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The prevalent impression made on the stran- / find still ruder homes by the shores of the ger's mind by the Plains is one of loneliness, great Pacific. Its van-guard appears at this of isolation. You press on, day after day, with- point early in May, is composed of cavaliers out seeing a house, a fence, a cultivated field, well-mounted on steeds just beginning to be or even a forest—nought but a few shy wild the worse for wear, followed by light wagons, beasts at intervals, or undelightful birds, and drawn respectively by two mules or horses rarely a scanty, niggard stream, with a few each, carrying but two emigrants or speculamean, low, scrubby trees thinly strewn along tors, with their provisions and scanty baggage, its banks — often one of them only; and, as eagerly pushing on to cross the Sierra Nevada you go farther west, even these disappear, or at farthest by the first of August. Following are only seen in thin patches, miles apart. these, come struggling slowly along heavy wag
If you are traveling along a river, you are ons and carts, drawn by horses, mules, or osen, amazed at the sparseness, the feebleness, of its five to twenty teams in a company for mutual tributaries, the dryness of their beds, the bare- assistance and protection, with sober matrons, ness of their banks. At length, the river itself ruddy damsels, and tow-headed children lookdisappears, or is only seen in pools and in hol- ing wistfully out from beneath the white cotton lows along its bed, where a deep excavation cover of most wagons, or trudging slowly, has been gullied under one of its banks; at dustily along, from ten to sixty rods in front. last, the necessary, but not particularly inviting, Droves of loose cattle, the frolic all worked out fluid has wholly vanished, and you are com- of them, move behind, before, and on either pelled to make your way hurriedly over the flank of the wagons, already tired of the scanty long “divide" that separates this stream from fare and hard usage of the Plains, but without one, often less considerable, but which heads in a suspicion that they have not yet began to or near a range of mountains, and, therefore, conceive what hardship really isme point on maintains its current nearly or quite through which their experience will be decidedly enthe summer. This "divide” may be thirty, larged within the next three months. But the fifty miles across—it may be a hundred-wood whip cracks, the oxen strain at the yoke, the and grass upon it, and, in summer, water also, well-mounted herdsmen gallop hither and thithare out of the question; only a few straggling er along the rear of the straggling throng; and, weeds, with the worthless shrubs here known through sand and dust, the whole caravan as grease-wood and sage-bush, relieve the mo- mores slowly westward, with many similar carnotony of the sterile, dreary waste.
avans pressing on before and behind it. Of • What wonder if the patient ox, weary, fam- the cattle thus impelled toward the setting sun, ished, foot-sore, should here lie down to his long perhaps three-fourths will live to cross the Sirest, leaving his master and more pitiable mate erra Nevada—famine, fatigue, the diseases ento get on without him as they may ?
gendered by bad, alkaline water, and the croms, It would be rather Hibernian to pronounce taking the rest; but of the tens of thousands dead oxen the only signs of life to be encoun- thus urged through the South Pass, not even tered during many days' journey on the Plains; hundreds will erer return. They have cropped but I have no doubt that the carcasses of fifty their last of the ample herbage of Kansas and thousand cattle are now slowly decomposing Missouri, and must make up their mouths to above-ground on the arid, treeless, dewless the dryer, seeded grasses of Utah or California stretches which separate Kansas and Nebraska for the residue of their lives. Of their buman from California and Oregon,
companions on this long, rugged exodas, probe Verily, the carrion-crow is lord of the Plains ably one-fourth-hardly more-will live to see —the only ample feeder in those famished re- water running toward the Atlantic again. gions-quick-sighted, impudent, and, though The transverse line of migration which intergorged to heaviness, abundantly able to take sects the great trail near the forks of the Platte care of himself. I can not guess where he is that of the American bison or buffalo. Harfinds nest-accommodation ; probably in the face ing wintered, as they best might, amidst the of some high, perpendicular creek-bank, the timber and grass of Northern Texas, of Eastbrow of some butte, not too remote from the ern New Mexico, of the Indian Territory, of emigrant trail to enable him to gorge his young Western Arkansas-by the sources of the Red ones as he gorges himself. He is as decorously River of Louisiana, the Cimarone, the Ouchita jolly as an undertaker in cholera-time, and the buffalo, half-famished and thoroughly sports a grave demeanor and a black coat pro- miserable, start with the springing grass, and, fessionally, and with no thought of evincing in April or early May, turns his face northward sorrow, or exciting sympathy, still less of mor- in quest of “fresh fields and pastures new." tifying the fesh. On the Plains, the crow is Traveling in countless legions, sufficient to corgeneral executor and universal heir.
er at once whole townships, the bison avaids, On the hither side of this broad, bleak do- so far as possible, the timbered rallers of main-say a little below the forks of the Platte streams, and, driven outward by hunger and
-two great lines of emigration in early sum- the speedy disappearance of the coarse, short, mer intersect each other. One is that of the sturdy buffalo-grass beneath the feet of his alladventurous thousands who push westward deronring myriads, crosses successively the Arfrom the yet unmade garden of the world to kansas, the Smoky Hill, the Solomon, the Republican, and begins to show a dark front of over | The roads over the Plains, and farther west, a hundred miles along the south bank of the have one striking peculiarity - yes, two - a Platte from its forks eastward, as the later half dearth of laterals, and an almost total absence of the emigration is toiling up both sides of that of houses along their sides. broad, shallow, rapid river. Collisions natural. You are traveling a broad, well- marked, ly ensue, and thousands of the noblest natives well-beaten highway, whereon you pass and of the Plains bite the dust-most of them shot meet teams, trains, droves, almost hourly; but in sheer wantonness by hunters already gorged no cross-roads present themselves, no hospitaand overladen with buffalo-meat, whose only ble tavern-sign salutes you, for hundreds of poor excuse for this wanton butchery is a pas- miles. There may be half a dozen "tradingsion for slaughter. Where food is the object posts," so called, between Fort Kearney and -and the hides are good for nothing in Spring Salt Lake-a distance of nearly a thousand and early Summer-cows or calves are marked miles-each trading-post being usually a very out for destruction; thus increasing the pro-poor and empty country store, blent with a most portion, already far too great, of surviving detestable low grog-shop or canal grocery. The males, and dooming the race to earlier extinc total stock in trade of the eight or ten of these tion. Sometimes, advantage is taken of the concerns which flourish outside of Salt Lake blind, bisonic instinct of following, and a whole City, between Fort Kearney and Carson Valherd driven pell-mell down a precipitous brook ley—a distance, by way of the South Pass and bank, to the certain destruction of scores, whose Salt Lake, of nearly two thousand miles-may carcasses are left to rot where they fell. No- have cost $20,000; whereof the alcoholic potawhere is the blind, senseless human appetite for bles—if you please to consider such execrable carnage, for destruction, more strikingly, more concoctions potable-must have absorbed the lamentably evinced than in the rapidly-proceed- larger share. ing extermination of the buffalo.
1 Every man who ventures upon the Plains is For the white man, though his greatest, is presumed to carry the blankets that form his by no means his only destroyer. The Indian | bed, and the pork, flour, and coffee, that constiwatches for him in every thicket, by every tute his food ; leaving whisky the only neceswooded brook-side, and the calf that unwitting-sary of Western life that you may exhaust ly goes down to quench his thirst is saluted by without incurring the imputation of foolhardian arrow through his loin. The gray wolf ness. lurks in every hollow, and sneaks through ev- Marvelous is it to see so much active, morery ravine, in the rear and on the flanks of ing, vigorous Caucasian humanity so scantily each mammoth herd, watching ravenously for provided-for the most part, so utterly unprosome heedless cow, some foolish calf, some vided with house-room-living in such utter inwounded or aged bull, to straggle to one side dependence of protecting roofs and floors. or fall limpingly behind, where a spring from Wherever night overtakes you, you unroll your his hiding-place, a snap at the predestined vic- faithful blankets, spread them on the dry tim's ham-strings, will leave nothing to chance ground, crawl into them, and sleep soundly in but the appearance of some hungry compatriot the cool breeze, under the over-arching sky; if to claim a dividend of the spoil.
| the rattlesnake or the centipede creep to your But the wolf and the Indian, thongh per- couch for shelter and warmth, he has usually sistent in their warfare, are not wantonly de- the politeness to crawl under your blankets, not structive-they kill to eat, and stop when their into them; if the clouds that rolled angrily at appetites are glutted, their wants fully supplied. dark discharge hail and rain as well as thunder Civilized man alone kills for the mere pleasure and wind before dawn, you know that their of destroying, the pride of having killed. For liquid efflux in summer is rarely or never cothousands of years, the wolf and the Indian fed pious; and, even if you are wet through and and feasted on the buffalo; yet the race multi-chilled as you sleep, it will be the easier to rise plied and diffused itself from the Hudson and carly in the morning. If a path leads away the Delaware to the Columbia and the Sacra- from the main trail, you know that it runs to mento~from the Ottawa and the Saskatche- no settlement or village, but to some spring or wan to the Alabama and the Brazos. But creek where water or grass may be, at least has civilized man, with his insatiate rapacity and been, obtained; no thirsty soul need follow it his devilish enginery of fire-arms, has been on under the fond illusion that it leads to any fluid his track for a bare century, and already the more exhilarating than Adam's ale. Thourange of the buffalo is shrunk to one-tenth of sands traverse the Plains, but few civilized its former dimensions, and the noble brute is men live on them; those who stay here draw palpably doomed to speedy extinction. Press their subsistence mainly from the Federal on, then, hunters! to your exciting, cruel Treasury, in connection with the Army, the sport! but make a speedy end of your victims, Mail Service, Indian Agencies, or something and do not merely wound and leave them to of the sort. drag their broken limbs, their maimed bodies, For hundreds of miles, there is no fenced after the frightened, fying herds, fighting off field, no growing grain, no tolerable house, the greedy wolves through weeks of fruitless and only the merest spot of garden by some agony !
| inilitary post or mail station, some Indian agent's lodge, many a weary day's journey from given him courage, or rather confidence, and any other. Nature's ruggedness and man's in- to be fairly out of reach of the passing teamdolence, or impatience of meagerly rewarded ster's whip is the extent of his care. Yes, there labor, combine to render this pre-eminently the is life on the Plains, though the unaccustomed region of rude living, discomfort, and a preva- eye fails to see it, and Heaven is quite as near lent despair or disdain of any thing better. them as to the cultivated valley or the crowded Yet, even here, this shall not always be. mart,
I have said that the predominant impression. The mail (which was but weekly when I made on the stranger's mind by the Plains is crossed) is one of the redeeming features of the one of loneliness—of isolation. For days, if Plains, calling into existence perhaps eighty of with the mail, for weeks by any other convey- the hundred huts or station-tents that sparsely ance, you travel westward, still westward, with dot the fifteen hundred miles of else uninhabitnever a mountain, and scarcely a hill, with nev ed, uncivilized country, which, on either side er a forest, with seldom a tree, with rarely a of the Salt Lake settlements, divide Kansas brook or spring, to break the monotony of the from California. As the emigrant toils slowly, barren, mainly grassless, dewless landscape, out wearily, up and over a long “divide," anxiousof which the sun rises at morning, into which it ly, wistfully looking around and ahead for grass settles at night. God's works are around you; and water for his fainting beasts, a dim speck but those of man, save the trail beneath your near the horizon arrests his regard; it soon defeet, the wagon which conveys you, are ab- velops into a wagon and six mules, which rapsent.
idly approach ; as they meet, its conductor and And yet a nearer, steadier, more familiar charioteer exchange a pleasant or spicy word gaze reveals symptoms of life which you had at with him ere it whirls by in a cloud of its own first overlooked. At intervals, the feet ante- dust, and is lost to his vision. Yet that tranlope looks shyly down on you a inoment from sient apparition, that hurried greeting, have the crest of a “divide," then is off on the had a value for him which you, sitting cozily at wings of the wind. The gray wolf more rare- home, can not fully realize; the teamster's ly surveys you deliberately from a respectful weary, listless step has become once more elas. distance, and, seeing no opening for a specula tic; his sunken eye, veiled and goggled to tion, slinks off in quest of more available game, shield it from the blinding glare of the mid-day The paltry cuyota, to which the name of sun on the naked clay, is fired once more with prairie-wolf has unwisely been given, since it hope, and no longer expressive merely of doghas in its nature nothing of the wolf but his ged resolution; that flitting wagon, those jaded, ravenous appetite, and would hardly be a panting mules, bear tidings, perhaps but twelve match for a stout fox or raccoon, lingers near days old, from the region of telegraphs and you, safe in his own worthlessness and your con- newspapers, to which he bade adieu so many tempt. The funny, frisky little prairie-dog-weary weeks ago; its news, now threadbare in a condensed or foreshortened gray squirrel the States, is fresh and deeply interesting to barks with amusing alarm at your approach, him; possibly, some passenger may drop or then drops into his hole, which, for mutual de- throw him a newspaper, or part of one, not yet fense and advantage, he shares with an owl a month printed, not yet worn out, save at the and a rattlesnake, and is silent as the grave folds, containing the bulletins of some far-off till you pass out of hearing. Ten or twenty battle, the reports of some great trial-some thousand of these little imps, with their odd marvelous achievement, heroic exploit, or nopartners, cover a square rood or two together ble effort—some fearful marine disaster by exwith their holes, dug irregularly at distances of plosion, wreck, or fire-over which his wife and ten or twelve feet apart, but, I think, rarely children will to-night spell themselves into uncommunicating underground, as one may be consciousness by the flickering light of their drowned out by pouring in upon him twenty or fire of burning grease-wood, and sleep to dream thirty pails of water.
of scenes and loved ones far away, yet conI suspect it is some presentiment of this sciously less distant than they seemed a few kind that causes prairie-dog towns to be usu-hours ago. For that mail-wagon represents ally located on high ground, at some distance Civilization, Intelligence, Government, Protecfrom spring or brook-side. I was told that the tion, and gives assurance to the pilgrim family prairie-dog, almost alone among animals, never that they are not absolutely at the mercy of imbibes the Temperance beverage --nor (of daring outlaws and prowling savages-that, becourse) any other. Slowly, on easy pinion, the neath the unsleeping Eye, there is a terrestrial hawk circles in air, then swoops down on the Providence also that watches over their safety, prairie-squirrel or mole whom he has chosen and would seek to avenge their wrongs. for supper-a preference by which its object And thus the emigrant, no longer heart-sick, scems not at all flattered. Lazily the crow hops walks firmly, proudly on, beside the team that from carcass to carcass, too plethoric to caw, is conveying all he loves best to that far Westtoo secure to be frightened. He may not know, ern home by the Pacific which none among shrewd as he is, that a charge of ammunition them ever saw -- for Bunker Hill, Saratoga, is too precious on the Plains to be wasted on Yorktown, Plattsburgh, New Orleans, the starhis worthless corpus; but long impunity has ry flag, and the American Union, are all vividly, confusedly mirrored to his mind's eye in that and the corral, unrolling itself like a great snake, canvas-covered mule-wagon which, bearing the moves on its sluggish way, each cavernous wagUnited States mail, swept past him an hour ago. on laden with fifty hundred weight of provisions
But the mail is not the only apparition of the or merchandise, and drawn by twelve gaunt, Plains which exhales an odor of nationality, and, rough-coated oxen; the extra axles slung bethough mobile, evinces some of the qualities of neath it bespeaking at once the ruggedness of an institution. The army contractor's laden the way and the dearth of serviceable timber wagon-train partakes of this character; possi- throughout the broad region it is to traverse. bly the sutler's or trader's as well. A cloud of The train captain, fairly mounted, rides forward snowy canvas on the morning horizon apprises to look out a camping-place for the ensuing you that a prairie-fleet lies there at anchor—the night, and back again to see what has arrested tongue of each wagon being run under the body the progress-slow enough at best-of his train. of that directly before it, until the whole train Whenever a steep bank or miry brook-bed has is thus formed into a hollow square, within stalled a team, another is unhitched from its which the oxen are driven, while still wild, that own wagon and sent to the aid of that in trouthey may be yoked-wherein they are herded ble; and so, little by little-at first scarcely a after grazing at nightfall—and within which the mile per day; but soon ten, twelve, even fifteen captain and teamsters cook, cat, and sleep, miles—the train creeps patiently, fitfully on; while exposed to any danger of savage attack rarely turning out for food or rest but at night; or surprise,
taking a brief halt in the yoke for the teamsters' If a high wind or Indian assault is threatened, dinner, or perchance to parley a moment with the wagons are strongly staked to the ground, some passing mail; but soon the captain utters while one easily displaced from the inside serves | his cheery “Roll out!" the mail-driver cracks as a door or sally-port to the rude fastness. The his whip and rushes by; and the train creaks danger of surprise being dissipated by broad slowly on—to Utah, Fort Hall, New Mexico, or daylight, the cattle are turned out to graze whatever its destination may be—and the savagain; the breakfast of bread, bacon, and cof-age solitude and bleak desolation on either side fee, is prepared and eaten ; the oxen now yoked, I close up again behind it.
THE WORKING-MEN OF THE MIDDLE AGES. TTISTORY but seldom pauses in its record | can readily understand how much we owe to II of royal criminals and national woes, of the Morses and Fultons of the Middle Ages, princely extravagance and high-bred follies, to Work first began with the Arabs. When the present us with a clear conception of the lives Gothic savages had laid all Europe waste, and and fortunes, the joys and sorrows of our true made warfare and plunder the business of manbenefactors in the past the working-men. It kind-when the rude chivalry looked with concelebrates too often the destroyer rather than tempt upon labor and had made indolent lithe creator. Its superficial philosophy traces cense the mark of noble birth, the gifted folthe sources of political progress to dissolute | lowers of Mohammed adopted the opposing and imbecile kings, to haughty priests, or re- principle. They declared labor honorable, and morseless conquerors, rather than to those calm the highest emir and the bravest chieftain would and thoughtful men who in every age have la- have his children taught some useful trade. In bored patiently to repair the waste of wars and the busy cities of Spain or Syria no man was the ruin occasioned by the passions of their idle; and when Benjamin of Tudela visited rulers. We are taught to weep with the guilty Bagdad in the twelfth century he found the Mary Stuart, to rage with the passionate Eliza Commander of the Faithful maintaining himbeth. We know too much of the monster self by selling his own handiwork to his .obHenry VIII. We can tell how Louis XIV. sequious courtiers.? Lord of the wealthiest dressed and undressed, and every vice and fol- city of the East, the caliph still professed to live ly of the imbecile Charles VIII. of unhappy by his own labor. The Arabian tales abound France. We know how often the modern Gauls in examples of fortune's changes where exiled have crossed the Alps, how often the busy cities princes maintained themselves as pastry-cooks, of Germany and Flanders have been battered the sons of sultans live by cutting wood, or the down and rebuilt, how often France and En- silent Gulnare is willing to labor as a slave; gland have stained the land and sea with blood; and it was thought a shame among the Arabs but of the inventors and artisans, the skilled for any man to be without a useful occupamechanics and creative farmers, more potent|tion. than kings and princes, we know far too little. The result of this difference in principle soon
Yet still with some effort we may catch a showed itself in the rapidity with which the glimpse of the working-men of the past as they Arabs outstripped the Europeans in all the arts glide through the shadows of history; we may of cultured life. Europe remained barbarous trace them to their work-shops and warehouses, their splendid cities, their early republics; and i Benjamin of Tudela, Itinerary, i. p. 03.
and brutal. It was the day of feudalism; the saics, fountains of dancing waters, and gardens most memorable period of human woe. There of perpetual beauty. were savage Williams and Henrys on the throne The Arab workman was usually temperate of England, wild emperors of Germany, and almost to austerity,' Mohammed had enforced cruel popes at Rome. The cities of Europe the doctrine of total abstinence with a rigor unwere squalid, plague-stricken, and half desolate; surpassed by the most austere of modern rethe open country a scene of human degradation. formers. He denounced temporal and eternal Famine raged over the land, and men fed upon woes against the Mussulman who should touch each other; the people were starving serfs, the the accursed wine. He had himself set an exnobles coarse and fearful tyrants; the baron ample of perfect abstinence, and in their purer from his impregnable castle plundered the mer- age his followers obeyed the precept of their chant or swept away the last relics of the wealth prophet. It was only in the decline of the naof fallen cities ; society had sunk into barba- tion that the Mohammedans learned to imitate rism, and Europe in the ninth and tenth cen- the drunkenness and license of the Europeans. turies seemed tending to its final decay. Its Temperate in their diet, frugal in their mode working-men were slaves, and labor was dis- of life, the Arabs possessed sound intellects in honored. But at the same period the brilliant sound bodies; they soon began to display an Arabs had swiftly risen to the very height of intellectual vigor that raised them to the front civilization. When they ceased to be con- of civilization. They eagerly sought for kuowlquerors they became a nation of working-men, edge amidst the ruins of Grecian literature, and and their united labors were followed by the the poets and philosophers of Athens and of most wonderful results. They built a long Rome were translated for the benefit of the stuline of cities reaching from the Euphrates to dents of Bagdad and Cordova. The colleges the Tagus, from Bussorah to Cordova, each one and schools of the Arab cities were thronged of which, in its rare and splendid architecture, with attentive scholars when the great nobles its groves and gardens, and its countless ap- of France and England could neither read nor pliances of luxury and taste, rivaled the fairest | write; they produced eminent poets and gracelabors of the Greek. New Corinths and Ath-|ful writers while Europe had neither a literaenses arose upon the coasts of Africa and the ture nor a language; their libraries numbered rivers of Spain. When London and Paris were thousands of volumes when Oxford possessed still collections of wretched hovels, their streets only a few imperfect manuscripts chained to the muddy lanes, their palaces strewn with rushes walls; and the poorest merchant of Bagdad and blackened with smoke - when fever and lived with more comfort and was far better inplague lingered perpetually in their narrow formed than the proud knight who came at the lanes and comfortless homes, Cordova and Bag- head of his barbarous squadrons to die on the dad shone with elegant mansions, and the work- burning plains of Syria in an ineffectual craing-men of Arabia had surrounded themselves sade. wherever they went with all the conveniencies Common schools and colleges, indeed, seem of cultured life.”
to have originated with the Arabs. The caThe industrious Arabs revived those useful liphs were as ardent friends of popular educaarts which the barbarians of Europe seemed tion as a Brougham or a Barnard, Haroun anxious to forget. They wove the richest fab-Al Raschid decreed that a free school should rics of wool, cotton, or silk; they manufactured be attached to every mosque; the Spanish cacloth of gold and carpets of unequaled splen- liphs founded colleges at Cordova and Seville dor; their divans were covered with satin cush- that became the models of those of France and ions and velvet hangings; and muslins and lace England; the Saracenic working-men were acof fairy-like texture adorned the Moslem bride. complished artists, and the general education In metals the Arabs were also excellent work of the people aided the progress of manufacmen. They forged huge chains and bars of tures and the arts. An unlooked-for event furiron; the steel of Damascus was renowned in ther extended their advance. China, which the cities of Europe. Their jewelry was the had turned with cold aversion from Greece and fairest and costliest of the age; they lavished Rome, showed singular favor to the Mohamgold and silver in decorating their mosques and medans. The Arab travelers penetrated to their palaces; and their mints produced a coin-the great cities of that busy land, and in the age that was the model of the European world. ninth century became familiar with the teas As architects they invented a strangely grace- and spices, the copper money, the manufacful style of building, in which the fancy of the tures, the porcelain, perhaps the gunpowder, artist seemed to revel in new creations, and of the compass, and the printing-blocks of the which the lovely ruins of the Alhambra form a Chinese, They may have brought back those living example; in their private houses they gathered the richest marbles, the costliest mo-1 1 In the Arabian story the virtuous father recom
mends his son "to drink no wine, for that is the 1 Abulfeda, ii. p. 61–75, celebrates the poets and source of all vices." Arabian Nights, ii. p. 130. grammarians of the age of Haroun.
2 Travels of two Mohammedans. Pink. Voyages ? Bagdad was provided with hospitals for the sick, vii. p. 192. Le Livre de Marco Polo, par M. G. Pan. an insane asylum, and various charities. R. Benja- thier, i. p. 325. min, i. p. 98 ct sey.
| 3 See M. Huc's Travels in China, il. p. 120.