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irreproachable characters, and of well-defined
positions in the world; and yet so unhappily
is my nature constituted, that I am not
exaggerating when I acknowledge that I could
positively dispense with every one of them.

To proceed a little farther, now that I have
begun to unburden my mind

A double knock at the street door stops
my pen suddenly. I make no complaint, for
I have been, to my own amazement, filling
these pages for the last three hours, in my
parlour after dinner, without interruption.
A well-known voice in the passage smites
my ear, inquiring for me, on very particular
business, and asking the servant to take in
the name. The servant appears at my door,
and I make up my mind to send these leaves
to the printer, unfinished as they are. No
necessity, Susan, to mention the name; I
have recognised the voice. This is my friend
who does not at all like the state of my
health. He comes, I know beforehand, with
the address of a new doctor, or the recipe of
a new remedy; and he will stay for hours,
persuading me that I am in a bad way. No
escaping from him, as I know by experience.
Well, well, I have made my confession, and
eased my mind. Let my friend who doesn't
like the state of my health, end the list, for
the present, of the dear friends whom I could
dispense with. Show him in, Susanshow
him in.


WHEN the Ohio and Mississipi Railroad, by
which the cities of Cincinnati and Saint Louis
are put in direct communication with each
other, was completed, there was a great
celebration. There were speeches, and dinners,
and processions. The militia paraded; the
firemen had a trial of their engines; the
eternal principles of liberty were invoked; the
Union was enthusiastically lauded; the future
of the Mississipi valley was sketched; the
health of the American Eagle was drank with
huzzas; brass-bands played Yankee Doodle
and the Star-spangled Banner, and the
liberality of the Board of Directors was duly
commemorated. As the stockholders lived
in New York, and the ceremonies of inaugurating
the railway necessarily took place at its termini,
an excursion was planned; cards of invitation
were issued, entitling the holder to a free passage,
for the space of three weeks, by almost any route,
from points as far East as Boston to Saint Louis,—
and back.

One of these tickets I, an American,
belonging to New York State and City, was
fortunate enough to obtain. Thus it
happened that, after a journey sufficiently
common-place to be delightful (as those times
are said to be the most prosperous about which
the historian finds least to write), I reached
the Mound City, as Saint Louis is called.
Saint Paul was nearly eight hundred miles
further north, and my ticket carried me only
a part of the distance; but to Saint Paul I
determined to go.

One Saturday morning in June found me
waiting for the cars on the line of the Illinois
Central Railway at Pana, since whisked miles
into the immense prairie of Sandoval, upon
which it stands, by one of those vagrant
tornadoes, which have been wandering through
the States during the spring and summer.
In an hour after I entered the cars, I began
to feel warm and dirty; in a half-hour more
I was miserable. At the expiration of another
hour, I think I could have committed suicide,
had I possessed the requisite energy. There
are travellers who profess to think a prairie
the grandest object in nature. I had myself
been weak enough to burst into conventional
raptures, when crossing my first prairie at
sunset. But my eyes were now opened
to the real character of the thing. A flat
prairie is a desert, with none of the charms
of the desert: with neither camels, mirage,
moving pillars of sand, nor oases with
fountains and palm-trees. No hills, no trees
in sightunless those dim shapes on the
horizon be bushes; no water, unless that
ghostly cloud is bringing some; not even
waving grass in June, to give to the level
expanse, an appearance of life;— nothing to
break the monotony, except the straight,
dead, iron lines upon which we are travelling,
and which cross without dividing the desert.
How unlike the sea, with which it is so
frequently compared, in all noble
characteristics, except that of immensity!
For a nervous man to live a twelve month upon,
the open prairie and not go mad, seems

Presently, with a snort, the train comes to
a stand-still in the midst of a clump of
houses, too new to have tasted a drop of rain.
Half-a-dozen loafers, at the door of the
inevitable village grog-shop, stare from bleared
eyes. Many squalid children look up from
their play in the dirt, and two or three
slatternly women are at the windows, all bearing
the mark of the beast; all have had the
shakes, as the fever and ague is flippantly

What is told us of these people does not
enhance our good opinion of them. The fever
breaks down the constitution, and takes
away strength of will. The monotony
of prairie-life drives all but the strongest
to seek excitement in whiskey and brandy;
in fights with the railway operatives;
and at the travelling circus or menageries
which pitches its tent in the village
two or three times a-year. We have not
stopped here for the convenience of
passengersfor there is little way travel upon
these Western railroadsbut to deliver and
exchange the three or four letters and
newspapers which compose the mails.

The instant we leave one of these whiskey-
besotted places, the weight of the desert is again