STORY OF MEADYILLE.
STORY OF MEADVILLE.
U I Ct&i/di
FROM JOHN J. AUDUBON, F. R. S.
AUGUST 28, 1824
On a shore of Upper Canada, my money was stolen.
The thief, perhaps, imagined it was of little importance
to a naturalist. To repine at what could not be helped
would have been unmanly. I felt satisfied Providence
had relief in store. Seven dollars and a half were left to
us, two persons, 1,500 miles from home, at the entrance
of Presque-Isle Harbor. A gale prevented our passage of
the bar. Providence, on whom I ever relied, aided us.
Captain Judd, U. S. N. came to our relief. My drawings
were safe; for anything else, I then cared but little. I
searched in vain for Captain Judd, gave a dollar to the
sailors and went to a humble inn for bread and milk, and
to consider how to proceed.
We hired, for five dollars, a cart for our baggage, to
Meadville. It rained nearly the whole day. At night,
we alighted at our conductor's home. Only the cheerful
grandmother was there. As actively as age permitted,
she got a blazing fire to dry us, bread and milk enough
for several besides us, then showed us into a bed room.
We told her I would paint her portrait for her children,
and went to sleep. We were waked by a light carried
by three damsels, who, having ascertained where we lay,
blew it out, and got into a bed opposite to our's. In our
back woods, one bed room often suffices for a family.
We did not speak ; they probably supposed us to be
asleep ; we heard them say how delighted they would be
to have their portraits, as well as the grandmother's. My
heart silently met their desire.
Day dawned, they had dressed themselves in silence
and left us before we were awake. We joined the family
and were kindly greeted. I made known my intention
as to the portraits ; the girls disappeared and soon returned
in their Sunday clothes. The black chalk was soon at
work, to their great delight; the fumes of the expected
breakfast reaching my sensitive nose, I worked with re-
doubled ardor. The sketches and breakfast were soon
finished. I played a few airs on my flageolet, and by ten
o'clock we and the cart departed. I shall not forget
Maxon Randall and his hospitable family. Arrived at
Meadville, our conductor instantly faced about, put the
whip to his nags and bade us adieu.
We had but a hundred and fifty cents. No time was
to be lost. Wo entered J. E. Smith's "Traveller's
Rest," then took a walk to survey the little village now
to be laid under contribution for our support. It seemed
dull ; but, thanks to God, I never despair while rambling
to admire His grand and beautiful works. I walked up
Main street, examining heads till I saw a Hollander gen-
tleman in a store, who looked as if he might want a
sketch. I begged him to allow me to sit down. This
granted, I remained purposely silent till he very soon
asked " what is in that port folio ?" This sounded well,
I opened it. He complimented my drawings of birds and
flowers. Showing him a sketch of my Best Friend, I
asked if he would like one of himself. He said "yes,
and I will exert myself to gain as many more custo-
mers as I can." At " the Traveller's Rest," at supper,
I was asked to say grace; they thought I was a priest, my
hair flowing on my shoulders ; I did so fervently.
Next day, I entered the artisVs room, by crazy steps of
the store-garret ; four windows faced each other at right
angles ; in a corner was a cat nursing, among rags for a
paper-mill ; hogsheads of oats, Dutch toys on the floor, a
large drum, a bassoon, fur caps along the walls, a ham-
mock and rolls of leather. Closing the extra windows
with blankets, I procured a painter's light !
A young man sat, to try my skill ; his phiz was ap-
proved : then the merchant ; the room became crowded.
In the evening, I joined him in music on the flute and
violin. My fellow traveller also had made two sketches.
We wrote a page or two in our journals, and went to rest.
The next day we spent as yesterday. Our pockets re-
plenished, we walked to Pittsburg in two days.
Fifteen years after, that artist Had published his " drawings of birds and
flowers :" for each complete set, he received, from at least a hundred and
sixty persons, Societies or States, from $800 to $1000 each. "The little
village" is now a considerable town ; its two colleges were founded from
N. England; one of them asks our help.
April 9th, 1846.