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ON THE COLUMBIA RIVER 478
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
THE HEART OF THE CONTINENT.
THE SETTING OUT.
I Might pass over without a word the whole line of railway communication between New York and Atchison, on the Missouri River, were it not that the uniform kindness of its officers to the party of which I was a member, and their interest in the artistic and scientific purposes of our expedition, deserve to be as well known by our acknowledgment, as their roads are-: without our mention.
The moment that we stated our project to Mr. Scott and the other officers of the Pennsylvania Central, they not only presented the entire party with transportation over their own road to Pittsburg, but gave us letters of introduction which insured our being treated with similar courtesy on all the remaining roads to St. Louis.
To them, to the officers of the Crestline route between Pittsburg and Cincinnati, and to Messrs. Larned and M'Alpine of the Cincinnati and SL Louis road, we owe recognition, no less for the fine spirit of appreciation and helpfulness in which they received our enterprise, than for the diminution effected by their kindness in the burdens of a necessarily very expensive journey. There can scarcely be a better indication for the future of Science, Art, and Literature in jur country, than -the cordiality which such a course is that of these gentlemen shows existing between those professions and Commerce. I might add that Commerce herself has reason to note this indication as gladly; for Science, Art, and Literature are daughters of the same mature civilization as she, and together they flourish or decay.
At St. Louis we found a letter awaiting us from Colonel William Osborne, formerly of the Hannibal and St. Joseph's road and then President of the Platte County Railroad, extending between St. Joseph and the Missouri border opposite Atchison. This letter introduced us to Mr. Sturgeon, President of the Northern Railroad of Missouri, and, by the combined courtesy of these gentlemen, we were forwarded freely all the way to the Kansas terminus of railway communication. I shall have other such courtesies to acknowledge as our journey proceeds.
At St. Joseph we completed our outfit by the purchase of additional blankets and ammunition; and after a few pleasant days spent in a family of personal friends, went down by rail to the starting-point of our Overland Journey.
Atchison is a small town, but a lively one. We had scarcely touched the ferry-wharf on the Kansas side before we were invited to a hanging. Lynch, C. J., was to sit that afternoon upon a couple of bushwhackers. His is a most impartial tribunal, which, to avoid giving offense, acquits nobody. The accused were, first, a man of fifty-five or thereabouts, a gray person who, in a more advanced state of society, might have bulled the gold market and cheated his acquaintance under the aegis of eminent respectability without the wagging of a reprobative tongue; second, a young fellow of imperturbable address, whom Wall Street would have esteemed highly in the position of confidential clerk to the foregoing. Neither of them had any look of the popularly conceived criminal, — probably neither of them were any worse than fifty men in the crowd who clamored for their death. I heard one man, enthusiastic upon the even-handed justice of the occasion, who, if he had the theme of his eulogy meted to himself, would swing higher than Haman, or leave locks of his gray hair dabbled in blood upon every threshold in Atchison, — a man with the effrontery to live under the very noses of citizens whose crape for brothers slaughtered by him in the borderruffian times was scarce yet rusty on their wide-awakes. I speak thus, not because I deprecate stern frontier justice, but because the hands which administer it are nerved, almost invariably, by brute fury or caprice. In a new country, the indomitable pioneers who build the basement of civilization, have too much to do with subduing nature to bother their heads especially regarding government. But government, while mankind stays selfish, never can regulate itself. While the workers are felling trees, breaking roads, and building cabins, the knaves and do-nothings get into political power. Before long the judge sits only to intimidate the just and excuse the villain. The sheriff's baton becomes a finger-post to loop-holes for the escape of thieves and murderers. The jury and the malefactor wink at each other across a rail. The governor stands waiting with a pardon to poke a hole through the coarse legal sieve which has casually caught an exceptional rascal across a wire. The legis-lut u iv pass laws with cunning quirks in them, provi