« AnteriorContinuar »
sidered by the old settlers as a culpable innovation-some of the wasteful ways, as Leatherstockings would have said. It was too easily broken, and what was a much more serious objection, it dulled the edge of the knives; too appropriately called scalping knives, in the hands of white; as well as red men. **A tin cup was an article of delicate luxury, almost as rare as an iron fork.”
How forcibly the contrast of this simple furniture with that of a country more advanced in the arts, must have struck the least observant, is related by Dr. Doddridge in the graphic sketches of western manners which principally form this account. This gentleman, when seven years old, was sent into Maryland, to a relation there, in order to go to school. On his journey, he says, “At Col. Brown's in the mountains, at Stony creek glades, I for the first time saw tame geese; and by bantering a pet gander, I got a severe biting by his bill, and beating with his wings. I wondered very much that birds so large and strong, should be so much tamer than the wild turkies. At this place, however, all was right, except the geese, The cabin and the furniture were such as I had been accustomed to see in the back woods, as my country was then called. At Bedford (Pa.) every thing was changed. The tavern at which my uncle put up, was a stone house, and to make the change still more complete, it was plastered on the inside, both as to the walls and ceiling. On going into the dining room, I was struck with astonishment, at the appear. ance of the house. I had no idea that there was any house in the world, that was not built of logs; but here I looked round the house and could see no logs, and above I could see no joints; whether such a thing had been made by the hands of man, or had grown so of itself, I could not conjecture. I had not the courage to inquire any thing about it. When supper came on "my confusion was worse confounded.” A little cup stood in a bigger one, with some brownish looking stuff, which was neither milk, hominy nor broth; what to do with these little cups and the little spoon belonging to them, I could not tell; and I was afraid to ask any thing concerning the use of them. It was in the time of the war (revolutionary) and the company were giving accounts of catching, whipping, and hanging the tories. The word jail frequently occurred: this word I had never heard before; but I soon discovered it, and was very much terrified at its meaning, and supposed that we were in much danger of the fate of the tories: for I thought as we had come from the back woods, it was
* H. Marshall, Sen. 1-123.
altogether likely that we must be tories too. For fear of being discovered, I durst not utter a single word. I therefore watched attentively what the folks would do with their little cups and spoons. I imitated them, and found the taste of the coffee nauseous, beyond any thing I ever had tasted in my life. I continued to drink as the rest of the company did, with tears streaming from my eyes; but when it was to end, I was at a loss to know, as the little cups were filled immediately after being emptied. This circumstance distressed me very much, as I durst not say I had enough. Looking attentively at the grown persons, I saw one man turn his little cup up and put his little spoon across it. I observed after this, his cup was not filled again; I followed his example, and to my great satisfaction the result as to my cup was the same.” Nor ought this account by a most veritable author, to subject him to the slightest suspicion of exaggeration; when the houses, the furniture, and the diet by which he had been constantly surrounded from early youth are remembered.
6. DIET. “Hog and hominy" constituted a dish of proverbial celebrity, when those animals had sufficiently increased in number, “Jonny-cake* or pone was at the outset of the settlements of the country,t the only form of bread in use for breakfast and dinner. At supper, milk and mushf were the standard dish. When milk was not plentiful, which was often the case, owing to the scarcity, or the want of proper pasture for cows, the substantial dish of hominy had to supply the want of it; mush was often eaten with sweetened water, molasses, hear's oil, or the gravy of fried meat. Every family, besides a little garden for the few vegetables which they cultivated, had another small enclosure containing from half an acre to an acre, which they called a truck-patch, in which they raised corn for roasting ears, pumpkins, squashes, beans and potatoes. These, in the latter part of the summer and fall, were cooked with their pork, venison, and bearmeat for dinner, and made very wholesome and well tasted dishes.”
“Tea and coffee were only slops,” which in the adage of the day, "did not stick by the ribs.” The idea was, that they were designed only for people of quality, who did not labor, or the sick. A genuine backwoodsman would have thought himself disgraced by showing a fondness for slops. Indeed many of them have to this day, (1824,) but little respect for them."
* Sometimes written journey-cake, perhaps from the rapidity with which it is cooked or toasted before a fire, in time for a speedy journey.
North-Western Virginia. The meal of maize, boiled.
From the meals and food of our pioneers we will pass to their dress. The hunting shirt which so much delighted Col. Bouquet,* when he saw it on Col. Washington's men in the French war, was universally worn. It was a kind of loose frock, reaching half way down the thighs, with large sleeves, open before, and so wide as to lap over a foot or more when belted. The cape was large and sometimes handsomely fringed with a ravelled piece of cloth of another color from that of the hunting-shirt itself. The bosom of this dress served as a wallet to hold a chunk of bread, cakes, tow for wiping the barrel of the rifle, or any other necessary for the hunter or the warrior. The belt, which was always tied behind, answered several purposes besides that of holding the dress together. In cold weather, the mittens and sometimes the bullet bag occupied the front part of it. To the right side was suspended the tomahawk, and to the left, the scalping knife in its leathern sheath. The hunting shirt was generally made of linsey; sometimes of coarse linen and a few of dressed deer skins. These last were very cold and uncomfortable in wet weather. The shirt and jacket were of the common fashion. A pair of drawers or breeches and leggins were the dress for the thighs and legs; a pair of moccasons answered for the feet much better than shoes. The former were made of dressed deerskin, and mostly of a single piece, with a gathering seam along the top of the foot, and another from the bottom of the heel without gathers, as high as the ankle-joint, or a little higher. These were nicely adapted to the ankles and lower part of the leg, by thongs of deer-skin; so that no dirt, gravel, or snow could get within the moccason. The moccasons in ordinary use cost but a few hour's labor to make them. This was done by an instrument denominated a moccasоn awl, which was made of the back-spring of an old clasp-knife. This awl, with its buck-horn handle, was an appendage to every shotpouch, together with a roll of buck-skin for mending the moccasons. This was the labor of almost every evening. They were sewed together, and patched with deerskin thongs or whangs, as they were commonly called. In cold weather, the moccasons were well stuffed with deers' hair or dry leaves, so as to keep the feet comfortably warm; but in wet weather, it was usually said that wearing them was a “decent way of going barefoot;" and such was the fact, owing to the spongy texture of the leather, of which they were made. Owing to
* Sparks, vol. II—291.
this defective covering of the feet, more than to any other circumstance, the greater number of our hunters and warriors were afflicted with rheumatism in their limbs. Of this disease they were all apprehensive in cold or wet weather; and they therefore always slept with their feet to the fire to prevent or cure it, as well as they could. This practice fortunately had a very salutary effect, and prevented many of them from becoming cripples in early life. In the latter period of the Indian war, our young men became more enamoured of the Indian dress throughout, with the exception of the blanket. The drawers were laid aside, and the leggins were made longer, so as to reach the upper part of the thigh. The Indian breech-clout was adopted. This was a piece of linen or cloth, nearly a yard long and eight or nine inches broad. This passed under the beli, before and behind, leaving the ends for flaps, hanging before and behind, over the belt. These flaps were sometimes ornamented with some coarse kind of embroidery work. To the same belts which secured the breech-clout, strings which supported the long leggins, were attached, when this belt, as was often the case, passed over the huntingshirt to the upper part of the thighs, and part of the hips were naked. The young warrior, instead of being abashed at this nudity, was proud of his Indian-like dress. In some few instances I have seen them go into places of public worship in this dress. Their appearance did not add much to the devotion of the young ladies. The linsey petticoat and bedgown were the universal dress of our women in early times. They went barefoot in warm weather, and in cold, their feet were covered with moccasons, course shoes, or short socks. The coats and bed-gowns of the women, as well as the huntingshirts of the men, were hung in full display, on wooden pegs round the walls of their cabins, so that while they answered in some degree the place of paper-hangings, or tapestry, they announced to the visitors their wealth or poverty in the articles clothing.” Nor was the female sex exempt from the labors of the times; “they had to handle the distaff or shuttle, the sickle, or the weeding-hoe, contented if they could obtain their linsey clothing, and cover their heads with a sun-bonnet made of six or seven hundred linen."
[Continued in our next.]
794 West's Picture of the Infant Samuel.-- The Snow Drop.
WEST'S PICTURE OF THE INFANT SAMUEL.
In childhood's spring—ah! blessed spring!
(As flowers closed up at even,
The heart unfolds to heaven.
Adores and loves, and sears,
Speak, Lord! thy servant hears.
When youth shall come;—ah! blessed youth!
If still the pure heart glows,
Its Maker's language knows;
Midst youthful joys or fears,
Speak, Lord! thy servant hears.
age shall come;-ah! blessed age!
Recede, and sink, and fade;
Dawns on the closing eye;
Can answer, Here am I.