Page:Southern Life in Southern Literature.djvu/33

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
15
JOHN JAMES AUDUBON.

land, and perhaps to hold it for a number of years, without purchase, rent, or tax of any kind. How many thousands of individuals in all parts of the globe would gladly try their fortune with such prospects I leave to you, reader, to determine.

As I am not disposed too highly to color the picture which I am about to submit to your inspection, instead of pitching on individuals who have removed from our eastern boundaries, and of whom certainly there are a good number, I shall introduce to you the members of a family from Virginia, first giving you an idea of their condition in that country previous to their migration to the West. The land which they and their ancestors have possessed for a hundred years, having been constantly forced to produce crops of one kind or another, is completely worn out. It exhibits only a superficial layer of red clay, cut up by deep ravines, through which much of the soil has been conveyed to some more fortunate neighbor residing in a yet rich and beautiful valley. Their strenuous efforts to render it productive have failed. They dispose of everything too cumbrous or expensive for them to remove, retaining only a few horses, a servant or two, and such implements of husbandry and other articles as may be necessary on their journey or useful when they arrive at the spot of their choice.

I think I see them harnessing their horses and attaching them to their wagons, which are already filled with bedding, provisions, and the younger children; while on their outside are fastened spinning wheels and looms, and a bucket filled with tar and tallow swings betwixt the hind wheels. Several axes are secured to the bolster, and the feeding-trough of the horses contains pots, kettles, and pans. The servant now becomes a driver, riding the near saddled horse; the wife is mounted on another; the worthy husband shoulders his gun; and his sons, clad in plain, substantial homespun, drive the cattle ahead and lead the procession, followed by the hounds and other dogs.