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Athens Ga Sept 24th 49
I feel assured that a few lines from one who once had the happiness of participating in your meetings, and who still feels bound to you by the strongest ties of Fraternity, will not be entirely devoid of interest, and that you — though the world might refuse to do so, will pardon the egotism in which I shall, almost necessarily, indulge.
Since the stern necessities of fortune, which so often, in this subverted state of human societies, overcome our attractions and set at defiance our wills, made me an exile from New England and from Associative society, I have been, during the greater portion of the time, a wanderer.
When I turn to my "Traveler's Guide", and, on its well covered map, trace my sinuous path from the shores of Boston Bay to the banks of the Oconee, - when I call up, one by one the many and varied scenes through which I have passed, - when the multitudes of people of all classes, with whom I have been brought in contact, pass in review before my mind's eye, the few months which have elapsed since I left Boston seem like so many years. The rich treasures of experience with which they have endowed me are such as years of seclusion could not have bestowed. The life of a human soul cannot be measured by months and years.
I have marked with a red line, on my map,
my devious route from Boston to Athens. Here I passed by rail-road to Fall River Here I crossed the Sound on a stormy night, and landing in New York, — threaded the crowded streets of that modern Babel till my feet ached, and my heart too. Here I was whirled through the interminable peach-orchards of New Jersey;— lingering a day on two in Philadelphia - the beautiful city, I submitted again to the destiny which over-ruled my will and was dragged at the heels of the Iron Horse through the fine farm-lands of eastern Pennsylvania. Now the line of my route follows thebroad, rapid Susquehannah and the blue, winding Jumati, among fine wooded hills and grand old mountains to the source of the latter among the famed Alleghenies. Here it crosses the mountains and pushes on down the Alleghany river, to where, beneath the smoke-clouds which ever hang over the Iron City, it is married to the more majestic Monongahela and the two become one in the broad Ohio. I remained a week amid the dusky piles of brick which, with their thronging and busy population, farm the great, black city of Pittsburg. Here I found some good friends, among the disciples of that French visionary Fourier. I now trace the red line of my route down the Ohio to Wheling, thence by the National Road to Zanesville in the interior of Ohio. Here I remained several months.
A few miles above Zanesville, in the Valley of the Muskingum, I visited what was once
the Domain of the Muskingum Valley Phalanx (I believe that was the name). It is one of the most beautiful and fertile spots in Ohio. Fields of corn were then growing there that would yield a hundred bushels per acre! A long row of log cabins and the uncovered frame of a long building, which was to be the "Phalanstery," are the only material monuments that remain to mark the spot. But the place is called the "Fourier Farm" and it will bear that name till a time when it will no longer be coupled with sneers.
I soon grew sick of the land of hogs and Buckeys. The people of Ohio have eaten pork till there is now little difference between the eater and the eaten! "No one ever got very near heaven in Ohio", said one in reference to the low, flat character of the country. I fear it is equally true in a moral sense.
Having determined to leave Ohio and the West, I turned my eyes southward. My friend McC— ("one of us,") who was with me in Zanesville, and who was equally disgusted with Western Civilization, proposed that we equip ourselves a la Rayard Taylor, and travel "with knapsack and stuff" from the banks of the Muskingum, in the interior of Ohio, to the southern slopes of the Blue Ridge, in Georgia, or to such point beyond as we might afterwards determine upon. I assented to the proposition. We thought there would be a deal of romance and poetry in such a journey,
but I must confess that "something entirely aside from the romance and poetry of the thing had its influence in determining our choice of the pedestrian mode of travelling. The truth is, neither of us had the "dimes", to enable us to travel in any other way.
Our friends in Zanesville stared, when we announced our project, and pronounced it utterly impracticable. But we were not to be moved from our purpose. We started from Zanesville on the 29th of Sept. 1848, and on the 23d of Oct, found ourselves on the southern side of the Blue Ridge in Georgia, and nearby 700 miles from the point of departure. We had walked the entire distance! We had waded rivers and climbed mountains, traversing the States of Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and a portion of Georgia. The greater portion of the distance our route lay through a mountainous and almost uninhabited country. Any log cabin at which we happened to arrive at night furnished us with corn-cake, sweet potatoes and milk, and a hard bed. With these our wants were satisfied. These log cabins usually consist of a single room, in which all men women and children, family and strangers, eat, drink and sleep! To lie in one of these cabins and gaze on the stars through the big cracks,—dreaming the while of the palace-homes of the Future, is a priviledge that few have enjoyed!
We saw much magnificent scenery among the mountains. Flocks of wild turkies often crossed our
path and not unfrequently we caught sight of a red deer browsing on the mountain side abounding in wild freedom through the forest. We frequently stopped to bathe, in the mountain streams. One morning, just opposite the little village of Williamsburgh, we waded the Cumberland river, there nearly half a mile wide, but, at that season, very shallow! We sometimes lost our way in vain attempts to follow Indian trails, through the labyrinths of the mountains. We endured some hardships, but I can truly say that I never enjoyed a journey more than I enjoyed this one.
Near the Blue Ridge "Mc" and myself became accidentally separated - taking different roads. Late in the afternoon on the 24th of October 1848, I found myself alone in the town of Dahlonega, with- out a dime in my pocket, and with shoes and clothes, to say the least, rather the worse for wear! Almost the first man I met in Dahlonega was a Bostonian F. V. Bulfinch Esq, who has resided for many years in Georgia. He was a friend in the hour of need. The next day my friend McC— arrived in Dahlonega. He afterwards walked nearly 1000 miles through Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi; so that I count my pedestrian exploits but a small matter.
In default of something better to do I labored as a pedagogu in a little log-town in the "Gold Region" for three or four months; and then