Diary in America: With Remarks on Its Institutions

By Frederick Marryat | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
The Erie Canal

Returning to Utica, I fell in with a horse bridled and saddled, that was taking his way home without his master, every now and then cropping the grass at the roadside, and then walking on in a most independent manner. His master had given him a certificate of leave, by chalking in large letters on his saddle-flaps on each side: "Let him go." This was a very primitive proceeding; but I am not quite sure that it could be ventured upon in Yorkshire, or in Virginia either, where they know a good horse, and are particularly careful of it. It is a fact, that wherever they breed horses they invariably learn to steal them.

Set off for Oswego in a canal boat; it was called a packet-boat because it did not carry merchandise, but was a very small affair, about fifty feet long by eight wide. The captain of her was, however, in his own opinion, no small affair; he puffed and swelled until he looked larger than his boat. This personage, as soon as we were underweigh, sat down in the narrow cabin, before a small table; sent for his writing-desk, which was about the size of a street organ, and, like himself, no small affair; ordered a bell to be rung in our ears to summon the passengers; and, then, taking down the names of four or five people, received the enormous sum of ten dollars passage-money. He then

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