Journal of the Rev. Timothy Flint Part V

          Judge Bry has ennobled the ordinary money-getting pursuit of a planter, by directing it by science, experiment, and taste ; and as he is one of the most thriving of his class in the country, he is an example that theory and science are not, as planters are too ready to suppose, incompatible with profit and success.  No farmer makes more or finer cotton with the same number of hands.  he plants for revenue ; but he pursues horticulture and experimental farming con amore[1], as a pleasure, imparting plants, shrubs, seeds, hints, and the results of his experiments, to his neighbours and the country without fee or reward, if we except the noble reward of the consciousness of doing good.  A sketch of his career from its commencement, of his emigration from Geneva to America, of his daring, patience, industry, endurance, and ultimate success, would be a useful manual to young aspirant planters.  But he would perhaps shrink from the unauthorized notoriety.

          In his hospitable mansion[2] I sojourned during my long stay at Monroe.  An ample library, French and English, offered food for intellectual wants.  Collections of the curiosities, fossils and minerals of the country, collected and explained by my host, threw light upon its geology ; and a show of the most enormously large bones of any

of the organic remains I had yet seen, and found on your gran, created the vague surprise and curiosity that enquire in vain when and how these huge animals were imbedded in the soil, and ceased to exist as a living race.  I saw here and elsewhere specimens of sulphate of lime, of the beautifully transparent and crystallised [sic] species called selenite, and found sparingly in your lands.  But acquainted as he is with the local history of this state, and engaged, as one of the board of public works, in accurate surveys of its streams and capabilities of draining and improvement, a traveler as he had been in every country in Europe, and possessed of an inexhaustible fund of amusing and useful information, his conversation was still the most interesting and instructive book of all.  No man in our country has thrown more practical light upon horticulture, and the business of silk making.  I have seen no finer sample of the benevolent, intelligent and hospitable planter.  Judge Bry is a relation of Mr. Gallatin.

          While I sojourned here, the weather for a good part of the time was unusually stormy and inclement, and the ground was more than once covered with snow ; in one instance for three days.  While my host was necessarily engaged abroad, or in the oversight of his large establishment, I was often occupied in reading, on the plains of the Ouachitta, regular files of the recent Geneva papers.  How much is the interior history of every civilised [sic] country alike!  here were newspaper publishments of the intentions of marriage, which the laws at Geneva require, advertisements dated from Vevay, Lausanne and Zurich, places so deeply fixed in our juvenile

recollections of reading.  There were houses to rent in view of Mont Blanc and the lakes.  There were the on dits[3] of the knowing ones, and full samples of all the usual puffery of advertisers.

          One anecdote that I recollect gleaning from these papers, will amuse you, as it is far-fetched, if not dear-bought, having circulated from an English to a Geneva paper, and thence to Ouachitta ; having there been translated back into English, and transmitted to Philadelphia.  “A beautiful young lady presented herself at Dover, (if I recollect,) and was in church with her elected bridegroom to be married.  The gravity and solemnity of the officiating clergyman, in reading the service, or something else, seen, or remembered at the moment, struck the fair aspirant for matrimony so ludicrously, that after making visible and vain efforts to repress it, she burst into a fit of uncontrolled laughter.  However the bridegroom and the other parties may have been affected by the indecorum, it seemed so mal-apropos to the clergyman, that just at the point of the ceremony, when he should have declared them husband and wife, he shut his book, observing, ‘You seem, young lady, to be in a state of mind so unfit for this ceremony, I shall suspend the completion of it until you are in a more fitting frame.’”

          I occasionally dined out, resorting, in the intervals, to my customary habits of long and solitary promenades, examining every nook with its plants and shrubs within striking distance.

          I should not forget a wedding solemnized in the courthouse, which in this country generally answers also the occasional purposes of a church, after divine service on

the Sabbath.[4]  The preacher was visibly a most ordinary sample of backwoods ministers.  He called us his most respectable, (meaning, perhaps, respected audience,) and more than hinted that he attributed seeing so many people there rather to the desire of witnessing a wedding, than hearing him preach.  Discussing the duties of husband and wife, he remarked, that the woman was not taken from the head of man, to rule him, nor from his feet, to be trampled upon, but from his side, to walk beside him.  The day being uncomfortable, the court-house unwarmed, and the service rather tedious, at a part of it where the parties naturally enough concluded they had come to a finish, the married pair saluted, and bolted into the open air.  “Stop,” said the minister, “I have not done yet.”  The parties came back to the matrimonial altar, listened to the remainder of the homily, and finished by subscribing their names, with a proper number of attestations to the contract.  The dinner that ensued was as glorious for turkeys and pies, as a New England thanksgiving.  There were present lots of old residenters, with whom Judge Bry discoursed understandingly, touching the good old Spanish times in which he and they had been cotemporaries.  There were many stories, much merriment, and good humour ; and I noted one circumstance worthy of record, as a lingering remnant of the better times.  The caste of good society had not yet been formed.  The opulent and the poor, the fashionably and the rustically dressed, here met together.  The most perfect republican equality was visible.  It would be well, if in other remote villages, where the whole society united is small, and the measure of that

necessary ingredient in the wants of social life stinted at the best, there were less of those distinctions, so silly and odious, generally drawn in such places by those weak and dull persons who have contrived to arrogate to themselves the name of good society.


[1] With tenderness.

[2] Mulberry Grove Plantation, which is now the heart of Layton Castle.

[3] A rumor or gossip.

[4] I have not been able to find out who this couple were.  There were two or three weddings during April and May of 1835 but none fit what was given above.

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