Domestic Manners of the Americans (with active TOC) [NOOK Book]

Overview

On the 4th of November, 1827, I sailed from London, accompanied by my son and two daughters; and after a favourable, though somewhat tedious voyage, arrived on Christmas-day at the mouth of the Mississippi.

The first indication of our approach to land was the appearance of this mighty river pouring forth its muddy mass of waters, and mingling with the deep blue of the Mexican Gulf. The shores of this river are so utterly flat, that no object ...
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Domestic Manners of the Americans (with active TOC)

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Overview

On the 4th of November, 1827, I sailed from London, accompanied by my son and two daughters; and after a favourable, though somewhat tedious voyage, arrived on Christmas-day at the mouth of the Mississippi.

The first indication of our approach to land was the appearance of this mighty river pouring forth its muddy mass of waters, and mingling with the deep blue of the Mexican Gulf. The shores of this river are so utterly flat, that no object upon them is perceptible at sea, and we gazed with pleasure on the muddy ocean that met us, for it told us we were arrived, and seven weeks of sailing had wearied us; yet it was not without a feeling like regret that we passed from the bright blue waves, whose varying aspect had so long furnished our chief amusement, into the murky stream which now received us.

Large flights of pelicans were seen standing upon the long masses of mud which rose above the surface of the waters, and a pilot came to guide us over the bar, long before any other indication of land was visible.

I never beheld a scene so utterly desolate as this entrance of the Mississippi. Had Dante seen it, he might have drawn images of another Bolgia from its horrors. One only object rears itself above the eddying waters; this is the mast of a vessel long since wrecked in attempting to cross the bar, and it still stands, a dismal witness of the destruction that has been, and a boding prophet of that which is to come.

By degrees bulrushes of enormous growth become visible, and a few more miles of mud brought us within sight of a cluster of huts called the Balize, by far the most miserable station that I ever saw made the dwelling of man, but I was told that many families of pilots and fishermen lived there.

For several miles above its mouth, the Mississippi presents no objects more interesting than mud banks, monstrous bulrushes, and now and then a huge crocodile luxuriating in the slime. Another circumstance that gives to this dreary scene an aspect of desolation, is the incessant appearance of vast quantities of drift wood, which is ever finding its way to the different mouths of the Mississippi. Trees of enormous length, sometimes still bearing their branches, and still oftener their uptorn roots entire, the victims of the frequent hurricane, come floating down the stream. Sometimes several of these, entangled together, collect among their boughs a quantity of floating rubbish, that gives the mass the appearance of a moving island, bearing a forest, with its roots mocking the heavens; while the dishonoured branches lash the tide in idle vengeance: this, as it approaches the vessel, and glides swiftly past, looks like the fragment of a world in ruins.
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940014877145
  • Publisher: Unforgotten Classics
  • Publication date: 8/14/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 355 KB

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  • Posted June 8, 2010

    A 19th Century Woman's On the Road

    Frances Trollope was, as Mark Twain put it, "handsomely cursed and reviled by this nation." Yet she did no more than tell the truth as she knew it. Dame Trollope came from England in 1827 to make her fortune by opening a department store on the American frontier. She settled in the booming town of Cincinnatti, Ohio, then with a population of 20,000, where she thought a fortune could easily be made. Failing to see the real needs of the settlers she didn't yet know, she didn't make that fortune and was made all but destitute by the experience. Her disparagement of America is thus suspected by many of her critics to have rooted in malice. Such motives are futile to prove, however, and it is sufficient to consider her criticism stems from her reputably refined sensibilities as and Englishwoman, one who observed with some disconcertion the comparatively unbridled ways of Americans. Whatever her prejudice, her scrutiny of life in the new world nonetheless equals that of her exceedingly more favored contemporary from France.

    The reproval she elicits from Americans in part has to do with how her book, Domestic Manners of the Americans, was received in England. Released to the public in March 1832, it auspiciously concurred with debates in the British Parliament over democratic reform, when agitation for a new Reform Bill modelled on American government feverishly gripped the Whigs and the Tories. The Tories, seeking to curb democratic privileges, seized at Trollope's belittlement of American democracy, what she painted as no more than the pretense and propaganda of the economically endowed landower. The Whig supporters of the Reform Bill countered by denouncing her undemocratic cast. Ordinary Britons, meanwhile, were eating her book up for its lurid account of American life. Mrs. Trollope had found her success at last: at the age of fifty-two she became a literary sensation, thereupon setting her course on the writing of travel books and novels. The fact is, Domestic Manners outraged most contemporary American readers because they saw it as irresponsible and unfavorably disposed in its reporting. Still, newspapers all over the country quoted long sections from her book along with reviling commentaries. Today we value her vivid picture of travel and accomodations as much as her opinion on postcolonial American politics and society while keeping in mind that her experiences were not, by and large, fortunate.

    What counts here, however, is the detail with which she embroiders the records of her travel. After leaving Cincinnatti, Mrs. Trollope and her party traveled by stagecoach over the Alleghenies. A harsh journey, Trollope vividly describes it in what may be one of the more surprisingly favorable passages of her entire two-year visit. Commencing at Cumberland, Maryland, in 1808, it was in nine years to stretch some 130 miles across the Alleghenies to Wheeling, Virginia. In 1833 it extended to Columbus, Ohio, and twenty years later to Vandalia, Illinois. Trollope makes this sometimes perilous and turbulent ride sublimely picturesque. Trollope gradually progresses from rancor to rapture, though, of course, always retaining her faculty for precision and minutia and her talent for enunciating what most people only vaguely sense.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted September 14, 2013

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    Posted September 6, 2011

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