Thomas A. (Thomas Asbury) Morris.

Miscellany: consisting of essays, biographical sketches and notes of travel online

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campaign together, and we distributed among ourselves
small presents, as mementos of our mutual regard and
providential deliverance. The last I knew of my com-


panions in travel, they were all zealous and successful
ministers of Christ. May they severally receive the crown
of life !

In this narrative there is not a particle of iiction, noth-
ing thrown in to fill up a chasm, but much omitted to
shorten the article. Every man who adventured himself
intc that swamp in the condition it was then in, did it at
his peril. Had I been offered one thousand dollars to
retrace my steps, it would have been no temptation. Only
for reliance on the providence of God, I should have
despaired of getting safely out. In all the course of my
life I have seldom, if ever, felt such a spirit of prayer and
enjoyed such a power of faith in God as I did during the
perils of that, to me, memorable night. How we were to
be delivered I did not know, nor feel concerned to know,
but felt the most unshaken confidence that God, in his
own way, would bring us safely through. And after ob-
taining that confidence, I felt more of the spirit of rejoic-
ing than is usual for me, even under more favorable cir-
cumstances. Such was the beginning of my first regular
tour on what is sometimes called "the big circuit;" but I
am happy to add, it was not a fair specimen of my jour-
ney ings, even in that new country.


The writer, a native of the United States, has never
visited any foreign lands, and does not desire to do so, as
he prefers "the land of the brave and the home of the
free;" but he has some experience in traveling in our own
beloved country. Of course he writes not for the enter-
tainment of those who have feasted their eyes on the


mountain scenery of Italy, surveyed the catacombs and
pyramids of Egypt, braved the sirocco of Arabian deserts,
or wandered amidst the sacred relics of the Holy Land ;
but with the hope of benefiting some who have not trav-
eled at all. Americans are a migratory people; the facil-
ities for traveling are increasing ; distant points are appar-
ently brought near together; much conversation on the
part of those who have been abroad, renders them famil-
iar to all, and a general spirit of passing to and fro is
cultivated. Many who have never been distant from the
place of their nativity, seem to think they lack but one
thing to render them happy ; that is, to travel and see the
world; and they long to be on the go. Some desire
chiefly to behold the distant city with its domes and
steeples; some to scale the lofty Alleghanies, those "ma-
jestic pyramids of nature;" while others are impatient to
explore the new countries of the far-famed west, strangely
supposing that the nearer they get toward where the sun
goes down, the more paradisiacal will be their situation.
Now, it is for the special benefit of those infected with
this restless spirit -of migration, that the author begs
leave to submit a few thoughts.

That the American traveler enjoys some pleasures which
he can not command at home, is readily admitted. In
mid-winter it is decidedly grateful to the sense of feeling,
to inhale the balmy zephyrs of the south, as they rustle
through the boughs of the live oak and the broad, green
leaves of the magnolia, wafting soft notes of melodv from
nature's musicians — the feathered tribes of every hue.
It is no less delightful in summer to be fanned by the
refreshing breezes of the Green Mountain or White Moun-
tain of the north. Moreover, it satisfies one's curiosity to
gaze on the extended prairie of the west; for, on entering
it for the first time, the surprised traveler, like the inex-
perienced voyager, is ready to exclaim, "The sea, the sea,


the open sea!" and when he reaches the middle of it, and
passes some deep ravine, where the distant forest is con-
cealed from view, he may carry out the figure by saying,
"We are out of sight of land." It is equally pleasant to
others to stand on the shores of our inland seas — the
hikes — whitened with the sails of commerce and bordered
with new and flourishing- villages. To some it would
appear at least novel, to be conveyed, perfectly at their
ease, twenty miles an hour by a railroad locomotive;
while others would regard it as quite desirable to traverse
our eastern cities, thronoed with moving multitudes of
every nation — wander among the shipping of the crowded
port, and see "old ocean heave." But all these objects
soon lose their novelty, and with it much of their attract-
ive charms, leaving the weary traveler possessed of few
pleasures in comparison of his numerous discomforts.

Before commencing a long journey there are the ex-
pense, care, and toil of making preparation. Then comes
the pain of parting with family and friends, it may be, to
see them no more. Should the journey be prosperous
and end in a safe return, still it will not be performed
without corroding care and sleepless nights, on account of
the home interest, especially if the absence be long, and
the tourist unaccustomed to it. Females, particularly, are
liable, under such circumstances, to become "home-sick;"
and when this disease once gets firmly seated on the
heart, it destroys all the pleasure of traveling, engrossing
at once both thought and feeling.

The inconveniences and difficulties of extended jour-
neys are not all imaginary. At one time the traveler is
oppressed with heat, parched with feverish thirst, and
nearly suffocated with clouds of dust; at another time he
is stung with cold, impeded by ice, or in peril from the
sweeping current of the swollen stream. Again : as soon
as he leaves the M'Adamized road, he will find himself


alternately contending with rocky hills and muddy vales,
with a little sprinkling of Davy Crocket's railroad, made
by laying poles crosswise in the track to prevent the car-
riage from being entirely swamped. It is said that riding
on these causeways is good exercise for an invalid, espe-
cially one of congested liver, but it is certainly not a pleas-
ant remedy. To these commonplace evils, which discount
so largely from the pleasures of travel, must be added
exposure to inclement weather. It is extremely unpleas-
ant to grope all night in darkness, exposed to a chilly
atmosphere, and the more so if pelted by a continuous
storm of rain, sleet, or snow; for such wear and tear upon
a passenger's constitution affects his spirit, and suggests
thoughts of a severe illness, where he would be at the
mercy of uninterested strangers. But suppose him to
escape this, still he is subject to a score of nameless per-
plexities which must be borne, because they can not be

Among the trials of his patience are those which arise
from delays and disappointed expectation of getting on
his journey. A freshet may carry off the ferry or bridge,
his only dependence for crossing some river, or he may
be journeying where there is none to lose, and find him-
self at a dead halt till the flood subside. The coach may
break down where it can not be repaired, or the boat may
get aground or break a shaft, and leave him on a bleak
sand-bar, or desolate shore, to shift for himself. What is
still worse, deception will be palmed on him, by interested
and unprincipled men. Systematic imposition on stran-
gers, is a regular part of the trade of many individuals
and companies, whose business is to convey passengers
in steamboats and stages. The writer speaks here
from woeful experience, and may be indulged in giving
one or two examples, commencing with a trip on the Ohio


According to the printed bills, the boat will leave "this
day at four o'clock," and, beside the bill, a positive verbal
promise is given b) T the proper officer of punctuality.
Deceived by fair speeches, smoking chimneys, and other
appearances of preparation, you bring your baggage
aboard, and, in conformity to the rules of the cabin, enter
your name, with the full expectation of presently being
under way. Toward dark they blow off steam and ring
the bell, as if about to clear; but it proves to be only a
maneuver to ascertain whether a sufficient number of pas-
sengers can be obtained to make a profitable trip. They
fail to appear, the fire is low r ered, and you are informed
they can not get ready to leave till to-morrow morning;
and if you really get off by to-morrow night, it will be
well, unless they are forced out sooner by competition.
Now, this, to one pressed for time to accomplish the object
of his journey, or on his return trip, attracted by the con-
sideration of

"Home, home, sweet, sweet home/'

is sufficient to put the virtue of patience to a severe test.

Again: on leaving this floating prison you hasten to
the stage office, pay the fare, and are pleased to read on
the bills, "Splendid Troy-built coaches, first-rate teams,

steady drivers, good accommodation, and through in

hours." Congratulating yourself on the happy change,
you set off with fine spirit, in a fine new coach, drawn by
elegant grays, and manned by a decent-looking coachman ;
but, alas ! shortly after you are transferred to an old worn-
out establishment, with ragged cushions, broken doors,
polluted in appearance, drawn by old Ring-bone, Splint-
leg, Club-foot, and Wheezer, which ought to have been
discharged from the service years ago. The driver, de«
graded by dissipation and crime, is more to be pitied than
his team. He stops at every tavern, except those which
hang out the temperance sign ; and when stimulated till


he feels his own importance, but can no longer observe
the difference between a level plain and a steep ascent,
loses his temper, and curses and beats his jaded team for
the mere love of the cruel sport.

Some relief is afforded the distressed passenger from
his unpleasant situation for a few minutes, by arriving at
the dinner stand, where he expects not only to be provided
with a fresh team and sober driver, but also to be re-
freshed with some of the good accommodation referred to
in the bill. However, the stage is behind the time, and
w r hat was lost on the last drive must be made up on the
next; and before the hungry passenger gets fairly engaged
at his dinner, the impatient driver blows his horn as the
signal for starting ; so that, in the end, the good accom-
modation turns out to be a very hasty meal, only half
finished, on cold scraps and bread about half baked.
They who keep stage passengers know that the customer
is compelled to stop where the stage does, and to eat such
as is set before him, or starve. JSTow, all this would be
quite tolerable, if the expense was in keeping with the
quality of the dinner and the time allowed for eating it —
in a word, if the pay was in proportion to the accommo-
dation, after the manner of a public house kept by an
honest lady of whom I heard in the south-west, w T hose bill
of fare and prices w T as in this laconic style: "Corn-bread
and hominy doings, two bits; flour-bread and chicken
doings, four bits." But not so, generally, at stage houses.
Whatever the fare may be, the bill is always up to high-
water mark. But let that pass — we are off again, and
are making some headway.

After dinner is a dull hour of the day, especially to
those who have lost rest and sleep, and the passengers are
soon dozing ; but their pleasure is very short-lived, for
before they have half finished their nap they are roused
by a modest request of the driver to get out and foot it

NOTES OF T E A V E L . 277

up a long ascent, or over a layer of black loam too deep
for the loaded stage to pass through, and rather soft for
comfortable walking. It is not a little provoking, after
paying for the privilege of riding, to be constantly afflicted
with wet and muddy feet, by being obliged to walk over
every difficult piece of road. Still it might be worse, far
worse ; for sometimes the stage gets wrong side up, and
throws the passengers all in a heap ; then all whose bones
are not fractured, will be expected to take hold with the
driver and assist in replacing it, which is not remarkably
pleasant, to say the least, especially if the coach be very
muddy. After all these difficulties you may get through,
though long after the time appointed, and have at least
this consolation left, you are still alive, which, under all
the circumstances, is great cause of gratitude.

Exhausted with such scenes of toil, vexation, and expo-
sure, the weary traveler longs for a change, such as will
afford opportunity of rest and slumber. Well, here is the
steam packet to convey him over the lake, or round the
coast. This would be delightful, only for a few consider-
ations, such as liability of being wrecked by storm, as in
case of the Home, or destruction by fire, of boat and life,
as in case of the Lexington, or by explosion, as in case
of the Moselle. It is true, we may hope to escape such
fearful calamities as these, when voyaging on the deep;
but there is one scourge which seldom suffers any to pass
unhurt; namely, tho seasickness, the very thought of
which is appalling for weeks after. It is the most deathly
feeling which I ever experienced, and I can scarcely con-
ceive how any one could live through it in crossing the
main ocean.

Under the prostrating influence of this loathsome disor-
der, the voyager longs for the port of destination, that he
may once more stand erect on solid ground, and feel com-
posed. But when he arrives, trouble of another sort



meets him ; before he clears the deck, he is surrounded
by a swarm of porters, ravenous as hungry wolves, clam-
oring and scrambling for his baggage, as if the life of
each depended on obtaining a few cents for the service of
carrying it to the hotel; and should it once get out of his
sight for one minute, he might think himself fortunate if
he ever saw or heard of it again.

Some of these difficulties, it is admitted, may be avoided
by traveling in a private conveyance, as far as that mode
is practicable, which, on some accounts, is much prefer-
able ; but it will require more sacrifice of time, impose on
you much more care and fatigue upon the whole, and,
taking the wear and tear of horses and carriage into the
account, will not in any wise reduce the expense.

These are some of the ordinary discomforts of journey-
ing. While suffering them you very soon get clear of
hundreds of dollars, perhaps earned by the toil and care
of years, and which might be laid out to much better
advantage. The time is gone, the money is gone, your
w r ardrobe is exhausted, your business neglected and de-
ranged ; and what is gained by this sacrifice ? Why, a
momentary gratification of curiosity, and the honor of
saying you have been abroad, have traveled through
more states than one, and have seen a few things which
some of your neighbors have not seen. The pleasure of
all this, if there be any left after deducting the discomfort,
is too dearly bought. It costs more than it comes to.

To perform a journey when business, health, or duty
requires it, is certainly well enough ; but to me it is mat-
ter of wonder that any one should ever travel for pleasure,
more especially any one who has any practical knowledge
on the subject.

In reference to a Christian, the w r orst of the story re-
mains to be told. Traveling is unfavorable to religious
prosperity. It divides the attention and dissipates serious

K v T K 3 F 1 B A \ 279

thought — breaks off the regular course of duty, depriving
the Christian traveler of the means of grace and the
society of his religious friends. Beside, it throws him
into taverns, steamboats, and stages, crowded chiefly with
the careless, fashionable, dissipated, and profane, with
whom it is difficult to be associated in any way, except
for the purpose of imparting religious instruction, without
sustaining spiritual loss. On this subject I can speak,
with the more confidence, a word of admonition to my
Christian friends, having proved by experience the truth
of what I say. There is nothing better for the Christian
than to be generally at home, "Not slothful in business;
fervent in spirit; serving the Lord." And now, if any
of my readers, who are tired of home, and anxious to
make an experiment of the blessedness of packing trunks
and band-boxes over mountains, to visit places of fash-
ionable resort, etc., can profit aught by these few hints
from one who has journeyed much — not, indeed, for
pleasure or profit, but on duty — they are heartily welcome,
and the object of this article will be accomplished.


Brother Elliott, — Remembering your oft-repeated
request to let you hear from me on this division of the
work, I have at last concluded to write out briefly a few
incidents of our land journey from St. Louis to Texas;
but, from the circumstances in which I am placed, they
must necessarily be few, short, and irregular as to the
times of forwarding them. Writing these scraps may
teep our brethren advised that the south-west corner of
our Lord's vineyard is not only needy and worthy of


more help, but also easy of access by all willing laborers,
-whether preachers or Sabbath school teachers, who may
be influenced by considerations of usefulness. In the
mean time, I may, perhaps, be indulged by yourself and
others in a passing remark on any occurrence of interest
which may fall under our observation, however small, for
the history of human life is made up of little things.

Since I left home, on the 6th of last August, I have, by
the Divine blessing, been enabled to meet my engagements
at the Rock River, Illinois, and Missouri conferences. My
route was through Indiana, Illinois, and partially through
Wisconsin and Iowa territories and the north-east part of
Missouri ; but of that part of my tour I made no notes, and
will, therefore, decline giving any particulars respecting
it. When in Platteville, Wisconsin territory, last August,
I entered into an agreement to meet certain brethren at
St. Louis, after the session of the Missouri conference, to
form a little party, and proceed on to Texas together,
which plan we are now executing. Our company consists
of Rev. John Clark, his wife, and little son, John Emory,
about nine years old ; Rev. Josiah W. Whipple, and my-
self. Brothers Clark and Whipple are regular itinerant
Methodist preachers, noble spirits who volunteered to go
as regular transfers from the Rock River to Texas confer-
ence, for the sole object of preaching the Gospel of the
grace of God in that new and interesting republic. No
other consideration, I am satisfied, could have induced
them to tear away from their homes and country, amidst
the tears and remonstrance of friends, numerous and
strong, and encounter the toils and perils of a neAv and
distant field of labor. We have one covered wao-on, hung
on elliptic springs, with baggage racks and all the neces-
sary fixtures to render it a convenient and comfortable
traveling wagon for a family, which is drawn by two sub-
stantial horses, and carries brother and sister Clark, and

N T E 8 U F T B A VEL. 2S1

brother Whipple, and some five hundred pounds of bag-
gage. Besides this we have a common-size buggy, drawn
by one horse, which carries young Clark, myself and bag-
gage, and some light articles for every-day use. Our
buggy affords us a comfortable conveyance ; and though
without a cover, it is on that account the more safe and
convenient in difficult road. Our outfit for this journey
was partly arranged by brother Clark before he left his
home at Mount Morris, Illinois ; and completed when we
met in St. Louis. It includes a markee, or linen tent,
glass lamp, ax, hammer, tea-kettle, frying-pan, coffee-mill,
patent coffee boiler, water bucket, provision basket, plates,
knives and forks, spoons, etc. It is well for us that brother
Clark labored some years as missionary among Indians at
Green Bay, for no one but a practical missionary, accus-
tomed to journey through desolate regions, could have
thought of so many little notions adapted to our wants,
and no one but the wife of a practical missionary could
use them to such good purpose as does sister Clark.
We laid in but a small store of provisions before we
started, and for some time after scarce found use for that ;
being in a settled country and among hospitable people,
we had no occasion to provide for ourselves, except the
noon luncheon.

We left St. Louis, Tuesday, October 19th, passed the vil-
lage of Carondelett, and some fifteen miles from the city
crossed the Merrimack river on a beautiful gravel ford,
where the stream was perhaps three feet deep and some
eighty or one hundred yards wide. It was quite agreea-
ble, after traveling over a muddy road, occasioned by rain
the previous day and night, to have our wheels and
horses thoroughly washed with so little trouble. We were
kindly entertained that night ten miles from the river by
brother Hunt and family, who resided in Marietta circuit,
Ohio conference, when I labored there in 1817. Only


one inconvenience was experienced here. Sister Clark,
by sleeping in an open, unfinished room, took cold, and
suffered some in consequence of it. The next morning,
five miles onward, Ave descended a large hill and came
down into Herculaneum, a village on the west bank of
the Mississippi, above the mouth of a creek, and so sur-
rounded by water and hills as to remind us of the pro-
phetic description, "The city shall be low in a low place. M
Crossing the creek on an old ferry-boat, which reached
from shore to shore, and served as a substitute for a
bridge, we turned up the creek under a bold cliff covering
our left, on the top of which was an old shot-house and
furnace, so situated on the point of a projecting rock that
shot might fall some one hundred feet, more or less, into
a reservoir at the base. But the furnace was cold, the
house inclined to one side and in a dilapidated condition.
The appearance of this place and Carondelett above,
afforded evidence of the truth of what we heard remarked
by some citizens of the country, that the villages in south
Missouri, which were settled chiefly by French Catholics,
were in a declining state. St. Genevieve, for example, is
said to be of less importance now than it was twenty
years ago, notwithstanding the advantage of steamboat
navigation. Leaving this creek, we ascended a very diffi-
cult hill where the road was steep, sideling, and badly
washed, and still neglected; and nine miles from Hercu-
laneum dined at Dr. Steel's, spent a pleasant hour, had
prayers with the family, and baptized a child of German
parents at their special request. In the evening we passed
Valley's Mines, eleven miles from the Doctor's; and six
miles beyond we reached Mrs. Poston's after dark, where
we met with a kind reception and excellent accommoda-
tion. This lady, her daughter, and son, are members of
our Church. The main difficulty of traveling in this part
of Missouri is to find out your proper road, for at the


numerous forks there is seldom any direction to guide the
stranger on his way. When Ave inquired for the reason
of this, the answer was, "We often put up finger-boards,
but ill-disposed persons stone them down." Next morning
we hastened to Farmington, thirteen miles, expecting to
meet a congregation, and called on old brother David
Murphey, who has resided on his farm adjoining town
about thirty years, if I remember right; and he informed
us that the meeting was postponed till night, with a view
to obtain a larger congregation. In the afternoon he
entertained us with many interesting anecdotes of Bishop
M'Kendree and Jesse Walker, who used to make his house
a resting-place after their excessive toils in that new coun-
try. His narratives of early Methodism were truly inter-
esting. In brother Murphey's house, while waiting for
the hour of public service, we met with brother Job Law-
rence, deacon elect, and consecrated him to that office in
due form. The evening proved stormy, and I preached a
short sermon to a very small congregation in the Pres-
byterian church, with scarce light enough to discover
whether our hearers were white or black; and brother
Clark followed with exhortation and prayer. Farmington
is a small village, and the county seat of St. Francois,
situated in the best neighborhood of land we have seen
south of Merrimack river; but our society, enfeebled by

Online LibraryThomas A. (Thomas Asbury) MorrisMiscellany: consisting of essays, biographical sketches and notes of travel → online text (page 21 of 30)