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from my window I look down into a deep gorge that is shut in by the Eastern hills, over which comes the first gleam of the morning sun ; and walking round the wide verandas, I can be in the sunshine all day long, from sunrise to sunset.
But for all this I should not have known how very beautiful the country was, and should have gone away with eyes but half opened, if a gentleman who lives in Asheville, and is a large landed proprietor, had not taken me to points of view which a stranger might not discover. This was Mr. Pierson, a brother-in-law of Dr. Curry, to whom the latter had entrusted me as his friend, and who therefore took me in charge as if I were an old acquaintance. Driving me out of town two or three miles, he led the way to a hill on which he is building a house for himself, a point of view from which the eye takes in a circuit of fifty miles, within which is included every variety of landscape. How many peaks there are on the horizon, I will not pretend to say. On the west are the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, which figure so much in the stories of Charles Egbert Craddock, while northward and southward are the mountains of Virginia and the Carolinas. Nor is that other element of beauty in a landscape, water, wanting. At the very foot of the hill flows the “French Broad,” a river worthy of its name, which in its volume and swiftness reminds one of the most famous river of Europe, as it “nobly foams and flows” with a majesty almost like that of the Rhine.
But this is not the only beautiful place near Asheville. On the other side of the town is another more finished, which by a curious coincidence belongs to another brother-in-law of Dr. Curry, Col. Connelly, a brave Confederate officer, who lost an arm at Gettysburg, but who “bates not a jot of heart or hope," and divides his time,
ITS BEAUTIFUL ENVIRONS.
with almost equal enthusiasm, between the care of his estate and the study of the Bible. The latter amounts to a holy passion with him. I found him with his dictionaries and reference books wide open on his table, and he told me that he devoted to this study six hours a day! From his library he has but to step out upon a broad balcony, to look round upon a scene as fair to the eye as that which Moses saw from the top of Pisgah. Indeed he has the advantage of Moses, in that he has already entered into his Promised Land, while Moses could only see his from a distance. Men who are devout lovers of both nature and the Bible, cannot help illustrating their ideas of one from what they see of the other, and I doubt not the gallant Colonel, as he looks across to the rich meadows on the other side of the river, has visions of “ beyond the swelling flood,” and as the sun goes down in the west, and every mountain peak is tipped with fire, he may well think that he catches a glimpse of the heavenly towers and battlements.
In truth, it is an enchanting country, bringing forth in abundance all the fruits of the earth. Why do not the farmers of New England, who find their winters long and bitterly cold, and their soils hard and unproductive, seek new homes here in this milder climate, with this richer soil, instead of going off to the most distant territories? It would be a delightful change. Our good Presbyterians would find themselves at home, for Asheville has its Presbyterian church, with an excellent pastor. Many of them would live longer and make a living easier ; for the soil is rich and productive, and they would not be so far away from the homes of their childhood, as if they had emigrated to Idaho or Montana.
When we left Asheville, we kept still westward, down the valley of the French Broad, which opened many a
pretty vista as we wound along its banks, till we came to where the hills parted, and in the green intervale between, bubble up the Hot Springs, whose medicinal qualities have made it a great resort, both for invalids and for the fashionable world. Here is a hotel of such dimensions and so well appointed as to suggest that some Eastern capitalists have been putting their money into it; and inquiring, I learned that my old friends, George F. Baker (President of the First National Bank of New York) and Henry C. Fahnestock, whose long arms reach out in many directions, had found this lovely spot, and picked up a trifle of a few thousand acres among the mountains of North Carolina.
Soon after leaving the Hot Springs, we cross the borderline, and are in Tennessee. Like the other States which lie along the great Appalachian chain, it has a broad expanse, stretching from the mountains to the river, with its head lifted into the clouds, while its feet are dipped in the Father of Waters. It is almost an Alpine region through which we enter the State, winding upward till, a little after noon, we halt at Knoxville, the capital of East Tennessee. A long street leads up to the centre of the town, where, in the early settlement, were erected the Court House and other public buildings, as a nucleus for the gathering population. Knoxville is a place which has a history, being one of the first settlements west of the mountains. Of course I could not be in such a historic city even for a few hours without a desire to know all about it; but there was no one to tell me, for as I had not been quite sure of my own route, I had come without introductions. In this extremity, I did what I have sometimes done before-inquired for the nearest Presbyterian minister, and being directed to the parsonage, introduced myself to the pastor of the First Church, the Rev. Dr. Park. I found him a man of stalwart proportions, with a
GROWTH OF THE CITY.
beard which gave him a patriarchal appearance, who, when he had looked me over, and concluded that I was right,” invited me into his house, and gave me a seat before an open fire which warmed us both, and in the glow of which we soon got acquainted ; and he ended by taking a buggy and driving me about the town, by which I learned more of its history in a few hours than I could have learned by myself in a week. Naturally the first object of interest was his own church, which is the mother of all the churches, in whose graveyard sleep many of Tennessee's illustrious dead, among them the Hon. Hugh L. White, once a candidate for the Presidency of the United States. Among the living relics of other days is Mrs. Ramsey, the widow of the historian of Tennessee, to whom I was glad to pay my respects.
And now for a stretch over the hills. Knoxville is a city of hills as much as Rome ever was, though I think there must be more than seven here. As we passed from one hilltop to another, my venerable guide was full of the information for which I was eager. We found that the city was growing on every side. New streets and avenues were being opened, and the sound of the hammer in many quarters told of the multiplication of dwellings to provide for the increase of inhabitants. Few cities in the United States have grown so rapidly in the last decade. “In 1880,” said Dr. Park, “ the population, according to the census, was 10,500. To-day it is 43,000. Thus within these nine years it has increased fourfold !” And very pleasant it was to see the homes that were provided for he incoming multitude ; that, instead of the houses being crowded in blocks, plastered together like so many bricks in a wall, they stood apart, each in its little plot of ground, with a pretty yard in front, and room for flowers and vines, which not only gave a look of beauty as seen from without,
but were suggestive of taste and refinement within. All this is a token of the general cultivation which becomes a city enthroned upon the hills. It would seem to be just the place for literary institutions ; nor was I surprised to find one of its hills already crowned by the University of Ten
But one thing more remained, and that was a visit to a point of great bistorical interest in the late war. The people of Tennessee were generally opposed to secession, but when the State Government cast in its lot with the South, many felt that it was the part of patriotism to share its fate. Others left their homes, and making their way across the mountains into Kentucky, joined the Union armies. Thus East Tennessee was between two fires, but no great event occurred till near the close of 1863, when Knoxville had a siege and a defence that were among the most notable in the war. That I might understand it better, Dr. Park drove me to Fort Sanders, on the outskirts of the city, which was the scene of the conflict. Here, as we stood on an angle of the old earthworks, he indicated to me the position of the two armies, till it was all spread out before me as on a map.
To know the momentous importance of what was here to take place, I must recall to my readers the situation at the moment, which was one of the most critical of the war. The
year 1863 had seen great events. After the disasters of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, had come the invasion of Pennsylvania, that was beaten back by the battle of Gettysburg, a victory which elated the North as much as the previous defeats had depressed it. But now came another tremendous blow at Chickamauga—a battle of which I have always had a very vivid impression from the description given me by General Garfield. Again the country was in great anxiety. Grant was sent to Chatta