16 OCTOBER 1880, Page 12



[Facia • CORRESPONDENT.] Rugby, Tennessee.

Want all is said and sung, there is nothing so interesting as the man and woman who dwell on any corner of the earth ; so, before giving you any further details of our surroundings, or doings, or prospects, let me introduce you to our neighbours, so far as I have as yet the pleasure of their acquaintance. And I am glad at once to acknowledge that it is a pleasure, notwith- standing all the talk we have heard of " mean whites," " poor, white trash," and the like, in novels, travels, and newspapers. It may possibly be that we have been fortunate, and that our neighbours here are no fair specimens of the "poor whites" of the South. This, and the next three counties, are in the north- western corner of Tennessee, bordering on Kentucky. They are entirely mountain land. There are very few negroes in them, and they were strongly Unionist during the war. At present, they are Republican, almost to a man. There is not one Demo- cratic official in this county, and I am told that only three votes were cast for the Democratic candidates at the last State elections. They are overwhelmed by the vote of western and central Tennessee, which carries the State with the solid South ; but here Union men can speak their minds freely, and cover their walls with pictures in coloured broad-sheet of the heroes of the war,—Lincoln, Governor Brownlow, Grant and his captains. They are poor almost to a man, and live in log-huts and cabins which, at home, could scarcely be rivalled out of Ireland. Within ten miles of this place there are possibly half- a-dozen (I have seen two) which are equal in accommodation and comfort to those of good farmers in England. The best of these belongs to our nearest neighbour, with whom a party of us dined, at noon, the orthodox hour in the mountains, some weeks since. He is a wiry man, of middle height, probably fifty-five years of age, upright, with finely cut features, and an eye that looks you right in the face. He has been on his farm twenty years, and has cleared some fifty acres, which grow corn, millet, and vegetables, and he has a fine apple orchard. We should call his farming very slovenly, but it produces abundance for his needs. He sat at the head of his table like an old nobleman, very quiet and courteous, but quite ready to speak on any subject, and especially of the five years of the war through which he carried his life in his hand, but never flinched for an hour from his faith. His wife, a slight, elderly person, whose regular features showed that she must have been very good-looking, did not sit down with us, but stood at the bottom of the table, dispensing her good things. Our drink was tea and cold spring water ; our viands, chickens, ducks, a stew, ham, with a profusion of vegetables, apple and huckleberry tarts, and several preserves, one of which (some kind of cherry, very common here) was of a lovely gold colour, and of a flavour which would make the fortune of a London pastry-cook ; a profusion of water-melons and apples finished our repast; and no one need ask a better, but I am bound to add that our hostess has the name for giving the best square meal to be had in the four counties. It would be as fair to take this as an average specimen of the well-to-do farmers' fare here, as that of a nobleman with a French cook of the gentry at home. Our host is a keen sportsman, and showed us his flint-lock rifle, six feet long, and weighing 18 lb.! He carries a forked stick as a rest, and, we were assured, gets on his game about as quickly as if it were a handy Westley- Richards, and seldom misses a running deer. The vast majority of these mountaineers are in very different circum- stances. Most, but not all of them own a log cabin and minute patch of corn round it, probably also a few pigs and chickens, but seem to have no desire to make any effort at further clearing, and quite content to live from hand to month. They cannot do that without hiring themselves out when they get a chance, but are moat uncertain and exasperating labourers. In the first place, though able to stand great fatigue in hunting and per- fectly indifferent to weather, they are not physically so strong as average English or Northern men. Then they are never to be relied on for a job. As soon as one of them has earned three or four dollars, he will probably want a hunt, and go off for it then and there, spend a dollar on powder and shot, and these on squirrels and opossums, whose skins may possibly bring him in ten cents, as his week's earnings. It is useless to remonstrate, unless you have an agreement in writing. An Englishman who came here lately, to found some manufactures, left in sheer de- spair and disgust, saying he had found at last a place where no one seemed to care for money. I do not say that this is true, but they certainly seem to prefer loafing and hunting to dollars, and are often too lazy, or unable, to count, holding out their small change and telling you to take what you want. Temperate as a rule, they are sadly weak when wild-cat whiskey or moon- shine, as the favourite illicit beverage of the mountains is called, crosses their path. This is the great trouble on pay nights at all the works which are starting in this district. The inevitable booth soon appears, with the usual accompaniment of cards and dice, and probably a third of your men are thenceforth with- out a dime and utterly unfit for work on Mondays, if you are luckly enough to escape dangerous rows amongst the drinkers. The State laws give summary methods of suppress- ing the nuisance, but they are hard to work, and though public sentiment is vehemently hostile to whiskey, the temptation proves in nine cases out of ten too strong. The mountaineers are in the main well-grown men, though slight, shockingly badly clothed, and sallow from chewing tobacco; suspicious in all dealings at fiat, but hospitable, making everything they have in the house, including their own beds, free to a stranger, and generally refusing payment for lodging or food. They are also very honest, crimes against property (though not against the person) being of very rare occurrence. The other day, a Northern gentleman visiting here expressed his fears to a native farmer, who, after inquiring whether there were any prisons and police in New England, what these were for, and whether his interrogator had locks to his doors and his safes and bars to his window-shutters, remarked, " Wal, I've lived here man and boy for forty year, and never had a bolt to my house, or corn loft, or smoke-house, and I'll give you a dollar for every lock you can find in Scott county." The cattle, sheep, and hogs wander perfectly unguarded through the forest, and I have not yet heard of a single instance of a stolen beast.

There is a rough water-mill on a creek close by, called Buck's Mill, which was run by the owner for years - until he sold it a few months ago—on the following system. He put the running gear and stones up, and above the latter a wooden box, with the charge for grinding meal marked outside. He visited the mill once a fortnight, looked to the machinery, and took away whatever coin was in the box. Folks brought their corn down the steep bank if they chose, ground it at their leisure, and then, if they were honest, put the fee in the box ; if not, they went off with their meal, and a consciousness that they were rogues. I presume Buck found his plan answer, as he pursued it up to the date of sale.

In short, Sir, I have teen driven to the conclusion, in spite of all traditional leanings the other way, that the Lord has much people in these mountains, as I think a young English deacon, lately ordained by the Bishop of Tennessee, will find, who passed here yesterday on a buggy, with his young wife -and child, and two boxes and ten dollars of the goods of this world, on his way to open a church mission in a neighbouring county. I heard yesterday a story which should give him hope As to the female portion, at any rate, of his possible flock. They are dreadful slatterns, without an inkling of the great Palmer- stonian truth that dirt is matter in its wrong place. A moun- tain girl, however, who had, strange to say, taken the fancy to go as housemaid in a Knoxville family, gave out that she had been converted, and, upon doubts being expressed and ques- tions asked as to the grounds on which she based the assur- ance, replied that she knew it was all right, because now she swept underneath the rugs.

When one gets on stories of quaint and ready replies in these Tarts, one " slops over on both shoulders." Here are a couple which are current in connection with the war, upon which, naturally enough, the whole mind of the people is still dwell- ing, being as much occupied with it as with their other para- mount subject, the immediate future development of the unbounded resources of these States, which have been really opened for the first time by that terrible agency. An active Secessionist leader in a neighbouring county, in one of his :stump speeches before the war, had announced that the South- erners, and especially Tennessee mountain men, could whip the white-livered Yanks with pop-guns. Not long since, having been amnestied and reconstructed again to a point when he saw his way to running for a State office, he was reminded of this saying at the beginning of his canvas. " Wal, yes," he said, " he owned to that, and stood by it still, only those mean cusses Ithe Yanks] wouldn't fight that way."

The other is of very different stamp, and will hold its own with many world-wide stories of graceful compliments to former enemies by kings and other bigwigs. General Wilder, one of the most successful and gallant of the Northern corps com- manders in the war, has established himself in this State, with whose climate and resources he became so familar in the cam- paign which ended under Look-out Mountain, and has built up .a great iron industry at Chatanooga, in full sight of the battle- fields from which 14,000 bodies of Union soldiers were carried to the national cemetery. Early in his Southern career he met one of the most famous of the Southern corps commanders (Forrest, I believe, but am not sure as to the name), who, on being introduced, said, " General, I have long wished to know you, because you have behaved to me in a way for which I reckon you owe me an apology, as between gentlemen." Wilder replied in astonishment that to his knowledge they bad never met before, but that he was quite ready to do all that an honourable man ought. " Well, now, General," said the other, " you re- member such and such a fight [naming it]. By night you had taken every gun I had, and I consider that quite an ungentle- manly advantage to take, anyhow." By the way, uo man bears more frank testimony to the gallantry of the Southern soldiers than General Wilder, or admits more frankly the odds which the superior equipment of the Federals threw against the Confederate armies. His corps, mounted infantry, armed with repeating rifles, were equal, he thinks, to at least three times their numbers of as good soldiers as themselves with the ordinary Southern arms. There are few pleasanter things to a hearty well-wisher, who has not been in America for ten years, than the change which has taken place in public sentiment, indi- cated by such frank admissions as the one just referred to. In 1870, any expression of admiration for the gallantry of the South, or of respect or appreciation of such men as Lee, Jack- son, Longstreet, or Johnson, was received either silently, or with strong disapproval. Now it is quite the other way, so far as I have seen as yet, and I cannot but hope that the last scars of the mighty struggle are healing up rapidly and thoroughly, and that the old sectional hatred and scorn lie six feet under ground, in the national cemeteries :-

" No more sball the war-cry sever, Or the inland rivers run red ;

We have buried our anger for ever, In the sacred graves of the dead.

Under the sod and the dew, Waiting the Judgment-day ; Love and tears for the blue ! Tears and love for the grey !"

No man can live for a few weeks ou these Cumberland Moun- tains, without responding with a hearty " Amen !"