Hell! What a Place!

April 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

An old settler, who requests his name not be used, was asked yesterday how long he had lived in Austin. “Why, sir, I have always lived here!” was his reply. He then explained that he came to Austin when it was nothing but a cluster of log houses. Just after the town was established.

Austin in those days existed only in the imagination – it was a big city only in the mind. One day I went across the river and stood on the bluff where the deaf and dumb asylum is situated, and here I had a bird’s-eye view of the capital. I had been here but a short time – do you know what I said? I was given a little in those days to profanity, and when I gazed upon this capital of a great republic, I simply said, “Hell! What a place!”

All there was of Austin at the time was about 15 or 20 little log houses and the most ungainly structures that human genius could devise, and these were stuck into openings between scrubby trees. A man full of poetry might say the wild uncouth landscape was grand – but poets are great liars. It was the most barren and desolate looking spot I had ever set my eyes on. The white barren rocks glared in the sun like the very perfections of destitution, upon which only a few sickly, dwarfed and gnarled live oaks sat like death on a ship quarantined with yellow Jack. I had read the glowing description of the commissioners who selected this perfection of desolation for the capitol of the republic and before I cam to Austin I had my fancy wrought up to a high point of glory. I did not think men could lie so, and as I stood on the bluff that day, I said, and no wonder I said it, “Hell!”

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