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vigilance of a most trying character. The lapse of time adds little or nothing to the security of the country. The crisis of one year safely overpast affords no augury for like immunity in the next, which may be a "big-water" year. If the banks were stable the levees might be gradually increased in dimensions, thus adding to the security which they afford; as it is, the reproduction of levees annually absorbed by the insatiate river exhausts the local resources of the country.
The levee systems of the past and the present have been considered from a strictly practical and unprofessional standpoint. What of the levee of the future? Since the reclamation of the swamp by the action of the general Government has become a possibility, plans for that region have taken a wider range. Formerly engineers, accepting the existing system, confined themselves to its amelioration. Now the old ideas are modified, and new and utterly diverse theories of reclamation are promulgated. The commission of 1874 designed an elaborate levee system, by which the lines in the more northern portion of the region to be leveed would be placed at a great distance from the immediate margin, so as to postpone as long as possible the ultimate doom of the works-falling into the river. This was an old idea, but it was modified by the new idea of an auxiliary system more closely following the banks. This last is a concession to mercy, for without the auxiliary line the riparian proprietors would probably find themselves wholly unprotected, because, under most of the plans for extra permanent levees, the lines would be placed behind their plantations, not in front. Under such circumstances they could appreciate vividly Æsop's fable of the frogs and their two kings, Log and Stork, and, like the frogs, they would, after trying both, infinitely prefer King Log.
Besides the long-range levee with its auxiliary line, two modes of reclamation have been proposed which reduce the levees to a very subordinate element, and, indeed, may make it possible to dispense with them altogether. The first of these, called the outlet system," is, in effect, that the river be relieved of its superfluous waters by making outlets which will carry off a large proportion of the floods through the delta to the gulf; it has also been suggested that the course of the Red River be diverted so that its floods may reach the Gulf of Mexico by
"By bringing the river channel to an approximatively uniform width a uniform depth of channel
must result. A channel of uniform width will not be subject to these constant alterations of current velocity, and the caving of the banks must necessarily cease. A uniform width of the river, therefore, implies a uniform depth, and this means at least twenty feet of water, at all seasons of the year, through eleven hundred miles of navigation to the sea. But a uniform width of channel means more than this; it means the prevention of caving banks and the loss of valuable farms and improvements thereon. It means far more than this; it implies the reclamation and protection of thirty-seven thousand square miles of the richest alluvial territory on the face of the earth, for a uniformity of channel alent to lifting this vast and fertile area above the width also implies a lower flood-line, which is equivlevel and beyond the devastation of the annual
floods of the river."
Again-as if to make assurance doubly sure he says:
66 Any further reduction in the flood-line which might be found necessary after the correction of the river, could be obtained by one or two, or possibly three, judicious cut-offs somewhere above the mouth of Red River. The effect of each cut-off would be to lower the flood-line throughout the entire alluvial
region above it."
To kill two birds with one stone is considered excellent marksmanship, but Captain Eads proposes to surpass this ballistic
performance by bringing down three, birds in high feather at that-i. e., to convert the Mississippi River into a veritable "inland sea," with a perennially perfect stage of water; fully to reclaim a vast territory equivalent in area to two or three of our smaller States; to "correct" the Mississippi, break it of its bad habit of carving off its banks, and teach it to deport itself like other respectable rivers. He leaves absolutely nothing to be desired. Only exacting and unreasonable people could demand of him in addition the extirpation of chills, mosquitoes, and cotton-worms. If he will perform what is promised in this programme he will "outdo his former outdoings "-the St. Louis bridge and the jetties at the mouth of the river.
However, luxuries must be paid for-the cost will be fearful. On this point Captain Eads is re-assuring, though a trifle vague. Speaking of the whole project, he says:
"This can be accomplished for a sum entirely within the ability of the Government, and one really insignificant when compared with the magnitude of the benefits which would flow from such improvement."
Of course, 66 facts and figures" must come later. Even approximate estimates can
not be furnished until after a thorough and accurate survey of the whole proposed work shall have been made.
COLONEL HARTRIGHT, of "Hartright | Hall," in Surrey County, on James River, is a Virginian of the old régime. I speak of him in the present tense, going back in memory a score of years, and fancying that the worthy gentleman is still alive, the type of a race which has disappeared, or is every hour assuming a new phase and different characteristics.
Let us leave the dust and din of cities, and, descending the broad current of the James, land at the wharf running far into the stream, and walk up to the old manorhouse, embowered in the foliage of its ancient oaks. It is a plain weather-board building of large size, with wings, a long veranda, innumerable outhouses, a great barn and stables in the rear; and the extensive grounds, covered with the greenest turf, are overshadowed by clumps of trees, whose leaves whisper low as the breeze stirs them. Everything about the place is old. The stone steps are worn by the feet of many
It is needless to say that each of these theories encounters hostile criticism. Against the outlet system it is alleged that the permanent effect of an outlet is to raise, not to depress, the flood-line of the river for indefinite distances above it. Of the Eads plan a very material feature is that the river, confined in a channel of uniform width, shall scour out its own bottom, and, thus deepening the channel, reduce the flood-line. The objection is that the true bottom of the river, underlying gravel, sand, and silt deposited upon it, is composed of tough blue clay, which is not likely to yield to the abrasion of the current. Its refractory character, it is insisted, would put a stop to the contemplated deepening process before any useful results had been accomplished.
AN OLD VIRGINIAN.
Which of these projects is the true ideal scientific way by which the great river is destined to be ultimately bridled, bitted, tamed, and run in harness, it is difficult to say.
They constitute, with the objections urged against each, an interesting scientific problem worthy of the careful consideration of engineers and legislators.
generations, and moss grows in the interstices. Some plaster has fallen from the ceiling of the veranda. The heavy door, which, winter and summer, stands hospitably open, and is scarcely secured at night (for the huge, rusty key turns with difficulty in the huge, rusty lock), has made a deep furrow in the floor; and within, all is equally suggestive of old times. The hall, which runs through the house, is broad and roomy, with cane-bottomed lounges on each side; and its walls are wainscoted with dark oak. On this wainscoting hang branching stags'-horns, game-bags, fowlingpieces, fishing-rods, engravings of famous race-horses, and a number of portraits, in plain oaken frames, of members of the family who flourished in the palmy days of the Hartrights. Here is the likeness of Colonel William Hartright, of the time of Queen Anne, who went to England, knew Bolingbroke and Addison, and was a gay wit and gallant, as you might, indeed, fancy
from his sparkling eyes, his gracious smile, and his handsome face, framed in the flowing curls of his peruke. Beside him is the portrait of his daughter,—a little flower of the spring-time, with a rose in her hair and twin roses in her cheeks, the blue silk bodice running down into a long point, and clearly defining her slender figure. Next to these you may see another old colonel, Carter Hartright, who "fought for King Charles," and found Virginia thereafter a safer place than England; and further on, the Hartrights male and female of many generations, including the brave young captain who fell at Brandywine. These portraits are the only evidences that the family was once wealthy and distinguished. All else in the house is plain and unpretending. The furniture is old-fashioned; the hard, round-armed sofas, the tall-backed chairs, and discolored sideboard, belong to another age. The high, narrow mantel-piece rises above a broad fire-place with plain old and irons on which a thousand wagon-loads of wood have burned away. On the small window-panes are scratched the names of youths and maidens long crumbled to dust. All about the Hall is antique, plain, unassuming, home-like, and takes you back to the past time and its people.
You would not imagine from his plain, almost poor, appearance that he is the largest land-holder of the region, or from his age that he is still an ardent foxhunter. But such is the fact. On the coldest morning of winter the old master of Hartright Hall may still be seen in the saddle by daybreak, and his large, dappled hunter, requiring knees and wrists of iron, still leads the sport, over every obstacle, in the wake of the hounds yonder, baying hoarsely as they drag the blocks to which they are attached. Once the colonel was a famous cock-fighter, taking huge pride in his "spangles," and boasting that his breed was the finest in Virginia. But this he has long since given up.
Still his old taste lingers, and now and then he disappears in a mysterious manner, for a few days, and on his return gives no account of himself. He has ridden twenty miles to see a main of cocks, and has enjoyed it with the ardor of youth; as he still enjoys a fox-hunt with his old neighbor, Mr. Stratton. Mr. Stratton is an enthusiast in hounds, and our old colonel will tell you, with admiration, how he acted when his favorite, Romulus, "cut"—that is to say, did not follow the scent, but, seeing the fox doubling, took a short cut to reach him. Mr. Stratton drew rein thereupon, groaning out:
I linger in memory over these details of the honest old country-house, thinking of the frolic, the laughter, the gay carnival of old days there when I was young.
But to speak more especially of the master of the mansion-Colonel Hartright. Here he is, seated in his easy-chair on the porch, reading his newspaper; let me attempt to draw his portrait. The colonel is tall, thin, and nearly seventy years of age, but still hale and hearty. His hair is gray, but still abundant, and is pushed back behind his ears, and falls on his shoulders. The expression of his face is charming. The kindliest smile habitually lights it up, and when he speaks his voice can only be described by the word caressante. It is full of simplicity, mildness, and sweetness; but a glance at the penetrating eyes of the colonel is sufficient to convince you that he is a man of extraordinary force of character. His dress is the plainest of the plain. It consists of an old, shabby, short-pass waisted dress coat, with a high collar, a long waistcoat, worn with use, drab pantaloons, and buckled shoes. Beside him is an ancient beaver hat, discolored by exposure, while his face and old hands are tanned by sun and wind.
"Romulus has cut, gentlemen!"
"No matter, Mr. Stratton," was the reply; "don't take it so much to heart."
But the old fox-hunter shook his head, pathetically.
"I appreciate your kindness, gentlemen," he said, mournfully, "but my feelings are too much for me. Romulus has cut. I am going home, gentlemen!"
Which anecdote old Colonel Hartright relates with evident admiration of the feeling exhibited by his neighbor.
He is a strong Southerner and Democrat, swearing by the "Richmond Enquirer," whose founder, "old Tom Ritchie," he considers the greatest of all editors, dead or alive; and it is refreshing to hear him talk politics with old Phil Warrington, a neighbor, who is an ardent Whig. When these two worthies discuss political affairs, they
by slow degrees from the courteous and friendly to the indignant, and from the indignant to the quarrelsome. They scowl at each other; they both talk at once in a very loud tone; and the resolutions of '98, and the characters of Adams, Jefferson, Calhoun, and Jackson are the topics of angry argu
ment. When the friends have fought thus for two hours with indignant wrath, they quietly begin to laugh, and drop the discussion. The colonel temporarily disappears, comes back followed by a youthful African, bearing on a waiter a pitcher of iced toddy, and the foes proceed to hobnob peacefully.
The old colonel is hospitable to the echo, and is never so well pleased as when the Hall is crammed with guests. It is never quite full, for if all the chambers are occupied, mattresses are spread in the drawingroom, the dining-room, everywhere. In the memory of man, the mansion has scarcely ever been entirely without guests. Throughout the entire summer and autumn, the broad mahogany dining-table-dark with age, but shining like a mirror-is crowded. It groans with a profusion of every edible of the land and water; and the more his guests consume, the greater the colonel's pleasure and satisfaction. Without visitors, he seems to miss something and is not happy; especially young people, for they are his particular favorites, and love him dearly in return. It is a pleasant sight to see him seated in the large parlor, watching them play "fox and geese,' blind-man's-buff," or "hunt the slipper." He looks on with pleased smiles over the top of his newspaper, never complains of the noise and confusion, and is even reported, on one occasion, to have suffered himself to be blindfolded, and joined in the blind man's game. If the young people wish to dance, they beg him to play for them-for one of the colonel's accomplishments is his performance on the violin. He resists pro formâ, and begs to be left in peace. But the young people know what the result will be, and redouble their urging. Whereupon the colonel yields, declaring that they are the greatest of pests; takes his ancient fiddle from its case, and soon the "Snow-bird on the ash-bank," or some other famous reel, fills the large apartment with its contagious mirth. The lines are formed; the young men and maidens dart from end to end of the room, with glowing cheeks; and the loud, rejoiceful music roars on without cessation, the colonel swaying from side to side, patting his foot, and sawing away with all the ardor of youth. When the reel ends, the young maidens rush to him, throw their arms around his neck, and kiss him energetically, by way of thanks. They then form a group around him, and demand "a story," which the colonel proceeds to tell. It is sometimes a ghost
story, related with imposing solemnity; sometimes a love affair, when his tone is full of a lurking humor. The latter he follows with advice to the youths. A young man, he says, should never omit an opportunity of squeezing his sweetheart's hand. The boys, he adds, are not as ardent now as they were in his time. When he was young, he more than once swam swollen streams on horseback to see his sweetheart, and had galloped twenty miles at night, thrown a nosegay into her open chamberwindow, and galloped back. To dance a reel with her, he would have ridden through the woods on fire! Once, he says, it was the fashion to approach a young lady with an air of deference, bow to the ground, and request, in a tone of deep respect, the honor and pleasure of her hand in the minuet. Now the young men lounged up lazily, ducked their heads, and asked carelessly if the maidens "wanted dance." Shocking, shocking! It was not so in his time, and everything and everybody seemed to be deteriorating more and more !
No one has ever charged the colonel with being an "aristocrat," which his plain old house, his plain old manners, and his uniform and equal courtesy to high and low, rich and poor, seemed to render absurd. Still, he has a great regard for the "good old families," and repudiates as a ridiculous fallacy the doctrine that all men are equal. "If Mr. Jefferson, who originated that idea in this country," he says, "meant that all honest men had a right to a voice in the government, he was right; if he meant that all men are equal in another and the general sense, he uttered an absurdity. Men are like animals-the character of the parents descends to the offspring. The colt of a thorough-bred is a racer, and the child of an honest man is apt to be honest, as the child of a sneak is likely to be a sneak. A gentleman is a gentleman; money and fine clothes do not make a man one, nor family, either, for some of the best gentlemen in reality I've ever known have been poor and humble. And as to money, who attaches any importance to that? There's old Tom Lackland, across the river, who has an execution served on him every month in the year, and lives in an old rattletrap of a house that scarcely keeps the rain out—is he less of a gentleman than Mr. Threepercent, his neighbor? Mr. Threepercent could buy him out easily; but if the British marched into Virginia, old Tom
would shoulder a musket, and Threepercent would not. Tom would give a poor creature his last dollar in the world, and Mr.Threepercent would turn the unfortunate one away from his door with a curse. Which is the better gentleman, the purse-proud shaver, in his glossy broadcloth, or old Tom, in his shabby coat? It is the kindly, honest heart that makes the gentleman, my son, and if the owner of it wears a homespun coat and digs a ditch or drives the plane, what matter is it? The gentleman is there."
Thus does the worthy colonel discourse as to classes in society, and he seems to take pleasure in illustrating his views by reference to Mr. Threepercent. He does He does not like that worthy. He frowns as he passes by the land once old Tom Lackland's, now Mr. Threepercent's, and I fear is at such times a terrible aristocrat.
But the aged colonel gives himself little trouble about the outside world and its pursuits. His world is Hartright Hall and the fields around it; his children, from young Hopeful, the future head of the house, to the little maiden of ten, who spends half the time on his lap; and Mrs. Hartright, the tall, gray-haired, sweetly smiling old dame, with whom he has journeyed through life, from the era when they were both rosy-cheeked and in their teens, to the present. With the old Hall and its inmates the colonel is quite content. He means to live and die here, keeping up the family, and preserving, as far as possible, all the old habits and traditions of the past. Of these, the Christmas festivities are the most interesting and delightful. At this famous season, you may see Hartright Hall in all its splendor. The whole great Hartright clan, from far and near, assemble, and the venerable mansion blooms like a flower-bed with brilliant dresses, rosy
cheeks, and smiles and laughter. For days preceding, dances, sleigh-rides, great dinners, and endless games are the order of the day and night, and all look forward to the crowning festivity. The Hall is half buried in evergreens, which crown the portraits, festoon the wainscoting, and make bowers for lovers in the alcoves. At night, on Christmas eve, the colonel himself hangs up the stockings and acts the part of old St. Nick, waking early, and listening to the laughter and delight of the young ones as they seize the stockings and retire to bed again to examine their hidden treasure. The day follows: everybody "catches " everybody; breakfast, and attendance at the neighboring church succeed, and this is followed by the grand Christmas dinner, lighted by candles in the old silver branches, heirlooms in the family. A great crowd fills the table, there is an uproar of voices mingled with laughter, the colonel pushes the sherry and Madeira (" honest old wines," he says), and the very sleek-faced Africans, who come and go with endless plates and dishes, grin in delighted sympathy with the time.
Such is the old Virginian of the old régime, in his old Virginia homestead. He has his whims and foibles, his eccentricities and prejudices, but almost all of them are kindly and amiable. Here and there, in remote localities, these old worthies of another age still linger, striving to preserve the traditions of the past, but alas! that whole generation is going. generation is going. Soon the Colonel Hartrights will be extinct. The strong hands which shaped the Republic have crumbled—the sons of the sires are passing away, also. As the lofty forms defile before us, on their way to the grave, let us salute them. There is time enough, even in the midst of the whirl and bustle, to murmur a Hail and farewell!"
THOU hast not gold? Why, this is gold All clustering round thy forehead white; And were it weighed, and were it told,
I could not say its worth to-night!
Thou hast not wit? Why, what is this
Nor station? Well, ah, well! I own Thou hast no place assured thee quite; So now I raise thee to a throne;
Begin thy reign, my Queen, to-night.