صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

various unfavorable rumors which had come to his ears ; he saw and judged for himself; and in this published account of his observations and inquiries, he has given a proof alike creditable to his candor and his understanding. The work is not a book of travels, but one of a graver character, having in view to present, with historical and statistical accuracy, “The Rise, Progress, and Prospects” of this infant republic; and this it does, we think, with great distinctness and scrupulous fidelity. In the introductory chapter, we have something of a personal narrative, from which we learn that the author accompanied Lord Durham to the Canadas, in 1838, and was there appointed by him assistant commissioner, with Mr. Charles Buller, to inquire into the municipal institutions of the lower province. After remaining there for some time, until he had completed the duties assigned him by his commission, he came among us, and was held in high estimation by a very numerous acquaintance, which he here formed. His first object was “to examine the working of our state legislatures; his second, to visit Texas.” We do not proceed far in his book before we discover that he is of a very different spirit from that of most of his compatriot travellers abroad; he prescribes to himself a rule which is not less sensible than politic, that is, to be satisfied, when travelling in a foreign land, “ with being treated as well as a native of his own condition and apparent claims.” By observing this rule, he goes on smoothly over the roughest road, and sleeps soundly on the rudest couch, and satisfies his hunger with the coarsest fare. On reaching Galveston, he finds the hotels and boarding houses crowded, and is compelled to remain a day or two on board the steamer ; with ordinary travellers, the vexation of such a mishap would have been vented in abuses of the country in which it was experienced; not so with our author, no word of complaint escapes from him ; on the contrary, one would infer, from his first account of the country, that he had met with a reception which put him in the pleasantest humor possible; we must give it in his own language :

“Having mingled freely with all sorts of people, and roamed over the low, sandy shores of the island, I proceeded to Houston, at that time the seat of government. After examining the character of the soil, and inquiring into the general resources of the country, I directed my attention to the government, religion, laws, police, and

I found a stable government, religion respected, laws well administered, protection afforded to property and person, and the general tone of manners the same as in the United States. Every facility for acquiring information was cheerfully given hy President Lamar and the members of his cabinet. Astonished to perceive a condition of things so entirely different from what I had been led to expect, by the people and press of the northern states, I intimated an intention to publish a work on the republic, on my return to England, for the purpose of explaining its true position. To enable me to carry out this resolve, I commenced the collection of documents, which I continued indefatigably in the United States, until I had amassed such a number as warranted me in attempting something more substantial and useful than that irresponsible, and often illusory production, a modern book of travels."


We are well aware, that there are very strong reasons why Mr. Kennedy or any other Englishman should appear pleased with Texas, and give a couleur de rose picture of her institutions and condition. This young republic has manifested a strong desire to cultivate the friendship and favor of England, and shown itself ready to purchase that benefit by offering her many commercial privileges and immunities of great value. We are far from wishing to disturb this harmony and reciprocal good-will ; still we think it behooves us as Americans and next of kin to this infant nation, to look to it, and see how far we are willing to have the remoter parent supplant us in its affections, by the greater fostering care she bestows upon it in its infancy. For our part, we frankly acknowledge we are glad to see that the bitter hatred towards our mother country, which sprung up in the hearts of our fathers, when they renounced their allegiance to it, does not necessarily run in the blood of their descendants, wherever they may dwell, but that citizens of the United States have only to cross the Sabine to revive that affection which it is natural for them to cherish for the land of their ancestors. We should be glad also, if the knowledge of this fact should open our eyes to the importance of our own relations with this child that has settled on our borders. The great commercial states of Europe, always alive to their own interests, have shown, by entering into treaties with our neighbor, that they are anticipating an advantageous trade with her; and there can be little doubt that the time is near at hand, when the anticipation will be realized; we confidently predict, that before the close of the present century the commerce of Texas will be as important to England and France as that of the United States now is. But it is not our intention to use these volumes merely as a peg to hang our own speculations upon; we believe it will be far more acceptable to our readers, and surely more conducive to the interests of the country about which we are writing, to gather from them the leading facts which exhibit its condition, and justify our author in his highly favorable account of it.

We have already said, that this work of Mr. Kennedy furnishes the fullest and most satisfactory information upon all the great questions which may be started respecting Texas, and we must now, by a closer examination of it, give our readers an opportunity of judging for themselves, of the correctness of our estimate of its value. And first, of the topics of which it treats - it is divided into three books, of which the first is devoted to the geography, natural history, and topography of Texas; the second to its history, from the period of the first European settlements to the establishment of the republic; the third to the narrative of Texan affairs subsequent to the battle of San Jacinto, and the social aspect and prospects of the republic; to which is added an appendix, containing the most important state papers connected with its political history. We see, therefore, that it embraces the most important subjects which enter into a full account both of the country and people.

With respect to geographical position, it could not be more favorably situated; extending along the Gulf of Mexico, from the Sabine to the Rio Grande del Norte, and from the twentysixth to the fortieth parallel of north latitude; and thus lying wholly in the milder portion of the temperate zone, its climate needs only the ameliorating influences of population and cultivation, to become as healthy and as delightful as that of any spot on earth. Indeed, in many parts it is already so, according to the account of Mr. Kennedy, who thus describes it:

“While the midsummer air of the alluvial region of the Mississippi is surcharged with noxious moisture, the clear atmosphere of Texas is quickened and renovated by invigorating breezes from the blue expanse of ocean, which, passing over the dry, rolling, and verdant surface of the interior, enliven the spirits, and induce a love of existence, even for the passive physical enjoyment it affords."

“But for these refreshing breezes, which, during six months, blow at most without intermission, the summer heat of the low lands would certainly be oppressive and pernicious." “ The sweet south-western breeze, which is so necessary to health and comfort on the level region of the coast, may at most be termed an unmingled luxury among the cool springs, translucent streams, wooded bottoms,' islands' of timber, and flower-spangled prairies, of the rolling country. The greater portion of this beautiful region, which has obtained for Texas the name of the Italy of America,' is blessed with a temperature delightful to the sense and favorable to life, and to most of the products which render life agreeable. Here the mildness of the seasons enables the planter to 'pick' all the cotton he can raise, to grow as much corn as he requires, and to accumulate stock of every description, almost without labor or expense."-Vol. i. pp. 67, 68.

And then, as to the salubrity of the climate, he testifies as follows:

“ To the swarms of medical practitioners that yearly issue from the universities and colleges of Europe, Texas offers little encouragement as a field of professional speculation. There is no malady that can properly be called endemic: and the febrile diseases, which usually afflict early settlers, especially in southern latitudes, are of a mild type, completely within the control of medicine, and generally to be avoided by the observance of a few simple rules of living. Emigrants accustomed to northern habits, should, at least until they are thoroughly “acclimated,' shun undue exposure to the noon-day sun, exercise caution in the use of fruit and salted food, abstain from ardent spirits, and refrain as much as possible from drinking, save at meals.

. If any part of Texas can be termed sickly, it is the narrow strip of country running parallel to the gulf, where, in the low timbered bottoms, the rivers deposit the accumulations of their annual overflows. In this section, to which Providence has granted exuberant fertility, in compensation for its comparative insalubrity, settlers are liable to be attacked by bilious and intermittent fevers ; but after receding some distance from the coast, no part of the globe is more friendly to the regular action of the human frame. ...... Pulmonary consumption, so destructive in England and the northern states of the American Union, is almost unknown in Texas. Rheumatisms and chronic diseases are not prevalent, and nine tenths of the republic are considered healthier than the most healthy parts of the United States. In the opinion of respectable medical men, a residence in this country would be as favorable to persons of a consumptive tendency as the south of Europe, or Madeira. As a general fact, it may be stated, that the farther from the lands bordering on the coast, the more salubrious the locality; and persons who arrive in summer will be quite safe by retiring fifty or sixty miles inland. The district comprehended in the Mexican department' of Bexar is of remarkable salubrity. It rarely freezes in winter, and in summer the heat by the thermometer (Fahrenheit's) seldom exceeds eighty-five degrees. The water is delicious, the sky rarely clouded, and the breezes as exhilarating as champaigne, and far more invigorating. Many Mexicans residing in the vicinity of San Antonio have attained the patriarchal term of one hundred years, in the full possession of health. When the commissioners appointed to select the seat of the government of the republic, visited Bastrop, on the Colorado, they were, in proof of its salubrity, shown the grave-yard of the town, which had no more than eleven tenants, although the place had been settled above seven years, and comprised a population of several hundred souls. I have heard planters jocularly remark, in reference to the qualities of the atmosphere in north-western Texas, that it was possible for men to petrify there, but not to putrefy.Vol. i.



Among the many prejudices which pervade the community respecting Texas, is that of its being subject to the devastations of the yellow fever, and as this is naturally and justly a cause of great alarm, and a formidable objection to those who wish

to visit it, we cite a passage from our author, showing precisely what foundation there is for the belief.

“• In no part of Texas,' observes Almonte, in his Noticia Estadistica sobre Tejas, ‘is vomito prieto, or yellow fever, known. Until the autumn of 1839, there was no instance on record of the pest of Vera Cruz and New Orleans having visited Texas. About the latter part of September in that year, an epidemic appeared in the towns of Galveston and Houston, which Dr. Ashbel Smith, an eminent medical practitioner, who treated a number of cases, pronounced to be yellow fever. In Galveston the disease was confined exclusively to the Strand, a street contiguous to a low, muddy, and undrained part of the beach, where the filth which business and population engender, had, from a deficiency in the police regulations, been permitted to accumulate. It is doubtful whether the

were imported from New Orleans, or originated in local causes. ... For general healthfulness, Galveston island, including the city, is probably unsurpassed by any place in the world." Vol. i. pp. 77, 78.

The inquiry next in importance to that of the pleasantness and salubrity of the climate, concerns the productiveness of the soil. On this point there has been less diversity in the accounts which have been given of the country than on most others ; nearly all concur in representing it as wonderfully fertile and varied in its productions. In corroboration of his NO. XVII.



« السابقةمتابعة »