I had frequently heard of the number of rattle and other snakes to be met with on the banks of the lake, but these have been nearly exterminated by the settlers. During my stay in the suburbs I only found a few water-snakes, basking in the sun amongst the wilderness of aquatic plants that cover the surface of the water in the creeks.
The superstitious dread of inhaling the east wind blowing from the mouth of the lake, is now exploded, and is considered in the light of a by-gone tale; although, for three-quarters of a century, it was considered baneful even to the healthy. Consumptive patients are, however, soon carried off, the biting blasts from the Canadian shores proving very fatal in pulmonary complaints, and the winters being very severe.
A plentiful supply of excellent fish of various sorts, is procured from the lake. These are salted in barrels, and find a ready market in the northern and eastern states.
My abode in the city of Buffalo extended over the greater part of a year, and during this period I had frequent opportunities of witnessing that tendency to overreach that has, perhaps, with some justice, been called a disposition in the generality of Americans to defraud. I do not mean to stygmatize any particular class of men in this imputation, but I must record my decided conviction, arising from transactions with them, that business with the mass of citizens there is not that upright system that obtains with such successful results in the mother country, amongst those engaged in commercial relations. Perhaps it would be but fair to make some excuse for men of this class, in a country whose heterogeneous population, and consequent exposure to competition, renders it a struggle to obtain a livelihood. It is notorious that thousands of men in America are obliged, as it were, to succumb to this influence or become paupers, and are thus driven out of the paths of strict rectitude and honesty of purpose, and compelled to resort to all sorts of chicanery to enable them to make two ends meet. In no instance is this more observable than in the “selling” propensities of the Americans. “For sale” seems to be the national motto, and would form an admirable addendum to the inscription displayed on the coins, “E pluribus unum.” Everything a man possesses is voluntarily subjected to the law of interchange. The farmer, the land speculator, and the keeper of the meanest grocery or barber’s stall, are alike open to “a trade,” that is, an exchange of commodities, in the hope or prospect of some profit, honestly or dishonestly, being attached to the transaction. This induces a loose, gambling propensity, which, indulged in to excess, often leads to ruin and involvement, and, if absolute beggary is deferred, causes numerous victims to be perpetually floundering in debt, difficulty, and disgrace.