IntroductionCharles Clark wrote his book Gleanings by the Way (1842) as a Christian exhortation, even though it deals with his musings about Christianity while recuperating from running a large city community by an extended trip in 1837 into the "Far West" (p.v). He did
... seek to recruit his wasted strength and enfeebled heath amid the retirement of rural life, or the diversified scenes of travel and journeying. (p.vi)
After a brief physico-theological reflection on the way nature exposes Providence to those willing to watch and listen (pp.13f), Clark begins his reminiscences by considering three other gleaners, starting with Ruth from the OT (pp.14-19), then going to a young orphaned boy (pp.19-22) who takes care of his blind grandmother with the gleanings he takes from the harvest wagons and threshes at home.
Hence as one loaded wane after another was driven along, the whole road became strewed with stalks and heads of wheat. (p.21)The third gleaner was a Christian and well-educated man who used his many travels and walks, and indeed all knowledge he acquired---gleaned along the way---for the purposes of bringing more souls to God (p.22).
He traveled; for his health required it. (p.22)Clark then turns to his travel description, which encompasses the II. to the XIII. Chapter of the book, about the Summer tour through the Great Western Valley of 1837 (p.25), taken from his notebooks.
A Summer Tour of the Great Western Valley (1837)
Chapter II--Views of Pennsylvania
The entry for June 14th, 1837, a Wednesday, was written on the "Canal Packet Swatara", and forms part of the Tour to Harrisburg.
The train to Harrisburg, PA, left Philadelphia at 6 o'clock in the morning, with an estimated 150 passengers, had one locomotive. The train consisted of the "cars belonging to the three regular lines that run on the Rail Road to Harrisburg" (p.26). Clark enjoyed the fifteen miles an hour speed of the train ride through the country side--akin to a kaleidoscope in the rapid change of colorful scenery.
At Harrisburg, Clark switched modes of transport and "took the canal" (p.27), along the valley of the Susquehanna, a scenery that reminded Clark of the Hudson valley. Clark and his travel companions sat down to tea in their cabin (p.27), the windows open to enjoy the cool breeze of the evening (p.28). A road accompanied the canal to their right (p.28). They encountered a thunder storm, however, that impressed them, just as they were to cross the Susquehanna (p.28).
The bridge that had been flung over the river to afford a passage for the horses to tow the boat across, had partially fallen down, so that it was no longer capable of use. A strong cable had been fixed across the stream, by means of which a power was applied to our boat, which, in connexion with the force of the current, would bear us rapidly over. (p.28)By Thursday June 15th, at 4 o'clock in the morning, when the traveling party awoke (p.29), they had reached the Juniata, a tributary of the Susquehanna. Clark was struck by the peaceful stillness, interrupted only by the sounds of travel, i.e. "the sound of the boatman's horn, or the heavy tread of the horse on the tow path" (p.30). They passed Lewistown "early in the forenoon" (p.30), and Huntingdon at nightfall (p.30). Here, Clark had lost a colleague, who was traveling with his family in the summer of 1836 here on an "excursion" (p.31) and died of the sudden onset of a disease (p.31, esp. Fn *).
Chapter III-Glimpses of Western Pennsylvania
By Saturday morning, June 17th, 8 o'clock, they reached Hollidaysburg and switched to the Alleghany Portage Rail Rode, which took them up the mountain (p.32). Here they crossed the watershed between the Atlantic and the Mississippi (p.33).
It was announced at length that we had attained the summit height of the mountain. Just here the rivulets changed their course. (p.33)Taken to ponder the future of the Christian expansion into the West, Clark raises concerns about the compatibility of the independence of the Western mind and the divine revelation (p.35)
I have already seen enough of western character to discover that while mind starts up here vigorous and majestic as the sturdy trees of the forest, it is exceedingly prone to spurn the restraints, and question the authority of divine Revelation. No where probably is there more avowed or evident independence of mind—or with a certain class, greater susceptibility of being gulled, by a swaggering, boastful departure from the ancient landmarks of faith. The great adversary is always ready to persuade men that there is much more manliness and independence in believing something new, however false, than in adhering to what is ancient, however true, in the faith of our forefathers. (p.35)Clark's party then encounters some Dunkards and is repulsed by their filthy appearance (p.35), and Clark summarizes their doctrine as he has been told (p.35-36).
The journey then proceeds in the evening down the Conemaugh Valley on the Canal Packet Detroit (p.36). Because the summer night was nice, most passengers spent it on deck, either observing the scenery or holding conversations, or strolling around on deck as an observer, as did Clark--until he got sucked into a conversation on Christianity (p.37). It was socially acceptable to sit in and listen, so Clark did (p.37f). Clark was struck by the fact that, during this conversation, an interesting definition of Christian came from a man who had spent most of his time on the packet playing cards (p.38). Nevertheless, Clark felt the discussion "profoundly ignorant", "not only of the real design of the gospel, but also the leading truths which the Bible unfolds"--yet persisted on staying out of the conversation (p.38). Their discussion becomes "sinful" and "profane" in the way it treats Christ's majesty, Clark became dismayed but continued his opportunity to study "human nature" (p.39). The objectionable ideas in conflict with the Gospel continued (p.39-41), however.
Chapter IV -- Pittsburg and its Environs
By Saturday June 17th, about 9 o'clock in the morning (p.42), the packet passed the Alleghany river above the junction with the Kiskiminetas (falls?); it took until 3pm in the afternoon to catch the first glimpses of Pittsburg. The party apparently got off the boat--their is talk of how their "Pittsburgian friends" praise the fine weather. Clark discusses the soot and the dark smoke from the bituminous coal fires (p.42) in the houses and factories (p.43), drawing comparisons to the burning Sodom and the ubiquity of the Egyptian frogs.
I raised the window in my chamber, and the room was almost instantly filled with smoke. Almost as soon as I reached the church on Sunday [the 18th of June, 1837, RCK] evening, the door and windows being open for the admission of air, I perceived the church was filled with a cloud of smoke. (p.43)This negative description conflicts with Clark's tact, who goes out of his way to praise the inhabitants, speaking of their "sterling excellencies of character" (p.44) and adding:
I should be very ungrateful if I did not here record the acknowledgement of the many acts of kindness and hospitality that were extended to me during my temporary stay. (p.44)Clark can even wring a physico-theological proof of the "benevolence and wisdom of the Creator" (p.44) from the smoke, who gave mankind the "capabilities of adapting ourselves to whatever is around us" (p.44).
Clark extended his explorations to include the coal mining hills, but was again bothered despite the Alleghany and Monongahela mountain scenery by the "canopy of darkness" covering the city itself (p.44).
On Sabbath Morning [= Sunday, RCK], June 18th, 1837, the party was still in Pittsburg (p.45; see also p.43). Clark heard the morning church bells, but remained in his room--planning to attend in the afternoon (p.46). Sitting at the window of his room (p.45) he eventually discovered that the children of the neighboring house were the orphans of one of his friends, now living with their Campbellite Baptist grandfather, which is apparently the wrong religion to have and leads Clark to commiserate about the lack of control people have over their children's religious upbringing. Clark somehow succeeds (p.46) in still discovering "that mysterious dispensation of Divine Providence", though he fails to explain the theodicical underpinnings of his argument (p.46).
In the afternoon, Clark attended divine service (p.46; see also p.45) then went to his room "to spend a few hours in preparation for the evening exercises" (p.46). The again opened windows--both for his room and for the back parlour--allowed Clark to watch his host, a Sunday school teacher, give religious instruction to his six daughters. Clark considers this scene heavenly (p.47) while commiserating how few parents "set apart a portion of the sacred day, to be employed in singing and praying with their children" (p.47). This permits him to attribute the "infidelity, and outbreaking sins among the children of Christian professors" to the lack of their parents in this way (p.48).
Chapter V --- Voyage on the Ohio
With the Monday June 19th, 1837 entry, Clark introduces his traveling companions for the first time; Mr B had accompanied Clark since the beginning of the tour, and is described as a "young gentleman of mature intellect, accomplished education, and ardent piety" (p.49). The other companion, a Bostonian merchant and member of the Congregational Church by the name of Mr F, was a travel acquaintance they "fell in with on our way to Pittsburg" (p.49).
The presence of these delightful companions has taken away much of the solitariness one feels in having a space of so many miles thrown between him and his home. (p.49)For Clark, steam boat travel had its decided downsides.
Whoever has travelled on any of the western rivers knows something about the annoyances connected with | western steamboats---the drinking---the swearing---the gambling. (p.49f)[For gambling, see page 83 below. RCK] The choice of "the Elk" as their boat was forced upon them by expediency "it was the only boat that was going down the river this morning" (p.50). There were issues with this selection.
We soon found out that our boat was not of the first order; our captain however, appears to be one of the most quiet, taciturn and unmoveable men we ever met. (p.50)[But see the anecdote of the oath-laced chiding of the Elk's men by said captain two days after embarkation, narrated out of sequence on (p.55) RCK]
There could have been other choices in principle; they saw more than forty in the vicinity of "the Elk", and Clark heard an estimate of seven hundred of them moving on the western and south-western rivers at that time.
Pushing off from Pittsburg and leaving the smoke behind was an emotional moment for Clark [possibly the beginning of the wild frontier].
We remembered whither this stream was bearing us---away from our friends---perhaps never to return! (p.50)But Clark's thoughts reflected not just the present and the future, but also the past.
We thought of the vast territory it [i.e. the Ohio river] watered---its majestic length---the scenes of Indian warfare that had been acted upon its shores and on its surface, long before the axe of the white man had felled a single tree in those vast and unbroken forests that stood upon its banks, and were reflected from its mirrored surface! (p.50)Clark then comments on the winding course of the river Ohio, which restricts visibility and segments the river into a sequence of lake-like water bodies (p.51).
Thus we see it [i.e. the Ohio river] in distinct sections, each section resembling a beautiful little lake, surrounded by its own sweet and peculiar scenery---shut in by its verdant and variegated banks and wood-covered hills, and ornamented by one or two, and often several little green islets, around which the parted waters wind romantically. (p.51)Some fifteen miles below Pittsburg, they passed the Harmonist settlement of Economy (p.51). Clark has only contempt for the simpleton character of the German immigrants and the slyness of their leader Rapp.
Rapp professes to be a prophet sent from God, and gifted with the high privilege of holding such constant communication with heaven, as to receive from thence directions how to regulate and govern all their affairs.---He therefore enjoins upon every individual belonging to the community, entire, passive submission, and implicit obedience to his orders. (p.51)Clark reports about the Harvest Home festival (p.52), and attributes his knowledge to well-informed residents of Pittsburg (p.52).
Later that day they stopped at Steubenville.
I had barely time during the landing of passengers to ascend the hill, and look into one of its principal streets. (p.52)Clark was especially curious to meet the Reverend Mr. M----, who had left a "silent and powerful influence" during his literary studies at the institution where Clark undertook his preparatory studies. Clark only managed to inquire about him, but found his reputation to be as powerful in Steubenville (p.52) as it had been at the institution (p.53). Clark attributes this to the "simple-hearted piety" which he considers "a mighty moral lever".
"The Elk" reached Wheeling [Virginia, RCK] at sunset, where Clark and his friends had initially hoped to spend the night there then switch to the stage [coach, RCK] as a mode of ingress into the interior of Ohio via Gambier the following morning (p.53). However, heavy rains had made the road so bad that staying on "the Elk" was the better solution.
Clark then expressed a patriotic sentiment.
We felt some pleasure in being permitted to spend an hour or two within the limits of the "old dominion" for it was the first time that either [sic!] of us had trod upon Virginia soil. (p.53)[Here, "either" is an expression applicable to ternary groups, meaning effectively "anyone of us"; the Bostonian merchant is still present after Cincinnati (p.66), RCK]
On Tuesday, June 20th, 1937, "the Elk" was passing further down the Ohio river, and Clark was delighting in the scenery while sitting "in a sheltered nook in the cabin" (p.53) and "feeling the cool refreshing breeze fanning his fevered brow, and imparting vigour and new elasticity to his enervated frame" (p.53) and felt drawn up "with gratitude to the glorious Framer of this garnished and goodly scene" (p.54). The very size of the landscape became for Clark a metaphor for mind expansion, being "carried out of its [i.e. the mind's] former habits of thought" (p.54), while he waxed fondly over the 2000 miles of "the most rich and fertile lands which stretch away interminably before you" (p.53) once one had reached the Mississippi.
The towns of Marietta, Point Pleasant, VA and Guyandot, VA, as well as Gallipolis and Burlington in Ohio are passed and mentioned as interesting (p.54).
By Wednesday, June 21st, 1837, Clark and party found themselves "lying at the shore of Portsmouth, with the borders of Kentucky on our left" (p.54). They took advantage of the several hour stop to visit the town and have an interview with the Episcopalian minister Rev Mr. S---- of that town, discussing with him the lack of focus on salvation in the western world. [Returning on board, see (p.55), RCK] They also met an acquaintance, the Rev W. J.----- with wife on their way to a new appointment in Louisville.
Moving further downward the Ohio (p.55), the boat stopped to let the captain visit his sick brother in law, owner and former captain of "the Elk" (p.55), while the boat continued down to the next village. Rev W. J.----- and Clark used the delay to clamber a neighborhood hill. When the signal for the steam boat's departure was sounded (p.55) [possibly by a bell, see (p.61)], they returned on board and noticed a black velvet covered coffin. Rather than going downstream, the boat returned to the house of brother in law, to wait until the funerary rites had been performed. Remonstrations were in vain (p.55), so Clark decided to be a spectator to this "funeral among the yeomanry of Kentucky" (p.56).
Clark described how the coffin is carried to the house, followed by the majority of the passengers [who apparently decided to see the funeral too]. Clark noted the large number of horses with ladies' riding saddles, an impression that was confirmed once he saw the large number of "fair daughters of Kentucky" with little riding whips. In the "rotund and rubicund faces among the men" (p.56), Clark mainly spotted intemperance. The house (p.57) in which the dead was lying "consisted principally of one long large room" (p.57). The coffin had a divided lid, allowing the head-part to stay open for the farewells. Clark was impressed with the emotions displayed by the pioneers.
At that moment many hardy, sun-burnt, iron-looking faces put on all the expression of deep and overwhelming emotion. Tears ran down cheeks that one would have thought had never been wet with such tender drops before. Even our imperturbable captain, ... almost a perfect impersonation of apathy, wept and sobbed aloud. (p.57)After a short presentation in the "open piazza" in front of the house, the family took their final farewells, though the strong display of emotions of the widow was too much for Clark.
I felt obliged to turn away, for I could not endure the sight of her [i.e. the widow's] wild and frantic manner as she clasped and kissed again and again | the cold clay of her husband! (pp.57f).After shearing some locks for keeping off the head, the coffin was closed and preparations made to bury it (p.58). Clark, who had been waiting for the religious service, inquired and learned that no minister was present close by. After a brief discussion, Clark's friend Mr. B---- talked with the captain about Clark being present and willing to "engage in some religious exercises" (p.58), but the captain replied, "I don't know whether it is worth while."
Clark describes the funerary train (pp.58f), which brought the coffin (p.59) through a ravine, over a brook, up the opposite bank, and into a corn field where an open grave was already waiting (p.59).
During the walk up from the brook, the captain apologized almost jovially in person to Clark about the delayed journey, justifying it with the attachment of the hands [i.e. the crew, RCK] to the deceased ship owner (p.59). Clark accepted the argument and reminded the captain that he and his hands could soon find themselves in the same situation (p.59f), which prompted the captain to request "that you should give us a short exhortation at the grave" (p.60).
Clark did as requested.
... I lifted up my voice for my Master, and spoke of them of sin, and death, and Christ and salvation. As I looked over the silent listening throng, I remembered that I had never met one of them before, and probably should never meet one of them again till we stood together at the judgement bar. (p.60)Clark was unclear whether his reminders of the judgement day were received well.
Whether on that hill-side, with the Ohio rolling at our feet, and the blue heavens stretching over our heads, any good was done when we laid the dead steamboat captain in his grave, the developements [sic!] of the great day must show! In my heart I thanked the Lord for this opportunity of going out into the highways and hedges to try to compel them to come in. (p.60)Now that the funeral was taken care of, the interests in moving on of all concerned were evident.
As soon as the grave was closed up, the bell from our boat reminded us that we must be on our way. (p.61)Clark and Mr. B followed up with the captain, impressing personal religion on him and conversing with him about such matters. The captain requested a blessing at tea time and treated them "with every indication of respectfulness and attachment" henceforth (p.61).
They reached Cincinnati Thursday, June 22nd, 1837, in the morning (p.61; see also p.62).
Chapter VI --- A Glimpse of Kentucky
After having disembarked from "the Elk" in Cincinnati, the travelers visited and liked Christ Church and St Paul's Church. (p.62). Clark compared Cincinnati favorably to Philadelphia. They also visited the Roman Catholic cathedral, whose exterior was impressive, but in general (p.63) Clark was glad to see that "popery" was "making little or no advances, except with the increase of foreign population" in Kentucky (p.63).
Clark enjoyed the informative company of Rev J.T.B. of Christ Church during the stay (p.63), whom he considered exemplary. Their discussion of the missionary work in the West left Clark with the impression that one "needed only a band of well-trained, devoted, godly men, to plant the Episcopal Church every where through the whole length and breadth of this vast valley [of the Ohio River, RCK] (p.63). Clark understood the work of the Episcopalian Church to be foundational at that point in time (p.64).
In almost all places, before any thing can be done a church has to be built. I had no conception till I entered this great valley of the difficulty of finding a place in which to assemble the people for public worship. (p.64)Thus, such a minister need to both able to lead the community to build a church and to get them to come on Sabbath (p.64).
On that afternoon [i.e. Thursday, June 22nd, 1837] the travelers "rode out to Walnut Hills to visit Lane Seminary, and pay our respects to Dr Beecher" (p.64) and the charming "Miss Catharine | E. Beecher" (p.65), a gifted writer. They talked of "the present state of the Presbyterian Church, and of the best mode of diffusing light among the Roman Catholics" (p.65). Choosing a different return path, the party saw the Queen of the West from a hilltop, like seeing Jerusalem from Mount Olivet, giving Clark ample opportunity to commiserate the "abundant evidences of great wickedness" (p.65) in Cincinnati, esp. with respect to temperance.
In the evening (p.66), the travelers visited Rev Dr Aydelott, the former rector of Christ Church and then president of Woodward College, "an institution in Cincinnati, endowed by the munificence of a single individual" (p.66). Clark was optimistic about the aide that education would provide to help raise the western minds from darkness and degradation.
On Friday the 23rd of June, 1837, the party left Cincinnati on board the steamboat Commerce (p.66). Upon reaching "the great Miami", and overlooking the tri-state area---Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky---. Here the three men met an old farmer, who worked his land without slaves, a "fine specimen of plain, honest, fearless Kentucky character" (p.66), who was immediately willing to profess his support for Christ.
By Saturday the 24th of June, 1837, they found their steamboat lying on the shores of Louisville (p.67). Since the heat was now oppressive, the cabin became confining (p.67). Clark heard 25,000 inhabitants for Louisville and 35,000 for Cincinnati, in terms of population. They stayed at the highly recommended Galt house but found it underwhelming. During their multi-day stay, several side excursions were planned. The trip to Lexington was somewhat disappointingly "providentially prevented" (p.67); so short excursions into the country side took its place. While the landscape and the agricultural land was praised, there were problems.
But I saw a dark cloud hanging over this beautiful state ! Almost all its inhabitants see it, and lament it, and hope that it may one day be rolled away ! Through the politeness of a friend I was afforded an opportunity of visiting several large plantations cultivated by slaves. (p.67)Clark reports kindness (p.68) in the treatment of the slaves, and contentedness on some of the plantations. Clark then tells of dinner with a gentleman and the stroll through the plantation afterwards, during which he was permitted to look into the shantees and talk with the slaves, while the master went ahead (p.68). The woman he talked to claimed to be unhappy only due to her sins, but not due to her treatment by the owner and his family (p.68). Inquiring later of the owner (p.69) about the parents of some of the children he had seen (p.68), the owner replied that not all the parents were married:
[The host said:] "The woman with whom you were conversing is the mother of four children, and has never been married ? Her conscience is not easy." (p.69).The host claimed to this being a common occurrence that the owners cannot prevent.
Clark was also uncomfortable with the lack of religious instruction that the slaves received (p.69), and that their owner could block their access to any public worship.
But this is an unwelcome theme and I pass on. (p.69)After praising the traits of the Kentuckian in terms of independence (p.69) and love for public rhetoric (p.70), Clark bemoans that "there is much infidelity prevailing in this state" (p.70). Fortunately, his acquaintance Rev. Mr. J----- had "commenced his labours with great acceptableness" (p.70). Clark also relates how a Kentuckian on the steamboat (p.71) had told him about the early days of settlement in Kentucky, which formed a kind of border between northern and southern Indians, and thus was hotly contested ground. Thus, the first pioneers had to live in forts and defend themselves against the attacks of the natives. The Kentuckian provided several anecdotes about skirmishes with the Indians, of which Clark gives an early spring attack with retaliation (p.72) and the stealing of a skiff and two young flower-picking ladies (p.72-74).
Chapter VII -- The Ohio Near its Mouth
Four miles downriver from Louisville, just below the rapids and safely on a broad table of land above the high water mark, Clark encountered the city of New Albany, Indiana (p.75f). Clark even could see Louisville from the elevated "knob" in New Albany (p.76). Clark marveled at the rapidly increasing population of 6,000. The pioneers were mostly Eastern men of moderate means, ready to make a fortune and in Clark's mind in need of "the influence of the Gospel" (p.76).
Clark had the opportunity to talk with Bishop Kemper at Louisville, who was planning to spend two to three months between June and autumn to see to the needs of the Indiana communities (p.76) --- in fact he was on his way to an ordination in Madison, Indiana. The seven or eight (p.76) Episcopal clergymen in Indiana could use more help (p.77).
By Tuesday June 27th, 3pm, the steamboat descended from Louisville the Ohio (p.77). The heat made Clark feel exhausted, until sundown; after that, the beautiful Ohio scenery was once again top of Clark's mind, as he "traversed the deck of the boat" (P.77), eliciting praise of the Creator from the author. But the beauty was lost on most of the other passengers and the crew, in Clark's mind.
What must the heart of that man be made of, who can pass through the midst of such displays of divine beauty, and pollute the very atmosphere he passes with profanity! This is what hundreds are daily doing. Almost all the hands on board of the steamboats, down even to the little boys, utter an oath almost every other word. Profane swearing [emphasis in the original, RCK] is one of the crying sins of this western world. (p.77)
Men pass here in thousands, and mindless of all these tokens of a wonder-working Deity, continue to live as though there were no God in the Universe, or as if He existed only to afford a theme for more aggravated profanity. (p.78)
Wednesday, June 28th, 1837 (p.78) the travelers were struck by a tremendous gale (p.79)
Suddenly a tremendous gale struck us ; the waters of the calm Ohio were thrown into the utmost commotion, and the wind came down upon us with a power that threatened to shiver the steamer into a thousand atoms. The heavens gathered blackness, and the whole dark firmament presented a surface every now and then lit up with a sheet of the most vivid fire. The waters ran very high, the wind roared, and the thunder was awful. (p.79)The captain had the boat drawn up to the shore, where a strong cable fastened it to a tree. The travelers were told that winds such as these had capsized a similar boat merely days before (p.79). As quickly as the gale had arrived, it departed, and the boat was on its way again---an incident that analogized easily (p.79) to the secure harbour of God's presence in life (p.80).
Wednesday evening the boat stopped to take on wood from the Kentucky side, around the area of the native cane break (p.80). At nightfall the steamer passed the Louisiana, which was sinking, having run upon "a reef of rocks", which seemed another lesson to Clark.
Steamboats have been blown up, and fired, and sunk, all around us since we started, and yet the Lord in his boundless mercy has preserved us. (p.80)On Thursday, June 29th, 1837, in the morning, the boat was taking in wood at Paducah, at the mouth of the Tennessee. Clark believes the boat had passed the Cumberland river at night (p.80). Witnessing a hunting scene of a large deer through the wilderness forest and into the water (p.81), Clark is reminded of the sinner pursued "by sin, and satan, and passion" (p.82).
By nine o'clock the travelers had sighted the Mississippi, whose muddiness surpassed that of the Ohio. Clark reported that the steamboat crews and the town dwellers drank the water with relish, it being good when filtered, and that is turbid appearance derived from its large portions of magnesia (p.82); however these water qualities were attributable to the Missouri river (p.83), the big Mississippi tributary.
Having discussed swearing before (p.49 and p.55), Clark now turns to the annoyance of river gambling and the professional travelers of gambling it brings with it (p.83).
On our way from Louisville to St. Louis there has been one incessant scene of gambling night and day. We have evidently had three professed gamblers on board. I am told that there are men who do nothing else but pass up and down these waters, to rob in this way every unsuspecting individual, they can induce to play with them, of his money. (p.83)Clark relates the anecdote of a young merchant from Chilicothe, Ohio, who lost over 600 dollars. Clark also bemoans that physicians and judges participated, who should have been "examples before the people" (p.83). Clark believes that their very presence in hell adds to the punishment that is perdition.
Then Clark turns to the problem of "free and unrestrained use of ardent spirits as drink" (p.84), which is also "fearfully prevalent through every portion of this western region" (p.84).
... on board these western steamboats whiskey is used just as freely as water. All drink. The pilot---the engineer---the fireman---all drink. The whiskey bottle is passed around several times a day, and then the dinner table is loaded with decanters. (p.84)Clark estimated that two-thirds of the "disasters that occur on board these steamboats, are attributable to this" (p.84). Against doubters that this problem can be resolved, Clark cites the case of a St Louis gentleman, Captain S----, who ran a boat between Galena and St Louis in keeping with avowed principles, docking on the Sabbath and that no drink nor swearing nor card-playing would be permitted. According to Captain S-----, the drinking was the cause for all the swearing and card-playing:
... where there was no intoxicating drink, there was very little disposition to indulge in profanity or gambling. (p.84)Captain S---- was in the process, according to Clark, of raising $100,000---and already had $40,000---to operate a steamboat line on the same principles between Pittsburg and New Orleans.
Clark then begins to worry about how little the Sabbath is kept in the west (p.85).
At the principal landing places along the rivers, business appears to go forward on the Sabbath just as upon any other day. ... Goods are carried to and from their ware-houses at noon -day, and their clerks are busy in the counting-room while they [i.e. professors of religion] are at church. Facts of this kind I do not guess at, but know. (p.85)Clark fears a visitation of the land by God for such transgressions.
By Friday, June 30th, 1837, the steamboat had followed the low and marshy banks to a place with the name of Western Philadelphia, which had been founded in the Fall of 1836 (p.85).
There were some half dozen buildings, and two stores. It is only about nine months since the settlement commenced. Chestnut and Market streets were pointed out to us. Their course was through a flourishing cornfield, the stalks of which were so luxuriant and lofty, that we in vain essayed to reach their tops with our hands. (p.85)Heading further down, on the Missouri side, Clark saw several shot towers constructed on the bluffs jutting over the river.
These lofty towering bluffs that rise up so perpendicularly, projecting over the river, afford every convenience for forming natural shot towers. We saw several of these lofty cliffs that were thus used. A little box was erected upon the summit of the rock, where the molten lead was poured down through the mould, into a little tub on the shore beneath to receive the shot as they fell. (p.86)That day they also passed St. Genevieve, a French village. Though the Mississippi there looked great to Clark, the French village (p.87) did not; like all the "French villages that we had seen on this river, [it] appeared old and dilapidated, and quite destitute of every thing like improvement or enterprise" (p.87).
I could not but contrast these French villages, in the midst of this rich luxuriant land, with their little Roman Catholic chapels, their low narrow houses, and abundant marks of poverty, with the neat, tidy, thriving villages of New England, .... (p.87)Clark therefore concludes [a veritable Max Weber of the mid-19th century, RCK]:
Such is the difference in their influences between Protestantism and Romanism. (p.87)Before reaching St Louis, they passed Jefferson barracks, and another French village, Carondolet.
At length St. Louis rose to view, and we hailed the sight with no ordinary sensations, not only as it was to be our resting place for awhile, but as a point of exceeding interest in this vast western world. (p.87)
Chapter VIII -- The Mississippi and Some of its Tributaries[Since arriving at the end of Friday June 30th, Clark and his companions must have stayed Saturday (July 1st), Sunday (July 2nd) and Monday (July 3rd) in St Louis. RCK]
In his Tuesday July 4th, 1837, entry, Clark expressed his satisfaction of St. Louis, possibly destined to become the great city of the West (p.88), with its theatre and its Roman cathedral, for which they got a polite tour from one of the priests (Clark and his friends thought the interior decorations gaudy). Clark was concerned about Romanism and was happy to report:
I learned from an intelligent source that Romanism is making little or no progress among Protestants at St. Louis. (p.89)Unfortunately, such lack of success seemed to be due to a situation equally vexing for Clark:
They [i.e. the people of St Louis] are equally indifferent to every form of religion. (p.89)Clark cites the fact that the theatre was finished for 4th-of-July weekend even on a Sunday [i.e. July 2nd, 1837] as an example (p.89). This is not due to lack of churches; all the "usual denominations" have bases on the ground. But the discouragements are "numberless" for the ministers of religion.
Despite of all these heretical preparations, the 4th of July was spent quietly (p.90).
By Wednesday, July 5th, 1837, the party left St Louis at nine o'clock in the morning. Progress was slow, and eighteen miles upriver from St Louis they encountered "one of the most interesting sights in all our journey---the meeting of the waters of the Mississippi and the Missouri" (p.90). Above this confluence was Alton, Illinois (p.91), where they stopped a few hours. Clark was impressed with the population of two thousand and its rapid rise, predicting greatness in its future. [Unfortunately, Clark proved not prescient; in the 2010 census, Alton clocked in at 27,000 souls. RCK]
They passed Marion City and then stopped over an hour at Quincy, to catch the "view of one of the most magnificent prospects that ever stretched before the human eye" (p.91). But Quincy had other treasures than the view, though lack of time prevented Clark from visiting a Dr Nelson, who had written a sterling book, The cause and cure of infidelity.
At this point, travel experience and fatigue combined (p.92)
Our ear had become wearied with the monotony of the sharp, rough sound of the high-pressure engine, that was heard ceaselessly day and night. Books scarcely any longer cOnly an apparently rough hewn character amongst the fellow travelers still had interesting things to say for the travelers, a Kentuckian who had fought Indians with Col Boone (p.92).
ould interest us. The character and conversation of most of those around us seemed exceedingly dull and common-place. (p.92)
When the steamer reached the open prairies in full bloom, pushing up the Misssissippi (p.93), the old Kentuckian stopped by Clark's on the deck to tell the story of the family that perished in the prairie on fire. The story involved a romantic match without proper money (p.94) before going into the details of a move from New England to Kentucky, involving two stout wagons with three yoke of oxen each (p.95), which reached the dry prairies in autumn. By lighting a pipe the moving family's patriarch sets the prairie ablaze (p.97), the advance party trying to redirect the following ones (p.98) but failing and losing themselves in the fire (p.99), with the father watching his children burn. After drawing them to a safe place and sitting by them as they died (p.100), the father simply sat there (p.101). In the meantime, the other party (p.102) had headed straight into the path of the flames. A conflagration (p.103) devoured them and the oxen, and when the father found his daughter's lover, he learned their end. The father (p.104) remained the sole survivor.
End of Part I -- See Part II for the Continuation
- Rev. John A. Clark, D.D., Gleanings by the Way, Philadelphia (Simon) -- New York (Carter), 1842.