CHAPTER VII. The Queen City continued - Its beauties - Its inhabitants human and equine - An American church - Where chairs and bedsteads come from - Pigs and pork - A peep into Kentucky - Popular opinions respecting slavery - The curse of America.
The important towns in the United States bear designations of a more poetical nature than might be expected from so commercial a people. New York is the Empire City - Philadelphia the City of Brotherly Love - Cleveland the Forest City - Chicago the Prairie City - and Cincinnati the Queen City of the West. These names are no less appropriate than poetical, and none more so than that applied to Cincinnati. The view from any of the terraced heights round the town is magnificent. I saw it first bathed in the mellow light of a declining sun. Hill beyond hill, clothed with the rich verdure of an almost tropical clime, slopes of vineyards just ready for the wine-press, [Footnote: Grapes are grown in such profusion in the Southern and Western States, that I have seen damaged bunches thrown to the pigs. Americans find it difficult to understand how highly this fruit is prized in England. An American lady, when dining at Apsley House, observed that the Duke of Wellington was cutting up a cluster of grapes into small bunches, and she wondered that this illustrious man should give himself such unnecessary trouble. When the servant handed round the plate containing these, she took them all, and could not account for the amused and even censuring looks of some of the other guests, till she heard that it was expected that she should have helped herself to one bunch only of the hothouse treasure.] magnolias with their fragrant blossoms, and that queen of trees the beautiful ilanthus, the "tree of heaven" as it is called; and everywhere foliage so luxuriant that it looked as if autumn and decay could never come. And in a hollow near us lay the huge city, so full of life, its busy hum rising to the height where I stood; and 200 feet below, the beautiful cemetery, where its dead await the morning of the resurrection. Yet, while contrasting the trees and atmosphere here with the comparatively stunted, puny foliage of England, and the chilly skies of a northern clime, I thought with Cowper respecting my own dear, but far distant land -
"England, with all thy faults I love thee still - My country! -
I would not yet exchange thy sullen skies,
And fields without a flower, for warmer France
With all her vines, nor for Ausonia's groves,
Her golden fruitage, or her myrtle bowers."
The change in the climate was great from that in which I had shivered a week before, with a thermometer at 33 in the sun; yet I did not find it oppressive here at 105 in the shade, owing to the excessive dryness of the air. The sallow complexions of the New Englanders were also exchanged for the fat ruddy faces of the people of Ohio, the " Buckeyes," as their neighbours designate them. The town of Cincinnati, situated on the navigable stream of the Ohio, 1600 miles from the sea, is one of the most remarkable monuments of the progress of the West. A second Glasgow in appearance, the houses built substantially of red brick, six stories high - huge sign-boards outside each floor denoting the occupation of its owner or lessee - heavily-laden drays rumbling along the streets - quays at which steamboats of fairy architecture are ever lying - massive warehouses and rich stores - the side walks a perfect throng of foot-passengers - the roadways crowded with light carriages, horsemen with palmetto hats and high-peaked saddles, galloping about on the magnificent horses of Kentucky - an air of life, wealth, hustle, and progress - are some of the characteristics of a city which stands upon ground where sixty years ago an unarmed white man would have been tomahawked as he stood. The human aspect is also curious. Palmetto hats, light blouses, and white trowsers form the prevailing costume, even of the clergy, while Germans smoke chibouks and luxuriate in their shirt-sleeves - southerners, with the enervated look arising from residence in a hot climate, lounge about the streets - dark-browed Mexicans, in sombreras and high slashed boots, dash about on small active horses with Mamelouk bits - rovers and adventurers from California and the Far West, with massive rings in their ears, swagger about in a manner which shows their country and calling, and females richly dressed are seen driving and walking about, from the fair- complexioned European to the negress or mulatto. The windows of the stores are arranged with articles of gaudy attire and heavy jewellery, suited to the barbaric taste of many of their customers; but inside I was surprised to find the richest and most elegant manufactures of Paris and London. A bookseller's store, an aggregate of two or three of our largest, indicated that the culture of the mind was not neglected.