« AnteriorContinuar »
and destined to utter extinction, God, in his providence and by his Spirit, was rebuking their apathy, by signally blessing Eliot in the woods of Massachusetts Bay, the United Brethren in Greenland, and Schwartz in Tanjore. The fields were white to the harvest, but the reapers were idle. At a later day, why was there not more than one Brainerd? Why, but from the withering influence of the belief that the Indians were made, not for salvation, but destruction.
These remarks are offered for the purpose of illustrating the difficult, as well as interesting, nature of the enterprise in which Mr. Cornelius was now engaged. Many were the obstacles which were thrown in his path by men of enlightened minds, as well as by the ignorant reviler of missions. No objection was more frequently obtruded on his attention, than the utter hopelessness of all efforts to civilize the Indians. Why, it was triumphantly asked, expend your efforts in favor of men, who are beyond the reach of Christianity itself, and doomed to speedy annihilation ? A still more harrassing mode of opposition he was called to encounter. This arose from the white emigrants and their agents, who looked, with an envious eye, on the rich lands of the Indians, and who were about to add to the crime of destroying many of them with the intoxicating liquid, that of removing the ancient landmarks, and of tearing up entire nations from the place of their fathers' sepulchres.
It was at this interesting juncture that Mr. Cornelius commenced his southwestern tour. It must have been truly refreshing to him, to have received such ample testimonials of the friendly feelings and cordial co-operation of the general government.
On the 17th of July, Mr. Cornelius visited Mount Vernon, the seat of general Washington. “ The mansionhouse is an antique and venerable building. It fronts on
the Potomac, to which it presents a portico of ninety feet in length. The building consists of a main body and two wings. One of them was built by general Washington, and was constructed agreeably to his own wishes. In the rear, are serpentine gravel-walks, lined with trees leading to the garden and to the extremity of the rear court-yard. Numerous smaller edifices, such as the school-house, gardener's house, and houses for the servants, give the whole an aspect of a little village. The scenery itself, and the improved state of the place would compensate a person for the trouble of making a visit, and while he recollects that the whole has been consecrated by the presence and possession of one of the greatest of men, whose dust still sleeps upon it, he cannot but feel richly repaid."
Being obliged to remain in Staunton, Virginia, nearly a week, he took occasion to visit and thoroughly explore a celebrated natural curiosity, called “ Weyer's Cave.” Of this romantic mystery of nature, he has furnished a long and scientific account. At the close he says, “ On the whole, it is one of the greatest curiosities I ever beheld. The discovery of the cave was made in 1806, by Mr. Barnett Weyer. Some game, taken in a trap, having drawn the trap into an opening among the rocks, were traced by a dog belonging to Weyer. The dog penetrated some distance into the rocks, and by the nature of the sound he made, suggested to the mind of his master, the idea that there must be a cavity in the rocks. This circumstance led to an examination, which, in the result, has disclosed one of the most interesting subterranean curiosities. The hill, in which it is situated, is full of caverns and holes of various sizes and description. The probability is that all are really but branches of each other. On the 22d of August, the cave was illuminated by one thousand candles, each fifteen inches long, placed in different parts of the cave, and which furnished, to a vast number of persons who had come from a distance to behold, a rare opportunity for making a thorough examination."
On the 14th of August he made an accurate survey and measurement of the Natural Bridge in the vicinity of Lexington,-an object, which the pen of Mr. Jefferson has described with so much force and beauty. “All that captivates the mind in a display of power, or loftiness of height, combine to excite wonder and admiration, while the distant view of the sky and flying clouds, as they are seen through the opening beneath the lofty arch, give to the whole an effect equally delightful and sublime.
“I confess, I cannot, from the strictest examination, see sufficient evidence to conclude with Mr. Jefferson that the hill has been cloven from the top to its base by some convulsion, leaving in this particular part a rock, which, not having fallen in the general shock, forms, as its result, the arch of the bridge. I had rather view it as the direct result of the hand of the Deity, and regard it as another striking proof of his wisdom and power.”
From Lexington, Mr. Cornelius proceeded over the vallies and mountains of western Virginia, till he entered the State of Tennessee. Whenever an opportunity presented, he exhibited the subject upon which he was commissioned, generally before interested and attentive audiences. To his wakeful eye, and ardent curiosity, many scenes were presented in external nature, as he crossed the highlands, which separate the waters of the Atlantic from those that pass into the Mississippi, which filled him with admiration, and led him to adore that Power who " setteth fast the mountains.”
The incidents which he met, during a short time before he arrived at Brainerd, the seat of the Cherokee mission, are thus detailed in a letter to his family-friends.
“ Brainerd, Cherokee Nation, Oct. 27, 1817. “I left Knoxville on the 15th day of September, having collected in that town, notwithstanding the prejudices of many people, one hundred and sixty dollars, and sold my jewelry for seventy dollars more. I also purchased a new horse, the cost of which was one hundred dollars, and some articles of clothing, suitable for travelling in the wilderness. I passed on through several small places, where but a few years before it was an entire wilderness, and arrived, on the third day, at a place called Washington—a frontier-town, distant eighty miles southwest from Knoxville. Here I remained one day in expectation that Mr. Kingsbury, who was forty-five miles distant, would come and guide me to his place of abode, among the Cherokees. We had agreed upon this by letter. But I was greatly disappointed to find he had not come. On Friday, at 10 o'clock, A. M., I left Washington, and rode ten miles to a place on Tennessee river, called Hiwassee Garrison, formerly a military post, built by the United States. Here I found a man who had business with Mr. Kingsbury, and offered to accompany me. Although it was past one o'clock when we were ready to set out, I resolved to go on, supposing the distance to be not more than thirty miles at the furthest. We knew we should be compelled to ride in the night, but as the moon would shine brightly, we concluded to go on. After a long delay, we got across the river, and entered immediately the Cherokee country. We soon found a new mode of travelling. The road was nothing but a narrow Indian footpath, running through the woods. These paths are numerous, and a stranger is often lost. My companion was as ignorant of the true road as myself. We had not gone more than three miles, before we found we had taken a wrong direction. It led us, however, to an Indian house. But neither of us could explain our situation to the Indians. I could only say Chick-a-mau-gah—which was the Indian name of the place where Mr. Kingsbury lives, and by which they understood what we meant. One of them, a very good-looking young man, offered to get on his little horse, or pony as it is called, and conduct us to the right path. He guided us three or four miles, and set us into a very plain road, for which I gave him a little compensation. You would have been extremely delighted with the appearance of this young Indian, and if you had indulged a fear of these poor natives, you could have indulged them no more. Nothing but the most sincere good will and friendship was written in his countenance. As I have said, he was very beautiful. His dress was the hunting shirt, made somewhat like a frock-coat, and extending to the knees. This was girded around him with a belt or sash, in the manner in which sashes are used among us by military officers. His face was painted in two or three places with a red paint. On his head, he wore a turban made with a common handkerchief, but put on in such a manner as to leave the top bare, from which a long braid of hair hung down upon his back. This was the manner in which I was escorted, if I may so say, into the Cherokee nation. We rode till half past seven o'clock, and then came to another Indian house, the first human habitation we had seen for ten miles. Here we obtained an Indian for a guide to conduct us to Mr. Kingsbury—understanding that it was but ten miles distant. We set out again at half past eight o'clock. I was extremely hungry, and my horse had had nothing to eat during the day. I could get nothing, however, but an ear of corn, which I divided between myself and my horse, and then set out. But a long course indeed it was. Instead of being ten, it was fifteen miles, and through a gloomy part of the wilderness. We rode over hills and plains covered with woods, crossed