and 
thinly occupied. The settlements however, extended to the 
West several hundred miles, and were increasing in popula- 
tion with unexampled rapidity. 

The ensuing day I reached Hillsboro' upon the little Eno- 
It contained forty dwelling-houses, a church, court-house, and 
an academy — a feeble lamp — but it was earnestly fostered, in 
the expectation that its flame would extend and gradually 
spread until its benign rays should illuminate the minds of that 
benighted region. Perhaps no State had at that period per- 
formed so little to promote the cause of education, science 
and arts, as North Carolina. A cultivated and refined pos- 
terity now occupies that charming territory. The lower 
classes of that region were then in a condition of great men* 
tal degradation. The vicinity of Hillsboro' was, however, in 
an advanced state of agricultural improvement, and embraced 
a very genteel society. 

We forded the Eno with difficulty, and were ferried over 
the Haw, a branch of the Cape Fear river, after traversing a 
fertile tract called the " Haws fields," occupied by a mongrel 
race of independent but ignorant setders, known as the "Scotch- 
Irish." I examined with pleasure the spot where the indefa- 
tigable Col. Lee, in 1781, with his partizan corps, surprised 
and cut to pieces a regiment of Tories on their way to join 
Cornwallis,at the moment they were huzzaing for King George, 
under the fatal impression that they were surrounded by Tarle- 
ton's corps, who lay only a few miles in advance. 

I soon after crossed the Buffalo river, by crawling along 
a slippery log, whilst a negro swam over the horses. I oc- 
cupied several hours at Guilford Court-house and the neigh- 



264 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

borhood, in examining the ground, upon which occured the 
great conflict between Green and Cornwallis. The gallantry 
of the- well-poised, hard-fought battle, and the momentous 
consequences which followed in the retreat and ultimate cap- 
ture of Cornwallis, will forever commemorate this scene in the 
annals of America. '' Here," said my guide, " is the spot 
where Col. Washington forced the British lines — there the 
cannonade began — yonder the contending armies closed — at 
the west end of that old field, the British first formed — at this 
extremity Green drew up his Continentals — in that thick wood 
on the north, were stationed the Virginia and North Carolina 
militia ; the latter fled at the first fire, while the former stood 
firm as veterans. Mark those trees, their limbs cropped and 
torn by the balls, on their messages of death. On this road 
Green slowly and sullenly retreated before his crippled enemy, 
well covered by the horse of Lee and Washington. Here rest 
the bones of the American dead — there the British repose." 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH "VirATSON, 25^ 



CHAPTER XXI. 

Moravians — Quakers — Yadkin — Mecklenburgh — Gen. Polk — Visit Cataw- 
ba Indians — Indian Chief — New River — Educated Indian — Indian 
Queen — Hanging Rock — Gen. Sumpter— Flat Rock— Camden — 
Battle-Field— Gates and Green — Adventure — Western Emigration — 
Yankee Trick— Cock-Fight — New Constitution — Election—Party Con- 
test — Return North. 

The succeeding day I pursued the route of Cornwallis in 
his advance, and entered the possessions of the happy Mora- 
vians, so justly distinguished for their piety, industry and ad- 
mirable pohce. The road from Guilford to Salem was good, 
and the country pleasant. The ground was easily cleared of the 
timber, and prepared for cultivation. The average price was 
two dollars per acre, of the first quality of land, while on the 
Tennessee river it might then be purchased for Is. 6d. per 
acre. In the general face of the country — the temperature of 
the climate — the purity of the air, and the exuberance of the 
soil, this region closely resembles the South of France, although 
several degrees nearer the Equator. 

The moment I touched the boundary of the Moravians, I 
noticed a marked and most favorable change in the appear- 
ance of buildings and farms, and even the cattle seemed 
larger, and in better condition. Here in combined and well 
directed effort, all put shoulders to the wheel, which apparent- 
ly moves on oily springs. We passed in our ride. New Garden, 
a settlement of Quakers from Nantucket : they too were exem- 
plary and industrious. The generality of the planters in this State 
depend upon negro labor, and live scantily in a region of afflu- 
ence. In the possessions of the Moravians and Quakers, all 
labor is performed by whites. Every farm looks neat and 
cheerful ; the dwellings are tidy and well furnished, abounding 
in plenty. 

In the evening I attended service in the Moravian chapel. 
This was a spacious room in a large edifice, adorned with 



^56 MEIJ AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION^ 

that neat and simple elegance, which was a peculiar trail 
o[ these brethren and their Quaker neighbors. On our first 
entrance, only two or three persons were visible ; * but the 
moment the organ sounded, several doors were simultaneous- 
ly opened. The men were ushered in on one side, and the 
women upon the other, and in one minute the seats were filled 
and the devotees arranged lor worship. The devotions on 
that occasion, consisted merely in their chanting a melodious 
German anthem, accompanied by the organ. 

In the morning, 1 was introduced to Mt. Bargee, their princi* 
pal. He conducted me through all their manufactories, and 
communicated to me, with much intelligence, many facts in 
relation to the tenets and habits of this devout and laborious 
sect. Salem comprehended about forty dwellings, and oc- 
cupies a pleasant situation. The founders of the establish* 
ment had emigrated from Bethlehem thirty years before. 
They purchased a tract of about 90,000 acres of excellent land, 
•agreeably intersected by the head-waters of the Yadkin. 
The society embraced about 1,000 persons, occupying several 
villages, and scattered over their territory on good farms. 
Every house in Salem was supplied with water brought in 
conduits one mile and a half. In all respects, social, moral, 
and religious, they were identical with the brethren at Beth- 
lehem, whom I have already described. 

I crossed the Yadkin at the ferry, where Green by a hair- 
breadth, escaped the pursuit of Cornwallis, he having reached 
one shore with his army, when his pursuer appeared on the 
opposite bank. Salisbury was a pleasant village, containing 
fifty dwelling-houses and a large stone prison. The road to 
Charlotte, in Mecklenburgh county, was equal to any Enghsh 
turnpike, and traversed a beautiful level. 

I carried letters to the courteous Gen. Polk, and remained 
two days at his residence, in the delightful society of his charm- 
ing family. Having expressed a wish to visit the Catawba In- 
dians, Gen. Polk accompanied me to the Indian foot-path. This 
I pursued alone on horseback, leaving Mills with my carriage at 
the tavern. My curiosity had been strongly excited to see an 



OR, :N[EM0IRS of ELKANAH WATSON. 257 

Indian people in their native savage condition, that I might 
contrast them with the pohsh and refinement of France. I 
confess it was somewhat trying to my nerves to penetrate thus 
soHtarily without a guide or protector, into the mazes of a 
gloomy wilderness, and amid the haunts of a savage race. 

When I entered the first village, the young Indians and 
squaws lied in every direction, the men being absent on a 
hunting expedition. It was sometime before I could find the 
residence of their king or chief, New Eiver, alias Gen. Scott. 
At length an old squaw pointed to a log house, where I was 
kindly received by the old king, on his crutches. He spoke 
no English, and to induce him to send for a person to inter- 
pret between us, I intimated by signs, thai I had an impor- 
tant communication to make. On this, he dispatched a run- 
ner across the Catawba river, for an interpreter. In about 
an hour his cabin was thronged by the savage warriors, and 
among them one who had been educated at William and 
Mary College, a sensible and well-informed person; but a 
perfect Indian in liis appearance and habits. I stated to them 
the probability of a new war with England, on account of that 
government having retained the western posts on our territory, 
in violation of the treaty of peace. The king lit up a large 
pipe, and we each took three or four whifis. I produced mv 
bottle of rum, my only credential. We circulated the bottle 
and pipe alternately, drinking from the furmer, without the 
intervention of any other vessel. I observed every counte- 
nance sedate and attentive, and although they appeared warmly 
interested in the event, they maintained in the discussion in 
which they engaged, the utmost decorum, one only speaking 
at a time. In this council, and strolling through the village 
with the educated Indian, I spent the residue of the daj. 
vVe entered their cabins, where 1 saw several straight-limbed, 
handsome young girls, daubed with paint, and decorated with 
feathers, rings, and brooches. 

Afterwards I. proceeded to a white tavern, where I laid 
down in my clothes, with my pistols under my head. My 
curiosity was but partially satisfied, and I returned the next 
day to the Indian wigwam; obtaining all the information 

17 



258 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

I desired, and seeing enough to afford abundant sources of re- 
flection and meditation. I found among them a degree of 
civil hospitality and submissive kindness, which would have 
done no discredit to their white neighbors. The wife of the 
chief fed my horse, and supplied me with a meal of smoked 
venison, placed in a small tub upon the floor. She did all in 
her power to render me comfortable, if not with the grace of 
a Parisian lady, undoubtedly with equal kindness of heart. 

These Indians were extremely nasty, wallowing in dirt and 
filth, having coarse fare and rude accommodations. In common 
with every other Indian tribe in proximity to the whites, 
they exhibited a melancholy picture of the singular and fatal 
ravages of the vices, with which they became contaminated 
from an association with their civilized neighbors. Thirty 
years before, the Catawbas had been a terror to the Southern 
Colonies, but were now objects of contempt. They are reduced 
to about 1,000 persons. The old chief was a hardy veteran. 
The lines of his face, the force of his eyes, and the expres- 
sion of his countenance, commanded respect, and evinced 
powerful traits of mind and character.* 

From this intresting and novel excursion, I continued my 
journey to Camden, South Carolina, along the Waxhaws set- 
tlement, passing Hanging-rock and Flat-rock. At the former 
Gen. Sumpter annihilated, by a " coup-de-main,'"' the Prince 
of Wales regiment in '81. Hanging-rock is an immense isolated 
rock, about thirty feet in diameter, and lying immediately on 
the verge of a precipice one hundred feet in height ; on one 
side it is shelving, and presents a cavity ample enough to 
contain fifty men. Flat-rock is a great natural curios- 
ity. A solid isolated rock lying upon the surface, and cover- 
ing an area of two and a half acres. I here descended into 
a pine, sandy region, within a few miles of Camden ; passing 
over the ground occupied by Gates and Green in 1780 and 
'81 ; and surveyed the various positions of their conflicts. The 
former was totally and the latter partially defeated; but 

* The following notice circulated in the papers of 1820 : " Gen. Scott, the 
venerable Chief of the Catawbas, recently died at the advanced age of one hun- 
dred years, after having been the ruler of the tribe for more than half a century." 



259 



Green's defeats were always connected with victories, in their 
consequences. No vestiges of these sanguinary battles re- 
mained upon their theatres, but shattered trees, and the unburi- 
ed bones of men and horses. 

I saw at Camden, the tomb, inclosed by a decent paling, in 
which reposed the ashes of the gallant De Kalb and several 
British officers. Gen. Polk informed me that he was present at 
the interview in which Green superseded Gates. Gen. Polk 
had been in Gates' commissariat, and Green occupied the 
whole of the first night after he assumed the command, with 
him, in investigating the resources of the country ; and Gen. 
Polk added, that Green on the following morning better under- 
stood them, than Gates had done in the whole period of his 
command. 

Camden is situated on a plain, near the river Wateree, and 
then contained about fifty dwellings. It commanded a valuable 
interior trade in tobacco, flour, deer-skins, indigo, and beef. 
These commodities were transported to Charleston by a 
circuitous and expensive water-carriage, down the Santee, and 
around Bull's Island. 'The construction of a canal was then 
contemplated, to unite the Wateree with the head waters of 
• the Cooper, which has since been accomplished, and much 
shortens and facilitates this communication. After remain- 
ing several days at Camden, occupied in exploring this highly 
interesting district, I returned to Hillsboro', without the 
occurrence of any important incident. 

Wearied with the monotony and tedium of an unoccupied 
life in a public hotel, I started, on a pleasant afternoon, from a 
sudden impulse, on horseback, without baggage, and with no 
settled plan — forded the Eno, and dashed off' in a southern direc- 
tion. At length I entered upon an open space in Chatham, en- 
closed by a forest of lofty pines. Here stood a solitary log tavern, 
occupied by the landlady only, with several young negro children 
frolicking at the door. I was hardly seated, after a fatiguing ride, 
when a gaunt, raw-boned fellow entered, whose appearance, 
voice, and manner, at once excited my apprehension. He was 
armed with a rifle and tomahawk, and was in dress and aspect, 
awhite savage. I commenced a movement to extricate myself. 



2G0 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EE VOLUTION ; 

''Why in such haste?" he exclaimed, in a hoarse and hollow 
voice; "stop a little, I have something to say to you!" At 
this moment the landlady appeared, evidently much agitated, 
and by a gesture intimated that I should acquiesce. For an 
instant, I was determined to put him at defiance ; but the 
manner of the woman, and the consciousness that I was 
unarmed and totally in his power, induced me to submit. I 
accordingly settled myself in a chair by the side of my new 
and strange associate, to be governed by circumstances. 

It was obvious that a drinking bout was in his view. I 
hoped to use that circumstance to effect my extrication. 
Slapping him upon the shoulder, 1 pronounced him a hearty 
fellow, and desired the hostess to supply us a bowl of whisky 
toddy. We drew a little deal table between us, and no two 
topers ever sat down in apparently higher glee. He told 
obscene stories, which he compelled the landlady to come in 
and hear. I pushed the bowl to him freely ; he sang various 
loathsome doggerels, yelling in chorus with hideous peals of 
laughter. He called on me to smg ; I protested I knew noth- 
ing but French songs; he insisted I should give one of those, 
and I bellowed forth an impromptu jargon, which I pronounced 
French. After the second bowl had been demolished, chiefly 
by himself, as I was cautious merely to taste of it, he became 
more restless, dragged in the affrighted woman, and insisted 
upon a dance, yelhng and capering about the room like a 
Bedlamite. Returning to the table he called for more liquor; 
the sun was about setting, and I was at a loss when the 
disgusting scene would terminate. 

At length, to my inexpressible joy his tongue grew thick, 
his eyes heavy, and his head gradually sank upon the table. 
At the first snore I slipped off to the adjoining room, and was 
soon speeding away through the intricacies of the forest. 
The hostess informed me that he was a man of fortune, had a 
lovely wife, owned forty negroes and a large, well-stocked 
plantation, but spent most of his time in this lawless, vagabond 
life, and that in these moods he was extremely quarrelsome 
and dangerous. 

A gentleman from Kentucky, with whom I became 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 261 

acquainted at Hillsboro', informed me that the country was 
settled two hundred and fifty miles west of that place ; that 
the land was excellent, being elevated, abundantly supplied 
with good water, and that the country was salubrious. Still be- 
yond this territory, he described a station where the emigrants 
concentrate and unite in masses, like the eastern caravans, to 
traverse a wilderness of one hundred and thirty miles without 
a dwelling, and extending to Crab Orchard, on the confines of the 
Kentucky settlements. 

On the 10th of November I resumed my journey towards the 
low country, where the people appeared like walking anato- 
mies. I travelled slowly along the northern shore of the 
Roanoke, charmed by the country and the courteous and 
elegant hospitality of the affluent planters whom I visited. At 
the Cashie river, which enters the Roanoke near Albemarle 
Sound, I was pained, although amused, in observing a device 
more ingenious than honest, practised by a New-England crew, 
in the purchase of corn. The grain was measured on the 
quarter-deck near the centre, and as the process commenced, 
a fellow began to play a gig on a violin, and all the spare 
hands engaged most vehemently in dancing. The deck 
seemed remarkably elastic, and no doubt the per-centage of 
corn gained by this operation was very considerable. 

In April, '87, I pm'chased a plantation of 640 acres upon the 
Chowan river, with extensive buildings, ware-houses, and other 
appurtenances attached. Here I spent the following summer, 
actively engaged in making improvements on the estate, in 
exploring the country, and in agreeable association with the 
society. 

In one of these excursions, I accompanied a prominent 
planter at his urgent solicitation, to attend a cock-fight in 
Hampton County, Virginia, a distance of twenty miles. We 
reached the ground about ten o'clock the next morninir. The 
roads, as we approached the scene, were alive with carriages, 
horses, and pedestrians, black and white, hastening to the 
point of attraction. Several houses formed a spacious square^ 
jU the centre of which was arranged a large cock-pit; sur- 



262 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

rounded by many genteel people, promiscuously mingled witli 
the vulgar and debased. Exceedingly beautiful cocks were 
produced, armed with long, sharp, steel-pointed gaffs, which 
were firmly attached to their natural spurs. 

The moment the birds were dropped, bets ran high. The 
little heroes appeared trained to the business, and not the 
least disconcerted by the crowd or shouting. They stepped 
about with great apparent pride and dignity ; advancing 
nearer and nearer, they flew upon each other at the same 
instant with a rude shock, the cruel and fatals gafts being 
driven into their bodies, and at times, directly through their 
heads. Frequently one, or both, were struck dead at the 
first blow, but they often fought after being repeatedly pierced, 
as long as they were able to crawl, and in the agonies of 
death would often make abortive efforts to raise their heads 
and strike their antagonists. I soon sickened at this barba- 
rous sport, and retired under the shade of a wide-spread 
willow, where I was much better entertained in witnessing a 
voluntary fight between a wasp and spider. 

In viewing the crowd, I was deeply astonished to find men 
of character and intelligence giving their countenance to an 
amusement so frivolous and scandalous, so abhorrent to every 
feeling of humanity, and so injurious in its moral influence, by 
the inculcation of habits of gambling and drinking, in the 
waste of time, and often in the issues of fiofhting and duelling. 

During this period of my residence in North Carolina, the 
State was strongly convulsed by the agitation of the question 
of adopting the Federal Oonstitution. I embarked, with great 
zeal and ardor, in advocating its adoption, personally and by 
numerous contributions to the press, in "Virginia and North 

Carolina. A Baptist preacher named B was a candidate 

for the State Convention, which was to decide, in that State, 
the great question of acceding to or rejecting the proposed 
-Constitution. B was a prominent leader of the opposi- 
tion, and with him I had been engaged in many warm personal 
discussions, and in a public correspondence. 

The week previous to the election, I was riding in company 



OK, :MEM0IES of ELKANAH WATSON. 263 

with Major Murfee, who has been already introduced to the 
reader, and a Dr. Garvey, a warm-hearted and energetic Irish- 
man, several miles in the interior from Winton, where we 
noticed a paper pasted upon a tree, which read as follows : 
'* Notice ! — On Wednesday next, at three o'clock, all persons 
desirous of hearing the new Constitution explained, by Elder 

B 1, are requested to attend his church in the Woodlands, 

I7th March, 1788." The time appointed was only two days 
previous to the election. 

We felt indignant, at what w^e deemed an insidious attempt 
to deceive the community ; and determined to be present, in 
order to counteract his movement. On our arrival we found 
a horse hitched to every tree about the church, and the inte- 
rior of the building crowded. We pressed our way into seats, 

a little distance from the pulpit. B 1 had been some time at 

his nefarious work, explaining the Constitution to suit his un- 
hallowed purposes. He frequently cast a suspicious and dis- 
concerted eye upon our pew. He then began to explain the 
object of the ten miles square, as the contemplated seat of the 
Government. " This, my fi'iends," said the preacher, " will be 
walled in or fortified. Here an army of 50,000, or, perhaps, 
100,000 men, will be finally embodied, and will sally forth, and 
enslave the people, who will be gradually disarmed." This 
absurd assumption set our blood in fermentation, strongly ex- 
cited already by party feeling. We consulted a moment, and 
agreed to possess ourselves of the seat directly under the pul- 
pit, and make an effort to discuss the subject, or break up the 
meeting. We aro^ie together, Garvey with the Constitution in 
his hand, supported by Murfee on his right, and myself on his 
left. Garvey turned towards B 1, and said, in a loud voice : — 

" Sir, as to the te:i miles square, you are" — here he was in- 
terrupted by a general movement and buz, which instantly 
swelled into a perfect uproar. At this crisis we were in a 
most critical situation, and only saved f-om violence by the 
personal popularity of Murfee, who was universally beloved. 
We were glad to pass out with the torrent, gain our horses, 



264 MEN" AKD TIMES OF THE REVOLUTIOK 



and be off. We however attained our object — the meeting 
was dissolved. 

The next day Garvey and myself planned and executed a 
caricature ; and as it was a new exhibition among the people, 
we hoped it would have a good effect at the polls. A clergy- 
man was represented in a pulpit, dressed in his bands, with a 
label proceeding from his mouth, having this inscription : — 
" And lo, he brayeth !" This we committed to some resolute 
fellows, with instructions to post it up at the door of the court- 
house, on the opening of the polls ; they engaging to defend 

and protect it. Some of B t's friends stung to the quick by 

the sarcasm, attempted to pull it down. Our gallant band de- 
fended it. A general battle ensued. This obstructed, as we 
desired, the voting. Candles were lighted in the court-house ; 
these were extinguished in the melee, and both parties, in 
great confusion, were left in the dark, literally as well as polit- 
ically. I embraced the opportunity of taking French leave. 

B 1 gained the election, to our great annoyance, and the 

Constitution was rejected for that year, by North-Carolina. 

I spent the succeeding winter in dreary seclusion at my es- 
tablishment. Disappointed in the purposes I had contemplated 
in my location, I determined to dispose of my estate. This I 
effected, and sailed early the ensuing spring in a vessel of my 
own for Rhode-Island. We descended the Chowan Riven 
sailed over Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, and crossed Ocra- 
coke bar. The first night we were driven by the wind under 
the south shore of Cape Hatteras, and anchored in the most 
hazardous navigation on the coast of America. In ten days 
we reached Providence without accident. I returned, after 
an absence of more than two years, to New-England, bearing 
with me features so changed and tawny, that a second time I 
was not recognized by my father, and was obliged to tell him 
my name. 



OE, MEMOIKS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 265 



CHAPTER XXII. 

Materials for the Work — Marriage — Springfield, Western Massachusetts — 
Hudson — Albany — John De Neuville — Schenectady — Col. Talbot — 
Johnson Hall — Mohawk Valley — German Population — Revolutionary 
Suflierings — Site of Utica — Privations — Whitesborough — Settlers — 
Mohawks— Gen. Herkimer— Battle-Field— Indians— Fort Stanwix — 
Treaty — Wood Creek— Inland Navigation— Peter Otscquelte — De 
scent of the Mohawk — Site of Troy — Lansingburgh— Half-Moon — 
Cohoes Fa'le — The Hudson — Romance in Real Life— Thiilling In- 
cident — Residence in Albany — Freedom of the City — Local Improve- 
ments — Albany Bank — Incident — Grave of Franklin — Last Inter- 
terview with him — Franklin and Adams. 

The arranged and revised Auto-Biography of Mr. Watson 
closes with his return from North Carolina. His manuscripts, 
embracing his subsequent life and correspondence, constituting 
many volumes, were left in a detached and undigested condi- 
tion. Original journals of personal incidents and tours, and 
notices of men and events, comprehending a later period of 
nearly half a century, and an immense mass of correspondence, 
although unarranged, are in a state of perfect preservation, and 
susceptible of being easily systematized. These, and the 
newspaper productions called forth by the numerous and diver- 
sified projects, he either initiated or discussed, and which 
would occupy volumes for their reproduction, and the several 
works which, during this period he published, constitute the 
materials and elements which I propose to compress and di- 
gest, in concluding the work the author had commenced. 

Under these circumstances, I have determined to adopt the 
narrative arrangement in my compilation, intending, wherever 
practicable, to incorporate the original productions in their ap- 
propriate connection. I design, in the further progress of the 
work, to group together notices of persons and incidents as 
they are naturally associated, rather than to be governed by 
any strict chronological order. In the anterior life of Mr. 



266 



Watson, he had occupied an attitude of observation ; from 
this period it assumed a new character, that of projection and 
execution. 

In the year 1784, Mr. Watson married Miss Rachel Smith, 
daughter of Daniel Smith, Esq., of Norton, Massachusetts. 
His Memoirs, after an union of nearly threescore years, re- 
cords this just and touching tribute : — 

" Never was man more blessed with an amiable, pious, and 
virtuous wife. Wherever my wandering steps have been led, 
by chance or caprice, she has been beloved by all classes. To 
me she has been everything." 

In the August succeeding his return from North Carolina, 
Mr. Watson was called by his affairs to the western part of 
Massachusetts. The desire of change, and the prompting of his 
inquiring mind, impelled him onward, guided by no specific pur- 
pose, and with no limits to his time, in the indulgence of these 
impulses. 

On this tour he left Providence 12th of Ausfust, 1788 ; he 
described the country in traversing Connecticut, to Springfield, 
as rough, but containing some small villages and pleasant locali- 
ties highly improved. Springfield contained about two hundred 
buildings, many of superior quality, and a refined society. The 
high culture and fertility of the Connecticut valley, excited 
his admiration. The roads from Springfield to Great Barring- 
ton were intolerable ; passing over acclivities of mountains, and 
through gorges that appeared nearly inaccessible to carriages. 
The country was sparsely inhabited by a rude population. 
Great Barrington was then a pleasant inland village, surround- 
ed by a rich, romantic, and mountainous scenery. He visited 
the " new City of Hudson," first then starting into being, 
through the energy and enterprise of New-England emigrants, 
and exhibitino^ a progress at that period almost without a par- 
allel in American history. It had emerged from a Dutch farm, 
into the position of a commercial city, with a considerable 
population, warehouses, wharves, and docks, rope-walks, ship_ 
ping, and the din of industry. All these remarkable results 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 267 

had been accomplished in the brief term of four years. The 
streets were broad and spacious. 

Curiosity conducted him to the '* old Dutch City of Albany," 
that he might compare their habits and manners with those of 
the cities of Holland, from whence their ancestors had emi- 
grated more than one hundred and fifty years before ; the one 
Surrounded by the progress ard refinement of Europe, and the 
other in contact with savage barbarism. At that period Albany 
was the second city in the State, containing about six hundred 
dwellings, generally constructed on the old Dutch model, but was 
rapidly modernizing, as well in its architecture as customs. The 
city he regarded as awkwardly situated upon the declivity of 
a hill. The houses were principally of brick, and many of 
them elegant. Vessels of eight feet draught plied constantly and 
in great numbers between the city and New- York. The trade 
was immense, and rapidly increasing. A branch of this 
trade, formerly of great value, had then become nearly ex- 
tinct — the traffic in furs, which the British had found means 
to avert from this avenue, chiefly by the ascendency they 
derived from their forts, within our own territory. 

The inhabitants were mostly Dutch, attached to their own 
customs, and cherishing their national prejudices. As 
foreigners intermixed with them, these peculiarities were 
relaxing, and insensibly softening. They had generally adopt- 
ed in the instruction of their children the English tongue, by 
the establishment of English schools. Mr. Watson expressed 
in his journal, the prediction that the Dutch language, in half a 
century, would be unknown in that city as a spoken language. 

He proceeded eight miles from Albany to the new glass- 
house, erected by John De Neuville, a former correspondent 
of Mr. Watson, and an inhabitant of Amsterdam. Mr. De 
Neuville was the negotiator of the treaty made by Holland 
with the American Congress, which essentially produced the 
war between the former and England in 1781. He commenced 
business with an hereditary capital of half a million ster- 
ling, and lived in Amsterdam and at his country-seat in the 
highest affluence and splendor. He sacrificed his fortune by 



268 MEK AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

his attachment to the cause of American Independence, and in 
his efforts to sustain it. The fragments of his estate he had 
invested in the hopeless enterprise of estabhshing this glass- 
factory. Mr. Watson found this gentleman, born to affluence, 
in a solitary seclusion, occupying a miserable log cabin fur- 
nished with a single deal table and two common chairs — desti- 
tute of the ordinary comforts of life. 

Mr. Watson visited Schenectady. Here an academy had been 
founded, which he then regarded with interest, as an import- 
ant step in advancing the cause of education. Jn subsequent 
years, when this feeble embryo had expanded into a college, 
he became w^armly and actively enlisted in the promotion of 
its prosperity and usefulness. 

He continued from Schenectady to Johnson Hall, the 
former seat of Sir Wilham Johnson, then owned by Col. 
Silas Talbot, an officer of great revolutionary distinction, whom, 
it will be remembered, Mr. Watson aided in his escape from 
Mill Prison in England. Johnson Hall was a stately mansion? 
occupying an eminence, which looked over the village of 
Johnstown, and a wide expanse of beautiful country. 

" The country," he writes, " between Schenectady and Johns- 
town, was well settled by a Dutch population, generally in a 
prosperous condition ; but behind New-England in affluence 
and progress. 1 have had frequent occasion to remark, 
from all I have observed and collected in my intercourse 
with various nations, that no ao^ricultural people are in equal 
enjoyment of the comforts of life, afforded by good dwellings, 
and the abandance of food and raiment, as the farmers of 
New-England. Yet they complain of hard times. Let any 
of them visit foreign countries, and witness the destitution, 
the suffering and persecution of the agricultural class, wdiich 
everywhere prevail, and their lips would be ever after 
sealed against any complaint." He learned from Col. Talbot 
the occurrence of an Indian treaty at Fort Stanwix, and was 
induced by this circumstance, to extend his tour to that 
point. 

From Johnson Hall, he proceeded up the Mohawk, through 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 269 

a rich region under high cultivation, and adorned by luxuriant 
clover pastures. This lovely valley v^as almost on a level with 
the river, and was bounded on the north by a lofty range of 
hills, whose cliffs at times seemed impending over him. The 
fields were only separated by gates, with no fences on the 
road-sides. The beauty of the country, the majestic appear- 
ance of the adjacent mountains, the state of advanced 
agriculture, exhibited in a long succession of excellent farms, 
and the rich fragrancy of the air, redolent with the perfume 
of the clover, all combined to present a scene, he was not pre- 
pared to witness, on the banks of the Mohawk. 

This valley w^as subjected to inundations which not un- 
frequently wasted the labors of a season, and much deprecia- 
ted the apparent value of these estates. Travelling the whole 
day through tbis land flowing with milk and honey, he was 
not only surprised, but seriously distressed by the total ab- 
sence of all accommodations for the relief and comfort of the 
traveller. 

The territory known as the German-ilats had been lono- 
inhabited, and was densely occupied by a German population. 
This people had suffered severely during the w^ar of Indepen- 
dence, from the ravages of the Tories and Indians, and had been 
nearly extirpated. Impressive vestiges of these events were 
exhibited throughout the entire district. Their safety was 
only secured by the erection of numerous block-houses, which 
were constructed , upon commanding positions, and often 
mounted with cannon. Many of these structures were vet 
standing, and were seen in every direction. 

The sufferings and sacrifices of this population, has few 
parellels in the atrocities of civil w^ar ! He entered into no 
family in which be did not hear of thrilling recitals of the massa- 
cre of some branch of it by ferocious barbarians, who carried 
fire and the sword through their settlements, or of some ap- 
palling scene of danger and suffering connected with its 
own history. This entire people for many years were expos- 
ed to constant alarm and agitation. Without knowledge or 
suspicion of the immediate approach of their ruthless foes, 



270 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

settlements were burst upon and devastated at one swoop, in 
blood and flames, while the same tragic scene was often 
renewed the succeeding night, by the same bands, in some 
other remote and equally unsuspecting community. 

On the second evening after leaving Johnson Hall, he 
reached a miserable log tavern, six miles from old Fort Schuy- 
ler, which stood upon the site of the present city of Utica. 
This tour proved an important epoch in the public career of 
Mr. Watson, and I therefore present the original language of his 
Journal, in order more distinctly to present his views and 
opinions at that period. 

Extract from the Journal: "Sept. 1788. — From Col. 
Sterling's I began to traverse the wilderness bordering upon 
the Indian territory. The road is almost impassable; I was 
upwards of three hours in reaching the Mohawk opposite old 
Fort Schuyler, a distance of only six miles, Here 1 reluctantly 
forded the river, being alone and without a guide, and both 
shores alive with savages. Having fasted twenty-four hours, 
in consequence of a severe head-ache the day previous, I was 
by this time excessively hungry and fatigued. As there was 
no tavern, and only a few scattering houses, I proceeded to an 
old German log house, on the margin of the river, and inter- 
ceded for something to eat. At length, after much difficulty, 
I prevailed on an ill-natured German woman to spare me two 
ears of green corn and some salt.*' 

"The road from thence to Whitesborough continued as bad 
as possible, obstructed by broken bridges, logs, and stumps, and 
my horse, at every step, sinking knee-deep in the mud. I 
remained one day recruiting at Judge White's log house, the 
founder of the settlement, and slept in his log barn, with 
horses and other animals.f 

* f extract this fact from m^ original Journal, as illustrative of the progress of 
that region. I never suffered more from hunger in all my wanderings, than I 
did in 1788, on the spot now occupied by the large and flourishing village of 
Utica. (1821 ) 

t " It could hardly have been supposed within the range of possibility, that it 
would fall to my lot to march by the side of President Lansing, and head a pro- 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 271 

" Whitesborough is a promising new settlement, situated on 
the south side of the Mohawk river, in the heart of a fine tract 
of land, and is just in its transition from a state of nature into 
civilization. The settlement commenced only three years 
since. It is astonishing what efforts are making to subdue the 
dense and murky forest. Log houses are already scattered in 
the midst of stumps, half-burnt logs, and girdled trees. I 
observed, however, with pleasure, that their log barns are well- 
filled. A few years ago land might have been bought for a 
trifle ; at present, the lots bordering upon the river have 
advanced to three dollars per acre, and those lying a few miles 
back, at one dollar per acre. 

" Settlers are continually pouring in from the Connecticut 
hive, which throws off its annual swarms of intelligent, indus- 
trious, and enterprizing emigrants — the best qualified of any 
men in the world to overcome and civilize the wilderness. 
They already estimate three hundred brother Yankees on their 
muster list, and in a few years hence they will undoubtedly be 
able to raise a formidable barrier, to oppose the incursions of 
the savages in the event of another war. 

"At Oriskany I passed a small tribe of two hundred Indians, 
the remnant of that once powerful Mohawk nation, which was 
the former terror and dread of the New-England frontier. On 
ascending a hill, I approached the place where the intrepid Gen. 
Herkimer was drawn into a fatal ambush and miserably defeat- 
ed, in 1777. Herkimer was a gallant, but inexperienced leader, 
and here perished, with nearly half his army, formed of the 
patriotic yeomanry of the Mohawk valley. Just before reach- 
ing this sanguinary battle-field, I met two Germans familiar 



cession of two hundred respectable farmers, in presence of several thousand 
spectators, into a Church on this very spot, exactly thirty years after this occur- 
rence, and there proclaim the premiums of an Agricultural Society, and address 
them as follows : • It is now thirty years this month since I lodged in a log* 
barn, belonging to Judge White, near the spot from which I am now addressing 
you. This blooming vale was then just emerging from a wilderness, and the bloody 
footsteps of our savage foe. Behold now an apparently old country, bearing on 
its surface the refinements of civilized life.' " 



272 

with its incidents. They conducted me over the whole ground, 
and in corroboration of the fact, of which they assured me, that 
many of the slain, who were scattered through the woods, were 
never interred, I noticed numerous human bones, strewn upon 
the sui'face of the earth. This movement was intended to 
succor Fort Stanwix, then beseiged by St. Leger. 

"I found myself, soon after leaving this consecrated spot, 
alone in the woods, in the midst of a band of Indians, "as 
drunk as lords." They looked like so many evil spirits broken 
loose from Pandemonium. Wild, frantic, almost naked, and 
frightfully painted, they whooped, yelled, and danced around 
me in such hideous attitudes, that I was seriously apprehensive 
they would end the farce by taking off my scalp, by way of a 
joke. I had luckily picked up the word Sago, the salute of 
friendship, of which I made copious application, constantly 
extending my hand to the most active among them, by whom 
it was cordially accepted. 

" On my arrival at Fort Stanwix, I found the whole plain 
around the fort covered with Indians, of various tribes, male 
and female. Many of the latter were fantastically dressed in 
their best attire — in the richest silks, fine scarlet clothes, bor- 
dered with gold fringe, a profusion of brooches, rings in their 
noses, their ears slit, and their heads decorated with feathers. 
Among them I noticed some very handsome countenances 
and fine figures. 

"I luckily procured a sleeping-place in the garret of the 
house in which Gov. Clinton and the eight other commission- 
ers — also John Taylor, Esq., of Albany, Indian Agent — Egbert 
Benson, Esq., of New- York, and a man with a large white wig, 
by the name of Dr. Taylor — were quartered. The sight of 
this wig fixed the attention, and excited the mirth of many of 
the Indians, one of whom I noticed making strong efforts to 
smother a laugh in the Doctor's face, since nothing could 
appear more ludicrous and grotesque to an Indian, than a 
bushy white wig. 

"The object of this great treaty is to procure a cession 
from the Indians, of territory lying west of Fort Stanwix, in 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON". 273 

this State, and extending to the great lakes. Fort Stanwix 
was built in 1758, by the British Government, at a cost of 
£60,000, and is situated on an artificial eminence, near the 
river; a large area around it is entirely cleared. Here Col. 
Gansevoort, in 1777, sustained a terrible siege, until relieved 
by Arnold, when St. Leger made a precipitate retreat, aban- 
doning most of his camp equipage and munitions. The 
French Ambassador, Count Moutier, and the Marchioness De 
Biron, are now encamped within the Fort, under a marqu^ 
formerly used by Lord Cornwallis. This enterprising and 
courageous lady has exposed herself to the greatest fatigues 
and privations to gratify her unbounded curiosity, by coming 
all the way from the city of New-York, to witness this great 
and unusual assemblage of savage tribes. 

" In contemplating the position of Fort Stanwix, at the head 
of bateaux navigation on the Mohawk river, within one mile 
of Wood Creek, which runs west towards Lake Ontario, I am 
led to think it will in time become the emporium of commerce 
between Albany and the vast Western world. Wood Creek 
is indeed small, but it is the only water communication with 
the great Lakes ; it empties into the Oneida Lake, the outlet 
of which unites with the Onondaga and Oswego, and dis- 
charges into Lake Ontario at Fort Oswego, where the British 
have a garrison. Should tlie Little Falls be ever locked, the 
obstructions in the Mohawk river removed, and a canal 
between that river and Wood Creek at this place be formed, 
so as to unite the waters flowing east with those running west, 
and other canals made, and obstructions removed to S'ort 
Oswego — who can reasonably doubt that by such bold opera- 
tions, the State of New- York has within her power, by a grand 
measure of policy, to divert the future trade of Lake Ontario, 
and the great lakes above,^from Alexandria and Quebec to 
Albany and New-Y^ork ? 

" The object of the present treaty is the purchase of an im- 
mense territory, estimated at eight millions of acres, and now 
owned, and chiefly inhabited, by the Six Nations of Indians. 
The sovereignty of this tract has been in dispute between 

18 



274 MEN AND TIMES 0^ THE REVOLUTION 



Massachusetts and New- York. These States have at length 
made an amicable division, assigning four milHons of acres to 
each. The former has since sold her right of domain to a 
company of adventurers, who have purchased preemption 
from the Indians. New- York, by this treaty, has accomplished 
the same result. This vast territory therefore, is now opened 
without any impediments, to the flood of emigration which will 
pour into it from the East. Many hardy pioneers have al- 
ready planted themselves among the savages ; and it is prob- 
able that the enthusiasm for the occupation of new territory, 
which now prevails, will in the period of the next twenty 
years, spread over this fertile region a prosperous and vigorous 
population. 

*' I left Fort Stanwix with the intention of passing down 
Wood Creek to Lake Ontario, indulging the idea of extending 
my tour to Detroit. Cinder the strong presentiment that a 
canal communication will he opened, sooner or later, between the 
great lakes and the Hudson, I was anxious to explore its prob- 
able course. A hard rain commencing, and the obstacles I 
found to exist in the creek, induced me however to abandon 
the arduous enterprize, and return to Fort Stanwix. The at- 
tempt afforded me the gratification of sailing west for the first 
time, in the interior of America. 

" I continued several days at the Treaty, passing my time 
most agreeably, in associating with the Commissioners, and 
much divertedj by the novel and amusing scenes exhibited in 
the Indian camp. The plain in the vicinity of the fort has 
already been laid out into a towm-plot ; a few houses have been 
erected, and also saw-mills, and other improvements, at a dis- 
tance of a mile on Wood Creek. 

" A young Indian, named Peter Otsequett, a Chief of the 
Oneidas, was also attending this Treaty ; he had just returned 
from France, having been in that country for several years, 
under the patronage of the Marquis Lafayette, by whom he 
was taken when a boy. He is probably the most polished and 
best educated Indian in North America. He speaks both 
French and English accurately ; is familiar with music and 



OB, MEMOIES OF ELKANAH WATSON. 275 

many branches of polite and elegant literature ; and in his 
manners is a well-bred Frenchman. He is, however, a striking 
instance of the moral impracticability of civilizing an Indian. 
There appears to exist natural impediments to their ameliora- 
tion. While visiting the Catawba Indians a year since, I be- 
came acquainted with a young Indian, who had been educated 
at a prominent college ; but had already fallen into the degra- 
dation of his native savage habits, and was to all intents an 
Indian. It is noticed that each year, in its progress, wears off 
the European polish of Otsequett, and brings him nearer the 
savage.* Ten days ago I was introduced to him, a polite and 
well-informed gentleman, to-day I beheld him splashing through 
the mud, in the rain, on horseback, with a young squaw behind 
him, both comfortably drunk. 

" My curiosity satisfied, I sent my horse towards Albany, 
and embarked on board a returning bateau, and proceeded 
down the Mohawk to Little Falls, anxious to examine that 
place, with an eye to canals. We abandoned ourselves to the 
current of the river, which, with the aid of our oars, impelled 
us at a rapid rate. We met numerous bateaux coming up the 
river, freighted with whole families, emigrating to the ' land 
of promise.' I was surprised to observe the dexterity with 
which they manage their boats, and the progress they make in 
polling up the river, against a current of at least three miles 
an hour. The first night we encamped at a log-hut on the 
banks of the river, and the next morning I disembarked at 
German Flats. 

" The meanderings of the river, by my estimate, about 
doubles the distance of a direct line. We passed a valuable 
tract of 16,000 acres of land, situated on the north side of the 
river, which has been granted by the State to Baron Steuben. 

* I have since been assured by a gentleman, who knew Otsequett near the 
close of his life, that he actually degenerated below the ordinary level of savages. 
His refined education in France, commencing when a boy, had divested him of 
those masculine virtues which are engrafted on the Indian character. Having lost 
these, he possessed no traits of high qualities to sustain him, and abandoning 
himielf to the bottle, he ultimately became an abandoned vagabond. (1321.) 



276 



From Schenectady I pursued the road across a thickly settled 
country, embracing many fine farms, to Ashley's Ferry, six 
miles above Albany. On the east side of the river, at this 
point, a new town has been recently laid out, named Vander- 
heyden.* This place is situated precisely at the head of navi- 
gation on the Hudson. Several bold and enterprising adven- 
turers have already settled here ; a number of capacious ware- 
houses, and several dweUings, are already erected. It is favor- 
ably situated in reference to the important and growing trade 
of Vermont and Massachusetts ; and I believe, it not only bids 
fair to be a serious thorn in the side of New City,t but in the 
issue a fatal rival. 

" I spent a day in examining this locality, and then walked 
on the banks of the Hudson, a distance of three miles, to New 
City, where I continued several days. This place is thronged 
by mercantile emigrants, principally from New-England, who 
have enjoyed a very extensive and lucrative trade, supplying 
Vermont and the region on both banks of the Hudson, as far 
as Lake George, with merchandize ; and receiving in payment 
wheat, pot and pearl ashes, and lumber. But, as I remarked, 
I think Vanderheyden must, from its more eligible position, at- 
tain the ultimate ascendancy. 

" I crossed the river at Half-Moon, a small hamlet contain- 
ing about twenty dwellings ; and about a mile from this place 
I visited the Cohoes Falls, upon the Mohawk River. Nothing 
so much charms and elevates my mind as the contemplation of 
nature in her bold and majestic works. Fixing my position 
on the margin of the bank, which descends in a vertical preci- 
pice of about seventy feet, I beheld the volume of the Mohawk, 
plunging over a fall of about the same height, and nearly per- 
pendicular. The barrier of rocks — the lofty banks — the roar- 
ing and dashing of the ^waters — and the cloud of mist, pre- 
sented a spectacle of surprising sublimity. The river divides 
immediately below the Falls into three branches, and empties 



* The original name of the present beautiful city of Troy. 
t TJie city of Lansingburgh was then known by that name. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 277 

into the Hudson, nearly opposite New City. The bed of the 
stream is filled with rocks, among which it rushes and surges 
in terrific impetuosity. 

" In the view of ascending by locks from the', Hudson into 
the Mohawk River, it appears to me that the obstacles at this 
place will be much greater than to cut a canal across the pine 
plains, into a grand basin, back of Albany. I took passage in 
a bateau at New City, to Albany, for the purpose of sounding 
the river. The result of my examination satisfied me, that in 
ordinary tides five or six feet may be carried to within a mile 
of New City, and from thence to that town fifteen to eighteen 
inches. The tides sensibly rise and fall as far up as Vander- 
heyden. 

" Upon careful investigation and mature reflection, it ap- 
pears to my mind that Albany is one of the most favorable po- 
sitions in America for the future enjoyment of a vast internal 
commerce. It is favorably situated in reference to the trade 
of Vermont and the extensive eastern country. It may con- 
trol the fur trade of the lakes ; it must occupy the avenues 
which penetrate into the valley of the Mohawk ; and will be 
the depot of the produce from the luxuriant territory of tbe 
Genesee." 

From Albany, Mr. Watson proceeded to New- York by a 
packet, and occupied three days in the passage. He speaks of 
the Overslaugh three miles below Albany, as sounding only eight 
feet of watei, while immediately below it deepens to twelve or 
fourteen feet, and suggests that the impediment might be 
removed by closing two channels, and throwing the whole 
current of the river into the third. This obstacle being 
removed, he expresses the opinion that Albany would become 
a mart of foreign commerce. 

The beautiful and richly cultivated banks of the Hudson, 
the thriving villages that adorned its shores, the majestic pas- 
sage of the Highlands, the imposing scenery they presented, 
the stupendous works at West Point, exceeding in number, 
strength, and position, anything he had before seen, excited 
the warmest enthusiasm and admiration. His impression of 



278 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

that noble river had been exalted, but he remarks that he had 
formed most inadequate conceptions of its many beauties, and 
of its immense importance not only to the State, but the en- 
tire Union. 

'' The following curious romance in real life," Mr. Watson 
remarks in his journal, " which came to my knowledge 
about this time, was familiar to me in its general features, 
and I knew intimately the prominent actors in it.*' About 
the year 1780, while I was in France, my father removed 

from Plymouth to a farm in upon river. On 

the opposite side, and about two miles above them, was a 
pretty village named principally inhabited by rich half- 
Quakers. Among them lived , distinguished as one 

of the richest men in New England. He was originally a 
ship carpenter, but possessing an active and vigorous mind, 
in reference to men and money-making, he had by a long 
course of usury, and taking and exacting the forfeiture of 
mortgages upon many of the best farms of that region, and 
having also several ships in foreign trade, accumulated an im- 
mense fortune. His industry and efforts were unremitted, and 
in the pursuit of his great object, he had drawn tears of blood 
from many an eye — and heart too. He was a raw-boned, 
powerful and athletic man, possessed of iron nerves, but not a 
drop of the milk of human kindness flowed in his cold and 
fish-like veins. 

" His great wealth procured him in marriage a very fine* 
lady-like wife, with a cash fortune of £40,000. This man was 
regarded as the scourge of the community, but still he had some 
good qualities, and always exercised a generous hospitality 
under his own roof. 

" He had two sons ; John, the eldest, was a sheer clown, the 
counterpart of his father in form, but of a liberal and kindly 



* Mr. Watson, in his manuscripts from which this episode is transcribed, give* 
the names and localities of this story, with an injunction that it should not be 
disclosed until the lapse of a specified period, which has now expired. In the 
suppression of the names of persons and places, I may I think, exhibit the moral 
the tale inculcates, without doing violence to the feelings of any descendants o' 
the parties, if they still eurvive, — Editor. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 279 

feeling, with however a propensity to gambling. His educa- 
tion had been miserable, and in mind and appearance he 
could scarcely claim superiority over the most indigent strip- 
ling of his age. For this the father, whose god was money, 
had much to answer. 

" At the close of the Revolutionary war, he had a vessel 
arrive from Jamaica ladened with rum. He despatched her 
to Boston, and sent his son over-land to sell the cargo as his 
initiation upon the commercial stage. But the cargo and 
son both disappeared, and no trace was discovered of him 
until some years afterward, I think in 1789. 

'' It subsequently appeared that John fell into the hands of 
some sharpers at Boston, who soon relieved him from the 
avails of the cargo of rum. John dreading his father from 
his infancy, instautly fled into the interior in secresy, and 
directed his course to the Ohio river, and from thence, in 
order to elude all traces of him, he proceeded into the midst 
of the Miami Indians, where he married a young squaw and 
had by her two or three children. 

" Some years after, becoming disgusted with savage life, he 
left his wife and children and returned to the Ohio, and fol- 
lowed the river as a boatman. In the winter of that year 
he became a common laborer in the streets of New-Orleans. 
While engaged one day in sawing wood at the door of a 
Spaniard, John saw a Major D , a gentleman from New- 
England whom he well knew passing by, and accosted him 

by name. Major D turned, and saw this miserable object 

in filth and rags^ ^'^Df^ you speak to me, my lad ?" " Yes, 
sir — don't you know me?" "Know you! how should I? who 

are you?" " I have seen you often at my father's in ," 

replied John. " Who is your father ?" " , sir." 

"You are an impostor!" rejoined Major D., **it can't be so." 
John, however, did not lose sight of D., but shouldering his 
saw, followed him to his quarters, and stated some facts which 
began to stagger the incredulity of D. John narrated his 
story after his departure from his father's house. Yet D. 
was skeptical ; but as John pressed him very earnestly to be 



280 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION 



taken to Philadelphia in any capacity, assuring him that on 
his arriv^al there he would convince him that he was no 
impostor; Major D. agreed to procure him an opportunity 
to work his passage to that city. To this John assented. 

'' On their arrival at Philadelphia, Major D. was astonished to 
find that John was recognised by his father's correspondents, 

H and A , and that they were apprized of the rum 

adventure. They stated that the father had been for several 
years in deep despondency, under the conviction that his son 
had in all probability committed suicide, to escape his harsh 
severity. 

" Mr. A. took John into the bosom of his own family, clothed 
and fed him sumptuously. But this sudden transition from 
abject want to abundance was too much for John, and subject- 
ed him to a severe sickness. As soon as he was convalescent, 
Mr. A. wrote, as he afterwards informed me, to the father. 
It so happened that I was passing down Crane's wharf and 
met him just landed, on his way to Philadelphia to meet 
John ; but as I had just left John in Hacker Tavern at the 
head of the wharf, where he had arrived the evening before, I 
had the singular good fortune to conduct the agitated fathe^ 
into the presence of his returning prodigal son. 

" With the exception of the meeting of my uncle Winslow and 
his son Ned, ten or twelve years previous, I have never wit- 
nessed a more affecting scene. They clung to each other in a 
most awkward manner, but in speechless emotion,, for several 
minutes. There was a refinement of heart and sentiment in 
the Winslow group on Prudence Island, which had no paral- 
lel on this occasion. 

" This story in all its circumstances, was considered unpre- 
cedented in New-England. But to add another, and deeper inci- 
dent to the drama : the whole country in the ensuing Septem- 
ber resounded with the news that John's abandoned wife, 
accompanied by her brother, a Miami Indian, and two 

papooses, had arrived at . Money w^orks wonders — they 

disappeared in a twinkling. John afterwards married one of 
the most beautiful and accomplished women in Rhode Island. 



OE, MEMOIES OF ELKAIs^AH WATSON. 281 

As if Heaven in wrath had destined him to demolish a fortune 
wrung from the anguish and sufferings of hundreds, by deaths 
in the family and the will of his father, the largest portion of 
this vast estate fell into the hands of John. It melted away, in 
a manner unseen and incomprehensible. In ten years he was 
a bankrupt, in penury, and in the most grinding want ever 
afterward. He subsequently went, as I have understood, 
in the capacity of a common sailor to the coast of Africa, 
and there died. More than one impressive moral may be 
deduced from this story, which rests upon incontestible facts, 
and is known to hundreds, remnants of the last generation, yet 
living." 

The journal of Mr. Watson narrates an occurrence of an 
exciting character, in which he was apparently exposed to a 
tragic and most appaUing fate. 

" I spent one month in the city of New- York, after my return 
from the Treaty at Fort Stanwix, and arrived at Newport on 
the 8d of December, 1788, after a furious passage of sixteen 
hours from New- York, and resumed my old quarters at 

H , who kept a boarding-house in a building which 

belonged to Col. Malborn. 

" This H had been a British officer, and his father was, 

as he alleged, a former governor of the Island of Guernsey. 

H sold out his commission at the close of the war for 

the purpose of marrying a celebrated courtezan connected 
with the army, with whom he had fallen in love. Although she 
had been depraved, she possessed many excellent qualities, 
was humane and generous, as many American prisoners 
abundantly testified. Her person was elegant and her feel- 
ings benevolent, and at this period she was not only reformed, 
but pious. 

" H was a man of vicious habits, and yet most of the 

respectable Southern travellers resorted to his fashionable 
establishment in their summer sojourn. These I found on 
my arrival had all migrated with the birds in pursuit of a 
milder climate on the approach of cold weather, and not a 
sohtary boarder remained to keep me company. Here I con- 



282 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

tinued two weeks. The first Sunday after breakfast H 

invited me to walk out with him. I at first declined, but was 
prevailed upon by his urgency. He promised to show me a 
great natural curiosity. We proceeded across a plain about 
two miles in a southeast course, where he conducted me 
to the brink of a vertical precipice, with rock piled on rock at 
its base at least fifty feet below. The hideous and chaotic confu- 
sion of these masses, which had evidently been rent from the 
structure by some convulsion of nature, had given to the scene 
the name of Purgatory, or the Devils' Hole by others. The ori- 
ginal formation of the coast had manifestly been indented, as 
if the whole wall had been scooped out, and the fragments 
dashed in utter dislocation at the foot of the abyss in con- 
fused heaps, their sharp points projecting in every direction. 

" To view this work of nature, people approach with great 
caution to the verge of the precipice. The fragments of rock 
at the bottom were so broken and pointed as to ensure instant 
annihilation to any living creature that should be precipitated 
from the summit of the cliff. Their base is overflowed at 
flood and left naked at ebb tide. It was low water when 

H allured me to the place. In this position, leaning upon 

my cane at the edge of the precipice, I contemplated with 
surprise and interest two large rocks, once evidently united, 
but now separated into two parts, and lying some distance 
asunder. 

" In the face of the wall millions of swallows made their se- 
cure nests among the interstices of the rocks. This circum- 
stance gave a peculiar relief and animation to the dreary 
scene. 

"After awhile I became satisfied with gazing on the won- 
derful exhibition, and withdrew, but H urged me with 

great importunity to return to the brink a second time ; although 
without suspicion, I resisted his solicitations, and returned 
homeward. I dined and went to my chamber. I there found 
my trunk, which contained a bag of gold and silver that 
was just then of infinite importance to me, unlocked. I felt 
for the bag with much apprehension, — but it was gone. 



OE, MEMOIES OF ELKANAH WATSON. 283 

" The conviction flashed upon my mind that H had cher- 
ished a diabolical purpose in alluring me with so much solici- 
tude to that sequestred spot. I at once reverted to his strange 
and excited conduct on the cliff, which I had noticed without 
heeding. 

"My suspicions were immediately fastened upon him as the 
author of the robbery, but I first summoned his wife, who 
came as usual, cheerfully and frankly. 1 explained my disas- 
ter, when she became ghostly pale and clasped her hands in 
agony, protesting her own innocence, but added, " I cannot 

answer for H , although I have no cause of suspicion.'' 

" Sit still," I said, " and be silent." I then proceeded to the 

head of the stairs and called H several times. He at 

length, in a faltering voice, answered, and came forward with 
hesitation and manifest reluctance. When he reached where 
I stood, his countenance exhibited the clearest evidence of 
guilt. As he approached, I seized him by the arm, and looking 

sternly and fixedly in his eye, "Why do you tremble, H- ? 

what is the matter ?" " What do you want," he inquired. " I 
am robbed," I exclaimed, " in your house — and you are the 
robber, and in heart a murderer." He vehemently asserted 
his innocence. I had him however committed, but allowed 
him subsequently to be discharged. 

" A few^ days after, the bag was deposited with nearly all the 
money at my room door. I caused H to be again arrest- 
ed. He soon desired an interview with me in the presence 
of the sheriff. I went to his cell, and found him fearfully 
agitated. His whole frame shook as if in an ague fit. 

" He said he desired to unburthen his conscience to us. I 
then promised to proceed no further against him. He fell 
upon his knees, confessed his guilt of the robbery, and fervent- 
ly implored the forgiveness of God. " Tell me," I exclaimed 
solemnly, "in the presence of that God, why you took me to that 
precipice ?" " With the intent," he feebly replied, "of murder- 
ing you." After some further conversation, he confessed that 
he once approached his outspread hand within a few inches 
of my back whilst I was resting on my cane and gazing over 



284 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

the chasm, with the purpose of hurling me into the abyss 
below — that his heart failed him at the moment ; but if I had 
returned the second time, it was his fixed determination to ac- 
complish his purpose, and by my destruction to escape a de- 
tection of the robbery. 

"He, was released, his wife separated from him, and in twenty- 
four hours he fled from Newport forever. I met him fourteen 
years afterwards in a narrow retired street in Boston. I ac- 
costed him, and he instantly recognized me. He was greatly 
agitated and alarmed, and said, that for many years he had 
been a wandering, homeless vagabond in Nova Scotia, perpe- 
tually haunted by the thought that the guilt of my intended 
murder rested upon his soul." 

In the ensuing year, 1789, Mr. Watson removed from Provi- 
dence to Albany. Among the curiosities in his common-place 
book, I find a singular document which I deem worthy of being 
perpetuated. It affords evidence that our country at that 
epoch was not wholly enfranchised from the influence of 
European usages, but that many of their restrictions and exac- 
tions still lingered. 

I refer to a certificate of the freedom of the city, which it 
seems each emigrant was required to possess, to be secured in 
the enjoyment and protection of his municipal rights. The 
following is a copy of the printed document : 

"Know all men hy these presents that I, John Lansing, Jr. 
Esquire, Mayor of the city of Albany, have admitted and 
received, and do hereby admit and receive, Elkanah Watson 
to be a freeman of said city. In witness whereof, I have here- 
unto set my hand, and caused the seal of the said city to be 
hereunto annexed, the 28th day of May, 1790, &c." And for 
this certificate, Mr. W. adds, I was compelled to pay five 
pounds. This abuse was early and vigorously assailed by him 
in the press, and was soon after abolished. 

I am now approaching an epoch in the life of my father, which 
to myself is surrounded with embarrassment and difficulties. 
At this period commenced his efforts and labors in projecting 
or advocating various subjects of local and general improve- 



285 



ments of the most diversified character and objects, and 
which were continued to tlie close of his life. The silence 
which delicacy might prescribe to a son, it appears to me, 
should yield to the paramount obligations imposed by the rela- 
tion of the biographer and historian. 

The circumstance, that these efforts gave existence to and 
are connected with much of the valuable correspondence of 
distinguished men, which I design to introduce, appears to 
render the propriety of the course I intend to adopt still more 
obvious. I propose to record the facts connected with these 
subjects, where I esteem them of public interest, or calculated 
to elucidate the progress and history of the country, without 
comment or eulogium, and with only such remarks as may be 
necessary to explain or illustrate them. 

At the time of Mr. Watson's settlement in Albany, not more 
than five New-England families were residents of that city. 
It was^ without any foreign commerce ; the city was unim- 
proved. State-street, now one of the most spacious and beau- 
tiful avenues in America, was then not only without pave- 
ments and ungraded, but even broken and in some parts 
precipitous. The streets were without lamps. A singular 
deformity and inconvenience prevailed in some sections of 
the city. A custom had been introduced, which existed in 
the provincial towns of Holland, of discharging the water 
from the roofs of smaller buildings by long spouts. In Holland 
the spouts were projected over the canals ; but by the adop- 
tion of this practice in Albany the water was poured upon the 
head of the unwary passenger. The mind of Mr. Watson, famil- 
iar with the elegancies and advancement of European cities, at 
once saw and appreciated the various defective arrangements 
in the city of his adoption ; and soon after becoming a resident, 
he engaged earnestly, through the press and by personal efforts, 
in suggesting and urging various local improvements connected 
with these subjects. 

His exertions, in connection with the labors of others, gen- 
erally secured their adoption ; but as they necessarily entailed 
inconvenience and expense, the schemes excited strong hos- 



286 MEN AND TIMES OP THE REVOLUTION; 

tility in the feelings of those who were opposed to all innova- 
ting projects. In subsequent years he received many generous 
tributes of acknowledgments and thanks from those who, in their 
progress, had opposed these efforts. His Journal contains a 
notice of an amusing incident, which exhibits the state of 
feeling he; had excited : 

" Just after State-street had been paved at a heavy expense, 
I sauntered into it immediately succeeding a heavy thunder- 
storm, and whilst regretting the disturbance in the sidewalk, 
and to observe the cellars filled with water, (for in that section, 
which was near the present locality of the State Bank, the 
street in grading had been elevated some feet,) I heard two 
women, in the act of clearing their invaded premises from the 
accumulation of mud and water, cry out — ' Here comes that 
infernal paving Yankee !' they approached me in a menacing 
attitude — broomsticks erect. Prudence dictated a retreat to 
avoid being broomsticked by the infuriated Amazons, although 
I did not run, as some of my friends insisted, but walked off at 
a quick pace." 

The common-place book in which are preserved copies of 
his publications on these and kindred subjects of local and 
general improvement, attest the zeal and ardor, as well as the 
extent and industry, of his labors. Among these projects, the 
charter of the Bank of Albany, the first banking institution 
incorporated north of New- York, was agitated, and I have 
before me the declaration of eminent men of that period, who 
ascribed to his efforts its successful accomplishment. 

Whilst visiting Philadelphia in 1792, in the service of that 
Institution, Mr. Watson spent part of a forenoon in seeking the 
sequestered grave of Franklin, always deriving, he remarked, 
a peculiar gratification from contemplating even the sods that 
cover the ashes of great men. His last interview with Frank- 
lin, who was then eighty years of age, had occurred in 1786. 
*'0n my first entering the room," Mr. Watson says, " he observ- 
ed that all his old friends were dead, and he found himself alone, 
in the midst of a new generation, and added the remark, alike 
characteristic of the man and the philosopher, ' he was in their 



OB, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 287 

way, and it was time he was off the stage.' Yet he delighted 
a circle of young people, (for he was a most instructive com- 
panion to youth in his old age,) the whole evening, with 
pleasant anecdote and interesting stories. His voice was very 
sonorous and clear, but at the same time hollow and peculiar." 

'' Franklin was the first and greatest of American philoso- 
phers — a brilliant star in the galaxy of America's best bene- 
factors — a child of nature, destitute of early literary acquire- 
ments, yet occupying a lofty position among the most distin- 
guished literary men of his age. His own history will most 
adequately illustrate his useful career in a long life devoted to 
the promotion of the happiness of his fellow-men, and by his 
last will dispensing his beneficence centuries after his decease. 
Franklin was not averse to popular applause ; he loved fame — 
not the blast of surreptitious honors; but that renown which 
was based on his own great deeds. 

" A deep estrangement existed between Dr. Franklin and Mr. 
Adams, which it was painful to observe in personages so wor- 
thy and so distinguished. It resulted partly from personal 
occurrences, and to some extent from incidents connected with 
the treaty of '83. Too much subserviency to the views and 
interests of the French Government was by many imputed to 
Dr. Franklin in relation to the fisheries and our western 
boundary. The stern and successful opposition of Mr. Adams 
and Mr. Jay on these points, rendered them personally unpop- 
ular at the French Court, while Franklin was caressed, and 
maintained his great influence at Versailles to the close of his 
mission. Mr. Jay presented a generous, and I think trium- 
phant, vindication of the purity of the intentions and the integ- 
rity of Franklin. 



288 MEN AND TIMES OF THE KEVOLUTION ; 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

New Lebanon Springs— Shakers — Saratoga — Ballston — Western Tour — 
German Population— Mohawk Valley— Bateau Travelling— Night 
Bivouac — Fort Stanwix — Wood Creek— Canal Improvements — Write 
Home — Oneida Lake — Fish — Anticipations — Hermit— Fort Brewer- 
ton — Onondaga River — Salmon — Indian Fishing — Indians— King 
Kiadote and Queen — Indian Tongue — Seneca River — Salt Lake — 
Salt Works— Canals. 

In August, 1790, Mr. Watson visited New Lebanon Springs, 
and " was compelled to make the journey in a Shaker wagon, 
there being no regular conveyance to that place/' These 
waters he found, in taste and temperature, precisely similar 
to those of Matlock, in England. He attended the worship 
of the Shakers, and presents the following description of that 
peculiar people : 

"On Sunday, proceeded to the Shaker village, about three 
miles from the Springs, to witness their singular devotions. 
The village rests upon the western slope of a mountain. It is 
built on one wide street, the houses neat and scattering, and all 
painted a dull yellow. In the rear, extensive orchards spread 
along the hill-side. The church is painted a pure milk white, 
one story high, and neat and simple in its style. The men 
advanced to the church in procession, in an Indian file ; all 
entered at the same door, and took their seats on the right 
side of the building. The women entered at another door, 
and occupied seats on the left side of the house ; they wore 
uniform simple dresses, with tight caps. There were about 
sixty of each sex. The spectators were arranged on benches 
against the wall, facing an open area appropriated to the 
dancing. At the word, the Shakers formed into solid masses, 
of a triangular form ; the brethren in one column, and the 
sisters in another. One of the Elders then advancing to the 
front, addressed first the spectators, soliciting silence and 



OE, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 289 

decorum — and then the fraternity, exhorting them to keep in 
their own path, exhibiting the outer world as lost, but that 
Shakers are sure of entering the straight and narrow way 
which led to life eternal. He was grossly ignorant, had a 
hoarse and unpleasant voice, but spoke with much animation, 

*' They all preserved a steadfast gaze upon the floor with 
their hands clenched, while every moment some individual 
would give a convulsive shake, that agitated the whole frame. 
My curiosity was deeply excited, and I closely watched every 
occurrence. The discourse finished, the elder ordered them 
'to prepare to labor, in the name of the Lord.' At once 
they broke their ranks; the men stript off their coats, the 
womenj divested themselves of all superfluous articles of 
dress. They then re-formed in the same order with the cele- 
rity and exactness of a military column. 

"The day was hot. Two or three elders commenced a 
strange cadence, in hollow guttural voices, rendered into a 
sort of dancing tune. The whole mass — men, women, and 
children, old and young, black and white, began to dance or 
rather move most awkwardly, raising their right knee high 
up, and dropping on the balls of their feet, the left foot per- 
forming a short up and down motion ; all advancing and re- 
tiring three or four steps, and at every turn of the tune, 
whirling around with three steps. It seemed to me very like 
the movement of boys at school, in former days, when pun- 
ished by stepping the bare feet upon a hot stove. Among the 
women were some tall oaks, some shrivelled dwarfs, and some 
young saplings. Their white capped heads of various heights, 
bobbing up and down in the mazes of the dance, had a queer 
and ridiculous appearance. 

" Although friendly to religious toleration in its widest lati- 
tude, I was disgusted and sickened at the heart in contem. 
plating the revolting scene. My aversion was excited in 
witnessing the dignity of man thus debased, and his destiny 
perverted by this strange fanaticism. I was distressed by this 
solemn mockery, but felt no disposition to laugh or sneer," 

" In subsequent years, an intimate intercourse with this bro- 

19 



290 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

therhood, formed by a residence in their vicinity, gave me a 
full knowledge of their character. I found them generally 
sincere in their profession, strictly moral, industrious as a hive 
of bees, and rigidly adhering to their tenets. The directors 
exercise despotic power, the rest labor in silence and submis- 
sion, accumulating the common stock. They carry on many 
ingenious manufactures." 

" The succeeding September, I made a tour to the mineral 
springs at Saratoga. Here I spent a day bathing in a trough, 
and drinking the exhilarating water, which gushes from the 
centre of a rock. I met about a dozen respectable people 
sojourning at a wretched tavern. The wildness of the region, 
and the excessively bad accommodation, made me recur to the 
condition of Bath in the barbarous ages, when several centuries 
before Christ, the legend was, they were discovered by their 
salutary effect upon a herd of distempered swine wallowing 
in the mud. 

" The Saratoga waters were discovered about twenty years 
ago (although it is supposed their existence was known to the 
Indians,) as I was informed by Mr. Ball of Ballston, in follow- 
ing a deer track. The remarkable medicinal qualities of these 
Springs, and their accessible position, must render this spot^ 
at some future period, the Bath of America. At present it is 
enveloped in rudeness and^seclusion, with no accommodations 
appropriate to civilized man. The rock through which the 
water issues by a narrow passage, has been probably formed 
by petrifaction. Vessels are let down, through this fissure or 
natural well, to procure the water for drinking. 

" There is no convenience for bathing, except an open log 
hut, with a large trough, similar to those in use for feeding 
swine, which receives the water from the spring. Into this 
you roll from off a bench. This water appears strongly im- 
pregnated with saline ingredients, highly charged with fixed air, 
and almost as animated as Champaigne wine. Its taste is grate, 
ful, but leaves an unpleasant impression upon the palate. Those 
accustomed to it, however, regard the water as a great luxury 
It is in high estimation as a specific in all scorbutic affections, 



OK, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 29l 



gout, rheumatism, &c. These waters are situated in a marsh, 
partially enveloped by slight and pretty eminences, along the 
margin of which the road winds. A little off from the high- 
way, I visited a new spring, which is much higher charged 
with mineral elements. This is called the Congress Spring. 

"From Saratoga I proceeded to Tryons, a low one story 
tavern on a hill in Ballston. At the foot of this hill, I found 
an old barrel with the staves open, stuck into the mud in the 
midst of a quag- mire, surrounded by trees, stumps, and logs. 
This was the Ballston Spring. I observed two or three ladies 
walking along a fallen tree to reach the fountain, and was 
disgusted to see as many men washing their loathsome sores 
near the barrel. There was also a shower bath, with no pro- 
tection except a bower of bushes. Tryons was the only pub- 
lic house, no buildings having been erected below the hill. 
The largest number of visitors at one period, the past summer 
bad been ten or twelve, and these were as many as could be 
accommodated.'^ 

In the year 1791, Mr. Watson accompanied the Hon. Jere- 
miah Van Eensselaer, Gen. Philip Van Cortlandt, and Stephen 
N. Bayard, Esq., in an extensive tour through the interior of New- 
York. I have preserved with more than ordinary minuteness 
the incidents and observations recorded in bis daily journal 
by Mr. Watson in the course of his journey. A description of 
that territory, its aspect and condition at this early period 
of its occupation, narrated amid the sequestered scenes to 
which the travellers had penetrated with so much labor and 
difficulty, must possess deep interest to every reflecting mind, 
and throw much light on the researches of the political philo- 
sopher and the future historian. 

The traveller, who may now in a moment communicate 
with the most distant cities of the Atlantic States, and who 
upon the wings of steam rushes through this matured and af- 
fluent territory, and views magnificent cities, princely seats, and 
a dense population — when he reads the following description of 
the suspended intercourse of Mr. Watson and his companions 
with their families — their slow and laborious progress — their 



292 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION ; 

sleeping amid these scenes from dire necessity, with no covering 
but the boughs of trees and the canopy of Heaven — of the soli- 
tary cabin of the pioneer — the wij,wam of the Indian — and 
of villag,es composed only of log-huts, will with difficulty re- 
ceive it as a portraiture of the same delightful region. 

Mr. Van Rensselaer and Mr. Watson left Albany on the 1st 
September, 1791, traversing nearly the same route pursued by 
the latter three years before, to the German settlements on the 
Mohawk. The object of this journey was partially of a busi- 
ness character, but more especially to gratify the curiosity 
excited by his previous tour, and to scrutinize the opinions on 
the subject of an inland navigation, which had been suggested 
by his former investigations. 

From Schenectady they despatched two bateaux with six 
men and ample provisions for six weeks, and proceeded by 
land to meet their fellow voyagers, Van Cortlandt and Bayard, 
with the boa's at Herkimer. 

The Journal of Mr. Watson thus proceeds : 

" September 4 — We proceeded on our journey with a miser- 
ably covered wagon, and in a constantj^rain, till night, which 
brought us to Maj. Schuyler's mills, in Palatine, settled by 
the descendants of German emigrants, intermixing on all sides 
with the enterprising sons of the East, between whom mutual 
prejudices ran high. These feelings will gradually be over- 
come by intermarriages, and other modes of intercourse. 
Thus far the German and Dutch farmers have been, in a 
manner, totally remiss in cultivating the first rudiments of 
literature, while the descendants of the English in New-Eng- 
land have cherished it as a primary duty. Hence the char- 
acteristics of each people are distinctly variant. When litera- 
ture shall begin to shed its benign rays over this benighted 
race, then, and not till then, the Germans, the Dutch, the Yan, 
kees, will dismiss all local illiberal prejudices and distinctions, 
and in twenty or thirty years the shades of discordance will 
be hardly preceptible. The whole will amalgamate, and all be 
dignified by the general name of American ; speaking the 
same language, and possessing the same genius and education. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKAKAH WATSON. 293 

" I have noticed with pleasure that the German farmers begin 
to use oxen in agriculture instead of horses. For this salutary- 
improvement, they are indebted to the example of the New- 
Engiandmen. 

" I am induced to believe, should the Western canals be ever 
made, and the Mohawk river become in one sense a continua- 
tion of the Hudson river, by means of canals and locks, that 
it will most clearly obviate the necessity of sending produce 
to market in winter by sleighs. On the contrary, it would 
be stored upon the margin of the Mohawk in winter, and be 
sent in the summer months by bateaux, to be unloaded aboard 
of vessels in the Hudson. 

" The bottoms or lowlands along the Mohawk are laid off into 
rich enclosures, highly cultivated principally by industrious 
Germans. Narrow roads and contracted bridges still exist. 

" On the south side of the river the country is thicker set- 
tled, and many pleasant situations, old farms and wealthy 
farmers, appear ; but these evidently are far behind those of 
Germany or England in the profitable science of agriculture. 
We crossed a new wooden bridge near Schuyler's Mills, 
seventy-five feet long, with a single archj supported by framed 
work above. I was glad to notice this, as an entering wedge 
to more extended improvements. 

'' September 7 — This morning we ascended Fall Hill, over a 
craggy road of one mile. From its summit, we commanded 
an extensive and picturesque view of the surrounding country 
in the north, partly settled, but generally in nature's original 
brown livery, spotted here and there by an opening. 

" We left the Little Falls on our right, and descended into 
the rich settlements of the German-flats. At Eldridge's tavern, 
near Fort Herkimer, we overtook our bateaux, all well, and 
embarked the same evening, stemming fourteen miles against a 
strong current, with an awning spread over our heads. Each 
boat was manned by three men, two in the bow, and one in 
the stern to steer. They occasionally rowed in still water, 
setting with short poles, at the rapids, with surprising dexterity. 
In this mode, their average progress is three miles an hour> 



294 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

equal to truckschute travelling in Holland ; but it is extremely- 
laborious, and fatiguing to the men. At night we encamped in 
a log-hut on the margin of the river. 

" September 8. — A pleasant sail of ten miles this fine morn- 
ing, brought us to old Fort Schuyler. Here we were joined 
by Gen. Van Cortlandt and Mr. Bayard, who were waiting for 
us, which completes our number to thirteen. 

" From Little Falls thus far, the river is nearly competent 
to inland navigation, with the exception of a serious rapid, 
and a great bend at the German-flats, called Wolf-riff, which 
must be subdued either by a cut across the neck of land, 
upwards of one mile, or by removing the obstructions. 

" An Indian road being opened from this place (now Utica,) 
to the Genesee county, it is probable the position at Fort 
Stanwix and this spot will become rivals as to the site of a 
town, in connection with the interior, when it shall become a 
settled country. 

" If, however, the canals should be constructed, I think Fort 
Stanwix will take the lead at a future day. Such was my 
impression when there in 1788. Since that, only a few 
houses and stores have been erected here, also a tolerable 
tavern to administer comfort to the weary traveller, which I 
experienced the want of three years past. In the afternoon we 
progressed thirteen miles, meeting many obstructions in con- 
sequence of the cruel conduct of the new settlers, (who are 
wonderfully increased since I was here,) filling the river with 
fallen trees cut on its margin, narrowing it in many places, 
producing shoals where the deepest waters had been accustom- 
ed to flow, and impeding the progress of our boats. We pitched 
our camp on the right bank of the river, in the midst of woods. 
All hands fell to work, soldierlike. We soon had a roaring 
fire and our tents pitched — open on one side to the fire and 
closed at each end with canvas. We found an excellent 
substitute for feathers — laying our buffaloes on hemlock twigs, 
although the ground was extremely moist, we were effectually 
protected from any inconvenience. We enjoyed a pleasan 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 295 

night, with ten, times more comfort than we could in the 
miserable log huts along the banks of the river. 

" September 9 — At noon we reached Fort Stanwix, to which 
place with some aid of art the river continues adapted to 
inland navigation for boats of five tons burthen. Emigrants 
are swarming into these fertile regions in shoals, like the ancient 
Israelites, seeking the land of promise. 

" We transported our boats and baggages across the carry- 
ing-place a distance of two miles, over a dead flat, and launch- 
ed them into Wood Creek, running west. It is a mere brook 
at this place which a man can easily jump across. In con- 
templating this important creek, as the only water communi- 
cation with the immense regions in the west, which are des- 
tined to bless millions of freemen in the approaching century, I 
am deeply impressed with a belief, considering the great re- 
sources of this State, that the improvement of our internal 
navigation cannot much longer escape the decided attention 
of our law makers, and more especially as it is obviously prac- 
ticable. When effected, it will open an uninterrupted water 
communication from the immense fertile regions in the west 
to the Atlantic. But more of this as I advance in my travels. 

"The situation of Fort Stanwix appears destined to become 
a great city. It lies in an open plain, — healthy and exactly 
at the point where the eastern and western waters unite. 
There is a large clearing about the old fort with two or three 
scattering houses. No progress has, however, been made, since 
I attended the treaty here in 1788, although the plan of a 
city is now contemplated. 

" September 10 — This morning, our bateaux began to descend 
Wood Creek with the aid of a mill-dam which had been filled 
just above. Some of our party at the same time descended 
by land on a tolerable wagon-road to Canada Creek, six 
miles. 

'* Although aided by the sluice, we progressed with infinite 
difficulty. In many places the windings are so sudden and 
so short, that while the bow of the boat was ploughing in the 
bank on one side her stern was rubbing hard against the op-- 



296 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; ■< 

posite shore. In some places our men were obliged to drag 
the boats by main strength, and in others the boughs and 
Jimbs were so closely interwoven and so low, as to arch the 
creek completely over and oblige all hands to lie flat. These 
obstacles, together with the sunken logs and trees, rendered 
our progress extremely difficult, often almost impracticable. 

''From a superficial view of this important creek it appears 
to me, the great difficulties may be surmounted — First, by cut- 
ting away all the bushes and trees on its banks ; second, by 
cutting across the necks, and removing all sunken logs and 
trees ; and lastly, by erecting substantial sluices or incHned 
planes, at given distances, so as to continue a head of water 
from sluice to sluice. This creek in its present state may 
be considered a natural canal, from ten to twenty feet wide. 

" Bateaux which ascend the creek, and frequently the descend- 
ing boats at this season, are dragged by horses travelling in 
the water. This is a work of incredible fatigue and difficulty. 
* "The accession of Canada Creek more than doubles the 
size of Wood Creek. 

"September 11 — Last night and this day we were inundated 
by heavy rains which our tent was unable to repel ; in con- 
sequence we were all exposed in the most uncomfortable man- 
ner. In the intervals of showers we amused ourselves by 
catching fish. Salmon, Oswego bass, cat-fish, chubs, trout, 
pike, are the fish common in this river. Salmon are some- 
times caught at the milldams, near Fort Stanwix. 

"September 12 — At 3 o'clock we reached the royal block- 
house, at the east end of the Oneida lake. The innumerable 
crooks and turns in Wood Creek carried us to every point of 
the compass. Should the western canals be ever attempted, 
I am persuaded this creek may be shortened at least one-third. 
The lands on each side of Wood Creek are low, and heavily 
timbered with beach, maple, oak, elm, linden, and near the 
lake, some white pine. Bears are plenty and deer scarce. 
At two miles from the lake the river suddenly widened and 
we took to our oars. Fish Creek, one mile near the lake, 
falls into Wood Creek from the north, and is about one 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELEANAH WATSON. 297 



hundred feet wide. Thence to the lake, the stream is bold and 
spacious. We caught a cat-fish as large as a common sized 
cod, measuring five inches between the eyes. 

" September 13 — This morning we wrote home by a boat 
coming from the west loaded with hemp, raised at the south 
end of the Cayuga lake. What a glorious acquisition to agri- 
culture and commerce do these fertile and extensive regions 
in the west present in anticipation! And what a pity, since 
the partial hand of Nature has nearly completed the water 
communication from our utmost borders to the Atlantic ocean, 
that Art should not be made subservient to her to complete 
the great work ! 

" Immediately after breakfast we embarked, doubled a point 
of land, and entered the Oneida lake with our sails filled to a 
light easterly breeze. The lake opened to our view, spreading 
before us like a sea. We glided smoothly over its surface, and 
were delighted with a charming day. On the south is the Onei- 
da Eeservation, at present inhabited by the Oneida nation of In- 
dians. The country lies flat for eight or ten miles and then 
swells into waving hills. On the north it is generally low, but 
heavily timbered. 

" This lake is thirty miles long, and from five to eight broad. 
We are now sailing parallel with the Ontario ocean, which I 
hope to see, and at least enjoy in delightful anticipation the 
prospect of a free and open water communication from thence 
to the Atlantic, via Albany and New- York. 

" In giving a stretch to the mind into futurity, I saw those 
fertile regions, bounded west by the Mississippi, north by the 
great lakes, east by the Allegany mountains, and south by the 
placid Ohio, overspread with millions of freemen; blessed 
with various climates, enjoying every variety of soil, and com- 
manding the boldest inland navigation on this globe ; clouded 
with sails, directing their course towards canals, alive with 
boats passing and repassing, giving and receiving reciprocal 
benefits from this wonderful country prolific in such great 
resources. 

" In taking this bold flight in imagination, it was impossible 



298 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

to repress a settled conviction, that a great effort will be made 
to realize all my dreams. 

" Near the west end of the lake are two small islands, on one 
of which resides a respectable Frenchman who came from 
France a few years since, and has voluntarily sequestered him- 
self from the world, and taken up his solitary abode upon this 
island, with no society but his dogs, guns, and library, yet he 
appeared happy and content. 

" This lake is extremely turbulent and dangerous, a small 
breeze producing a short bobbing sea, in consequence of its 
shoal waters. 

*' The bateauxmen commonly hug the north shore as safest 
as w^ell as more direct from point to point. On that side, 
these points project less into the lake than on the south shore. 
The wind soon rose to a brisk side gale, which occasioned 
such a dangerous agitation as obliged us to make a harbor 
at Twelve Mile Point, near which we noticed two large bears, 
walking along the shore in majestic confidence. 

*' We trolled with our lines and caught some bass ; the day 
concluded with heavy rains, and a violent squall. In spite of our 
tents, we were much wet and half suffocated with smoke. 

" September 14 — Early this morning we embarked and pro- 
ceeded across the lake, rowing, with a light breeze in our 
favor. We passed the seven mile islands, (already mentioned) 
after stopping to breakfast on the north, shore ; soon after 
which the shores suddenly narrowed, and we found ourselves 
opposite Fort Brewenton, at the entrance of the Onondaga 
river, which is a very shallow stream. 

" We landed near the old fort, where we found two families 
and a handsome improvement. After refreshing ourselves 
under the first Christian roof which had sheltered us in five 
days, we commenced descending the Onondaga river with an 
easy current. The river is generally about three hundred 
feet wide. It is nineteen and three quarters of a mile to Three 
River Point. In this length there are three or four preity long 
rapids ; but these obstructions can easily be removed, and a boat 
channel formed. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 299 



" We observed in many places on this river small piles of 
stones, which we were told, are thrown up by salmon, where 
they cast their spawn, to protect them from other fish. These 
waters abound in cat-fish, salmon, bass, eel, and corporals, all 
very fine and fat. They are caught in eel weirs, formed by 
Indians, thus : — Two walls of loose stones are thrown up, 
obliquely descending across the river, to a point, where they 
are taken at a small opening, in baskets or eel pots. Salmon 
are caught at the Oswego Falls in the night, by spearing them 
as they vault up the falls, by the aid of torch lights. 

" The shore along the town of Cicero is generally low, heavily 
timbered, with some pine ridges. In the course of the day 
we were incommoded by rain. In the evening we pitched 
our tent at Mr. Moses De Witts' camp at the Three River 
Point, who is locating the military lands (destined as gratuities 
for the troops of the New- York line in the late war), with a 
company of surveyors. 

" Here the Onondaga river from the east, and the Seneca 
from the west, form a junction in majestic silence, withdut rip- 
pling or confusion. Their waters mingle in a spacious con- 
fluence, and descend by a N. W. course into Lake Ontario, at 
Fort Oswego, which is twenty-four miles distant. 

'' Fort Oswego is, at present, garrisoned by a captain's com- 
pany of British soldiers, in violation of the treaty of 1783 — 
but according to my calculations, this violent and truely Brit- 
ish aggression will be of short duration. A high spirited in- 
dependent nation will not long brook the insult. 

" We were visited 'in our camp this evening by several 
troublesome Indians, of the Onondaga tribe, attended by some 
young squaws, by whose persuasions we were finally relieved 
from their pressing importunities for rum, rum! — a terrible 
scourge among this unfortunate race of men, who have been 
cut off in millions by its excessive use since America was 
first peopled by Europeans. Two or three white families are 
settled there. The situation is high and healthy, fronting 
the communication with Canada, and a central point from east, 
west, and north. 



300 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEYOLUTION; 

"In my view, a large city will arise at this spot during the 
ensuing century. A canal communication from hence to 
Oswego harbor, is necessary (although the obstacles are great 
at this point), to complete the great chain of water com- 
munication from Ontario to the Hudson, admitting the other 
points I have contemplated are accomplished. To effect this 
part of the navigation will be a work of infinite difficulty and 
great expense, as there is about one hundred feet fall to the 
lake. 

" September 1 5 — This morning we were visited by old Kiadote, 
king of the Onondaga Indians, with several warriors and the 
queen, who brought us some excellent fresh salmon and eels 
in a basket slung to her back, for which we gave them in 
exchange rum and biscuits. Kiadote possesses a sensible, se- 
date face, the queen appeared modest and humble. The 
name of Kiadote means a tree with thorns, and fruit upon it. 
The queen is called Kanastoretar, meaning a good house- 
wife. 

" Of all the languages I have ever heard, none strikes my 
ear so pleasantly as the Indian, especially from the mouth of 
a female. Their accent is harmonious, soft, and full of 
music, swelling and descending in a manner grateful to the 
ear. I am told it is easily attained. 

" We re-embarked, ascending the Seneca river against the 
current coming from the west. In about a mile we encountered 
a considerable rapid and an eel wier, and saw a party of In- 
dians encamped for the purpose of fishing. 

" After about eight miles sailing, passing two or three rapids, 
and low lands heavily timbered, we entered a small narrow 
river, leading south into the Salt lake, one mile from the Seneca 
river. Previous to our entrance into this natural canal, we 
observed the color of the water had changed to a greenish 
cast ; and on entering the creek we noticed a disagreeable 
stench, like dock mud or bilge water, the shorb white with 
froth, the bottom covered with a white sediment. 

" This lake opened most pleasantly before us, six miles in length, 
N. W. and S. E., and about two wide. The country in the 



OE, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 301 

back-ground is irregularly broken into hills and dales; on 
the west it is more waving. With a light breeze we hoisted our 
sails, and contemplated a country pleasantly situated on each 
side of us as we sailed along, lying as yet in a state of nature, 
but which must at a period not very far distant, assume the 
cheerful aspect of civilized settlements. We steered by our 
map and compass, and with some difficulty found the creek 
on which the salt-works are now erected half a mile from 
its mouth at the foot of a hill. These works are in a rude, 
unfinished state, but are capable of making about eight thou- 
sand bushels of salt per annum, which is nearly the quantity 
required for the present consumption of the country. The 
mines are so affluent and abundant as to be equal to the 
supply for the United States, even when our population shall 
reach one hundred millions, 

"Providence has happily placed this great source of comfort 
and wealth, precisely in a position accessible by water in every 
direction. 

"When the mighty canals shall be formed and locks erected^ 
it will add vastly to the facility of an extended diffusion, and 
the increase of its intrinsic worth. 

" It will enter Ontario, and the other great lakes, and find its 
way down the St. Lawrence by Oswego, into Pennsylvania, 
and the Chesapeake, up Seneca river to the head of the Seneca 
lake, and by a portage (perhaps eventually a canal) of eighteen 
miles to Newtown, on the Susquehanna river ; and through 
canals in contemplation, up Wood Creek and down the Mo- 
hawk river, into the Hudson. 

" Whenever works are properly constructed on a large scale, 
the salt may be delivered for twenty-five cents a bushel, 
probably less ; but the expense of transportation under present 
obstruction, will limit its consumption to the western country. 

" We found the waters in the springs so highly saturated, as 
to bear a potatoe. Five parts of water produce one of salt. 
A man will make eleven bushels a day, in the present wasteful 
mode, by which it requires a cord of wood. 



302 MEN AND TIMES OF THE^ rEEVOLUTION ; 

" The State has wisely reserved a mile round the lake for 
fuel, for the future benefit of the inhabitants. 

"The present price at the works, is seventy-five cents a 
bushel. The quality is exceedingly good, white, and of a 
handsome grain. 

" The interior of the earth from the south-east corner for sev- 
eral miles round the west side of the lake, is so strongly impreg- 
nated with salt mines, that the color of the water of the lake 
is exactly like that of the sea ; and approaching the shore, 
nearly as salt. The bottom is a quicksand, and clay covered 
with a white sediment. At dark we grounded on a shoal 
in the lake, and with some difficulty extricated ourselves 
and landed on an inhospitable beach, where, with infinite trou- 
ble, we obtained a little fire-wood by groping about in the 
dark. It blew a gale and rained hard. In this dilemma we 
were standing a long anxious hour, before we could behold 
the cheering rays of fire light to comfort and dry us. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 303 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

Robbery— Indian Salt Makers— Indian Royal Family— Indian Habits — 
Seneca River— Encampment — Aromatic Grass— Salt Deposites — 
Salt Manufactures — Salt Marshes — Cayuga Lake — Medical Practice 
— Pioneers— Healthiness of Savage Life — Seneca Falls — Canals— Pros- 
pects — Country — Seneca Lake — Geneva — Appletown — Indian Or- 
chard — Gen. Sullivan — Senecas — Religious Meeting — Navigate Se- 
neca Lake — Ovid — Return — Description of Cayuga and Seneca Lakes 
— Aspect of the Country — Want of Water — Indian Navigation — At- 
tractions of the Country — Speculative Views — Connection of the 
Lakes and Susquehanna River — First Western Stage, 

"September 16 — One of our people lost all his baggage last 
night, which we supposed was stolen by some lurking Indians 
hovering around our camp. We coasted along on the south 
shore of the lake, and ascended the Onondaga creek, discharg- 
ing from the south into the Salt lake. We landed at an old 
Indian camp, crossed over a neck of land to a hard beach, 
which I presume is an entire bed of salt at no great depth, as 
by making little holes with our canes in the hard surface, 
salt water immediately oozed in, as strongly impregnated as 
at the springs. 

" Here the Indians were making salt of which they use but 
little. From hence we coasted north, on the west side of 
the lake, with a strong gale a head. We passed several 
birch canoes with Onondaga Indians, returning from fishing, 
accompanied by all their families, children, dogs, cats, fowls, 
&c. These birch canoes are extremely light — they sail like 
ducks upon the water, and some of them are whimsically 
painted. In one of these canoes, the king and queen were 
paddling and their son steering. We hove-to, and were some 
time talking by signs, and trafficking biscuit and rum for 
smoked eels and salmon. This counts the seventh royal 



304 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

personage I have seen in my travels, viz. Little Carpenter, 
king of the Cherokees, Feb. 1778. Louis XVI., king of France, 
September, 1779. Joseph, Emperor of Germany, October, 
1781. George 111,, king of Great Britain, Dec. 1782. The 
Stadtholder of Holland, June, 1787. Newriver, king of the 
Catabaws, October, 1787. And lastly Kiadote, king of the 
Onondagas, September, 1791. 

" It is surprising to observe how tenaciously the Indians ad- 
here to their native customs free from contamination, although 
bordering on and even intermixed with whites. They stick 
to the Indian to the last man, with a few exceptions, and this 
demonstrates a well known fact that they despise our customs 
as heartily as we do theirs. They view us as a race of mortals 
degenerated into effeminacy and unworthy the native dignity 
of man, in which they pride themselves. 

" We entered the Seneca river, proceeded west, and en- 
camped near the Cross lake, in a disagreeable camp, having 
passed several rafts and eel wiers. 

" September 17 — This morning we doubled round a hand- 
some point of land, in the town of Lysander, and then hauled 
N. W. which soon opened to our view the Cross lake. We 
landed on a high piece of ground at the east entrance of the 
lake, where we saw a multitude of names cut upon large beech 
trees, and then traversed the lake partly in an oblique direc- 
tion. On the south a deep bay makes in. The adjacent ground 
lies low, but at a little distance rises into hills of an easy slope. 

" At the S. W. corner of the lake we again entered the 
Seneca river, contending against the current, with the town- 
ship of Brutus on each side of us. We passed the outlet of 
the Skaneateles lake on our left, falling into the Seneca river. 
We observed many islands, and the wild ducks starting up 
continually among them. The river improves in width and 
depth as we progress west. We encamped at the west end 
of an island on a high cliff. 

" September 19. — Proceeded on to lot 80, in Brutus, to ex- 
amine the Salt Works. After traversing a marsh about fifty 
rods, sweetly perfumed with aromatic Seneca grass, which 



305 



the Indians wear around their necks, in braids, to enjoy the 
perfume, and as a preventive to the headache, we reached two 
or three log huts, where salt is made on a pitiful scale by a 
few cadaverous beings stalking on two legs. I am greatly 
mistaken if there is not a continued vein of salt from the Salt 
Lake to the Cayuga Lake, a distance of thirty-four miles. I 
ground this hypothesis on the following reasons : First, the 
color of the water and bottom, in the vicinity of the Cayuga 
Lake. Second, the extensive salt marshes, for seven or eight 
miles before we reach the lake. Third, that two salt springs 
are already opened in Brutus, and some indications of salt 
near the Cayuga ferry. 

" Should the event verify my suppositions, it will stamp an 
additional value on this vast source of wealth. They manu- 
facture at present, in a miserable log hut, about two bushels a 
day. From hence to the Cayuga Lake, six miles, we were 
much impeded in our progress by a rank weed and the salt 
marshes, in which we were continually entangled. In the 
afternoon we reached the opening of the Cayuga Lake, after 
stopping at a house to administer medicine to a sick family. 
By doing this on several occasions, I obtained the appellation 
of Doctor on my return, when I examined my patients, all of 
whom were doing well. I was delighted in entering this 
charmincr lake. The shores upon each side swell into gentle 
eminences, but our view south was obstructed by a point of 
land projecting from each shore. 

" We traversed obliquely across the lake three miles to the 
ferry-house. Here we pitched our tent for the night, with bad 
accommodations, surrounded by land pioneers, many of whom 
were rude and uncouth, both in manners and appearance ; but 
they are a useful race of citizens, calculated to subdue the 
wilderness and make way for more civilized settlers, rising by 
gradations. In spite of fleas and bugs, as this was the only 
civilized roof we had slept under for ten nights, we submitted 
cheerfully to our fate. I had reason, however, before morning, 
to sigh for the luxury of sleeping in the open air, with my feet 
to the fire. I found a difficulty in respiring in a close, pent- 

20 



306 MEN AND TIMES OF THE KEVOLUTION ; 

up room, the air of which, being contaminated by different 
breaths, or even a single breath, is always prejudicial to health. 
I am convinced, from the experience of ten days, that the 
nearer we approach to the original state of savage life, the 
less we shall be exposed to the complicated disorders incident 
to a civilized state. 

''September 20 — We double-manned one of our boats, 
leaving the other, with the principal part of our baggage and 
stores, with one of our men, overcome with fatigue, and pro- 
ceeded on our way to the Seneca Lake. We sailed north 
three miles,' and then entered a narrow river which connects 
the two lakes. We stemmed against a rapid current, three 
miles, to the foot of the Seneca Falls. The carrying-place is 
kept by one Smith, who has a comfortable log-house, and con- 
siderable improvements. 

" This transit extends one mile. We transported our bag- 
gage by land, and our men stemmed the rapid with an empty 
boat in a surprising manner. 

" From our best estimate, the fall, in an extent of three- 
quarters of a mile, is about twenty feet. Since it is impossible 
to improve the bed of the river, it results that a canal with 
two or three locks on the north shore will be the only practi- 
cable and effectual method ; the expense to effect which will 
bear no proportion to the importance of the object. 

" We walked two miles by a foot-path to a place called 
Scawayas, where these rapids commence. Here we re-em- 
barked, and ascended the Seneca Eiver to the Seneca Lake, 
which we entered just as the sun was sinking behind the 
western hills. The distance between these two delightful lakes 
by water is eleven and a half miles, the current being pretty 
strong. We found this canal of nature's workmanship con- 
necting the two lakes, generally narrow, in some places 
obstructed by small riffs, in others by fallen trees which can be 
easily removed. The land on the north shore appeared to us 
poor and uneven, and on the south rather depressed, until 
within two miles of the Seneca Lake, where it lies low on both 
sides. As we approached the lake, we noticed several small 



307 

creeks, and some natural meadows, and on the north shore a 
log ferry-house. Here we saw the remains of an Indian bridge. 

"At this, spot the victorious army of Sulhvan forded the 
river in pursuit of the flying savages, in 1779. The sun was 
just setting as we entered the lake, which opened upon us Hke 
a new creation, rising to our view in picturesque and roman- 
tic beauty. 

*' Our prospect extends south over a bold sheet of water. The 
tops of the hills and trees were just tinged with the departing 
sun, the evening was serene, and my mind involuntarily ex- 
panded, in anticipating the period when the borders of this lake 
will be stripped of nature's livery, and in its place rich enclosures, 
pleasant villas, numerous flocks, herds, &c., and inhabited by 
a happy race of people enjoying the rich fruits of their own 
labors, and the luxury of sweet liberty and independence, ap- 
proaching to a millennial state. 

" The new village of Geneva made its appearance, in the 
north-west point of the lake, to which we directed our course, 
after disentangling ourselves from a hard sand-bank at the 
outlet of the lake. 

" September 21 — Geneva is a small, unhealthy village, con- 
taining about fifteen houses, all log except three, and about 
twenty families. It is built partly on the acclivity of a hill 
and partly on a flat, with deep marshes north of the town, to 
which is attributed its unhealthiness. We received decent 
accommodations at Patterson's on the margin of the lake, but 
were troubled the most of the night by gamblers and fleas, two 
curses to society. 

"At nine o'clock this fine morning we re-embarked, and 
traversed obliquely across the lake to Appletown, eleven miles. 

" At the entrance of this lake, the south view appears like 
the Hudson, from the middle of the river, between Paulus' 
Hook and New- York, and presents a body of water about as 
broad. From Geneva it has much the appearance of the 
North River from Greenwich, two points projecting into the 
lake, similar to Bloomingdale and the opposite shore. 



308 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

" We pitched our tent at Appletown, a fine tract of land, 
formerly the head-quarters of the Seneca nation. 

^' It contains extensive orchards of scattering old trees, the 
only fruit trees in the country. Here • Sullivan's conquering 
army wreaked their principal vengeance, by destroying or- 
chards, corn, wigwams, &c. Many of the trees are girdled, 
and marks of the destructive axe of the soldiery are yet to be 
seen in every direction. 

« The Senecas were formerly a powerful nation. Sullivan 
broke up their last strong-hold. Not a vestige is now to be seen 
in this vicinity, as the remnant is settled in Canada under the 
protection of their friend, the Eoyal George. 

" We were astonished to see one hundred and fifty people 
collected at a meeting while here. This is a prelude to the 
assembling of thousands who are destined shortly to possess 
these fertile regions. 

" September 23— Our boat proceeded with a brisk gale and 
a considerable swell to the outlet, at the same time I took a 
horse and travelled by an Indian path obliquely across the 
town of Romulus, seventeen miles, in a north-east direction, 
to our point of starting on the Cayuga Lake. 

" September 24— Having rejoined our party at the ferry, 
we dispatched one of our boats to Schenectady, and proceed- 
ed with the other up Cayuga Lake. We passed an old Indian 
castle on our left. The shore on each side is high. We 
landed occasionally: noticed distant smokes, and here and 
there a log-hut embosomed in the venerable forests. In the 
south-west quarter the township of Ovid made its appearance. 
It rises beautifully from the shore towards its centre. The 
tops of the trees resemble waving fields of wheat at a distance. 
We sailed along the shore of the town of Scipio, a fine tract 
of rich land, already thickly inhabited by new settlers. In 
the afternoon we landed at Phelps' tavern, where we found 
good entertainment in a log-house. 

" This is the most thriving settlement on the military tract. 
Here terminates our expedition. The advanced season has 
turaed our attention homeward. 



309 



*' Gen. Van Cortlandt and Mr. Bayard having determined 
to gain the old settlements on the Mohawk by an Indian 
foot-path, Mr. Van Rensselaer and myself retm-ned by 
water. 

" The map of the world cannot exhibit, in any country, two 
lakes of equal magnitude as the Seneca and Cayuga, so sin- 
gularly and so happily situated. What a fertile theme for 
poets, painters, philosophers and travellers, for the last two 
thousand years, had they been placed in Italy. They are each 
about thirty-five miles long, and from two to four wide, 
stretching nearly north and south, and running almost parallel 
from seven to fifteen miles distant. Seneca Lake was never 
known to freeze over, owing to its great depth and being prin- 
cipally fed by springs. The color of the water is a pale blue, 
with a clear bottom. The Cayuga freezes in common with 
other adjacent waters, eight or ten miles from the outlet. 
From thence south the water deepens, and it seldom freezes ; 
its color is of a greenish cast. 

" In general, except towards the south, the country lying 
between these delightful lakes rises gradually in symmetry, 
from the opposite shores towards the centre, producing a pleas- 
ing effect. Whenever it reaches a cultivated state by the vig- 
orous arms of freemen, it will become the paradise and garden 
of America. Nothing can exceed the beauty of the country 
on the west shore of the Cayuga Lake, viewed from about five 
miles from its entrance, including both the Cayuga Reserva- 
tion, and the town of Ovid, which bear a strong resemblance 
to the West shore of the Seneca Lake. 

" The tops of the trees were in beautiful uniformity, its 
symmetry being in no manner broken by hills of great magni- 
tude, except in one place, where there is a small cluster 
of white pines overlooking all the adjacent region. The 
want of water seems to be a prevailing complaint between the 
lakes. But by sinking wells it is generally found near the 
surface. Except in this particular, nature has been profuse in 
all her bounties. 

*' The soil is luxuriant, the climate more temperate than 
in the same parallel on the Atlantic borders, the situa- 



310 MEN- AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

tion delightful, and commanding an easy access by water 
south and east. 

" In a word, J almost deplored the short span of human life, 
that I cannot witness the happiness of those blessed genera- 
tions of Americans, yet unborn, who are destined to inherit 
these delightful regions. Having devoted my ardent and deep 
attention to the important subject, the practicability of opening 
an uninterrupted water communication from these interes- 
ing lakes, as branches of the mighty chain of connected oceans 
descending by canals and locks to the Hudson River, I shall 
now sum up detailed views and estimates, from that river 
o the Seneca Lake. 

" To open a water communication from the Hudson to the 
Seneca Lake, the following works are indispensable, viz : — 

'' First. A canal to connect the Mohawk with the Hudson 
in the nearest direction from river to river, or a canal with 
locks, on the north of the Cohoes, to come out at Waterford, 
will probably cost £ . 

" Second. The Mohawk to be cleared of some rocks, and the 
rifts deepened to the Little Falls. 

" Third. A canal of one mile at the Little Falls, either cut 
in the solid rock, or by embankments, and four or five locks, 
the descent being estimated by the eye and from information 
at forty two feet. 

" Fourth, Obstructions to be removed to Fort Stanwix, and 
some rapids laid open. 

" Fifth. Wood Creek to be improved by removing numerous 
natural or artificial obstructions ; and cutting through the 
necks, it may be shortened, probably one-half from Canada 
Creek, eighteen miles, as the river meanders. 

'' Lastly. To open the riffs and rapids in the Onondaga and 
Seneca rivers, with canals and locks at the Seneca Falls, to 
open communication with the Seneca Lake. 

" A canal and locks to the Oswego Falls from Three-River 
Point, will accomplish the grand desideratum — the sublime 
plan of opening an uninterrupted water communication from 
the Hudson, to Lake Ontario, and from a thousand miles of 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON, 311 

shore fairly within the limits of this State. Thus also the 
great plan of Washington, to divert the commerce of the 
immense regions in the west, even the fur-trade from Detroit 
to his beloved Alexandria, would be subjected at least to a 
fair competition. Commerce, like water, will seek its natural 
level, but where once the current has taken a settled direction, 
it will not be easy to divert its course. 

'• The further we explored these western waters, the more 
we were impressed with the vast importance of assisting 
nature in the whole extent of the contemplated improvements, 
so that loaded boats coming from the Hudson Eiver can reach 
our utmost borders without interruption. Let any man con- 
template a good map, and he cannot fail to be thus impressed. 
Let the same man realize the policy and necessity of the mea- 
sure, by exploring these waters in person, the first impression 
will not fail to be heightened into a degree of enthusiasm bor- 
dering on infatuation. 

" The improvements I had all along contemplated, either at a 
remote period or as near at hand, led me to attend with a cir- 
cumspect and inquisitive eye to the actual state of these 
waters. The prospect is truly animating when we give a 
stride to the imagination, and take a deep plunge into the 
arcana of futurity. 

*•' For luxuriance of soil, mildness of climate, and easy access 
to market, perhaps no part of the world, so distant from the sea 
as our western country, presents such irresistible allurements 
to emigrants, as well from the eastern hive as from Europe. 
We saw at every step the bold and venerable forests settling 
before the strokes of the axe, and farms and population in- 
creasing on all sides. Nothing will tend with so much cer- 
tainty to accelerate the progress of these great events, and to 
open a door to the happiness of unborn millions, as to render a 
w^ater communication at once cheap and easy of access. 
Exclusive of continuing an intercourse with the greatest chain 
of lakes in the known world, it will give a powerful stimulus 
to a new creation in the very heart of this State, and this will 
be greatly facilitated by the admission of boats from fifteen to 



312 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

twenty tons burthen. Hitherto no boats have been able to 
navigate these waters carrying over eight or ten barrels, and 
the expense has overbalanced the benefits. Again, by travers- 
ing from the harbor of Oswego about sixty miles on the south 
sbore of Lake Ontario, vessels of sixty or seventy tons burthen 
may receive the whole produce of the Genesee country, on 
the outlet of Genesee River, also at the outlet of Lake Erie, 
at Fort George, which can be easily conveyed from thence in 
vessels to the harbor of Oswego, and thence be taken in large 
bateaux, through the proposed navigation, to the Hudson river,, 
to be reshipped either at Albany or at New York for foreign 
markets. 

" On this momentous subject, a single question arises : — Are 
we advanced to a sufficient state of maturity to justify an 
undertaking of this magnitude ? If we proceed on the Euro- 
pean mode of calculation, waiting in the first instance to 
find the country through which canals are to pass, to be in 
a state of maturity and improvement, the answer is at hand — 
No ! But calculating on the more enlarged American scale, 
and considering the physical circumstances of the country in 
question, should the canals precede the settlements, it will be 
justified on the principles of sound policy. In return it will 
inevitably follow, that a vast wilderness will, as it were by 
magic, rise into instant cultivation. If executed gratuitously 
by the public, the State in effect will be retarded only a few 
years, in receiving a tenfold return for all its disbursements. 
If, on the other hand, it should be performed by private in- 
dividuals, having a toll in view, their remuneration would pro- 
bably be small for a few years, but the increasing benefit 
w^hich will arise from this species of property, will keep equal 
pace with the augmenting settlement and cultivation of the 
country. 

" In my estimation for a permanent property, it will be found 
eventually the most productive of any in America. On a 
scale of truly enlarged policy, therefore, it would, doubtless, be 
sound wisdom, should the State execute the project out of 
its own ample means, and leave the passage free and open, 
as otherwise posterity will be burthened with a weighty tax {m 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 313 

the article of toll) to the emolument of the successors of the 
first adventurers, which ought not to exist in a land of liberty, 
where the intercourse should be as free as the air which we 
breathe. 

" In eight days we reached Albany, going all the way 
by water to Schenectady. I shall never forget my delighted 
sensations on reaching the Mohawk river. After rambling 
among woods for twenty days, or cramped up in a small boat, 
exposed to the vicissitudes of the weather, and sleeping in the 
open air, at best mingling with pioneer settlers in log-huts, 
the contrast of clean sheets and good cheer, with all our 
philosophy to the contrary, was extremely grateful to our habits 
and feelings, and met with a cordial welcome. We traversed 
the whole length of the Oneida Lake (thirty miles), from sun- 
set to about two o'clock in the morning. Our poor fellows 
rowed the whole distance in the dark, like machines in per- 
petual motion, telling wonderful stories and singing character- 
istic songs. Being apprehensive of a storm, they persevered 
resolutely without stopping. Sitting for such a length of 
time, eight hours, in the same position, when we reached 
the royal block-house at the east end of the lake, it was with 
great difficulty we commanded thB use of our limbs for some 
minutes. 

'' On our way to Schenectady we examined several places 
we omitted on our journey west, especially the flourishing 
settlement at Whitestown and the Little Falls. Were I to 
make this tour again, instead of proceeding by water, via Fort 
Stanwix, &c., I would embark' at Lake Otsego, descend the 
Susquehanna branch to Newtown-Point, and then travel by 
wagon across the Portage into the Seneca Lake, and from 
thence the same route I returned. By which means, instead 
of stemming the Mohawk and Seneca rivers, one hundred and 
fifty miles, it would require only seventy-six miles to stem 
against the Tioga and Onondaga rivers, and Wood Creek. 

" From Newtown-Point to the Seneca Lake it is eighteen 
miles. A canal here would unite all the waters of the State 
with the Susquehanna and Chesapeake : thus forming one 



314 



half of the State completely into an island. The idea is sub- 
lime in theory, and must sooner or later be realized. 

" The bateauxmen who ply between Newtown and Mid- 
dletown, in Pennsylvania, carry from six to eight hundred 
bushels. Their boats, or arks, require from four to seven men 
to work them, and sometimes they go forty miles above New- 
town, on the Tioga Branch. 

" Some facts within my personal knowledge connected with 
the establishment of the first public conveyance west of Albany, 
I think worthy of notice, as they, with singular force, exhibit 
the progress of improvement. 

" On our return from this expedition, Mr. Van Rensselaer 
and myself arrived at Schenectady on the evening of the 10th 
of October, and proceeded from the bateau to the tavern of 
Mr. Hudson. We were naturally, after an absence of six 
weeks, extremely solicitous to reach our families. Mr. Hud- 
son made every effort in his power during the evening to se- 
cure us suitable conveyance to Albany the ensuing day, but 
without success. He at length informed us that there was no 
possible way of getting to Albany, except by riding on a load 
of shingles, or to go with a pair of half-broke colts. We pre- 
ferred the latter alternative. We urged Mr. Hudson to run a 
weekly stage to Albany, who seemed much disposed to em- 
bark in the enterprise, but was, he said, fearful of the result, 
for a Mr. Douglass had made the experiment five years before, 
and ruined himself, as he found no passengers to patronise him. 
In about a fortnight I met one Beal, who carried the mail 
once a week, usually on horseback, from Albany to Canajo- 
harie, which was then the frontier post-ofRce. This weekly 
mail supplied the whole western territory. Such was my 
information. I pressed him to carry his mail in a cheap 
wagon, calculated to accommodate way-passengers, and gave 
him a letter to Mr. Hudson, urging him to unite with Beal in 
the measure. 

** Early in December following. I was delighted to hear the 
sound of a stage horn, and to see Beal dashing down State- 
street with the Schenectady and Canajoharie mail wagon. 



315 



which was announced to run once a week. In the rapid 
increase of the settlements in the vicinity of Whitestown, 
they soon found abundant encouragement. 

" To this humble experiment may be traced the foundation 
of the immense and splendid stage organization which now 
connects Albany with the teeming regions of the west. Per- 
haps the annals of the world does not exhibit in such a depart- 
ment a progress so vast and wonderful." 



316 MEN AND TIMES OE THE EE VOLUTION ; 



CHAPTER XXV. 

Appeals to the Legislature and Public on the subject of Inland Navigation 
— Labors in that Cause — Gen. Schuyler — Letter from him — Canal 
Law, '92 — Letter from Gen. Schuyler — Letter from Robert Morris — 
Tribute to him — Canal Companies— Effects of Improvement — Nia- 
gara Falls Canal — Company Organized — Canal Controversy of 1820 
-De Witt Clinton— Hosack's Memoirs of him— Letter of Robert 

\ Troup to Dr. Hosack — Letters of John Adams. 

The facts collected in these journeys, and the views and 
anticipations formed by his explorations, which are exhibited 
in the preceding extracts, were elaborated by Mr. Watson, and 
urged upon the public sentiment, and the particular attention 
of the Legislature in various essays and memorials. These 
productions attracted the attention of Gen. Schuyler, to whose 
perusal the original journals of Mr. Watson had been submit- 
ted. Gen. Schuyler was at that period a member of the Sen- 
ate, and wielded, by his patriotic ardor and great and varied 
talents, a potential influence in the State. 

The results which both himself and Mr. Watson had contem- 
plated with so much solicitude, were ultimately achieved in 
1792, in the passage of an act, by which two companies were 
chartered*, one for " opening a lock navigation from the naviga- 
ble waters of the Hudson, to be extended to Lake Ontario 
and the Seneca Lake," — and the other, "from the Hudson to 
Lake Champlain." While this bill was struggling in its pro- 
gress, Mr. Watson attended upon the Legislature, and with the 
utmost assiduity and zeal, sustained the energetic efforts of 
Gen. Schuyler in promoting its final success. The following 
letter from Gen. Schuyler is of interest, from its exhibiting the 
embarrassments and difficulties which, encompassed the mea- 
sure, and the force and decision of his purpose in its accom- 
plishment. 



317 



" New- York, March 4^A, 1792. 

" Sir : — The letter which I had the pleasure to receive from you, 
should have been acknowledged at a more early day : sickness was 
one cause which prevented, and another proceeded from a wish to 
be able to communicate something decisive on the subject of your 
letter. 

" A joint committee of both houses (of which committee I was not 
one) has been formed. This committee reported a bill for incorporat- 
ing two companies, one for the western, another for the northern 
navigation. The former was to have been carried no further than 
Oneida Lake. The bill contemplated a commencement of the works 
from the navigable waters of the Hudson, and to be thence continu- 
ed to the point I have mentioned, and it obliged the corporation, 
in a given number of years, (which was intended to be ten,) to 
the completion of the whole western navigation. 

"When th^ bill was introduced into the Ser.ate, the plan general- 
ly appeared to me so exceptionable, that I thought it incumbent on 
me to state my ideas on the subject at large. They were approved 
of unanimously by the committee of the whole house, and 1 was re- 
quested to draw a new bill. This was done, and it has met with 
the approbation of the committee of the whole, and will be complet- 
ed to-morrow by filling up the blanks. By this bill two companies 
are to be incorporated, one for the western the other for the northern 
navigation. It is proposed that each shall consist of one thousand 
shares; that subscriptions shall be opened by commissioners at New- 
York and Albany ; that the books shall be kept open a month ; that 
if more than one thousand shares are subscribed, the excess deducted 
from each subscription pro rata, so, nevertheless, as that no subscriber 
shall have less than one share ; that every subscriber shall pay at 
the time of subscription, say thirty dollars, and that the directors 
of the incorporation shall, from time to time, as occasion may re- 
quire, call on the subscribers for additional moneys to prosecute the 
work to effect, whence the whole sum for each share is left indefinite. 

"The Western Company are to begin their works at Schenectady, 
and to proceed to Wood Creek. If this part is not completed in 

years, say six or eight, then the Corporation is to cease ; but 

having completed this in years more — say ten, they are to be 

allowed further time for extending the works to the Seneca Lake, and 
to Lake Ontario ; and if not completed within that term, then the in- 
corporation to cease, so far forth only as relates to the western naviga- 
tion from Wood Creek to the lakes. The State is to make an immedi- 
ate donation of money, which I proposed at ten thousand pounds for 
each company, but which I fear will be reduced to five thousand 
pounds for each company. I thought it best that the operations 
should begin at Schenectady, lest the very heavy expense of a canal, 
either directly from Albany to Schenectady, or by the way of the 
Cohoes or Half-Moon, might have retarded, if not have totally 



318 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 



arrested, at least for a long time, the navigation into the western 
country, and conceiving that if the navigation to the Cohoes was 
completed, the continuation of it from Schenectady to the Hudson 
would eventually and certainly take place. A given toll per ton will 
be permitted for the whole extent from the Hudson to the lakes, and this 
toll will be divided by the directors to every part of the canals and 
navigation in proportion to the distances which any boat may use the 
navigation. Provision is made that if the toll does not produce, in 
a given time, six per cent., the directors may increase it until it does, 
but the corporation is ultimately confined to a dividend of fifteen ])er 
cent. Both corporations are in perpetuity, provided the works are 
completed in the times above mentioned. 

'' The size of the boats which the canals are to carry, is not yet 
determined. I believe it will be that they shall draw, when loaded, 
two and a half feet of water. This is substantially the bill, as far as 
it relates to the Western navigation. 

"The northern company is to commence its works a^Troy, and to 
deepen the channel at Lansingburgh, so as to carry vessels of greater 
burthen to that place than are now capable of going there. The 
blank for this purpose I think will be filled up with two feet; that is, 
the channel is to be deepened two feet. From Lansingburgh, the 
navigation is to be improved by deepening the river by locks and 
canals to Fort Edward, or some point near it, and thence to be car- 
ried to Wood Creek, or some of its branches, and extend to Lake 
Champlain. Tolls, &c., are to be on the same principle as on the 
Western navigation. A clause was proposed, for preventing any 
canals to the Susquehanna, but it was lost; it being conceived im- 
proper to oblige the inhabitants of the western country to make 
Hudson river, or the commercial towns on it, their only markets. 

"In the prosecution of these capital objects, I have to combine the 
interests of the community at large with those of my more immedi- 
ate constituents. What the result will be, time must determine. I 
shall, however, be happy if my ideas on the subject shall meet the 
approbation of gentlemen more conversant with those matters than I 
can be supposed to be. 

" Excuse the many incorrections of this scrawl ; I have not time to 
make a fair copy. And be so good as to communicate the contents to 
such gentlemen as feel an interest in the completion of those great 
objects which are the subject of it. 

" I am, sir, with regard, your obedient servant, 

"Philip ScHurLER. 

"E. Watson, Esq." 

Nev^ obstacles impeded the consummation of tbis policy, from 
the difficulties which were encountered in obtaining subscrip- 
tions to the stock of the company. A vigorous and successful 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 319 

impulse was given to the subject by the course which was 
adopted in conformity to the suggestions embraced in the 
annexed letter of Gen. Schuyler. 

''New-Yorh, May 20th, 1792. 

" Dear Sir : — If it had occurred to me that the paucity of my sub- 
scription would have had the effect you mention, I most certainly 
would have subscribed ten shares in the first instance, impressed, as 
I am, with the importance of the measure, and believing, as I do, that 
it will be a productive fund for the subscribers. 

"Such, sir, is my opinion of the advantages which will result to 
the subscribers, if a small alteration is made in tne Act of Incorpora- 
tion, and which I am persuaded the Legislature will readily assent to, 
that I should not hesitate to hold one hundred shares, provided n'ly 
ideas on the subject should prevail. What these are, I will at a 
future day detail to a few select gentlemen. I cannot find they have 
occurred to any one. 

" I am, &c., 

"Philip Schuyler. 

"Elkanah Watson, Esq." 

I incorporate the following letter in reference to the same 
subject from the distinguished Robert Morris, not only to 
present the extent and nature of the agency of Mr. Walson in 
promoting the subscription to this stock, but equally to com- 
memorate an instance of the patriotic and expansive devotion 
of Mr. Morris, which signalized his career, in the advance- 
ment of every scheme of public benefit and improvement. 

'•'Philadelphia, June Wth^ 1792. 

"Mr. Elkanah Watson, 

" Sir : — Your favor of the 4th ult. came to hand some time ago, but 
a journey into the western country, and other avocations since my 
return, prevented a regular answer in due time. The canal engineer 
has not yet arrived, and I fear he will be longer delayed in England 
than was at first expected ; however, he will certainly be here by 
August or September. 

" I find your subscription did not fill ; I shall therefore empower 
Gen. Schuyler to sub^ribe for me, and if necessary, I am ready, as 
formerly mentioned, to open and push your subscription here, upon 
being properly authorized so to do. I have no doubt of getting the 
number of shares subscribed that you want. I shall do it free of 



320 



any charge, and lodge the money in the bank for the orders of the 
managers or directors, 

"I had the article you sent me published in Dunlop's daily paper. 
Am sure your subscription will be filled here, if necessary to send the 
papers forward for the purpose. 

"Your obedient, humble servant, 

"Robert Morris." 

Endorsed upon the back of this letter, in the writing of Mr. 
Watson, is the following just and appropriate tribute to the 
character and services of this eminent patriot : " The name of 
Robert Morris will be identified with the annals of the Ameri- 
can Revolution until time shall be no more. He was among 
the first merchants of America several years previous to that 
great event, in the firm of Welling and Morris. Their opera- 
tions and credit, upon a magnificent scale, extended to every 
port in Europe. This credit, under a benign Providence, was 
the basis of his fiscal measures when placed at the head of our 
finances in the year 1780. We had at that period no credit, 
as a nation, in Europe, and in our financial affairs were only 
sustained by the great talents and personal influence of Frank- 
lin at Paris, of Adams a;t the Hague, and Jay in Madrid ; and 
the pittances they procured were dealt out in hesitation and 
reluctance. 

" It was far otherwise with Morris. By his personal credit, 
he was enabled to create the sinews that moved our armies in 
1781 ; without which Cornwallis would not have been cap- 
tured, and the war might have been protracted by a desperate 
and exasperated enemy. 

" Such was the writer of the above letter, when at the zenith 
of his glory, although staggering, at that time, under the 
weight of the responsibilities he had incurred for his country, 
and which a new-born nation could not avert. It is lamenta- 
ble to add that, thus prostrated through his ardent zeal and 
patriotic efforts, he ended his valuable and useful life in the 
loathsome precincts of a debtor's prison." 

Companies were organized under this Act. Gen. Schuyler, 
Mr. Watson, and Thomas Eddy, appeared to have been the 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 321 

most active and prominent managers in superintending and 
directing their measures. It is not within the province of this 
work to trace the operations of these companies. Adequate, 
perhaps, to the exigencies of that period, they were ultimately 
overshadowed, and their works immerged in the greater con- 
ception of the Erie Canal. That their results were most bene- 
ficial and important to the country is established by the facts, 
that boats of the capacity of sixteen tons were enabled to 
navigate from Schenectady to the southern extremity of Sene- 
ca Lake, after their completion, and to transport freight at 
thirty-two dollars per ton ; while previous to the construction 
of these works, the same waters could not be navigated by 
boats exceeding one and a half tons, and at charge for freight 
of nearly one hundred dollars per ton. 

In connection with this subject it should be remarked, that a 
company was chartered in 1798, authorizing the construction 
of a canal around the Falls of Niagara, with the purpose of 
uniting the waters of the upper lakes with Ontario. This pro- 
ject was promoted with great ardor and enthusiasm by Mr. 
Watson, and had the designs contemplated by it been achieved, 
its effects, in connection with the works proposed by the law of 
'92, would have anticipated those results which were afterward 
accomplished by the Erie Canal — the unlocking the portals of 
the illimitable west to the trade and commerce of the Hudson. 
Mr. Watson was appointed one of the directors, and in conjunc- 
tion with Benjamin Colt, Esq., made a detailed report, the 
original draft of which, in the writing of the former, is now in 
my possession, presenting estimates, and a general exposition 
of the objects and advantages which would be attained by the 
construction of the work. A subsequent more exact survey 
was made under the direction of the company, but the scheme 
was not accomplished, and slumbered until revived among the 
projects and enterprises of the present day. 

I may here, with propriety, in the arrangement of my sub- 
ject, anticipate a term of thirty years, to advert to events 
which emanated from the occurrences of this period, and which. 

21 



322 MEN" AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

for several years embittered the age of Mr. Watson by an 
acrimonious and harsh controversy. 

In the year 1820, Col. Kobert Troup, a personal friend of 
Mr. Watson, and familiar with his efforts and services in the pro- 
motion of the internal improvements of the State, published an 
article ascribing to Mr. Watson distinguished merit in the initia- 
tion and support of its canal policy. The elevated position 
and eminent character of Col. Troup as a lawyer — as a former 
Judge of the United States District Court — and as a citizen, 
impressed this publication with a high sanction. It was suc- 
ceeded by a volume from Mr. Watson, embracing the journal of 
his western explorations, an abstract of which is contained in 
the preceding pages. 

These publications were assailed in the claims and conclu- 
sions they asserted, by an able and eloquent pamphlet, ascribed 
with undoubted justice to one of the most distinguished states- 
men of the age. Col. Troup replied in an elaborate letter, 
addressed to the Hon. Brockholst Livingston, reaffirming and 
vindicating his original position. A second edition of the 
letter of Col. Troup was afterwards published, combined with 
an ample supplement, from the pen of an eminent jurist, which 
enforced the same views and embraced a general history of 
the rise and progress of the canal interests of the State. The 
question became involved in the party controversies of that 
day, which were distinguished by an unusual rancor and vin- 
dictiveness. Numerous other publications were elicited by 
this discussion, which produced at least one highly auspicious 
result, by commemorating the facts and the efforts of individuals 
connected with the progress of the stupendous canal system of 
the State, from the commencement to its consummation. A 
knowledge of these facts and incidents, eminently due to justice 
and history, was thus perpetuated, which otherwise would have 
been lost, or only preserved in misty tradition. 

In my own judgment, there never existed any just or reason- 
able cause for the excitement in feeling, or the conflict of 
claims for meritorious services, which were aroused by these 
controversies. The men who projected and accomplished the 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH TVATSON. 323 

measures which acquired form and consistency from the law 
of '92, had their gaze intently fixed on the Ontario termination. 
These views, subsequently enlarged, were expanded into the 
plan of connecting that lake with the waters of the upper 
lakes, by the construction of the canal arou'nd Niagara Falls. 
A direct communication between the Hudson and Lake Erie 
did not enter into their contemplations. 

It is equally certain that the genius which conceived, and 
the energy that effected, the Erie Canal, had no connection 
with the efforts and policy which a quarter of a century 
earlier, had breathed life and vigor into the spirit of internal 
improvements in the State. The growth of the canal system 
was gradual and progressive ; and how far the earlier measures 
may have been suggestive of the later, no human investiga- 
tions can now determine. 

The exalted talents of Ue Witt Clinton, his illustrious ser- 
vices, the ardent and patriotic devotion that led him to stake, 
upon a momentous and doubtful policy, all the high aspirations 
of an intellect like his, always received from Mr. Watson 
the heartfelt tribute of his admiration and applause. 

I fesl it due to the cause of truth and justice, and the mem- 
ory of my father, to occupy a few pages by introducing the 
luminous and dispassionate letter of Col. Troup on this subject, 
addressed to Dr. David Hosack, the eloquent biographer and 
eulogist of Mr. Clinton, and published in the appendix to his 
Memoir. It is preceded in that work by the following expla- 
nations by Dr. Hosack.* " The early views of Elkanah Wat- 
son, relative to the internal navigation of the State of New- 
York, and his services in exploring the western part of the 
State, prior to the Act of 1792, introduced and supported by 
Gen. Philip Schuyler, establishing the inland lock navigation 
companies, and the influence of those measures as introductory 
to the improvements which have since taken place, are fully 
set forth in the following communication from Col. Troup. 
This was prepared, at my solicitation, in answer to certain 

♦ Hosack's Memoir of De Witt Clinton, page 289. 



/ 

324 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

queries addressed by me to that gentleman. Further remarks 
on the merits of Mr. Watson and of Gen. Schuyler become 
unnecessary." 

Letter from Colonel Robert Troup. 

" New-York, 22nd January^ 1829. 
*' Dear Sir : 

" I have learnt from you, with much satisfaction, that you are en- 
gaged in the meritorious work of rendering justice to those who pro- 
jected our canal policy, and also to those who assisted in giving it 
practical effect. 

" That ray information may more exactly correspond with your 
wishes, I proceed to furnish it in the shape of precise answers to the 
following questions, which you have been pleased to submit to my 
consideration. 

" 1. In what year did Mr. Watson first direct his attention to the 
western part of the State ? And how far did he proceed in exploring 
it. 

" 2. What was the import of his suggestions to General Schuyler 
respecting the improvement of the navigation between Hudson 
River and the Western Lakes % And did the suggestions aim at the 
improvement of the natural navigation, then existing, of the lakes, 
rivers and creeks of our western country, and as a medium of con- 
nection between them 1 or, did they aim at the construction of a 
continued canal 1 And if the latter, what was to be its course and 
extent *? 

" 3. What share had Mr. Watson in procuring the passage of the 
canal act of March, 1792? 

"In answer to the first question I observe, that Mr. Watson's mind 
naturally inclines him to speculate in improvements of a public nature. 
This inclination has derived additional strength from Mr. Watson's 
travelling,* while he was young, in Flanders, in Holland, and in Eng- 
land, and attentively examining the canals he met with ; and also 
from visiting General Washington, at Mount Vernon, and conversing 
freely with him on his favorite subject of uniting the western waters 
with the Potomac. Thus prompted by natural inclination, and, at 
the same time, urged by patriotic motives, Mr. Watson, in Septem- 
ber, 1788, made a journey from Albany to Fort Stanwix, now called 
Rome, where State Commissioners were holding a treaty with the 
Indians for the purchase of their western lands. What Mr. Watson 
in this journey saw of the face of the country and of the courses of its 
waters, and especially the situation of Rome, inflamed his imagina- 
tion with the lofty conception that, by removing obstructions in the 
rivers and creeks, and cutting canals to connect them, the State might 

* See Mr. Watson's History of the Western Canals, p. 8. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON". 325 

open a naviorable communication between the waters of the Hudson 
and those of the great lakes ; a measure which Mr. Watson supposed 
would necessarily tend ' to divert the trade of the lakes from Quebec 
and Alexandria to Albany and New- York.'* 

" After reflecting for several years on this important measure, and 
becoming by his reflections more partial to it, Mr. Watson in com- 
pany with a few friends, in the autumn of 1791, travelled, partly by 
land but chiefly by water, from Schenectady to Geneva, in Ontario 
county. Mr. Watson kept a particular journalf of these travels ; and 
from his journal it appears that he carefully explored the ground, 
lakes, rivers and creeks lying in his route, and was sanguine in his 
opinion of the feasibility of opening a navigable communication be- 
tween the Hudson and the Western lakes; and dwelling, almost 
with rapture, on the vast benefits such a communication would be 
likely to produce, Mr. Watson pressed it in emphatic terms on the 
* policy of the State.' Anticipating this policy, he promised to no- 
tice every obstacle, and, according to his ' best judgment, to devise 
plans and make estimates.' And he further promised, *by every 
effort in his power, to excite the public attention to the grand object ;' 
insisting that ' its cost would bear no comparison with the immense 
advantages the State would be sure to derive from it.' 

" In answer to the second question I observe, that in January, 
1792, Mr. Watson delivered his journal to General Schuyler, who 
was then a leading member of our Senate. With his journal, Mr. 
Watson also delivered to the General a report.^ framed from the re- 
marks and estimates which the journal contained. The report mi- 
nutely traced the route of the proposed navigation ; described the 
obstacles to be removed ; suggested the mode of removal ; calcu- 
lated the probable expense of some of the operations ; and concluded 
with a declaration, that ' it would require a folio volume to point out 
the advantages that would result to the Union, to the State, and to 
individuals, by laying the navigation entirely open.' 

"Mr. Watson did not extend his travels to Oswego, because the 
fort at that place was still possessed by British troops, owing to the 
non-execution of the treaty of peace. But in his journal, Mr. Wat- 
son said it would be necessary to improve the navigation to Oswego, 
in order to ' complete the chain of water communications from Onta- 
rio to the Hudson.' 

*' From Mr. Watson's report, it is obvious that the route designated 
by him, was from Schenectady to the Seneca and Ontario lakes ; 
and that he contemplated the improvement of the natural navigation 
by the intermediate lakes, rivers and creeks, as a medium of connec- 
tion between them, without intending a continued canal. Indeed, 
Mr. Watson himself, speaking of his own views and those of his fel- 

* History of Western Canals, p. 30. f Tb. p. 25. 

t See Appendix to Colonel Troup's letter to B. Livingston, Esq., p. 8. 



326 



low-laborers, frankly disclaims all idea of having suggested a contin- 
ued canal, or attempted more than to improve the natural navigation to 
the Seneca and Ontario lakes, when he says, ' that the utmost stretch 
of our view was, to follow the track of Nature's canal, and to remove 
natural or artificial obstructions; but we never entertained the most 
distant conception of a canal from Lake Erie to the Hudson. We 
should not have considered it much more extravagant to have sug- 
gested the possibility of a canal to the moon.'* 

" In answer to the third question I observe, that, during the years 
1791 and 1792, Mr. Watson and General Schuyler both lived in 
Albany, and were in habits of intimacy. Mr. Watson, besides de- 
livering his journal and report to General Schuyler, had frequent con- 
versations with him on the matters they contained. In these conver- 
sations it was agreed, that General Schuyler should use his exertions 
and influence in the legislature to procure the passage of an act to 
incorporate a company for opening the navigation from the Hudson 
to Seneca and Ontario lakes. The legislature was to set in New- 
York in the beginning of January, 1792 ; and Mr. Watson's zeal for 
the passage of the act carried him to New-York early in the session, 
to unite his exertions and influence with those of General Schuyler. 
Mr. Watson accordingly remained several weeks in New-York, and, 
while there, he afforded every aid in his power to promote General 
Schuyler's success: and, after Mr. Watson's return to Albany, he 
made General Schuyler the tender of another visit to New-York, on 
the like errand, if the General should think it expedient. 

" Mr. Watson's zeal, however, did not suffer him to stop here. So 
far from it, when in New- York, he addressed to the legislature, 
through the medium of a city paper, a piece under the signature of 

* A CiTizEN,'f in which he represented the State, from its geographi- 
cal position, as enjoying advantages for internal intercourse much 
above those of her neighbors ; communicated substantially the infor- 
mation contained in his jourual and in his report; extolled the ad- 
vantages that would probably flow from a navigable intercourse with 

* the great chain of lakes forming our north-western boundary ;' and 
recommended, with enthusiastic ardor, the improvement of the navi- 
gation to the Seneca Lake ; keeping always in sight its further im- 
provement as soon as 'the British should be dispossessed of the out- 
let of Oswego river.' And Mr. Watson's zeal for improving the 
navigation continuing unabated, he once more pressed the subject on 
the notice of the legislature, with fresh and cogent reasons, in a piece 
under the signature of * An Inland Navigator,'J which he forwarded 
from Albany, and had also published in a New-York paper. 

"It unfortunately happened that a bill was brought into the Sen- 
ate, without the concurrence of Gen. Schuyler, the objects of which 

♦See Mr. Watson's History of the Western Canals, p. 160. 

+ See Appendix to Col. Troup's letter to B. Livingston, Esq., p. 14. 

t lb. p. 22. 



OR, MEMOIES OF ELKANAH WATSON. 327 

were the removal of obstructions in the Mohawk river, and the 
junction of that river with Wood Creek ; thus appearing to relinquish 
the improvement of the navigation to the Seneca and Ontario lakes. 
Whilst this bill was laboring its progress through the Senate, Mr. 
Watson, then being at Albany, wrote a letter to Gen. Schuyler, in 
which he observed that he had not been * inattentive to the pro- 
gress of the great objects of the western canals, since the commence- 
ment of the Legislature,' expressed ' much regret that no one of 
that body, except' the General, 'appeared to soar beyond Fort 
Stanwix,' complained ' that stopping at Fort Stanwix would be half 
doing the business,' and he declared that 'although the whole plan 
might not be accomplished for years to come, yet as the improve- 
ments on Wood Creek were indispensable to making the contem- 
plated canal at Fort Stanwix of any value, the charter should stretch 
to Seneca Lake and the harbor of Oswego, as pointed out in his 
journal, and in conformity to his conversations with the General, so 
as to admit the commerce of the great lakes into Hudson river, and 
vice versa.' 

"Mr. Watson, in the same letter, treated the enterprize as a 
proper State object, and he expressed a firm belief that the ' enter- 
prize would succeed if the charter be so shaped as to embrace the 
objects contemplated by him and the General, and a term of twenty 
years be granted for the completion of the plan.' And in reply to 
the objection that undertaking the enterprise M^ould be premature, 
Mr. Watson, in the same letter, avowed his settled conviction that 
'the enterprise could not be undertaken too soon,' and consequently 
he determined to do his utmost to co-operate with the General's 
enlarged views of the very important subject. 

"The ardent desire of Mr. Watson for a charter, on a scale era- 
bracing the navigation of the Seneca and Ontario lakes, was finally 
gratified by the passing of the canal Act of March, 1792, which was the 
golden fruit of Gen. Schuyler's eminent talents and controllinginfluence. 

" Gen. Schuyler, ever disdaining to receive honors not fairly his 
due, often acknowledged* to that excellent man and public-spirited 
citizen, the late Thomas Eddy, that 'the observations made by Mr. 
Watson, in his tour to the western part of the State, in 1791, first 
turned his attention to that important object, and induced him to 
offer to the Senate the Act Incorporating the Western and Northern 
Inland Lock Navigation Companies.' 

"The facts which I have thus detailed, will be found in Mr. Wat- 
son's ' History of the Western Canals,' published in 1820, and also 
in a letter from me, 'On the Lake Canal Policy,' addressed to the 
late Brockholst Livingston, Esq., one of the associate Justices of the 
Supreme Court of the United States, and published in 1822. 

" The consideration of these facts will naturally lead to the con- 
clusion that they form the ground on which Mr. Watson rests his 

* See Appendix to Col. Troup's Letter to B. Livingston, Esq., p. 31 



328 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

claims to a portion of public gratitude for his labors to improve the 
inland navigation of the State. 

•' I am much deceived if the facts do not irresistibly show that Mr. 
Watson's labors have been useful. Their usefulness consists in his 
travelling to explore our western country, its lakes, rivers, and creeks, 
— in his observations on the practicability of a navigable communica- 
tion between the Hudson and the western lakes — in his communica- 
tions to Gen. Schuyler — in his concerting with the General a plan of 
navigation embracing the western lakes, to be submitted to the Le- 
gislature — and, lastly, in his unwearied pains to assist Gen. Schuyler 
to obtain a preference for the concerted plan, by the passing of the 
canal act of March, 1792. 

"There can be no reasonable objection against admitting that this 
act was the commencement of our State canal policy. Before the 
existence of the act, nothing appeared in the community on the sub- 
ject of canalling, except the different commercial speculations of 
individuals respecting it. To dignify their speculations with the title 
of State policy, would be preposterous. That the policy pursued by 
a Stats can only be known from the schemes adopted by its consti- 
tuted authorities, and from the measures taken to carry such schemes 
into effect, is a position too evident to require an illustration. It was 
the act, therefore, that first gave body and life to the floating ideas 
about canalling, by the incorporation of a company to undertake the 
expensive and arduous enterprise of opening a canal navigation to 
unite the waters of the Hudson with those of the western lakes, and 
by endowing the company with rights to authorize, and privileges to 
facilitate its successful prosecution. 

"To maintain that the act was unimportant in its consequences, 
would be to incur the censure of violating the dictates of sound sense, 
and disregarding the plain language of experience. Although the 
funds of the company incorporated were wholly inadequate to the 
construction of canals calculated to promote the highest interests of 
the State ; yet the operations of the company, proceeding from the 
employment of their scanty funds, considerably reduced the rates 
of transportation, and thereby proved not a little beneficial to trade. 
But the most important consequence of the act was, that even the 
limited benefits it produced to trade seemed to keep the public eye 
fixed on the highly interesting objects of canal policy, and eventually 
to induce our wise and patriotic rulers to adopt a system of canalling 
which, from the grandeur of its design, and the magnanimity of its 
execution, has become the pride of the State and the admiration of 
the Union, 

"Allow me, dear sir, to conclude this letter with the assurance of 
my unfeigned gratification that it has fallen to your lot to perform 
the meritorious work in which you are engaged ; for your able, ele- 
gant, and impartial eulogium on the illustrious De Witt Clinton 
persuades me to believe the work will be performed in a manner 



OR, MEMOIES OF ELKANAH WATSON. 329 



as justly entitling it to the praise of every unprejudiced and intelli- 
gent reader, as well of the present age as of posterity. 
" With the most perfect esteem, I remain, dear sir, 
" Your humble servant, 

"Robert Troup. 
"To David Hosack, M. D." 

The two first of the succeeding letters of Mr. Adams were 
also published in the Appendix to Dr. Hosack's work, with 
these connments :* 

"In connection with this part of the subject, it gives me 
pleasure to give place to the following interesting letters from 
the late President of the United States, John Adams, to Mr- 
Watson, in the years 1822 and '23 :" 

" QuiNCT, 23c/ December, 1822. 
" Dear Sir : 

*'I have received and heard read Col. Troup's letter to Judge Liv- 
ingston of the 23rd January last. 

" You need hot wish a more ingenious, a more spirited or able 
vindication of your claims to the first suggestion of the canal policy 
in New-York, and of General Schuyler's sagacious patriotism in 
adopting and supporting your ideas in the legislature. You have 
both great merit, but still I think Mr. Clinton has also great merit 
in supporting your plan. It is right to preserve the memory of the 
first discoverers and inventors of useful improvements for the ameli- 
oration of the condition of mankind. 

" The gentlemen who w^ere my cotemporaries at Philadelphia used 
to say, that the first discovery of the efficiency of lightning rods, was 
Ebenezer Kennesley, a young gentleman of an ardent thirst for 
science, who drew lightning from the clouds, by his iron pointed kites, 
before Dr. Franklin had attempted anything on the subject. 

" Why, indeed, may we not say, that this discovery was made in 
the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius, for in his reign the astro- 
nomical and astrological poet Manilius wrote these lines, ' eripuit 
jovi fulmen, vires que tonandi V Yet all this in no degree diminishes 
the great merit of Dr. Franklin, in maturing, digesting and propagat- 
ing to the world his system of lightning rods. 

" It would be well to ascertain, if it were possible, the first discoverer 
of the invaluable power of steam. While we should do honor to his 
memory, we should not withhold our admiration and gratitude from 
the great Fulton, whose steam navigation will be of greater benefit 

* Hosack's Memoirs of Clinton, p. 297. 



330 



to mankind than Franklin's philosophy, although that is very great. 
While I wish to do honor to these great men, I ought to bear testi- 
mony to the merit of your long exertions, which, I think, have been 
very useful to our country. 

" With much pleasure I repeat the assurance of the long and contin- 
ued esteem and affection of your friend and humble servant. 

" John Adams." 



" QuiNCY, 28/A February, 1822. 
" My dear Friend : 

" I thank you for your letter of the 12th inst., and forjudge Troup's 
letter. 

" I am very much obliged to him for his civility to me, as well as 
for his testimonies in honor of your meritorious services for the 
public good. 

" Your active life has been employed, as far as I have known the 
history of it, in promoting useful knowledge and useful arts ; for 
which 1 hope you have received, or will receive, a due reward. Shafts 
are wanton sports, and secret and public malice are common to you 
and all men, who distinguish themselves — 

* Envy doth merit, as its shade pursue, 
Afid like the shadow, prove its substance true.' 

"This, or something more sublime, must be the consolation of us 
all. 

" Your friend (by proxy), 

" John Adams. 

*' Elkanah Watson, Esq., Albany.'''* 



Extract of a letter from John Adams to Elkanah Watson. 

"QuiNCY, Montezillo, 2dih March, 1822. 
" Dear Sir : 

" I have received your favor of the 17th inst. You may do wha 
you please wiih my letter of the 23rd December. ***** 
It would give me great pleasure to peruse all your -publications, and 
to correspond with you on the subject of them, but I can read no- 
thing, and scarcely write the name of 

" Your friend, 

" John Adams." 



OR, MEMOIES OF ELKANAH WATSON. 331 

"QuiNCY, Slst December, 1822. 

" Sir — I have received your letter of the 26th ; with my blind eyes 
and palsied hands — 

" Tantas componere lites non possum.' 

"1 am, with usual regards, &c., 

" John Adams. 
" Elkanah Watson, Esq." 



332 MEN" AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

Attacks on Land Office — Character of General Schuyler — General Var- 
nam— Sketch of his Life — Letter to his Wife — Talleyrand — French 
Emigrants — War with France — Truxton — Projects of local and 
public improvements — Chancellor Livingston — His character and 
services — Letters from him — Louisiana Treaty — Introduces Merino 
Sheep — Sheep Shearing Festival — Prices of Merinos — Doctor Mitch- 
ell — General Humphreys — Letter from him — Steamboats — Mr. Mul- 
ler — Music from Jews' Harps — Letters to and from John Adams — 
Hostility of Hamilton to him. 

Popular feeling was strongly excited in the years '91 and '92, 
by imputations upon the proceedings of the Board of Commis- 
sioners of the Land Office, in their management of the vast public 
domain of the State. The facts upon which these animadver- 
sions were based, or their justice, it is not necessary at this 
remote day to investigate. Mr. Watson assailed their measures 
with great severity, in a series of articles under the signature of 
" A Northern Sentinel/' which were very extensively pub- 
lished, and which appear, from the ample evidence before me, to 
have excited very general attention. General Schuyler sympa- 
thized with these views ; and an intimate intercourse, political 
and personal, was formed between him and Mr. Watson, which 
was subsequently cemented by their combined labor in the pro- 
motion of the canal pohcy of the State, and the procuring of 
the charter of the Albany Bank. 

A difference and conflict of opinion, as directors in the ca- 
nal companies, afterwards produced a coldness and alienation 
between them ; but the deep reverence of Mr. Watson for the 
great talent, the self-sacrificing patriotism, and the eminent 
services of General Schuyler to his country, Was never dimin- 
ished. He refers to him in the following language : 

" General Schuyler possessed the highest order of talents, 
but without varied scholastic attainments. He was a profound 



OK, MEMOIKS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 333 

mathematician, and held a powerful pen ; his industry was un- 
exampled ; his business habits were accurate and systematic, 
acquired under the discipline of General Bradstreet of the 
British Army, who was a distinguished friend of his family. 
Having extensively travelled, and mingled with the highest cir- 
cles of society, he was eminently refined in his sentiments, 
and elegant in his address. 

" Had Providence blessed Philip Schuyler with the same 
equanimity of mind and self-control which distinguished Wash- 
ington, he would have been his equal in all the elevated moral 
and military attributes of his character. America owed to 
Schuyler a vast debt of gratitude for his distinguished services 
both in the cabinet and in the field. It was said, and probably 
with good reason, that he w^as of material assistance to the 
great Hamilton, (who was his son-in-law,) in framing that mag- 
nificent financial system, by which the loose floating paper 
currency of the government was funded ; thus educing order 
and system from chaos, and forming, by the magic of genius, an 
active capital out of the onerous and apparently crushing debt 
of our Independence. 

" To the consummate strategic skill, and the wise Fabian 
policy of Schuyler, we were indebted for the conquest of Bur- 
goyne. At the moment in which he was about to reap the 
fruition of his sacrifices and labors, he was superseded. When 
the laurels he had so well earned were almost within his grasp, 
they were cruelly wrested from him. He was sacrificed by a 
spirit of intrigue and insubordination in his army, cherished, 
probably, by the mutual animosity which existed between him- 
self and the men of New-England. The idea generally prevail- 
ed in those States, that Schuyler fostered a hereditary prejudice 
against them, while the stern and arbitrary measures which at 
times marked his military career, and had probably been im-'' 
bibed in the discipline of the .British Army, revolted their sen- 
timents of equality and independence. Philip Schuyler was a 
pure and devoted patriot, and a great man ; and although my 
enemy in his closing years, I freely record my homage of admi- 



334 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

ration and gratitude. His influence and abilities enforced the 
passage of the Canal Act of '92." 

Although out of the chronological arrangement, I will here 
introduce from Mr. Watson's Sketch Book, notices of another 
general of the Revolution, which contains some interesting 
reminiscences. 

" James Mitchell Varnum was appointed a Brigadier-Gen- 
eral, in ihe Rhode Island line, at an early period of the Revo- 
lution. He resided in East Greenwich, and was one of the 
most eminent lawyers and distinguished orators in the colonies. 

" I first saw this learned and amiable man in 1774, when I 
heard him deliver a Masonic oration. Until that moment I 
had formed no conception of the power and charms of oratory. 
I was so deeply impressed, that the effect of his splendid exhi- 
bition has remained for forty-eight years indelibly fixed upon 
my mind. I then compared his mind to a beautiful parterre, 
from which he was enabled to pluck the most gorgeous and 
fanciful flowers, in his progress, to enrich and embellish his 
subject. Lavater would have pronounced him an orator, from 
the vivid flashing of his eye, and the delicate beauty of his 
classic mouth. 

" He marched into Providence, with his company, on the 
evening of the 20th of April, '77, on his way to Lexington.* 
Green and Varnum were both soon after appointed brigadiers, 
and attached to the army besieging Boston. Varnum contin- 
ued several years in the army, and saw some service : he was 
a good disciplinarian, and invaluable in council. He held an 
excellent pen, commanding a rich flow of eloquence and 

* I have stated in an early page that Gen. Green entered Providence at the 
same time, in command of a company. Col. Ephraim Bov^en, who was a member 
of the Cadet Company with me, and who I have already quoted in a note, in an 
account of the " Gaspee " affair — assured me (October, 1821,) that I am in error in 
identifying Nathaniel Green with the Capt. Green who commanded the Warwich 
Greens ; and that although Gen. Green marched into Providence on that occa- 
sion, it was as a private in Capt. Varnum's Company, and while he still held his 
connection with the Quaker Society. These concurrences of names and circum- 
stances may have created a mistake. After Gen. Green had acquired his subse- 
quent celebrity I heard the fact, as I have represented it, often referred to. 



335 

beauty ; embellished by all the ornaments and grace of 
rhetoric. 

" Whilst in command at Taunton, he addressed an admira- 
ble letter to the commanding officer of the Hessians, on Rhode 
Island, and sent it in by a flag. The letter was a transcript 
of his views on the great controversy with England, and was 
considered an able argument on the subject. It was subse- 
quently published in England, and reflected much credit on 
the author. At the close of his military career, he resumed his 
professional attitude, and often came into conflict with Henry 
Goodwin, his great rival in eloquence, but of a totally distinct 
school. While Varnum's oratory was mild and conciliatory, 
and flowing in majestic and persuasive eloquence, Goodwin's 
was wrapt in fire and energy, mingled with the most burning 
sarcasm. 

"In the year 1785, General Varnum formed the project of 
establishing a colony on the north branch of the Ohio river, 
and erecting a city at the mouth of the Muskingum. He 
urged me to unite in the adventure. He carried out his design, 
and founded Marietta, which he named in honor of the Queen 
of France. After my return from North Carolina, in 1788, I 
was present when his wife received a letter, full of pathos and 
sensibility, and highly impressive in some of its aspects. She 
allowed me, as the intimate friend of her husband, to read it. 
It subsequently found its way into the newspapers. The fol- 
lowing extract is worthy of preservation : 

"Marietta, 18/A December, 1788. 

"My DEAREST Friend : 

" 1 now write you from ray sick chamber — perhaps it will be tho 
last letter you will ever receive from me. I expect to leave this, on 
Sunday next, for the falls of the Ohio ; thence to New-Orleans and the 
West Indies, to seek a warmer climate, the only chance of my recov- 
ery. My physician thinks the chance of recovery in my favor. I 
am neither elevated or depressed by the force of this opinion ; and 
will indulge a hope that I shall once more embrace my lovely friend 
in this world ; and that we may glide smoothly down the tide of time, 
for a few years more, and mutually enjoy the more substantial hap- 
piness, as we have already the desirable pleasures of life. 



336 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION; 

" But, my lovely friend, the gloomy moment will arrive, when we 
must part ; should it happen during our present separation, my last, 
and my only reluctant thought, will be employed about you. 

•'Life is but a bubble : it soon bursts, and is remitted to eternity. 
When we look back to the earliest recollections of our youthful hours, 
it seems but the last period of our rest, and we appear to emerge 
from a night of slumber, to look forward to real existence. When 
we look forward, time appears as interminable as eternity, and we 
have no idea of its termination, but by the period of our dissolution. 
What particular connection it bears to a future state, our general no- 
tions of religion cannot point out. We feel something constantly 
active within us, which is evidently beyond the reach of mortality; 
whether it be part of ourselves, or an emanation from the Great 
Source of all existence, or reabsorbed when death shall have finished 
his work, human wisdom cannot determine. Whether the demoli- 
tion of our body introduces only a change in the manner of our being, 
and leaves us to progress, infinitely, alternately elevated or de- 
pressed, according to the propriety of our conduct — or whether we 
return to the mass of unthinking matter, philosophy hesitates to 
decide. 

"I know, therefore, but one source from whence can be derived 
complete consolation in a dying hour ; and that is the divine system 
contained in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There, life and immortality 
are brought to light ; there, we are taught that our existence is to be 
eternal ; and secure of an interest in the atoning mercies of a bleed- 
ing Saviour, that we shall be inconceivably happy. 

" A firm, unshaken faith in this doctrine, must raise us above the 
doubts and fears that hang upon every other system, and enable us to 
view with calm serenity the approach of the King of terrors ; and be- 
hold Him as a kind, indulgent friend, spending his shafts, only to 
carry us sooner to our everlasting home. 

" Should there yet be a more extensive religion beyond the vail, 
the Christian religion is by no means shaken thereby, as it is not op- 
posed to any principle that admits the perfect benevolence of the 
Deity. I hope and pray, the Divine Spirit will give me such assur- 
ance of an acceptance with God, through the death and sufferings of 
His Son, as to brighten the way to immediate happiness. 

" Dry up your tears, my charming mourner ; nor suffer this letter 
to give you much inquietude. Consider the facts at present, as in 
theory ; but the sentiments such as will apply, whenever the great 
change shall come. Give my sincere love to all those you hold dear. 
Adieu ! my dearest friend ; and while I fervently devote, in one un- 
divided prayer, our immortal souls to the care, forgiveness, mercy, 
and all prevailing grace of Heaven, in time and through eternity, I 
must now bid you — a long — long — long farewell. 

'•James M. Varnum." ^ 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 337 

** General Varnum died a few days after the date of this letter, 
at the Falls of the Ohio. I knew that General Varnum had 
indulged, to a degree, in skeptical and philosophical opinions, 
hence the great additional value of this mature effusion of his 
most secret soul, on a dying bed. For this reason I have in- 
troduced his sentiments. They exerted a benign influence 
upon my own mind, and I earnestly trust they may be equally 
useful to others." 

The residence for a short period of Talleyrand in this coun- 
try, during his exile, in a condition of indigence and destitution, 
is a historic fact. His circumstances and position are some- 
what illustrated by trivial incidents, which have been noticed 
in the manuscripts of Mr. Watson : 

" In the years 1794 and '95, 1 resided in the northern suburbs 
of Albany, then known as the Colonic. Mons. Le Contaulx, 
formerly of Paris, a very amiable man, was my opposite neigh- 
bor. His residence was the resort of the French emigrants. 
During that period, Count Le Tour du Pin, a distinguished 
French noble, made a hair-breadth escape from Bordeaux, with 
his elegant and accomplished wife, the daughter of Count 
Dillon. They were concealed in that city for six terrible 
weeks, during the sanguinary atrocities of Tallien, and ar- 
rived at Boston with two trunks of fine towels, containing 
several hundred in each; the only property they had been 
able to save from the wreck of an immense estate. They 
came to Albany and brought me a letter of introduction from 
Thomas Russell, an eminent merchant of Boston. Soon after 
they purchased a little farm, upon an eminence nearly opposite 
Troy. 

" Here they were joined by Talleyrand, who had arrived 
about the same time in Albany ; also, an exile, and in want. 
1 became intimate with them, from these circumstances, from 
my familiarity with their country and knowledge of the French 
language. They avowed their poverty, and resided together 
on the little farm, suffering severe privations, bringing to 
Albany the surplus produce of their land, and habitually stop- 

22 



338 

ping with their butter and eggs at my door. They yielded 
with a good grace to their humihating condition. 

'' In tlie winter following, I was surrounded in my office by 
a group of distinguished Frenchmen : the Count, Talleyrand? 
Volney, the philosophical writer and traveller, Mons. Pharoux, 
a very learned man, and Des Jardin, a former Chamberlain 
of Louis XVI. They considered me a Frenchman at heart, 
and appeared to forget that I was an American, jealous of the 
rights, liberties and honor of my countr3^ Their remarks were 
often revolting to my sentiments and national pride. Sympa- 
thy and compassion for their fallen estate, constrained me to 
endure this language, although they did not hesitate to avow 
their detestation of American institutions, and their disgust at 
our manners and habits. 

" On the occasion referred to, after having indulged in this 
train of remark, and speculating upon the posture of European 
affairs, Des Jardin at length turning to me, exclaimed, 'Yes, 
my friend, before this war' (the war waged by despotism against 
republican principles) 'shall end, your frontier will be lined 
with French bayonets.' To this sentiment they all seemed to 
respond in acquiescence. My American blood was excited 
beyond forbearance, and I replied, ' God grant, if so, that the 
invaders may be repelled at the threshold, or exterminated to a 
man.' Here we were at issue, and our social intercourse 
terminated. 

"Soon after this, Talleyrand was swaying a potent. influence 
in the councils of France. Whether these hostile sentiments 
were infused into the Directory, I have no knowledge; but it 
is certain, when our three Envoys were literally supplicating 
for peace, at the foot-stool of this power, they were received 
with an arrogance and intolerance that insulted the dignity, 
and trampled contemptuously upon the independence of a free 
nation. This, however, was the extreme point of our degrada- 
tion. Adams was found a lion in the path of these aggressions. 
An open war ensued, in whicli our infant Navy, the child of 
his own creation, gloriously sustained the honor of our flag, and 
our national rights. Truxton, in the ' Constellation,' captured a 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 339 

French frigate of equal size, and repelled the attack of a second. 
Truxton against France, was the language of the day ; for he 
performed alone in his gallant ship, all the fighting. The 
French Government retracted, and an honorable peace was 
consummated.'' 

During the period of several succeeding years, Mr. Watson 
was chiefly engaged in private avocations ; but his mind and pen 
were, with his accustomed ardour and activity, occupied in the 
advancement of various projects of social and public improve- 
ment. Free-schools, turnpike roads — two of which he urged 
with unwonted earnestness : one, it was proposed, should be con- 
structed on the margin of the Hudson, between New-York and 
Albany, and another from the latter place to Schenectady — 
the creation of avenues into the new territories, both north and 
west, which were just opening to emigration, by roads to 
be constructed by the State, and the adoption of a State-prison 
system, were among the subjects which he pressed upon the 
public attention. Voluminous essays on all these and other 
interesting and important topics, are embraced in his common- 
place book. The incorporation of the " State Bank" at Al- 
bany was a scheme conceived by his mind and obtained prin- 
cipally through his ardent and untiring exertions. 

In the promotion of these objects, he was brought into inti- 
mate association with many of the conspicuous men of the 
State. An intercourse with Chancellor Livingston was thus 
formed, which continued in a close intimacy to the termi- 
nation of his patriotic career. In the correspondence of Chan- 
cellor Livingston, is included a letter written at Paris, 25th 
June, 1803, which is of much interest, as it presents, in a free 
communication of friendship, his own views of his services 
and his connection with the achievement of the treaty of Lou- 
isiana ; and may be regarded as shedding light on that much 
controverted question. Mr. Watson remarks : 

"My first acquaintance with this celebrated and excellent 
person, was in April, '92. I had devoted myself with unusual 
zeal, in efl^ecting the preliminaries to the organization of the 
Albany Bank : in resisting strong prejudice, and combating 



340 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

gross ignorance. The organization being accomplished, the 
next step was to secure the incorpo ation. This was commit- 
ted to the powerful influence and talents of Gen. Schuyler, 
who, by the most vigorous efforts, forced it through both houses 
of the Legislature. At his request I went to New-York, and 
found the bill was suspended in the Council of Revision. The 
General pressed me, with great earnestness, to exert myself, as 
eight of the ten constitutional days for its return had already 
passed, and he feared an adverse decision. I labored until a 
late hour that night, with my uncle, Judge Hobert, who was 
one of the council, and succeeded in satisfying him of the 
justice and propriety of the measure. 

"The next morning I was introduced to Chancellor Liv- 
ingston, by my old travelling companion of the preceding year, 
Mr. Bayard. The Chancellor stated his objections, and, as he 
remarked, ' I was fortunate in removing them.' About noon 
of the same day, I was in the Senate Chamber of the old City 
Hall, when the Chancellor tapped me on the shoulder with the 
bill in his hand, saying, ' Your Bank is incorporated.' 

" The second occasion which promoted our intercourse, will 
be explained by the subjoined letter. I had made great exer- 
tion, the winter previous, to promote a subscription for creating 
a fund to encourage the increase and improvement in the manu- 
facture of maple sugar ; and to obtain legislative aid to the 
important object. The letter of Chancellor Livingston will 
present his views and co-operation on the subject. 

" New-York, 16/A February, 1793. 

".Sir: — On the receipt of your letter, with the sample of maple 
sugar, I called together the Agricultural Society, who readily agreed 
to give every possible support to your petition. A committee was 
appointed to form a memorial on that subject ; but this committee, 
not meeting so early as I wished, I wrote to the Speaker, enclosing 
your representations, and urging the Legislature, in the strongest 
terms, to take up the business: which they accordingly did, and ap- 
pointed a committee who, after conferring with the Agricultural So- 
ciety, reported in favor of a bounty, as Mr. Ten Brook has informed 
you. It has, however, met with such opposition since, that I am 
satisfied (to my great regret) that it will not go through this session. 



341 

Nothing however, shall be wanting on my part, to give it success, 
since I am fully satisfied of the importance of the object. 

" The success which your patriotic exertions, and those of the gen- 
tlemen connected with you have met with, in improving the quality 
of the sugar, shows the importance of this object in a very strong 
point of view, and appeared to have made a very good impression 
upon a number of gentlemen, who had hitherto considered the whole 
a visionary business. 

" I am, sir, your most ob'd't and humble serv't, 

"Robert R. Livingston. 

"Mr. Elkanah Watson." 

" I received from him the following letter whilst in Paris, 
relative to the negotiation for the cession of Louisiana, 
within two months only after the treaty was signed : 

"Paris, 2bth June, 1803. 

" Dear Sir : — I received your favor of the 4th August, a very 
long time after it was written, and the necessity of making the in- 
quiries you wished, delayed my answer till the active turn my 
negotiations took here, on the subject of the American claims and 
Louisiana, and discussions on the subject of the war, to which I was 
obliged to give the closest attention, in order to be well informed, 
and avail myself of circumstances as they arose, put almost every 
private concern out of my mind. I have, however, made the neces- 
sary inquiries. The sample you sent me is of that pure species of 
gypsum, from which many works of ornament are made, which is 
commonly called alabaster. It is only valuable where it can be 
found in very large blocks, and perfectly free from stains or fissures; 
and even then would be of little worth, except in countries where it 
would be worked to advantage. Your hill has a better and more 
confirmed value, in being a source of manure to all the country in its 
vicinity. 

" I am very sorry that you cannot gratify your wishes, and spend 
some more of your time in Paris, which you would find very much 
improved. The First Consul has given great attention to this object, 
and independent of the immense collections of pictures, statues, books, 
natural history, &c., the city itself is improved. Old buildings that 
masked stately edifices are pulled down, and works undertaken that 
the Bourbons did not dare to ventnre upon. All the houses in front 
of the Tuilleries are pulled down, so as to enlarge the square, and 
show a great part of that immense building. The two streets, with 
all their houses on the north of the Tuilleries are also prostrated, so 
as to open a grand passage all around the gardens upon a line with 
the royal garderobe. The river Ourg is on its way to Paris, and will 



342 



afford a full supply for use and ornament. Numberless improve- 
ments are projected, and money is found for effecting them, notwith- 
standing the war, which, as you have learned, has begun with very 
great acrimony and serious fears on the part of Britain of an invasion, 
as serious preparations are making here for it. 

*' I do not know what the sentiments of a party among you may 
be relative to the American Government, but it is certain its reputa- 
tion never stood so high as at present in Europe ; and my success in 
getting our debts paid, and our purchase of Louisiana, have been con- 
sidered as master strokes of diplomatic success — a success w^hich was 
very much forvi^arded by the firm attitude the government took in 
the business of New Orleans, and a conviction of our resources for 
war, drawn from the President's speeches and reports of the treasury. 
I was happy enough to have, as you have learned, attained early in 
the month of March, a personal assurance from the First Consul him- 
self^ that our claims should be promptly and fully paid, and as it 
was impossible to go back from this, and the approach of a war 
made it difficult to find money, this proved a trump card in bringing 
them to agree to cede Louisiana, which the First Consul announced to 
his council, (after some very pressing notes of mine on the subject, 
suggesting the 8th of April,) they called on me to offer my terms on 
the 10th. On the evening of the 12th, Mr. Monroe arrived, when 
the great difficulty, (the reluctance to sell.) having been previously 
got over, nothing remained for our joint operations but to fix the price. 
This I flatter myself will not appear unreasonable to my countrymen, 
who know how to estimate the increasing consequence of that country. 

"Having thus effected the great object of my mission, 1 look 
anxiously towards my native home, which still has more charms for 
me than even this fascinating city. I flatter myself with the hopes 
of seeing you next spring or summer, and pray you to believe that I 
recollect you and my other friends with you, with sufficient pleasure 
to be anxious to be with yoii again. 1 pray you to offer my com- 
pliments to the Governor, I?ieut. Governor, Messrs. Van Rensselaer, 
Yates, Taylor, &c. 

"I am, dear sir, with much esteem, your most obed't, humble serv't, 
"Elkanah Watson, Esq." "Robert R. Livingston. 

"At his return from France, I was in the full tide of my ag- 
ricultural operations in Pittsfield. He had previous to that 
time introduced some very superior Merino sheep, of the Ram- 
boulet flock, from France. We were thus drawn together by 
our congeniality of sentiments and pursuits in agriculture and 
the arts, and often reciprocated visits. I spent some days with 
him in 1808, at his princely seat upon the Hudson, where he 
was enjoying a dignified and refined retirement. From hi sflock 
I selected the animals w^ v^Jo I brought into Berkshire county 



343 



**In 1810 I attended his famous sheep-shearing, which 
attracted much attention, and acquired subsequently gieat 
newspaper notoriety. Men of great eminence, from various 
sections of the country, were present, and among them Col. 
Humphreys, Dr. Mitchell, and Mr. MuUer, a German gentle- 
man. The large company was entertained in the most ele- 
gant and sumptuous hospitality. At a public sale on this 
occasion, sheep were bought with great avidity, at prices vary- 
ing from fifty to one thousand dollars. Although these rates 
appear so exorbitant, there was an animated competition, and 
some earnest disputes for securing the purchase of select ani- 
mals. The astonishing inflation in the ideal value of sheep, 
which this mania created for a few years, and the depression 
which ensued after the bubble had burst, will be exemplified by 
a single fact. 1 purchased a beautiful buck of the Chancellor, 
at $175, for which 1 repeatedly refused one thousand dollars, and 
afterwards sold him for twelve dollars. Dr. Mitchell produced a 
brilliant description of the festival, and always classical and 
erudite, gave as a toast, ' The modern Argonautic expedition, 
whereby our Jason has enriched his country with the invalua- 
ble treasure of the golden fleece.' 

" Chancellor Livingston and Col. Humphreys disputed the 
merit of having first introduced the Merino sheep into the 
United States. The former claimed to have brought them 
from France, and the latter that he had sent them from Spain, 
whilst Minister at that Court, by the way of Portugal.* 

♦David Humphreys was a brilliant writer, had been aid-de-camp to Washing- 
ton, and was a zealous promoter of agriculture and the arts. As the relative merits 
of the flocks of Livingston and Humphreys is yet among wool-growers a subject 
of discussion, I will insert a letter from him when the controversy was at its 
height. 

''Humphreysville, 18th Sept., 1809. 

" Elkanah Watson, Esq., Pittsfield, Mass : 

" Dear Sir : — It is with extreme regret I am not able to comply with your 
wishes, in furnishing the information you seek in relation to the establishing the 
manufactory of woolens in your place. To speak generally, I sincerely hope the 
time has arrived when we can calculate on better prospects in the establishment 
of this important branch in our country than heretofore, which must be naturally 



344 MEN AND TIMES OF THE KEVOLUTION ; 

'' The Chancellor and Judge Peters of Philadelphia also 
contested the merit of first promulgating in this country a 
knowledge of the value of gypsum as a fertilizing ingredient 
in agriculture. 

" Chancellor Livingston, it is well known, claimed in conjunc- 
tion with Fulton, the great fame of applying steam as a pro- 
inferred when I have invested a great share of my means in such an establishment 
in this village. There are many and great difficulties to be encountered — the 
price of labor, want of skill, and cheapness of land, which will materially affect 
our cotton as well as woolen establishments. Your proposed capital is respectable, 
and I heartily wish you success. There is no doubt but fine wool may shortly 
be supplied by our own flocks. I understand some invidious observations have 
lately been published in Pittsfield, in comparing the breed of sheep brought by 
Chancellor Livingston from France, with the Merinos brought by me from Spain. 
All I shall say is, the excellencies or defects of the breeds or their wool must 
be decided by experience. It is also insinuated without truth that mine are not 
as select and genuine as his because they came from flocks in Spain. It is 
unfortunate that there should be attempts to produce parties in manufactures 
as well as in politics. 

" The sample of your cloth is a handsome specimen and does great credit to 
your efforts, and offers a sure guarantee as to the future. 
" I am with great respect, 

" D. Humphreys." 

The following extract from a letter of Chancellor Livingston, of date 12th June, 
180&, exhibits his own views of his agency in the introduction of these sheep, 
and an estimation of the character and value of his flock : 

" On the subject of Spanish sheep I have little to offer but what you have 
already seen. I am indeed employing my leisure moments on the natural his- 
tory of sheep, which will take a general view of the different breeds of them, &c., 
but I know not whether I shall think it of sufficient moment to commit it to the 
press, or whether my other avocations (for though out of public life I am not an 
idle man,) will permit me to finish it. I have lately received a very fine ram 
from France, and send you enclosed a sample of his wool for the inspection of 
your Society. I think I can boast of the finest Merino flock than any other 
country can show, having had an opportunity of selecting them myself from the 
finest flocks in Europe. The Merinos are generally small and ill made. Mine 
have, by great attention in the selection of the breeders, by those that had the 
care of the national flock in France, and by my selection out of that flock my- 
self, improved both in their form and size without any change in the quality 
of the wool. I also send you a sample of the Arlington wool, of which you 
hare seen much in the papers. It was sent me by Mr. Custis, the proprietor of 
Arlington and Smith's Island. Be pleased to give me your opinion of this wool, 
and the uses to which it may be applicable." 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. S45 

pelling power in navigation. These assumptions have been 
widely and severely controverted. I regard however the fact 
as incontestible, that the means and science of the Chancellor, 
combined with the genius of Fulton, matured and perfected the 
system, and reduced it to practical utility. I recollect when 
they applied for a charter to their association for steamboat 
navigation, the idea prevailed that they proposed to apply the 
power to a common boat, in the ordinary acceptation of the 
term, and that the project was regarded with ridicule and 
laughter. The Legislature would have granted them without 
hesitation the exclusive right they asked for one hundred 
years. 

" The Chancellor was a very useful and benevolent man, a 
scholar of profound erudition, an ardent patriot, and a prompt 
and decided promoter of all the essential interests of the 
country. His name should be cherished as that of one of her 
best benefactors, and may his memory long live in the grati- 
tude of his country. 

"Mr. Muller, the German gentleman already referred to, 
was a person of rare acquirements, of great wealth, and had 
then established extensive manufactories at Pittsburgh. He 
possessed singular musical talents, and was perhaps the only per- 
son who had the power of extracting from the common Jews'- 
harp the most exquisite and delicate music. He used small 
golden instruments, and occasionally performed on two at the 
same time, placing one in each corner of the mouth, and would 
delight by his brilliant performances the most refined circles." 

A correspondence occurred between Mr. Adams and Mr. 
Watson in the year 1797, which refers to an eventful epoch 
in the life of the former, and contained, probably, the earliest 
admonition he received, that a disaffected, or rather adverse, 
sentiment existed in the highest ranks of liis own party, which 
soon after became widely diffused. 

To John Adams, President of the United States. 

" Albany, 5th March, 1797. 
" Sir — It is now nearly seventeen years since I was first honored 
with your paternal letter, when a student at the College of Ancinis, 



346 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION 



in France. Since which time I have ventured to address you on va- 
rious subjects, and I have never ceased to admire the independence 
of your mind, and your stern republican virtues. 

" Your recent elevation to the first place in the power of a grateful 
country to bestow, elevates you to a rank, in my mind, vastly more 
dignified than that of hereditary Kings and Emperors in Europe. 

" To you, sir, I shall not dare to offer adulation ; but I cannot re- 
press the expression of an impulse, stimulated by gratitude and af- 
fection, which flows warm and undisguised from my heart to my 
pen. 

" I am the more gratified, inasmuch as I know that some leading 
characters in this State are disappointed and chagrined at your elec- 
tion, although they have the hypocrisy to palm themselves off as 
your friends. The secret cause of this feeling, which rankles in their 
heart, is the known independence of your mind, and the apprehen- 
sion that they cannot mould you to their party purposes. 

" May you long live to honor, and shed additional lustre upon 
America, is the ardent prayer of your respectful friend, 

" Elkanah Watson. 



ANSWER. 

"Philadelphia, llfth March, 1797. 

« Sir — I received with pleasure your polite note of the 5th inst., 
and thank you for your kind compliments. 

" I am very much disposed to think that you have been misinform- 
ed respecting some leading characters in the State of New-York. If 
they have been ' disappointed,' it was in the election of the Vice- 
President, not mine, and that by no means on the ground ' of the 
known independence of my mind.' 

" Inclosed is a poem, full of flattery to me, but is exquisite poetry. 
I have heard it was written by a Mr. Bacon, of Albany, or its vicin- 
ity, formerly of Brooklyne, Mass. I send you the poem, and desire 
you to let me know if there is such a person in your neighborhood, 
and what is his character. 1 am, &c. 

" John Adams." 

"Elkanah Watson, Esq, Albany." 

" P. S. I think it more likely you wrote it. Tell me." 



To John Adams, President of the United States. 

" Albany, 1st April, 1797. 
« Sir — I am honored by your favor of the 17th ult. I have had 
cause to regret the hint I gave in my last letter to you. 

" It is now incumbent on me to remove your doubts, to develope 
the facts to which I alluded, and which I request may be considered 
confidential. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 347 



*' The evening of the date of my letter to you of the 5th ult., 1 
spent with Chancellor Livingston. He stated to me that Hamilton, 
Schuyler, &c., were the disappointed persons to whom I alluded, on 
the result of your election to the chief magistracy of the nation. 
The ensuing day that gentleman dined at my house, with a large 
company. Gen. Schuyler and Judge Hobart of the Supreme Court, 
were present. 

"The Judge and Chancellor were at opposite points in politics, 
became extremely warm, and indecorously personal, at my table on 
the same subject. The Judge admitted the fact, but qualified it in 
this manner, — that Hamilton had said, in his presence, that Mr. 
Pinckney would, under all circumstances, have been the most proper 
character for President, because he was a new man, and would not 
draw in his train the spirit of party. A curious assertion, truly, for 
the most decided party leader in America ! 

" I have ascertained that the poem you enclosed to me, was writ- 
ten by a Mr. Honeywood, a lawyer residing at Salem, in this State — 
a poet and painter from his mother's womb — as singular in his per- 
son as Pope, although not so much deformed, and, altogether, an 
amiable and worthy man. You flatter my vanity, sir, by supposing 
me the author of that elegant poem. To be frank on that head, I 
could never make two lines jingle in rhyme. 

*' Your letter to me, with so large an enclosure, and coming so 
directly on the heels of your election, has given rise to some laugh- 
able incidents, and as you always allow me to write and speak to 
you freely, I will tell you the story in a few words. 

" The publication of my Tour in PloUand in 1784, had familiar- 
ized people in this quarter with your kindness to me, in various parts 
of Europe, especially at the Hague ; that queen of cities as to beauty 
and elegance. 

" This fact, in connection with the appearance of a formidable 
packet at the post-office, franked by the President of the United 
States, coming at the commencement of his administration, stirred 
up a report that I had received a foreign appointment, although I 
had not yet broken the seal of the packet. Unfortunately for my 
'amour propre,' the place designated was the court of Algiers. 

" While the report was in brisk circulation, I happened to drop 
into the Senate Chamber, and was hailed by all the Senators as the 
Algerine Ambassador. 

'• It was in vain to deny ; some had seen the letter, others your 
commission, although no mortal being, but my good wife, had seen 
the inside of your letter. 

" What an important charge is committed to your hands ! What 
a solemn crisis. Peace or war with France, and half of Europe, is 
now, in some measure, committed to your hands. 
" With great respect, &c. 

"Elkanah Watson." 



348 



'' It is worthy of remark, that I intimated to Mr. Adams, in 
the preceding letters, that Schuyler, Hamilton, &c.r were his 
concealed political enemies, on the ground that they could 
neither lead or coerce him into their high-toned federal meas- 
ures. The annals of America will show that in the following 
year Mr. Adams sent new Commissioners to France, in direct 
opposition to the views of a large portion of the Federal party, 
and that the party was broken down by that measure. 

" In consequence, Hamilton publicly assailed Mr. Adams in a 
virulent pamphlet, in the most abusive, I may add billingsgate, 
style, on the charge of his obstinacy, and ruining federal 
views.* His virtues and firmness saved the country, and the 
predictions I had published were all verified and established." 

* This extraordinary pamphlet, it is said, was attempted to be suppressed, by 
the mutual friends of Hamilton and Adams. It is now very rare, but a copy is 
preserved, I am informed by an intelligent antiquarian friend, in a bound volume 
of Pamphlets, in the New-York State Library.— [Editor. 



OR, MEMOIES OF ELKANAH WATSOI?-. 349 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

Tour to Vermont and Lake Champlain— Ballston— Sans Souci— Manners 
. —Saratoga— Congress Hall— Culture of Sand Plains— Glenn^s Falls 
—Lake George — Sail Down— Beautiful Scenery— Fish— Outlet of 
Lake George— Ticonderoga— Crown Point— Lake Champlain— Ver- 
mont — Farms and Farmers — Vergennes — Arnold's Fleet — Burlington 
—Sand Bar— Grand Isle— Cumberland Head— Pittsburgh- Saranac 
—Indians— Country— Peru— Quakers— Splendid View from Hallock's 
Hill— Historic Ground— Au Sable River— Adgates' Falls— Walled 
Banks of the Au Sable— Willsboro' Mountains— Ferry— Valley of 
Otter Creek— Middlebury— Gen. Nixon— Rutland— Union College— 
Dr. JSTott — Sermon on death of Hamilton— Incident— Politics— Letters 
from Dr. Nott— Party Contest, 1807— Letters on that subject from 
Elisha Jenkins, Thomas Tillotson, and E. C. Genet. 

No further event of public interest, or calculated to exhibit 
the condition or progress of the countr}^ is noticed by Mr. 
Watson until the year 1805. In that year, accompanied by 
his old travelling associate, Mr. Bayard, he made an excursion 
in Vermont and the northern section of this State. They 
left Albany on the nineteenth of August, and the ensuing day 
reached the "Sans Souci," in Ballston, amid scenes of elegance 
and gaiety. 

" We seated ourselves," the journal of Mr. Watson proceeds, 
" at a sumptuous table, with about one hundred guests of al 
classes, but generally from their appearance and deportment of 
the first respectability, assembled here from every part of the 
Union and from Europe, in the pursuit of health or pleasure, 
of matrimony or of vice. This is the most splendid watering- 
place in America, and scarcely surpassed in Europe in its 
dimensions, and the taste and elegance of its arrangement. 
The building contains about one hundred apartments, all 



350 

respectably furnished. The plan upon which it is constructed, 
the architecture, the style of tlie out-buildings, and the gravel- 
walks girted with shrubbery — are all on a magnificent scale. 
What a contrast has the progress of fifteen years, since I was 
here in 1790, produced ! Where the ' Sans Souci ' now stands, 
was then almost an impenetrable quagmire, enveloped in trees, 
and deformed by stumps and fallen logs. A single one story 
house, situated upon the hill which overlooked this desolate 
valley, was the only public accommodation, and although at |he 
height of the season, was occupied by six or eight families. I 
described in my journal of that day the arrangements for 
drinking and bathing which then existed. 

" In the evening we attended a ball in a spacious hall, bril- 
liantly illuminated with chandeliers, and adorned witli various 
other appliances of elegance and luxury. Here was congre- 
gated a fine exhibition of the refinement of the " Beau monde." 
A large proportion of the assembly was from the Southern 
States, and distinguished by their elegant and polished man- 
ners. In the place of the old-fashioned country-dances and 
four-hand reels of revolutionary days, I was pleased to notice 
the advance of refined customs, and the introduction of the 
graces of Paris in the elegant cotillion and quadrille. At table 
I was delighted in observing the style and appearance of the 
company, males and females intermixed in the true French 
usage of ' sans souci.' The board was supplied in profusion 
not only with a rich variety, but with the luxuries of more 
sunny climes. There was a large display of servants, hand- 
somely attired, while the music of a choice band enlivened the 
festivities. 

*' In the afternoon we arrived at Congress Hall, in Saratoga. 
This is a large hotel, three stories high, with galleries in front, 
but far inferior to the ' Sans Souci,' in dimensions and appear- 
ance. The Saratoga Springs since my first visit, have obtain- 
ed great celebrity for their extraordinary medicinal properties. 
They are esteemed more efficacious than the Ballston waters. 
Saratoga is proving a formidable rival to Ballston, and it is 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 351 

probable will acquire the fashionable ascendancy, and eventu- 
ally become the Bath of America. 

" The road to Glenn's Falls on the Hudson traverses much of 
the way a pine barren. These sandy soils have been consid- 
ered of little value for agricultural purposes until within a few 
years, but the red clover tillage and the application of gypsum 
are found to render them very valuable for cultivation. When 
fully subdued and judiciously tilled they are equal in net pro- 
ductiveness to most lands, from the fact that they may be so 
cheaply and easily cultivated. 

" We crossed the Hudson directly over Glenn's Falls. This 
is one of the most interesting cascades in America, but is little 
known. The variety and combination of scenery are rare and 
beautiful. We gazed from the bridge for a full hour in won- 
der and admiration upon this sublime exhibition of nature. 
The whole volume of the mighty Hudson rushes tempestuously 
down these sluices for a distance of half a mile, amid a laby- 
rinth of obstructing islands and rocks, sometimes plunging 
over vertical falls, and then for some space dashing among 
passages of eternal rocks, foaming and surging as if nothing 
could resist its impetuous torrent. The works of art mingle 
with the majesty and beauty of nature. Mill races w^hich con- 
duct the stream on both sides, water-wheels in their wild gyra- 
tions and their appendages of machinery, communicate variety 
to the enchanting scene, 

" Leaving the village of Sandy Hill on our right, we 
pressed forward over a bad road to the south end of the far- 
famed Lake George — the St. Sacrament of the French, and 
still more appropriate and euphonious Horicon of the Indian. 
Upon debouching from the forest, this lovely lake with its 
innumerable islands suddenly bursi upon our view, revealed 
in all its exceeding romantic beauty. The lake, enveloped on 
both shores by a mountain screen which on the east side 
ascends into bold and lofty eminences, reposed in a long, deep 
gorge, its placid and unrufiled waters studded by isles, whose 
rocky and rugged margin shelved down to the water's edge. 
This lake is celebrated for the depth and purity of its water, 



352 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION 



and for the quantity and excellence of its fisli. The scenery 
of Lake George is surpassingly grand, picturesque and beau- 
tiful. I am assured that the Lake of Geneva, so vaunted by 
European tourists, bears no comparison to Horicon, either in 
its quiet loveliness or imposing magnificence. 

'• We embarked early the next morning in a bateau, rowed 
by four men, to make the passage through the lake to its 
northern extremity. We coursed amid the interesting archi- 
pelago, and at noon landed and dined sumptuously upon deli- 
cious trout, fresh from the cool and pure waters. In the after- 
noon we entered the narrows, and were immediately in the 
midst of clusters of fairy islands, setting like gems upon the 
lake, which was itself girted by a frame work of mountains 
piled upon mountains. At sun-down we reached Sabbath-day 
Point, which projects boldly into the lake from the western 
shore, and here pitched our tent for the night in a barn with 
straw for our beds. 

" Nothing could be more sublime than the effect of the set- 
ting sun, as its rays fell upon the piles of mountains which 
surrounded us. The day had been excessively hot. The out- 
lines and pinnacles of the cones on the east were bathed in the 
fiery tinges of the burning sun — a deep relief was produced by 
the long, dark shadows of the western range, slowly ascend- 
ing up the sides of the former, while here and there the full 
blaze of the sun-beam was poured through some ravines in the 
opposite range on the slopes facing the west." 

The travellers, as they approached the northern termination, 
viewed Rogers' Slide, Howe's Cove, and the numerous other 
localities associated with the events of the French war. The 
vast water-power upon the outlet of Lake George, Mr. Watson 
describes as adequate to every hydraulic purpose, and indulges 
in vivid anticipation, from its proximity to the immense 
deposits of iron ore, and its immediate connection with Lake 
Champlain, of its future importance as a manufacturing posi- 
tion. The world scarcely presents a parallel to the extraordi- 
nary combination of illimitable water-power, always enduring 
and equable — peculiar commercial advantages of situation, and 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. . 353 

a facility of access to the raw material which has been lavished 
by the hand of nature upon this site, but which still remains 
almost unoccupied and paralysed from the mistaken and con- 
tracted policy of foreign proprietors. 

They visited the mouldering and impressive ruins of Ticon- 
deroga. Mr. Watson speaks of this venerable fortress as " with- 
out assimilation to anything in America, and exhibiting the 
appearance of an ancient castle of Europe, enveloped in the 
mist of ages, and surrounded with the associations of 
centuries." 

They proceeded down Lake Champlain to Crown Point. 
The ruins of this fortress presented still more distinct and 
visible evidences of its former strength and glory. The penin- 
sula of Crown Point he describes as *' formed by a gentle emi- 
nence which gradually inclines to the margin of the water. 
Crown Point presents a bold front to the Lake, of which we 
had an extensive view in the north, with rugged and lofty 
mountains bounding it on the west, and the far-famed chain 
of the Green Mountains stretching along the horizon upon the* 
east, at a distance of several miles." 

Crossing Champlain, they continued their journey in Ver- 
mont, along the eastern shore of the lake. Their route "led 
through a range of excellent farms occupied by substantial 
houses, and every appearance announcing the abodes of high- 
minded, intelligent, republican farmers. A few elegant seats 
exhibited the presence of affluence and taste." Vergennes, 
situated in the midst of a fertile territory, at the head of the 
navigation of Otter Creek, and upon a boundless water-power^ 
was then a flourishing town, with extensive iron works in 
operation. In the possession of eminent advantages, it exhib- 
ited bright prospects for the future. 

They travelled over a fine agricultural territory to Burling- 
ton. Near the mouth of Otter Creek their attention was 
drawn to the relics of Arnold's fleet, " lying in charred and 
blackened fragments in a deep bay, where he had ran on shore 
and destroyed his vessels to prevent them from becoming 
trophies to the vastly superior fleet of Carlton. While their 

23 



54 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION ; 

colors were still flying he burnt them, narrowly escaping with 
his crew, and exposed in retreating through a rude wilderness 
to great suffering." Mr. Watson was informed, in the tradi- 
tion of the region, " that Arnold was the last man who left his 
ship — dropping from the bowsprit into the lake while she was 
enveloped in a mass of flames." 

Burlington he describes as '' a neat little village, principally 
built on a public square. The university, a three-story edi- 
fice, is erected on an eminence overlooking the village. 
The institution is in a depressed condition, embracing only 
thirty students, with a President, who constitutes the whole 
faculty." 

Proceeding northward over bad roads they forded a belt of 
Champlain, by a narrow bar three miles in length, with deep 
water on each side, to the island of South Hero. They trav- 
ersed this beautiful and highly cultivated island, and crossing 
a ferry to Cumberland-head, again entered the State of New- 
York. A pleasant road along the margin of the deep indenta- 
tions of Cumberland Bay, conducted them to the village of 
Plattsburgh, at the mouth of the Saranac river. This was a 
considerable village, situated upon an excellent fall, already 
occupied by extensive mills. The land lying north was report- 
ed of a superior quality, and at the south spread a pine barren 
for several miles in the vicinity of the village. Twenty years 
before, the territory north of Willsboro' was an almost 
unbroken wilderness ; at this time it was occupied by a com- 
paratively dense population. They saw several Indians, with 
their birch canoes, engaged in dressing deer-skins at the foot 
of the falls. Plattsburgh was the northern termination of 
their journey. 

" The township of Peru, the town next south of Plattsburgh, 
presents," Mr. Watson's journal remarks, '' a level surface in 
an area of about ten miles from the lake, with a rich soil. It 
is well-settled, chiefly by Quakers from Duchess county, who 
are introducing a high cultivation. They have erected a 
meeting-house in the little village of Union. Soon after 
leaving Union we ascended Hallock's Hill, and here our pro- 



355 

gress was for some time arrested in contemplating one of the 
most enchanting landscapes my eye has ever rested upon. At 
the north as far as the horizon, a broad expanse of champaign 
spread before us. This level surface extends from the Au 
Sable river quite to Quebec, in a continuous and almost unin- 
terrupted plain. On the west this level tract is bordered by 
abrupt and deeply-wooded heights, which towards the Canadian 
borders, seem to subside into an elevated broken surface. 
Although a new country just emerging from a wilderness, as 
far as our vision penetrated, it was dotted here and there by 
little hamlets, and the forests checkered by many large open- 
ings. On our right, Plattsburgh, Cumberland-head, North and 
South Hero, were distinctly visible. Lake Champlain, studded 
with its numerous islands, expanded before us in a long line of 
beauty and magnificence, while beyond, the eye traced half 
the length of Vermont, girted on the eastern horizon by the 
bold and lofty outline of the Green Mountains, with the spires 
of Burlington glittering in the sun-beams on the extreme 
right. 

" This scene of unequalled loveliness was unfolded before us 
like the canvas of a vast and gorgeous painting.* In this 
extended view we embraced historic — almost classic — ground 
of deepest interest. Some three or four miles south of Platts- 
burgh lies Valcour Island, with a narrow strait separating it 
from the western shore of the lake. After the conquest of 
Crown Point and Ticonderoga by Amherst in 1759, the British 
fleet pursued and destroyed the French flotilla in a bay wpon 
the north-east corner of this island, and thus extinguished the 
last vestige of the dominion of France upon the lake. 

" Within the strait I have mentioned, occurred the terrific 
conflict between Arnold and Carlton, on the 11 th of October, '76. 
The succeeding night Arnold exhibited a skill and ability in 
eluding his antagonist, equal to the daring courage and con- 

♦ The votary and admirer of nature still visits this scene, and gazes in rapture 
and admiration upon a landscape which — blending in one view mountain and 
plain, lake and forest, village and island — combines all the elements of beauty and 
loveliness. — [Editob. 



336 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

sumate conduct with which he had grappled with him in the 
unequal contest. Nine years after my visit, these waters were 
rendered still more illustrious as the theatre of McDonough's 
immortal victory. From this eminence hundreds of anxious 
and excited spectators viewed the battle. 

" We diverged from the direct road to visit some remarkable 
scenery upon the Au Sable river. Adgates' Falls, and the 
passage of the river among cloven rocks, is a wonderful exhi- 
bition of the physical convulsions which have distorted this 
whole region ; and were it situated in Europe its fame would 
for ages have been resounded, and it would have received the 
pilgrimages of all who love to contemplate nature in her wild- 
est moods and most wonderful works. 

"About one mile below the falls, w^e crossed the High 
Bridge, formed by timbers which span a chasm of forty-five 
feet in width, and one hundred and thirty feet, at this point, in 
depth. Travellers who have descended to the base of this 
abyss, pronounce it one of the most extraordinary and impos. 
ing natural curiosities in America, not exceeded in the interest 
and solemnity with which it impresses the mind — although of 
a totally different character — by the cataract of Niagara. Yet 
these amazing scenes are rarely visited, and are scarcely 
known to exist.* 



* The county of Essex, in northern New-York, is pre-eminent for its rare com- 
bination of beautiful and imposing scenery. Its placid sylvan lakes and bound- 
ing rivulets are singularly blended with majestic and towering mountain groups, 
with lofty and appalling precipices — with dense and broad forests — and highly, 
cultivated fields. The whole physical arrangement of this territory seems to 
have been strangely upheaved and distorted by some vast convulsion of nature. 
The gorge mentioned by my father, and known as the " Walled banks of the Au 
Sable," is among the most striking and interesting of these phenomena. The 
river Au Sable has either forced a passage, by the gradual attrition of its current, 
(or it was created by the agency referred to,) through the sandstone formation from 
near the village of Keeseville. The walls of this gulf are at Keeseville about fifty 
feet in height on each side. Leaving this defile, the river ghdes quietly along a 
low valley for nearly a mile, where it suddenly leaps a vertical precipice, forming 
a cascade of exceeding beauty. From this point it dashes and surges along a 
rocky sluice, to Adgates' Falls, where it plunges into a dark abyss of sixty feet 
descent. Immediately above the cataract, a bridge (an arch of which rests upon 



357 



" The Au Sable river rises in the interior, amid an almost 
unknown and unexplored momitain tract, and pursues its 
course to Lake Champlain, a distance of about fifty miles, 
through a wild and broken country, forming a series of the most 
admirable ' water privileges,' which must prove of the highest 
importance in this region of illimitable pine forests."* 

The travellers crossed the Willsboro' Mountain by a road 
nearly impracticable to man or beast. On the 8d September 
they returned to Vermont across a ferry three miles wide, in 
an open boat, from Willsboro' to Charlotte. 

The country which they passed over, through the valley of 
Otter Creek, to Middlebury, was very interesting, and under 
fine cultivation. Middlebury was a large village, inhabited by 
an industrious and enterprizing population, who were prepar- 
ing to embark extensively in manufactures. '' In approach- 
ing Middlebury," Mr. Watson remarks, " we noticed an old 
man carrying a long staff, and driving a cow, whose erect 

a rock in the midst of the stream,) crosses the river. This bridge is perpetually 
enveloped in a cloud of mist and spray. During the winter season these exhala- 
tions congealing upon the rocks and trees, present a frost-work of the most gor- 
geous and fantastic exhibitions. Myriads of icy columns and arches — of diamonds 
and pendants — glitter in the sunbeams, with the most brilliant beauty and efful- 
gence. When the sun's rays rest upon the spray, a bright rainbow always spans 
the chasm. The whole combination exhibits a scene inexpressibly picturesque 
and magnificent. The river below^ the fall dashes for the distance of more than a 
mile, through the lofty embankments of this murky ravine, into the hidden 
recesses of which the eye can scarcely penetrate. The stream courses now along 
a natural canal, formed amid perfect layers of the sandstone, and now impetuously 
leaps down a sheer precipice — the walls of each side ascending in a perpendicular 
face, in some parts to the altitude of one hundred and fifty feet. The opposite 
banks, formed of exact and stupendous masonry, are rarely separated through the 
whole length of the ravine, more than thirty or forty feet, and often approach to 
within ten feet of each other. The dark foliage of the pines and cedars, which 
start from the crevices of the rocks and impending over, mantles the whole scene 
with an almost impervious canopy. The depths of the gorge may be reached by 
lateral fissures, which are rent in the formation. By what potent and terrific 
agency this wonderful work has been created, is a question which presents a 
wide field for interesting but doubtful speculation. — [Editor. 

• The vast deposits of iron which have enriched this region and have become 
of national consideration, were at this time scarcely suspected to exist. — [Ed. 



358 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION; 

attitude, firm step, and venerable appearance, attracted our 
observation, although so humbly employed. In the course of 
the evening, the same person came into a house, where I 
had called, and I was not a little surprised to learn that he 
was the gallant and distinguished Gen. Nixon of the Revolu- 
tion. He is eighty years old. He told me that he commenced 
his military career at the age of seventeen — that he com- 
manded at the battle of Bunker's Hill a regiment of his neigb- 
bors' boys, (as he called them,) and as be expressed it, lost 
two-thirds of his best blood in that conflict. He was a most 
efficient and intelligent General Officer during the Revolution? 
enjoyed largely the confidence of Washington, was conspicuous 
in many trying events, and especially in the various battles in 
the vicinity of Saratoga. 

" Middlebury lies on both sides of Otter Creek, and possesses 
admirable hydraulic power. A mill upon a novel plan is in 
operation, intended for sawing marble, which in large quanti- 
ties, both white and black, obtained from extensive quarries in 
the vicinity, is here manufactured. A college struggling in 
infancy, has just been established here. We travelled from 
Middlebury to Rutland, parallel to Otter Creek, upon a fine road, 
winding through an interesting valley, amid highly improved 
and excellent farms. The ensuing day we returned to Albany." 

Mr. Watson in this period was earnestly engaged in 
promoting the interest of Union College. He zealously 
co-operated with its friends in procuring endowments from 
the Legislature, and devoted much time, expense, and 
personal labor, in the improvement and embellishment of 
the grounds of the institution. The poplars which formed 
the Academic grove that surrounded the old college edifice, 
and many which formerly stood in the streets of Schenectady, 
were principally purchased and transported from Albany at 
his private expense, and part of them planted by his own hand. 
He was influenced in making these efforts not only by the 
ardent zeal he always felt for. the advancement of every educa- 
tional object, but by a personal sympathy with his intimate 
and cherished friend, the president of the college, Doct. Nott, 



359 



who was then laboring to sustain it, and by his energetic and 
zealous efforts was laying the broad foundations of its future 
prosperity and usefulness. 

Doct. Nott during his ministry in Albany was for a con- 
siderable time an inmate in the family of Mr. Watson, There 
was upon the house the latter occupied a platform or observa- 
tory, to which the Doctor often retired to write in seclusion 
and quiet. Among the discourses delivered by him in Albany 
was the great and celebrated sermon on the death of Hamil- 
ton, which at once placed its author in the highest position 
among the pulpit orators of the age, and after the lapse of half 
a century, remains unsurpassed in its deep pathos and splen- 
did eloquence. 

Both Hamilton and Burr were on terms of social intimacy 
with Mr. Watson, and frequently met together as guests at his 
table. This gave to the fatal meeting, which took place be- 
tween them, a deeper interest to him. 

An incident sprang out of this duel (which it is known 
proved fatal to Hamilton) that might, by a slight change in the 
circumstances, have proved fatal to his eulogist. 

On a particular occasion, when conversing upon the fall 
of Hamilton, Mr. Watson taking from his trunk an old trav- 
elling pistol, undertook to explain to Doctor Nott the manner 
in which these meetings of honor were conducted ; and hav- 
ing indicated the distance and the stations occupied by the 
parties, raised his pistol, and repeating the usual count, and 
giving the usual word — fire! He suited the action to the word^ 
and snapped the pistol. To his utter astonishment it went 
off*, indenting the opposite wall of the room, with its contained 
bullet, at the very place where Doctor Nott had been stand- 
ing, and from which he had just stepped aside. 

For the first and nearly the last time, Mr. Watson was 
warmly and prominently enlisted in a contest of mere party 
politics, in 1807, as an active leader (as I infer from the char- 
acter of the newspaper assaults upon him) of what was then 
known as the " Quid party." This fact will explain the allu-- 
sion in the following playful and familiar letter of Doctor 



360 MEN" AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

Nott, written by him to Mr. Watson the same year, soon after 
the removal of the latter to Pittsfield, Mass. : 

" And is it so ? — Is the ' Northern Sentinel,' who has remained 
faithful on his watch through many a stormy night, when the winds 
beat and the rain fell — who has scrutinized the insidious windings 
and resisted the open approaches of the enemy, at length to desert 
his post, and leave his old friend literally in the ditch ? — Who will 
order the secret movement and indite the public bulletins, prepara- 
tory to the next grand engagement after a three years armistice'? 
The Republic — the Republic !— this sudden advance into retirement 
I consider a kind of political treachery, a dereliction of the princi- 
ples of '76. 

"But politics aside, have you in good earnest, after spending twelve 
or fourteen years in paving, improving, ornamenting and refining, 
brought your mind to leave the most delectable, the most fascinat- 
ing, the most captivating of all terrestrial cities, and for what ? — a 
country-house and a fish-pond ! 

"Have you become so depraved, as to prefer the simple aromatic 
breeze that wafts nothing but odors of roses and wild flowers, to the 
life giving gases which are generated and combined in the sewers of 
a city ; — the carols of birds and the prattle of children, to the clatter 

of wagons and the dunder and blakesum of ; — the cool breezes 

and the shady grove, to the narrow lanes, the suflibcating air, and 
burning sun and muddy streets of a quondam duck pond ; — the ease 
and leisure of the country, to the buckram, the prim formality and 
unmeaning courtesy of a city life 1 Oh, Elkanah, Elkanah ! thou art 
beside thyself! I shall tell thy wife to put on thee a straight jacket, 
confine thee to a dark chamber, and feed thee on depletion. And 
about the time when thou art recovered to thy sober senses I shall 
come to see thee, and then, if thou wilt give me thy country-seat 
and fish-pond, I, a philosopher, a hermit, will stay and live there, 
and permit thee again to return to thy former habitation, to pump 
water out of thy celler in the spring, — to sufl*ocate in the streets in 
the summer, and make dinners for the Legislature in the winter, 
together with all the joys of bickering, wrangling, defaming, sneering, 
lying, and even fighting with clubs and pistols — Yes to enjoy all 
these pleasures and many thereunto belonging. 

"As to the $10,000 more or less, J am already depleted. 

I will give thee the amount in advice. So then, I advise thee to 
give up the thought of leaving thy new plantation and remain where 
thou art ; or if thou wilt quit the field to do so, determining as the 
Republic has abandoned thee that thou wilt abandon it. Leave Mr. 
J. and Mr. C. to manage their affairs in their own way, and do noth- 
ing more than sing in thy retirement, Vive la Republique. Let thy 
life be devoted to literature, to agriculture and religion — revise thy 
old journals and publish them or make new ones — but avoid politics. 



OB, MEMOIRS OF ELK AN AH WATSON. 361 

"My best respects to madam ; tell her I hope she will make a good 
country wife and lay aside the city airs. And as to Miss Emilie, 
let her sing in response to the robins, before sun rise, and ramble 
and grow ruddy. George must feed the ducks, and Mary weed the 
flowers, and — and what is his name 1 — Charles catch the butterflies. 



"Yours as ever, 



E. NOTT.* 



Elkanah Watson." 



The following extracts of letters, from conspicuous actors 
in the political conflict of 1807, reveal a vehemence of per- 
sonal feeling and bitterness seldom excited by mere party col- 
lisions. They are selected from the correspondence of the 
friends and antagonists of Mr. Watson, in that contest. 

Extract from a Letter of Col. Elisha Jenkins, /orwer Comptroller of 
the State, dated 

"Albany, Aug. I2ih, 1807. 
^' Your letter of the 6th was this moment opened, and it gave me 
pleasure on inspecting the inscription, to feel that you had not en- 
tirely forgotten me. I have too many pleasant retrospects connected 
with our acquaintance, which commenced at a very early period of 
my life, to be willing to sacrifice them all on account of a mere dif- 
ference in politics. I will, however, in reply to your apostrophe to 
the folly of mankind, make only one remark. There is a principle 
in human nature which binds us closely to those whose views, inter- 

* In introducing the above letter from Doctor Nott, which is selected from a 
voluminous correspondence that is well worth preserving as beautiful models 
of epistolary style, I feel that I have scarcely violated the rule I have prescribed 
to myself, not to publish the correspondence of living persons, for his venerable 
age, his high position, and eminent talents, have already placed his name in the 
"Pantheon of history." I have been deeply gratified by the follovi^ing valued 
tribute to my father's memory and benediction upon my own labors, embraced 
in the closing paragraph of a note dated September 8th, 1854. 

"Hoping you may succeed in placing the character of your honored father in 
its true Ught before the public, 

" I am very truly yours, 

" E. Nott. 
" W. C. Watson." 



362 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION ; 

ests and pursuits, are congenial to our own — when the tie is broken 
by the secession of either party, it produces, by force of the same 
principle, a correspondent change of our attachments, so long as the 
new state of things lasts, and in proportion as we personally feel its 
effects. But do not conclude from hence, that my composition is of 
that vindictive cast, that renders it impossible for me to think well 
of a man who differs from me in opinion. I will candidly own to 
you, that I feel no resentment against you for the part you have act- 
ed in the late political struggle in this State, and if I have betrayed 
any coolness in my intercourse with you, during or since the contro- 
versy, remember, my friend, that I have smarted under an accumu- 
lation of wrongs, which 1 shall always think had their origin in 
the vindictive rancor of a man who felt disposed to persecute, be- 
cause he had, without adequate cause, misrepresented and traduced 
me. Under this conviction do you think it compatible with the feel- 
ings of our nature, that I could have retained the usual complacency 
towards my old acquaintances and friends, who were parties to this 
system of persecution and abuse *? Your own good sense and know- 
ledge of the human heart will readily furnish an answer. However, 
the conflict is over, and with the occasion I am disposed to bury ray 
resentments, for I am well-assured that even among Quids, I can find 
some who still feel a spark of friendship for me, and towards whom 
I reciprocate the same sentiment; among these it will always give 
me pleasure to include yourself." 



Extract of a Letter from Thou as Tillotson, former Secretary of State, 

"Rhinebeck, Ma7/ 2Sth, 1807. 
" Dear Sir, 

" 1 set off to meet you at Chancellor Livingston's, according to 
your appointment ; but alas ! what are verbal engagements in these 
degenerate times, when revolution follows revolution, in morals and 
politics, as the wave follows the one that precedes it. The issue of 
the late elections has terminated in favor of the Cheethamites, the 
Gibbetsites, Hittites, (cudgellers,) and Parasites. Now, if you can 
find among the nations of the earth so many tribes, factions, and 
banditti, of an equal standing in morals, and who wield the sceptre 
of an independent State, I will admit you to be Dr. Mitchell's equal 
in knowledge of antiquity. In making this broad declaration, recol- 
lect that I do not mean to extend the right of selection to the Jewish 
tribes terminating in ites, for I admit that they, in som.e instances, 
might have outstripped in profligacy even Cheatham and his follow- 
ers. So much for politics, such as they are." 

The succeeding letter was written to Mr. Watson by Ed- 



363 



mund C. Genet, the former French Minister, but at the period 
of its date a citizen of the United States : 

" Prospect Hill, May \st^ 1807. 

" Dear Sir — The constant firing which has been kept up on me 
during the election, has obliged me to be at all times at the battery, 
on the defensive, and that circumstance, in combination with other 
business, has not allowed me to answer sooner your very friendly 
letter. Be well assured, sir, that I have not considered you the au- 
thor of the miserable libels published against me in the " Crisis," and 
particularly the letters of the Quaker or Shaker, which have been at- 
tributed to you. My long acquaintance with you, which dates from 
the year 1793, in New- York, has convinced me that you were a well- 
informed and sociable gentleman, and accordingly 1 could not take 
you for the scribbler of productions which denote so much perversity 
and ignorance. 

" I regret exceedingly that the contagious air of your neighbor- 
hood* has made you lose, in the opinion of many, the belief which 
I myself entertained, in your firm attachment to the cause of liberty 
and republicanism ; but as your apparent change must be attributed 
entirely to that local circumstance, I have done my best to remove 
the furor of that epidemic, and being confident of success, I hope 
that in future nothing will obliterate our former intimacy. Mrs. 
Genet joins in respects to her amiable friend, your worthy lady, and 
in compliments to yourself. 1 am, with those sentiments, 

*' Dear sir, your ob't serv't, 

"E. C. Genet." 

♦ Mr, Watson was the near neighbor of Gov. Lewis. — [Editor. 



364 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION 



CHAPTEE XXVIII. 

Removal to Pittsfield — Berkshire County — State of Manufactures and 
Agriculture — Introduction of Improved Stock — First Exhibition — Ef- 
forts to Promote Improvements — Letter from Elbridge Gerry — Organ- 
ization of Berkshire Agricultural Society — Plan, Operations, and His- 
tory of it — Its Influences and Effects — Description of a Fair by a Vir- 
-ginian — The War of 1812 — Letters from Chancellor Livingston and 
Col, Humphreys — Letters froni John Adams on that subject and Agri- 
culture. 

In June, 1807, in accordance with a long cherished desire, 
which had grown and strengthened by the observation and ex- 
perience of twenty years, Mr. Watson retired from the city 
in pursuit of rural occupations and felitjity. He purchased an 
elegant mansion, connected with an extensive farm, near the 
beautiful village of Pittsfield, in Massachusetts. Here, at the 
age of fifty, he commenced his agricultural career. His only 
error, in the adoption of this pursuit, he remarks, was, that he 
embraced it at too late a period of life — after his habits and 
feelings had been moulded by a long residence in cities. 

The county of Berkshire, pre-eminent in New-England for 
the rich beauty and attraction of its scenery, — was his resi- 
dence for a period of nine years, and the theatre of his most 
effective and valuable labors in the promotion of agriculture 
and manufactures. 

The system of husbandry which prevailed in that district 
was antiquated and defective, — with little guidance of science, 
or the influence of modern progress. The sheep of the coun- 
try were uniformly of the coarse, loose-wooled, native varie- 
ties. The swine were of breeds equally defective and unpro- 
fitable. The dairies were formed of animals of inferior quali- 
ties. These characteristics of the agricultural aspect of Berk- 
shire were not peculiar or confined to that county ; but at 
that period distinguished the husbandry of New-England. The 
exuberant soil of the interior of New- York, and the still more 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 365 

opulent West, then first opened to emigration — yielded an 
abundant and spontaneous harvest, without the application of 
science and improved tillage. The sterile earth of Massachu- 
setts was abandoned and neglected by much of its most vigor- 
ous population, for the fascinating allurements of these more 
favored regions. 

At that period manufacturing industry and skill were re- 
stricted almost exclusively to the domestic circle. That vast 
fountain of wealth and prosperity to New-England had not 
yet been revealed. The rock was still to be stricken. In the 
autumn of 1807 Mr. Watson procured the first pair of Merino 
sheep which had been introduced into the county of Berk- 
shire, if not in the State of Massachusetts. "I was induced," 
he says, in the History of the Berkshire Agricultural Society, 
published in 1820, " to notify an exhibition, under the lofty 
Elm Tree, on the public square, in Pittsfield, of these two 
sheep. Many farmers, and even females, were attracted to 
this first novel and humble exhibition. From this lucky inci- 
dent I reasoned thus : if two animals are capable of exciting 
so much attention, what would be the effect of a display on a 
larger scale of different animals ? The farmers present re- 
sponded to my remarks with approbation. We thus became 
acquainted, and from that moment to the present hour, Agri- 
cultural Fairs and Cattle Shows, with all their connections, 
have predominated in my mind, greatly to the prejudice of my 
private affairs. 

'' The winter foUovving I addressed, through the press, the 
farmers of Berkshire, with a view to the spread of Merino 
sheep, — which I considered invaluable, especially in the hilly 
districts of New-England. The wool, which came from the 
two sheep referred to, was, with, infinite pains, manufactured 
by the best artists then in the county into a piece of blue 
cloth. It far excelled any fabric which had yet appeared. A 
detail of its manufacture and expense per yard, was published 
extensively in the papers ; and samples of the article were ex- 
hibited in the principal cities. This may be regarded as the 



366 MEN AND TIMES OF THE KEVOLUTION ; 

origin of the woollen factories of Berkshire ; which will now 
vie with the best European fabrics. 

"In 1808,1 obtained from Duchess county, New- York, a 
pair of small-boned, short-legged pigs, known as the grass-fed 
breed. The old stock gradually disappeared, and the commu- 
nity largely gained by the exchange. The same year I pur- 
chased, and introduced, a young bull of a celebrated English 
stock, with a view of ameliorating the breed of cattle." 

Although the public mind was slowly, but decisively, matur- 
ing to the apprehension of the valut; and importance of these 
objects, Mr. Watson seems to have stood almost alone in ad- 
vocating them, and exposed to the shafts of ridicule and satire. 

On the 1st of August, 1810, an Appeal, on the subject of a 
" Cattle Show," was written by Mr. Watson, and addressed to 
the farmers of the county. This Appeal was signed by twenty- 
six persons, and appointed an exhibition of stock on the ensu- 
ing 1st of October. It closed in the following language : — " It 
is hoped this essay will not be confined to the present year, 
but will lead to permanent cattle shows ; and that an incor- 
porated Agricultural Society will emanate from these meet- 
ings, which will be hereafter possessed of funds sufficient to 
award premiums." This effort was eminently successful. 

The following note, from Elbridge Gerry, at that time Gov- 
ernor of Massachusetts, was in reply to a communication of 
Mr. Watson, previous to the organization of the Berkshire 
Society, invoking the aid of the Executive and Legislature of 
that State, for the promotion of its agriculture and manufac- 
tures : — 

" Cambridge, 4:th Feb,, 1811. 
" Dear Sir, 

" I have perused with great pleasure your letters of the 13th and 
17th of January. I shall promote, in every possible v^ay, the pre- 
servation and increase of Merino sheep, and the manufacture of 
woollen cloths. 

"The New-York laws are enclosed to the Hon. Mr. Childs, who 
also appears zealous in promoting these important objects. 

" I thank you for your offer to supply me with some of your ex- 
cellent manufactures. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 367 

" Your observations in regard to emigration from this State, and 
to the best mode to prevent it, and to profit by our prolific hive, ap- 
pear to me very correct, and they do not escape the attention of the 
legislature.* 

" Being in great haste, I have only time to add my assurances of 
esteem and regard, and that I am, dear sir, yours sincerely, 

'• E. Gerry. 

"Mr. Watson." 

In the ensuing winter the Society received ^ charter from 
the Legislature of Massachusetts, and the preliminaries were 
perfected for a formal and extended festival, in the succeeding 
September. The event was highly auspicious. The day was 
beautiful, and at an early hour the village was thronged by 
thousands of excited and interested spectators. 

Fine domestic animals were seen approaching the place of 
exhibition from every direction. The procession Mr. Watson 
commemorates, " as splendid, novel, and imposing, beyond any- 
thing of the kind ever exhibited in America. It cost me (he 
says) an infinity of trouble, and some cash ; but it resulted in 
exciting a general attention in the Northern States, and placing 
our Society on elevated ground. In this procession were 
sixty-nine oxen, connected by chains, drawing a plough held 
by the oldest man in the county ; — a band of music ; — the So- 
ciety, bearing appropriate ensigns, and each member decorated 
with a badge of wheat in his hat.f A platform, upon wheels, 
followed, drawn by oxen, bearing a broadcloth loom and spin- 
ning jenny, both in operation, by English artists, as the stage 
moved along. Mechanics with flags — and another platform 
filled with American manufactures. The pens were hand- 
somely occupied by some excellent animals." 

* Note. — This was developed in my first Address, Sept. following, viz., the 
renovation of worn out farms, and the introduction of an improved system of 
agriculture. — Mem. on Letter. 

t " Considering wheat as a peculiar e-mblem of Agriculture, I conceived the idea 
on this occasion of drawing a line, not only between members and spectators, 
but also between the farmer and officers of the Society. The members bore two 
heads of wheat, tied with a pack thread, and the officers three heads, secured by 
a green ribbon." 



368 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

Mr. Watson, as President of the Society, delivered the Ad- 
dress to an audience that filled the spacious church ; and an- 
nounced the premiums, (which only amounted to seventy dol- 
lars,) for the most meritorious animals. The Society had no 
means of extending the premium list to agriculture, farms, or 
domestic manufactures. 

From this period the great obstacle to the successful pro- 
gress of the Society was created by the difficulty of obtaining 
funds. The adverse public sentiment had been subdued. .En- 
couraged by gentlemen from Boston, who had been present at 
the late exhibition of the Society, Mr. Watson proceeded to 
that place at his own expense, and spent a month in soliciting 
aid. " Although our efforts were highly applauded, and I was 
greatly distinguished in the legislature by personal attention, 
all my exertions were unavailing. I found myself pursuing 
an ignis Jatuus. Much humbled and mortified with this abor- 
tive begging expedition, 1 returned to Pittsfield, after expend- 
ing about one hundred and fifty dollars." 

The exhibition of 1812 was distinguished by a great increase 
of premiums, amounting in the aggregate to $208. Mr. Wat- 
son exhibited on this occasion a piece of superfine broadcloth, 
made from the down of his wool. This cloth formed an era 
in the progress of American manufactures, and excited a 
strong interest throughout the country. The President of the 
United States, and several other eminent public men, were 
clothed in it. 

" Satisfied," Mr. Watson observes in his History, " of the 
propriety of solemnizing these occasions, by mingling religious 
exercises with appropriate addresses, and the delivery of pre- 
miums, and as peculiarly proper, in devout acknowledgment 
for the blessings of the year, and being also impressed with 
the belief that the measure would tend to give popularity to 
the Society among the graver classes of the community, we 
suggested our wishes to several of the clergy who were pres- 
ent, soliciting their co-operation in our views. They hesitated, 
probably regarding our measures the bubble of the moment, 
and that by participating in it they would make themselves 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 869 

ridiculous. One, however, at length assented, and ascending 
the pulpit, offered an animated pastoral prayer. Odes, adapted 
to the occasion, were sung by a full choir. 

'' It was considered of the first importance to the success of 
the Society, to enlist the sympathies and to arouse the interest 
of the females of the country in its operations. To etfect this 
object a separate day was appointed, and several valuable pre- 
miums of silver plate wyere exclusively devoted to them, to be 
awarded on domestic industry. The day arrived, a large room 
was prepared, many superior articles o/" domestic manufactures, 
especially woollens and linens, were exhibited ; but no female 
appeared to claim the premiums. This was the crisis, and I 
was extremely agitated lest che experiment should fail. Native 
timidity, and the fear of ridicule, restrained them. No one 
dared be the first to support a new project. To break down 
this feeling we resorted to a manoeuvre, which in an hour 
accomplished our wishes. I left the Hall, and with no small 
difficulty prevailed on my good wife to accompany me to the 
house of exhibition. I then dispatched messengers to the 
ladies of che village, announcing that she waited for them at 
the Cloth Show. They poured out : — the farmers' wives and 
daughters, who were secretly watching the movements of the 
waters, also issued forth, — and the Hall was speedily filled with 
female spectators and candidates for premiums. This was one 
of the most grateful moments of my life. I immediately arose 
in the rear of the table, on which the glittering premiums were 
displayed, and delivered a formal address." 

In reference to this effort at promoting domestic manufac- 
tures, Mr. Watson remarks : " The vast effects which will 
grow out of this system, when these societies shall become 
general, are beyond the reach of figures, by arresting our Colo- 
nial degradation and dependence on foreign countries, especi- 
ally for articles of clothing. Perhaps the nett gain to the 
nation may equal the benefit which agriculture will derive 
from these institutions. 

" Although the Legislature was deaf to our earnest and re- 
peated applications for aid, and insensible to the progress the 

24 



370 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEYOLUTION ; 

Society was making, in overcoming the wretched system of 
husbandry which had pervaded the whole of New-England, 
and in the improvement of stock ; yet, by individual efforts, 
the funds of the Society was so augmented, that it was enabled 
to offer the various departments an aggregate of premiums, 
amounting to four hundred dollars. An interesting and novel 
feature in the practical operation of the Society, was adopted 
on the suggestion of a very intelligent member of the Executive 
Committee, which is worthy of notice and imitation. A com- 
mittee of prominent farmers was selected ; and the duty de- 
volved upon them of traversing the county, in the month of 
July, when the fields were in full luxuriance, and to examine 
and award premiums on the standing crops which had been 
entered for competition." 

In an address before the Otsego Society, in 1817, he thus 
notices this striking inquisition : " To see a group of the most 
respectable farmers (as if under the solemnity of an oath,) per- 
sonally inspecting in their midst, fields of grain, grass, vegeta- 
bles, &c., and also the state of the orchards, buildings, fences 
and farming utensils ; and to witness the anxious candidate 
for premiums, attentively hearing every lisp favorable to his 
husbandry or probable success, is more exhilarating to the pride 
of patriotism, than to view the gorgeous pageantry of palaces, 
and their pampered tenants decorated in gold." Efforts were 
made to derive aid from the ample funds of the Massachusetts 
Agricultural Society. These applications were not successful, 
but led to an interesting correspondence between Mr. Adams 
and Mr. Watson, which will be inserted in succeeding pages. 

In 1814, the operations of the Society had become widely 
diffused, and its prosperity warmly cherished in the interests, 
and deeply implanted in the affections of the community. 
Having digested and matured a system of by-laws for the gov- 
ernment of the Society, Mr. Watson, at the annual festival, 
withdrew from its Presidency. 

More than forty years have elapsed since the organization 
of this Society ; it still exists the institution of the county, ex- 
erting a powerful and benignant influence upon its agricultural 



OK, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSOI^. 371 

progress and improvement ; the pattern and examplar upon 
which others have been formed, noit only in New-England and 
New- York, but in the remote southern and western States. 
Other nominal agricultural associations had preceded it, but 
the plan of the Society of Berkshire was original and peculiar. 
In the language of Mr. Watson, " others had too much de- 
pended on types." The principle of the modern plan, was to 
address the interests and the sentiments of the people. The 
public exhibition of choice animals, while it made them famil- 
iar to the farming community, attracted its attention to their 
beauty and value, and to the importance of their introduction. 
It aroused the emulation of the farmers, and by the brilliant dis- 
play of premiums excited their self-interest. Competition in 
crops awakened scientific investigations, and their practicable 
application. The management and the appliances, by which the 
fortunate competition had secured success, were described and 
widely adopted. Domestic industry was fostered, and its labors 
accelerated. Farmers, at the fairs and business meetings of the 
Society, were brought into intercourse, and were led to act in 
concert, and to appreciate the dignity and importance of their 
vocation. The experience and observation of nearly half a 
century have unquestionably suggested many essential modifi- 
cations and improvements ; but the Agricultural Societies of 
the present day continue to be modelled upon the plan and 
the system which was originated in Berkshire. 

Two years after the resignation of Mr. Watson, the Presi- 
dent of the Society, in his annual address, uttered an emphatic 
comment upon its measures and influence. He says, " Only 
six years ago, the agricultural concerns of the county were sta- 
tionary. Few, if any, valuable improvements were attempted. 
Ind fference and unconcern seemed to have pervaded society. 
In 1810, the genius of the county shook off the slumbers of its 
husbandmen, and the spirit of improvement commenced 
Under the auspices of your Association, a career of usefulness 
was resumed and diligently promoted. The former state of 
things has given way to a new condition ; unfolding to us im- 
provements, in variety and usefulness, surpassing the most 



372 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

s-anguine expectations. Every department of rural employment 
demonstrates an intelligent cultivation and effectual good man- 
agement. In the selection and rearing of domestic animals, 
more correct information prevails, and greater emulation is 
awakened. The vast increase, variety and excellence in our 
crops, satisfy our warmest desires, and leave us nothing to 
envy in the most favored regions of the west." 

At a later period, when the Society had exerted six years 
more of effort and influence, Thomas Gold, Esq., its third Pres- 
ident, and a conspicuous citizen of Berkshire, thus adverts 
to the origin and operations of the Society, and its elevated 
position : " We all rejoice to find that you still take a deep in- 
terest in all that relates to the fame and prosperity of this 
highly useful institution. It was formed under your auspices, 
and was reared to its present enviable condition, by unusua] 
efforts and great expenditure. Its fame and influence have 
extended over the entire surface of the United States ; its ex- 
ample followed ; its approbation courted by its extended off- 
spring. It has been recognized, as well in Europe as America, 
as an original, novel plan, and the most excellent organization 
ever conceived to promote the great interests under its 
patronage." 

The vivid description of one of the early festivals of this 
Society, contained in a letter of a highly respectable southern 
gentleman, to a friend in Virginia, possessed peculiar interest, 
as reflecting the views and feelings of an intelligent and dispas- 
sionate spectator, as they were formed at the moment. The 
letter was extensively published in the newspapers of that pe- 
riod. *' I have been delighted with the whole proceedings 
through two successive days. Every thing was conducted 
with perfect decorum and system. The exhibition of agricul- 
tural products, of prime animals and household manufactures, 
were extremely interesting the first day ; and from the spirit 
which seemed to be infused into every individual, male and 
female, much good doubtless has resulted from this noble insti- 
tution ; and I trust much remains yet in store." 

" It is impossible to express to you the impressive scene at 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 378 

the church. A procession of respectable farmers formed the 
second day, each with a wheat cockade in his hat ; the clergy 
and honorary members also mounted this appropriate badge of 
the Society. In the procession were flags, having emblems of 
agriculture and manufactures ; also music and a plough. On 
entering a spacious church, well filled, the first object that at- 
tracted my attention was a handsome display of highly pol- 
ished silver plate, consisting of spoons, bowls, tumblers, tea 
apparatus, &c., placed to great advantage on a table, in front 
of the pulpit. The ceremon)^ commenced with an animated 
pastoral prayer. At its close, my heart thrilled with emotions 
difficult to express, to see a long line of beautiful females, and 
as many men, in the opposite gallery, rise at the same moment. 
My first impressions were much increased by the elegant and 
dignified manner in which they sang an appropriate ode, com- 
posed for the occasion, exceeding any thing of the kind I had 
ever heard. In the rear of the leader were an organ and a 
band of music. 

*' The most interesting of all the proceedings, was the Re- 
ports of the Committees, especially the detailed Report of the 
Visiting Committee of Agriculture. The President announced 
from the pulpit, immediately after his address : " As premiums 
are proclaimed for females, they will please arise in their places, 
and the head Marshal will deliver to each her premium and 
certificate of honorable testimony. The instant the name of 
the successful candidate was announced, the eyes of an exhil- 
arated audience were flying in every direction, impelled by the 
strongest curiosity, to see the fortunate blushing female, with 
downcast eye, raising both her hands, as the Marshal ap- 
proached with one to receive her premium, and the other her 
certificate. The effect cannot be described ; it must be seen to 
be realized. I sincerely hope that the time is not remote, when 
these patriotic and laudable exhibitions, so well calculated to 
promote improvement in agriculture and domestic manufac- 
tures, will be familiar to every part of the Union. They must 
not be confined to Berkshire, as their extension cannot fail to 
prove of immense national utility." 



374 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

The extracts which follow from a letter of Chanceller Liv- 
ingston, dated 29th June, 1810, and another of Gen. Humph- 
reys, October 6, 1812, exhibit some intresting facts relative to 
the introduction of the Merino sheep, and on the general sub- 
ject of wool growing. 

"I think with you, that the high price will introduce Merinos as 
long as the port of Lisbon remains open and the British arniies are 
on the frimtier of Spain. It is probable too, that numbers will be 
inferior sheep, that may rather tend to discredit than improve our 
stock. Some good ones, however, will be introduced, and so far 
the country will be benefited. I believe also, that sheep will now be 
brought fr'orn all parts of the world, and perhaps useful races be ob- 
tained. The papers mention the arrival of a Cashmerean at Boston. 
The Cashmerean wool is reported to be very fine, and it may pos- 
sibly make a valuable cross with the Merino. 

" I am with much esteem, dear Sir, yours, 

" Robert R. Livingston. 
" Elkanah Watson, Esq." 



" It affords me vast pleasure to learn that you are to have so 
elegant a display of fine animals and superfine cloths, and ray regret 
in not having the opportunity of witnessing and appreciating them 
is the more sensible, from the sudden and flattering manner in which 
these objects have been improved and augmented in your county, 
and the contiguous parts of the State. The pleasure and admiration 
are the further increased in contemplating and reperusing the corres- 
pondence with yourself and a Mr. Danforth, with which 1 was honored 
some years ago. I judge it will not be unamusing or unprofitable 
to publish some parts of them with my answers, when I shall bring 
together, and submit to the public eye, some views of the introduc- 
tion of the fine wooled breed of sheep into this country, and the 
subsequent influence of this measure on the agriculture and manu- 
factures of the country. I have within a few days past received 
some very interesting communications from Europe, on subjects 
connected with that of this letter. The greatest exertions are now 
making in the United Kingdom of Great Britain to improve and 
extend the Merino breed of sheep, from a full conviction that every 
country must hereafter look to its own resources for a supply of fine wool. 
This and many other important facts are demonstrated, by the second 
report of the Merino Society of Great Britain, as well as in a 
private letter from its President, Sir Joseph Banks, who in his char- 
acter of President of the Royal Society has given me much instruc- 
tion and valuable information. His letter was dated a few day» 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 375 



before it was known in England that war had been declared by this 
country 

" I am very respectfully, your obd't serv't, 

" D. Humphreys. 

"E. WatsoxV, Esq." 

The correspondence of Mr. Watson at this period with 
Chancellor Livingston" and Col, Humphreys, was very volu- 
minous, and related chiefly to the introduction of Merino sheep 
their treatment and advantages, and the probable national 
results of the measure. These letters are in my possession. 
The bundle which contains them has this endorsement in my 
father's writing: "From Chancellor Livingston and Col. 
Humphreys— an interesting correspondence on the subject of 
Merino sheep, is worthy the attentive examination of the 
curious in future times." I will only here extract one passage, 
as illustrative of the character of this correspondence, from a 
letter of Chancellor Livingston, dated 13th November, 1808: 

'• The samples you have sent me of your cloth, are full and satis- 
factory proofs of^our ability to manufacture as good cloth as we 
shall wish to wear; as. well as the great importance of cultivating 
the Merino breed, in preference to any other. With a few more 
disciples as zealous as you, I doubt not that my object will be ac- 
complished, and I shall have the satisfaction of thinking that my old 
age and retirement are not wholly useless to the comnriunity. My 
irTtroduction of this breed of sheep under a shape and size that does 
not present them disagreeably at first sight— and my illustration of 
their advantages by plain and undeniable facts and calculations, have 
had a wonderful effect, and I find have spread further than I expected, 
among the intelligent farmers of the neighboring States. 1 am 
glad to find you are pursuing the same course; your statement is 
clear and convincing. I have now made up the account of profit and 
loss of this year of my flock, consisting of one hundred and forty- 
five Merinos of different grades, together with forty two common 
ones, making the whole flock one hundred and eighty seven. And the 
result, after the payment of all expenses, including four hundred 
and nine dollars on three rams hired out, one of them only three quar- 
ter blood, is a clear profit on rams, lambs, and wool, of $2;696,being 
S14^ per head. I doubt not' from the improved blood of my pre- 
sent flock, and ray having a greater number of Merino rams 



376 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REYOLUTION ; 

and but twenty-nine picked common sheep, that they will next year, 
if I am fortunate in the lambs, bring me $4,000." 

Although Mr. Watson was a Republican in the highest and 
most emphatic acceptation of the term, he had rarely min- 
gled in the strife of mere party conflicts — he was never shack- 
led to the car of any political sect. Regarding, however, the 
policy of England as an aggression and outrage upon the 
rights and character of the Republic, he earnestly sustained 
the measures which resulted in the war of 1812, and yielded 
to the support of that issue all the patriotic ardor and en- 
ergy of his character. The following letters of Mr. Adams, 
to which I have already adverted, exhibit, in an interesting and 
elevated aspect, the views and sentiments of that single-minded 
and ardent patriot on this momentous subject, at the period 
of its imminent crisis : 

"QuiNCY, Q,th July,\^\% 

" Dear Sir : — I am favored with your letter of the 28th ult. It 
has revived the recollections of our former acquaintance in France, 
England, and Holland, as well as in several parts of our coun- 
try. I think, with you, that it is the duty of every considerate man 
to support the national authorities in whoseever hands they may be. 
To your allusion to the war, I have nothing to say. But it is with 
surprise I hear it pronounced, not onjy by newspapers, but by per- 
sons in authority, ecclesiastical and civil, political and military, 
that it is an unjust and an unnecessary war, and that the declara- 
tion of it was altogether unexpected, &c. How is it possible 
that a rational, a social, or a moral creature can say that the 
war is unjust^ is to me utterly incomprehensible. How it can 
be said to be unnecessary is very mysterious. I have thought it both 
just and necessary for five or six years. How it can be said to be 
unexpected is another wonder. I have expected it more than five 
and twenty years, and have had great reason to be thankful that it 
has been postponed so long. I saw such a spirit in the British 
Islands, when I resided in France, in Holland, and in England itself, 
that I expected another war much sooner than it has happened. I 
was so impressed with the idea, that I expressed to Lord Landsdowne 
(formerly Lord Shelburne,) an apprehension that his lordship would 
live long enough to be obliged to make, and that I should live long 
enough to see another peace made between Great Britain and Amer- 
ica. His lordship did not live long enough to make the peace, and 
I shall not probably live long enough to see it ; but I have lived to 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 377 

see the war that must be followed by a peace, if the war is not 
eternal. 

"Our Agricultural Societies may not be so much regarded, but 
the great interests of agriculture will not be diminished by the war. 
Manufactures also will be promoted. 

" Your sincere friend, 

"John Adams. 
" Elkanah Watson, Esq., 

*"* President Berkshire Agricul. Society ^ 

The ensuing extract is selected from a long letter, a part of 
which has been inserted in preceding pages, and another por- 
tion I do not feel at liberty to publish. 

"QuiNCY, July I5th, 1812. 

"Dear Sir: — In answer to your letter of the 9th, I have only to 
say, you may do as you please with my letter of the 6th. But if 
you expect that any opinion of mine will have any influence, you will 
find yourself mistaken." ****** 

I regret not to find copies of the letters of Mr. Watson in 
connection with the correspondence of Mr. Adams, which fol- 
lows, as they doubtless would elucidate many of the allusions 
and positions of the latter. 

"QuiNCY, ylw^. 10, 1812. 

" Dear Sir : — Your favor of the 19th July is yet unacknowledged. 
The first page compels me to say that the real cause of the rancor- 
ous virulence with which I have been treated by all parties — French 
and English — democratical and aristocratical — and 1 might add Pres- 
byterian and anti-Presbyterian — has been that 1 never was, and 
never could be, a passive tool of any party — demagogue or peda- 
gogue. While I was swimming in the full tide of popularity, and 
had more business at the bar in Boston than any lawyer there, whig 
or tory, I engaged in favor of Capt. Preston and his soldiers, in 
March, 1770. The whigs were shocked and enraged, yet they could 
not give me up. 

"They conquered their disgust and resentment so far as to choose 
me representative of Boston, in May. I got the trial postponed to 
the next fall, that the raging flames might not consume all truth, 
honor, law, equity, and humanity. At the trial in the fall, I labored 
like what? — like what? Shall I say like a dray-horse — like a plan- 
tation slave — or a coal-heaver, for fourteen days, and obtained ver- 
dicts that God and man will approve. What was the consequence? 



378 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

Curses and denunciations in every street in Boston, with the loss of 
more than half my business at the bar! From that time to this 
I have been the butt, the target for wanton libellers. All parties 
have thouiht themselves safe in belching out any nauseous billings- 
gate against me. 

"My motive for inquiring into your conversation at Birmingham 
is this. I have reason to believe that Governor Hutchinson, Chief 
Justice Oliver, all the judges and ministerial people who were in 
the secret, imputed to me the impeachment of the judges. They 
thought me the original suggester, the principal supporter, and the 
most efficient conductor of that process. When you told me that 
"they feared me more than any or all other men as the author of the 
Revolution," I suspect that they meant and considered me as the 
author of that impeachment, and that impeachment as the pivot on 
which the Revolution turned. I wished to know whether that 
impeachment was mentioned or recollected in any of your conversa- 
tion at Birmingham. 

" It has pleased God to prolong my life to such an age, that I can 
review all parties and recollect all distinguished characters, from 
17r)5 to 1812. T can compare Hutchinson with Washington, Sewall 
and Oliver with Marshall and Parsons, Hancock with nobody--he 
never had his equal in generosity — but in political stability with 
Dickinson, James Otis and Sam. Adams, with Patrick Henry and 
Richard Henry Lee, &c., &;c., &c. 

" As nothing promotes party politics, spiritual and temporal, so 
much as pilgrimages, it would not be very astonishing if pilgrimages 
to Mount Vernon should become as fashionable and as necessary to 
worldly promotion, if not to eternal salvation, as those to Mecca, 
Loretto, or Saint Jago of Compostella — I scarcely dare hint at the 
Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem and the Crusades. The sordid pane- 
gyrics increase almost as fast as the sordid philippics. Adulation is 
as base and as ill applied as vilification and reproach, thus confound- 
ing all degrees and distinctions of virtue and vice, and opening the 
gates to corruption of the deepest and darkest dye. 

" As President of the old Massachusetts Agricultural Society, I 
have laid before our trustees your representations to me in quality of 
President of the Berkshire Agricultural Society. I am sorry to be 
obliged to say that those gentlemen are clearly of opinion they could 
not comply with your request consistently with the design of the 
institution, or the letter and spirit of our charter. 

*' I am respectfully and affectionately your friend. 

"John Adams. 

" Elkanah Watson, PittsfieW 



" QuiNCY, Aug. Wth, 1812. 
"Respected Sir: — Our country is in a hiiih fever — so is all 
Europe — so are the four quarters of the globe. Who first contracted 



379 



or generated the disease? Montreal was no sooner surrendered in 
1759, than the conqueror of Canada was discarded from the English 
Cabinet, a simple maniac ascended the throne, and a Machiavelian 
maniac who had been his preceptor, became his prime minister. The 
design was conceived of enslaving these Colonies they pretended to 
favor. The Colonies resisted and France assisted, as the vain, pedan- 
tic, delirious Scot might have foreseen, if he had possessed common 
sense. 

" France, by assisting America, was taught some confused notions 
of liberty, and became delirious in her turn, and her delirium deranged 
all Europe and all the globe. What can cure this epidemic'? Dr, 
Rush says nothing but copious phlebotomy can cure the yelU^w fever, 
and almost all the physicians are now converts to his opinion. Who 
is to blame? Is not Britain the great disturber"? and has not France 
acted on the defensive throughout the whole squabble? These are 
bold questions, which neither you nor 1 dare answer. 

"The pretty, little, innocent, amiable singing-bird could pour out 
his notes like a Bob-o'-Lincoln, and charm the chorus of the forest,, 
while he dogmatized on subjects which he understood not. But with 
all my childish vanity, 1 confess myself wholly unable to comprehend 
this vast system of Providence, in which I have been eiiiployed as a 
feeble instrument for more than fifty years. As far as my feeble 
short-sighted faculties can reach, Great Britain appears to me to have 
been the principal aggressor, and the original disturber of the human 
race for the last half century. 

" Two great ameliorations of terrestrial existence have already result- 
ed — the freedom of religion and the emancipation of the Africans, 
What ulterior blessings are in store, I leave to the Father of Mercies. 
If greater calamities, I bow to the chastising rod. 

"Siberian wheat, my brother farmer, is a very small object to 
follow subjects that comprehend the whole globe and all our species. 
It is worthy attention, however, and investigation, and fair experi- 
ment. During the Revolutionary war, when you were in Europe, 
Siberian wheat was much in vogue in this town. Mr. Josiah Quincy, 
the grandfather of the present member of Congress, procured and 
sowed a few bushels of it. He succeeded very well, had a fine crop 
which suffered nothing from the Hessian fly, mildew, blasting, or 
weavil. Enthusiasm was excited in the neighborhood ; all he could 
spare was purchased at a high price for sowing. My wife purchased 
some bushels — others more. Quincy himself sowed the greatest 
part of all he had. Expectations were high that it would become 
the staple of New-England. The next year we all failed, every plant 
of it blasted, and seed, labor and all were totally lost. Notwith- 
standing all this, I have no doubt that wheat may be raised in Massa- 
chusetts as well as anywhere else, but the land must be under proper 
cultivation, particularly manured abundantly — the seed sowed so 
early that it may be forward and vigorous enough to bear the win- 



380 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

ter, and start early enough in the spring to shoot the grain and ear 
forward before the season of insects. But this process which I know 
has succeeded and will succeed, is expensive, and the wheat will not 
procure a price equal to the labor. What is the reason of this ? 
Here lies the mystery. No Russian seed will retrieve this. 

" We say and we say truly, that agriculture and commerce are 
sisters, and their interests mutual and consistent; ^but the misfortune 
is that individuals and masses of both orders of men do not always 
understand the existence of both interests, and instead of endeavoring 
to reconcile them, employ all their policy and influence to counteract 
each other. The merchants in all the seaports have always discour- 
aged the growth of wheat in the provinces of the State. Why 1 ' 
Because they supply us with flour from New-York, Pennsylvania, 
Maryland, Virginia, &c., and this article constitutes an important link 
in the chain of their commerce. There is nothing the farmer can 
raise except barley and English hay that can pay our labor — even 
Indian corn costs us more than would buy it. Since my memory the 
country prevailed to carry a law in the Legislature, granting a small 
bounty upon wheat. The eflect in two or three years was an abun- 
dance of wheat at market as good as ever was raised. The bounties 
demanded of the treasury amounted to so large a sum that the sea- 
port towns alarmed set up a popular clamor against the expense, and 
got the law repealed. The cry about barberry bushes, sea air, and 
even of the judgment of Heaven for persecuting the Quakers, have all, 
I have no doubt, arisen from the same source. You will never get 
Siberian wheat or any other wheat to grow in New-England in quan- 
tities to constitute a steady staple, without an expensive cultivation, 
and that expense will never be repaid while wheat, rye, and corn 
have such a formidable rival in commerce. 

" New-York has a great advantage over us in her soil and climate. 
The pure breed of Merino sheep I hope will be cherished to the utmost 
extent, and the mixture of them, but I hope our old breed will not 
be neglected. Superflne cloths are consumed in this country in much 
less quantities than fine cloths, you may depend on it. I could say 
much more in elucidation, but perhaps I should say too much. I 
could say something about hemp, flax, mulberries, silk-worms, silk, 
silk-stockings, Tim. Ruggles and Hartwich Fairs. Agricultural 
patriotism is one thing and mercantile patriotism another in our 
dearly beloved Massachusetts. Both equally sincere — both equally 
bona fide. 

"Your Berkshire Agricultural Society and our Massachusetts 
Society for promoting agriculture will assuredly quarrel and go to 
war, as naturally as England and the United States — as England and 
France — unless both are managed with great prudence, delicacy, 
caution and circumspection. 

"Sat verbum ! How is it that agriculture and commerce are rivals 
in France, England, Holland, and what tremendous consequences 
have resulted from these rivalries 1 The history of mankind might 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 381 

show, and a history of this rivalry would be worth more than Thuci- 
dides, Tacitu?. Hume n^r] nibSon, 

"I am, sir, with usual esteem and regard, your friend, 

"John Adams. 

" Elkanah Watson, Esq." 



" QuiNCT, IQth Sept., 1812. 

" Dear Sir : — Inter arma silent leges^ is what we ca]l an old say- 
ing, I hope that scientice will not Le added. Full fifty-five years 
have I observed, inquired, read, and tried experiments to raise wheat 
in New-England. The result is total despair. Let me tell you, my 
friend, there are no fanatics in religion — no visionaries in philosophy 
— no heroes in an army — no, nor any misses in dancing and music — 
more enthusiastic than the devotees of agriculture and horticulture. 
They are more harmless and more innocent, to be sure. You will 
get no aid from Boston. Commerce, literature, science, theology, are 
against you — nay, medicine, history, and University, and universal 
politics might be added. I cannot — I will not be more explicit. 

"The foil of Hull may have thunderstruck all, but it was clearly 
foreseen and confidently predicted by some, to my knowledge. Not 
an ant-hill, not a single atom of Arnoldism was in the business ; but 
sheer ignorance, inconsideration and incapacity enough, both in 
administration and execution. If one grain of common sense had 
been used, nothing would have been attempted without a command- 
ing force upon all the lakes. As to illuminations and rejoicings at 
Montreal, I should not wonder if they should threaten to march to 
Boston, New-York and Philadelphia, and conquer the United States, 
from Mississippi to St. Croix, as confidently as Hull threatened to 
overwhelm Upper Canada. Now the tomahawk will compel the 
southern States to be warlike, or to do justice to the northern by con- 
senting to a navy. 

" Your friend, &c., 



Elkanah Watson, Esq." 



John Adams. 



382 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

Gen. Hull — Letters from him — Letter from Robert Fulton — Patriotic Ex- 
tract — Jewish Phylactery — Letter to Dr. Williamson — Return to 
Albany— Testimonials of Respect— Tariff Policy — Destiny of New- 
England — Address before Berkshire Society — Agricultural Labors in 
New-York — Otsego County Society — Gov. Clinton — Report on Agri- 
culture— Correspondence— Organization of County Societies — Foreign 
Circular — Introduction of Seeds — Letters from Richard Peters. 

The reference in the letter of Mr. Adams to the campaign 
of Gen. Hull, appropriately introduces a brief note of the latter, 
addressed to Mr. Watson a few weeks before the close of his 
disastrous expeilition. Cordial and intimate relations of friend- 
ship had subsisted between them for many years. The chivalric 
courage and marked ability which had distinp;uished the ser- 
vices of Gen. Hull in the war of the Eevolution, had led Mr. 
Watson in common with the mass of the nation, to form the 
highest anticipation of a brilliant and successful issue to his 
campaign. Under the excitement of these exhilarating emo- 
tions, Mr. Watson gave expression to them at a political 
festival on July 4th, 1812, in the following toast, w^hich, Jrom 
the events of a few weeks, subjected him to numerous paper 
pellets and pasquinades from the anti-war presses : — " Gen. 
Hull and his gallant army of farmers and veterans, have open- 
ed the ball in the west ; may they conquer the British allies 
by kindness, and lead down the dance along the northern 
shores of the lakes and St. Lawrence, joining other partners 
in their progress — together foot it up to Quebec to the tune of 
Yankee Doodle." 

I present the letter without comment, believing that it con- 
tains a revelation of views and sentiments which exerted a 
powerful influence in producing the fatal occurrences that soon 
after transpired. 



383 



" Camp Meigs^ on Mad River, near Dayton^ 31 5^ -^fly, 1812. 

"My Dear Friend: — The enclosed papers will show you my 
situation. I am in good health, in a tent, and laying on the ground. 
To-morrow I march to St. Mary's, a branch of Miama of Lake Erie, 
in the midst of Indian villages. There I shall wait for Boyd's regi- 
ment and some regulars from Pittsburgh, which will join me in a few 
days. I shall from thence commence my march through the wilder- 
ness to Detroit. I have on hand a difficult and responsible command. 
I hope to be able to do good to my country. The Indians at present 
appear very hostile; if I can conquer them by kindness and justice I 
shall be very happy — if not, the other mode must be practised. God 
bless you, your dear wife and charming family. 

"In haste, sincerely and affectionately, 

"W. Hull. 

"Elkanah Watson, Esq." 

The following extract from a letter of Gen. Hull, dated 
Detroit, 30th November, 1807, presents an interesting detail of 
his valuable Indian negotiation, and the attitude of public 
affairs in that department. 

"I had received a commission from the President to hold a treaty 
with the Indians northwest of the Ohio, and had Qvery reason to 
suppose it would have been concluded in June, or July at farthest. 
By the state of public affairs, and indeed by circumstances which I 
could not control, it was not finished until the 17th inst. I was 
obliged to advance the money for the expense, and could not draw with 
propriety until the business was accomplished. I am happy to in- 
form you that it is now finished to my satisfaction, and I have for- 
warded the bills to Mr. Ramsey. By this treaty for the considera- 
tion of ^50,000, I have purchased from the Indians more than five 
million of acres, extending from Fort Defiance on the Miami, about 
two hundred and sixty miles upon that river, Lake Erie, the river 
Detroit, Lake St. Clair, the river St. Clair, and Lake Huron, compre- 
hending all the rivers which fall into these waters, with all ihe islands 
in the same. The land is of an excellent quality and well situated 
for improvement. It is perhaps the most advantageous purcha£<3 the 
United States have ever made. Every Chief has signed the treaty who 
has been requested, and all appear perfectly satisfied. I had many 
difficulties, but fortunately surmounted them. The influence of the 
British, the Prophet, the settlers on the land without any title, per- 
sons who had purchased from the Indians unlawfully and without 
right large tracts of the territory, all opposed it. We have built a 
stockade and block-houses around the town, and are obliged to be 
vigilant. 



384 



*' I have no information by which I can determine whether we are 
to have peace or war with England. Every effort of the British has 
been exerted to render the Indians hostile to us, every exertion on 
my part has been used to keep them quiet. I hope and pray God 
that I may be successful." 

In a feeling letter of subsequent date Gen. Hull gives utter- 
ance to what were doubtless his honest and sincere convictions 
of his own integrity, and that he had been pursued by unjust 
reproach and opprobrium. 

" Albany, ISth Jan., 1814. 

*' Dear Sir — I have this moment read your letter of the 3d inst. 
I shall make no other reply to the circumstances to which you allude 
than to make this sincere declaration, that I never could have be- 
lieved my old friend Watson could have presumed that I had been 
guilty of a dishonorable action by which I had in any degree 
forfeited his friendship, until it was proven, or that his warm and 
candid heart would have presumed anything but innocence and honor, 
until the contrary was made to appear by stronger evidence than 
popular clamour and prejudice. My old friends are dear to me, and 
deservedly to lose them, would be among the greatest evils I could 
be called upon to endure. It is my happiness that I now have an 
opportunity to vindicate my character and conduct. 

"That p'art of your letter which refers to Mrs. Watson, has most 
sensibly affected me. My friendship to her will only end with my 
life. She is an ornament of her sex, and has the warmest wish of 
my heart for her happiness here and hereafter. 

" A consciousness of having served my country with fidelity and 
honor affords consolation, which nothing can deprive me of. What- 
ever events may take place, with respect to myself, you, your excel- 
lent wife and amiable children, have my best wishes. 

" I am without any change, most sincerely your friend, 

*' W. Hull. 

*' E. Watson, Esq." 

The letter subjoined from Eobert Fulton, in reference to a 
torpedo experiment upon the British ship in Lynnliaven bay, 
will be read with interest. 



OK, MEMOIES OF ELKANAH WATSON. 3S5 

"New- York, August Uth, 1813. 
" Mr. Watson : 

" Sir : — Mr. Mix who made the experiment against the Plantagenet 
74 in Lynnhaven bay, is one of my captains. The engine was within 
ten feet of blowing her to atoms, and proving [to the world a new 
art in war of immense importance to our much insulted and injured 
country. His failure was only a small error in practice, no foult 
of principle. It has given useful experience, and he is still persevering 
in high spirits and confident of success. As government does not 
allow any fund for this kind of enterprize, I have been at the whole 
expense for three months in sending out various parties, who in 
some instances have been prevented from acting by our own citizens. 
Governor Haslet of Delaware would not let my men attack a " seven- 
ty four" near Lewis, after their outfit had cosi me $2,000. I have 
now expended $4,000, and find that prudence will not allow me to 
go on under such heavy expenses ; hence for want of funds to persevere 
to success, a most glorious discovery may lay dormant and useless 
to our country for ages. You say you can raise funds. If you can 
and will, it will be a most praise-worthy, patriotic and honorable 
act in you and all who give their aid ; and as the reward from 
government is case of success is ample, I can only say that for every 
hundred dollars paid, I will return three hundred if we succeeded 
when government pays, that is, the capital with two hundred per 
cent. This, in fact, is better than privateering, and encouraging to 
subscribers. Hence, sir, collect any amount, not exceeding for the 
present $5,000, for that, I believe, will be sufficient. Lend any sum 
on this condition, if not more than $500. 

** I am, Sir, respectfully, your most obd't, 

" Robert Fulton. 

" Elk AN AH Watson, Esq. 

" Please let me hear from you as soon as possible." 

It is known that circumstances arrested the pursuit of these 
measures by Mr. Fulton. It is just and proper I should state, 
that in making these overtures to Mr. Fulton, my father was 
actuated by no pecuniary motive, as might be inferred from 
the reply. These considerations were intended to be addressed 
to others, but I know he was impelled solely by his deep ab- 
horrence of the sanguinary atrocities committed on our coast 

25 



386 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

by the enemy, and by an earnest desire for the expulsion of 
their ships from our waters. The fervor and enthusiasm of 
this feeling will appear from the following patriotic effusion, 
embraced in an address before the Berkshire Society in Octo- 
ber, 1814, which drew upon him the severe animadversion of 
some presses of the " peace party." The salutary admonitions, 
breathed in this ardent language, and addressed to a former 
generation, may be listened to with profit at the present 
day. 

" It is proper at this time to glance at the aspect of the 
times, at . least in reference to their bearing upon our manu- 
factures. On a former occasion I expressed to you strong 
apprehensions of the fatal effects which would result from 
our party divisions, ' that they would eventually open a dan- 
gerous inlet, to admit sooner or later the hungry wolves of 
Europe to fatten upon our follies.' Threatening clouds were 
then evidently gathering in our political horizon— the storm 
has gradually approached our borders— heavy clouds and thick 
darkness now rest upon us— and our country, so dear to us all, 
is bleeding at every vein. Freemen are at length goaded into 
action, hand in hand and heart in heart; they have aroused 
from their fatal lethargy, in the majesty of their strength, for 
the defence of that liberty— of that Independence, Washington 
•defended. We invoke his departed spirit to witness, that 
Americans will never consign over their descendants to be- 
come debased colonists, bound in chains and fetters. 

* * * * -Jfr # :5J. 

" The old revolutionary motto, * United we stand, divided we 
fall,' applies strongly to the present times. Yes, my country- 
men, if we continue united, we shall stand like a rock amid 
the dashing elements, and hold in derision the angry waves 
that spend themselves at our feet. This digression may appear 
to some, foreign to the peaceful walks of our Society. Professing 
as we do, and it being also enjoined by our charter, to be the 
patrons of Ameiican manufactures, w^e must constantly keep 
m view the aspect of the times and the necessity of relying 
on ourselves exclusively for these supplies, so essential to our 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSOK. 387 

wants, and the support of the vast armies now called into 
the field to protect our rights and to avenge our wrongs. 

"Our country is invaded at various points. Our capitol 
is burnt by modem Goths and Vandals — a deep stain is stamped 
on the page of our history— it must, it will be effaced. The 
cry 'to arms, to arms,' resounds on every side — in cities, in 
villages, in valleys, on our hill-tops— all is motion and military 
array. One hundred and twenty thousand freemen are now 
in arms, and half-a-million in reserve. Our roads are alive 
with young men seeking our enemies, while the aged and ex- 
empts are forming into military associations. What have we 
to fear? It is impossible that freeborn Americans can be 
doomed like East Indians, to be 'hewers of wood and drawers 
of water ' to the lordly sycophants of Europe. Rather than sur- 
render an iota of a national right, far better for us to see our 
cities wrapped in flames, and our fields drenched with blood, if 
the remnant who live can say, we have a second time saved our 
liberties and have confirmed our Independence. A deadly 
blow, conceived by profligate men in the chambers of dark- 
ness and infamy, is leveled at the vitals of our union and Inde- 
pendence. 

"Blessed be God, this is the last generation of Englishmen 
who will dare to assail the rights of Americans. The time is 
rapidly approaching when our population will far exceed theirs. 
Here also is the last asylum of liberty, exiled from the cor- 
rupted countries of guilty Europe; let us cherish and embrace 
the fair fugitive in this land of hope and promise, that the 
whole human family may eventually be blessed by our free- 
dom. 

"Our enemies knew not— they never knew the true char- 
acter of this people, although bone of their bone and flesh of 
their flesh. They had known our kindred vices but not our 
national virtues. The present crisis is unfolding them to 
their view. 

'* It is time to repel from our shores, and sweep from our 
territory, the unblushing allies of savages, who, after the lapse 
of a third of a century, again pollute our soil, by their detesta- 



388 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

ble footsteps. They come from the opposite shores of the 
Atlantic, their hands reeking in blood — familiar with carnage 
and death, to plunge their infernal weapons into the bosoms of 
unoffending freemen. # * % * 

" Their hostile fleets are spreading their wings along our 
coast, and their predatory crafts are carrying destruction into 
our very rivers and harbors." 

During the residence of Mr. Watson in Pittsfield, an inci- 
dent occurred of considerable archaeological interest, which 
at the time excited much discussion among theologists, 
and awakened the vigilant researches of antiquarians. The 
speculations it tended to confirm, and the evidences it af- 
forded, were elaborately discussed in various publications, some 
of which emanated from distinguished sources. The facts 
are presented in the following letter of Mr. Watson, in reply 
to some inquiries addressed to him on the subject, by Doct. 
Williamson. The hypothesis advanced by Mr. Watson are 
strengthened by the following circumstances, to which he does 
not allude, but which appear in several other productions, 
that the incident called forth. 

The eminence upon which the phylactery was discovered, was 
known at an early period as Indian Hill, and, as it is stated 
upon the authority of a late aged divine of Berkshire, " an old 
Indian had informed him, that his father had long been in 
possession of a book^ which was preserved until it had been 
at length deposited in the grave of an Indian Chief." 

"Pittsfield, November 10th, 1815. 
"To Hugh Williamson: 

" Dear Sir : — In conformity with your request to ascertain all the 
facts in relation to the interesting discovery of a Jewish phylactery, 
in this village, in June last, I reply. It was ploughed up in the yard 
of Mr. Joseph Merrick, a respectable inhabitant who resides on the 
borders of the village, in the midst of rubbish, and lying some inches 
below the surface. 

''Immediately on hearing the rumor of the discovery I repaired to 
the house of Mr. Merrick, where I found several clergymen, whose 
curiosity was greatly excited by the strange incident, and who be- 
lieved with me that the article must have found its way into this re- 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 389 



cent -wilderness, bj the agency of some of the descendants of Is- 
rael. 

" Having previously read with intense interest on the subject, and 
being impressed with the belief that the Indians of America were 
descended from the lost tribes of Israel ; and that they had been 
directed by the same Almighty hand, which had brought them out 
of the land of Egypt, to continue their journeyings in a northeast- 
erly course, probably for many ages, and finally to reach this conti- 
nent at Behring's Strait ; yet retaining some knowledge of the arts 
and sciences, and always adhering to the rites of the Jewish religion. 
After reaching this continent, and the lapse of many years, and 
probably ages, some portions inclined to rest in the northern region, 
but most pursued a southern course, spreading in all directions, even 
to the southern extremity of South America, and north to the polar 
regions ; and thus peopling the whole surface of both Americas, more 
or less densely, according to the varied climates. Those in the ex- 
treme north and south, becoming the most savage, as in the milder 
regions they have been found the most civilized, and in possession 
of arts and sciences, especially in the City of Mexico and Peru. 

" It is not my purpose to write a treatise on this important sub- 
ject, but merely to skim the surface, in the view of accounting in 
some measure for this very interesting discovery. I think it must 
have originated from these sources. It is well known, even from 
Sacred Writ, that the Jews held their phylacteries, with the precious 
scroll enclosed, in religious reverence. This discovery forms another 
link in the evidence by which our Indians are identified with the an- 
cient Jews, who were scattered upon the face of the globe, and to 
this day remain a living monument, to verify and establish the eter- 
nal truths of Scripture. 

'• On comparing this phylactery with those described in the Old 
Testament, I found an exact conformity. I will explain it in my 
own way. They are described in Scripture as composed of five folds 
of raw hide or leather, sewed compactly together by the entrails of 
animals. In order to understand the appearance of this discovery, 
imagine five pieces of leather or rawhide, or some composition simi- 
lar to India rubber, and capable of resisting the ravages of time and 
exposure, cut into squares of two inches, sewed together with 
entrails. Suppose, also, a hole in the centre, half an inch in diameter, 
made to admit a tube two and a half inches long, with islet-holes at 
the corners to receive strings — and you will have an idea of the 
article. 

" This tube, as described by Mr. Merrick, was of such a hard 
spongy substance that it was with great difficulty he could gain an 
opening at one of the sloping ends, and seemed absolutely impervious 
to moisture, for although the surface was incrusted in a manner to 
evince its having been probably exposed for many ages, yet I drew 
out from the tube three or four scrolls of parchment, which it contain- 



390 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 



ed when found, and inscribed with texts of Scripture, written in He- 
brew, in an elegant manner, and the ink of a beautiful jet black. The 
parchment, writing, and ink, were all perfectly fresh." 
" Very respectfully, 

"E. Watson." 



In February, 1816, Mr. Watson returned to his former resi- 
dence in Albany. Thus abandoning, he says — " All those rural 
scenes which had delighted me — all my flocks and herds, which 
I had reared with infinite care for nearly nine years. In the 
midst of promoting agricultural improvements and domestic 
industry, I returned to resume the dull and monotonous scenes 
of a city life." 

On his departure from the theatre of the labors and services 
I have briefly glanced at, he received numerous testimonials of 
social kindness and regard ; among these the action of the 
Agricultural Society exhibits the appreciation, by its members, 
of his zeal and exertions in the promotion of these great in- 
terests. 

Extract from the Proceedings, at a Meeting of the Berkshire 
Agricultural Society, held on the 8th January, 1816 : — 

" Whereas, it has come to the knowledge of the Berkshire 
Agricultural Society that our late President, Elkanah Watson, 
Esq., is about moving from this county — 

" Voted, That the President be instructed to convey to him 
the sentiments of regret of the Societj^ and the high sense it 
entertains of the important services he has rendered, by his pat- 
riotic efforts to promote Agriculture and Manufactures, and by 
his perseverance in the establishment of this interesting In- 
stitution. 

" Voted, That in order to perpetuate our gratitude to the 
founder of this Society, there shall be a premium offered an- 
nually for the best blooded Merino Buck, produced at the Pitts- 
field Cattle Show and Fair, of $12, to be called the '"Watson 
Cup,' and it shall be so inscribed thereon." 

The following is an extract from the letter of Thomas Mel' 



OR, MEMOIRS OP ELKA^^AH WATSON. 391 

ville, Esq., President of the Society, communicating the pre- 
ceding Eesolutions : — " The Berkshire Agricultural Society, 
alike impressed with the conviction that to your persevering 
efforts is due the creation of this valuable Institution, and that 
your presence among us would invigorate its measures, were 
deeply affected on being acquainted at their meeting yesterday, 
that you were about to remove from this county. 

"As highly gratifying as it is to be the organ of this 'Hon- 
orable Testimony,' so it is equally painful to me to bid adieu, 
as a resident member, of the father of this Institution ; to 
whose experience and advice I have been so much indebted 
since I have had the honor of being chosen to the place by 
him vacated." 

The policy which was calculated to foster and promote the 
manufacturing interests of the country, was at ail times 
regarded by Mr. Watson of the highest national importance, 
dictated by wise considerations of political economy, and indis- 
pensable to the essential and practical independence of the 
republic. From the organization of the government to the 
close of his life he was without change, the ardent and zealous 
advocate of a tariff system, which should cherish and sustain the 
feeble and precarious infancy of American manufactures. The 
subjoined extract from an article written by him at Norton, 
Massachusetts, in 1789, and published in the Boston papers, 
urges this sentiment with much emphasis and remarkable fore- 
cast, portraying with almost historic fidelity the true interest 
and the approaching destiny of New-England : — 

" The spirit of manufacturing has taken root in New-Eng- 
land. We find the effort sustained by the enterprise of a few 
gentlemen, struggling against the opposition of importing 
merchants in our seaports, and the powerful artillery of the 
busy agents, and the irresistible capital of the English manu- 
facturers, determined to assail and strangle the scheme in its 
very cradle. It is impossible that the feeble capital of country 
gentlemen, however ardent and patriotic they may be, can 
sustain the conflict against such fearful odds, unless Congress 
shall protect and sustain them by heavy duties. Yet I have 



392 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

been delighted to witness at Taunton in this vicinity, manufac- 
tories in iron on a respectable scale. Indeed, I think that 
pleasant place bids fair in time to become the Sheffield of 
America. 

" At Norwich they have stocking looms established and looms 
for weaving duck by water — the invention of a native genius. 
At Hartford, woolen and glass factories have been erected, 
and I am sorry to add, that these are in a sickly condition. It 
will far exceed my present limits to enter upon details on that 
head. As a general remark I will venture to predict, how- 
ever improbable under existing circumstances it may appear — 
that New-England is destined at some future day to become a 
serious competitor with Old England ; and when that event 
takes place to a great extent, it will be the first prominent 
admonition to proclaim the downfall of the latter. The face of 
the country, the soil and climate, the genius and enterprise of 
the people, are all analogous. We want nothing but age, capital, 
and a dense population. All the elements of a great manufac- 
turing community, in a healthy country, abounding with water- 
falls, insure such an ultimate result. The southern States will 
then receive our goods in exchange for their prominent raw 
material — cotton. Ten years ago I little thought of seeing in 
my time the evidences I already witness — the germ of rising 
manufactories. In the reign of Elizabeth most of the wool 
grown in England was sent to Holland and Flanders, to be 
manufactured for the use of the English. At this time the 
English supply half the human race with woolen cloths, and 
are insensibly undermining the wealth and population of the 
very countries which formerly supplied them with these fabrics. 
In fact, woolens constitute the main basis of the wealth and 
glory of Old England ; as an emblem of which, her lord Chan- 
cellor is seated on a woolsack. To aid in supplanting the 
English in this their favorite element, I mean as far as in me 
lies to preach to the people of New-England, and to urge them 
to open their eyes and their ears on this great object, which 
will in my opinion form the main pillar of their future prosper- 
ity and strength. Every information on the subject should be 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 393 

collected and transmitted to the Congress acting under the new 
Constitution — they have the power to afford protecting duties. 
A merchant of Providence assured me that cotton cards, made 
in this State and shipped from thence to England, were sold 
at a handsome profit, after paying freight, &c., and that they 
were of a superior quality to those made in England. This 
seems to me the prelude to further triumphs, which will turn 
the scales and astonish our former masters." 

The succeeding autumn Mr. Watson attended by request 
the Berkshire Fair, and delivered an address, from which I 
make the following extract, for the patriotic emotions it 
breathes, and the lessons of practical admonitions it inculcates, 
which will be read with interest and profit from their adapta- 
tion to all times and places where the institutions of freedom 
exist. 

"My only object in addressing to you a few words is, again 
to express my undiminished zeal for your prosperity and hap- 
piness, and to endeavor to impress on your minds the vast 
importance of continuing your labors. 

" Your measures, my friends, (with whom I have been so 
long accustomed to act in this pleasing and useful employment,) 
are considered by the American nation, not as localized, or 
identified with the immediate interests of Pittsfield, or Berk- 
shire, or Massachusetts. No, gentlemen, I can say with pride 
and pleasure, the eyes of America are fixed on your patriotic 
course. For some weeks past we find the public papers, from 
Maine to Georgia — from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, all 
teeming in the praises of your society, and holding it up to 
view^ as worthy of general imitation. 

" Several agricultural societies are recently organized, others 
are in contemplation, and all avowedly on your model. It will 
be peculiarly grateful to every member of this Society to know 
that the mother Society in this State is at length aroused from 
her lethargy, cautiously treading in your footsteps. The week 
ensuing, they will exhibit their first cattle-show at Brighton. 
They are blessed with respectable funds, which have been for 
years accumulating, but of no practical use to the community 



894 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION 



thus far. They will now excite a laudable spirit of emulation 
in the vicinity of the capital, and from their powerful example 
extensive benefits will doubtless spread in every direction. 
Your exemplary measures are considered national, since their 
influence is extending into every section of this great repub- 
lic. With this truth in view, and in a full knowledge how far 
this immediate community has been benefited by the visible 
and increasing effects resulting from a general excitement, 
every farmer in this country must be dead to his own interests, 
dead to the honor of Berkshire, not to contribute his mite to a 
general fund, on which alone must depend the existence of 
this Society. Since practical experiments and keeping alive 
that excitement are the essential points in view, the more sim- 
ple your future course, the greater will be public confidence- 
Tli3 only effectual measure to keep your wheels in motion is 
to oil them — oil them by an exact punctuality in your voluntary 
engagements. A few annual drops of this oil from each farmer 
will eventually overspread this country with wealth and happiness. 
" The present distressed situation of America is full of evidence 
that we must fall back on our native resources to a certain 
point. Although the sbelves of our merchants and the stores 
of our custom houses are loaded with foreign manufactures^ 
estimated at the frightful sum of two hundred millions of dol- 
lars, and selling off at half their intrinsic value, on the insidious 
calculation of destroying our manufactories — although we are 
standing on the verge of a precipice which threatens universal 
desolation to the mercantile and manufacturing portions of the 
nation — yet it is grateful to the patriot's eye to see so large a 
proportion of this respectable assemblage clad in homespun, on 
the increase of which, keeping pace in all probability with the 
increase of agricultural societies, will be found one of the main 
pillars in support of our substantial independence. In a word, 
my friends, we must practice the salutary lessons of economy, 
we must retrace the humble footsteps of our ancestors, or he 
enslaved to our creditors at home and abroad.* 

* Every subsequent year has realized the truth of this prediction, arising prin- 
cipally from excessive importations of foreign fabrics, also from habits of ex- 



395 



"The only pride of our females in these gloomy times, (and 
much depends on their example,) should be to be attired in the 
work of their own hands, and to see their fathers, their hus- 
bands, their brothers, nay, their lovers marching by their side* 
clothed in homespun also of their own making. 

" We must buy less — make more ; holding credit as the bane 
and curse of this community ; thus also holding ihe lawyers 
and sheriffs at defiance. Every freeman would then rest in 
peace under his own vine, and walk erect with a firm and 
manly step, truly the lords of the creation." 

Mr. Watson had scarcely become settled in the repose and" 
quiet of his new residence, when applications were addressed 
to him from various sections of the country, soliciting his 
aid and advice in the organization of agricultural societies 
upon the Berkshire model. In the autumn of the next year, 
he visited Otsego county, and efficiently co-operated in the 
formation in that county of the first society established in 
New- York, upon the new system. At the fair he delivered 
an address and proclaimed the premiums. Governor Clinton 
in his inaugural to the Legislature at the session of 1818, 
urged with great force the establishment of a State Agricul- 
tural Society, of a Board of Agriculture, and as a necessary 
relation, the institution of county societies. A joint commit- 
tee on the subject of both houses submitted an elaborate re- 
port, sustaining and enforcing the suggestion of the Executive, 
and pressing the initiation of a system of state patronage to its 
vast and expanding agricultural interests. The report com- 
prehended an ample and detailed exhibition of the progress of 
agricultural improvements, the benefits of the application of 
science to husbandry, and the importance of developing the 
capabilities and resources of the State. This production was 
chiefly from the pen of Mr. Watson. 

Party spirit infused its malignant influence into the consi- 
deration of this subject, — impeded and eventually arrested all 

travagance and dissipation. The evil is now at its height ; the whole commu- 
nity in city and country feel its dreadful effects. Although a severe, yet I trust 
it will prove a salutary lesson. March, 1820, 



396 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION 



legislative action. The zeal and energetic efforts of Mr. 
Watson at this crisis, subjected him to unworthy suspicions 
and the most illiberal denunciations. He was openly assailed 
in the Legislature, his patriotic labors were ascribed to selfish 
and personal ambition, and to the lust of office. 

I shall be pardoned for the declaration that the ardent and 
protracted exertions of my father in the promotion of the 
varied projects of public and local improvement, which he 
agitated, could never have been actuated by any purpose of 
official emolument or for the attainment of position or influence. 
While he disbursed in the prosecution of these objects large 
sums from his own estate, and by his devotion to public inter- 
terests deeply impaired his private fortune, he in no instance, 
although often solicited to do so, occupied any official position 
that conferred emoluments, and never received one dollar for re- 
muneration of any of these services from the public treasury. 

Mr. Watson devoted several succeeding years almost ex- 
clusively to an extensive and most voluminous correspondence 
spreading throughout the Union and to Europe, in advancing 
the general cause of agriculture, in diffusing the results of his 
own experience and observation, and in aiding the organiza- 
tion of agricultural societies. 

In addition to these labors, he personally assisted in the 
formation of county societies in Oneida, Schoharie, Mont- 
gomery, Rensselaer, New- York, and other counties, attended 
their Fairs, and delivered at each formal addresses. His posi- 
tion, and it was ascribed to him by numerous correspondents' 
was that of an Agricultural Missionary. 

In the absence of a Board of Agriculture, Mr. Watson vir- 
tually assumed its laborious and expansive duties, and dis- 
charged many of its appropriate functions. Thus in 1818, 
he issued a personal circular to the American Consuls in 
various countries, urging them to aid in the introduction of im- 
proved animals, seeds and implements. 

In numerous instances these appeals received liberal and 
patriotic responses in the transmission of valuable varieties of 
foreign seeds. These he widely disseminated by the me- 
dium of county societies and other effective agencies. Several 



397 



of the varieties of grain introduced by this instrumentality, 
proved of the highest value, and became the predominant 
staples in some districts in the State. 

As a type of the agricultural intercourse to which I have 
referred, and suggestive of its character and value, I introduce 
the following letter from Judge Peters, eminent as a jurist, and 
highly (Conspicuous as an agricultural economist and writer. 
It derives value from the practical suggestions and philoso- 



phical views of the writer. 



" Belmont, 21st August, 1819. 



*' Dear Sir : — In answer to your letter, I shall at all times cheer- 
fully co-operate with you in the good cause in which you take so 
much interest. It is high time that some younger champion should 
substitute himself and suffer you to beat rest. You are an itine- 
rant missionary gathering your own congregation. You have hearers, 
whereas I have been for some fifty years a stationary preacher, and 
until lately have delivered discourses to empty benches. 

Magna est>eritas et prevalebit. 

"I am^ rejoiced at the present agricultural zeal. What a garden 
would our country have been, if one-half the spirit now exhibited 
had shown itself half a century ago. 1 shall send you some salt 
pamphlets. I am desirous you should receive them, because you 
will find developed the means of renovating the sandy land of your 
friends at Plymouth, and other places on the sea-board. They must 
make themselves masters of the subject by experiments on the quan- 
tities of sea sand or salt applicable to their lands per acre. In New- 
Jersey, on some parts of the coast, the farmers apply sea sand to 
the most barren and unpromising sandy soils with great effect, and 
yet with little judgment or care. If some principles, and some re- 
gard to circumstances, both as to quantity applied, time of applica- 
tion and mode of preparation, were established, how much more 
would be made of this powerful auxiliary of their husbandry. 
Sand applied to sand is contrary to all known principles. The 
magic power lies in the salt and not the mixture of soil. Sand with 
loom and (better) clay is known to be efficacious. The salt of 
the sea sand must alone be the cause of the fertility. 

" You ask me, what I think of plaster on the sea-coast or on salte 
ed grounds, with sedge, sea-weed and other products of th 
shores or marshes on coasts. My reply is, that I should prefer the 
salt sand, salt or salt grass, and without the plaster. I am certain 



398 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

the great balance of facts has been unfavorable to grounds plastered 
on sea-coast, or with salted manures. Sea sand, or salt, should be 
ploughed in in the autumn, to prevent evaporating, unless used as 
a top dressing. The clay burning manure is hobby-horsical with 
me. I am apt to set other people at doing what I am too old to 
do myself. 

"Yours, very truly, 

" EiCHARD Peters. 

" Elkanah Watson." 

A second letter from Judge Peters, of a later date, and on a 
different subject, possesses intrinsic interest, and singularly 
exhibits the expansion of Mr. Watson's zeal in promoting 
the success of all objects of public improvement. 

"Belmont, 18^A April, 1824. 

" Dear Sir : — I have been waiting before I answered your letter 
on the subject of your usually zealous propensity to encourage agri- 
cultural prosperity, and in relation to our Schuylkill and Susquehanna 
communications, for some indisputable proofs that Mr. Wright, for 
whom we all entertain much respect, had spoken unadvisedly and 
contrary to his usual caution on the latter subject. I separated the 
parts of your letter, and sent extracts of the agricultural part to our 
Agricultural Society in Philadelphia, where it was received w^ith the 
estimation due to it. I have requested some of the members to en- 
quire for and send you some of the wheat you desire, if it be now 
practicable. I have also given the information respecting the wheat 
which resists the fly, to an old society I formed in my neighborhood 
thirty-seven or thirty-eight years ago, styled the Blockly and 
Merion Society for Promoting Agricultural and Rural Economy. 1 
have no doubt proper advantage will be taken of your kind infor- 
mation. 

" As to the gloomy forebodings of * the total failure ' of our canal 
and lock navigation, coming from so respectable a judge of such 
matters as is Mr. Wright, I was made very uneasy. I have no 
shares in the stock, and am only interested as are all the community 
who will profit by public improvement. I cautiously communicated 
this part of your letter to one or two gentlemen from whom I knew 
I could obtain candid information. The result is, that lam persuaded 
Mr. Wright's prophecy is by no means justifiable. lie has taken 
facts too much on trust, for it so turns out that he has never seen a 
foot of the ground or viewed any of the works on the river. I have 
a letter from a disinterested and intelligent friend w^ho had a con- 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 399 

versalion with Mr. Wright on the subject. He thought, and perhaps 
very justly, that the Navigation Company were wasting the water, 
which ought to be exclusively devoted to the canals, leading from 
their dams to water-power for mills and machinery ; and that such 
erections should be placed on the sides of the Schuylkill, opposite the 
canals. I have always myself been of this opinion. It will proba- 
bly be found so on experience, and can be changed at pleasure so as 
to avoid 'a total loss,' and very little even of a partial one. I 
have never been a friend to damming rivers for internal naviga- 
tion. I agree with Brinsley that for such purposes 'rivers are only 
to be used for filling canals.' The canal from the Schuylkill to the 
waters of the Susquehanna has progressed successfully thirty-five 
miles towards its ultimate object, and will be completed this year, and 
this is an important link in the chain of communication with the 
lakes. Mr. Wright never saw any part of this, so that his infidel- 
ity is under the description of that of faith in the good Book, which 
is said to be the 'evidence of things not seen.' The most difficult 
of the whole of this canal is finished to the satisfaction of the man- 
agers, who are intelligent men, and confident of success in the re- 
maining part of the communication. Indeed a great proportion of 
what is called the river navigation consists of canals. It so happens 
too that the managers have anticipated your well intentioned re- 
commendation, and the work is under the direction of pupils of Mr. 
Wright, who have no control in their opinions, and possess the con- 
fidence of the managers. Every thing therefore, is agreeable to 
your own views of the subject. I knew your object was merely to 
do a service to an undertaking falling in with your long indulged 
and meritorious propensities. Mr. Wright, I fondly hope and 
believe, is mistaken, but nobody imputes to him unworthy motives. 
Even if those who are elated with the highly honorable success of 
the stupendous New-York Canals, had pronounced the fate of ours, 
we should not have imputed it to anything but the consciousness of 
superiority and not to invidious reflections. ' Ihe eagle suffers lit- 
tle birds to sing.' If we cannot equal your great work, we are en- 
deyoring to arrive at the same point by a passage comparatively in- 
ferior, but to us all-important. I hope I may be mistaken in my 
objections to river navigation, by dams, and I should be very glad 
of b^ing found in error, even if alone; but I should be kept from 
being ashamed of an erroneous opinion, when Mr. Wright bore me 
company. 

" Accept sincere assurance of my being very truly yours, 

" Richard Peters. 
*' Elkanah Watson." 

The correspondence of Mr. Watson with the Agricultural 
Society of Hartford County, Connecticut, w^hich occurred in 
the year 1818, presents him in a different attitude in his rela- 



400 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

tion to agricultural movements of that period, and shows the 
nature of the services in that cause which he was habitually 
called upon to discharge. 

He refers in liis journal to this Society, in the following 
language : — " Although my labors for the promotion of agricul- 
ture and manufactures have been generally ardent, and engaged, 
levying heavy contributions on my feeble purse, with the ex- 
ception of my favorite Berkshire I know of no place where I 
have labored with more effect than in Hartford, Connecticut, 
by stimulating their measures on the Berkshire plan." 

" These efforts have contributed essentially to diffuse the sys 
tern through that enlightened State, and subsequently by the 
influence of emigrants, into various counties in Ohio. In this 
view I trust the subjoined correspondence, which led to such 
results, will be deemed worthy of preservation. 

Extract from a Letter to Henry L. Ellsworth, Corresponding Secre- 
tary of the Hartford Agricultural Society : — 

"Albany, 2d Jan., 1818. 

« Sir — I have received a letter from David Porter, Esq., Chairman 
of the Viewing Committee of your patriotic Society, requesting ex- 
planation of the Two Farrow tlough, mentioned in my Address to 
the Otsego County Agricultural Society, on the I4th Oct. last, en- 
closing also your By-Laws, and requesting my remarks on the 
former. 

" I owe to Mr. Porter a respectful reply, through you, as the organ 
of your Society, as I feel a deep interest in your success, so impor- 
tant in its ultim.ate effects upon the respectable State of Connecticut. 
In respect to the plough the enclosed will furnish an answer ; but I 
cannot resist the impulse to observe, in native frankness, that a people 
so intelligent and so highly advanced as those of Connecticut, should 
be so .singularly ignorant of the science of agriculture in its first 

practical principles, surprises me ; above all, that should have 

been uninformed as to the existence of the Two Eurrow Plough in 
England. 

" You have a glorious field spread out before you. Your found- 
ations are firmly established, resting upon men of eminence — you 
have much to do, aside from the general interest of your immediate 
community — you' will derive infinite pleasure in your progress, from 
the conscious pride of patriotism, that you are promoting the welfare 
and happiness of thousands at every step. 

"But, rely upon it, that your* success will depend upon the 



401 



steady and active efforts of three or four efficient men of business 
habits, who will devote themselves to details. 

" In respect to the By-Laws, I had already sent for them, and can- 
didly admit that they are an improvement on those of Berkshire, al- 
though founded on that basis. I regret, however, that you have not 
added premiums on household manufactures, so essential and so in- 
timately identified with the cause of agriculture ; besides, the pleas- 
ure you will all derive (as we have done) from enlisting the female 
portion of the community in your pursuits, in all that relate to 
domestic manufactures, rest assured, by adding their presence, you 
will soon call forth all their energies. Permit me, therefore, most 
earnestly to recommend the addition to your first section, after the 
words 'Rural Economy,' the words 'and Household Manufac- 
tures.' 

" I am wholly ignorant of your course, your means, or immediate 
views; but I am delighted to find that you have already adopted 
town committees, and a Viewing Committee of Agriculture, on the 

Berkshire model. In answer to Mr. P , as to the Viewing 

Committee, I beg leave to refer him to my Address before the Otsego 
Society. Again, you ought, in the course of this month, to publish 
your list of premiums, and fix on your place of Exhibition next 
flill. 

" I doubt not your salutary example will produce great and exten- 
sive eflTects, particularly, should you be induced to assign one-third of 
your premiums exclusively to females, not less than $400, chieliy in 
spoons and tea apparatus, in solid silver. This will doubtless require 
extra means. Fifty gentlemen, subscribing each $10, will do the 
business, and I shall be proud to open the ball as one. 

" The stake is great, the first impulse all-important, and you 
should, as we did in Berkshire, proclaim liberal premiums, with an 
empty treasury, and rely on a good Providence for relief. We were 
never disappointed ; every year our efforts v/ere crowned with a glo- 
rious success. 

" Permit me further to advise you to fix tiie attention of the far- 
mer to the Viewing Committee, and to commence preparatory meas- 
ures, even this winter, as respects compost manures, preparing for 
their fences and repairing their buildings. Also to request all the 
intended candidates for premiums to notify you by June, their ob- 
jects, residences, &c., preliminary to the grand review in July next. 
Lest I weary your patience, I v/ill close by a tender of ray best ser- 
vices, in every way in my power, and shall be highly gratified should 
it be possible to assist you in person at your first essay, which is so 
essential to your future success and glory. 

" I am, very cordially, &c., 

*'E. Watson." 

26 



402 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

Letter from Henry L. Ellsworth, Esq., Corresponding Sec- 
retary of the Hartford Agricultural Society : — 

" Windsor, Conn., 26th March, 1818. 

" Sir : — In compliance with the request of the Hartford Agricul- 
tural Society, held at Hartford on the 24th inst., I have the honor to 
inform you that you were duly electedj an honorary member of the 
same. At the same time I was directed to offer you their unanimous 
thanks for the interesting letter addressed to the Corresponding Sec- 
retary, and the deep solicitude you therein express for our success. 
In pursuance of your advice the Society have determined to include 
in their premiums ' Domestic Manufactures,' with those on Agricul- 
ture, of which I inform you with great pleasure. 

" With the respects and thanks of the Society, please to accept 
the assurance of my highest personal respect and esteem. 

" Henry L. Ellsworth." 

" Elkanah Watson, Esq., 

" Late Fresident of Berkshire Agrl. So.'^ 

" Albany, 8^/i April, 181.8. 

" To Henry L. Ellsworth, Esq., Coresponding Secretary. 

" Sir : — I am honored with your favor of 26th ult., notifying 
me of an election as honorary member of your interesting society. 
For this permit me to express my gratitude. 

" I feel safe in hazarding a prediction that great results, even to 
future ages, will grow out of your patriotic efforts. They will tend to 
arrest the tide of emigration which constantly flows from your State, 
robbing it of its legitimate energies. 

" Contemplating your Society in these views, I am proud in becom- 
ing one of its members, and since America is my country, I know of 
no local prepossessions, and shall contribute to your prosperity by 
every means in my power. 

*' I have had it in contemplation to attend your exhibition, 14th 
October next, but as I have recently received and accepted invita- 
tions to attend those of Jefferson in September, at Oneida, the week 
following, and at Otsego, the week after, and having also been 
requested by many of the counties in this and the neighboring 
States to give personal aid in their incipient stages, and take part in 
these glorious days, I find myself a man of business, sustaining all 
these personal efforts at my own expense, and which in truth bear 
heavily upon me. However arduous the voluntary task, 1 feel grate- 
ful to Almighty God that he has endowed me with an inclination of 
mind and a heart disposed to be useful to my country. I trust my 
descendants will not find cause to reproach me that 1 have lived in 
vain. 



403 



*'I must, however, at the close of this wonderful agricultural cam- 
paign, withdraw from the line, and leave younger men to follow my 
example in these matters. 

" I feel grateful for the respect you have paid my former advice, 
which I find published at large in the Hartford papers, with gratifica- 
tion. [Here follows practical suggestions to guide their measures.] 



" Yours, &c , 



"ElKANAH WATSOlf, ' 



404 MEN AND TIMES OF THE KEVOLUTION ; 



CHAPTER XXX. 

Agricultural Law — National Board of Agriculture — Correspondence with 
Thomas Jefferson — Letter from James Madison — Letter from Dr. 
Mitchell— Pattern Farm — Tour to Detroit — Canal Boat — Incident — 
Syracuse — Progress of Improvement — Auburn — Cayuga Agricultural 
Society— Letter from Col. Mynderse— Geneva— Canandaigua—Batavia 
— Causeway — Holland Purchase — Pennsylvania Wagons — Buffalo 
Harbor — Black Eock — Gen. Porter — Steamboat — Niagara — Ferry — 
Battle of Chippewa — Rapid Falls — Battle of Bridgewater — Gen. Riall 
— Anecdote — Fort Erie — Attack. 

Upon the opening of the session of the Legislature in 
1819, Gov. Clinton reiterated, with augmented force and ear- 
nestness, his previous views upon the agricultural affairs of the 
State. Notwithstanding the powerful influence of these sug- 
gestions, sustained by the zealous and energetic exertions of 
the friends of the measure, among whom Mr. Watson was con- 
spicuous, it was only in the very last days of the session that 
an act was passed by which an annual appropriation for a 
limited period, of 810,000, was made to the societies of the 
different counties for the promotion of agriculture and manu- 
factures. The remaining features of the original plan, the 
institution of a Pattern Farm and a Board of Agriculture, were 
not adopted. 

A national Board of Agriculture had been for many years a 
cherished object with Mr. Watson, which he had urged with 
great ardor and enthusiasm. In 1816 he prepared a memorial 
to Congress on the subject, which was assumed by the Berk- 
shire Society, and presented at their solicitation by the Hon. 
John W. Hurlburt, then representative from that district. 
Although favorably reported on by him, as chairman of a select 
committee, and sustained by him and others with ability, the 
project was overwhelmed in the house by the constitutional 
scruples of some, by the views of expediency of others, and 



OE, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 405 

bj the cold and chilling absence of all appreciation of the mag- 
nitude and importance of this vital interest. 

The following correspondence of "Mr. Watson with Mr 
Jefferson and Mr. Madison, presents interesting view^s enter- 
tained on this subject by these illustrious statesmen, and the 
opinion of the latter on the constitutional question, and evinces 
the zeal and unyielding efforts of Mr. Watson, in the promotion 
of his great purpose. These letters are only exponents of an 
extensive correspondence, by which he endeavored to enlist 
the sympathies and to evoke in aid of his designs, the influence 
of the eminent and controlling minds of .the nation. 

" Albany, Jpril 24:tk. 

" Sir : — Accept, sir, my apology for intruding on your time, which 
I am well aware is sufficiently occupied by an extensive correspon- 
dence. But as you have expressed your favorable opinion of the 
measures of the Berkshire Society and my devotion to the cause of 
agriculture, I am induced to do it. The object of this letter has a 
direct reference to the institution of a national board of agriculture, 
to be located at Washington. It would be superfluous for me to 
dwell a moment with you on the vast importance of such an institu- 
tion in a national point of view. On this ground alone I wish to 
invoke your powerful patronage. Should Mr. Monroe add his 
weight to the scale, it appears to me the plan would not fliil of suc- 
cess, more especially as Washington in his inaugural recommended 
the measure. That is the only instance I can trace of a public notice, 
in any shape, with the single exception of a petition to Congress, 
which emanated from the Berkshire Agricultural Society. This 
astonishes me, as it must be known to every intelligent farmer in 
America what numerous advantages have been derived in Europe, 
especially in France and England, from similar institutions. 

*' I have held a communication with Mr. Madison on the subject, and 
while he highly approves the plan, he expresses, I regret to say, 
some constitutional difficulties. If this is truly the case, then the 
object is worthy of an eflort to obtain an amendment of the constitu- 
tion to remove the barrier. 

" I greatly fear that the objection is too well-founded ; for Mr. 
Hurlburt, who sustained the petition on the floor of the house, assured 
me that he was met with sneers and ridicule, particularly from 
southern members, for urging the subject. 

" Our mutual friend, the worthy Gen.. Mason of Georgetown, who 
attended our cattle show in 1814, enters warmly into my views of 
this primary measure, and has promised me to bring his influence to 



406 



bear in promoting the object ; and I greatly rejoice to learn also that 
you intend to sustain it with zeal, and to furnish the public with your 
views on the subject. 

" KespectfuUy and cordially, 

"E. Watson. 
" To Thomas Jefferson." 



" MoNTiCELLO, Sth May, 1817. 

" Sir : — I have duly received your favor of April 24th, and had long 
remarked the course and labors of the Berkshire Society, of which you 
were President. We have been indebted to them for much useful 
information, and for the example they have set of zeal in the most 
important of all human arts — Agriculture. 

" About a dozen years ago an effort was made at Washington, for 
the establishment there of a General Board of Agriculture, to which 
were proposed to be affiliated a secondary Board, in each State, and 
to this again subordinate Boards in each county. The person most 
active in producing this institution was Isaac Briggs, who was Secre- 
tary, and Mr. Madison, while Secretary of State, was its President. 
He still, I believe, possesses the skeleton of the organization ; but 
whether they ever published anything or not, I do not know. 

" With respect to myself, you have been misinformed as to my 
having any intention to take part in any periodical publication, agri- 
cultural or of any other character. I know, with the preacher, ' there 
is a time for all things ; a time to labor, as well as cease to labor ;' 
and that this last time has fallen on me ; daily and hourly admoni- 
tions, physical and moral, warn me to leave to other and younger 
citizens the management of what are to be their own concerns, and 
to be contented with the share I have had with those of my own 
day. 

" I submit to these monitions the more willingly, as they favor that 
rest and quiet, which the increasing debility of age calls for, and have 
therefore to offer only my prayers for success to the efforts of others, 
and praise to those engaged in them, among whom I distinguished 
yourself, and to whom I particularly address the assurance of my 
great respect. 

"Th. Jefferson. 

" Mr. Elkanah Watson." 



"MoNTPELiER, March 18. 

" Dear Sir : — I have received your letter of the Sth inst., accom- 
panied by your communications to Mr, Skinner, on the subject of a 
National Board of Agriculture. 

" 1 have never taken into particular consideration the expediency, 
or the best plan of such an institution ; being among those who do 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 407 

not view it as within the powers vested in the General Government.* 
If the power existed, Mr. Skinner is probably right in supposing the 
public mind is not yet prepared for the exercise of it. The experi- 
ments making in several of the States will doubtless throw light on 
the utility of Agricultural Boards, instituted and endowed by public 
authority, and it is to be wished that the experiment will be fully and 
sufficiently made. 

" Though not concurring in the opinion you entertain, I do full jus- 
tice to the patriotic zeal of which you give such steady proofs in be- 
half of the art, which, more than any other, is the basis of individual 
comfort and national prosperity. 

" I thank you for the Neapolitan Cabbage Seed, kindly spared 
from your small stock. Proper use will be made of it, with a view 
both to its preservation and diffusion. 

" Be pleased to accept my thanks and friendly respects, 

"James Madisojt. 

" Mr. Watson." 

The annexed letter from Dr. Mitchell, characteristic of his 

eccentric but philosophical mind, I select from a large number 

of similar tributes from eminent men, to the patriotic services 

of Mr. Watson, received at the period when his efforts were 

peculiarly devoted to the organization of Agricultural Societies, 

and the advancement of the general agricultural interests of 

the State. 

" New- York, April 28th, 1819. 
" Elkanah Watson, Esq. : 

" My Dear Sir : — During my last visit to Albany, as a solicitor of 
an endowment for the benefit of the Deaf and Dumb from the Le- 
gislature, I had the pleasure of spending an evening with you at the 
Mayor's. I hailed you as ' Grand Agricola;' I also said to you that 
as Robert R. Livingston, my late invaluable friend, and a benefactor 
of the human race, had been called by our Supreme Master from 
labor to rest, the wheaten crown, which he had so honorably and 
so usefully worn, had devolved to you ; at the same time I raised my 
hands over your head, and seemed, as it were, to perform the cere- 
monial of decorating your temples with the wreath of Ceres. As 
this ceremony was performed unnoticed by you, you could not ob- 
serve as well as I did the effect this coronation had upon the ladies. 
They sympathized, and well they might, in this land of Democracy 
and Christianity, truly the woman's paradise. 

* Mr. Jefferson, in referring to Mr. Madison, was either mistaken in the fact, 
or more probably the institution to which he alludes, was a private organiza- 
tion. — [Editor. 



408 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION 



" I write this note for the purpose of acknowledging the receipt of 
your Spanish Wheat,* and of the copy of your letter to G. W, Jef- 
freys, Esq., of North Carolina, on the history of the Berkshire Agri- 
cultural Society, an excellent model for all similar institutions to 
work by. My numerous occupations since my return home have 
prevented me from taking any steps to form a Society for this county, 
for claiming the $650, appropriated to it by the law. As far as I can 
discover, the citizens who have any feeling or concern about it are 
very few, and even they seem to think the conditions foo hard. Some 
further excitement is wanted, and I know not who among us shall 
give it. Some monitor like yourself, perhaps, may correct the exist- 
ing error, and instil better notions. 

"Accept the assurances of my respect. 

" Saml. L. Mitchell." 

I have already remarked that the scheme of a '' Pattern Farm'* 
was among the favorite projects embraced in the conceptions 
of Mr. Watson, for the promotion of the agricultural interests 
of the State. His vievi^s are embodied in the following expo- 
sition of his plan on that subject, and will be read, I tiiink, with 
interest by the large and intelligent class of citizens, who now 
are enlisted in the same patriotic cause. The design still lin- 
gers in the minds and purposes of the friends of agricultural 
science, but has not received that consummation he so earn- 
estly antic'pated. 

" We will suppose a farm, containing from one hundred to 
two hundred acres of land, in the vicinity of Albany, to belong 
to the State, under the direction of a Board of Agriculture, 
and containing a variety of soil, and a permanent flowing 
stream of water. On this farm we will suppose erected suit- 
able buildings to accommodate one hundred persons, and several 
work-shops, for the construction of farming utensils. Place 
this establishment under the superintendence of a Professor of 
Agriculture, with suitable assistants ; here to be deposited 
plants, shrubs, grain, trees, &c., to undergo experiments to es- 
tablish their congeniality to our soil and climate. Here, also, 
the best improved implements of husbandry will be introduced 

* This was a specimen of the wheat received from Spain, in response to my 
Circular, from O. Rich, Esq., American Consul at Valencia. — [Mem. E. Wat- 
sorCs Letter. 



OE, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 409 

and made : new inventions will be tested, and models of such 
as shall deserve a preference will be sent to the County Socie- 
ties. Also the best plans for rural architects ; the best season 
for sowing crops tested by experiments, — the most approved 
fences, and the best kind of domestic animals, will all come 
within the duties of this important institution ; as well as ex- 
periments on manures, the best method of creating and pre- 
serving them. In a word, all that relates to practical hus- 
bandry, in connection with chemistry, horticulture, botany, 
and mineralogy. The most useful part of the system will be 
the education of twenty young men at the expense of the 
Agricultural Fund. The selection to be made on the recom- 
mendation of the Presidents of the County Agricultural Socie- 
ties, from the four great political divisions of the State. These 
students to be formed into classes, and taught agriculture, in 
all its branches, as well in theory as in practice. They must, 
however, severally engage to labor on said farm as practical 
farmers, at least three hours in each day, when so required by 
the professor, and to conform, in all respects, to the rules and 
ordinances of said Institution. Let it be made the duty of 
these students to be attached the ensuing year to some respect- 
able academy or school, in their respective districts, under the 
superintendence of the county societies. In these subordinate 
schools let the youth be furnished with some cheap books on 
the first elements of agriculture and chemistry, adapted to 
their capacities, and taught as a branch of their education. 

" However desirable the institution cf a Pattern Farm, on a 
scale commensurate with the importance of the object, yet it 
is evident the period of its establishment is remote. Probably 
it will not be attempted till the grand canals shall pour into the 
lap of our treasury overflowing means to support it. Besides, 
our agricultural societies are yet in their infancy. They must 
gradually approach a sufficient state of maturity, to give a 
tone, and carry conviction home to the public mind, that such 
a system will be an important auxiliary in perfecting the sci- 
ence of agriculture, in co-operation with the county societies. 
When our descendants shall reach that important era, every 



410 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EE VOLUTION ; 

reflecting mind will readily perceive the incalculable benefits of 
such an institution ; especially should the State be divided into 
ten agricultural districts, and a branch be established in each, 
under the superintendence of men who shall have been edu- 
cated at least for one or tvi^o years at the primary institution. 
In the process of time, under the operation of this benign sys- 
tem, (and I hazard nothing in venturing a prophecy that it will 
take place,) the great mass of our citizens will become scien- 
tific farmers." 

At this epoch the more public and active agency of Mr. 
Watson in the organization of these Societies, and in the pro- 
mulgation of agricultural science, terminated, although his 
deep solicitude for the successful development of the great in- 
terests of agriculture was never diminished. A devotion to 
other objects of public improvement, excited the feelings and 
occupied the attention of his closing years. 

In the year 1818 he made a Western Tour, which extended 
into the then remote territory of Michigan, to gratify his curi- 
osity by a personal inspection of the character and resources of 
the new regions which were washed by the waters of Lake 
Erie, and to shed a tear upon the recent grave of a beloved 
daughter. This journey at that period was arduous, and sur- 
rounded by exposures and trial. 

I compile from his very copious Journal a brief summary of 
the incidents and observations he records. In a preliminary 
notice, attached to a transcript of his original manuscript of 
this Journal, he remarks : — " The last and most interesting of 
all my journals of travels, through a period of forty-one years, 
and this made at the age of threescore. I commenced the 
habit of journalizing in 1777, when nineteen, and have pre- 
served the practice habitually up to the present day. I was 
prompted to the relation of scenes of adventure and ludicrous 
incident, from the impression made on my mind when a boy 
by reading Roderic Random, the inimitable production of 
Smollet. 

'^ Jane Sd, 1818. — It had rained incessantly for several weeks 
previous to my departure from Albany, on my journey to 



OK, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON". 411 



Detroit. After a long and dreary winter, all nature was still 
enshrouded in mourning. Tiiis morning the rain ceased, the 
dove has gone forth, and the earth appears once more glowing 
beneath the genial rays of grateful sunbeams. 

" On the 7th June I left the village of Manlius, as well for the 
purpose of viewing the canal as to accept an invitation to an ex- 
cursion upon the first packet-boat on her preliminary trip. I 
found lads and lasses, old and young, pouring in from all quarters, 
to profit by the same invitation. It began to rain as I arrived, 
and we all pressed into the long narrow cabin, packed to its 
greatest capacity. In a short time, however, the shower 
abated, the artillery of heaven ceased its incessant and terrific 
peals, the vivid flashes of lightning disappeared. -Who, in the 
contemplation of such a scene, can restrain a solemn and dread 
reverence for the Almighty power that wields and directs this 
terrific agency. Although philosophy assures us it results from 
natural causes, well known and fully developed, yet there is 
nothing so deeply calculated to make poor, proud, insignificant, 
pigmy man feel his nothingness and impotency, as when assail- 
ed by the thunderbolts of Heaven. 

" As soon as the rain ceased, the cabin began to disgorge its 
load. The gallant swains handed up their lasses and spread 
the deck with chairs and benches, which were filled by a happy> 
joyous crowd, full of life and hilarity. I had observed some 
distance in advance a bridge that seemed unusually low, and 
watched our rapid approach to it with some anxiety, although 
relieved from apprehension by the feeling that the officers of 
the boat knew and would discharge their duty in watching the 
safety of the passengers. My alarm and agitation increased to 
the utmost intensity when I perceived that we were only two 
or three rods from the bridge, that no notice was taken of the 
danger, and that inevitable destruction was impending over 
the whole happy and unsuspicious mass. I cried out in the 
highest pitch of my voice — "Down! down — off" the deck!'* 
Fortunately the boat had a considerable space between the 
cabin and the gunwale, and into these gangways the greatest 
proportion precipitated themselves, while the rest tumbled into 



412 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION 



promiscuous heaps in the narrow spaces at the bow and stern. 
In another instant the chairs and benches were crushed into 
atoms with a tremendous crash, the fragments flying in every 
direction. To the astonishment of us all, upon regaining our 
feet, after the passage of the bridge, we found that not a per- 
son had been injured. It turned out that the captain was 
engaged in administering at his bar, and that the hehnsman 
was an ignorant novice. 

" At Syracuse I resumed my carriage. It was impossible 
for me to contemplate Syracuse, Sahna and Liverpool, all 
thriving villages situated in the vicinity of Onondaga Lake, 
and devoted to the manufacture of salt, of which they produce 
nearly a million of bushels annually, and not recur to my ex- 
pedition by water, thirty-seven years ago, to this same lake. 
What a transition! The country was then in its primeval 
condition, roamed over by savage tribes, and only occupied 
here and there bj scattered white inhabitants. No roads 
existed, and not even a gristmill west of the German Flats. 
Behold now, as it were, an old country, possessed by a vigor- 
ous and intelligent population, fine turnpike roads, prosperous 
villages and large and beautiful towns, numerous stage-coaches 
all plying in every direction in the midst of elegant and com- 
modious farm-houses, excellent and highly cultivated farms? 
matured orchards, and above all, the Erie canal in active pro- 
gression, with fifteen hundred men at work in its construction 
within sixty miles of this place, and splendid packet-boats 
already building for the transportation of passengers from 
Lake Erie to the Hudson. Inexhaustible beds of gypsum are 
revealed here, which will tend to stimulate the advancing im- 
provements in agriculture. 

" I was detained at Auburn a day or two by urgent solicita- 
tion, to aid in the formation of the Cayuga Agricultural Society, 
and delivered an address on the subject. When I was at this 
place in 1802, it contained four or five dwellings and a saw- 
mill. It now embraces two thousand five hundred inhabitants, 
several spacious churches and other public edifices. 

" While sojourning at Seneca Falls, under the hospitable roof 



413 



of my noble friend, Col. Mynderse, noble in person, in heart and 
mind, I was peculiarly fortunate in witnessing the transit of 
the first canal boat, which passed the canal and locks at this 
place just completed by private enterprise. Col. Mynderse 
has resided at this place since 1792, and erected here the first 
flouring mill in the western country. As no person can 
furnish more correct and intelligent information of the progress 
and existing condition of this interesting and salient region 
since that period, and especially of the effects of the canals, 
constructed under the act of 1792, I solicited him to furnish 
me a statement on these subjects. The letter below which 
he addressed to me, I received while on my western tour. 

"Seneca Falls, 17^7i June^ 1818. 

"My Dear Sir: — In pursuance of my promise, I now transmit 
to you the following authentic statement of facts. Previous to the 
construction of the canals and locks on the Mohawk river and Wood 
Creek, transportation was done in bateaux from one to two tons 
burthen. These requh-ed four hands to navigate them. The price of 
transportation at that time was from seventy-five to one hundred 
dollars per ton from Schenectady to this place, a distance of two hun- 
dred and twelve miles. Since the completion of the aforesaid canals, 
boats of a different construction have been introduced, capable of 
carrying fifteen or sixteen tons, and requiring but one additional 
hand to work thera. The charges for transportation have been 
greatly reduced, notwithstanding the high tolls charged on passing 
the canals and locks, viz: about four dollars on each boat, and five 
dollars a ton on cargo, being about seventeen dollars per ton from 
this to Schenectady, and nearly that sum from thence here. Although 
these valuable improvements in the navigation of the Mohawk river 
and Wood Creek have been vastly beneficial to this part of the 
State, yet it is believed that proportionably greater advantages will 
yet result, on the completion of the middle section of the grand 
canal now constructing between the Seneca and Mohawk rivers. I 
think it may be safely estimated that the transportation will undergo 
a second reduction of 40 per cent. 

"I am, with great esteem, your sincere friend, 

" WiLHELMus Mynderse. 

"Elkanah Watson." 

" I arrived on the 17th inst. at the refined and delisihted villacre 
of Geneva. In '91 I found here a few log huts scattered 
along the slope of a hill, inhabited by a gang of lawless adven- 



414 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

turers, who were prostrated by the fever and ague. The place 
was then notoriously unhealthy, from the proximity of an ex- 
tensive marsh. It is now not only an elegant but a salubri- 
ous village, and distinguished for the refinement and elevated 
character of its society. 

"Canandaigua is a considerable village, containing many 
splendid residences, and a wealthy and genteel population. 
Here resides Gideon Granger, the late Post-Master General, 
and eminent for his lofty and diversified intellectual endow- 
ments. The territory between Geneva and Canandaigua is 
well-settled and the soil superior, but upon the whole I was 
disappointed in the general appearance and progress of the 
far-famed county of Ontario. 

"We forded for a short distance the north end of Canandaigua 
Lake, and travelled on its beach. This lake is distinguished 
for its choice fish. The public hotel was bad, the bouse full, 
and myself, at the age of sixty, compelled to lie upon a buffalo 
robe in the third story, in place of a bed. 

" The Genesee Flats were nearly impassable from the late 
rains. Batavia is a considerable town situated upon the 
Tonewanda Creek. At this place resides the agent of the Hol- 
land Land Company. What a mistaken policy in the govern- 
ment of New- York, to yield so many millions of acres, 
embracing an area sufficient to constitute a sovereign State, 
of the choicest land on the continent, to Massachusetts, to 
compromise an ambiguous claim, which rested alone on an 
antiquated charter, which stretched to the South Sea, or 
Heaven knows where. 

" Massachusetts sold to Robert Morris, of Philadelphia, and 
he transferred his title to Sir William Poultney and other 
speculators in Holland and England. Thus has this fake 
measure entailed upon the inhabitants of a vast domain a 
tributary vassalage to foreign proprietors. 

" 1 was greatly impeded on my way, in being obliged to 
traverse a long and rough causeway, three miles in length, 
and in a wretched condition. To add to the annoyance and 
vexation, several six-horse teams were ahead of us, travelling 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 415 

at a snail's pace. We were unable from the narrowness of 
the track to pass for three hours, and 1 had no alternative but 
patience and submission. Oh for the completion of the canals, 
when these terrible Pennsylvanian wagons will disappear.* 

" On the 21st I reached Buffalo. About a mile distant from 
the village, on ascending the summit of a hill, my eyes were 
greeted for the first time with the glorious sight of Lake 
Erie, spreading like an ocean before me, and Buffalo in full 
view. This forms one of the links in the great chain of lakes 
and inland seas, compared with which nothing, as a water 
communication, on the surface of the globe, deserves to be 
mentioned. The works of nature in America were arranoed 
at creation, by the Grand Architect of the universe, on a 
scale of grandeur and magnificence worthy His omnipotence. 

" The first view of Buffalo, spreading over an extended area, 
is highly imposing. I remained some days in this viflage. Its 
commerce at this juncture appears in a depressed state, and in 
course, the merchants are languishing and tottering. The creek 
on which Buffalo stands is bold, but its outlet is too shallow to 
admit vessels of heavy burthen. Previous to the erection of 

* These nondescript instruments of commerce of a past age are almost forgot- 
ten, and will scarcely be recalled in the traditions of another generation. Before 
the construction of the Erie canal, they formed nearly the exclusive mode of 
transportation between Buffalo and the Hudson. The exception was chiefly the 
limited communication by the Mohawk. I recollect them as they now appear in 
the memory of my boyhood, as huge machines with almost the capacity of a 
small canal boat, of great length, and formed with elevated sides, arched over by a 
lofty canvass top, heavily built and of great strength. They rested upon large 
and ponderous wheels, with tires six or eight inches wide. These wagons were 
drawn by teams of three or four spans of powerful Pennsylvanian horses, whose 
harnesses were often surmounted by little towers bearing small bells. The driver, 
always happy, gay, and light-hearted, sometimes occupied a lofty seat, but 
usually rode upon one of the horses, guiding his team by the voice and a single 
rein. They made regular trips to Buffalo, or upon some fixed intermediate route 
Their rendezvous in Albany was at the innumerable little taverns which were 
established in Washington street for their peculiar benefit, and where these 
vehicles were often collected in great numbers. These wagons asserted and 
usually maintained the road against all other vehicles. If the Camel may be 
described af "the ship of the desert," these wagons might have been regarded 
as the ships of our inland commerce. — [Editor. 



416 MEN" AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

. the double pier which was subsequently constructed, all large 
vessels were compelled to lay off, exposed to the open lake at 
anchor, and there in the most unprotected and inconvenient 
manner receive and discharge their cargoes. 

"On the morning of the 22d June I started with a young 
English traveller to visit Niagara Falls. From my earliest 
recollections as a traveller, I have indulged the hope of being 
able to gratify my ardent desire of seeing this stupendous dis- 
play of nature. In this latter day the wilderness has been 
opened, and I am unexpectedly allowed the privilege. We 
reached, after a ride of three miles, the residence of my friend 
Gen. Porter, at Black Rock, who was highly distinguished on 
this immediate theatre during the last war, valiantly fighting 
in almost the literal defence of his own altar and fireside. His 
residence, a few stores and houses, and a new steamboat now 
building to ply the next season on Lake Erie, are the only 
prominent features of Black Rock, the proposed rival of Buffalo. 
Here we crossed the Niagara in a small flat scow. The 
stream hastening towards the great cataract runs with a 
rapid current. I entered Canada for the first time, and after a 
lapse of thirty-four years, again stood on British ground. The 
roads running parallel to the river were excellent and pleasant, 
the soil good, but in wretched cultivation, with poor dwellings, 
barns, and out-buildings. 

" Two miles west of Chippewa we stopped to contemplate 
the battle ground of the 5th July, 1814. At the entrance of 
the Chippewa plain, my guide pointed out a ditch in which the 
bones of the American and British are promiscuously mingling 
with their mother earth, in close affinity. It is considered by 
military men that this was an ably-conducted and hard-fought 
battle. Our terrific riflemen greatly annoyed the British from 
a small hamlet on our left. On descending from our wagon, 
to walk over the field of Chippewa, I distinctly heard the roar 
of Niagara, and saw a mist rising in a thick white exhalation, 
indicating the position of the cascade. We crossed a bridge 
over Chippewa River, and on the opposite side passed through 
the remains of an entrenchment, which favored the retreat of 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 417 

Biall, and checked Brown's pursuit. A few miles beyond this, 
my feelings were strongly excited to find that we had reached 
the very edge of a turbulent rapid, the river in violent agita- 
tion, and rushing madly forward to its frightful leap. With 
the purpose of examining the rapid, itself an impressive object, 
to more advantage, we sent the wagon on, supposing from 
the appearance that this point was only a short distance from 
the Falls. It was a great disappointment, however, when too 
late, to ascertain that a deep curve in the river, which we 
were obliged to follow, and then a long walk to Forsith's, 
made a distance of three miles. We floundered through in 
deep mud and darkness, overwhelmed by fatigue. 

" The ensuing morning we were enveloped in a dense fog. 
The roaring of the tremendous cataract had been in our ears 
all night, and at an early hour we stood upon Table Rock, gaz- 
ing at the wonderful and awful scene — an astounding display 
of Almighty power. 

" The Falls have been so often delineated by the poet, the 
painter, and the pen of eloquence, that I shrink from an at- 
tempt at a description. My mind had been wrought up to 
such a point in anticipation, that I confess myself disappointed 
in the magnificence and grandeur of the spectacle. Fatigue 
and indisposition from the exposure of last night possibly had 
an influence upon my feelings. 

" We proceeded the next morning, guided by Forsith, to ex* 
amine the scene of the battle of Bridgewater. It commenced 
in the immediate vicinity of his house, which was riddled by 
the cannon balls. What a theatre for a mighty battle-field ! 
What a scene for man to exhibit his passions and conflicts, — - 
upon the threshold of such a demonstration of the wonderful 
and almighty works of God ! 

" After passing a piece of woodland the country is open, and 
here the murderous and unprofitable night conflict occurred. 
The American army was commanded by the self-taught, half- 
Quaker soldier, the gallant Brown ; the British by Riall, and at 
the conclusion of the battle by Drummond, both experienced 
and accomplished commanders. 

27 



418 



" Accident commenced the work of death ; each party was 
reinforced in succession, after the manner of the battle of 
Stillwater, in 1777 ; neither would yield the palm, and hence 
a most sanguinary carnage, in one of the severest and most 
closely-contested conflicts in the annals of war. 

" I was conducted to all the interesting points of attack and 
defence. From the fatal summit of Lundy's Lane the British 
artillery poured a destructive fire upon the American troops, 
and here the gallant Miller, always in the hottest of the fight, 
charged, and secured their guns. I contemplated the whole 
field from this elevation. The shattered trees everywhere tell 
the woful tale. I picked up on the surface fragments of muskets, 
bullets, &c., and was shown the calcined bones of Americans, 
whose bodies had been barbarously burnt in a pile, formed by 
a layer of rails, and then the corpses of officers and soldiers 
in succession. My blood chilled at the horrid sight, and I 
could not restrain my indignant feelings in the presence of 
several Englishmen, who justified the act on the score of re- 
taliation, alleging that the Americans had given the example. 
The correctness of the assertion I doubted, and could never 
ascertain the existence of such a fact. 

" Gen. Riall was severely wounded by a ball through his 
shoulder at Bridgewater, and was taken prisoner. He was 
conducted to Pittsfield a prisoner of war, and there I became 
intimately acquainted with him. He w^as an Irishman by 
birth, and a soldier of distinguished courage. Gen. Riall often 
conversed with me freely on the subject of this battle, and 
communicated the following anecdote to me. He said that 
after being wounded he withdrew to the rear, in great anguish, 
as he supposed to a place of safety ; but, to his great astonish- 
ment, he was captured by a troop of American horse, who had 
boldly gained his rear by a circuitous march. Inquiring the 
name of his captor, the reply was, Capt. Ketchum. ' Well 
named, well named, Captain,' was Riall's response ; * for you 
have truly catch'em — the British commanding general' We 
proceeded, on our return to Buffalo, by the way of Fort Erie. 
-England will long remember the fatal night tragedy at this for- 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON^. 419 

tress, where, in an unsuccessful assault, they lost from six to 
eight hundred men ; while, strange as it appears, the killed of 
the garrison did not exceed twenty-six. Two long ditches 
were pointed out to me by an American officer, who was in 
the engagement, in which the severest of the British loss occur- 
red. Here the merciless Col. Drummond was killed, while 
shouting to his men, " Give the d d Yankees no quarter !" 



420 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 



CHAPTER XXXI. 



Voyage up Lake Erie — Discomforts — Land at Erie — Harbour — Perry's 
Fleet — Hulks — His Victory — Influence and Nature of it — Anecdote of 
Ship Lawrence — Constitution and Java — Gen. Hyslop's Testimony — 
Plan for Improving the Harbor — Old French Fort — Gen. Wayne — 
Grand River — Cleaveland — Harbor — Storm — ^ Archipelago of the West 
— Put-in-Bay — Detroit River — Detroit, 4th July — View of Lake Erie — 
Anticipated Progress — Description of Detroit — River and Islands — 
Wretched Agriculture — Face of the Country — Explorations — Wolves — 
Old Orchard — Indians — Disgusting Scenes — HulFs Surrender — Return 
Voyage — Reflections and Anticipations on Michigan. 

" On the 23d we made our arrangements for a passage on 
board the schooner Franklin, for Detroit. She was lying at 
anchor abreast of the town, in the open lake. With a select 
party of friends I had secm^ed the little cabin, and had the as- 
surance of the captain that he would provide us with an 
ample supply of sea stores. I observed boat after boat, during 
the evening, conveying passengers to the vessel, and on reach- 
ing her in the dark, and excessive heat, \saw to my conster- 
nation, that our cabin was filled by a promiscuous crowd. 
My first impulse was to return to the shore, hut the darkness 
and the increasing wind, and the vessel in the a)Qt of starting, 
induced me to submit to my destiny. ~~--- 

*' We weighed anchor, the wind dead ahead, and rising. Oui 
vessel soon began to tumble and toss, beating against a head 
sea, the children squalling and cascading in concert with their 
mothers, and all involved in Egyptian darkness, sullen and sea- 
sick. Thus passed the first comfortless night, and three suc- 
ceeding days and nights. Sometimes a calm, and our sails 
flapping against the masts, then light squalls, and again stiff 
breezes, always ahead. Our fare was horrible after the second 



421 



day, consisting wholly of yellow Ohio pork and hard peas,* as 
soft as boiled shot. 

"On the fourth morning we dropped anchor just without the 
bar of Erie, in the open road, and exposed to the rake of the 
sea. These last three days have been the most trying and dis- 
agreeable I have encountered in all my travels. We were 
put ashore, and reached the town about nine o'clock. I never 
enjoyed so fully the comforts of a good tavern, an excellent 
breakfast, a shaven face, and clean linen. We looked like so 
many Robinson Crusoes, as we traversed the streets of Erie* 
dirty, haggard, half-starved, and with beards of a startling 
length. This transition soon made us forget our troubles, like 
other sailors, and we spent the day in viewing the town, its 
vicinity. Perry's fleet, and the vanquished British ships in the 
outer harbor. 

" Erie is pleasantly situated, ninety miles south-west from Buf- 
falo, on a plain two hundred feet above the lake, and com- 
mands an extensive view. The streets cross at right angles, 
and are elevated in the centre. It contains about one hun- 
dred dwelling-houses, some of which are elegant, a court- 
house, and about five hundred population within the borough. 
The harbor is spacious and will hold a large fleet, but un- 
fortunately it is obstructed by a sand bar, which crosses the en- 
trance obliquely, upon which there is only six or seven feet 
of water. 

"At this place was built Perry's immortal flotilla. The British 
having the command of the lake, might have destroyed it in the 
cradle, but for the intervention of that bar. Perry floated his 



* In the winter preceding this tour Mr. Watson formed and prepared a plan of 
a harbor at Buffalo, from an inspection of a map of the place, without having 
personally seen it. This plan, through the agency of a friend, he submitted to 
a committee of citizens, and which it is believed was essentially embraced in the 
improvement that was ultimately adopted. This project was matured during his 
visit, and the Journal of Mr. Watson contains a detail and explanation of the 
plan, with maps and diagrams illustrative of it. As I possess no other explicit 
information of the extent to which his views were adopted, I have refrained from 
introducing that portion of the Journal into this work. — [Editor. 



422 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

ships over it, by means of machines, and conveyed to them 
on the outside their guns and stores. The British should have 
annihilated them, in this helpless condition. An officer of 
the navy conducted Capt. Baker of the army, his wife and 
myself, in a barge of the Niagara, rov^ed by expert Yankee 
sailors, to the fleets. They are sunk to their quarter decks in 
the outer harbor, side by side. 

"The captured ships Detroit and Queen Charlotte lay near 
each other, and the American ship Lawrence, as the officer 
said, in a raking position, a little astern of them. We were 
rowed around the vessels in every position, examined their 
battered sides under water, and noticed many wounds and 
shots in their lower spars. We visited the Niagara, the only 
ship afloat, and were politely received by the commanding 
officer on the station, who conducted us into every part of 
the fortunate vessel : into Perry's cabin, in which the glorious 
missive was written, " We have met the enemy, and they are 
ours." 't 

"I conversed with several petty officers and sailors, who 
were in the memorable battle. After taking our leave of 
the Niagara, we proceeded to the shore to visit the arsenal, 
and were much gratified by the inspection of the shattered 
spars and cannon of both fleets. I can recall no event of my 
life more fraught with the luxury of national pride, in which 
purest and loftiest patriotism could so widely expatiate, as 
when I contemplated in the scene the rising glory of the Re- 
public, and indulged the grateful and proud conviction, that 
the ships, or rather decaying hulks under my eyes, had done 
more to humble the arrogance of Britain than all the navies 
of France and Spain, through the long annals of naval warfare. 
We had often beaten her before, ship to ship, but the battle 
of Erie was our first trial in naval tactics, fleet against fleet. 

"I boldly challenge the history of England to unfold a nobler 
display of skill, decision and bravery, than was evinced by 
Perry, a comparative boy of Rhode Island, and his officers 
and tars in every stage of this well-fought battle. The father 
of Perry 1 knew well in the Revolutionary war. He com 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 423 

manded a packet between Newport and Providence, and was 
called, I think, Kit Perry. 

" What incident in history is more noble and chivalric than 
that momentous and decisive crisis when Perry left his almost 
conquered and disabled ship, the Lawrence, in an open boat, 
exposed to the fire of the British fleet, and passed to the Nia- 
gara, a ship fresh and uninjured, thus deciding the fortunes of 
the day, and capturing every vessel of a superior enemy. 

" We were rowed back to town across the harbor, and in- 
spected the public store-house, the spot where Perry built 
his ships, and the identical boat in which he passed to the 
Niagara, which was lying on the beach in good preservation. 

" The officer who conducted us in the yawl, a true son of 
Neptune, not only declared, but swore to the fact, that the 
Lawrence had been sunk three times alongside the Queen 
Charlotte, that she could not be kept there, having each time 
fell ofi* in the raking position in which we saw her, in spite of 
them. He appeared perfectly serious in the belief, that this 
was a preternatural affair. 

" In the year 1814 and during the late war, I had frequent 
familiar and unreserved conversations with a British officer 
high in rank and character, upon the subject of our success- 
ful naval encounters with British ships. He freely conceded 
the fact, and in elucidation, remarked, that he met his friend 
Gen. Hyslop in London after the capture of the frigate Java, 
who, with many officers and soldiers, was a passenger in her, 
en route to the East Indies; that he inquired of Gen. Hyslop, 
how it happened, that the Java was captured by the Constitu- 
tion, when it was admitted, that she was of about equal force, 
of superior equipment, and almost doubly manned. That 
Gen. Hyslop replied to him, " they expected on falling in with 
the Constitution to make a short job of her capture." He re- 
mained, he said, on the quarter-deck of the Java, through the 
engagement, and was astonished to see the superior gunnery 
of the Constitution, she discharging during the battle three 
broadsides to tvvo of her antagonist, which added in eff'ect 
one third to her weight of fire; and to this circumstance he 



424 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

imputed the victory of Bainbridge. My friend added, that 
Gen. Hyslop said to him, from his subsequent observation and 
inquiry he was convinced the American sailors were far more 
active and elastic in their habits and motions than the British. 
The same result which signalized the combat between the 
Constitution and Java, characterized the numerous battles in 
the Eevolution, between American and British privateers, and 
still more marked and decisively those of the late war. 

"Capt. Butler and myself took a boat and I'owed in all 
directions about the harbor, sounded the water at various 
points, and sketched a plan by which we considered the 
harbors might be made accessible to vessels of ten or fifteen 
feet draft, over the bar. A sketch of this plan is embraced 
in my original journals. 

" Towards evening, I was escorted by a citizen of the town 
to view the remains of an old French fort situated on a 
commanding position upon the brow of a hill, descending to- 
wards the lake. A French garrison was here surprised and 
massacred in 1755. A light-house is to be erected on this 
eminence, which will be seen at a great distance up and down 
the lake. A little removed from this point, my companion 
pointed out two block-houses, erected to protect Perry's fleet, 
while building. Near one of these, the celebrated Gen. Wayne, 
the hero of Stoney Point, and the conqueror, near Fort Meigs, 
in 1791, of the combined Indian tribes, was buried. His body, 
on being exhumed a few years since, was found, it is said, 
in a remarkable state of preservation. 

"In the evening, I took a boat to return to the schooner, 
lying in the ofling. The wind was blowing a gale off shore, 
and I soon preceived that I had two drunken sailors at the 
oars. It was intensely dark, and we almost missed our gripe 
of the vessel as we were rushing by her side, when we must 
have been driven into the open lake in our frail boat, with 
little power of returning against the gale. 

" The vessel was soon under sail, with close reefs, and we 
were able for two hours, and the first time, to lay our course 
along the shore. The next day the wind was again ahead. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 425 



and we continued to beat against a pounding and chopping sea, 
the cabin full of emigrants and all sick. The ensuing day 
we beat into the mouth of Grand river, and to our mutual 
satisfaction landed a part of our passengers. Remained here 
the 29th; a favorable land breeze sprung up, which lasted two 
hours, and we were contending with an adverse stiff gale all 
night. 

"June 30th, we dropped anchor in a gale at northwest, 
off Cleaveland, in an open exposed road. In the afternoon the 
wind abated, and we landed at the town, a half a mile within 
our anchorage. We sounded seven and a half feet water on 
the bar, at the outlet of the harbor. 

" Cleaveland is a considerable village, inhabited by an en- 
terprising race of full-blooded Yankees from Connecticut. We 
spent the residue of the day in viewing the town and its vici- 
nity. At the hotel, I was gratified to meet several gentlemen 
of cultivated minds, men of the world, polished and refined. 
Cleaveland is situated on the Cuyahoga river, has a bank in 
good credit, and is highly flourishing in its commerce and 
trade. A company has been formed to open the mouth of 
the river and to remove the bar. I saw a superior article of 
grindstones and stones for. building at the landing, which I was 
informed had been brought down the river from the interior. 

"Early in the evening our captain apprised us that a 
storm was gathering, and that all hands must at once go on 
board. When we reached the wharf the gale was so severe, 
and the sea rolling in so heavily, that it was impracticable 
to get to the schooner, which we could see pitching bowsprit 
under water. Here we remained all night in great anxiety, from 
the violence of the gale, for our vessel, and more especially 
for our fellow passengers, Capt. Baker and his delicate and 
charming wife, who had been left on board, with, only one 
old French sailor. 

"At dawn we were alongside the schooner, with a fair 
fresh wind for the first time up the lake. We found poor 
Baker and his wife in a woful plight, as they had expected for 
several hours that the vessel would founder at her anchorage, 



426 



the sea often making a clean breach over her. Our beds and 
baggage were drenched with water. 

" A fair wind revived our drooping spirits, and we were 
soon under way, with a bright sun to dry olEf our clothing and 
cheer our hearts. The archipelago of the west soon made 
their appearance, a cluster of beautiful islands situated near 
the upper end of Lake Erie, which will be forever celebrated 
in the annals of America, as near them Perry gained his great 
victory. In the afternoon we passed through them, and saw 
Put-in-bay, from whence Perry sailed to meet his advancing 
enemy. 

" Sunday, July 2d. — As the curtain of this blessed morning 
began to rise, we found ourselves at the spacious entrance of 
the Detroit river, sailing north in the direction of the city. We 
took the channel on the east side of Gross Island, pressing 
close into the British shore. I have never seen a nobler river, 
and I was truly astonished to observe the evidences of an old 
country on its margin upon each shore. I was pleased to 
notice old orchards and farms on both shores as we approached 
Detroit, which presented itself in about the distance of three 
miles. It appeared from its imposing position like a consider- 
able city, and very similar to Philadelphia as you approach by 
the Delaware. The wind failing, we dropped anchor and 
landed on the Canadian shore. We were obliged to walk 
two miles and then be ferried over to the city. 

" The memorable 4th was celebrated in a field, in the rear of 
the residence of Gov. Cass, where I dined with a large collec- 
tion of gentlemen and officers of the army. The occasion 
could not be resisted, although I had no desire for society. 
My heart and mind were hovering about the grave of my 
departed child. 

" Here I am at the age of sixty in Detroit, seven hundred 
miles west of Albany. I little dreamed thirty years ago, that 
I should ever tread upon this territory. It is now time that 1 
should pause and review the ground I have passed over in a 
journey of exactly one month's duration, and contemplate this 
wonderful country, and to plunge into the arcana of futurity. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 427 



" Erie may be considered the only harbor formed by nature 
on this important lake, and that is materially obstructed by a 
sand-bar at its entrance. Measures are now in progress to 
construct a harbor at Dunkirk. The mouths of all the rivers 
are choked by an accumulation of sand. These are all sus- 
ceptible of removal. The events of the late war have brought 
Lake Erie into prominence before the public mind. The want 
of harbors upon one of the most boisterous lakes on the globe 
was severely felt in our recent naval operations. This fact 
and the rapid progress of population in Ohio and Michigan, 
must demonstrate to the nation the paramount public policy 
which demands the construction of artificial harbors. This 
necessity will be vastly enhanced when the completion of the 
New- York canals shall have opened a new avenue for the 
outpouring of the illimitable resources of Erie, and the vast 
world which envelopes the upper lakes. The importance of 
these improvements will be enforced with still greater empha- 
sis, when steamboats shall the next year appear upon these 
waters. Within ten years I confidently predict that the 
obstructions referred to will be removed, and that appropriate 
light-houses will illuminate this lake. 

*' When these results are consummated a new era will dawn 
upon the West, and a fresh impulse be extended to every 
department of enterprize and industry. Canals will be extend- 
ed laterally, and tributary streams be opened, which will pour 
into this great reservoir the diversified products of these broad 
and fertile regions, which before the close of the present centu- 
ry will be overspread by a dense population of independent," 
intelligent, and industrious freemen. 

" The distance by these facilities will be practically reduced 
ten-fold, on all the great arteries leading from the Atlantic to 
the West. Lake Erie is remarkably exempt from shoals, but is 
still the most shallow of all the lakes. This peculiarity pro- 
duces here waves of a different character, and more dangerous 
than upon the other lakes, which are more assimilated to those 
of the ocean, whilst upon Erie they are short and broken, in 
nautical language, chopping seas. 



428 MEN" AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

" The northern shore of Lake Erie is equally destitute of 
safe harbors. Within Point Ebino, about fifty miles from 
Buffalo, a deep bay running west, called Prince Edwards', 
affords a fine shelter from westerly storms. Secure harbors 
may be constructed at Buffalo, Erie, Dunkirk, Grand River, 
Cleveland and Sandusky. 

" The location of Detroit is eminently pleasant, being some- 
what elevated, and boldly fronting its beautiful river. The 
old town has been burnt, which was a cluster of miserable 
structures picketed in and occupied by the descendants of 
Frenchmen, who pitched their tents here early in the seven- 
teenth century in prosecution of the fur trade. 

" The city is now laid out upon a large scale, the streets 
spacious, and crossing at right angles. The main street is 
called Jefferson Avenue, and stretches the whole length of the 
city. Detroit must always be the emporium of a vast and 
fertile interior. * 

"By the existing estimation of the value of real estate here, 
it has, I think, been greatly overrated. Commerce is languish- 
ing, and agriculture at its lowest degradation. In proof of this, 
I saw at the Grand Marie, four miles north of the city, a 
large, clumsy, wooden plow, such as doubtless were in use in 
France, at the period of the emigration from that country of 
the ancestors of this people. It was drawn by two yoke of 
oxen and two horses, and was conducted by three men, who 
were making as much noise as if they were moving a barn. 

" The most attractive object I have seen on this beautiful 
river are its innumerable and lovely islands, most of which are 
cultivated. The dense forest approaches in close proximity to 
the city, and spreads over a level surface quite into the 
interior. From the highest point of elevation I could attain, 
I discerned no uplands, all was a dead plain. The land belongs 
to the government, and is of the richest quality, but has hith- 
erto been represented as unhealthy. The territory of Michigan 
has not been adequately explored ; but while I was at Detroit, 
several parties of enterprizing and energetic young men pene- 
trated into the woods with packs on their shoulders to investi- 



429 



gate, and returned with the most glowing and flattering 
accounts of a country of the choicest land, generally undulat-/ 
ing, and requiring nothing but the vigorous arm of industry 
to convert it into the granary of America. 

" The near approach of the wilderness to Detroit, brings 
the howling wolves within a short distance of the city, and I 
was frequently called on to hsten to their shrill cries in the 
calm, hot nights. The numerous and large old orchards of 
the finest apples, originally imported from France, and the 
extensive fisheries of white fish in the vicinity, gready augment 
the wealth and comfort of the people. Although possessing 
the most fertile soil, such is the wretched character of their 
agriculture, that the inhabitants are mainly dependent upon the 
young and thriving State of Ohio, for their supplies of pork, 
beef, breadstufTs, and even of potatoes. 

" I daily notice squaws fighting in the streets like wild-cats, 
and in conditions too revolting to describe. They lay about 
the city like swine, begging for cats and dogs, which they 
devour at the river side half-cooked. The most disgusting and 
loathsome sight I ever witnessed, was that of a coarse, fat, 
half naked Indian, as filthy as a beast, under a tree immedi- 
ately in front of my son's residence, filling his mouth with 
whiskey until his cheeks were completely distended, and then 
two or three squaws in succession sucking it out of the cor- 
ners. I called my daughter-in-law to see the revolting sight, 
but she assured me it was nothing unusual, and that the prac- 
tice was common with this tribe of Indians. I often visited 
the fort that my old friend Hull so fatally and ignorniniously 
surrendered. Col. Myers, who was in the command of Fort 
George at its capture, informed me while a prisoner in Pitts- 
field, that one half of Brock's army, at the surrender of Detroit, 
were Canadian militia dressed in British red coats. 

" Having completed all the purposes of my journey, 1 took 
passage on board of a British ship, commanded by Captain 
Mcintosh, an excellent sailor and gentlemanly companion. 
We dropped down to Sandwich the 21st of July. This is a 
considerable village on the British shore. I landed here, 



430 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

viewed the town, and remained until morning. The wind 
being fair, we early weighed anchor and were soon in rapid 
motion down Lake Erie, having our kites all spread and sail- 
ing most pleasantly ; our affairs presenting a strong contrast 
in all respects to our miserable condition in ascending the 
lake. The vessel was neat and clean, the sailors, all dressed in 
uniform, were active and alert. The wind continuing fair and 
strong, we dropped anchor at noon, on the third day after our 
departure, opposite Fort Erie. 

It is impossible for an old traveller to look upon the existing 
condition of Michigan, and not be impressed with a conviction 
of the great and rapid changes which await the territory. It is 
destined soon to emerge from its present social and agricultural 
depression, into a great State, rich, populous and progressive, and 
enjoying all the refinements and elegancies of civilized society. 
Detroit will rank among the great cities of America. Agri- 
culture, the basis of all public prosperity, is now lamentably 
debased in general, scarcely advanced from the point it occu- 
pied centuries ago. The depression of agriculture necessarily 
bears down the interests of commerce, for in a country like 
this, where is commerce without agriculture? 

" Blessed with a luxuriant soil and with the highest conve- 
niences of water intercourse, and occupying a central attitude 
upon the most extensive internal navigation by inland seas on 
earth, what may not Michigan aspire to become ? Agricul- 
tural societies would shed a most powerful and benign influ- 
ence upon the progress and development of this region. The 
presence of a new and different class of farmers, more enlight- 
ened, more industrious and progressive, would at once give to 
it a new aspect. 

*'I found my confident anticipations of the future and im- 
mediate advance ol this territory, in addition to its inherent 
elements of prosperity, upon the following considerations : 

''First, The sale of the public lands, now first about to be 
opened. This measure will give new wings to the progress 
and population of the country. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 431 

^'Second, The introduction of steamboats the ensuing year on 
Lake Erie, with Detroit the ultimate point of destination. 

" Third^ The erection of light-houses to facilitate the navi- 
gation. 

'^Fourth, The construction of harbors now in contemplation 
at various points. 

"Fifth, and above all these, the rapid advance of the Erie 
Canal towards Buffalo. 

These great facilities to commerce and trade will not only 
reduce immensely the expenses of transportation, but will vir- 
tually lessen the distance, by the economy in time they will 
effect between Detroit and the eastern markets. Soon the 
decks of steamers will be thronged by passengers of a new 
character, attracted by curiosity and purposes of business to 
this remote region, who will scatter tbeir funds with a lavish 
hand. The future of Michigan seems to be certain, defined, 
full of promise and expansion. 



432 MEN- AND TIMES OF THE REYOLUTION 



CHAPTER XXXII.' 

Correspondence with Mr. Adams — Letters from Him — Letter from 
Joim Quincy Adams — Tour into Canada — St. John's — La Prairie — St. 
Lawrence — Montreal — Lachine Canal — Account of Works — Prospects 
and Effects of Canadian Canals — American Tourists— Speculative View 
of the Future. 

The correspondence between Mr. Adams and Mr. Watson 
was maintained, sometimes at long intervals, until within a few 
months of the death of the former, even after he was obliged, 
in conducting it, to employ an amanuensis. The last of his 
letters was in March, 1825, in reference to the election to the 
Presidency of his son. This, however, is unfortunately lost. 
Several written during the latter part of his life, have been 
already interspersed in preceding sections of this work, in their 
appropriate relations, while others I feel constrained to with- 
hold from the public eye. The following cordial interchange of 
opinions and sentiments, terminates an intercourse of nearly 
half a century. 

From Mr. Watson to Mr. Adams. 

"Albany, 2d A^oi'. 1818. 
*'■ Dear Sir : 

"It is now thirty-seven years since I had the honor of receiving 
your first letter at Ancenis. It was a paternal letter, containing salu- 
tary advice to a young American, on the point of entering the busy 
theatre of the European world. It has been very useful to me on 
many occasions. You then said you must talk to me as an old man. 
1 am now fifteen years older than you were at that time, and yet I 
cannot realize the" idea of being ai old man — consigned to the chim- 
ney-corner — in my night-gown and night-cap, smoking my pipe. I 
am determined to iii^lit off the old man as long as I can walk erect, 
with a firm and manly step, as my friends are pleased to say I do. 
The moment a man well-stricken in years is willing to resign himself 
to the old man, he will soon find himself in the dry dock in good 
earnest. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSOl^. 433 

" You have frequently expressed a wish that I would detail to you 
the conversation 1 had with my Tory relations in exile at Birming- 
ham, m 1782, in reference to you, especially with Chief Justice Oli- 
ver. Looking over my old Journals I find the following memoran- 
dum, Oct. 12th, 1782 : — ' In a long conversation this morning with 
Judge Oliver, in company with my cousin Elisha Hutchinson, son of 
the Governor, Doct. Oliver, and several other royalists, principally 
on American affairs, in which I did not in any manner disguise my 
rebellious sentiments ; it turned mostly on my respected friend, 
John Adams. 

" Although the Judge admitted his firmness and virtue, yet he 
sid he always ' dreaded him more than any man in America.' I 
will endeavor to amuse you with a little anecdote, which took 
place the Sunday preceding. (Here follows the account of an inci- 
dent already mentioned,) I then began, for the first time, to feel 
their position, and to pity the poor exiled, cast-oflT tories — never 
more to see the face of their native land, for which they sigh, as did 
the Jews for their beloved country. If consistent with propriety 
you will gratify me, by an explanation of the paragraph in your let- 
ter of the 16th April, 1812, which sunk deep into my heart at that 
time — to be denounced in such a tremendous manner, as it then ap- 
peared to me. Respectfully, 

" Elkanah Watson. 

"John Adams, late President U. States." 



"QumcY, Nov. 1th, 1817. 

" Dear Sir : 

" I thank you for your favor of the 2d inst. If thirty-seven years 
ago I wrote you in the character of an old man, I must now write in 
that of a superannuated one. 

" When Chief Justice Oliver said to you in 1782, he ' dreaded me 
more than any man in America,' he did not explain his reasons. 1 
will not pretend at present to conjecture more than one. He knew 
that I was the first projector of the in^peachment of the Judge^^, and 
he believed that measure to be the critical event on which the Revo- 
lution turned. 

" Enthusiasm for agriculture I have felt to my cost in my own 
breast, and I daily see it in my amiable neighbors, Pomeroy and 
Quincy, and many others. 

" Far from reproaching or regretting it, I rejoice in it, because it 
does good. Yours in particular has been very useful. When I said, 
in my letter of the 16th April, 1812, that ' so many interesting and 
respectable Societies were against you,' I meant at that time an 
Anglo-manian and anti-Gallican enthusiasm was prevalent and tri- 
umphant in this quarter, and that you, as well as I, had given ofl^ence 
by an approbation of the war against England. 

" Morever, I was against advancing your Agricultural Society any 

28 



434 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

money, because I thought we had no right to do it, and because I 
thought as soon as our finances would allow, we ought to institute 
Cattle Shows on your plan, and Exhibitions of Manufactures of our 
own. 

" I am sorry you are not to return to Massachusetts, because you 
have been a meritorious citizen, and possess much of the esteem of 
your friend. 



John Adams. 



Elkanah Watson, Esq., Albany." 



Mr. Watson to Mr. Adams. 

"Albany, 4th Dec, 1822. 
" Dear Sir : 

" I rejoice to notice by the public papers that you are not only alive, 
but that it is evident, from your interesting letter to A. Coffin, that 
Providence continues to bless you with an unimpaired intellect. 

" I also rejoice, sir, to find a new motive to address you once more. 
We have corresponded upwards of forty years on various subjects. 

" The object of the present letter is to enclose to you a letter from 
Mr. Vanderkempt, which appeared in this day's daily paper, in de- 
fence of your just claims on the gratitude of posterity. I attended 
the meeting on the subject of the brave Greeks, to which he alludes, 
and verbally explained the error committed by the orator, but was 
too unwell to address the audience. Most of the facts stated by 
Mr. Vanderkempt were familiar to me, especially as I was indebted 
to you for an introduction to America's earliest advocate, Mons. 
Dumas, our steady, valuable, and efficient friend, in June, 1784, 
while travelling in Holland, as well as for letters of introduction to 
that bright lamp of science, the unfortunate Luzar of Ley den,* and 
Van Stopherst, the great banker at Amsterdam, all firm and useful 
friends to America, in the eventful crisis of our Revolution. I shall 
be happy to hear from you once more, and am cordially and affec- 
tionately yours, 

*' Elkanah Watson. 

*' John Adams, late President 

United States, Montezillo, Mass." 



* Mons. Luzar was blown up in an explosion of gunpowder, belonging to the 
French, in 1784, upon the canal opposite his own house. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 435 



REPLY. 

"MoNTEziLLO, Dec. 10/7i, 1822. 

" Dear Watson : — I thank you for your kind letter of the 4th 
inst. I wish that time may bring forth as able a vindicator of your 
useful life, as Mr, Vanderkempt has proved, in defence of my repu- 
tation, with posterity, for some little usefulness in Holland. 

" This testimony of Vanderkempt was as unexpected to me as 
if Lusac, De Geislaer, Van Berkel, Father Dumas, Cersier or Van- 
dercopellen, had risen from the grave and published such a narra- 
tion. It is written however 'avec connaissance de cause.' I recol- 
lect with pleasure the agreeable hours I have passed with you in 
France, Holland, England and America, and our correspondence 
for forty years, and regret that we have not lived nearer together. 

" I will thank you to send me a copy of Col. Troup's pamphlet on 
the canals. 

"I hope you received the Old Colony Memorial, a newspaper 
instituted at Plymouth, and edited by William Thomas, Esq. A 
paper which deserves to be read and encouraged by all America. 

•'I am sir. both rationally and affectionately your friend, 

"John Adams, 

"E. Watson, Esq." 



Extract of a Letter from Mr. Watson to Mr. Adams. 

"Albany, Ylth Dec, 1812. 

" Dear Sir : — I received your friendly favor of the 10th inst. I 
took the liberty of showing it to Secretary Yates, and permitted him 
to take a copy to transmit to your friend. Mynheer Vanderkempt. 
I hope I have not done amiss. ****** 

" When I was in Philadelphia, and had the honor to dine with 
you solus in 1792, you observed to me, ' My friend, I perceive the 
mania of canals, banks, and general improvement has seized fast hold 
of you, and that your mind is absorbed in these objects. How- 
ever useful to the public, rely on it, the pursuit will create you 
many enemies. Let me advise you to moderate your zeal, and let 
your primary object be, to secure an independence for old age, and 
make provision for your rising family.' 

"This sage and paternal advice sunk deep into my mind at the 
time, and yet blindfold as it were, I continued to pursue my 
destiny. 

"Had I observed your advice and devoted my time with equal 
zeal exclusively to selfish pursuits, I should have been worth pro- 
bably at this moment a half million dollars — and my sons would 
most probably have become drones in the American hive." 



436 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

The following memorandum is inscribed on the draft of the 
annexed letter to Mr. Adams. 

" After an eventful and protracted struggle, which has con- 
vulsed the nation to the very centre, the long agony is over. 
On the 9th of February, 1825, John Q. Adams, the son of my 
old friend President Adams, who still lives, was proclaimed 
President of these United States. In consequence, 1 wrote 
the father the subjoined, my last letter to him : 

" Albany, Ibth Feb., 1825. 
'' My Veneraale Friend . 

" Holding a correspondence with you on various subjects for up- 
wards of forty-five years, it is peculiarly proper, and I desire to bless 
God, that 1 have it in the evening of your useful days to offer to you 
my sincere and hearty congratulations, on the recent elevation of 
your son to the first office in the gift of a republican nation. 

" I ana the more gratified that this great State has contributed to 
his elevation, in every stage of the mighty controversy. I am 
now treading fast on the heels of an old man, and God has permit- 
ted you to reach to four-score and ten. Farewell my great and 
good friend. May we meet in regions of bliss. 

" E. Watson. 

" John Adams." 

After the death of Mr. Adams numerous applications were 
made to Mr. Watson by politicians and students of history, 
as well from Europe, as Americans, soliciting the perusal of 
his correspondence with Mr. Adams, and by some, that they 
might be entrusted with their publication. 

Under these circumstances Mr. Watson addressed a com- 
munication to John Q. Adams, for the purpose of obtaining 
an expression of his views and feelings on that subject. The 
reply of the son is subjoined. While the lapse of more than 
another quarter of a century since the date of that answer 
has removed many of the grounds upon which Mr. Adams 
rested his implied hesitation, and although the subsequent pub- 
lication of the most private and confidential correspondence 
of John Adams, by the act of the common representative of 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 437 

both the father and the son, relieves me from all restraint, 
still I have endeavored, in deciding the question presented to 
my judgment and discretion, and in my selection from the cor- 
respondence, to regard with the utmost delicacy and circum- 
spection the spirit of Mr. Adams' communication. 

In obedience to that design I have suppressed much relative 
to Mr. Adams, that would have increased the interest and value 
of this work, and I trust have revealed nothing to the public 
eye, which will not tend to elevate the popular appreciation of 
the character of the elder Adams, his patriotism and services. 

" Elkanah Watson, Esq., Albany, Neio-Yorh. 

" Washington, IQth March, 1827. 

"Sir — 1 have duly received your letters, and in the sincerity of 
acknowledgment, that they ought each of them to have been directly 
and successively answered, I ask credit only for the assurance that 
the delay to perform that duty has been attributable to any cause 
other than personal disrespect to you, or indifference to the favor of 
your correspondence. Besides my friendly recollections of your 
person, which, if I mistake not, travels back to the summer of 1784, 
at the Hague, I cannot be insensible to the service which the cause of 
internal improvements is indebted to you, and in the friend and cor- 
respondent of my father, I shall ever take a grateful satisfaction in 
recognizing my own. With respect to the question which you have 
had the goodness to refer to my consideration, concerning the confi- 
dential letters, which in a long series of years you received from my 
father, I think you have judged rightly in refusing to give copies of 
them. From the frankness of his nature, the vrarmth of his feelings 
and the confiding sincerity of his disposition, his letters often con- 
tained expressions of opinions, which he neither expected, nor would 
have consented, should have been made public. Since his decease 
there may be less reason for wit-bholding them from the public. 

" Sensible to that delicacy of sentiment with which you have re- 
ferred this question to me, I shall, however, cheerfully acquiesce in 
any determination which you may ultimately take concerning it, and 
remain with respectful regards, 

" Your friend and fellow-citizen, 

" John Quinct Adams." 

It is proper that I should add, that several of the letters of 
John Adams to my father, were published during the lifetime 
of the former, with his knowledge and approbation. 

In the year 1826, Mr. Watson made a short tour from Lake 



438 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTION ; 

Champlain into Canada. His notes of it possess, from the 
facts and speculations they embrace, unusual interest. 

" In the month of August, 1826, 1 entered Lower Canada, for 
the first time, at St. John's, and travelled by stage to La 
Prairie, on the St, Lawrence, a distance of eighteen miles. 
St. John's appears to be in a decaying condition, and the coun- 
try through which I passed in a low state of cultivation, with? 
it is said, a depressed population, although the land seems sus- 
ceptible of great improvement and productiveness. I examin- 
ed, with much gratification, a little above St. John's, the ruins 
of the old fortress, which capitulated, in 1775, to the gallant 
Montgomery. From La Prairie we ascended in a small steam- 
er to Montreal, pitching adown the rapids, in the midst of 
rocks. Althoughi thousands had made the passage before me 
in safety, I could not overcome the most serious apprehensions. 
It seemed inevitable, in any derangement of the machinery, 
that the little vessel must be dashed to atoms among the jutting 
rocks. When I considered the relative position of St. John's 
and Montreal, with a level country intervening, I could not 
resist the idea how soon these places, and the waters upon 
which they are situated, would be artificially connected, were 
Canada attached to the American Republic. I remained a 
night at La Prairie — and seemed to be restored to one of the 
little fishing towns on the coast of France. It appears more 
active and commercial than St. John's. 

" Montreal exceeds altogether my expectations. It must be- 
come an important city, and before the lapse of half a century 
will be embraced in the family of American cities, our old 
friend John Bull to the contrary notwithstanding. The houses 
of Montreal are generally built of stone, and many of them 
are elegant structures. I visited all the Convents, attended 
mass at the old church, and felt as if transported once more to 
gay and beautiful France. The Episcopalian Church is dis- 
tinguished for some elegance. They strained a cord, it is said, 
to excel the old Roman Catholic Cathedral ; but the excited 
Catholics (between whom and the English no small animosity 
prevails) have determined to put in requisition all their re- 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSOIT. 439 

sources, to erect a church of greater magnitude and splendor 
than any other in the Western Hemisphere. The foundation 
of this edifice is laid, and I examined its several parts with as- 
tonishment ; for it appeared, in the mazes of its subterranean 
recesses and arches, like the outline of a vast castle. It will 
cost, it is estimated, half a milUon of dollars. 

" Montreal may be regarded as the grand emporium of both 
the Canadas. It is a place of much commerce and wealth. 
Its importance is attested by the great efforts we made in the 
last war for its capture. The attempt cost us many millions 
of dollars, and thousands of lives, but we gained neither city 
nor laurels— only reaping a bountiful harvest of disgrace and 
national humiliation. The La Chine Canal was nearly com- 
pleted, and the Board of Commissioners had appropriated an 
elegant boat, to enable them to inspect the canal and locks. 
It being understood that I w^as in the city, a formal card was 
addressed to me, inviting my attendance on the excursion. 

" I repaired, in conformity to the invitation, to the boat, in the 
suburbs of the city, about six o'clock, A. M., where I met a 
respectable body of Commissioners, to whom I was a stranger. 
They were principally Scotch merchants, of wealth and re- 
respectability, by whom I was received with much politeness. 
The compliment was enhanced by the fact, that I was the 
only invited guest. 

" The morning was peculiarly serene and pleasant. The boat 
was well calculated for a packet, having a high quarter-deck, 
with seats each side, and a cabin below. The Commissioners 
were all highly exhilarated with the opening scene, from its 
novelty in Canada, and the anticipated influence of the enter- 
prise upon the prosperity of the provinces, and especially of 
Montreal. As a traveller and citizen of the world, I entered 
warmly into their feehngs and views, and yet they little imagin- 
ed the workings of my mind at that moment, as 1 w^as contem- 
plating all these measures, as destined to contribute eventually 
to the prosperity and strength of my own country. Without 
jealousy or envy I indulged myself in viewing this canal, in 
connection with those proposed on the Ottowa, and the ship 



440 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION ; 

navigation between Erie and Ontario, as constituting a system 
that will prove a fearful rival to the Hudson and Erie Canal. 

" These splendid improvements, when completed, will at 
least create and stimulate a spirit of competition and excite 
mutual emulation. I am aware this opinion of the effects of 
the Canadian canals will be scouted by the high-toned canal 
men of New- York, but still I must indulge in the speculation. 
This canal was commenced five years ago, and when com- 
pleted will cost about half a million of dollars. It is twenty- 
three feet at the bottom, forty-eight wide at the top, contains 
three feet depth of water, and is connected by eight superb 
locks, built in the most substantial manner. They are twenty 
feet wide, one hundred long, and six feet hft. The execution 
exceeds by far the best of the New- York locks. When they 
do not rest on the rock, the bottoms on the inside are substan- 
tially connected with the body of the lock by hewn stone, 
deposited upon three-inch oak plank forming a partial inverted 
arch, the sides of the locks form the segment of a large circle. 
The bridges over the canals are constructed in the firmest 
manner of cedar, elevated nine feet above the level of the 
canal, and resting on hewn stone abutments laid in water 
cement, the whole fabric being bound together by large ship- 
knees of seasoned oak, and the wood-work handsomely painted. 

" These works bear a very favorable contrast to the New- 
York locks and bridges. The latter are remarkably slender, 
and so low as to have caused the death of several persons, and 
are always exposing unsuspecting passengers to great danger. 
They fortunately will last not longer than seven years, and I 
hope we shall take pattern when they are renewed from this 
canal. 

" This noble work, although on a small scale when compared 
with the grand canal of New-York, considered as the offspring 
of private effort, reflects great credit on the enterprizing 
adventurers. The heaviest part of the labor was the excava- 
tion of three miles through a solid limestone rock at the upper 
end of the canal. 

"This improvement will effectually obviate the most danger- 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 441 

ous rapids on the St. Lawrence of nine miles in length, from 
La Chine to Montreal, which averages a fall of five feet to the 
mile in the midst of rocks. 

" In approaching the little village of La Chine, at the foot 
of Lake St. Louis, we discovered a steamboat descending the 
lake with great rapidity, directing its course at the point at 
which we aimed.^ Both reached the landing at nearly the 
same moment. The steamer was crowded with passengers, 
citizens of the United States, on the grand fashionable tour 
from the upper lakes to Montreal and Quebec. This is a 
rational, healthy, and interesting recreation in the sickly season, 
especially to inhabitants of the south. The Canadians perceive 
with pleasure this intercourse augmenting from year to year as 
we increase in wealth and population, and well they may, as 
these travellers spend their money with a liberal spirit. The 
immediate effect of this intercourse is to accelerate the progress 
of improvement in the comforts of travelling in the country, 
which otherwise would remain nearly stationary for many 
years from the nature of its resources and the character of its 
people. But what is the present intercourse to that which 
will exist at the close of this century, when our population will 
have reached one hundred millions ! Who can reasonably 
doubt that within half that period, in the irresistible march of 
events, the two Canadas and all the possessions of Great Britain 
in North America, will have become bright stars in the con- 
stellation of American States. 

" What spectacle on the globe will compare with the gran- 
deur and sublimity of the scene which will then be exhibited 
to the admiration of our own descendants and of all nations. 
What a commotion, what an animated intercourse in a country 
abounding with a dense, active, intelligent and enterprizing 
population of freemen will then be seen in every direction, in 
our cities, upon our rivers and canals, and above all, on our 
inland oceans and the great leading avenues which will rivet 
them to the Atlantic, by the St. Lawrence, the Hudson, the 
Chesapeake and the Mississippi. 

" In reference to the competition which will hereafter exist 



442 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

between Montreal and Albany, for the trade of the upper lakes, 
I think little question remains but that a powerful diversion 
will be effected from the Erie canal, when the works on the 
Ottowa river and the canals of the Canadian side of the 
Niagara are finished. 

" The Ottowa debouches directly north of La Chine, from 
thence the water proceeds in a north-west course to Little 
river, thence along that river in a south-west direction to a 
point within ten miles of Lake Nepissing, in latitude 46 deg. 
30 min., thence on that lake and French river to Lake Huron, 
and thence on the north shore of that lake to the Falls of St. 
Mary, at the outlet of Lake Superior. The whole distance 
from St. Mary's to Montreal by this route is estimated to be 
one half less than from the same point to Albany by the Erie 
canal." 



443 



CHAPTER XXXIII. 

Removal to Port Kent — Aids Public Improvements — Crooked Lake 
Canal — Letter of Gen. McClure — Letter of W. W. McKay— Conception 
of Crooked Lake Canal — Retirement — Project of connecting Boston 
and the St. Lawrence — Rail Road — Convention at Montpelier — 
Speech — Comments of the Press — Labours — Au Sable Valley Rail 
Road — Temperance Reform — Address — Cholera — Last Visit to Berk- 
shire — Address to the Society — Testimonials of Respect — Theory of 
Future Population — Mr. Clay — Mr. Seward and Mr. Van Buren — In- 
cident — Tribute to Henry Coleman — Letter from him — Sickness — 
Ruling Passion — Reflections — Death — Epitaph. 

Mr. Watson continued to reside in Albany until 1828, when 
he finally left that city, and removed to Port Kent on Lake 
Champlain, a village chiefly founded by himself, and which 
became the depot of the vast manufacturing products of the 
valley of the Au Sable river. This village occupies one of 
the most commanding and lovely positions upon that lak^ of 
unsurpassed beauty. Its name was derived from the amiable 
and distinguished Chancellor, and was a heartfelt tribute from 
the proprietors of respect for his eminent virtues and talents. 

During several years preceding this event, Mr. Watson was 
occupied in the promotion of various local and public im- 
provements, in an extensive foreign and domestic correspon- 
dence connected with these objects, in the introduction and 
dissemination of seeds, and other elements of agricultural 
science and progress. 

The benefit of his experience and observation was solicited 
from different parts of the country, not only in the organization 
of agricultural societies and the promulgation of practical 
science, but his advice and guidance were continually appealed 
to on questions affecting internal navigation and commerce. 
A voluminous correspondence on a multiplicity of subjects of 
this character is in my possession. Mr. Watson professed no 



444 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

practical knowledge or scientific attainments in civil engineer- 
ing, yet long observation, an accurate eye, and a ready appre- 
hension, enabled him to judge v^ith striking accuracy of the 
practicability of proposed works. The felicity of his conclu- 
sions and estimates on these subjects was often singularly cor- 
roborated by the results of subsequent and elaborate surveys. 
He was frequently invited in this connection by local associa- 
tions and public meetings, to make a reconnoissance of various 
localities, and to present his views on the expediency and 
feasible nature of contemplated measures. 

I select the subjoined correspondence in reference to the 
Crooked Lake Canal, as illustrative of the extent and nature 
of these services, and interesting as it perpetuates a fact in the 
history of the internal improvement of the State. The first 
communication is from Geo. McClure, somewhat prominent 
in the events of the war of 1812, and the second is a generous 
tribute from the pen of a highly esteemed citizen of Steuben, 
who is recently deceased. 

"Bath, I6th June, IS22. 

" Dear Sir : — I have the satisfaction to say to you, that at the 
meeting of the citizens of this town, which was convened yesterday 
for the purpose of deliberating upon the practicability and utility 
of connecting the Crooked Lake with Seneca by means of a canal, 
a resolution of thanks was unanimously adopted by the meeting, 
for the politeness and promptitude with which you attended at their 
request, and for the useful suggestion and enlightened views which 
you were pleased to submit on the occasion — which resolution I 
was requested to communicate to you. Be assured, sir, we all felt 
a high veneration for your services and foresight, particularly as 
conected with the general canal policy of the State. Permit me 
therefore to add individually, the expression of a hope, that the even- 
ing of your days may be as serene and as happy, as their meridian 
has been brilliant and useful. 

" I am, dear sir, with perfect regard, your obt' serv't, 

" Geo. McClure, Chairman. 
" Elkanah Watson." 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSOJSf. 445 

" Bath, llth Sep., 1829. 

"Dear Sir : — You may recollect that when you were on a visit 
to this country in 1822, that you suggested to some of our pro- 
minent citizens, the practicability of a canal communication from 
the Seneca Lake at Dresden, to the Crooked Lake at Penyan, and 
also from the head of the lake to this place, thereby opening to our 
country a direct water communication with the grand Erie Canal. 
Your suggestions I well remember were listened to at the time, 
much in the same manner as we would now regard an eloquent re- 
presentation of beautiful countries in the moon, coming from some 
well favored old gentleman, who should profess having been there. 
But from your earnest recommendation, a small meeting was con- 
vened, at which some irresolute resolutions were passed, such as for 
exploring, corresponding, &c., and you probably left the meeting 
and the county under a pretty full conviction in your own mind, 
that would be the last of it. The sequel, however, proves that your 
suggestions have never been lost sight of, and we have now the satis- 
faction to believe that the next season will witness the full completion 
of a canal, between the two lakes, and that at no very distant day 
the lake communication will be extended to the village of Bath. 

" That your life may be spared to witness the full accomplish- 
ment of this iiiiportant work, in originating which the credit is cer- 
tainly to be ascribed to you, is the sincere wish, dear sir, of your 
obd't serv't, 

"W. W. McCay. 

"Elkanah Watson, Esq., Port Kent. '^^ 

This brief comment is attached by Mr. Watson to the above 
correspondence, explanatory of the event. 

"I embarked in the enterprize of projecting the canal allud- 
ed to, while incidentally waiting for Gen. Haight at a Mr. 
To wnsend's fom- miles from Bath. My attention had been arous- 
ed to the subject by my observation while traveling parallel 
to Crooked Lake — which itself may be considered a great 
natural canal." 

Mr. Watson resided at Port Kent, from his removal there 
in 1828 to his decease. The embellishment of his grounds, 
horticulture and agriculture principally occupied his time. 
He conducted numerous careful and valuable experiments in 
agricultural science. His mental ardor and activity were un- 
abated, and the employment of his pen, in the discussion of 
subjects of general and sectional interests, and in a widely 



446 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION 



extended correspondence, was unyielding, and persevered in to 
almost the close of his life. 

He embarked, during this period, with characteristic energy 
and zeal, in aiding in the development of the vast and unre- 
vealed resources of Northern New- York, in promoting its in- 
dustrial pursuits, and in the advancement of various schemes 
of local and public improvement. By his individual efforts 
chiefly, which he persevered in for several years, amid the 
most perplexing difficulties and embarrassments, an appropria- 
tion was obtained from the State for the construction of a 
road from Port Kent to Hopkinton in St. Lawrence county. 
This work was successfully accomplished, and has formed the 
important and effective avenue by w^bich an immense and 
secluded region of wilderness has been rendered accessible to 
emigration and enterprize. 

The last project of an expanded public character which 
enlisted the mind and the exertions of Mr. Watson, was a plan 
of connecting Boston with Champlain and the St. Lawrence, 
by an artificial communication. This vast and magnificent 
conception was first, I believe, enunciated, in a correspondence 
between John L. Sullivan, Esq., an eminent civil engineer, 
and Mr. Watson, in the year 1827. This correspondence, 
which elaborately discussed and reviewed all the topics ne- 
cessarily involved in the consideration of so important a sub- 
ject, was widely published and commented upon by the pub- 
lic press. 

Mr. Watson, during several years, devoted all his efforts, 
with the enthusiasm and determination of earlier life, to the 
advancement of this great object. A project of a former 
period, the construction of a canal from Lake Champlain to 
the St. Lawrence, which he had suggested, and to which he 
had devoted much labor and consideration, proposed to tra- 
verse the same territory now contemplated for the route of a 
railroad. By his agency, the line had been examinad by a 
careful reconnoissance. These labors had rendered him inti- 
mately familiar with the question of the scheme, and had en- 
abled him to amass an ample knowledge of the statistics and 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 447 

capabilities of the region. All these were exposed to the 
public mind, in the progress of this correspondence. 

The pen of Mr. Watson was actively employed in 
discussing and urging the purpose, while his personal labors 
were indefatigable in promoting explorations and surveys of 
the country. The general idea has since been achieved, 
by a route, however different from that which he had advo- 
cated. The plan which he sustained, contemplated a terminus 
at Burlington, the transit of the lake, by a ferry, thence 
passing up the Au Sable valley, and penetrating the barrier of 
mountains, by one of the ravines, which intercept them, to 
traverse the plateau through the heart of the northern wilder- 
ness, and descend to the St. Lawrence along the course of one 
of its affluents. The design proposed in embracing this 
route, was to secure, while it augmented the business of the 
iron manufacturing district it would traverse, to develope 
and make tributary to the road the vast forest tracts it 
would open, and to afford to the government an avenue for 
military purposes, removed and protected from the assaults of 
a foreign enemy. 

The disclosures and experience of each year seem to de- 
monstrate the wisdom and sagacity of those views, not alone 
as to the feasibility of the plan, but in reference to its influ- 
ence on the financial interests of the State, and the success 
and prosperity of the enterprize itself. 

Mr. Watson, as one of the representatives of Essex county, 
attended a large and highly respectable Convention, assembled 
for the purpose of considering the subject of this road. The 
Convention was held at Montpelier, Vermont, in October, 1830, 
and was composed of delegates from four different States. 
The Hon. Luther Bradish of New- York presided. Mr. Wat- 
son exercised a prominent participation in the proceedings of 
this body, and delivered a speech in a general exposition of 
the plan and vindication of the pohcy of the project. 

This speech was reported and published generally by the 
New-England journals. The facts and anticipations it pre- 



448 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

sented, exerted, it was said at that period, a strong influence 
in directing the public mind to the subject.* 

This magnificent conception, to the advancement of which 
Mr. Watson devoted the closing years of his life with the ar- 
dour of usual zeal, was regarded by most minds to be wild and 
Utopian. I have before me in various newspaper extracts, 
evidences of that ridicule and distrust with which he was so 
often assailed, while promoting objects of great and valuable 
public improvement. 

The reports, addresses, memorials and other productions 
on the subject of this road, from the pen of Mr. Watson, would 
form a volume. The enunciation of the original idea, of con- 
necting Boston with the St. Lawrence, by a railroad, may 
with probable justice be ascribed to Mr. Sullivan, but the 
united voice of the press, which at that day spoke on the 
subject, imputed to the zeal and efforts of Mr. Watson a para- 
mount influence in enforcing the plan and sustaining the feeble 
infancy of the enterprize. 

In connection with this project, and as a corollary to it, a 
charter was obtained from the Legislature of ISTew-York prin- 
cipally through the exertions of Mr. Watson, for a railroad 
through the Au Sable Valley. Under this act a company was 
organized and the stock subscribed, but circumstances, over 
which he had no control, prevented the construction of the 

road. 

Subsequent to his return from Europe, Mr. Watson became 
an earnest and open advocate of a reform in our national 
habits in the use of intoxicating drinks. The great and 

* The following note is appended to the publication of this speech, by the 
Massachusetts Journal and Tribune : " We have heard high encomiums passed 
upon the venerable Mr. Watson for his public spirit and active benevolence. 
He is the father of American Agricultural societies. 

" Mr. Watson was born in Plymouth, Mass., and is descended from Gov. 
Winslow in the seventh generation. It is worthy of remark, that Wlnslow 
was the first to introduce neat cattle into the Colonies in 1623. His descendant 
was the first to introduce a comprehensive plan for improving them. Mr. Wat- 
son is warmly attached to his native State, and formed the first American Agri- 
cultural Society in it at Pittsfield about twenty years ago." 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 449 



favorable contrast in the customs of France, which he had 
observed in that country, excited a deep solicitude for a 
change in the habits of our own people. His journals con- 
tain constant allusions to this topic, and he frequently urged 
its consideration upon the public mind in various publications. 
By his suggestion, the Berkshire Soci^ety at an early day as- 
sumed a decided attitude on this subject, and exerted its influ- 
ence to arrest the use of ardent spirits as a beverage. The 
Society offered premiums to promote the culture of orchards, 
and the brewing of malt liquors, under the conviction that 
the habitual use of these articles would diminish the consump- 
tion of more deleterious drinks. However equivocal that 
measure may be regarded, viewed in the progress and light of 
the present day, it was considered at that time an important 
progressive step in the advance of temperance reformation. 

Among other productions on the subject, Mr. Watson 
delivered an address at Keeseville, in the year 1833. This 
performance attracted much attention from the venerable age 
of its author, the ardor in which he engaged in the cause, from 
his wide and discriminating observation, and the earnest and 
emphatic testimony he offered to the sacredness and import- 
ance of the temperance measures then in agitation. The 
address was elaborate, and discussed numerous views of the 
subject. I present a few extracts, believing them appropriate 
to the issues of this hour, and that they still possess value and 
may exert an influence after even the progress and experi- 
ments of nearly a quarter of a century. 

After referring to his intimate acquaintance, in every grade, 
with both the society of Europe and America, he says : " It is 
with no less pain than humiliation, that I must in candor and 
truth bear my testimony to the world that, until recently our 
country has been disgraced by its character for intemperance. 
We have been, though unjustly, stigmatized as ' a nation of 
drunkards.' We all know the injustice of this foul aspersion 
to that extent, and have cause to be thankful, and with reverence 
and adoring hearts to our common Benefactor, the Great and 
Eternal God, that he has been pleased in so great a degree to 

29 



450 MEN aND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION 



arrest this foul stain, as it were by a miracle far beyond our 
comprehension. All good and pious men in the virtuous 
days of the Revolution, firmly believed that the Almighty was 
our Guide and Shield, that he would conduct us to liberty 
and glory, and render us a lamp and example to the human 
race. In the eye of philosophy and in solemn reverence, may 
we not rationally believe that blessed as we are above all 
nations, that he will not permit us to be cast into a deep shade 
by being an intemperate community. 

" In my travels in Europe, I found the northern nations much 
addicted to intemperance, but the southern almost exempt 
from the fatal vice. In evidence of this truth it is said by the 
laws of Spain, no man can give testimony who has been once 
detected in liquor. 

" My respected old friend, John Adams, once truly said, that 
there were more drunkards in North America than in any 
other country of equal population." Mr. Watson attempts to 
trace the national habit of intemperance to our origin as colo- 
nies, and thus continues : " I can truly say, and say with great 
pleasure, that during a residence of five years in France, I saw 
but two men disguised in liquor, and these in the very dregs 
of society. No decent man could be thus exposed without 
being banished from all female society, with the indelible marks 
of disgrace. Contrast this happy state of morality, as to tem- 
perance, with a disgusting drunken frolic of our revolutionary 
epoch. Many such have passed in review under my own 
eyes. Behold men otherwise respectful, at their first meeting, 
in mutual polite civilities; the accursed bottle is introduced ; 
by degrees their voices swell into vociferous confusion — all 
talkers but no hearers ; they are all seized with a species of 
madness and delirium — the door is locked by a universal shout 
of approbation, that no man should pass that threshold sober. 
Suffice it to say, that a sober Indian would blush to witness 
the sickening sequel — man piled upon man cascading in con- 
cert. 

'' It is now upwards of twenty years since the first agricul- 
tural society was organized in Massachusetts upon the modern 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELK AN AH WATSON. 451 

plan. They assailed in an open and public manner the vice 
of intemperance, both by precept and example. The most 
efficient course adopted was by granting liberal premiums on 
the extension of orchards and the brewing of malt liquor, as a 
substitute for ardent spirits." 

Mr. Watson proceeds to indicate the progress of the tempe- 
rance societies, the effect of Dr. Beecher's publications, and 
the necessity of prompt and decisive self-control. He thus 
narrates his own experience : — " In the year 1791 my destiny 
carried me by water from Schenectady to Seneca Lake. It 
was then like a voyage to the East Indies ; few had made it 
except Indian traders. I went in an open bateau to spy out 
the wilderness, and exploring as to the practicability of canals 
to connect the great western waters with the Atlantic Ocean ; 
being exposed to the use of impure water, to constant exam- 
ple, and having for six weeks no covering but the blue vault of 
heaven and its spangled stars, except an occasional shelter. 
Under these circumstances I first contracted the habit of grog- 
drinking ; fortunately, for me and mine, it was but temporary- 
On my return to my family I regularly took my four o'clock 
grog ; then four and six o'clock, and soon four, six and eight 
o'clock. When I reached this point my best friend, justly 
alarmed, gave me a gentle rap over the knuckles. I instantly 
put my foot down, determined that the love of liquor should 
never be my master. It is in this way, by indulgence in the 
habit, that drunkards are coined." After enforcing these views 
by further illustrations, he continues — " It does appear to me 
that the subject of intemperance has been sufficiently probed, 
dissected and discussed, in the abstract, in every section of the 
Union, with all its attendant evils ; and that in consequence 
well-disposed, good citizens have taken their stand, determined 
on their course of action. Thus, then, let it be pronounced in 
the profoundest humility, and due reverence before God and 
man, that public opmion is established. I repeat from the 
house-tops, in a loud voice — public opinion is established ; and 
will unceasingly act in unison, with vigor and effect, which canno^ 
be resisted, to strike at the root of this infernal malady, and 



452 MEN AND TIMES OF THE EEVOLUTlON ; 

thus, by various measures, prostrate all its votaries to the 
earth. 

" Having reached this result, let your future measures be more 
practicable, less theoretical, and of a more decisive cast ; to 
lead with a silken cord when expedient, to coerce where there 
is hope, to abandon the incorrigible to their fate and the house 
of correction. These lines< of demarcation will enable the 
whole army of reformers to bring their artillery to bear on the 
most assailable points, with sure aim and certain effect. Let 
there be asylums provided in every county or district in the 
State, under the sanction of the laws, there to confine the in- 
corrigible without any respect to persons ; the bottle to be ab- 
solutely and unreservedly withheld from their touch ; to be 
thus confined until a complete reformation shall be pronoun- 
ced,— on the first violation to be returned to their cells for the 

short remnant of their worthless lives." 

" Let all tavern-keepers be amply rewarded by the patriotic 
and the just, I may say the pious, portion of the community, 
who as travellers, and from other causes, find themselves in 

public houses." " The true 

cause should be to induce innholders to withdraw their parade 
of bottles of liquid poison from their bars, which may justly 
be regarded as the impure altar, at which, if 1 may so say, oner 
half of the drunkards have been initiated. Let them confine 
themselves to hot coffee, cider, malt liquor, sweet milk, and 
lemonade — the usual price to be doubled on the former, and 
for every glass of the latter, and even pure water, the unadul- 
terated liquor of nature, let individuals, stimulated by public 
sentiment, and in a spirit of liberality, pay the price of grog, 
and so call it, if be thinks best." ..... 

Mr. Watson then discusses, at considerable length, the ques- 
tion of temperance, in reference to its effect upon the claims 
and privileges of the vendors of liquors. He thus continues : 
" Suppose, then, for a moment, that the revised laws of this 
glorious State had interdicted ardent spirits from all public 
houses, and that landlords were confined to the provisions I 
have just detailed, I ask would not the present number be re- 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON". 453 

duced one-half? and would not that half be adequate to public 
convenience, instead of offending the eye of patriotism by an 
excess of loathsome bar-rooms, everywhere to engender habits 
in our youth, which they never otherwise would have imbibed, 
and thus also save the character of the nation from pollution. 
And why, I repeat, why should a class of men be thus patron- 
ized and encouraged, at such an awful expense to the nation — 
and yet more, to millions on millions of posterity ?" 

Mr, Watson adverts to the history and devastation of the 
cholera fn Asia and Europe, and exhibits the historic fact, that 
its most fatal ravages had fallen upon the vicious and intem- 
perate. He then applies the coincidence — " Have we not 
deep cause to apprehend, from our perpetual intercourse with 
England, that the destroying angel will direct his course across 
the Atlantic ? Should that be our terrible destiny, is it not 
probable that the cholera will sweep from the face of our soil 
all the individuals whom Temperance Societies shall fail to 
reclaim/'* He closes his address by solemn admonitions and 
blessings upon the efforts of the Society, " in the capacity of 
an old man, four years beyond the full term of human life, and 
on the verge of eternity." 

Mr. Watson was frequently called from his retirement at 
Port Kent, to participate in the festivals of various Agricul- 
tural Societies, and by particular solicitation he attended in 

* " In six short weeks my apprehensions as to the cholera were most fatally- 
verified. It appeared at Quebec, advanced to Montreal, where its ravages were 
appalling. Thence it proceeded South and West, and spread rapidly, even to 
Chicago, fastening upon Plattsburgh, Burlington, and Whitehall ; in its south- 
ern course it burst upon New-York, Albany, and most of the towns and vil- 
lages on the Hudson, and from thence to Long-Island and Connecticut. It 
raged an awful scourge throughout the land. Most of the steamboats were 
stopped on the lake, commerce totally at a stand. At this moment, 8th August, 
a universal gloom pervades the nation. All seem to feel that they are trembling 
upon the brink of the tomb, with uplifted hands, crying to the great Jehovah for 
protection and relief. Fasts are held everywhere, and it seems in some places 
as if the judgment of Heaven was stayed suddenly, and in almost a miraculous 
manner ; but often, after leaving a city, it would return, and again burst 
forth with redoubled violence. Amen ! God's will be done." — Manuscript Note 
attached to a Printed Copy of the Address of Mr Watson. 



454 MEN AND TIMES OP THE REVOLUTION; 

October, 1837, the Twenty-Seventh Anniversary of the Berk- 
shire Society. 

The occasion was one of deep interest and connected with 
the most gratifying incidents. The public and private exhibi- 
tion of respect and kind recollections he received, were most 
satisfactory to his feelings, and attested the ample appreciation 
by that community, of his labors and services as the founder 
of their institution. Mr. Watson delivered on this occasion 
his last address before the society. It was his valedictory to 
all these associations, and here appropriately terminated his 
public course. His address closed with this paragraph — 

" Permit me, gentlemen, bending under the weight of years, 
once more to bid you an affectionate— a final adieu. That 
the Eternal may continue to shower his benedictions on your 
heads, and inspire your hearts and those of your descendants 
in process of time, to uphold and sustain the society in all its 
original purity, through many generations, is my earnest 
prayer — once more, a long, long farewell." 

I shall, I trust, be pardoned, for introducing the very mark- 
ed expression conveyed in the following action of this society. 
My father cherished and preserved it as one of the most 
grateful and consoling tributes of approbation he had received 
and garnered up from his long and active labors. 

" Berkshire Agricultural Society. 

"PiTTSFIELD, Oct. 5th, 1837. 
[Extracts from the record of the Annual Meeting.] 

" On motion of Henry H. Childs, Resolved, That the Society 
be instructed to address a letter to the Hon. Elkanah Watson, 
whose name is so honorably associated with the early history 
of this Society, and to assure him on behalf of the Society of 
the high gratification they have experienced at meeting him 
once more upon this its Twenty-seventh Anniversary, and to 
return him their thanks for the very interesting remarks with 
which he has this day favored the Society, and the audience 
assembled." A true copy of the record. 

Julius Rockwell, Secr'^y. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANaH WATSON. 455 



" Respected Sir : 

" It is with great pleasure that I comply with the instructions of 
the above Resolve, which was unanimously and enthusiastically 
adopted by the Society. 

" With high respect your obedient servant, 

" Julius Rockwell, Secretary. 



Hon. Elkanah Watson.' 



The following interesting speculations in reference to the 
progress of American population were written in the year 
1815. The original is on file among the papers of Mr. Wat- 
son. The approximation of these calculations to the actual 
result has been strikingly exemplified by each succeeding 
census, and I have deemed the document worthy of preserva- 
tion for future reference. 

A View of the Progress of the Population in the United States, 
.written m 1815. 

In 1810 it was 7,239,903. The increase from 1790, the first 
census under the constitution, has been about one-third at 
each census : admitting it shall continue to increase in the 
same ratio, the result will be as follows, 

In 1820 9,625,734 the actual result was 9,638,151 

" 1830 12,833.645.- 12,866,020 

" 1840. 17,116,526 '17,062,566 

'' 1850 23,185,368* 

" I860 31,753,824 

" 1870 42,328,432 

" 1880 56,450,241 • 

•' 1890 77,266,989 

" 1900 100,355,985 

It is barely possible that I may live to witness the census 
of 1850; if so, I shall fill up that blank and leave the rest to 
my descendants. 

* The results of the three censuses succeeding this estimate was added in a 
note by Mr. Watson. The actual result of the census of 1850 was 23,191,876. 



456 MEN AND TIMES OF THE KEVOLUTION ; 

"It will be almost presumptuous to stretch our minds through 
the ensuing century, and yet taking as a basis one hundred 
millions at the close of this century, and in consideration of 
dense population, intestine and foreign wars, a possible subdi- 
vision in consequence into several republics, we will suppose 
the increase will be one third in each twenty years, for forty 
years, one third the next thirty, and one fifth for the next forty 
years. It will stand thus : 

For 1930, 133,000,000, in round numbers. 

" 1940, 177,000,000, " " 

" 1970, 236,000,000, « « ^ 

" 2000, 283,000,000, probably 300,000,000, 

equal to the population of China. 

" Such a deep plunge into the hidden mysteries of futurity, 
through the confines of six generations, ought to have a salu- 
tary influence upon all the busy actors on the theatre of the 
present and succeeding ages. 

*'The probability is that, not a single mortal now at the age 
of manhood will see the close of this century, although many 
now in infancy may live to witness that proud era of American 
glory. What a solemn responsibility therefore devolves on 
the conspicuous actors of the present day. The virtues, the 
vices, the morals and corruptions of this generation will 
descend in their influences to those remote periods, and form 
the basis on which will be grounded the national character, 
manners and habits of one hundred millions of Americans at 
the close of this century. 

Ca-Ira. 

" The result up to the census of 1840, commencing with that 
of 1820, was thus: 

OVER. UNDER. 

In 1820, 12,151, — 

'•' 1830, 32,375, — 

" 1840, 165,983 

44,526 

44,526 

Short of my estimate in 25 years, 121,457. 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON, 457 

I have already remarked that Mr. Watson seldom asso- 
ciated himself in partizan zeal with any political sect. He 
uniformly voted, but with no guidance but his own convic- 
tions, and with no party restraints. His sentiments were 
catholic, embracing in his affections the whole Union, and 
extending his confidence to political men whom he esteemed 
patriotic and honest, without regard to mere party names. 
Agreeable and gratifying incidents which occurred in the 
political campaign of 1839, preparatory to the great contest 
of '40, exhibit these traits. On an evening in August of the 
former year, Gov. Seward arrived at Mr. Watson's residence 
by the southern boat, and within an hour afterwards Mr. 
Clay reached there from the north. The first was a former 
acquaintance of Mr. Watson, the latter a personal stranger. 
The partizans of these whig luminaries assembled in crowds 
to receive them, and for this purpose the house of Mr. 
Watson was freely opened and illuminated, and his saloons 
converted into reception rooms for the levee of his guests. 

A few days afterwards, Mr. Van Buren arrived at the man- 
sion of Mr. Watson, which was again luminous and spread 
open to a new cloud of votaries, and thronged by the Demo- 
cratic masses. It was the homage of an aged and departing 
republican — not to the leaders of party, but to his country — 
to the eminence of prominent and distinguished men of a new 
generation. 

The journal of Mr. Watson, in which he was accustomed to 
review, in the form of a summary, the events of the preceding 
year, upon each anniversary of his birth, was continued to 
January 22d, 1842, which was the year of his decease. The 
last letter attached to the pages of this work, was one from 
the eminent agricultural writer, the late Henry Coleman ; and 
by a happy and apt coincidence, the final paragraph of his 
journal recorded the following tribute to the character and 
services of Mr. Coleman : 

"In the month of September of this year I received the 
annexed letter from the Rev. Henry Coleman, one of the 



458 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

most successful agriculturists of the age. He was formerly, I 
believe, a Professor at Harvard, a preacher of the Unitarian 
doctrines which predominate at that venerable institution. 
Mr. Coleman has for several years devoted his talents to 
the promotion and improvement of agriculture as a science — 
for the last six he has been employed by the noble State of Mas- 
sachusetts, in visiting all the towns of the interior counties, and 
most of the prominent farmers personally, for the distinct pur- 
pose of investigating the condition and resources of agriculture 
and for the dissemination of practical knowledge in husbandry. 
This is a broad field of high and responsible duty. Few 
individuals have been more useful in exciting a powerful and 
wide-spread influence upon agriculture. Fortunately for me 
he was engaged at the time of my visit in 1837, in his tour 
of Berkshire, and was seated at my left hand at the dinner 
table, where he delivered a most excellent address. 

,* Burlington, Vt. Sept. 21, 1841. 
"Hon. Elkanah Watson: 

"Dear Sir, — I am much obliged by your several pamphlets and let- 
ters, all of which I have carefully read. I will forward you some 
agricultural pamphlets soon after my return to Boston, which will be 
by the middle of next month. I shall value the engraving which you 
have politely sent me, as that of an individual whose public-spirited, 
enli^yhtened, and disinterested exertions and sacrifices to advance the 
cause of an improved agriculture and that of public internal improve- 
ments generally, have not been surpassed by any citizen in the 
country. 

"The public, throughout the county of Berkshire in particular, and 
in the State of New-York and the country at large, are now enjoying 
the valuable fruits of your labors. This is your reward, and not a 
small one to a patriot and philanthropist. 

" I am, sir, very respectfully yours, 

" Henry Coleman. " 

Physical infirmities, attended with severe suffering, were 
now rapidly and surely prostrating the frame of Mr. Watson, 
He saw and realized the admonition, and prepared in calm- 
ness and resignation for his departure. He had attained to a 
great age ; he felt that his destiny had been accomplished ; and 
in the language of Dr. Franklin addressed to himself half a 



OR, MEMOIRS OF ELKANAH WATSON. 459 

century before, and to which he often referred, *' that it was 
time for him to leave the stage to others." 

His intellectual powers remained unimpaired and his mental 
industry unabated. His pen continued to be his constant oc- 
cupation and solace. His last thoughts clung to those themes 
to which his mind and life bad been consecrated. Amid the 
final throes of nature, when the curtains of earth had closed 
about him, and 4;he consciousness of external objects shut out, 
" the ruling passion strong in death " still animated and light- 
ened his mind. Enquiring for a member of his family who 
then stood over his bed, he added, '' ah yes, I know — he has 
gone to Plattsburgh after that Railroad Act ;" and then raising 
himself from his bed, he exclaimed, in the delirium of approach- 
ing death, with the strongest emphasis and most earnest ges- 
ticulation, " Yonder is the tract of the road, and at this point 
it must terminate." These were the last words he uttered. 

Few citizens have yielded to the advancement of the great 
interests of their country more ardent enthusiasm and self- 
sacrificing zeal. The fact that a devotion to public concerns 
impaired the private fortune of Mr. Watson, attests the purity 
and disinterestedness of his motives. Some of the projects he 
advocated were perhaps visionary and extravagant, while many, 
which at their initiation found little favor or response in public 
sentiment, have proved in their results the sagacity and fore- 
cast of his theories. Impatient at the listless and calculating 
spirit of doubt and scepticism that often crossed his path and 
fettered his enthusiasm, he sometimes resisted it with an im- 
petuous zeal rather than by conciliatory moderation, and thus 
often animated hostility when he might have disarmed opposi- 
tion. 

He wrote with great fluency and with a rapid hand, in a 
nervous and elevated style, wanting often, however, the polish 
and precision which is formed by finished education. He 
was not learned in science or accomplished in literature. 
Men and nature were the books he studied, and from the 
enlarged views formed by travel and close and vigilant obser- 
vation in a long and variegated career, he had accumulated 
no ordinary fund of interesting facts and valuable information. 



460 MEN AND TIMES OF THE REVOLUTION; 

Mr. Watson died at Port Kent, December 5th, 1842, in the 
eighty-fifth year of his age. A plain and simple obelisk is 
erected over his grave, bearing this inscription : 

HERE LIES THE REMAINS 
OF 

ElKANAH WATSON, 

THE FOUNDER AND FIRST PRESIDENT 
OF 

THE BERKSHIRE AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY. 

MAY GENERATIONS YET UNBORN 

Hearn 6a ¥^ example 
TO LOVE THEIR COUNTRY • 



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