Littell's Living Age/Volume 128/Issue 1658/Dutch Guiana - Part III

From The Fortnightly Review.




"Enough of creoles, Chinese, and coolies for this once; we are yet at the outset of our voyage. Returning towards the factory, we pay a visit to the airy and well-constructed hospital; sore feet seem the principal complaint. The climate is, in itself, a healthy one; epidemics are rare, marsh-fever scarcely heard of, and yellow fever, like cholera, a historical event of years past. Hence disease when it occurs is mostly traceable to some distinct cause of individual folly, unreasonable custom, or, as is frequently the case with the self-stinting coolie, insufficient diet. Nor is there any doubt that here, as in almost every other West-Indian colony — Demerara is one of the few honourable exceptions — sanitary regulations and medical service are far from their best. Let them be reformed, as they easily may, and the inhabitant, European or other, of the Guiana coast will have no reason to complain of his lot, so far as climate is concerned, even when contrasted with the bracing atmosphere and invigorating breezes of the northern seashore.

A look at the truly regal king-palm, an African importation, and said to be the only specimen in the colony, that waves its crown of dense fronds, each thirty and forty feet long, in front of the Voorburg residence, and we re-embark; not sorry, after the hot sunshine we have endured, to find ourselves once more under the boat-awning in the temperate river-breeze.

In a few minutes more we have rounded the point of Fort Amsterdam, where of course flags are flying and officers and soldiers in all the glory of uniform are hastily marshalling themselves alongside of the battery at the water’s edge to greet his Excellency who, hat in hand, acknowledges their salutations from the deck. And now, with the tide to help, we are steaming up the giant Commeweyne, and enter straight on a scene of singular beauty, and a character all its own. For breadth of stream, indeed, and colour or discolour of water, the river hereabouts, that is for about twenty miles of its lower course, might fairly pass for the Danube anywhere between Orsova and Widdin, or perhaps for a main branch of the Nile about Benha, with the sole discrepancy that whereas the Commeweyne, thanks to the neighbouring Atlantic, is tidal, the two last-named tributaries of the tideless Mediterranean and Black Seas are not so. But that large reddish water-snake, that writhes its ugly way up the current; that timber-raft of rough-hewn but costly materials, bearing on its planks the tall naked African figures that guide its way; that light Indian corial, balanced as venturesomely as any Oxford skiff, and managed by a boatman as skilful, however ragged his clothes, and reckless his seeming, as the precisest Oxford undergraduate; that gleaming gondola-like barge, with its covered cabin — is the reclining form within dark or fair? — and its cheery-singing crew — all these are objects not of Bulgarian, nor even, though not absolutely dissimilar, of Egyptian river-life. The hot light mirrored on the turbid water, the moist hot breeze, the intense hot stillness of earth and sky, between which the very river seems as if motionless, and sleeping in the monotony of its tepid flow — these also are unknown to the Nile of the Cairene Delta, or the Turko-Wallachian Danube; they belong to a more central zone. Details of the sort might, however, be every one of them — the “bush negroes” and the covered Dutch barges excepted — equally well found, as I myself can bear witness, on the Essequibo, the Demerara, or any other of the neighbouring Guiana-coast rivers. But not so the scarce interrupted succession of estates, sugar, cocoa, and plaintain, to the right and left, each with its quaint name, most often Dutch, telling some tale of the hopes, cares, expectations, anxieties, affections, joys, sorrows, of former owners long ago.

Various as were the early fortunes of the “estates,” their later times have been to the full as varied, or perhaps more. Some have by good management, backed with the requisite capital, retained through all vicissitudes of trade and strife, of slavery, apprenticeship, and emancipation, a sufficiency of creole labour to or the greater part of their old West-Indian prosperity; and announce themselves accordingly as we sail past, by smoking chimneys, roofs and walls in good repair, and clustering cottages, amid the dense green of cocoa-groves, or the verdant monotony of sugarcanes, only interrupted at regular distances by canal and dyke, or by some long palm-row, planted more for beauty than for profit. In the distance towers a huge cotton-tree, magnificent to look at, but useless else, and chiefly spared to humour negro superstition, that yet brings offerings of food and drink to the invisible power, rather maleficent than otherwise, supposed to reside under its boughs. Or, again, signs of recent additions and improvements, with long white rows of regulation-built cottages, - the tenements of coolies or Chinese, attest fortunes not only maintained but improved by the infusion of "new blood" from the Indian or the Celestial empire. Or a reverse process has taken place; the cane has abdicated in favour of less costly, but also less remunerative rivals; and the white proprietor has made place for a black landowner, or more commonly for several, who now cultivate the land in accordance with their narrow means. Here the emerald monotony of the land is broken; patches of cassava-growth, like an infinity of soft green cupolas, crowded one on the other, and undulating to every breath of air, show chequerwise between acres where the metallic glitter of vigorous plantain leaves, or tall hop-like rows of climbing yam, tell of an unexhausted and seemingly inexhaustible soil. Jotted freely amid the lesser growths, fruit-trees of every kind spread unpruned with a luxuriance that says more for the quantity than the quality of their crop; but this is the tropical rule, and even Dutch gardening-skill is unavailing against the exuberance of growth in climates like these. Meanwhile, the stately residence of the former proprietor, who by the way had in all probability been for many years an absentee, before by a natural result he became a bankrupt — the tradition is a stereotyped one, and recurs every day — has at last been totally abandoned as out of keeping with the simpler requirements of his successors. They content themselves with small cottages half-buried in a medley of flower-bushes, and kitchen-growth close by; though in more than one instance our creole, reverting to the hereditary oriental instinct of ease and how to take it, has built himself on the green margin of some creek or river inlet, a pretty painted kiosk, worthy of finding place among its likenesses on the shores of the Bosphorus or Nile, and answering the same ends. An unroofed factory and ruined chimney close by combine to mark the present phase, a necessary though a transient one, of land-ownership, through which Surinam is passing; a more hopeful one, though less brilliant, than that, of exclusively large estates and costly factories owned by few.

I am again, — for this is not a diary, where everything is put down according to the order in which it occurred, but rather a landscape picture, where I take the liberty of arranging accessories as best may suit convenience or effect, — I am again on board our steamer onward bound with the rest. Sometimes our course lies along the centre of the river, and then we have a general view of either side, far off, but seen in that clearness of atmosphere unknown to the northern climes, which, while it abolishes the effects of distance, creates a curious illusion, making the smallness of the remoter objects appear not relative but absolute. Sharp-edged and bright-coloured in the sun, houses and cottages stand out in an apparent foreground of tree and field; miniature dwellings, among a miniature vegetation; with liliputian likenesses of men and women between. Then, again, we approach one or the other bank; and see! the little palm-model is sixty feet high at least, and the gabled toy-house a large mansion three or four storeys high. And now the fields and gardens reach down to the very brink of the stream, and our approach has been watched by the labourers from far; so that by the time we are gliding alongside, troops of blacks, men and women, the former having hastily slipped on their white shirts, the latter rearranged their picturesque head-kerchiefs of every device and colour, gala-fashion, hurry down to the landing-place for a welcome. Some bear with them little Dutch or fancy flags, others, the children especially, have wild flowers in their hands; two or three instruments of music, or what does duty for them, are heard in the crowd; and a dense group forms, with the eager seriousness befitting the occasion about the two dwarf cannon by the wharfside, which are now banged off amid the triumphant shouts of the one sex and the screams of the other. We, on the deck and paddle-boxes, return the greetings as best we may, the governor waves his hat, fresh shouts follow; till the popular excitement — on shore, be it understood — takes the form of a dance, begun for our delectation, and continued for that of the dancers themselves, long after we have glided away. White dresses, dashed here and there by a sprinkling of gay colours; behind them a glowing screen of garden-flowers, further back and all around the emerald green of cane-fields, overhead tall palms, not half seared and scant of foliage as we too frequently see them in the wind-swept islands of the Caribbean archipelago, but luxuriant with their heavy crowns; or giant flowering trees, crimson and yellow, the whole flooded, penetrated everywhere by the steady brightness of the tropical day, —

Till all things seem only one
In the universal sun,

a gay sight, and harmonizing well with the sounds of welcome, happiness, and mirth. These tell, not indeed perhaps of all-absorbing industry, of venturesome speculation and colossal success, but of sufficiency, contentment, and well-doing, — good things too in their way.



" —— a leaf on the one great tree, that up from old time
Growing, contains in itself the whole of the virtue and life of
Bygone days, drawing now to itself all kindreds and nations,
And must have for itself the whole world for its root and branches."

During the whole of the eighteenth century Fort Sommelsdyk continued to be a position of the greatest importance, covering the bulk of the colonial estates and the capital itself from the frequent inroads of Cayenne depredators, and their allies, the French maroons. With the final repression of these marauders, the military duties of the post may be said to have ceased; and it has now for several years served only as a police-station. No spot could have been better chosen; no truer centre found anywhere. Not only does the Commeweyne River, with its double fringe of estates and cultivation reaching far to the south, here unite with its main tributary, the Cottica, the eastern artery of a wide and populous district; but the same way gives direct access to the Perica River, another important affluent from the south-east; while at a little distance the Matappica watercourse branches off in a northerly direction, and winding amid a populous region of plantations and cane-fields, finds an opening to the sea beyond. Half the cultivation, and, owing to the character of the estates, more than half the rural population of Dutch Guiana, are within the range of these districts; and the selection of this post will ever remain a proof of the administrative, no less than of the military talents of Van Sommelsdyk.

The small fort, a pentagon, erected on a grass-grown promontory at the meeting of the two great waters, has a very pretty appearance. On every side the further view is shut off by the dense forest through which the rivers make their winding way by channels from thirty to forty feet in depth; no other habitation is in sight; and the cleared space around the fort-buildings has an out-of-the-world look, befitting a scene of weird adventure in "Mabinogion" or "The Fairie Queene." But the poetry of the New World is in itself, not in the eyes of those who behold it; and if fairies exist west of the Atlantic, they are invisible for the most. Above its junction, the Commeweyne changes character, and instead of being a broad, slow-flowing volume of brackish water, becomes a comparatively narrow, but deep and rapid stream; while its former muddy colour is exchanged for pure black, not unlike the appearance of the mid-Atlantic depths in its inky glassiness. If taken up, however, in small quantity, the black colour, which is due chiefly to the depth, gives place to a light yellow; otherwise the water is clear, free from any admixture of mud, and perfectly healthy, with a slightly astringent taste. These peculiarities are popularly ascribed to some vegetable extract of the nature of tannin, derived from the decomposing substances of the equatorial forest, underneath which these rivers take their rise.

We for our part no longer pursue our voyage on the Commeweyne, but diverging, follow its tributary — or rather an equal stream — the Cottica, and our course is henceforth east, almost parallel with the sea-line, though at some distance from it. From Fort Sommelsdyk onwards, the view on either bank gains in beauty what it loses in extent. The bendings and turnings of the river are innumerable; indeed, it not rarely coils itself on itself in an almost circular loop, the nearest points of which have been in many instances artificially connected by a short but deep and navigable canal, the work of Dutch industry. Several little islands, each an impenetrable mass of tangled vegetation, have thus been formed; on two larger ones, far up the river, coffee is still grown. It was for many years one of the main articles of cultivation in these districts, though now it has fallen into unmerited neglect; whence it will doubtless be rescued whenever a better-proportioned labour-supply shall allow the colonists to re-occupy and extend the narrow limits within which their activity is at present restricted. Several creeks, as all lesser watercourses are here called, fall into the main stream, or from distance to distance connect it, by the aid of canals, with the sea. On the banks of one of these flourished, in days gone by, the still famous Helena, a mulatto syren, whose dusky charms are said to have rivalled in their mischievous effects, if not in other respects, those of her Grecian namesake. These creeks, with the canals and ditches dependent on them, complete the water-system alike of irrigation and traffic throughout this wonderful land, where nature has done so much, and art and skill yet more. But whatever the sea-communication through these occasional openings, no brackish taint ever finds its way to the higher level, through which the Cottica flows; and the freshness of the water is betokened by the ever-increasing loveliness and variety of the riverside vegetation. Lowest down hangs the broad fringe of the large-leaved moco-moco — a plant that has, I suppose, some authentic Latin name, only I know it not; nor would it, however appropriate, give thee, perhaps ,gentle reader, any clearer idea of the plant than may its Indian one, — dipping its glossy green clusters into the very stream. Above tower all the giants of West-Indian and South-American forests, knit together by endless meshes of convolvulus, liane, creeper, and wild vine, the woorali, I am told, among the rest; and surcharged with parasites, till the burden of a single tree seems sufficient to replenish all the hothouses of England and Wales from store to roof. Piercing through these, the eta-palm — it resembles in growth the toddy-palm of the East Indies, and, for aught my ignorance can object to the contrary, may be the very same — waves its graceful fans high against the steady blue; and birds innumerable — black, white, mottled, plain, blue, yellow, crimson, long-billed, parrot-billed, a whole aviary let loose — fly among the boughs, or strut fearless between the tree-trunks, or stand mid-leg deep, meditative, in the water. Large lizards abound on the banks, and snakes too, it may be, but they have the grace to keep out of sight, along with the jaguars and other unpleasant occupants of the Guiana jungle. In their stead light corials, sometimes with only a woman to paddle, sometimes a man or boy, dart out of the harbour-like shelter of the creeks; bush-negro families peer curiously from the doors of their floating cottages ,or guide their timber-rafts down the stream. Ever and anon a white painted barque, conveying an overseer, a book-keeper, or some other of the white or semi-white gentry, rows quickly by, for the river is the highway, and the wayfarers along it many: so that even where its banks are at the loneliest, the stream itself has life and activity enough to show. More often, however, it passes between cultivated lands: for while the factories and sugar-estates diminish in number as we go further up, the small creole properties increase; and comfortable little dwellings, places, cottages, sheds, and out-houses, amid every variety of "provision ground" cultivation, multiply along the bank. Here, too, even more than along the Commeweyne, men in every variety of costume — from the raggedest half-nakedness that in this climate betokens, not exactly want, but rather hard out-door work, to the white trousers and black coat, the badges of the upper-class negro Creole — and a yet greater number of women, who have fortunately not learned to exchange the becoming and practical turban of their race for the ridiculous hat and bonnet of European fashion, come down to honour the governor’s passage; nor does the blazing afternoon sun, now at his hottest, seem to have the least effect on the energy of their welcome. And I may add that not here only, and in the more secluded districts of the colony, but throughout its entire extent, I neither saw nor heard of anything indicating, however remotely, the duality of feeling that in so many other West-Indian settlements — the Danish most — draws a line of separation, if not hostility, between the black and the white inhabitants of the land. The creoles of Surinam are not less loyal to the Dutch tricolor than the burghers of Leyden, and King William himself could hardly expect a more affectionately enthusiastic greeting, were he to make a tour through the seven provinces, than his representative receives when visiting his transatlantic subjects of the same rule. And in this matter, observation is confirmed by history; nor since the conclusion, in 1777, of the long and bloody maroon wars, has a single outbreak or show of insubordination disturbed the interior harmony of Dutch Guiana.

For this happy state of things, contrasting so advantageously with the records of too many other neighbouring colonies, the wise and kindly rule of an enlightened government has been, of course, the principal promoter and cause. But no small share of the praise is also due to the truest friends and best guides Europe has ever supplied to the African race, the Moravian brothers. More fortunate than their compeers of Jamaica and its sister islands, the Surinam slaves fell to the share of these Moravian teachers, who had already as far back as 1735 organized settlements among the Indians of the interior with much labour and little result. It is remarkable that almost the only teachers who have met with any success — and indeed their success, so to call it, has been considerable, among the Indians of the two continents south and north — are Roman Catholic priests. A sensuous idolatry best fits a sensuous good-for-nothing race. Whereas when a Catholic missionary suggested to a bush negro the other day the propriety of exchanging his hereditary worship of the cotton-tree for that of an imaged Virgin Mary, the black is reported to have answered, "God made our idol, man made yours; and, besides, ours is the finer of the two," and accordingly declined the exchange. "Se non è vero, è ben trovato."

But to return to the Moravians. When, after some difficulty, though less than might have been anticipated from the nature of things, on the masters' part, they were allowed to turn their attention to the slaves, their success was as rapid as it was well-deserved. In 1776 the first negro was baptized and admitted as a member of the congregation, and the countenance publicly and generously given on the occasion by the governor of the colony marked this step with the importance of a historical event. The very same year a Moravian teaching-establishment was opened on one of the Commeweyne estates, others followed, and long before the emancipation of 1863, three-fourths of the working negroes had been numbered in the Moravian ranks. The latest census gives nineteen Moravian schools, attended by more than two thousand two hundred children, while over twenty-four thousand names, all creole, are inscribed in the register of the Herrnhut brotherhood.

That the emancipation, too long deferred, of 1863, was neither preceded, accompanied, nor followed in Dutch Guiana by any disturbances like those which agitated Jamaica, Demerara, and other settlements thirty years before; that apprenticeship, so signal a failure elsewhere, here proved a success; that when this too came to its appointed end in 1873, scarce one among the thousand of creole labourers on the estates struck work, or took advantage of his new completeness of freedom to give himself up to idleness and vagabond life — these things are mainly due, so the colonists acknowledge, to the spirit of subordination, industry, and order inspired in their pupils by the Moravian teachers. Their loyalty and good sense had prepared a people worthy of the rights into the enjoyment of which they at last entered; they had made of the slaves under their tutorial care, not only, as the phrase goes, good Christians, but they had also made of them what the majority of other teachers had failed to do, good citizens and good subjects; loyal to their government, respectful to their superiors, orderly among themselves. Obeah and poisoning, serious crimes indeed in any form, are almost unknown in Dutch Guiana.

Liberty of conscience and the freedom of every man to choose and follow whatever religion he will, are very good things; yet even their warmest supporter would hardly hesitate to bring up his children by preference in that form of religion to which he himself belongs. Negroes in their present phase are children; when newly emancipated they might have been more properly termed babies; and there would certainly have been then no harm, nor even much difficulty, in prescribing for them some one of the many modes of Christianity best adapted to their comprehension and capabilities. And of all modes the Moravian, with its simple creed, simple though emotional worship, strict discipline, and absence of priestly caste-ship, would I venture to think have been the best.

These reflections, which, so far as they are merely reflections, the reader-companion of my trip is free to adopt or reject as he pleases, have in this my narrative derived their origin from the sight of the barn-like buildings of the Moravian establishment called of Charlottenburg alongside of which we are now borne on the clear black depths of the Cottica. The high-roofed conventual-looking mansion occupied by teachers themselves has a somewhat German air; the chapel, schoolhouse, and cattle-sheds, from which last, with garden cultivation and farming work on a small scale, the mission is chiefly supported, are all spacious and all plain even to ugliness. If we enter the buildings, we shall see little more, or in truth nothing whatever, to gratify the artistic sense. Within as without, any approach to ornamentation, not decorative only, but architectural even, is strictly excluded; though whether for reasons of economy or on some abstract principle, I do not know. Perhaps it is a speculative craze, for why should not the Moravians have crazes of their own like other denominations? However, as this fancy, if fancy it be, does not interfere with the practical utility of the constructions, which are cool, roomy, well-aired, and well-kept, want of beauty may be pardoned though deplored. The interior arrangements, too, offer nothing to make a description interesting. A schoolroom, an elementary one especially, is much the same all the world over, whether the scholars be black or white; and the same may be said of a meeting-house and its contents. But as I have already said, they answer the purposes they were intended for, and in addition they really come up to the popular idea. Private dwellings, by African rule of taste, should be small, mere sleeping-covers in fact, with an open verandah or shed tacked on, it may be, but as little construction as possible. Public buildings, on the contrary, cannot be too large. For decoration, the African eye has no great discernment; it appreciates bright colours and their combinations, but that is nearly all. In form, imitative form especially, they are at the very first letter of the art alphabet; nor were the most gifted of their kind, the ancient Egyptians, much further advanced in either respect. What then can be expected from the West-Coast national type? But like the princes of their brotherhood, the light-coloured Africans of the Nile valley, the Congo negro, and the naturalized South-American creole, understand the value of size in architecture as well as Mr. Fergusson himself, though not equally able perhaps to give the reason of the value; and the spacious assembly-room and wide enclosure of a central-African palace, or a Surinam negro meeting-place, are the legitimate though somewhat feeble and degenerate descendants of the giant structures of Carnac.

Cottages and gardens extend far away to the right and left of the open space where stands the central establishment; cocoa-nut trees form a conspicuous and a very agreeable figure in the general landscape. Sir Charles Dilke asserts, correctly, I take for granted, that two hundred thousand acres of Ceylon land are shaded by cocoa-palms, yielding from seven to eight hundred million cocoa-nuts a year, and worth two millions sterling. Amen. There is no reason, or, to put it better, no hindrance, either of climate or soil, to prevent the mainland Dutch settlement of the West from rivalling or excelling in this respect the once Dutch island of the East. Nor is much labour, nor much expense, beyond the first outlay of planting, required. Yet even for these, men and capital are alike wanting. Well, everything has its day; and Surinam, when her time comes, may be the garden of Guiana; she is, for nineteen-twentieths of her extent, more like the shrubbery now.

Meanwhile the current and the boat are bearing us on round another curve of the bank; the glittering plantain-screen and the infinite interlacings of the cocoa-leaves have closed round the green gap with its long-roofed dwellings; last of all, the small painted belfry has, so to speak, been swallowed up among the boughs, and "all the landscape is remade." Here is a remarkably large and handsome residence, with an avenue down to the water's edge, and landing-place to match; the garden, too, and the statues amid its flowers, look more numerous and more fantastic than common; the factory is in good working order; the sheds full of megass, the outhouses stocked — everything betokens a prosperous condition; the negroes at the wharf salute us with flags, popguns, and what they are, pleased to call singing, as we approach. I inquire the name of the place; it is Munnikendam, the governor informs me; adding that the estate is remarkable for the conservative tenacity with which, amid all the changes that have from time to time come over the spirit of the colonial dream, it has maintained old customs, old feelings, old manners and modes of life. Certainly we are now in what may be termed an out-of-the-way corner, not far from the very extreme limits of European habitation, and central influences may have been slow in diffusing them selves by Dutch barges up this secluded winding river. Nevertheless, to my English eye, the busiest districts of the colony, and the capital itself, had already appeared remarkably conservative. Not wholly stationary, for progress there certainly is; but it is progress by line and rule, precept and measure, here a little and there a little; not on the sweeping scale, or by the rapid transitions ordinary in the empirical regions of the New World. So that, thought I, if Paramaribo be comparatively not conservative, the conservatism of Munnikendam must be something worth the studying. The governor assented, and by his order a message was shouted across the stream that on our return we would pay the good folks of the estate a visit, and we continued our way.

My readers, will, I hope, accompany us on our visa to Munnikendam, in the following chapter, and derive from it as much pleasure in idea as we ourselves did in shows like a little island, surrounded by actual fact. Just now, however, the immediate goal to which we were bound was the estate entitled "La Paix," the remotest of all European settlements, or farms, from the colonial centre, bordering on what was once the military frontier, between which and the Marowyne River the land lies yet open and unreclaimed. East of the Marowyne commences Surinam's old rival and plunderer — French Cayenne. The distance of La Paix from the capital, in a straight line, is about fifty miles; following the river windings, it cannot be much short of a hundred.

The Cottica in this part of its course, and above its junction with the Perica, which flows into it a little below Munnikendam, is narrow, often not exceeding eighty yards in width, but extremely deep; the banks, where they have not been cleared for cultivation, or planted over with fruit-trees, are a tangled maze of forest, underwood, creeper, leaf, flower, thorn, through which a cat or a snake could hardly find a way. Coffee-bushes, the abandoned relics of plantation, mingle freely with the native growth; tall palms shoot up everywhere; bamboo tufts bend gracefully over the stream; water-lilies, pink, white, and yellow, float on the ink-black waters. From space to space the opening of some small natural creek, or artificial canal, enlarges the vista, green and flower-starred, to its furthest reach. Amid these creole cottages and gardens, cocoa-nut and banana plantations, abound and prosper; there is no sign of insecurity anywhere, still less of want. A mile or so before we reach La Paix, we pass the large dwelling-house called "Groot Marseille;" it is inhabited by three creole negroes, the joint proprietors of the adjoining sugar-estate. And these landowning brethren, though thriving, live together, strange to say, in unity.

La Paix itself, with its seventeen hundred and sixty acres of grant, though not more than one-third of them are under actual cultivation, is a fine sugar-estate; the fertility of the soil is evidently only limited by the amount of labour bestowed on it; and the employment of coolies speaks well for the corresponding amount of capital invested. Yet the place has a half-wild, frontier look; and in the struggle between the industry of man, and the excessive productiveness of nature, the latter seems ever and anon almost on the point of gaining the upper hand. Long grass and fantastic undergrowth shoot up wherever the smallest vacancy is left; the cane-patch an encroaching tide of trees; and the tall branches overshadowing cottage and outhouse, give the habitations a backwood-settlement appearance — doubtful and undecided.

And here, on the twilight verge, where the extremest rays of civilization blend with the dark margin of savage, or, at any rate, non-civilized existence beyond, let us pause awhile.