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Winchester is the seat of justice for Franklin county; it is a handsome village, many of the buildings are well built, of brick. It contains a CourtHouse, a church, a post office, an academy and other schools. The land is beautiful and fertile. From Huntsville to this place, forty miles, the soil and its productions are the same, viz. rich and level. Here we change our driver, as is the practice; I dislike the practice.
Next morning before day, all on the road again, in health and good spirits. Our Irishman having invigorated his spirits, with a portion of the spirits of corn, was doubly amusing; his tongue outwent the wheels of the stage, and his countenance defied description. It was ludicrous enough, to see him earnestly rumaging his pocket-book, while some dowdy fat woman endeavoured to keep up with the stage, to "get the letter from her father, mother, or acquaintance," whilst he vociferated the driver, for not stopping his horses, till he gave the lady the letter. Anon he has some awkward boy or girl, by the way-side, staring at "has Jim come from mill yet?" When he could make us laugh no other way, he would insist upon drinking out of the horse-bucket, and that after the horses had done, for which he was sometimes censured by the driver, with "sir, why did'nt you drink before I watered my horses." What a happy knack some people have! I have often wondered whether it affords such characters the same amusement it does others, as their aim appears solely to amuse the company. This man of happy disposition, once independent (as I have since understood,) well reared and educated, is now not worth a cent, and yet how merry he is! Is not a disposition like his a fortune.
MacMinville. The second day brought us to MacMinville, the seat of justice for Warren county. The land is low and flat. After leaving Winchester, you see no more cotton fields. The soil, though equally rich, gradually changes from a redish to a black color,
presenting a flat, even surface, from thence to Cumberland mountain, which occasions bad water, and sickness, but produces Indian corn in abundance. Here the Huntsville stage-line ends, and the Nashville stage takes in the travellers. But if it be too full, as is sometimes the case, the Huntsville stage passengers have to remain at Mac Minville till the next stage. The Nashville stage brought but three passengers, and our Irishman going no farther, we got a seat, as it happened. I was gratified that our Tennessee boor had to give up the back seat, which was the exclusive privilege of those first in the stage. I had much rather have dropped the Tennesseean, as we were now nearly laden with the baggage of the strangers, he being very heavy, and had not three ideas in
Our new fellow travellers were, a young Doctor who lived in Knoxville, a Mr. Mager (or Major,) who lived in Philadelphia, to which city he was returning, after a three years residence in New-Orleans, as agent for his father. He was modest, genteel, and communicative, with a countenance glowing with benevolence and good humour. I don't know when I was more disappointed; I had always understood, that the young men of Philadelphia were inanimate, ignorant, reserved, and unsociable; a greater contrast, perhaps, never existed than the present. The charms of this amiable stranger, left a lasting impression on my memory. Our third and last stranger, was, I believe a merchant, clerk, or something like that, direct from Nashville, but where his place of residence, I never learned; for although two days in company, he did not in that time, speak more than half a dozen words. He was one of your close calculating, suspicious, distant, contracted men, his countenance a complete contrast to the openness and candour of our Philadelphian. The young Dr. of Knoxville, in few words, was a pert little fop, and an ignoramus besides. Such are the travellers that now joined us.
We set out from MacMinville* long before day, and long before we reached Sparta, a little village, where we were to change horses, and breakfast, it rained excessively. At length we reached Sparta, at the foot of Cumberland mountain. Sparta is the seat of justice for White county, it has some very neatly built houses, of brick, contains a church, a court-house, a post office, and unfortunately for us, two taverns. My friend of Abington, proposed to take breakfast at one of these, a different one from that at which the stages were wont to stop; the fare, he said, was much better, and withal, cheaper: this however, would have had but little weight with us, but the proprietor was a worthy man, and a new beginner. We therefore closed with his proposal. But this circumstance put it out of our heads to enter our names, at the stage office, which was kept at the other tavern, and here the new driver, a huge, rough, red headed fellow, comes posting upon us in a violent passion, swearing he would leave us, and in fact he was very near it; he did wait, however, until some of our party ran to enter our names on the way-bill. While they were absent, he and our tavern-keeper had nearly come to blows, because he did not apprise us of our duty. But as the tavernkeeper waxed warm, the other grew cool, and upon the interference of the travellers, the storm blew over. I suspected, what I afterwards found true, that the mighty offence, was that we gave the preference to the new tavern. This was the meanest driver I met with on the route.
Near Sparta they have found salt water, from which they already make a considerable quantity of salt. Within a few miles, also, there is a spacious cave, called the arch cave, a great natural curiosity, having an arch-way under ground, the distance of a mile in length, through which persons may walk upright, from one end to the other. An opening being
* A village, called after M'Min, Governor of Tennessee. It is growing fast.
at each end, sufficiently wide to admit one person. Some salt-petre has been made at this cave, and a great quantity, I am told, might be made were it properly attended to. At Sparta, and at the new tavern too, we met several members of the Legislature, on their way from East Tennessee, going on to Murfreesborough, to hold their session. We were sorry to impart bad news to them, but it was little less than our duty to do so. Their house in which they intended to convene, viz. the state-house, was just burnt to the foundation, only two nights before; the gentlemen who joined us at MacMinville, saw its remains smoking on the morning of the succeeding day. Respecting this dreadful business, different opinions prevail; some suspected the people of Nashville, and some the people of Jefferson, in order, as was supposed, that the seat of Government would be moved, at least the approaching session. But in this, if this was the view, they were disappointed, as I have since learned, they convened in a church.
Cumberland Mountain.-This was an unlucky day throughout, we were so heavily laden, the mountain to ascend, and the rain had rendered the road deep and difficult. Such being the case, we had to walk on foot a great part of the way up the mountain, all but our Tennessee clown, who feigned himself sick; but I shall ever think he was any thing else than sick, and worse than all this, we have to travel all night. The Cumberland mountain, where we cross it, is sixty miles wide. About day-light we arrived at the foot of "Spencer's Hill," by far the steepest part of the mountain. When you are on the summit of this part of Cumberland, you have a grand view of this stupendous pile. The eye ranges over the whole, without control, to an immense distance, the mountain throwing itself into a thousand different shapes and curvatures, assuming different hues, as they are near or remote. I was much pleased at the enthusiastic effusions of our Philadelphian, to whom the sight was new, he
having never witnessed a scene like this. I was glad that it afforded him pleasure, but for myself, I have little partiality for mountains; I have suffered too much amongst mountains; they are splendid objects to look at, and sound well in theories, but nothing wears worse than mountains, when you take up your abode amongst them. True, you can have a delicious pheasant, a venison, or a trout now and then, but these delicacies are greatly overbalanced by the cold blasts of the winter, killing your lambs and calves by dozens, chilling vegetation, overwhelming every thing with snow, and a thousand other inconveniences, killing up your horses clambering over them, to bring you from a distance. articles of necessity, rewarding your hard labour with a scanty bundle or two of buckwheat perhaps, or rye, and a few Irish potatoes. I confess I cannot admire mountains as I hear many do.
Spencer's Hill.-This hill took its name (as the story goes) from a man by the name of Spencer, who with his family was travelling westwardly, and encamped for the night on this hill, that having built his fire over a snake den, the snakes, annoyed by the heat, came out in the night and bit him in such numbers, that he died immediately. In the pangs of death he awoke, called his wife and bid her get up quickly, and save herself by flight, which she did. It appears incredible that the snakes should wreak their vengeance on the man, whilst the woman escaped unhurt. A number of legendary tales are related of this memorable mountain, such as people being frozen to death in the snow, killed by the Indians, &c. Though there are several houses and farms on it, the land is thin, and the accommodation is wretched, hardly fit for waggoners.
When you gain the eastern limit of Cumberland, you have an extensive view of East Tennessee, Clinch River, Kingston, and Campbell's Fort; all are present at once, to view. It was truly grand and picturesque. The Fort rises conspicuous above the rest, it