Pictures and Illustrations.
Saturday, 12th. When I awoke this morning I was sorry to hear the roaring of the surf louder than ever from the beach on the outer side of the Point on which we had camped; the wind, too, howled terribly among the pine trees. These sounds indicated but too plainly a state of weather which would forbid our further advance.
Determined not to give it up hastily, I called old Cloutier, and we took a walk to the entrance of Grand Marais, and thence along the outer shore, so as to get a fair view of the open lake. The wind was North-West, and blew a perfect gale; the
2waves ran high, and the surf tumbled in towards the shore with power enough to swamp any canoe in an instant.
We had nothing to do but to return to our camp and reconcile ourselves, as we best could, to the prospect of being degrades, as the voyageurs call it, for the day at least. This was a sore trial to our patience, to be checked in our advance when within one day's journey, half a day indeed, from the Pictured Rocks, the great goal of our hopes, the primary object of our visit to the upper Lakes. It required more than our whole stock of philosophy to bear up under the tantalizing delay. We bore it wretchedly I confess. Returned to our tent, we cooked and ate our breakfast pretty much as Ancient Pistol ate the leek, "I eat and eke, I swear." This burst of ill humour, was not, however, proof against a delicate piece of white fish and a dish of potato hash, which Cloutier, to whom I gave the small remnant, pronounced superbe. No man's ill humour will resist the persuasive influence of a well-cooked meal;
3its silent eloquence speaketh more loudly to the heart than a thousand tongues, unless indeed they be buffalo tongues; then I grant them eloquent.
Breakfast had scarce time to have its perfect work upon us, before we hit upon quite a satisfactory way of passing the day. The Grand Sable is only four miles off; we resolved to visit it on foot, as the day was bright and clear, though rather cold when we were exposed to the full force of the North-Wester.
With this determination we put bag and baggage into the canoe to pass across Grand Marais. We were again struck with the beauty of this little harbour. Its shape is irregular, but I think it must contain between two and three square miles. The water on the North side, where we camped, is shoal; but on the other, I am told, there is ten or twelve feet at all times, and an equal depth at the entrance, though the channel is narrow, and not at first easy to hit.
Nolan informed me there was a tradition among the Indians that this bay did
4not exist here in earlier days, but has been formed by a sudden irruption of the waters of the lake overflowing a wide expanse of marshy ground; but I cannot reconcile this with the fact of which I am assured by old Cloutier, that the signification of the Chippewa name for this place is not Great Marsh but Great Bay. We had again an opportunity to prove the perfect protection afforded by this harbour. The wind was now blowing a gale; the surf, as I have mentioned, tumbling in at a furious rate, and the whole lake covered with white caps, yet in the little inner harbour where we were, all was calm and still, and the face of the water was almost unruffled. We left it, and were soon tossing and tumbling on the stormy waves that rolled in at the mouth of the Marais. I could not but think that this short excursion was a good emblem of our whole journey. Thus have we left the safe shelter of our quiet homes — bah.
I am getting sentimental; I believe I am hungry, that must be the reason; I'll
5go and eat a white fish and half a dozen potatoes —
Crossing the Marais, we landed on the Eastern verge, where the banks are lower and less thickly wooded than on the other side. Here we pitched our tent, and then prepared for a tramp.
As all the voyageurs were very desirous to see the sands, we concluded to leave only La Tour at the tent, and allow Le Diable, Pelleau, and the Doctor, to accompany us. We started in high spirits, Pelleau and Le Diable running on before, whooping, hallooing, and jumping about in their wild Indian fashion.
Our way for the first mile lay directly along the Lake side; the wind blew the waves in upon the beach with great violence, and as it was very narrow and but little elevated about the water's level, they often overflowed it. In such a case we could only escape a wetting by springing up upon the high steep sand bank which rose on our left, and remaining there till the waves retired.
6But this was neither very easy to do, nor very pleasant being done; the bank was composed of fine light yellow sand, and when we sprang upon it we were sure to sink half-leg deep, and more than once the whole mass slipped down and landed us fairly in the water. At several places pine or other trees had been driven ashore by the storm and buried in the sands. Here we had the choice either to clamber through or above the branches, which were half embedded, or to watch the opportunity of a retiring wave, and run around the tree in front before the advance of the second. We generally embraced the latter alternative; it required, to be sure, some quickness of eye and considerable agility of limb; and once or twice, when the advancing wave proved larger, or came in quicker than I had expected, I was caught by it, and obliged to stand in water half-leg deep.
In this way we toiled on for more than a mile; now running before a wave, anon scrambling in a bank of loose sand, and then, where the beach was wider, strolling along leisurely, getting breath for new struggles, or picking up a bright pebble or curious looking shell.
At length we came to a place which was utterly impassible. The shore ran out to a sort of point, and at its extremity the water, which in general shoaled very gradually, was deep at a few feet from its edge. Here, too, a dozen trees of different sizes had drifted ashore, and lying half buried in the sand in a confused mass, made a wall across the beach which we could not clamber. Nought was left us but to climb the sand bank, and strike into the woods.
The bank was full fifty feet high and very steep, and being composed of loose sand, as I have mentioned, the ascent was a matter of no small difficulty. Cloutier led the way, and we all followed in Indian file, the Doctor bringing up the rear. At every
8step the sand slipped and slid under our feet, threatening to plunge us into the lake; still the old man struggled forward, and we could not, for very shame, refuse to follow. At last the summit of the bank was gained, and I supposed all our difficulties over; they were but begun. The top of the bank was covered with a thick growth of cedars and pines, matted and tangled together by a deal of under-brush of various kinds. The trees were all small, and stood together thick as stubble in a wheat field; add to this that the surface of the ground was exceedingly broken, now rising into steep hillocks, then sinking into small dark ravines, at the bottom of which there was generally either a little brook or else a narrow strip of soft marshy ground. Over this delightful country we had to make our way. Pelleau and Le Diable had taken another, and, as it afterwards turned out, a far better route; so we had only Cloutier and the Doctor. They went forward, and the old man did what he could by breaking away the
9branches to remove obstructions out of our way, but with little effect; we could not advance more than a hundred yards without the absolute necessity of calling a halt to take breath.
We continued this toilsome march about two hours, when, nearly exhausted by the severity of the labour, I asked Cloutier if it was not possible to descend and make our way along the beach. He at first said it was not, but finally agreed to try; so we struck directly towards the shore, and, after a hard tug of more than half an hour, during which time I do not believe we advanced more than a quarter of a mile, we gained the summit of the sand bank, and saw the smooth beach below. A few rapid plunges, and a long slide or two in the loose sand brought us to the water's edge. And now we began again our contests with the surf. This seemed, however, mere child's play, so completely had the steep hills and the rough prickly cedar bushes reconciled us to an occasional scramble through
10the sand or a scamper before the coming surf. Half a mile thus passed, old Cloutier stopped, and shouted, "Ah, ha, voila Grands Sables!" I looked up — the sand bank was higher than I had before remarked it, I should imagine about a hundred feet, but not otherwise very remarkable; and I was just giving way to disappointment, when he began to clamber up a gully, which was now nearly dry, but down which, in wet weather, a small stream finds it way into the lake. We followed, and after one more hard struggle, gained the summit.
I despair of giving you any adequate idea of the scene, which presented itself. All before us was sand, — sand, — sand; — no vegetation of any kind; not a tree — nor a shrub — or a single blade of grass — yet the prospect was almost infinitely varied. Hills rose on every side, in every variety of shape and size, divided by small deep valleys or long and very gradual slopes. It seemed as though the loose sand had drifted as the snow does before the wind; now thrown up
11into steep rugged hills, now whirled into a smooth conical mound, and then blown off into a long sweep or hollowed out into a spacious amphitheatre.
We stood for a long while absolutely entranced by the beauty, the splendour of the scene. The sky was clear, the sun bright above us; and the yellow sand glittered like gold dust in his beams. This wide expanse, though bare of vegetation, had not that arid and sterile look which travellers ascribe to the deserts of Africa, and which the very term sandy calls up before the imagination. This, on the contrary, looked rich and beautiful; and rather like the gravel walks in a park or country-seat than the sandy waste I had expected to see. I do not know whether this difference is to be ascribed to the colour of the sand — the fact that it was wet where I saw it — or whether it is to be accounted as imaginary and attributed to my excited fancy. I am not at all unwilling that you should adopt the latter explanation if it seems most probable to you. I know what tricks fancy
12plays me, and how the impression made upon one sense varies that received through another; so it may be in this instance, that the freshness and coolness of the air made me fancy that the sand heaps looked less arid and scorched than they really did.
When we had in a degree recovered from the first burst of surprise and admiration at this novel scene, we advanced towards a round hill, the highest within view. During the slight descent and the passage through the small valley, the walking was difficult and unpleasant from the looseness of the sand; but when we came to the rise of the hill, where the wind could act freely, this sand was blown off, and we walked rapidly and pleasantly over a hard smooth compact mass of gravel. This difference was perceptible over the whole extent of Grands Sables; where the shape of the ground protects it from the wind, two or three inches of fine sand always obstructs the path; while on the exposed places there is not a particle; though both ascent and
13valley look at a very short distance equally smooth. At length we gained the summit. The slope of this hill is singular; the ascent is very gradual to within a few yards of the top, then the ground rises suddenly almost like a wall. At a short distance it seems as though a gentle eminence was crowned by an intrenchment, all of sand. On the top is a level space of four or five yards in extent, and from this we had quite an extensive view. To the North lay the little valley through which we had just passed; to the East the view was bounded by a smooth straight ridge of sand, distant from us about half a mile; it ran at right angles from the lake back to the Southern verge of the sands, a distance of perhaps two miles. This ridge is so regular in its shape and so uniform in height, that, as we looked over its summit, the line which it marked upon the clear blue sky was as straight as possible; to the South and West the hills rise very irregularly, and extend as far as the eye could reach, enclosing little valleys of different sizes and shapes.
Through one of these valleys we saw Pelleau and Robert advancing; their wild looks, and the cries with which they greeted us, were in a strange sort of harmony with the scene. They were in high spirits and full of play, running races along the firm hill side, shouting, singing, leaping, and once or twice plunging down a steep place where the loose sand lay deep enough to protect their bones. In one or two of the deepest valleys now in sight, we distinguished a few plants of wild oats, and a kind of knotted rush, of which I know not the name; and also one or two poor, stunted, half-starved cedar bushes, whose meagre looks reminded me very much of the description given of himself by a young doctor in New York, who, when asked how he lived, replied, "That he did not live at all, he just contrived to get along from day to day without starving." So with these cedar bushes; they seemed just to get along from day to day without being absolutely dried up to the very roots.
I looked at the sun-burnt cedar, and saw
15how its sapless branches, scorched by the sun, were now whitened by the sand which blew in clouds up the valley, then at the small jointed rush of which I have spoken; the wee thing was green and fresh, and seemed to get along very well: "What a fool you are, cedar bush," quoth I; "why not content yourself with being a little rush, then you might have lived very comfortable and creditable in a small way, just poking your nose an inch or two out of the sand; now look at yourself — thin, and gaunt and half-starved like a doctor." By the way the appearance of the two might convey a very useful lesson to the thousand and one youngsters between Maine and Georgia who are crowding into the already overcrowded ranks of the learned professions, to slave in these very genteel avocations; while he whom they call the vulgar baker, or the ungenteel butcher, or the carpenter who "does not belong to our set." is making an honest living, and laying the foundation of wealth, or at least independence, for his old age. When
16I think of these young doctors and lawyers and the life which lays before them, I long to shout in their ears, "Cedar bush! you are a fool not to content yourself with being a rush."
Descending the hill, we turned towards the East to ascend the ridge of which I have spoken as in that direction bounding the view. I have before remarked the perfect regularity of the ascent; and on gaining the summit, we found the descent at the other side quite as regular, though very much longer; at the base ran a small stream, separating the Grands Sable region from the pine woods. Here we could remark pretty accurately the difference in altitude between the two regions: I think the ridge on which we stood was at the least two hundred feet above the level of the pine forest.
We walked along its top for half a mile or more, constantly delighted with the ever-varying forms of hill and valley which presented themselves at each advancing step. What rendered the scene more pleasing,
17was the peculiar appearance of the sand. In its ordinary state it must have an uniform light salmon colour, almost white; but the heavy rains had so thoroughly wetted it last night, that this morning's sun and wind had only dried it partially and in spots; these spots were of the light salmon colour, but all the patches which remained wet were of a deeper shade, almost red. Together, they had very much the appearance of rich watered silk, but that the shades of lighter and darker hue were more infinitely varied, and together formed a more beautiful whole than any thing which the hand of man has ever made. I have seen nature in her wintry robes of dazzling white; I have seen her change them for the bright green of spring; the rich, though already faded hue of summer; and, above all, more bright, more beautiful than all, the party-coloured robes which she puts on in our own American autumn. All these I have seen, I love them all; they are all beautiful to the eye and dear to the heart. Yet none of these, at least to my
18eye, equal, in rich and gorgeous splendour, the saffron coloured garments which she wears at Grands Sable. Oh! could you have seen them as I saw; their varied hues harmonized and blended, their silken splendour glittering in the sun, you would admit that they are, in very truth,
Having followed this ridge for a mile, we diverged to the Westward, and were soon involved in a succession of hills and valleys. Finally, we ascended a hill somewhat higher than the rest, and beheld the termination of Grands Sable in that direction. Near the base of the ridge the valley was sprinkled with a few cedars and pines, but it soon became covered with a growth of both, and a few maples, though without any grass or under-brush; in that respect resembling the levee at Tequamenon bay. We descended the hill and plunged into the forest; Cloutier had gone before, but we still had the Indian doctor with us;
19and besides, could track the old man on the bare sand; for, as I have said, there was no under-brush or grass in the forest. The Indian had diverged from the track and was now out of sight, as we rather chose to follow the tracks than trust to his guidance, when his wild cry "Eh! Heh!" gave us notice that something had attracted his attention. Following the sound, we found him examining an Indian grave. It was very similar to those we had seen, except that the logs were; trimmed, and the roof made of shingles instead of cedar bark. At the head stood a wide flat stake, on which were marked in red chalk the figures XIII, indicating, as I suppose, the age of the defunct; beside the stake was planted a pole ten or twelve feet high, to the top of which a few rags of red and blue cloth were attached. I removed two or three of the shingles, and found within a rude image made of white cedar, about four or five inches long; the Major also picked up a little mallet made of a bit of ivy, or some other vine.
We could, I suppose, have been very sentimental on the subject of this little image of the savage boy, and the toy with which his infancy had been amused, and which now his sorrowing parents had deposited in his grave, in the hope that, according to their simple creed, that which had been in this life a source of pleasure would contribute to the happiness of their child in the far-off spirit land to which he had been untimely removed. Instead, however, of sentimentalizing over these relics, we concluded to steal them; so the Major pocketed the mallet, and I the image, and replacing the shingles to conceal our larceny from any chance passerby, we went on our way rejoicing.
Before we had finished our examinations and appropriations at the Indian grave, the Doctor had strayed away, and we returned
21on our own tracks to regain those of old Cloutier. Soon, however, the Doctor's yell announced a second discovery, and though from previous experience we were well aware that the sight of a crow would make him shout quite as loudly as that of a Behemoth, yet this time we resolved to follow. We were well rewarded for our complaisance, though at first the sight of the frame of an Indian lodge led us to fear that the doctor had diverted us half a mile from our track, to see that no longer interesting object. We did my learned brother injustice, he had really made a discovery; beside the lodge stood a structure which was new to us. Two posts, formed of the rough unbarked trunks of cedar trees, about five or six inches in diameter, were planted in the ground eight feet apart, to the top of each of these posts was fixed a cross piece about three feet long, confined by bark thongs; from one of these cross pieces to the other were laid four small logs, forming a sort of scaffolding;
22below there was a frame to assist the ascent to the upper.
This scaffolding is used to secure provisions on those very rare occasions when the poor Chippewas have more food than is sufficient for their immediate consumption; but its most usual, and by far most important purpose, is to serve as a fasting station.
Fasting is, I believe, the only religious ceremony which is strictly observed by the Chippewas; at least the only one in which religion is not in some way or other connected with medicine. These fasts are observed previous to any great event or era in savage life, but the most solemn and important of them is that observed by all young Indians, before they enter on the active duties of manhood. The manner in which they are conducted, and the extent to which they are carried, is well illustrated by the story of the origin of the Robin, which I transcribed for you in one of my letters from Mackina. The Indians attach the greatest importance
23to the dreams and reveries which visit them during these fasts, as omens of future good or ill; and it often happens to them, as to the "crooked back tyrant," that
Have struck more terror to the soul of Richard
Than could the substance often thousand soldiers."
24fire or at their casual resting-places during a hunt or a war party.
The telling of stories is with them the favourite mode of whiling away time, and excellence in this art is a highly valued accomplishment, whether the excellence be in tragedy or comedy; whether the story-teller aspire to move "the man without a tear," as he has been falsely called, to weeping; or whether he be content to find his reward for a comic tale in the roars of laughter, in which the so called "imperturbable savage" is often wont to indulge. But this is a digression — to return to the fastings. Cloutier says he has known the fasts prolonged to ten days, and Nolan, when I asked him the question, said that he had often known the same thing. He admitted afterwards that the tasters were always in situations where they could obtain water, and generally some kind of food, without much danger of detection; but he seemed to think that they did not avail themselves of this circumstance to break these fasts, as, if any one should be detected in
25such a thing, it would be a disgrace to him as long as he lived; and it was quite possible the wise men of the tribe might judge it expedient to propitiate the spirit, to whom this breaking of the fast would be a terrible insult, by sacrificing the life of the offender. Cloutier, to whom I suggested the possibility of making a mock fast, scouted the idea; he had seen one man who had fasted till, on the tenth day, he was unable to descend from the fasting place, or stand on his feet when lifted down.
I confess myself, after all, rather sceptical as to a fast from meat and drink for ten days. But "I tell the tale as 'twas told to me," and if you have a mind to believe it, I can only say you have the authority of two very respectable half-breeds for the story; and although I don't exactly believe it myself, yet I dare say some of the things I do believe are quite as improbable as the ten days' fast of the Savages.
It ought also to be taken into the account, that during the fast the man always remains
26still and quiet, and has no intercourse with his friends. This would, of course, render abstinence more tolerable. Let us leave, however, the question of the practicability of abstaining from water for ten days to the physiologists, and pursue our walk.
From the fasting-place, we wandered on through the open pine forest, till from the brow of a little hill we looked down upon a sweet secluded sheet of water. A few minutes walk brought us to its brink, whence we had a full view of Negawadju Sagaagan, as the Indians call this lake. This long word means, "The Lake of the Sand Mountain," and its formation illustrates very well that peculiarity of the Chippewa and other Algonquin dialects, to which a distinguished German philologist, Baron William Von Humboldt, brother of the traveller, has given the name of agglutination. They often combine words, or parts of words, together, so that a substantive and all its attributes, and often all they mean to say about it, are expressed in one tremendous polysyillable.
27It is a mistake, however, to suppose that Algonquin words are not inflected; this is to err as much on the one hand as Mr. Du Ponceau, and poor dear daddy Heckewelder,
28did on the other, when they declared the Delaware the most perfect of human tongues.
In the name given to this lake, we have nega, sand, wadju mountain, and sagaagan, lake, all thrown together and moulded into one huge word. This, though it makes the language very copious, has the disadvantage of presenting a very serious obstacle to the learner, who is always at a loss to tell where one word ends and where the other begins; but this discussion about Indian language is out of place; "revenons a nos mountons."
The little lake by which we were standing, is shut in on every side by hills, covered generally with dark pine forests. Its circuit is about five miles; it is nearly round, and to my eye one of the loveliest sheets of water I ever saw. Its calm surface, which seemed to sleep in the deep shade of the overhanging pines, contrasted delightfully with the foaming waves and roaring surf of Lake Superior, and not less so with the glare of Grand Sable.
29Following the shore, we came to a spot where the sand hills advanced quite to the verge of the lake. Up these we clambered, and found that the Grand Sable region extended further to the South than we had at first supposed. The appearance here was rather less remarkable than nearer Superior. The ascent to the hills was more gradual, the valleys wider; in short, the surface of the ground was less broken. Bidding adieu from the top of the hill to the little lake, we turned Northward and Westward with a view of again gaming the shores of Lake Superior. We had not advanced far before we came upon the tracks of a bear. Here a consultation was held as to the important fact — were these tracks recent? after full examination and due reflection, Cloutier pronounced decidedly that the bear had passed this morning, and probably within two hours. Of course all thoughts of return to the lake were given up, and we were all in full pursuit. We followed the track for an hour, but fortune did not favour us. Perhaps
30I ought not to use that expression, as I am by no means certain that even if we had fallen in with him the adventure would have terminated to the disadvantage of Muckwa, as the Chippewas call him; for we had only one gun, and it loaded with duck shot and very apt to miss fire. The Doctor, to be sure, had a hatchet, not a tomahawk, but a small axe, with which he said he could have done somewhat; for my part, had I seen him attack his black relation, I should have been tempted to adopt honest Iago's language, and profess the most entire indifference whether "he killed Cassio or Cassio him." Indeed, it would have been contrary to the old and well-approved maxim, "never meddle in family quarrels," to have interfered in the matter; as all Indians claim relationship with the bear, always calling him uncle, and professing, after they have shot him, the greatest regret at having hurt their relative; indeed, if there is a white man in company, they will always tell the bear the white man killed him. But all this
31and a great deal more you will learn if you have patience to wade through that very dull book Tanner's Narrative.
Abandoning our fruitless bear chase, we now turned our faces towards the lake. For some time we rambled over the small sand hills, without observing any thing worthy of note, till at length a shout from my learned brother announced that he had made his third discovery; led by his voice — a voice by the way that combined the softness of the ass's bray, the richness of the squealing pig, and the melody of the howling wolf in the sweetest perfection — following then his "wood notes wild," we found the Doctor deep in contemplation of certain marks upon the side of a sand hill. Just as we came near, he seemed to have made up his mind as to their nature, and exclaimed, in his broken jargon, "Letters — Read." They were little ridges about an inch high, half an inch wide,
32and a foot or eighteen inches long. There were, I dare say, twenty or thirty of them in a line, all of the same length, but differing in shape. I agreed with my learned friend that they were letters, but regretted my inability to read them. He was very much disappointed, that I — a white man and a miskekewinini, — should be unable to read. The Doctor could not well understand it. I attribute my inability to decipher it entirely to my want of skill, for even to my darkened eye it looked much more like writing than many an inscription which I have known learned antiquarians pronounce in high preservation. It remains no longer, for Robert le Diable, who has been the whole morning like a crazy creature, thought proper, just as the two doctors were giving it a re-examination, to plunge head-foremost down the declivity, burying head and ears in the sand, and forever obliterating the inscription which might have told the future destiny of the country or the name of the next President. Indeed, I think one of the marks looked very
33much like a V, it might, however, have been part of a W, but it is gone, and all the secrets which it might have told must now be left for Time's slow labour to bring forth.
Leaving this Sybilline mount, we wandered on over sandy hill and valley till we struck the shore, then followed the line of the high bank for a mile Eastward, till arriving at the gully up which we had ascended, we scrambled down and pursued our way along the beach. About an hour's walking brought us to the point which we had thought impassable in the morning, but the recollection of our two hours' tug through the cedar bushes made all things possible to us. We went to work clambering over the dirty logs, creeping through the bushes, and now and then crawling under a tree which lay close to the wet sand. This point passed, we again resumed our walk along the beach, diversified as it was by an occasional fight with the surf, in one of which the Major got a very complete and satisfactory wetting.
The long walk had made me very thirsty,
34and I was regretting that we had not brought a cup, for the surf tumbled in so furiously, that drinking without one was out of the question, when Cloutier, who heard my complaint, soon supplied my want. He found a piece of birch bark, stripped off the dirty outside layer, and then taking a plait in it, made a sort of conical bowl, which he presented to me as the voyageur's drinking cup. It certainly answered a very good purpose. Cloutier and the Doctor now went a little ahead, and when I came up with them they were standing on what I at first thought a black slaty rock, till I saw the old man drive his hatchet into it and break off some great flakes. On inquiry and examination I found it a large mass of peat, harder, dryer, and more perfectly free from roots, than I had ever before seen. It is imbedded in the sand, and of course I could form no accurate idea of the quantity that may be found there. I took several specimens of it, and my learned brother, the Doctor, also supplied himself with a large quantity; but on
35his way home he lost not only his own specimens, but mine also, which I had trusted to his care.
This was the last object we saw worthy of notice. We arrived just before sun-down at our camping ground, completely tired out with our long, though very interesting tramp. We found that La Tour, whom we left eating, had lain down as soon as he had satisfied his appetite, to sleep, and had never waked once the whole day. This is true voyageur, always eat, when you have nothing else to do, till you can eat no more, then lay down and sleep.
Sunday, Sept. 13th, half-past 3 o'clock, P. M.
BEFORE continuing my journal, I will try to give you an idea of the place where it is written. Picture to yourself your friend lounging
36on a mat spread upon the grass at the site of a deserted Indian village on the Southern shore of Grand Island, overlooking a large bay which separates the island from the main land, distant about four miles. Before me is the fire, towards which I stretch out my feet, for the day is rather chilly. Over the fire La Tour has hung his big camp-kettle on the regular voyageur's crane, three sticks tied together at the top and spread out below like a skid. In this he is busy cooking the usual dish, salt pork and hulled corn. A few feet from the fire, and close to my right hand, half a dozen Indians are squat upon the ground. The one nearest me, who rejoices in the name of Tarhe the Crane, and who, as the oldest of the party, takes the seat of honour, is clad in a blue frock-coat and leggins, and wears upon his head a palm leaf hat; yet think not that he resembles, even in dress, the frock-coated and palm leaf-hatted gentry you meet in Broadway. The Crane is a much finer gentleman than the finest among them; every seam in
37his blue broad-cloth frock is overlaid with red and yellow ribbons; the leggins are broidered down the sides with beads and porcupine-quill-work; his palm-leaf hat is bound round with half a yard or more of a bright red and yellow French calico; his shirt, which the lack of vest renders an observable garment, is made of a large chintz patterned calico; two or three rows of ruffles round the bosom, of some lighter and more showy pattern, add much to its effect. Altogether the Crane is a very smart-looking fellow. Next this great man sits his brother; they are both nephews of Oshawonepenais, the Bird of the South,
38bound round the seams with scarlet ribbon, and scarlet leggins faced at the sides with a strip of blue cloth, into which a deal of bead and quill work is embroidered. On his head he wears a cap of scarlet worsted net, also faced with dark blue cloth. The other Indians have blankets loosely thrown over their shoulders, chintz shirts, and blue leggins; their heads only covered with their own long black hair. High in the midst, the observed of all observers, sits old Cloutier, in earnest discourse with this gracious company. He is detailing our day's adventures; and as he tells of perils past, which excite the wonder even of his savage auditors, his face expands and his eyes glisten with the consciousness of having done and dared like a brave. Behind the Indians are huddled a group of bright-eyed and wild-looking children, watching each movement of their elders; while on the skirts of the whole party scout three or four lean and half-starved dogs, attracted by the smell of our viands, and eager to take of a portion of them.
The Major and Pelleau are off, trying to shoot pigeons, and Robert Le Diable has thought proper to stay at the lodge on the other, side of the island, to enjoy the sweet smiles of the fair sex. I have said that this is the site of a deserted village; its desertion is only temporary, it is the winter post of the Indians, and they return to it in a few months. The frames of the lodges are all left standing, and near the largest of them, which belongs to the Bird of the South, stands a long pole, on the top of which is fixed a rudely carved bust or half-length figure of a man, the right hand holding what is meant for a spear or gun, and pointing towards the East; the whole figure is painted a uniform bright scarlet. Near one of the other lodges is a similar pole and figure, but very much smaller, and having even less resemblance to the form of humanity. But it is time I told you how I came into this wild scene and wilder company.
Last night we camped at Grand Marais, wind bound, and with very little prospect of
40leaving it to-day, but on waking this morning we found that the wind had again veered round towards the East, and, what was equally important, had moderated very much, though there was still quite enough of it. We started from the Marais at a little past five, coasting along in front of the shore where we had walked the day before. When we arrived in front of the Sables the sun was well up, and we had a very good view of them from the lake throughout their whole extent.
Beyond that part which we had examined yesterday the sands are of the same general look, though, judging from their appearance from the water, the Western verge is not as well defined as the Eastern; sands and thin pine groves intermingle a good deal. When we had passed Grand Sable the coast assumed its usual appearance, to which our eyes had become familiar; at length we bore away to the North to double Point aux Sables, and as soon as we had passed it, Cloutier made our hearts leap by the cry
41"Voila la Portaille," there are the Pictured Rocks.
We looked eagerly forward, and at the distance of about ten miles saw a point standing out further into the lake than the one we had just doubled, and even at the distance evidently much higher, on the very end of which was a white rock, which Cloutier assured us was the Portaille. A deep bay lay between us and it, and the weather was far too rough to allow us to make the direct traverse, even if we had not been desirous of seeing the beginnings of the range of Pictured Rocks, which lays in the bay. We turned therefore inwards, and as our course was about South-West, and the wind blew from N. N. E. Cloutier resolved to hoist sail; he did so, and we ran merrily over the waves towards the bottom of the bay. About three miles beyond the point, the range of rocks begins. It is at first only elevated a few feet above the water's level, and of a uniform very dark colour, covered in many places by a kind of gray moss. It
42is composed of sandstone, in layers of various thickness, from one to six feet or more. It is nearly perpendicular, and in some places the top overhangs the base several feet. There is generally deep water quite up to the rock. Passing by this low range, which is perhaps a mile long, we came to one much higher, say forty feet; here we first observed the excavations in the face of the rocks which constitute one of their most marked peculiarities; we also saw, in a few places, traces of iron ore on the rock, giving a reddish brown tint to its surface.
The excavations were at first small, and did not rise more than a foot or two above the level of the water, of course we could not judge of their extent backward, as the low opening would not have allowed us to look in had the weather been calm, and now it was blowing nearly a gale of wind, and the lake extremely rough and unpleasant. At this time I was a little startled by overhearing a conversation between Cloutier and Le Diable; it began by a remonstrance
43from Robert against running so far into the bay, Cloutier answering by his usual "pas de danger." Robert was not so easily satisfied of this and renewed his remonstrance, adding, that he was sure we should be driven ashore. The old man broke out, "I tell you there is no danger; and besides the gentlemen have come a great way, and spent a great deal of money to see these rocks, and they shall see them whether or no." This idea, that we must run in and see the rocks danger or no danger, I confess disturbed me a little, but only for a moment; no mere personal fear could divert, for any time, the eye and the attention from the magnificent scene before us.
The wall was now a hundred feet high at the least, and quite perpendicular; the excavations in it of every various shape and size, from a mere niche to vast caverns, The first very large one we passed, had an arched entrance, very regular, about thirty feet high and from forty to fifty wide. It extended back about forty feet, and then
44there was a small arched aperture leading into some deeper recess, but so dark that the eye could not penetrate beyond its low portal. Within this cavern the fierce waves rolled and beat with so much violence that it was at times filled with white foam. The roar, too, of these dashing waves was terrible.
We now lowered the sail, and rowed onwards, at the distance of perhaps forty or fifty yards from the rocks. Passing the large double cavern, we came to another of a different appearance; its entrance was forty or fifty feet wide, but not more than ten feet high; this low arch was supported by two small square pillars, at about equal distances from the two sides. The waves rose so high that we could not look into this cavern, nor judge of its extent backwards.
Now we began to observe the tinted appearance which has given to these rocks their name. The colours were at first confined to two, the brown of iron in its various shades and the gray of the sandstone, which,
45though in most places as dark as Quincy granite, is in some nearly white. These two colours; blended in different shades, give a very sombre appearance to the whole rock. The next remarkable opening to which we came was of smaller size, not more than thirty feet wide and fifteen high; on each side of the entrance stood a huge square pillar, fifteen or twenty feet high and six or eight feet square; these were of the lightest shade of the sandstone, a white just tinged with yellow, and as smooth as the stonecutter could have made them. These pillars were the more strikingly conspicuous, as all the stone around was of the deepest, darkest shade of the red brown, and parts of it almost black. The cavern, too, was in the middle of a long range of rock which was but little excavated; indeed the line was scarcely broken at all for thirty or forty yards, except by the one wide yawning cavern with the shining white pillars.
Soon after passing this cavern the rock rises to near two hundred feet, and the variety
46of colour is greater. The different strata were all of different colours, gray or brown; and sometimes the same strata was shaded with gray or brown in different tints, and spotted with bright red or beautiful grass green. This last colour was often shaded with yellow. Some whole strata were as red as well-burned brick, and others so light a gray as to be almost white, and resemble a slab of white marble. All these colours ran into and blended with each other in a manner almost magical. It appears as if various colouring matters flowed out from the clefts of the rocks, sometimes tinging a large portion of one colour, then spotting it here and there with little patches of bright and varied hues.
Following the coast we soon after came in view of a little cataract; it sprang in one tiny stream from a rock a hundred feet high, and before it reaches the lake is almost entirely dissolved in spray, so that it falls rather in a continuous shower than in any perceptible stream.
The sun was shining on this little stream, and on the mass of brown rock from which it sprang, and you can have no idea of the beauty, the perfect beauty, of that little arch of white foam, shining like silver in the sun's bright rays, and so well relieved by the mass of deep rich red behind. Passing the little cataract, that seemed to float like a snow-white veil before the face of that rude precipice, we came in front of the celebrated Doric Rock, or as the Canadians much more prettily call it, La Chapelle. It looks from a distance (and the furious waves would not allow us a near approach) exactly like a small rustic temple, half hid by the trees which grow on either side, below, and even on its roof. Beyond the Doric Rock — I hate the use of French words, but I will call that rock La Chapelle for the future — beyond La Chapelle, then, there is a break in the range of rocks, and a beach of fine yellow sand extends for one hundred or perhaps a hundred and fifty yards. Here a small
48stream finds its way into the lake over a steep shelving rock.
At the termination of the little sandy beach, the range of rocks begins again, not as at first, low and rising by degrees, but towering at once to an immense height, and presenting a face as steep and precipitous landward as towards the lake. Here the line of coast begins to run due North into the lake; we followed it, but as the wind was now nearly ahead, blowing N. N. E., we had great difficulty in making headway, and scarcely less in preventing the fierce waves from driving our frail bark against the terrible wall, which rose so steep and sheer that one look would convince the most sanguine that once blown against it there was no hope of ought but instant death. Our voyageurs pulled their best, though they were evidently scarce equal to the terrors of such a scene; and more than once I heard a despairing cry from Robert,"Ah mon Dieu." I was amused to observe the change in the appearance and manner of this our former merry
49Devil. No jokes now, no songs — Robert was always our choir leader — no loud laugh, no oaths, of which Le Diable was as prodigal as a pirate — the rough waves and the sight of that bare precipitous rock has cowed his poor spirit down till he has scarce words enough left to say his prayers, even had he known how. Our old guide was of better mettle, and when the waves were roughest, and the high dark wall nearest, I had only to look into the face of Cloutier, right into his eye, and I felt that courage is as contagious as fear is said to be. That man is brave not reckless, not thoughtless; for with an intent and anxious eye he watches every coming wave, and as each passes by he gives a quick eager glance to leeward to mark if the wild surge has driven us nearer to that fatal shore; he is not insensible to danger, but brave. We toiled on, keeping pretty well off the rocks and gradually nearing the Point. At last we gained it. In passing round, the scene was tremendous; the waves beat upon that high precipice with
50their whole unbroken force, dashing the white spray fifty feet into the air, and boiling and foaming among the rocks at its base till the lake all around, and for yards out, was one mass of white foam. The rock here is higher than at any other place; I do not think Gov. Cass over-estimates it at three hundred feet. It is pierced on its Northern and Western faces with three immense openings, which lead to one common cavern, deep in the body of the rock. Its top formerly projected far into the lake; but a few years ago it fell down, and huge masses lay at the base obstructing the entrance to the cavern.
It was among these broken fragments that the surf boiled so furiously; now breaking upon the rock, then, as it were, forcing its way en masse into the cavern, and dashing with a roar like thunder against its vaulted sides. Round this terrible Point we at last passed, and we were safe from one danger at least.
From La Portaille the rock runs South-West at near the same height, still variously
51coloured, and dug out into caverns and arches of different sizes and shapes. About a mile West there begins a range of a light yellow colour, tinged towards the base with green; probably from the action of the water. This stone is harder than the rest; it is not excavated by the waves, but in many places huge fragments lay along its base, having been detached from above by the frost or the lightning. The summit is very well wooded, as indeed is the whole range of the Pictured Rocks. This yellow rock extends near a mile; then we come again to the softer gray stone; again we find the same variety of colour; the face of the rock is burrowed out by the water, though not to the same extent as before. Beyond this again was a second range of light yellow colour, spotted, however, in places with red and brown. Further onward, in another range of the gray and brown stone, stands the Turretted Rock. It projects from the face of the wall like the facade of a temple,
52and is ornamented with three regular square turrets of equal size.
This was the last very remarkable rock we distinguished, though the range extends several miles further; the whole distance from the first low rocks near Point Sables, to their final termination opposite Grand Island, the voyageurs call twelve miles. I think it is greater. The termination to the Westward is not as gradual as their rise at the East; the last in the range is of considerable size and height, though it is; obscured very much by the cedar shrubs which grow in every cleft and cranny. Their foothold is very precarious however, and not sufficient to support any thing approaching in size to a tree. Trees do grow very thick and tall at the top of this range of rocks, and add much through out to the beauty of the scene. A short distance beyond the termination of the Pictured Rocks, we doubled a small projecting point, and entered the channel between Grand Island and the main land.
I find I have not as yet mentioned Grand Island, though we came in sight of it about the same time as La Portaille. It is a large and moderately high island, twenty-five to thirty miles long and twenty wide; very well wooded throughout. It lays quite close to the main land. The channel is for the most part not more than two miles wide, though, owing to the irregularities in both the shores, it varies very much.
Here at length we were protected from that terrible North-Easter; and oh, how delightful was the change! how sweet a thing is quiet, how grateful repose, to the tired body, and how much more grateful to the wearied spirit! Ours, I confess, were nearly exhausted by what we had passed through this morning, the various feelings, surprise, astonishment, admiration, and terror, had by turns agitated us. Now all was past, and, like our little canoe that glided so smoothly and quietly over the waters, no longer tossed by raging waves or impelled by a driving wind, the mind could float free and peaceful;
54neither excited by astonishment nor agitated by curiosity.
We stood across the channel towards Grand Island, on which we intended to camp, to renew our stock of provisions, and in the hope, too, of seeing the schooner in case she touches here on her return. The coast is perfectly iron bound; for more than two miles an unbroken ledge of rocks rises from ten to twenty feet from the water's level, and always perpendicular, with deep water close alongside. These rocks are of the same nature as the stupendous range on the other side, but, owing to the absence of metallic substances, their surface is of one uniform gray colour; and as they are completely protected from the violence of the storm, laying on the South side of the island, and where the channel is narrow, they are not burrowed out in the same fantastic shapes. Passing these, we came to a shore of the usual character — sand beach and pine forest — and soon after entered a large oval bay which lays between Grand Island and the main land,
55both shores receding at this point very regularly, and approaching each other again four or five miles further up. At the bottom of this bay we came ashore, and clambering a bank of ten or fifteen feet in height, found ourselves in the midst of a deserted Indian village. And now, having in part fulfilled my promise, and explained my own appearance on the scene which I described at the beginning of this letter, I will bid you adieu, and reserve the account of the highly intellectual circle with which I am surrounded for another letter.
At Grand Island we met with a grievous disappointment. We had expected to find an Indian trader, or at least a number of Indians here, but all was desolate and still. We now began to debate whether we should camp here or go over to the other side of the island in search of the Savages and then trade.
56The main difficulty was, that none of us had the slightest idea of the way, and it was possible we might lose ourselves in the woods; and, indeed, the fact that there was another regular station on the island rested only on the authority of the Doctor, and certainly a poorer foundation no story could possibly have.
While we were debating the point, Pelleau gave a shout, and pointing to wards the woods, told us a boy was there. We looked, and in the midst of the thicket, sure enough, there stood an Indian boy of about twelve or thirteen years. He had not before seen us, but Pelleau's cry attracted his attention, and for a moment he gazed upon us with big round wondering eyes; but when we advanced towards him he took the alarm and fled at full speed. A loud call and some friendly words from Cloutier induced him to pause, and repeated assurances of our friendly intentions at last so calmed his fears that he allowed us to come near him.
In reply to our questions, he told us that
57the village was about two miles off, across the Point. To this he offered to guide us. Leaving Cloutier and the rest to unlade the canoe, the Major and myself with the Doctor followed our little guide. He led us by a small imperfect sort of path through the woods, but before we had advanced more than half a mile, his confidence in us failed him, or else he thought it best to give warning to his friends of our approach. He sprang into the woods and was out of sight in an instant. Left to the worse than no guidance of the Doctor, we again halted; but having received assurance that now he was certain he knew the way to where the Indians might be found, we concluded to follow the path at any rate, and trust to good luck since good guidance had failed us. We pursued our way steadily, though slowly, (for the path was much obstructed by fallen trees and under-brush,) till we came to the coast, and following it for half a mile, saw a lodge — glad sight — the blue smoke curling from its top. We hastened forward, and at the door were
58met by two young women; they were evidently much surprised and a little frightened at our appearance. They stood their ground, however, and answered very readily our questions, informing us that the lodge of the chief was only distant a short half mile. As to the trader, they seemed uncertain. They very readily showed us the path, and we followed it without delay; it led back from the coast and into a dense forest, through which, with infinite difficulty, we toiled our way for half a mile further, when, just as we began to despair of finding them, a dozen Indians sprang into the path a few yards before us, shouting, yelling, and gesticulating, at a furious rate. They were all clad in white blankets, either thrown over the shoulders, cloak fashion, or made into coats; they had generally scarlet worsted caps and scarlet sashes. The sight of these gentry startled us a good deal; their wild looks and savage cries; their gestures, which, though only meant to express surprise, to a stranger might seem full of fury, were well enough
59calculated to make an impression those scarlet caps, too, gave added wildness to their glistening eyes and tawny features. Our Indian doctor, who is, as we say in the West, the very tail end of all creation for courage, was completely at a stand; in fact almost frightened to death; he could not advance a foot nor speak a word. The Major stepped forward towards the screaming group and made signs of amity. I followed, and offered my hand to one who seemed to be the chief (I was mistaken by the way); he took it, and another that of the Major. This in some sort reassured that poorest of all "the poor in spirit," our Doctor. With a regular hang-dog look he crept forward, and faltered out a few indistinct words. A reply, in sound and manner prompt and bold, was given; but the first word, the first sound of the Indian's voice, scared the Doctor so much that I doubt if he heard or understood them. I went up to him and by threats and abuse at last made him find his tongue. He began a conversation, and interpreted to us the
60substance of it; they had no corn, no potatoes, no fish, nothing eatable to give us; and there was no trader there. As to the schooner, they did not know any thing about her. This was unsatisfactary enough, and we turned back sadly disappointed. We had not proceeded far when we met old Cloutier, to whom we communicated our difficulties. The old man made very light of them, assuring us that the Doctor was a fool and had made some mistake. Of the correctness of his first proposition we had the most entire conviction, and were, of course, ready enough to believe the second. He promised that all should be set right if we would return with him; we turned back accordingly. The Indians met us at about the same point as before, but their whole manner was changed when Cloutier spoke. They recognized him in a moment, and gathered round with shouts of welcome. A few words only had passed before we were all on our way to the lodge of the chief. We soon came to the little village, if the small collection
61of lodges deserve that name, in the midst of which it stood. Conducted by two of the older Indians, we entered the lodge of Oshawonepenais, the Bird of the South. It was about twice the size of the others, but did not differ from them in any other respect, being built of the same rude materials, and in the same frail unsubstantial manner. We entered the low door, which was closed by a large and very handsome mat, and without a word of salutation on our part, or greeting on his, took our seats upon the mat with which the lodge was carpeted.
In one corner were several women and children, huddled together; opposite them, and near one of the fires — there were two in the lodge — stood a woman, busily engaged in cooking a mess of boiled corn and potatoes, of which she seemed making a sort of broth; but the figure which attracted and riveted our attention, was the venerable Oshawonepenais, chief of the Grand Island Indians. He sat in one corner of the lodge, weaving a fish net; but
62though his fingers were thus employed, he seemed to give the work scarce any attention, rarely even looking at it. He was evidently very old, but when in his prime he must have been a princely figure; even now, though his form had lost its fulness and was bent a little by the weight of years, I have rarely seen a figure which so well expressed the venerable dignity of the patriarchal chief. His forehead was high, and deeply furrowed with lines of thought and care; his eye, though somewhat dimmed, or at least deprived of something of the wild glitter which commonly marks the Savage, was well opened and expressive; the shape of the face was not so strikingly Indian as to be disagreeable; the nose high, and almost Roman; the mouth, still garnished with a perfect set of teeth, and the well-marked chin, had an expression of great firmness and decision; thus preventing the whole face from being rendered tame and insipid by the mild, thoughtful, and almost melancholy cast of the upper features.
He took no notice of our entrance, but continued, though with an abstracted air, his net-making. For five or ten minutes no one spoke, and we had full time to look about us, and examine the remarkable figure of the chief. At last Cloutier advanced, and placed on the mat before him a bit of tobacco. It lay for a minute untouched; then the chief took it up, and placed it in a sort of pouch behind him; he next turned towards Cloutier, and made a slight sign of acknowledgment, though his manner had full as much of hauteur as of gratitude in it. He spoke a few words in a low tone to one of the young women; she stepped up to the centre of the tent, where several small trout hung smoking, took down one and presented it to me. A piece of money given in return, was received with rather less of dignified indifference than the chief had shown towards the bit of tobacco. Cloutier now addressed him; and Pelleau, who sat by my side, interpreted the speeches of both the guide and the chief. He began
64by saying, he was glad to see his friend Oshawonepenais again; and he hoped that the chief was well. In a calm, cold, indifferent tone the chief replied, "Why do you call me friend? I do not even know you." The guide rejoined with great earnestness, that he had often passed by Grand Island, and had eaten with the chief. The reply was the same, and delivered in a still colder tone: "I do not know you." Cloutier then made another effort to make himself known, but with no better success. Finally, he turned towards an old Indian who had just entered the tent. This man spoke for some time to the Bird of the South, explaining who Cloutier was. This wrought conviction; the chief rose, advanced a step and said, "He now knew his old friend, was glad to see him; but," he added, passing one hand slowly in front of his eyes, "the eyes of Oshawonepenais are no longer clear, the Great Spirit has sent a cloud before them, and now I scarce know the face of my friends." This was delivered slowly, and with a touch of calm
65dignified melancholy. When he had finished, he shook hands with Cloutier, and then resumed his seat.
Having then been duly accredited by the chief, we began a negotiation with some of the women in the tent for supplies, of which we are in great want. Corn they had not pork was out of the question — potatoes they had, and finally agreed to sell us a bag for half a dollar. We were very desirous of obtaining some fish, but they would not give us any, asserting that they had no more than they wanted, and it was uncertain how soon they could catch more. We were obliged to content ourselves with the potatoes, they will at least prevent our starving for more days than it will take us to reach White Fish Point.
This negotiation ended, we arose, and bidding adieu to the venerable chief, and a general Bo jou
We now started immediately for our canoe, where the women had promised to bring our potatoes in the course of the afternoon. On the faith of this new supply, the men, on reaching the canoe, put all their corn and nearly all the pork into the pot, determined apparently to have one good meal. We let them have their own way, as we shall soon have plenty of food, such as it is, to carry us to White Fish Point, and there we are sure of some fish, if nothing else. Before we had made our tea, (it was now three o'clock, and we had tasted nothing since the previous evening,) or the men half cooked their corn and pork, we were joined by the group of Indians which I described to you in the beginning of my last letter. While I was writing,
67the group was constantly varying, one going and another coming. Two or three very good-looking girls among the rest were eager to gratify the ruling passion of the sex, curiosity, by staring at the white men. The boys amused themselves part of the time by throwing stones at the red image, which, as I told you, is erected on a pole beside the lodge of the Bird of the South; and they raise a great shout, a young war-whoop I suppose, when any one of the party makes a hit. I think it is strange that some of the old Indians do not prevent this, if, indeed, this is, as all the voyageurs assert, an image of an Indian god — certainly his godship does not receive a very great share of reverence from his professed worshippers.
Monday, September 14th
After I had finished my journal yesterday, we waited at the old village two or three hours for the promised supplies. At the end of that time, growing somewhat impatient, we sent Robert Le Diable after the women who had promised us the potatoes. He returned in a short time with the genuine Indian reply — it was too much trouble to dig the potatoes, and they would not give us any. This was a sad disappointment, as, owing to the improvidence of the men, their stock of provisions is nearly exhausted; and indeed we are but little better off, having for private supply only about a dozen potatoes, the two pigeons which Pelleau shot, and the small remnant of ham. Our guide assured us that the bottle of whiskey which we still had in the basket would bring us as many potatoes and fish as we chose to demand for it; but, on
69talking the matter over together, we resolved not to give it, as the supplying these poor Savages with spirits is a violation of the law of the land, and, in our view, a no less clear violation of the laws of God; we resolved to keep, in this thing at least, to the path of duty, and trust to His good Providence to provide for all our wants.
We determined also to leave our camping ground and gain the point of Grand Island nearest the Pictured Rocks; for this Cloutier had but the simple reason of advancing so many miles on our way home; I confess another had some weight with me. The Indians who have now all left us, are still so near, that if disposed they may annoy us at almost any moment. From open violence we have but little to fear, but we have many things which they want, and your Northern Indian is no small thief — at least many of them are — and I think it is not best to put too many temptations to larceny in the way of the children of the Bird of the South. Cloutier, to be sure, denies the existence of the smallest
70danger from this cause; still, even he admits that if they knew we had the Ishcodaiwabo, the Fire Water, they might possibly try to steal it — so, at any rate, it is as well to be out of harm's way.
I have no confidence in the Savages, and not too much in some of our party; M. Le Docteur is a coward and a fool, and Robert deserves his cognomen of Le Diable as richly as ever king or conqueror deserved "the Great." I think we will put half a dozen miles between our Red brethren and ourselves.
We soon ladened our canoe, and, jumping in, pushed off and turned her bows Eastward. We exchanged congratulations on the completion of our advance, and put up prayers, I hope sincere, for future preservation, with due thankfulness for past mercies. An hour's smart rowing brought us to the Eastern termination of the ledge of rock which I have mentioned as bounding the Southern shore of Grand Island.
Here we found a tolerable camping
71ground, and soon had a good fire built before our tent. We did not make tea, as we had already taken one meal, and resolved to confine ourselves to that till we got to White Fish Point. We went to bed with rather heavier hearts than at any time since our departure; we had, even at scant allowance, but a day's provision; and from the appearance of the weather it was exceedingly doubtful whether we should be able to pass the Pictured Rocks next day. How were we delighted in the morning to find that the wind had fallen — indeed, that it was almost a perfect calm; and though the lake still heaved with the swell of yesterday's storm, yet that was every moment diminishing, and there was nothing to prevent us from leaving the island as soon as we pleased.
We did not delay, but embarked by torchlight, and bade a glad adieu to our camp. Leaving Grand Island at the dawn of day, we were soon opposite the beginnings of the Pictured Rocks; but before we had reached the interesting, or rather, I should
72say, the most interesting part of the range, the sun was up, and his beams fell with unclouded splendour on the many-coloured face of the precipice. The lake was now perfectly calm, and we could approach without difficulty close to the base of the rock; indeed, had it not been for the swell from yesterday's gale we might have entered some of the caverns.
Passing so close, and gliding by so smoothly and so leisurely, we had an excellent opportunity to examine them. When any thing particularly struck either of us, we could lay off or approach quite close, so as to be sure to catch the best point of view.
Nothing I had ever heard had at all prepared my mind for the sublimity and beauties of this scene; the rock, so lofty and precipitous; the wide openings that yawned below, leading we knew not where; but, above all, the brilliant colours that diversify every foot of this vast range of rocks, now that we saw it lighted up by the sun's direct
73rays, it far surpassed in brilliancy and beauty any thing we had imagined yesterday. Not only were the colours shaded and blended in a manner the most surprising, but in some places perfect pictures were sketched upon the rock, (Nature's own paintings), with a correctness and accuracy of outline, a combination and a brilliancy of colour, which the eye was never weary of beholding, and to which the mind could never so accustom itself as to look upon them without something of awe and wonder mingling with our admiration.
On one immense square block a landscape was depicted with so much distinctness, that no one could glance for a moment upon it without recognizing the various objects; a large wide-branching tree in front, a wall, as of a park or garden, behind it; beyond this, seen over the wall, was a water view, dim, and, as it were, faded, but still in perfect perspective. Now I think I hear you say, "Ah! Doctor, your fancy is running wild! or else you are trespassing too far upon the
74traveller's licensed privileges. A tree! a wall! a water view! and all sketched on the face of a rock by the hand of Nature? this will scarce do." So much the worse for you, my dear friend, if your incredulity leads you to disbelieve in the existence of one of the greatest wonders in the world; I can only assure you that so it is, and advise all doubters to go and satisfy themselves; in the mean while, by way of circumstantial evidence, let me tell you, that as our canoe approached this same wonderful landscape rock, I exclaimed, "Oh Major, look at that tree." I did not point, nor in any way direct his attention to the object I meant; and please to remember, that the top of the rock was all along fringed by tall trees; yet did the Major instantly point out, with an expression of admiration, the tree, painted as I have described it on the face of the rock. Does not that shake your incredulity? was the Major too carried away by enthusiasm? did fancy mislead him? Not at all; the thing has a substantive existence as clearly as
75Niagara Falls; if you doubt, go and see for yourself, then will you confess that the half, nay, that the tithe part, has not been told you.
Beyond the Landscape Rock we came to another, very beautiful in appearance. One wide strata was continued smooth and even for forty or fifty yards; this was of a uniform gray colour, nearly as dark as granite. Now upon this the iron ore from above had washed down in such a way as to describe a range of arched Gothic windows, in a deep, rich, and well-shaded umber colour. Their uniformity in size and shape, and the regular intervals between them almost perfect. Beyond the Gothic windows we passed several most beautiful ranges of coloured rocks; among the rest one which we judged at least twenty feet square, that was veined exactly like an agate, and of nearly the same colours, How shall I describe to you the appearance of this huge agate when the sun shone upon it? Impossible! impossible! The imagination never painted any thing more beautiful.
76Then we came to a rock which lay close to the surface of the water, and on which, in brown and reddish tints, was depicted a huge fire. The light reddish yellow of the flame, the brown hue where the smoke and blaze commingled, and the deep dark volumes of black smoke above, all were depicted to perfection. Next we remarked a square block, uniformly coloured with the reddish brown of iron ore; upon this background was sketched, in a gray misty tint, the outlines of a mountain scene — sharp rugged cliffs, deep narrow valleys, and then single peaks towering far above the rest. Near this I observed some spots of a bright silvery white, and further on a number of small patches of a light sky blue.
We now came to the light-coloured stone, which, as I remarked in passing up, is harder than the gray sandstone, and is not dug out by the waves, but only destroyed by huge fragments falling off the top and sides, detached by the frosts or by lightning. We had now an opportunity (passing close by
77their sides) to observe particularly some of, these huge masses; one could not be less than fifty feet each way; it lay nearly out of the water, and I think we were not mistaken in estimating it. Another had the appearance of a huge square column; it was at least seventy feet long, and I think forty through. Passing the range of white rocks we came to a cavern which we had not observed yesterday. It was about thirty feet high, extending back perhaps twenty feet, and was from fifteen to twenty wide; within it was arched over like a sort of half dome. It resembled exactly one of those arched niches which are made in the walls of churches to receive mural monuments. What a place that would be for a monument! But to whom should it be consecrated? Who is worthy to have his memory associated with and perpetuated by this mightiest of Nature's wonders? King nor conqueror, statesman nor patriot, could desire nobler sepulture than to have his body cast into the mighty lake in the front of this
78arch, and his monument built there! Now those deep dark caves, burrowed out by the water, were observed almost at every step; and as we passed close by their low entrances we often paused to hear the surf rebound from their sides and roofs. The noise resembled that of heavy ordnance fired off in the very centre of the cliff. Scarce would the sound have died away, when another huge wave would roll forward, wash into the low entrance almost without a sound, and then burst in thunder against the wall and roof within, seeming absolutely to shake the solid rock. This was most remarkable when we passed in front of those excavations, which had low and pretty wide entrances, and by the time which elapsed from the first entrance of the wave to the peal which followed its bursting against the inner wall, we could form some idea of their comparative extent backward. In this way we satisfied ourselves that some of the caverns, whose openings did not rise more than a foot or two above the water, and were
79only a few feet wide, must have an extent of many yards into the bowels of the rock.
We now approached La Portaille, and had a fine view of it. We passed so near its base that its top seemed to hang directly over our heads, three hundred feet high; we rowed close in front of the huge arched entrances. There are, as I mentioned, three of them, and it was formerly quite common for canoes to go in at the Western arch, and passing deep into the rock emerge at the Eastern.
These entrances are all now much obstructed by masses of stone which have fallen from above within a year or two. Old Cloutier was very anxious we should attempt to pass in, but the ground-swell still rolled among the rocks with too much violence to make the feat of passing among and around their sharp sunken points at all inviting.
In rounding the point we were much struck with the different appearance every thing presented from what it did yesterday. Then the waves were beating against this
80high point, and dashing their white crests half way up its steep sides; the water foaming and boiling among the rocks below, while the wind howled and whistled through the arches, and the dark sky above seemed to scowl in anger upon us. Now all was changed; the sky was clear, the bright sun smiled upon us, and as its rays fell on the painted sides of La Portaille, they gave a new richness to every colour and shade; the wind was hushed; and if the lake still heaved, 'twas with a gentle and an easy motion, as if the waves were rocking themselves to sleep.
Having passed La Portaille, we steered directly into the deep bay in which La Chapelle is situated, intending to land at the little sand beach which lays alongside of the Temple. We soon gained it, and laying the canoe bow on to the shore, were carried through the surf, and safely placed on this smooth and beautiful beach. It is very regular, and behind it, at the distance of perhaps thirty or forty yards from the
81water's edge, rises a mound or levee like that at Tequamenon Bay. It is thickly strewn with small pebbles of various colours; the prettiest as well as the most common were white quartz, and a bright red stone of which I know not the name.
We wandered for awhile up and down this beach, and having taken a glance at the marshy land behind the Levee, we mounted the backs of our two men, and were carried across the little stream, which, as I told you, finds its way into the lake over a shelving rock just West of La Chapelle. I could not but admire the sure-footedness of our Canadians, each of whom, carrying a man much larger than himself, clambered over this shelving and slippery rock as composedly, and, I doubt not, as surely, as though he had been walking unburthened along the sand. Here begins the rocky formation, and we were obliged to clamber up the side of the first ledge, which is near twenty feet high, on the top of which stands La Chapelle.
We entered the temple. The space within
82is not as large as I had expected, and the floor is very uneven, so that it loses somewhat of its effect from that circumstance. The roof is by far the most curious part of the structure; it is supported at the four corners by four pillars, about forty feet high, and two of them having a peculiar wavy appearance running round and round them spirally, exactly as I have seen it on an unfinished piece of turning. These pillars are six or eight feet in diameter; the roof, which rests upon them, is sixty feet long, by perhaps forty wide and fifteen thick; it is covered with trees, some very large; I measured one, it exceeded twelve feet in circumference.
From this roof, to which we clambered without difficulty, we had a good view of the bay; extending on the one hand to the La Portaille and on the other out to the little cataract I described to you yesterday; upon this roof we spent near half an hour, gazing with an unsated eye upon the various wonders and beauties in view. But alas! time was not allowed us for half the observations
83we would willingly have made; slowly and most reluctantly we descended. From this we were again safely conveyed across the little stream, and took another stroll along the sand beach, picking up stones here and there as they caught our eye.
Directly beyond this beach is a cavern, which is remarkable for the thinness of the roof. The entrance is, I think, thirty feet wide, twenty high, and it extends inwards thirty or forty feet; yet the roof is not more than five feet at any part, and in many places does not appear half that thickness. Beside this cave I remarked a new colour, a dark green. It extended along the top of a gray rock, with all the regularity of a fringe, to which its resemblance was increased by the upper edge being straight, and the lower scalloped. We now embarked again, and coasted slowly in front of the numerous caverns, of every conceivable shape and size, between La Chapelle and the little cataract. Approaching the latter, we paused while the Major took a sketch of it. Certainly it is the
84very perfection of the pretty; that narrow stream (it does not look a yard wide at the top of the rock) of foam, for it is all foam, arching out from the top to the bottom of the dark rock. As soon as the Major had finished his sketch, we rowed slowly forward stopping every moment or two to take a long and admiring look at some bright colour, some image pictured on the face of the rock, or some vast yawning cavern extending deep into its bosom. Oh, how richly did we enjoy the scene, sitting in our light canoe, which rose and fell so gently and so graceful, as the long waves would sweep toward the shore. A poet — but, I am no poet — let us row on — Here is the dark cavern with its white pillars; and now the high range is passed. We float close under the low brown rock, almost every foot of which is hollowed out with yawning caverns. In front of these we again pause to listen to the surf as its thunders peal from the centre of the rock with a sound that can be felt as well as heard. But we must on — Yonder is Point aux Sables;
85and here, close at hand is the termination of the Pictured Rocks — we have passed it — yet still we turn round to take another and yet another last look — now we near the point — and now 'tis passed, — the beauties the wonders, and the glories of the Pictured Rocks are for ever hidden from our eyes.
For some time after passing Point aux Sables we could scarce direct any attention to the scenery around us; the low sandy shore, the dingy pine and cedar bushes, looked so tame and insignificant after the Pictured Rocks. At last we came in sight of Grand Sable, and as we stood boldly out to make a traverse to the point beyond Grand Marais instead of following the line of the shore, we had a very fine though distant view
86of the sands; indeed, at one point it seemed to me that nearly the whole extent of Grand Sable was in sight. I was not before aware, that although the surface is so much broken into hill and valley, yet, as a whole, it rises considerably and pretty uniformly towards the South-East. The sun was shining, and the sand from a distance looked dazzling bright; but it had not the same variety of tint, the same watered appearance which pleased us so much on passing up. Perhaps it was drier, or we were too far distant to observe differences so slight in shades of colour. We had only a glimpse of the entrance of Grand Marais, as we were three or four miles out; yet we did not leave it without blessing its sheltering shores which have given protection to so many storm-tossed voyageurs. We, however were in no necessity of seeking shelter now, the lake was calm, scarce wind enough even to ruffle its glassy surface; the swell of yesterday was smoothed down, and we made our way very
87pleasantly and much more rapidly than we had ever done before. After passing Point Ennouyante the wind freshened a little, and though it was rather afore than abaft the beam, Cloutier hoisted sail.
I had not supposed that the canoe could sail at all with the wind abeam even, but after a good deal of rigging of the sail (rigging at which one of our old Atlantic Jack Tars would have laughed loud and long) they made the sail draw. We did not, to be sure, go very fast, scarce more than three miles an hour; nor very comfortably, for the canoe is always, when her sail is up, full crank enough; and now a big oar was braced against the sail about half way up it and towards one edge. This addition to her upper rigging made a terrible difference in her trim; we were all obliged to sit down quite into the bottom to give her ballast. Still Fair Star, or La Belle Etoile as we have named her, since her admirable performance in front of the Pictured Rocks on Sunday, did very well, and at least gave our voyageurs a
88good resting spell, of which they were somewhat in want; for though in my journal I have taken no note of time, you will please to understand that it was now five o'clock, and we had been in the canoe since four in the morning. A little after dark we came to Carp River, where we had intended to camp; but now the old man resolved to push on ten or twelve miles further, to Deux Rivieres.
The prospect of short commons is exceedingly disagreeable to our voyageurs, and they are very anxious to reach St. Marie, or at least to gain White Fish Point as soon as possible. Night now closed fairly round us, and the cold damp wind from the lake seemed to blow through all the covering we could put on and chill our very hearts. Still we kept on, till, finally, the last point was doubled, and Cloutier informed us that Twin River was at the bottom of the bay we were now entering. It was so dark, that although we kept within forty or fifty yards of the shore, we could only catch a glimpse now
89and then of the outline of the coast; this, however, was quite sufficient for our guide, and he pursued his way confidently. At last he exclaimed, "Here is Twin River." We were then so far from the shore that it was but just visible, and how he could know it was to me a mystery. He ran in, however, and somewhat to my surprise came directly to the point at the mouth of the river, which here is not more than six or eight yards wide. We were eager to get ashore, having been, with the exception of an hour at La Chapelle, near eighteen hours in the canoe, without having had any thing to eat but a few shreds of ham. We were stiff, cold, and hungry; and, in fact, completely uncomfortable. The men soon kindled a fire. Cloutier having, by a certain instinct he possesses, found some birch bark, though 'twas as dark as midnight. With this and a little brush, a blaze was made, and by its light we could take a view of the place. It was a wide sandy beach, extending back from the water's edge near half a mile; on this, was
90the bright fire-light gleamed, we could see drift wood here and there lodged in piles or half buried in the sand.
Our voyageurs went in search of brushwood, each taking in one hand a torch, made by twisting a large piece of birch bark into a spiral roll. The scene was quite wild and picturesque; the blazing fire, over which the Major and I stretched our chilled limbs, and the light from which gleamed far and wide over the beach, and fell in broken rays upon the more prominent points of the distant forest — the men, each torch in hand, wandering up and down the half-illumined beach, or now and then approaching the fire to throw an armful of brush upon it, thus for an instant deadening the flame, and leaving the whole scene in darkness, till catching rapidly at the dry branches, it would first leap up in frightful flashes through the dense white smoke, and then rise in one constant and brilliant blaze. We had little time, however, and, to tell the truth, little inclination, to look for the picturesque — the eatable had more
91charms for us. As we had made such a good day's work — we are now near sixty miles from Grand Island — we resolved to cook our potatoes, and make a soup of the pigeons which Pelleau shot yesterday. Before beginning with the soup it was necessary to make tea, as we had only the tea-kettle for both operations. When this was done, the pigeons were cut up, and with two potatoes our whole supply — and half an onion, (which my prudent and very provident friend had saved for some such emergency,) put into the tea-kettle. As the tea was now ready, and so were our appetites, we resolved to make our supper on that and the fried potatoes, and leave the soup to simmer all night, so as to have a warm mess in the morning. Tea, potatoes, and a small shred off that dry, dry ham — and now to bed.
Tuesday, 15th September
Rose this morning at five, after the first really uncomfortable night we have passed since we left Mackina. I was waked half a dozen times by the cold, and this morning when I emerged from the tent, before any of the men were stirring, I found that every thing around was covered with a thick white frost; the blankets of the men (they all slept in the open air) were stiff; and Pelleau's black hair, which a hole in his blanket exposed, was quite powdered with the frost. I roused them from their deep quiet sleep, and they rose as fresh as though they had been sleeping in warm rooms on beds of down. It was so cold that we kindled up the fire before starting, that we might get once thoroughly warm. We next poured out our soup — it was superb — if we could only have had one little piece of bread to eat
93with it — just one tiny bit of the hardest, dryest crust I ever threw away — what a luxury it would have been. Truly, bread is the staff of life, and to know its value one should eat meat awhile without it. But this is a small affair — let us hurry off. Every thing is in the canoe. "Hallo! Robert! Diable! here." I mount my friend Le Diable, and am safe in the canoe. "Ho! Ho!" cries old Cloutier, "ramez" — and we are off. The lake was calm; there was not even wind enough to drive away the light mist which rested like a thin white veil on the waters; it was genuine canoe weather, our rowers struck out boldly, and Cloutier promised us that we should reach the Saulte this evening. We went on very merrily till near ten o'clock, when the wind began to blow from the Eastward; and although we were so completely sheltered by the projection of White Fish Point, yet the old man assured us that beyond the Point we should find it too rough to proceed. This was bad news for us; but when we began to get out towards the Point,
94the roughness of the waves, even under a windward shore, assured us that he was right.
We came to at the Point about noon, and were warmly welcomed by our former host, Maclure. Behold us now safely lodged in the same black smoky cabin in which we passed last Thursday night. I have spread myself out on the mat to write, the Major cleaning his gun, which that fool, the Doctor, dipped in the water yesterday; and our voyageurs, having gorged themselves with white fish, have gone to sleep. M. hopes to add something to our small stock of stores if he ever succeed in getting the rust off his gun. The additions will be very welcome, as we have nothing but a ham bone, and our friends here have nothing but fish and salt to give us. There is not a pound of meat, an ounce of flour or bread stuff, nor a single potato on the Point; nothing but fish. They, however, are delicious, and we shall do very well; at least we should if we could but have one little crust — ever so little,
95ever so hard, ever so dry, if 'twas only bread.
Wednesday, Sep. 16th. Still degrades (what an expressive term) at White Fish Point. The wind has been high, with occasional squalls of rain all day. The Point folks and our voyageurs all agree that it is the Equinox, and will probably last six or eight days, though perhaps only three or four. Cloutier has repeated to us half a dozen times the history of Mr. Drew, who, with a party of voyageurs, was detained here this time last year (or some previous year) ten days, without being able once to put his canoe in water. What a delightful story! So entertaining, and so very encouraging;"mais courage," as the old man always says, "we shall not starve." I passed the day in rambling from cabin to cabin, and chatting with the fishermen. I can now understand their language very well, so have no longer occasion for the services of our precious interpreter, the Doctor.
What tempted our friend — to recommend
96such a fellow, I cannot conceive! he is as perfectly useless an animal as any poor unfortunates were ever cursed with; cannot row, cannot, in short, do any thing well; we do, by infinite pains, contrive to make a servant of all work of him, but he fully verifies the old proverb, "a Jack of all trades is good at none." To give you an idea of his qualifications as a servant, I will just mention, that this morning, when I called him for some water to wash, he brought it in the basin, which was so dirty I could scarce make up my mind to touch it. It will not do, however, to be particular when voyaging, so I used the basin, and ordered the Doctor to bring some clean water for the Major. He did so, and then I tossed him a tin cup, and bade him bring me a drink; will you believe it, the beast dipped the tin cup into that filthy basin, and presented it to me with an air of the most perfect self-complacency. This was a little too much, and by dint of making use, over and over again, of all the French and English terms of abuse, which
97I thought there was any probability of his understanding, and interposing the Indian for dog between each, I think I conveyed my sentiments on the subject to my learned brother Miskekewinini pretty distinctly. Cloutier was complaining to-day of the Doctor's stupidity when I interrupted him suddenly, to ask "How many times have you been round the lake, Cloutier?" The old fellow caught at the bait, and began instantly the oft-repeated story of his ten circumnavigations of the lake; his having been with Sir George Mackensie; with my lord Selkirk; with the Hudson Bay Company; with the American Fur Company, &c. &c. &c. "Thirty-five years, then, Cloutier, you have been on the lake?" "Thirty-six, Monsieur — thirty-six years last May." "Pray, Cloutier, in all that time did you ever meet with as great a fool as the Doctor?" I wish you could have heard the shout of laughter with which he replied, "Jamais — Ah, mon Dieu! — Jamais, jamais."
I mention this joke of old Cloutier's,
98the rather as it in some sort justifies the complaints of the Doctor's stupidity, with which I know my letters have abounded. Here you have the evidence of an impartial man, that the Doctor is the greatest fool that has been on the lake for six-and-thirty years. Do not, therefore, impute my unfavourable judgment of my learned brother to the "Odium Medicum," nor din into my ear the oft-repeated proverb about "Doctors' quarrels." I am the last man in the world to indulge in any thing of the kind. I can live in peace with my brethren, black or white, red or yellow; and with this particular Miskekewinini I could get along, if he was only moderately — bearably — professionally a fool; but fool positive — jackass absolute — I can't stand.
By the way, as a collateral point, I have been often very much amused at the tone and manner with which the half-breeds — the vulgar part of them of course I mean — speak of the Indians. They never scruple to apply any and every term of reproach and contempt
99to the Savage, and this, so far as I have observed, is universal. Our fellows, Pelleau and Le Diable, never speak of the Indians without some expression of contempt: "The stupid Savages" — "the rascal Savages" — "the mean, wretched Savages" — "oh, 'tis just like the Savages" — "nothing better can be looked for from the Savages;" and all this while the speaker's own mother is one of these same stupid — rascal — mean wretched Savages. Truly, man is the same every where; how exactly this is like what we see and hear every day in New York. The son or daughter of some honest, hardworking mechanic, will talk as proudly about society and our set, and what is and what is not ton; and then they will turn up their noses, with a fine air of aristocratic contempt, at what they are pleased to call the lower orders — "very good sort of people in their way" — "but they are so ungenteel" — "these mechanics" — "horrid!" Again I say man is ever the same — the pot is ever calling the kettle black.
To return to the language of the halfbreeds: it is a sort of lingua franga, made up of Indian and English terms grafted on to a stock of most extraordinary French; besides which, it contains some terms which cannot well be reduced to either language. Yet withal, it is, perhaps, as poor a dialect as was ever spoken by man, one word often serving a dozen meanings; as, for example, "la bas!" which they pronounce very broad, "law baw," is used to express every conceivable variety of direction. If a place stands up stream, it is "law baw" — down stream, "law baw" — to the right, "law baw" — to the left, still "law baw." Then "terrible" expresses any thing and every thing: for example, Cloutier says of the waves, they are "terrible" — that does very well. Then of his men's eating pork, 'tis "terrible" — which is not so much amiss. But when he came to say of Sir George Mackensie, "C'est un terrible savant" — and of Mr. Thompson, "I'll avait un terrible education" — 'twas scarce so well. I observe, likewise, that they use "chose" for
101a vast number of things of which they know not the names. This, I suppose, they have caught from the Chippewas, to whose language a similar peculiarity is idiomatic. "Jegun," which means thing, is added to very many words, giving names to many instruments and contrivances of all sorts, as kieshkeebo-jegun, a saw, from kieshkeezhun, to cut; in the same way they say "the thing that rubs off," — for file; "the drinking thing," for cup, &c. &c.
102with some fables, relating generally to Neneboujou, the Brama of the Chippewas, at once their God and their religious teacher. As to the fasts, he insists that in one case he knew a young Indian, before assuming a place among the men of his tribe, to fast twelve days on the top of the Turret Rock beyond La Portaille.
I think we shall be obliged to believe their fasting stories. In fact, I would now consent for my single self to believe in total abstinence for ten days if I could be let off with that; but here you see is decidedly one of the most intelligent half-breed in the Indian country, who says he knows — a matter of personal knowledge — that this youngster fasted twelve days.
He says the Indian marriages are contracted in two ways. The first, and the one nearly universal among the more respectable families — you see the Chippewas have their respectable families — doubtless some are "genteel," and some are "horridly ungenteel" a la Knickerbocker — well, among these said
103genteel ones, the Coldeus, Livingstons, and Clintons of the desert, marriages are arranged by the parents without any interference, open at least, of the parties principally interested; the match is made, dower agreed upon — the wise Red man will not take a wife without a fortune — and every item of the bargain considered and ratified before the young folks are let into the secret. The marriage feast is prepared and eaten there is no other ceremony. These marriage feasts are celebrated with more or less ceremony and style, according to the standing in society of the parties. If they are real tip-top folks, such, for example, as would give turtle and champagne in New-York, they give stewed dog, which is the ne plus ultra of Chippewa munificence in the way of feed; stewed dog, and, in old times, plenty of rum — the soul of Ojibway desires nothing better. When the honeymoon is over, and the young couple are about to go to house-keeping as you would say, they receive presents from all
104their friends of articles necessary about the lodge; one gives a kettle, another a blanket; and so in a pic-nic sort of way the household and kitchen furniture is gathered together; not, to be sure, in very great quantity, but enough, "little will do if love be there," and as love rules the grove, I suppose it burns in the tawny bosom of the Chippewa; though I fancy when it comes to living on love, Ojibway would like to mix a little rum with it.
To return to the manner of contracting marriages. The second form is much more simple and direct. The young Indian who takes a fancy, or, as you would say, falls in love with, a squaw, takes up his blanket after dark, and goes to her lodge; he enters, taking care first to ascertain that there is no light burning; he gropes round in the dark till he finds the sleeping place of his inamorataplease to remember that whole families sleep in the same lodge — having discovered the whereabout of his mistress, Ojibway lays himself down by her side and
105begins his courtship. They spend the night in talk, so as fully to ascertain each other's mind; in the morning, if the young fellow continues well pleased with his lady love, he remains to partake of the morning meal. This is considered as completing an offer on his part, and if the parents and friends of the bride are pleased, all goes well; and the youngster, no more words spoken, remains in the lodge as the husband of the girl. If, however, he does not like her, he gets away before breakfast, and this withdraws his offer; or if, after he has offered, the parents and friends are not pleased, they go to the parents of the young man, signify their dissent to them, it is communicated to the man, and he comes home or tries his fortune in some other quarter.
I asked Nolan if this strange ceremony did not reflect on the character of the girl. He said, "Certainly not in the slightest degree. It was never attended with any improprieties, but was a mere form of courtship. The Indian," continued Nolan, "is modest,
106diffident, and shame-faced; and he does not like to speak on such matters as love where there is a possibility of his being seen." Marriages, whether contracted in this or the other way, are very rarely dissolved among the Chippewas. Sometimes it will happen that when a young man has been married to a girl he does not fancy, he will leave her and go to some other part of the country; but this is not common, and even where it occurs, the man will most probably return in a year or two, as he in some sort loses caste by living away from his wife. There is no law or custom restraining the Chippewas from polygamy; a man may always marry as many wives as he can support, but the extreme poverty in which they live prevents them from often availing themselves of this privilege. I think Cloutier or some one, told me that the Crane at Grand Island had two wives, but I am not sure; if so, his is the only case I have heard of in the Indian country.
In treating the sick the Savages have two principal methods, the one medical and religious combined; the other, purely supernatural. In the first case, the doctor, Miskekewinini, is sent for, and on his arrival a feast of dog's flesh is set before him — dog's flesh, you will remember, is the Chippewa dish of ceremony. When Miskekewinini has partaken of this feast with such persons as he chooses to invite, he goes to the patient and inquires into the nature of his disease; this being ascertained, he assures him that he has a medicine — most commonly a root or herb — which will cure him, and he will go and bring it. For this purpose he goes away, and on his return appears dressed in his robes of ceremony, with his whole parapharnalia professionalis, his drum, his rattles, &c. &c. He now gives the patient a drink of the medicine — they always administer
108these medicines in infusion or decoction and while the patient drinks, the Doctor sings the appropriate medicine song. Each herb or root, you will understand, has its appropriate medicine song, on the due chanting of which, with the appropriate drumming, rattling, and dancing, all its virtues are supposed to depend. This continues till all the medicine is drank, then Miskekewinini receives his fee and departs.
The fees are always considerable, and sometimes of very great value; a rifle, a camp kettle, or a blanket or two, are perhaps most common. It is a remarkable trait, and no less commendable than remarkable, in the Savage, that they value very highly their medicines and their doctors. "If," say they, "we have no skins, we can hunt; if no blankets, no ornaments, no traps, no rifles, we can sell our skins and buy them; but if we are sick, and have no medicine, we die and there is an end." Most wise and considerate Savages, how do I honour their discernment.
I cannot dismiss the account of the practice of physic among our Red brethren without again remarking, that men, in essentials, are the same every where. Have not the drum and rattles, the medicine song, and the dance, their perfect counterparts among the M. D's of the whites? Has not the white doctor the dress of ceremony, or rather his professional garb? Then for the drum and rattles, has he not the gold-headed cane and the oft-displayed white pocket-handkerchief? To be sure the white Miskekewinini does not dance; but the same effect on the imagination of his patient is produced by the solemn look, the slow parade of gesture and grimace, with which he enters and departs from the sick chamber. "But the song! Our doctors don't sing!" No, they do not; at least it is not usual, though I believe psalm-singing doctors are not wholly unknown in our cities; but, even with those that do not sing, has it not been acknowledged since the days of Addison that a peculiar inflection of the voice, "a certain depth and awfulness of
110tone," was necessary to the proper enunciation of the formidable "take these pills?" I tell you again, man is the same every where.
But it is time to say a few words as to the other, or purely supernatural way of treating the sick. This is most commonly resorted to when the regular practitioner fails of a cure; then some friend or neighbour of the patient dreams for him; he sees, or thinks that he sees, in a dream, the figure of the sick man with the figure of something else — a man's head, a bird, the moon, a war club, or, in fact, any thing in heaven above or the earth beneath. The dreamer now details his vision to the sick man, who, if he has faith in it, as is most commonly the case, causes a pole to be erected near his lodge, and a rude image of the thing dreamed of to be put upon it. To this image he then suspends his offering to the powers of the air. This offering, of course, varies in value with the ability and devotion of the sick man or his friends, and perhaps also with the faith he puts in that particular dreamer; some persons
111having much more celebrity than others in this sort of second sight. A blanket, a kettle, or a moccasin, are the most common. All medical treatment is now suspended, so as to give the charm time to work. In the end, if the patient recover, all is well, and the dreamer gets credit; if, on the contrary, he die, the seer is held in contempt; but in neither case does the offerer resume the gift he suspended upon the pole. What is remarkable, and to me quite unaccountable, is, that if another Indian pass by and see this blanket or other offering, he may take it, without any impiety to the spirit of the air or wrong done to the sick man; only it is necessary that he put some offering of his own in the place of that which he takes away. This, however, does not diminish his gain much, as any trifle will do very well for an offering in such a case, an old moccasin, a good-for-nothing mat, or even a rag, will be considered quite sufficient. After this the pole and the image are of no account, nor is any respect,
112much less worship, ever paid to them. The poles and images which we saw at Grand Island were erected on the occasion of the sickness of the Bird of the South, so says Nolan; and I am inclined to think him right, as on that supposition we may account for the total absence of any thing like respect or reverence for these images shown by the boys being allowed to make a target of them.
As to the religion of the Chippewas, they cannot be said to have any religious rules or ceremonies unconnected with the treatment of the sick. Ojibway, in that respect, verifies to the letter the old proverb, "when the Devil was sick," &c. When he is sick, offerings are made and songs sung in honour of the Monedo; but when once he recovers, Gitchee Monedo gets little of his regard and
113less of his attention. In this respect the Chippewas are peculiarly well prepared for the reception of religious truth; they have no attachment to their own system, and of course there are no religious prejudices. Besides, there are no priests, whose interests are deeply committed to the preservation of the old system. The Doctors, indeed, are in some degree bound by that strongest of ties — the receipt of fees — to the ceremonies; but they are by no means as formidable a body as a numerous priesthood would be.
It is in their code of morals that the great obstacle to their improvement is to be found. But I wander too far from my subject. Nolan told me many stories of Neneboujou, one of which I will detail to you; it is only curious as evincing that among the Indians, as in almost every other nation, the belief in a deluge is a prominent part of their traditionary superstition.
Many years ago, when Neneboujou lived upon the earth, the waters rose so high as to cover all the land. The animals that could
114not live in the water were all drowned in the great flood, and so were all the men upon the earth except Neneboujou. He ascended a very high mountain, but being still in danger from the rising waters, he took a large stone, and placed it upon the very top of the mountain; then he stood upon that and awaited the rise of the waters. They continued to rise, and now they flowed over the stone and wetted the feet of Neneboujou; in a few moments they were rippling between his knees; then they flowed round his waist, and at last they washed fairly over his shoulders and around his neck; then the waters ceased to rise. Neneboujou, who understood the language of all the animals, and had authority over them, now called the great beaver Cheamick from the bottom. Cheamick arose, and between his paws he brought a portion of earth. Neneboujou received it, and sent Cheamick for more — more was brought, and of this Neneboujou formed the earth; all men are his children, and from him the Red men derive all their knowledge
115of the rules and ceremonies of religion. A hundred other tales the Indians have of the exploits of their favourite Neneboujou, which I might detail to you; but I trust you will soon see them and many others illustrating the manners and customs of the Chippewa, in the publication of Mr. Schoolcraft of which I spoke to you. The following story, which is founded on some facts I received from Nolan, may amuse you, and perhaps tend to impress more distinctly on your mind some of the customs and peculiar opinions of the Indians.
The Story of Equawish. A Legend of Lake Superior.
Many years ago Cheamick, the Great Beaver, was the chief of that band of Chippewas who resided at White Fish Point. He was a great warrior and a wise man; and he led the children of Muckwa, for the Bear
116was the totem of the band, in many successful hunting excursions and many war parties against the Sioux. Cheamick had no children; but Neez-Opinais, or the Twin Bird, the orphan son of his brother, had from infancy lived in his lodge, and the chief had always regarded him as his son, and reared him up with all care, in the hope that he might head the war parties of the children of Muckwa when the Great Beaver should be called to the land of spirits. Cheamick loved the Twin Bird as well as it was in his nature to love any one, but his love was the source of quite as much evil as good — quite as much cruelty as kindness; for it sometimes seemed that he was angry with himself for the affection he bore this nephew, and thought that to show fondness for any one, was beneath the dignity of a war chief. When such feelings had the mastery over him, he would abuse and sometimes beat the boy to the ground, taking care that many of his warriors should be present, and see by his treatment
117of his favourite that there was no softness in the heart of their war chief.
Neez-Opinais had now grown up, and a time was appointed for him to make the great fast before assuming his place among the warriors of his band. Cheamick resolved that his nephew should make his fast on the Tower Rock, a celebrated shrine of the Monedo among the Pictured Rocks. The appointed time arrived, the Miskekewinini performed all the previous ceremonies, and Neez-Opinais, accompanied by the head men of the band, departed for the station.
Arrived at the base of the rock, he bade his friends farewell and ascended to the summit. The space was barely sufficient for a man to lie at length. Here the Twin Bird spread his mat, and lying down upon it, he covered his face with his robe, and delivered himself up to meditation, and to such revelations of his will as the Monedo might send. Four days passed away in unbroken silence and solitude; but at the dawn of the
118fifth, Neez-Opinais heard the sound of an approaching canoe, and, soon after, a voice on the lake below singing in soft and sweet strains. Neez-Opinais knew that it was his duty during his fast to withdraw his mind from all external objects, nor suffer it to be diverted from the visions and revelations of Gitchee Monedo by any earthly sight or sound; he strove, therefore, to shut his ears against the song, and excite in his mind those thoughts and feelings which were appropriate to his situation. But the voice was so sweet, so full of melody, that he strove in vain. At length he heard the plashing of a paddle — the voice died in the distance, and Neez-Opinais was left to solitude and silence. The day passed in fruitless attemps to drive from his mind the song and the sweet voice that sang it. Night came but to Neez-Opinais the night was as the day. He was utterly unable to command his wandering thoughts. The sixth day dawned, the first rays of the sun shone upon the young warrior on his lonely watch;
119when again he heard the plash of a paddle it came nearer — again that sweet song rang in his ears and melted his heart like water. The canoe paused beneath the rock — the song rose in a richer gush of melody — the swelling notes thrilled in the ears of Neez-Opinais and maddened his brain — he forgot his vow — forgot his fast — he thought not of the wrath of Cheamick, he even disregarded the anger of Gitchee Monedo, who is always certain to avenge by the infliction of future evils, any violation of the rites and ceremonies of a fast. Neez-Opinais heeded naught of this, he thought only of the sweet sounds that filled the air around him, and determined to discover whose voice it was that had uttered such delicious music. He cast off the robe that for five days had covered his face; he arose from the mat, and turning to the edge of the rock, looked down upon the lake.
The canoe was directly under the cliff where he lay. In it sat a Chippewa girl, scarce more than fifteen or sixteen years old, graceful as a fawn and more beautiful
120than the fairies of the happy village. She sat, or rather reclined, in the stern of her canoe; a small fishing-rod in her hand, and her eyes fixed on the water. At first Neez-Opinais thought she was intent upon her sport, but the next moment he saw her drop the fishing-rod, bend her smiling face towards the water, smooth back her raven locks with one hand while she beckoned with the other, then she nodded, and then she laughed outright, and Neez-Opinais knew that the happy of heart was watching her own image in the bright water, and smiling at the beauteous reflection.
Anxious to gain a more perfect view of the face of which he could now only see the outline, Neez-Opinais bent still further forward; but in so doing, he detached a fragment from the rock. It fell into the water close beside the canoe; the young girl looked up, and her eye met the burning glances of the Twin Bird. With a scream of terror she grasped and plied her paddle, and, having gained an offing, she paused to gaze upon the stranger.
The eye of woman is never blind, nor her heart insensible to manly beauty. The maiden gave but a glance at the noble figure that now stood erect upon the rock, yet she felt in her inmost heart that no form so graceful, no face so beautiful, had ever visited even her dreams. Neez-Opinais spoke; his words were few, but to each word his eloquent eye gave a thousand meanings. The Chippewa maiden listened with delight, and soon losing her first timidity, she replied to his questions. She told him that her name was Opeetah, that she was the daughter of Mozojeed, the chief of the Grand Marais band; but when in return she inquired of the Twin Bird who he was, and what he did upon the tower rock; the countenance of the young man fell, and with a faltering tongue he confessed that he, the Twin Bird, the adopted son of Cheamick the great war chief of the White Fish Point, was making his fast, that great fast, on the due observance of which they both well knew that his future success in hunting and in war,
122his fame as a warrior, his wisdom as a chief, his all of earthly happiness and earthly honour, depended. When Opeetah knew this, and knew that the fast had been broken, the Monedo angered, and the whole future happiness of one, who was already dear to her, had been jeopardized for a few moments' gratification, and she the innocent but most unhappy cause, no words can express her terror. She besought Neez-Opinais to resume his fast, and not to cast another look or waste another thought on her. With these few hurried words she resumed her paddle; the light canoe shot forward, and was soon out of sight.
Neez-Opinais laid down upon his mat, covered his face, and tried to resume the meditations proper for a faster. But the effort was vain; the beautiful form of Opeetah floated ever before him, her smiling eyes gleamed in his, and drove from his mind the reflection he was so anxious to recall. Then came the fearful thought of his broken fast; he knew that the sacred rite was as completely
123violated by his conversation with Opeetah, as though he had partaken of the most sumptuous feast; for the Monedo required, not only abstinence from food, but the entire devotion of every thought to him. Gitchee Monedo was angry then, and his vengeance would be sure to fall upon the profane violator of his hallowed shrine.
Distracted by such thoughts and fears, (to which his protracted abstinence gave new powers,) Neez-Opinais passed the remaining days of his fast in a state but little short of madness. The tenth day at length passed wearily away, and at the set of sun Neez-Opinais heard the plash of paddles, then the loud harsh voice of his uncle, yet he never moved. The party landed at the base of the rock, Cheamick clambered up the turret and stood beside his nephew. Still the young man remained motionless, his head covered with his robe; for he was most anxious to prevent any suspicion in the mind of his uncle that the solemn and important duties of the fast had not been fully
124performed. Cheamick paused for a moment, then he snatched off the mantle; he looked at the shrunk features, the wasted form, of Neez-Opinais; and convinced by his appearance that the most difficult part of the ceremony had been strictly observed, he dreamed not that any minor form had been neglected. He uttered an emphatic "Good," and in a kinder tone than usual bade his son rise and partake of the food he had prepared. As Neez-Opinais arose, the chief said, in an inquiring tone, "Bright visions have visited my son?" The eye of the young man kindled, and his cheek glowed as he replied, "Very bright, very fair." Again the old man said "Good," and together they descended from the rock, embarked on board the canoe, and after a pleasant voyage, during which Cheamick was all kindness to his son, they arrived at White Fish Point.
A few days were passed in feasting; and when Neez-Opinais had quite recovered his strength, Cheamick declared his intention
125of leading a war party against the Sioux, that his young men might show themselves braves in the presence of their hereditary enemies. This proposition, always popular in a band as warlike as the children of Muckwa, was at this time particularly acceptable. Years had passed since the last expedition, and the band numbered many young warriors, who, having grown up to manhood since, had had no opportunity of acquiring that fame, without which no true Chippewa is willing to live. The war party was soon completed, Neez-Opinais being among the most enthusiastic of the volunteers.
The superstitious fears which had for a while harassed his mind at the recollection of his broken fast, gradually gave way to the excitement of preparation for the war party; and now if they have any influence upon his mind, 'twas in the form of a restless curiosity rather than absolute apprehension. He sought to know, at once, whether in very truth the Monedo was angry, and whether
126he would punish the violation of the sacred rite. In this frame of mind, none were so impatient of the moment of departure as the Twin Bird. All was now ready, and the day on which they were to leave the Point was at hand; when a messenger arrived from Grand Marais to say that Mozojeed, the chief of that band, would send some of his warriors with the Great Beaver against their common enemy. The offer was very gladly accepted, and the band immediately left the White Fish Point, resolving to stop one day at the Marais to receive their recruits. The heart of the Twin Bird was light when they drew near the lodge of Opeetah. He should see her now, where they might meet and converse in freedom.
Mozojeed received Cheamick and his band with all ceremony; a feast was prepared, and the day spent in rejoicings. Neez-Opinais took an early opportunity to seek out Opeetah. He found her plunged in the most profound melancholy, which his presence, and his protestations of unabated
127affection only served to increase. He soon discovered that this change in the manner of Opeetah had its cause in the superstitious fears which haunted her mind at the recollection of the violated fast at the Tower Rock. She looked upon the Twin Bird as one devoted to destruction by the Great Spirit. When he spoke of his return, and declared his determination, through his uncle, to demand her for his wife, Opeetah only wept and murmured, "Never" — "never" — "the Twin Bird will never return" — " the fast was broken" — "Gitchee Monedo is very angry." Neez-Opinais tried at first to drive these fancies from her mind, but in vain; indeed, so strong was her evident conviction of the certainty of his fate, that he soon felt that her superstitious fears were fast creeping into his own mind, and he resolved to avoid a society so dangerous; he bade her a hurried farewell and rejoined the chiefs at the feast.
Next morning the war party left the Marais. They were absent three months. They
128penetrated far into the country of the Sioux, had several severe conflicts with them, took many scalps and some prisoners.
At length they returned, and, arriving at the Marais, opposite to the lodges of Mozojeed and his band, their successive shouts of triumph announced the number of scalps and prisoners they had taken, and then six loud and wailing cries told that the victory had not been bloodlessly bought. When Opeetah heard the first death-cry — when she knew that one had fallen — she felt assured that it could be none other than her lover; another and another cry, and the conviction of his fate was planted deeper and deeper in her heart. "The Twin Bird had fallen," she thought; "the angry Monedo has avenged the insult offered to his shrine at the Tower Rock; the crime of which she was the most unhappy cause, had doubtless cost Neez-Opinais his life."
While her mind was thus filled with these sad thoughts, the war party had crossed the Marais; they approached the lodge. Opeetah
129arose from the mat within her lodge, where she had cast herself on hearing the first wailing cry for the dead; she approached the door; she looked forth, determined to put an end instantly to every vestige of hope.
The war party were advancing, Cheamick came first, as the leader of the band; his tall form drawn up to its utmost height, his eye flashing with triumph, and every feature, every look and gesture, bespeaking the proud chief, the daring warrior, the exulting conqueror. In one hand he bore his huge war club; its knotted head was foul with gore, and around its iron point or lance was tangled the long black hair of a Sioux warrior, whom the Beaver had slain in single combat. In the other hand he flourished his tomahawk; this, too, was red with the blood of the slain, and from the handle dangled five scalps, the trophies of his prowess; the spoils of warriors whom he had slain. Opeetah gazed for a moment on the great war chief as he strode proudly forward, with
130mingled emotions of admiration and horror; but who comes next? She gave but one glance, then with a glad shout, "'tis he, 'tis he!" she was about to rush from her lodge and throw herself on the bosom of her lover. Yes, it was Neez-Opinais, he had returned safe and triumphant; for though he wielded no bloody war club or tomahawk, yet three scalps, which hung from his belt, told that the Twin Bird had been brave and fortunate. Opeetah saw not the scalps, she only saw the bright rejoicing eye of her lover as it roved from object to object in search she well knew of whom; and though she checked her first impulse to rush forth and clasp him to her heart, yet she saw no more of the triumphant procession, she saw only Neez-Opinais, and when he passed into the great council lodge, she threw herself upon her mat to enjoy the full flow of happiness that burst upon her heart. Yes, he was safe, he would now demand Opeetah of her father; and though a shade of sadness came over her mind at the thought of parting from
131that beloved father, yet it was soon lost, forgotten in the delightful anticipations of the happiness she should enjoy in the lodge of the Twin Bird.
The warriors from the Point stayed three days with their cousins at the Grand Marais, and Neez-Opinais had very frequent opportunities of speaking to Opeetah. At the close of the third day he resolved to break the subject of his marriage to his chief, and was only hesitating as to the manner of making the request. He felt that the manner had need to be very guarded, as he was well aware that the matter of it would scarce be very acceptable to Cheamick. That chief was a strict observer of the rules and customs of the band, and, according to these, every young warrior ought to view the matter of marriage as a thing of small importance, and receive at any time any wife whom his elder relatives might select, without venturing to express a personal feeling either of pleasure or aversion. Neez-Opinais knew that his uncle would certainly
132refuse his consent to any match which his young relative might propose, if he thought that he was influenced by weak and foolish notions of personal preference for the individual. How to make the proposal without exciting any such idea in his mind, was a matter of great difficulty; and Neez-Opinais had nearly determined to run the hazard of a direct proposition on the subject, when the Great Beaver entered his lodge. He sat down beside Neez-Opinais, and began, without any preface, "Neez-Opinais, you are my son; you are now a warrior; it is fit that you take a wife; I have spoken to my brother Mozojeed, he has agreed to give you his daughter for a wife; you will also receive with her a fitting marriage portion, of such things as you may want." The utmost self-command which Neez-Opinais possessed, scarce enabled him to receive this proposal with a tolerable degree of that appearance of indifference which he knew the Beaver would expect. He trembled in every limb: and 'twas only when he felt that
133the eye of Cheamick was fixed, with no pleased expression, upon his changing face, that by a desperate effort he was enabled to reply in a calm tone, "The words of my father are wise, Cheamick is a great chief." The old man gazed for some moments upon the young warrior, but the scrutiny apparently ended to his satisfaction; for at length he uttered a cold "Good!" and left the lodge.
Neez-Opinais was but too happy in the prospect before him, and he delivered himself up without reserve to the thoughts of the future and Opeetah. He was roused from these pleasing visions by a summons to attend a council at the lodge of Mozojeed. He obeyed on the instant, and entering, he found a few of the band seated around his uncle and Mozojeed. He had scarce taken his place when Opeetah, his beloved, entered, bearing a dish for the feast. With downcast looks, a glowing cheek, and a trembling hand the maiden placed the dish before her father and the Great Beaver, (who sat side by side
134at the head of the lodge,) and then retired. Neez-Opinais was so entirely engrossed in gazing at his future bride, that he did not notice what was evident to every other person in the lodge — the effect which the appearance of the Chippewa girl produced on his uncle. Cheamick gazed upon her with looks of the most intense admiration. He watched every movement — every slight gesture; and when she passed out of the lodge he uttered his usual interjection of satisfaction, "good," with more than ordinary emphasis. The word sounded through the lodge and startled every inmate. Cheamick, as if ashamed of the involuntary tribute of admiration he had payed the beautiful girl, growled out something about the meat which his brother had set before him, that his exclamation might seem to be applied to that. Opeetah soon entered again, and again the flashing eyes of Cheamick were fixed upon her, from the moment of her entrance to her final exit from the lodge. The second dish Opeetah had placed directly before her
135lover, and as she stooped to set it upon his mat, her bright eye was raised with a look of timid fondness and fixed upon his face. Neither the glance nor its thrilling effect upon Neez-Opinais escaped the watchful eye of his uncle. Butno opportunity was now afforded for expression of his feelings; the feast began — Neez-Opinais observed with surprise that his uncle though usually very temperate, now took frequent and deep draughts of the firtripto water. Its effects were soon manifest; his looks became every moment more dark and lowering — he spoke to no one — and seemed not to hear, or hearing, not to heed, any thing that was said around him. At last the feast was over — the pipe was handed round — each warrior took a few whiffs, and then there was a pause — while every eye turned to the chief of White Fish Point, expecting him to break silence. Cheamick made one or two efforts to speak, but he only succeeded in uttering a low growling sound. At last Mozojeed turned towards him and said, "Will my brother speak
136our ears are open." Cheamick, thus formally called upon, hesitated no longer; he sprang up — he seized the tremendous war club which lay at his feet, and waving it around his head as if it had been a willow wand, began — "Cheamick is a great chief — he will speak — Cheamick is wise listen!" He went on with an account of his late expedition against the Sioux. He described the manner in which his party had approached the hostile village, then, in louder and more vehement tones, he spoke of the fight his own single combat with the war chief of the village — the death of the chief, and the flight of his warriors; he gave an account of the second attack — showed how he had slain the other warriors, whose scalps he exhibited; next, in a calmer tone, he spoke of their return in triumph and in safety to the lodge of his brother Mozojeed. He paused for a few moments, then more earnestly he began a general eulogium on himself, told of the former war parties he had led — the scalps he had taken — the wounds
137he had received: "And yet," continued the savage orator, "Cheamick has no wife — his lodge is empty — no one dwells there but a boy," (here he threw a look of intense scorn on his nephew.) Feeling that he had now committed himself, he proceeded with increased vehemence to demand Opeetah for his wife.
This offer of marriage from the great war chief — the victorious Cheamick — now in the very height of his fame, was not to be rejected. Mozojeed expressed a glad assent to the change of parties in the proposed alliance: "Cheamick is a great Chief — Opeetah will be happy in his lodge." His words were echoed by all the council. While the head men were expressing each in his turn their assent, Cheamick kept his eye fixed upon his nephew; the Twin Bird tried more than once to meet that frowning glance with a look of fearless pride; but the habits of a life are not to be overcome in a moment. His eye, despite his utmost efforts, quailed under the commanding glance of his uncle;
138and when it came to his turn to speak, though Re tried to utter something, yet the warrior who sat next him pronounced his "Cheamick wise" in a tone so loud that the words of Neez-Opinais were unheard, if indeed he spake any.
The marriage treaty was immediately concluded, and the council broke up. Neez-Opinais passed from the lodge to his own. He spoke to no one, either remonstrance or complaint; but entering in silence, he collected a few of his most valuable articles of dress; and taking his rifle, his knife, and his tomahawk, he went out. As he crossed the open space round which the lodges were built, he heard a wild shriek in the well-known voice of Opeetah; yet he paused not — he did not even turn his head to the sound — but walking slowly to the wood, passed into it, and was seen no more. The wedding feast of Cheamick was celebrated the next day, and on the following morning he returned to his lodge on the Point.
Three months passed away, and yet nothing
139was heard of the Twin Bird, he had never been seen since the day he left his lodge at the Marais. Opeetah was miserable, nor was her husband much less so. That Cheamick loved her better than he had ever loved human being, and vastly better than he would have thought possible, there can be no doubt; and had they wedded under other circumstances, it is possible he might have been as kind to her as his naturally ferocious disposition would allow. But now his wayward temper was constantly irritated by the thought that he was hated by his wife, and more, that he had sacrificed to her the son of whom he had been so proud. The Twin Bird — the bravest of his young men — the child of his brother — the destined head of the band, was now an outcast — an exile, wandering no one knew whither. While such thoughts were acting on a temper naturally harsh and inclined to cruelty, it is not to be wondered at that Opeetah, whom he looked upon as the cause of all his crimes, should often be treated with
140harshness, and sometimes with great brutality; yet such was not always the conduct of Cheamick; he would sometimes soften towards the gentle being of whose happiness he had made such fearful shipwreck, would even try to cheer up her drooping spirits; and when it became evident that her health and strength were failing, Cheamick invited his sister, who was a widow, to live in his lodge, that she might take from his poor fading wife those domestic cares and labours to which she was so evidently unequal.
The presence of this sister in the lodge, though it relieved Opeetah from any share of the domestic drudgery, was by no means a source of happiness to her. The Great Beaver was always more harsh and severe with her in the presence of others; and now that they were scarce ever alone, Opeetah never experienced those gleams of sunshine, those drops of comfort, which the kindness, or rather the forbearance, of her husband had afforded her. Such was the state of this family, when one afternoon, as
141Cheamick sat mending his nets, his sister preparing their evening meal, and poor Opeetah shrinking into the furthest corner of the lodge, trying to hide the tears which some words of scornful anger from the chief had made to flow; the mat which hung be fore the entrance of the lodge was drawn aside, and Neez-Opinais stood at the opening. He was recognised at the same moment by each of the inhabitants of the lodge. Cheamick seized the war club which lay beside him, and half rose from his seat; Opeetah gave one scream of surprise and terror, and then buried her face in the Buffalo robe on which she had been reclining. The old squaw looked at her nephew, and then at her brother; and seeing that murder was in the scowling brow of the latter; she fled from the lodge. Neez-Opinais paused a moment at the door, then with a calm composed step he entered the lodge, and fixing his eye on Cheamick, he said, "The brother of my father is well?" The Great Beaver glared with a savage eye upon Neez-Opinais, but
142scorning to be outdone in the observance of the forms of Indian politeness, replied, "He is well;" but though these few words were uttered in a tone as indifferent as though he addressed a perfect stranger, yet Cheamick could not control his manner. Every feature of his face was swollen with suppressed rage, and he clutched his war-club; then loosed his hold, then clutched it again as though he would crush the hard wood in his working fingers. All this while Neez-Opinais appeared perfectly calm; he had taken his seat right opposite to the Beaver, and returned with freedom and apparent ease the expressions of civility which the other forced himself from time to time to utter. The Twin Bird had evidently schooled his nerves for the trial, and they did not fail him. Cheamick was now regaining his self-possession, and, proud of his triumph over his own passions, he resolved to display his confidence in the way which he rightly judged would be most striking and least agreeable to his unwelcome visiter.
143"The son of my brother will smoke the peace-pipe in the lodge of Cheamick? the daughter of Mozojeed will light a pipe for her husband's friend." As he uttered these words, he turned towards the place where his poor wife lay, her face still hid in the buffalo robe, expecting that she would obey the commands thus hinted to her; but Opee-tah did not move. He called out, "Opeetah!" She was still motionless. He spoke again, in a louder tone; the head still lay buried in the skin; "Opeetah! Vile woman, arise!" he shouted, at the top of his voice. "You will not? then lie there for ever!" He raised the war-club, which he had never laid aside since the entrance of Neez-Opinais; he heaved the tremendous weapon above his head; then, with a yell of triumphant ferocity, he brought it down, with the whole power of his gigantic arm upon the innocent head of his wife. In a moment it was crushed out of the very form of humanity. Cheamick stood in the centre of the lodge; the yell with which he had accompanied
144the murderous blow died away; Opeetah had never spoken or moved; her death must have been instantaneous. While the Savage stood gazing at the mangled body of his victim, the Twin Bird, who had made no effort to prevent this miserable murder, had taken from his pouch his flint, steel, and touchwood, and was apparently busied in lighting his pipe. Now he spoke: "Cheamick is brave, he has stricken down an enemy; he is wise, and hath dealt well with the bad woman." At the sound of these scornful words the Beaver turned round, and glared upon the speaker with a look of frenzy. With another wild cry he seized his war club; the terrible weapon swung above the head of the Twin Bird — he never moved, but continued calmly and deliberately to smoke his pipe; his features were composed and dignified, and it was only by the glittering of his eye that you could see how highly he enjoyed the crimes and the sufferings of his enemy. Cheamick stood for a moment with his uplifted war club, gazing upon his nephew;
145then he threw it from him, uttering a cry of mingled despair and rage, and rushed from the tent.
Two days had passed by in mourning and sorrow at White Fish Point; the funeral of Opeetah had been duly celebrated, her grave duly honoured; when, at the close of the second day, a bent figure, in a squalid female dress, emerged from the woods near the lodges, and advanced towards that of Cheamick. Her step was slow and faltering, her eye fixed upon the ground; and as she walked, she mumbled over some unintelligible jargon in a peculiarly harsh squeaking voice. In her hand she bore a small bundle, from the top of which the feathers and other ornaments of a chief were hanging. She entered the lodge, the sister of Cheamick was there alone. Surprised at the sight of this strange woman, she forgot the usual ceremonies of her nation, and asked with eagerness, "Who are you? whence do you come?" "I am Equawish, the bad woman" was the reply, in the same harsh grating
146tone. "Once I was Cheamick, the war chief of the sons of Muckwa; but the Machee Monedo came to me last night in a dream; he bade me lay down the war club, the rifle, and the tomahawk, and take up the hoe and the paddle; now I am Equawish." It was even so. In obedience to the command of the Evil Spirit, whom he dared not disobey, the war chief of the White Fish Point had made himself a woman.
The sister fled in fear and disgust from the lodge. The Equawish gazed after her for a moment with a look of stolid indifference, then she turned round, and busied herself in the domestic drudgery of the lodge. The astounding news that their chief had made himself a woman, flew, through the lodges; it reached the ear of Neez-Opinais; his soul rejoiced in the prospect of revenge. He hurried to the lodge of Equawish: he found the degraded inmate busied in cleaning a kettle. "Equawish!" said he; the miserable wretch raised his head, and gazed with a stupified look upon the Twin Bird;
147"Equawish, you have done well that you have made yourself a woman, I take you for my wife; this lodge is now mine, haste and prepare my supper." An offer of this sort can never be rejected by one of the self-degraded class among whom Cheamick had taken his place. It did seem for a moment that some portion of the former spirit of the Great Beaver was struggling in his bosom, but the struggle, if there was one, was short; and in a few moments he replied, in the squeaking voice which such persons affect, "Good, Neez-Opinais is wise," and then hurried on with his work. In his haste he dropped a bit of white fish into the fire; "Wretch!" shouted Neez-Opinais, "is it thus you prepare my supper?" With those words he seized a fish spear that stood in the corner of the lodge, and beat the Equawish over the head till he fell to the ground. "Now rise, and go about your work, but take care!" The poor Equawish rose with a deep groan from the ground, and resumed his work. The supper being at length ready,
148Neez-Opinais ate freely of it, and when he had satisfied his appetite, instead of leaving the rest for his wife, he cast it into the fire; then turning towards her, he said, "Bad wowan, listen; my canoe is at the mouth of the Two Heart River, go and bring it to the Point; be sure you have it there ready for me by the dawn of day, as I wish to go fishing." Equawish made no reply, but departed in search of the canoe. The night was bitter cold, the Two Heart River was more than seven leagues distant, and 'twas near midnight when the Equawish reached the place. With great trouble he lifted the canoe into the water; it was leaky, and the water flowed in so fast that he spent more than half his time in baling; the sun was high in heaven, when, exhausted with fatigue, faint with hunger, and stiffened with cold, the poor wretch reached the landing-place. Here he found Neez-Opinais nearly furious with rage at the delay. When the canoe neared the shore, he sprang into the water, dragged the Equawish out, beating
149him all the while with his heavy paddle. Arrived at the beach, he cast his half-senseless burthen on the ground and began a more furious attack; he beat his head with the paddle, then grasping a huge stone he cast it upon the breast of the prostrate wretch, he stamped upon him, he dragged him to and fro by the hair of his head, and only desisted when the total exhaustion of his own strength made him as unable to inflict, as the now quite senseless Equawish was to bear, further cruelty.
The miserable wretch returned to life to endure daily and hourly tormentings. Neez-Opinais never allowed his wife to sleep by night; there was always either wood to get, fish to clean, a canoe to mend, or some drudgery to be performed, while Neez-Opinais slept. By day his condition was even worse; no activity — no diligence could avert the anger of Neez-Opinais; and the chief employment and apparently the only pleasure of his life was to abuse and torment Equawish. He was allowed barely sufficient
150of the vilest offal to support existence, and no time for sleep or rest, day or night, except as he could catch an uneasy and fear-haunted slumber in the absence of his tormentor. Thus a year passed away; the Equawish never repined nor resisted the most violent attacks. When Neez-Opinais beat him — called him dog — heaped upon his head every term of reproach and contempt which language could supply, he answered not, or else would groan forth "Good Neez-Opinais is a great chief — Equawish is nothing." The winter had again set in with unusual violence at White Fish Point, when a trader arrived on his way to St. Marie. In the evening he visited Neez-Opinais; they were old friends, and the white man spoke with the freedom of his race." Why is it, Neez-Opinais, that you content yourself with having only this wretched Equawish for a wife? Why do you not send him away, and take a young woman from among the daughters of the Chippewa?" "My brother," replied the Twin
151Bird, "what you say is very reasonable, and I will reply with truth. Equawish is vile indeed, but I have another wife — Opeetah — the Wave's Crest — the daughter of Mozojeed. Every night I send forth this Equawish to labour, and then Opeetah, my beloved, comes to my lodge. All night she lays upon my mat — she whispers with her soft voice, ‘Thanks to Neez-Opinais, for the punishment he has inflicted on the murderer.’ Then at the dawn of morning, before she goes away she embraces me, and says, ‘Neez-Opinais, go forth, find Equawish and avenge Opeetah.’" The white man was astonished. "Where," he asked, "is the Equawish now?" "He has gone to the river to draw my nets, he will not return till morning." The trader retired, and Neez-Opinais lay down to rest. In the morning when the white man visited the lodge of the Twin Bird, he found the chief decked out in his war paint, his feathers, and dress of ceremony, as if he were preparing for a party against the Sioux. "What is this? my brother," said the trader.
152"My friend," replied the Twin Bird, "my bride Opeetah, of whom I spoke to you, came again to my lodge last night; she smiled upon me with her bright eyes and sang in my ear that sweet song which I heard first at the Tower Rock. This morning, when she went away, she told me that I had sufficiently avenged her death, and that now I might come to her in the happy valley, in the far off country of souls. Let us go now to the grave of Opeetah; I must take my departure from thence." The trader followed in silence the steps of Neez-Opinais; together they drew near to the grave of Opeetah. It was covered with a roof of cedar bark. Neez-Opinais removed some of the bark, and stepping in, he laid himself down at full length on the clean birch bark with which the ground was covered. Then he began his death song. He told of his youth, and of the cruelty he had experienced from Cheamick — Then he spoke of his fast, and in a low wailing tone he confessed his crime in having violated the sacred rite
153and angered the Monedo — he murmured the name of Opeetah — then his mind seemed to wander, he sang a few wild notes — At last he broke forth in a loud voice, "Opeetah! Opeetah! I come! I come!" With these words he plunged a knife into his heart, and instantly expired.
The frightened trader hurried to the lodges to tell the warriors of the fate of their chief. As he drew near, a canoe rounded the Point, and the rowers, when they came in sight of the lodges, uttered the mournful cry which announces the death of a friend. As the trader hurried to the shore, he saw that in the middle of the canoe lay a stiffened corpse. 'Twas the body of the Equawish; he had attempted, during the night, to draw the nets of Neez-Opinais, but the task was beyond his power, weak as he had become by want of food and rest; he had toiled on till his strength utterly failed him; then he had crawled ashore, and lain down upon the sand. There, exhausted in body and broken in spirit, the miserable Equawish breathed his last.
Thursday evening. Still degrades, and a most wearisome degradation we find it. Last evening one of the proprietors of the fishery arrived from the Saulte in a large barge, bringing rations for the men. He was a most welcome visitor to the poor fishermen, as they have been out of all kind of provisions, except fish, for a fortnight. By his kindness, we too shared in the good things he brought.
My first question, on hearing that the barge had arrived, was, will she bring bread? The answer was satisfactory: though she would not bring bread, flour would form a principal part of her lading, and of this we were soon supplied with a liberal allowance. Maclure went to work instantly to make some bread; and we, with watering mouths, sat by to watch the process. It was not very complicated, nor did it delay us long.
155He mixed flour, water, and salt together, into a stiff dough, without either yeast, pearlash, or butter; and formed this into a cake about two inches thick, and of a size and shape to fill the frying-pan in which it was to be baked. As, however, the fire was very hot, the bread began to burn below before it was well warmed a top; then it was turned, and thus, by frequent turnings, before the outside was quite as black as my hat, the inside was warmed through; some white fish, salt pork, and dough-balls, had been all the while boiling together in our big camp-kettle and by the time Maclure had finished baking three or four cakes, the boiling mess was cooked and poured out into a deep tin pan; pork, fish, dough-balls, and no inconsiderable portion of the liquor, called by the men (dignitate causa,) soup, all together.
To this we sat down as to a feast; the great attraction to us was the hot bread and butter. Really I never enjoyed any thing so much in all my life. I thought I never should have eaten enough of that delicious
156bread (as heavy as lead and scarce warmed through) and butter. We had not tasted bread since Saturday, nor butter since we left St. Marie; and for myself I will freely confess I longed for both. Truly, if bread is the staff of life, I can only say I hope, as long as I pursue my earthly pilgrimage, I may have the privilege of walking with a cane.
The pleasing toil of satisfying hunger being at length over, we spent the evening very agreeably in chat with the new comers, whiling the time away till a late hour, when we all, E's party and our own, twelve persons, made our beds upon the floor of the cabin — very close stowing I assure you.
To crown our comforts, it began to rain most furiously during the night; and I awaked about three o'clock, on finding my bed, and shirt about the neck and bosom, perfectly wet; the rain having driven through the wide opening in the centre of the roof, which serves as a chimney to our cabin, directly upon my bed — very pleasant
157this, particularly for a Rheumatic; as yet, however, I feel no inconvenience from it.
We rose at break of day. Mr. E. is anxious to get over the labour of distributing the stores to his men, take in a cargo of barreled white fish and trout, and return to St. Marie. The storm from the Eastward still continues with unabated violence, and after a glance at the weather, we, of course, gave up all idea of starting. After breakfast E. began to distribute the rations. The regular allowance here is three quarters of a pound of pork, one and a half pounds flour per day, with liberty to take one white fish from those charged to the company. If they require any other stores, as sugar, tea, coffee or the like, they are furnished by the Company, and charged; so of any additional quantity of flour which those who have families may want.
The best time for catching white fish is in May and June, this is called the first or spring run; they are then taken very large, so that thirty or thirty-five will fill a barrel.
158There is a second run of large fish in November, but they are not caught in as great numbers as in the spring, nor of quite so good quality. At this time, though the fish are taken in considerable numbers, yet they are small, and they put near a hundred in a barrel. They are taken to Detroit, where they sell for seven or eight dollars the barrel. I should not think the business could be very profitable at the present prices. The Company find nets, boats, and lines; they allow the men their rations, as before stated; they find barrels, salt, and transport the men to and from St. Marie, allowing them rations from the day of their departure to that of their return, and then pay four dollars a hundred for the fish; one hundred of which are put at this season into a barrel.
You will remember that white fish are always taken in nets, they do not take the hook. In addition to the white fish, they take trout in considerable quantities. These are the large salmon trout, and weigh from eight to forty and fifty pounds; the largest
159size, however, are by no means common. The Company pay the same for the trout as the white fish; of course, as they are larger they make a better business of it; twenty trout will often fill a barrel; for them they would only pay eighty cents, and the trout sell at Detroit about a dollar the barrel higher than white fish, though I think them immeasurably inferior. The largest are taken in July and August. They also have a second run late in the Autumn. At present those taken are small, forty to forty-five going to the barrel. The trout are taken on night lines; from forty to sixty hooks are put on one line, and in the season almost every hook will have a fish on it.
The Company intend to introduce seines here next season, as the regularity of the sloping shore, and its freedom from snags or large stones, fits it admirably for their use. The gill nets wear out very soon, and are often lost; they never last more than two seasons, and the men at this station lose four or five, and often more, every year.
160The quantity offish put up at the Point this year will not fall far short of two hundred barrels; and they hope to double it next season. Pickerel are caught here in considerable numbers, and a kind of white herring; they are only used as bait for the trout. The men could not visit their nets, nor draw their lines yesterday, owing to the storm. One party went out this morning and drew four nets, they brought in one hundred and twenty-seven fish. Nolan drew his trout line, and caught forty; these were uncommon large hauls for the season, and the men were of consequence in high spirits.
Nolan brought a couple of smoked trout to our cabin as a present, and I had an opportunity of seeing another specimen of the voyageur's cookery, as Maclure roasted these fish. He cut a white cedar stick, about three feet long and an inch in diameter; this he split for two thirds of its length, then placed the fish lengthwise in the fork, and tied the ends together at the top. This, of course, held the fish fast, but did not spread it out.
161For that purpose he took small thin cedar sticks, four or five inches long, and placed them between the fish and the wood, first on the one side then on the other. Thus it was kept open and fully exposed to the fire, near which the stick was now stuck in the ground at the proper angle so as to project sufficiently over the fire to cook, and yet not to be exposed to the smoke or in danger of falling. When, after four or five turnings, Maclure pronounced it done, it was very nice eating with plenty of salt, for Nolan smokes his fish without salt; he is full Indian in that particular, and eats very little salt with any thing. Is this peculiar to the Savages of the lakes or common to all the Aborigines? I confess I do not know
We left White Fish Point at five this morning; wind light, though still Easterly,
162and lake rather rough. We had a very tolerable passage to Tequamenon, but then it began to rain, and continued without cessation till we arrived at St. Marie. Thanks to Mr. A—'s blankets and oil cloth we did not get very wet, though we passed a dreary, uncomfortable, and most tedious day.
We stopped for a short time opposite Pt. Iroquois, to take a more accurate survey of it and Gros Cap than we had been able to do when we passed up. They are both very striking objects; and now that we have seen something of the wonders beyond, we can say that they form an appropriate entrance to the Gitchigomi, the mighty lake.
Passing down the stream, we were struck with the change which a few nights' frost had wrought on the appearance of the foliage along the shores. On the lake the pine, the cedar, and other evergreens predominate so entirely that little change is perceptible; but here the woods were tinted of a thousand brilliant hues — the deep rich scarlet of the hard maple — the light gamboges
163yellow of the soft maple — the brown red of the sumac — the light yellowish green of the beach — the red brown of the oak, and a hundred other shades of red, green, and yellow — while the cedar and pine, with their dark and changeless green, seemed to give just a due proportion of shade to the brilliant picture.
As we passed Point aux Pins a fanciful idea struck my mind. On the very Point stood one solitary pine tree; behind it, at a distance of about a hundred yards, a clump of four or five; still further back a group of perhaps a score; and then, at a longer interval, comes the body of the pines, extending across the base of the Point in one unbroken mass — 'twas like some well-ordered army — a single sentry at the extreme point, then the outposts, then the picket, and behind the main body of the army. C. — would have made a pretty paragraph, perhaps a sonnet, on such a theme; but I am no writer of pretty paragraphs, still less of sonnets; so let us row on, and leave the army camped
164on Point aux Pins to be said or sung of by some future traveller. I hope he will not undertake, as a late visiter at St. Marie's did, to frenchify the word — she, called it, Point aux Epingles! Was not that rich? We had now to decide whether we would Saulte the rapids or pass through the canal. I confess my own feelings were in favour of the canal; we have been preserved in many and great dangers by a gracious Providence, and it seems like ingratitude now to run wilfully and needlessly into any danger, however small. These considerations influenced, and ought to have controlled me; but when I mentioned going by the canal, our old guide seemed so disappointed, and so much mortified at what he thought a doubt of his skill, that I had not the heart to persevere in my determination.
The thing, when we came to try it, was not so very terrible even in appearance; and in reality there is no danger if your guide understands his business and you sit still. The current is not as rapid as I had expected
165We were between two and three minutes going half a mile. The rapids past, we soon landed at the wharf, and were warmly welcomed by Mr. F., the American Fur Company's agent. Our luggage landed and safely stored, the men requested permission to erect our tent and sleep under it; which they preferred (for some reason or other) to being confined to a cabin.
To this we readily agreed; and leaving them to their "al fresco" lodgings, hurried off to Mr. Johnson's. We gave our men warning that we should start the first moment the weather would permit, and if any one of them should be absent or intoxicated, he would assuredly be left behind to find his way to Mackina as best he could. This is necessary, however arbitrary it may sound. At the hotel we had the pleasure of meeting several polite and gentlemanly men, whose frank and hospitable manners soon made us feel towards them as to old friends. It is one of the great pleasures of traveling in this part of the country that you meet so
166often with gentlemen, who, although you may have no other claim on them than your want of their kind attentions, are ready and willing to render all those civilities which an absolute and recognised claim will not always extort from our city folks. Where all have been kind, we, perhaps, should not specify any; but I cannot deny myself the pleasure of alluding particularly to the gentlemen connected with the Fur Company and the officers of the army. Of the latter that army of which our country has so often felt the want without ever learning the value, I can speak, not only from the experience of this little trip, but from some other opportunities of observation — they are, as a body, just what the most ardent friend of the military establishment would wish them to be.
Saturday, September 19th, 1835
A PERFECT gale of wind, blowing up the river, still detains us; but here the degrades has lost all its horrors; we have pleasant company and good fare, great helps to persons desirous of killing time. After breakfast we went out with Mr. A. to view the site of the old French fort. It stood north of the present one; it is still possible to trace the line of its palisades, the projections at the angles where block-houses were built, &c. There was, a few years ago, an old squaw at the Saulte, who said she remembered this fort: it was probably destroyed in 1756 or 7.
When we had finished our examination, we proceeded to call at Fort Brady. By the politeness of Captain — we had an opportunity to inspect the quarters of the men, witness a drill, and visit every part of the establishment,
168including a very well-arranged Hospital. Every thing was in perfect order and scrupulously clean. Several of the officers at Fort Brady are married men; and their wives, with Mrs. S., Mrs. H., Mrs. F. and her accomplished daughter, form together a better female society than is to be found in many places much nearer those soi disants centres of refinement, the Atlantic cities. I should not have mentioned this, but that I wish to contradict the foolish stories told in the newspapers, as to the state of society here. One traveller asserted that the first white woman who had ever been seen at St. Marie's came there last year in the steamboat; and so great a sight did the people there consider her, that she was absolutely run after by crowds whenever she came ashore!
From the Fort we had strolled back to the Company's store, where we were met by an eager messenger with the glad tidings Bob had been caught, and was now at the tavern waiting for us. Do you ask "Who is Bob?"
169Let me explain: — Our good landlord, Mr. J—, among other curious and important facts relating to the North-West, told us that the horses ate fish! Observing that we smiled rather incredulously, (I confess I thought he was trying to do us,) J—appealed to several gentlemen who were standing by; they all very gravely assured us that the story was true, they had seen the landlord's horse, Bob, eat fish repeatedly. As J— fancied we were still skeptical, he declared that we should see it with our own eyes; he would send for his horse Bob, who was now running free in the woods — Bob should eat and we should believe. Now came the important news, "Bob is caught" — "come — see and believe." It so happened that the Major had just begun a letter, and whether he was insensible to the importance of this scientific exhibition, or whether he thought that Bob could wait, certain it is that he delayed, and I, in common courtesy, could not go without him. At last the letter was put by, and we hurried off to see the great piscivorous exhibition
170but alas for the danger of delay! Bob was not! Whether he had his own apprehensions that the strangers were about to eat him instead of seeing him eat, or whether, unlike the French Kings, he was unwilling to eat in public, certain it is he was not to be found. As Cicero says, abiit — he was gone; evasit — he slipped his halter; erumpit — he broke open the stable door; in short, and in plain English, Bob was off; and we missed the sight of a horse eating raw fish. In the meantime J—, whose disappointment at Bob's absconding was really pitiable, reiterated his assurances, and brought man and boy, woman and child, to testify that they themselves and none others had, with their bodily eyes, seen his horse Bob eat white fish. Our conviction was perfect.
J— assures us that he bought, last winter, a barrel of salted white fish expressly for Bob, who ate them as freely, and apparently with as good a relish, as he would have done oats. He also says, and Mr. C.
171confirms the story, that it is quite common to see horses, in the winter and early spring, fighting for the offal of the white fish which at that season are cleaned by the river side.
Now you have the story as I had it, and although I, of course, must believe it — for how in common civility could I do otherwise — yet you shall have license to do as you please, believe or disbelieve. I only submit the proof that you may have a good excuse for your credulity in case you choose to believe.
Disappointed, but not unbelieving, we returned to the store; then took a stroll round the town; called on a friend or two, and passed into the tent to see how our precious fellows were getting on. "Peuton partir? Cloutier." "Pardon! Monsieur, pas possible. Heh bien! il faut rester done." "Au revoir, M. le Diable!" "Au revoir, M. le Docteur," and so we part. We are invited to spend an evening with Mr. F—. Some good comes of being degrades.
Sunday, 9 o'clock, P. M. — Last evening, at dark, we accompanied Mr. F— from his store to his house. He resides just below the town. The wind was high; the rain driving in our faces; the road muddy; already dark; what an utterly uncomfortable walk we had of it! But it only served to make the pleasures of the evening more delightful. We had every thing to charm us; the company of intelligent and accomplished females and music — Oh, what delightful music! Among the rest, "Dans Ie Caban de mon pere," and "N'Entends tupas dans nos Campagnes," sung by a young lady, her two sisters, and a younger brother; the mother playing on the piano, and the father every now and then throwing in a few light graceful notes of an obligate accompaniment on the violin. What a sweet family concert! I cannot express to you how
173much we enjoyed it; doubtless the scene gained something in our view by the contrast it presented to the rough coarseness we had been so habituated to on the lake; but apart from that, and from all other contrast and comparison, the scene was delightful, the music enchanting. A fine, clear, high tenor; a rich, deep, full contralto. The evening absolutely flew away, and when I had hoped our pleasures were but just begun, 'twas half past ten, and we were compelled to say adieu; not, however, till we had promised, if delayed by the weather, to take a cup of coffee with Madame in the morning. Fortune, meanwhile, was preparing quite a different morning for us.
On leaving Mr. F—'s house, we found the wind had lulled and the storm passed away, with all that suddenness which marks the climate; the sky was clear, bespangled with a thousand stars, and to the North just beginning to be lit up by the first gleamings of an Aurora Borealis. We resolved to start immediately; our men had already promised
174to row all night and all the coming day, so eager were they to reach home. We found them asleep, but soon roused them; and in half an hour our luggage was on board La belle Etoile, and we soon followed, bidding a kind farewell to our friend F., who had insisted on accompanying us to the wharf. All ready? off; we are under weigh.
Behold us now in a new scene — voyaging at midnight — 'twas not unpleasant; the wind had fallen, the water was smooth, and the sky above most brilliant. There was no moon, but the whole vault of heaven was thick studded with stars; and the Aurora was now darting up in long bright streaks, till the whole North looked like one vast glory. The rays were nearly all white, only in one or two spots the white seemed tinted with a blush of red, so faint, so ethereal, that 'twas hardly possible to say you saw the red tint; you only felt, as you gazed upon the resplendent whole, that there was a difference; and where all was beautiful, that those faintly
175blushing rays were most beautiful. I thought of those sweet lines of old Habingdon:
So rich with jewels hung that night,
Doth like an Ethiop bride appear;
My soul her wings doth spread,
And upward flies,
Th' Almighty mysteries to read
In the large volume of the skies."
Then came recollections less elevated, but not less pure, of the scene we had witnessed this evening: that happy family circle, their frank hospitality to the strangers, the perfect harmony among themselves, the love, the peace, the happiness, that seemed to breathe around, to give a character to every thing, even to the slightest word or the most trifling action; then I thought of my own loved home, my own little group of happy faces. I was soon deep immersed in such fancies; and as the wind blew a little more chill, I drew the covering well over my head, nestled
176gradually down into the bottom of the canoe, and thought and recollection grew more and more indistinct, till 'twere hard to say whether the bright images that floated before my mind were the creatures of fancy or the phantoms of a dream. Hark! a shriek! where am I? another wild cry! 'Tis the voice of La Tour, our bow oarsman. "Ah, mon Dieu! le canoe est decherÄe! il est plien de l'eau! the canoe is torn, she is filling with water!" Before I had time to uncover my head so as to look about me, I felt the water in the canoe bottom floating up the mat, and in another instant my feet were plashing in it.
The men in the meanwhile were screaming and screeching in the most absolute confusion; then I heard Cloutier shouting at the top of his voice "A terre! a terre!" The men pulled for shore. Luckily we were only fifty or sixty yards off, and we were but an instant in running in. It was low, and covered with a thick growth of small shrubs and trees, extending in some cases into the
177water, which was rather high. The first time we ran the canoe into this thicket she came to a large log which lay athwart the little entrance, and could go in no further. "Put off, put off!" cried the old man; and, obedient to the vigorous impulse given by the bow oars used as poles, the canoe shot out again into the stream. By this time she was half full, and we mounted upon the roll of bedding, which commonly served us for a seat, to keep ourselves for a few moments longer out of the water. Those few moments saved us; the canoe was pushed down stream about two lengths, till La Tour, who alone could see, cried out, "A creek!" We pushed into it. The canoe is aground — the men spring out — Robert backs up to where I was standing, or rather "squat like a toad," (the phrase, you know, is Miltonic) upon my baggage. I mount, nothing loth; and he makes a step or two, when his foot slipped and he fell upon one knee. I kept my hold, and by a great, though exceedingly ludicrous, display of
178agility, keep my legs out of the water. He recovers himself to a miracle. We start again. "Doucement! doucement, mon bon Diable! there, we are safe, now let me get down." We were safe, though not yet on dry land; for the place where we were was a mere marsh, and at every step we sank nearly half leg deep into the mud and water. Remember, my friend, that it was dark as gitch, for though the starlight and the gleamings of the aurora did very well on the open river, yet here, in the midst of a swamp covered with a thick growth of trees, not a single ray penetrated; and we had literally to feel our way around from tree to tree, still searching for some dry spot, or at least some spot not covered with water. The Major, who, I believe, I have already confessed is the better man on such emergencies, at last found a place where there was "terra firma" though not dry land. Round the roots of a huge pine tree the ground rose, and here we resolved to attempt kindling a fire while the men were engaged in
179unloading the canoe and lifting her ashore. This making the fire was a thing very desirable but not easily to be done. The first thing was to look for some birch bark; this took a long time, and finally, though a few shreds were collected, we had to depend principally upon twigs of pine, wet as possible, as indeed every thing around us was; for the rain, you will bear in mind, had not ceased more than two or three hours. The twigs and bark collected, the Major produced his matches, flint, steel, and touchwood; the light was struck, the fire kindled, the damp branches steam and smoke, they catch, "Ah! we shall have a fire! now lay on some larger branches," the flame gathers strength; " now pile on the wood. Ah, this is fine! We have a good roaring fire." Just at this moment I looked at my watch, and cold not resist bursting into a roar of laughter as I mentally contrasted the wet draggled figures that were hanging over this fire in a pine swamp — feet all mud, hands all mire, dress all dirt, and faces so wo-begone — for I doubt
180not mine was as long as the Major's — I contrasted all this with the rather smart appearance we had made only two short hours before, for 'twas now just half-past twelve, in Mr. F—'s drawing room, doing the agreeable with all our poor ability to the French ladies, and listening to Beranger's songs! The Major joined heartily in my mirth when I had explained the cause to him, and we both felt in better heart, and resolved to put a merry as well as a bold face upon our little contretemps.
The men now gathered round the fire and brought up the baggage. We took off the oil-cloth covering from our bedding; the cloth, as the thing that would soonest dry, was hung up before the fire, and the blankets laid by, waiting their turn. The oil-cloth was dry in a few moments. I spread it out on the damp grass and leaves, and behold, we have a good place to lounge upon. Now the blankets are hung up; they were not very wet and will soon be ready, and then we will go to bed.
In the meantime what is to be done to get out of this delightful situation? We were about six miles below the Mission Station, which is the nearest house; we have no bark to mend the canoe, and it is utterly impossible to do any thing without it, as the rent is at least a yard long. After debating upon various projects, it was resolved that Pelleau and the Doctor should go on foot to the Mission House, get some bark, and return in a canoe if they could borrow one. Unfortunately none of them knew the way, or would say they did, but the Doctor. If we had bark, Cloutier could mend the canoe in a short time, as he has waatap, a canoe-awl, and plenty of gum. Pelleau started, taking the Indian who knew the Methodists at the station, with him. Soon after his departure, our blankets being dry, we spread them out upon the oil-cloth, crept under them, and were soon fast asleep.
I slept quite sound till broad daylight, then arose, a little stiff, but otherwise much the better for my nap; the Major had been
182some time afoot, and we now took together a survey of the strange landing-place into which we had been forced. 'Twas, as I have said, a mere marsh; and the spot on which our fire was built was the only one within a hundred yards that was not covered with water, or so perfectly miry that we sank deep into it at every step. Luckily we were on the main land, for if we had been forced ashore on one of the small islands with which this river abounds, our situation might have been unpleasant; as it is, we shall do very well. Pelleau will be here before long, and then two hours' work will put the canoe in trim again.
We now examined our luggage. My cloak bag, which contained the scanty wardrobe of both, had been one of the last things taken out of the water, and every thing in it was thoroughly wetted; the chest in which our eatables were stowed was next overhauled; it too had been full of water; our flour was all dough, our meat (nice bit of roast lamb from Madame F—) washed dirty,
183our salt gone, sugar ditto, bread soaked with mud — 'twas a piteous sight; hard must be the heart and stout the stomach that could look on unmoved — I could have wept over the sad ruin of things most dear, but that I had resolved to steel my heart against all soft emotions, and, as Malcolm says, "defeat it like a man." I could indeed add with the Thane of Fife, "But I must also feel it like a man," or at least it is likely I may feel it in the shape of hunger before we get to Mackina. We spread our things before the fire to dry, and then picking out the cleanest pieces of meat and the least dirty (for here clean was out of the question) bits of bread, we made a very tolerable breakfast, all things considered. Breakfast over, we had nothing to do but wait as patiently as we could for the return of our men. Eight o'clock came, and still no signs of them. Fearing that some accident had befallen in the dark, I had just made up my mind to take Cloutier and go in search, when we heard their shouts from the river. They brought some bark, and
184were accompanied by an Indian from the Station. Their appearance was forlorn indeed, and they had a terrible account to give of the perils and difficulties through which they had passed; they had been from half-past one, the time they started from us, till after six, making the four miles. The way was through a swamp, and they had been obliged to ford two creeks, in one of which the water was deep enough to reach their necks. Poor fellows! it must have been terrible, for it was bitter cold. I gave them each a bowl of hot tea, some meat and bread, and making them lie down before the fire, covered them with some of our blankets, and in a few minutes had the satisfaction to see them fast asleep. In the meanwhile, Cloutier, La Tour, and Robert, were busy mending the canoe. They inserted the new piece of bark between the old bark and the sheathing of the canoe, till it extended some few inches each way beyond the rent; then they sewed it with waatap, using what is called glovers' stitches. I believe
185I have mentioned waatap before without telling you what it was. Waatap is made by splitting the long slender roots of the cedar, and boiling them till they are perfectly flexible, as much or more so than the willow of which baskets are made, which, by the way, they resemble exactly in appearance. With this waatap, by help of the canoe-awl, the canoe was sewed up very nicely in about two hours; then came the gumming, which took nearly another hour; so that 'twas about eleven when, with hearts full of thankfulness for our preservation from danger and our deliverance from a situation so unpleasant, we embarked our wetted baggage on board the now renovated Belle Etoile, and left Campment des Miserables, as we choose to call our landing-place.
The passage down the St. Marie offered nothing worthy of remark, though it consumed the whole day — a mild, pleasant, and by us not entirely unimproved Sabbath. 'Twas past seven, and nearly dark, when we reached the Detour. On nearing the camping
186ground we saw a canoe laid up on the shore; and the shouts and hurras of our men, who always whooped and yelled like true Indians on the slightest event, were answered first by a faint and then a more distinct halloo. A few words were exchanged, but not being able to catch their meaning, I turned round to Pelleau, and inquired who the people were. "Ah! ces sont les Gens du Mission," was his reply. In the mood of mind in which I then was, no company could have been so desirable as that of a missionary. I had yesterday the pleasure of a long and very interesting interview with Mr. B—, the Baptist Missionary at St. Marie; and his mild benevolent spirit, his gentle manners, and the resolute and patient firmness with which he devoted himself to his duty, had made a most agreeable impression on my mind. How pleasant, after such a night of adventure and such a morning of anxiety and toil as we have had, to meet here, in the lone woods, with such another spirit — to hold communion with one who will draw instruction
187and comfort from every apparent evil. I had sketched out quite a little scene, between the first hearing that "les Gens du Mission" were at Detour and our canoe coming alongside the landing-place. Judge of my amazement on being saluted by a loud coarse voice: "Ho! it's you, is it? Well, I'm d—d glad to see you any how." Truly, thought I, a pretty rum customer this same missionary whom we have picked up in the woods. We landed, however, to share the comforts of the place with him, whoever he might be.
From the man's own mouth I soon received a more correct account of him. He was, as you will readily suppose, no missionary, but a poor fellow whom the missionaries at Mackina had employed, for lack of other help, to convey three or four of their number to the Saulte. As his assistants, they had sent two little boys belonging to the Mission School, and these were the "Gens du Mission" of whom Pelleau spoke.
The adventures and mishaps that befel
188this party of missionaries illustrates very well the consequences of that lack of knowledge of the things of this world for which so many good people are remarkable. The party consisted of two or three gentlemen and two ladies; they took an old leaky canoe, and with no other navigator than this Dick, (for so my new acquaintance was called) started from Mackina in a rough North-East storm. Contrary to all reasonable calculation, they were not lost in making the traverse to Goose Island, though they came very near that consummation. By the by, two of the party were bride and groom, only three or four days married. The second day they tore a hole in the canoe, which Dick, with the assistance of an Indian, managed to mend so well that the canoe did not leak more than a bucketful an hour. They kept on, however; and after a passage of four days arrived at the Saulte. Dick left there next day, without taking the precaution to have his canoe properly mended; and this was his sixth day from St. Marie. Mr. B—, a Swiss
189gentleman, who had taken passage back with him, left him the second day out to go on board a barge which was conveying some officers from Fort Brady to Mackina; and to complete the catalogue of blunders, Mr. B— took away the fireworks, so Dick called the Lucifers. They had, of course been four days without fire; their stock of provisions was nearly exhausted, having now only a morsel of pork and a few potatoes, which they had no means of cooking; add to this that the canoe leaked so very badly that they were compelled to keep one hand baling all the time.
Such was the history, divested of its multitude of oaths, which Mr. Dick gave of his voyages and travels. Before he had finished his story, our men had kindled a fine fire; and as he concluded his narrative under its genial influence, I turned round to express my sympathy, when I saw, close to my side, and huddling almost into the fire, a poor half-frozen little Indian girl, apparently about twelve years of age. I could not imagine
190where the child came from, as Mr. Dick had never once alluded to his having any companions in addition to the two Indian boys — now he vouchsafed an explanation.
The girl was the daughter of T—, a white Indian, i. e. a white man who had adopted the habits, acquired all the vices, and escaped the slightest contamination from any of the virtues of the Savages. He resides at the Saulte, and has already, by his brutal cruelty, driven his wife, an Indian, and the one daughter, from him. This daughter, Mary, remained with him, subject to every description of ill-usage; till of late he had made attacks upon her in a manner too shocking to particularize. Some benevolent individuals had interfered, and persuaded Dick to give her a passage in his canoe. To this, impelled, as he said, by his humanity and the tenderness of his disposition, the gracious Dick had consented; but now he was in great trouble, and as it was uncertain whether he could reach Mackina, he wished us to take
191charge of his passenger, and convey her in our canoe to her mother. To this proposal there were certainly some very grave objections: in the first place we knew nothing of the man who made it, and on inquiring his character of our guide, Cloutier pronounced Dick, who was an old acquaintance, "Menteur! voleur! paresseux! coquin! fripon et tout-a-fait diable!" Such was our guide's account; and to tell the truth, there was in Dick's appearance something that agreed exceedingly well with each epithet; and the ensemble expressed tout-a-fait diable, as legibly as ever that significant phrase was stamped on the human face divine. Then for the child; she was, by Dick's confession, a fugitive from her father; and as for the reason which Dick assigned for her flight, he swore to the truth of it, and that alone was enough to beget doubts of its correctness. All these considerations, however, gave way before the silent yet eloquent pleadings of the poor girl's appearance. She looked so wan, so desolate;
192and when I asked her it" she would like to go with us, she replied so earnestly, "Oh yes; if you will be so good" — we will take her at all hazards; she is going to Mackina at any rate, and by going with us she will reach there sooner and with less danger. This matter arranged, we invited Mary into our tent to partake of our plentiful, though not very nice-looking, supper. Really it did my heart good to see the famished creature eat; not that she devoured the things ravenously, she was too timid for that; but she took her hot tea, her bit of fried meat, and buttered toast, with such a quiet but intense inward satisfaction, as though they did her good.
Supper over, we inquired where our little protegee was to sleep? "Oh!" replied Dick, "she has a sort of blanket, and can sleep in the open air very well; she has done so ever since we left the Saulte;" adding, with forty oaths, "good enough for her." On looking at what the blaspheming vagabond called a "sort of blanket," it turned out
193an old quilt, so thin as to afford very little warmth, and very inadequate protection in moderate weather, and the night promised to be cold. Now what is to be done? — where are we to put the poor child? — do you doubt? — we did not — but took her into our tent, gave her a share of our blankets, and all slept together in peace. Good night.
Monday, Sept. 21st
This morning we rose early, hoping to reach Mackina betimes. Last night Cloutier gave Dick some gum, and offered to assist him in gumming and otherwise refitting his canoe; but the lazy rascal said, "Oh, to-morrow morning will be time enough; then we shall have daylight for it." Cloutier remonstrated, but in vain; and Dick, after having fairly gorged himself on our provisions, went to bed. Before leaving Detour, we again
194urged him to attend to his canoe, and at least start with us if he could not keep us company, as every hour of fair weather was valuable as life itself to him; but he would not even get up, answering every remonstrance with his favourite "time enough." As we were just ready to embark, I heard Dick growl out to his boys, who had been up an hour, "Well, boys, I suppose we may as well get up." I doubt if he gets off to-day. I asked Cloutier whether he thought Dick would ever reach Mackina? He replied, that it was rather doubtful; adding, with professional feeling, "Pity if Mr. Schoolcraft lose his canoe" "Oh!" replied Le Diable, never at a loss for a joke, "folks at Mackina very willing to pay Mr. Schoolcraft for the canoe if it drowns Dick."
As the wind was ahead and blew pretty fresh, we did not take the outer passage by which we came; but, after doubling Point St. Vitale, kept quite close to the main land, and behind a succession of islands, which, as I have elsewhere mentioned, line the
195Northern shore of Lake Huron. This inner passage is by the French voyageurs called Les Chaneaux, which our Yankee folks have corrupted into The Snows.
We found some pleasure and amusement in our new companion. She spoke English very well, and a good night's sleep in a warm tent, with plenty of food, had quite revived the child, and I fancied she looked very much fatter than yesterday. She told us the names of many things in Chippewa, and interpreted some names (of persons). We now made a discovery which surprised us very much — Robert Le Diable, who has always spoken French to us, and when we did not understand his patois would appeal to the Doctor and tell him the Chippewa of the term that puzzled us, so that he might translate it into English. Robert Le Diable speaks English very well; indeed, for a half-breed, remarkably well, and understands every word. Here has this vagabond been in our company for a fortnight, we supposing he did not understand a word of English,
196and, of course, often saying before him things we did not wish him to know; and now it turns out he has understood every word from first to last. There is, after all, no sort of dependence to be placed upon these Savages; craft is in their nature, and deception or dissimulation is their pride; thank heaven we shall be rid of this fellow in a day I trust. We had a pleasant passage along "the Snows;" the scenery was varied and interesting. About noon we made a traverse in the open lake of about five miles. Here we had a very hard pull, and once or twice our men were disposed to give it up and turn in towards shore; by perseverance, however, we at last gained our point, and running into another of the narrow channels, were pretty well sheltered from the wind. Before we emerged from this we stopped at a small Indian cottage, the first I have ever seen. It was neat, clean, light, and comfortable; glass in the windows, locks on the doors, and many other comforts and conveniences around. It is the dwelling of a
197Christianized Indian and his family; they live very independently by supplying the good people of Mackina with fowls, ducks, &c., and receiving in return an abundance of the various necessaries of life.
In this cabin I saw, what is very rare, a deformed Indian; he had some disease of the spine, was bent nearly double, and his lower extremities had withered away almost to skeleton thinness. To look at him, he seemed all head and shoulders; he could not of course stand, but lay on the floor whiling away his time with some sort of net-work; he had in perfection the look of the deformed, that compound of malignity and envy with which they are almost all stamped, and to which the Indian features gave additional force. Our men made a long stay here, allured by the steam from a large stew-pan, in which the squaws were cooking some savoury mess. Their patient waiting did not go without a reward, for when the pottage was poured out, we were all invited to take a share. The Major and I declined the
198offered hospitality, but the half-breeds ate ravenously. Leaving this abode of comfort and plenty, we rowed on, reached the outlet of the Chaneaux, and gained the first welcome view of Mackina about half past four; but a glance at the open lake was sufficient to convince us that the traverse, twelve miles, against a driving North-Wester, was entirely out of the question. Once more degrades, and that too in plain sight of the long-wished-for termination of our journey. It was indeed very, very provoking; still nothing was to be done but to make the best of it. We accordingly went ashore, camped, cooked our supper, and prepared to spend the evening and the night comfortably.
Having nothing in particular to occupy my attention, I resolved on this, the last night which I should probably spend with my brother the Doctor, to make an effort to enlighten his mind, and impart to his darkened intellect some rays of useful knowledge. I called him to my side, and bade him unpack the travelling basket.
199He did so. Plates, dishes, cups, and pans came forth, begrimed with every form and variety of dirt; mud on the dishes, sand in the tea-cups, the plates smutted with black from off the bottom of the frying-pan, and knives and forks looking as though the pigs had eaten with them, all were spread "in foul array" upon the grass. Then I told the Doctor to wash the basin with soap and hot water; he did so. I bade him rinse it in cold water; 'twas done. "Now use that to wash the other things in." He began, and by close superintendence and vehement reproof when he seemed disposed to slight his work, I succeeded in keeping him at it till every dish, plate, knife and fork was clean. The Doctor was terribly angry, and his wild black eye lowered upon me with an expression by no means amiable. I paid very little attention to it, but went away to take a walk. On my return, little Mary, with a face all anxiety, told me that the Doctor was mad; that he had told her he would be revenged for the shame I
200had put upon him, even if he had to use his knife upon me, when we arrived at Mackina. I was a little surprised at this display of spirit on the part of my brother Miskekiwinini; his threats, to be sure, were not very alarming, for any white man could, if so disposed, easily make good the threat with which I used to frighten him on the Lake, viz. to kill him and pick his bones; the poor vagabond has not much more strength than commonly belongs to a full-grown kitten. I thought, however, it might serve as the text of a new lesson to my pupil, and proceeded to impart to him an additional chapter of the book of knowledge. Calling him to follow me, I led the way to a part of the shore where a rocky ledge stood about twenty feet above the water; here I made a pause, and getting the Savage fairly within my reach, I asked him if he had made the threat to use his knife upon me. The lying knave instantly and vehemently denied it. I told him I did not believe he had made use of such language, for if I had the least faith in the story, I would pitch
201him (and I grasped his collar) off into the lake. Poor Doctor! his terror was so intense, and withal so comic, I could hardly preserve the necessary sternness of countenance till he sneaked away to bed in our tent, for the last time I trust.
Tuesday, Sept. 22d. This morning we waked at dawn, and roused our men, determined in one way or other to reach Mackina before sunset. Cloutier was questioned, and said that making the direct traverse was utterly impossible; but that by coasting up to St. Martin's we might probably cross from there, though he contended that even by that route there was great danger. We, however, were resolved to push forward; and starting for St. Martin's, gained the point of the island in about two hours. Here we stopped, made a fire, cooked our last meal, and then put out to make the traverse to Mackina; Cloutier estimated the distance at ten miles, I think it something less. The wind was N. W. and
202very high; our course was about W. S. W. I confess it was not without some anxiety that I left the shore; and before we had gained the centre of the traverse, we had abundant cause for apprehension; the wind blew most terribly, and the waves — but I have already given you an account of a storm in a canoe — one thing I remarked here which I had not before observed; as we lay very low down in the canoe, to ballast her, and there were now three on the seat, I rested close against the side, at every plunge into the huge waves I could feel the sides of the canoe moving, as if the poor little creature were panting with fright at the peril through which we were driving her. It gave a distinctness, a nearness to the danger, which other more important indications have failed to do. Three hours and a quarter we were tossing on the lake; at last we gained the shelter of Mackina shore, near the Arch Rock, and coasting round the point by Robinson's Folly, entered the little bay, and soon after landed at the wharf. We
203were warmly welcomed by our friends Mr. A— and Mr. Schoolcraft; the latter expressed great surprise at our having, in such unfavourable weather, reached the Pictured Rocks, and was kind enough to compliment us on being, as he said, the first private individuals who had ever visited that part of the lake as travellers, and impelled by curiosity alone. And now, as Valentine says,
And the distressful voyage of our "canoe"
Ends not alone in safety but reward.
Chapter on Voyaging.
As I am not without hope that the foregoing narrative may tempt some of my adventurous young readers to make a trip to the great lakes, I have resolved here to break the chain of my journal, by inserting
204a chapter on voyaging, for the benefit of such adventurers, if any there should chance to be. To a person utterly unaccustomed to such expeditions, the idea of travelling four or five hundred miles in an open canoe, a vessel so frail that a single kick of a white man's boot heel would beat a hole in her bottom, and so light that two men can with ease carry her on their shoulders, appears very formidable and full of danger. The danger in this case, as in most others, diminishes very much, if it does not absolutely disappear, when you come to examine the details of the undertaking. As the result of my experience, — (and the reader is now acquainted with the exact amount of it, and will of course, give my opinion proportionate weight,) — as the result then of my experience, the danger is never very great if proper precautions be taken beforehand. To point out some of these precautions is the object of this chapter. In the first place, then, in forming your parties, not more than four persons should go in an ordinary
205canoe. Four persons can sit with ease and comfort in a canoe of twenty-five to thirty feet long, and, with their luggage and that of the monde, will lade it quite as heavily as is desirable. As the exposure to the weather is necessarily considerable, no person should join the party who is in delicate health, or liable on slight exposure to coughs, colds, &c.; the lake is a very awkward place to be sick in, and invalids would only prove a burthen to themselves and a drawback on the pleasure of other people. Your party made up, remember that travelling on the lake is not like travelling in steam boat, stage, or rail-road car; you do not start at a definite time, go at a specified rate, and arrive at your place of destination on the instant. Do not therefore put your foot into a canoe (by the by never step on the thwarts, I came very near breaking ours on more than one occasion) till you have made up your mind that for the pleasure of voyaging you are willing to devote an indefinite length of time to it. Your progress is
206of all things the most uncertain. One day you make sixty miles, then for a week you are degrades and don't make a start. Take all these things into consideration before you go, and determine to be content and cheerful; you will find at the end of the trip that you have had a vast deal less annoyance and more pleasure if you start in the right spirit.
Nota bene: if it is your misfortune to be constitutionally timid as it is called, that is, if you are a coward, don't go a step. The Indian country is the worst place in the world for cowards, and if you are not absolutely frightened to death, you will be alarmed at every step, and, what is worse, your miseries will furnish "sport for the Philistines;" there are no people on earth who value personal courage more highly, or more openly contemn those who want it, than those of the North-West. So remember, if you are cowardly don't go voyaging. Now, having considered all these circumstances, have you made up your mind to go a trip on the lake? Well then, let us get ready. The
207first thing to be secured is a good guide. This is all important, and you must be very careful to select a competent, and, what is much more difficult to find, a trust-worthy person. From all that I have heard upon the subject, I think the half-breeds are to be preferred to the pure Canadians; Indians are out of the question. Having secured your guide, consult him, but do not trust implicitly to him, in selecting your men; four are enough; they should row and not paddle, one oar is worth two paddles, nearly. The men should be half-breeds or pure Canadians, though an Indian, if he be stout and well known, may do very well; the great objection to them is their temper, which is very wayward and uncertain. The men should be stout, and, if possible, old voyageurs — you must not refuse such because they are intemperate — you will hardly be able to find five temperate men in the whole body of North-Western voyageurs. These men you should engage for an indefinite time; they commonly receive seventy-five
208cents and their rations per day. You had better promise to pay the guide a dollar per day, if you are satisfied with him at the end of the trip.
Now your voyageurs are engaged, the next thing to be done is to secure a canoe. The guide will be useful to you in choosing one. Be sure she is stiff and strong, and that they put plenty of poles in her bottom to guard her in rough weather. Remember, if she gives way your chance for life is exceeding small; she will not break in weather when you can swim, even if you are a swimmer. Make your guide take a spare oar or two, and two or three spare paddles; be sure he provides himself with gum, waatap, a canoe awl, and some spare bark; we lost a day for lack of bark. So much for the canoe. Now for the luggage: in the first place get a large oil-cloth or two, if your party consists of four persons, to contain your bedding and keep it dry. Your clothes (be sure you don't take too many) should be packed in an oil-cloth bag; this will serve a good purpose
209as a seat. Take plenty of blankets, (we had eight, and not one too many;) if you go early, you must also provide yourself with musketo nettings, under peril of being eaten up; the lake is the worst place in the known world for musketoes. Take a gun; if you are a good shot, so much the better, if not, one of the men will use it for you. All this prepared, the victualling department alone remains to be cared for. For your men, tell them beforehand they are to have a pound of pork, a pint of hulled corn, and a pound of ship bread, or, what is better, as more convenient, a pound and a half of flour. This is a very large allowance. Many of the traders make their half-breeds live upon a quart of corn and an ounce of candle grease per diem, and they will work hard, and not suffer at all, if kept on this regimen for months together. The worst part of the victualling remains to be told. You must deliver this allowance to your men yourself, every day. If you trust the guide, he will deceive you; if you give them provisions for two days, there will not
210remain on the second morning an ounce of bread or a grain of corn, all will be devoured on the first day. There is, therefore, no alternative but to give out their allowance every day yourself. To facilitate this you may have your pork cut into five or six pound pieces, according to the number of your voyageurs, and deliver the ship bread as well as the corn by measure. Do not take a pint of whiskey or any other ardent spirits. I dwell with earnestness on this, because it is almost the only point on which the prejudices of the traders will induce them to give you erroneous advice; your men will be perfectly content without it. For your own provisions you will, of course, consult your own taste. Take enough, and do not judge of what you will want on the lake by what you eat in the city, or even in ordinary travelling; you will require just about double your usual allowance. The best things to take are hams, take them ready boiled; a joint or two of roasted meat, if you can get it, will do very well. Be sure to take plenty
211of potatoes, they are so handy; by the way, keep all your stores, even to the potatoes, under lock and key, or they will be stolen from you the first week. Tea, sugar, and the various spices, you will, of course, not forget. If you can get a Devil Dish, it will be of great service to you, enabling you to cook your own dinner without broiling over the fire or smothering in the smoke.
We are now, I believe, all ready. Get your men off, the first day, as early as you can; after that I don't think it worth while to make very early starts in the morning. Let the day fairly dawn on your camp before you leave it. I believe we committed an error in starting so very early every morning, a sin which I lay to the Major's account, and which I hope you will not fall into. When 'tis time to start, make the guide search round lest any little matter should be forgotten; he will do this of his own accord if he understands and means to do his business, but if he forgets, don't you. It is a good plan, when you are just ready to be
212off, to inquire for one or two of the things which are most likely to be forgotten, particularly the axes, (you should have a small and large one,) and the frying-pan. When you are under way, encourage your men to sing; it cheers them to their labour and keeps them in good humour; do not talk with the men much, and be sure to assert your authority over them without any scruple or hesitancy. If you speak the word, stand to it, right or wrong, and make them give in; be peremptory and absolute with them, and never allow any cavilling; they are accustomed to this treatment and expect it, though they will not be slow in taking advantage of any improper indulgences.
If you intend to go as far as Grand Island, take with you some trinkets, beads, &c., to give to the Indians; they may be of great, even of essential, service to you. Do not, however, let any of the Indians see how many you have; they are the greatest thieves imaginable. I don't think it worth your while to take pistols or any thing of
213the sort with a view to personal protection; a hundred to one they are not necessary, and if the hundredth chance turn up, you had better abide by Rob Roy's proverb, "a willing hand never lacked weapon," than excite suspicion by going armed. I have only one thing more to mention: do not be discouraged at any little contretemps, like oversetting, tearing your canoe, or the like; and, above all things, don't get out of patience when you are degrades. Such petty annoyances may fret you at the moment, but they all in the end go to make up the pleasure by adding, to the adventurous character of your expedition. I have now mentioned all the particulars that occur to me; so wishing you a pleasant trip, I will resume my journal.
On our arrival at Mackina we found two schooners, bound for Chicago, at anchor in
214the bay. The one was going direct, the other to stop a day at St. Joseph's; of course we took passage in the —, which was to sail, with the first fair wind, direct for Chicago. This fair wind, however, was long a coming; behold us once more degrades. We spent two very pleasant days with our friends. I had the pleasure of several long talks with Mr. Schoolcraft, on Indian manners and customs; he is a very diligent and zealous student of the Algonquin languages; he believes that this study will throw light on their manners, customs, and passed history. He gave me many curious instances of the manner in which Indian character could be illustrated by nice peculiarities in their language. This notion of learning the character of a people from the structure of their language is new to me, but appears not without foundation in reason. I did not think to mention to Mr. S— that the Russians present a very odd illustration of his theory. How much of the character of the Muscovites can be inferred
215from the little philological fact that they have no word to express Honour; surely nothing can convey a more bitter sarcasm upon the character of a people than this defect of their own mother tongue does on the Russians. It should be so, for if, as Howard Payne says of liberty
'Twere sacrilege to utter;"
The Forsaken Brother. A Chippewa Tale.
IT was on a fine summer's evening, the sun scarce an hour high, his departing rays beamed through the foliage of the tall and stately elms that skirted the little green knoll on which an Indian lodge was erected. The deep silence that reigned around this sequestered and romantic spot, seemed to the inmates of the lonely dwelling like the sleep of death, which they knew would soon seal the eyelids of the head of this poor family; the low breathing of the husband and the father was answered by the sobs of his disconsolate wife and three children. Two of the children were well grown, the third was yet a mere child. They were the only persons near the dying man. At his request the door was thrown open to admit the fresh breeze, which now came from off the lake on the banks of which the lodge stood, and as the cool breeze fanned
217his cheek, the poor man felt a momentary return of strength, and raising himself up a little, he thus addressed his weeping family: "I am about to leave you all, to leave thee who hast been through life my partner; but I grieve the less for thee, as I know that thou canst not remain long behind me. Thou wilt soon join me, and we shall be happy together in the land of spirits. Thy sufferings in this world will be but for a short time; but, Oh my children! my poor children! you have just entered upon the path of life; and mark me, unkindness and ingratitude, and every form of wickedness abound in the scene which is before you. I left my kindred and my tribe because I found there what I have now warned you against — ingratitude and wickedness. I have contented myself for many years with the company of your mother and yourselves. My motives for separating you from the haunts of men, were solicitude for your welfare and anxiety to preserve you from bad example. Now I die; but I shall
218die contented and happy, if you, my children, will promise to love and cherish one another, and particularly not to forsake your younger brother; of him I give you charge." The old man was so much exhausted that he was obliged to pause; finally, he found strength to seize a hand of each of his elder children, and pressing them in his, he gasped out, "My daughter! never forsake your younger brother; my son! never forsake your brother." The children were moved; they both exclaimed "Never! never!" "Never!" faltered out the old man, and with the word upon his lips, expired. The poor man died happy; he thought that his commands would be obeyed. The lodge that was before so still, resounded with bitter though unavailing lamentations. Time wore away, and now five long moons had passed, and the sixth was nearly full when the mother of these children also died. In her last moments she pressed upon the minds of her children the fulfilment of the solemn promise they had made to their departed
219father. They readily renewed the promise, for they were yet free from all selfish motives. The mother died. The winter passed away, and the beauties of spring cheered the drooping spirits of this bereaved family. The girl, being oldest, dictated to her brothers; and she seemed to feel a very tender and sisterly affection for her young brother in particular, who was rather sickly and delicate. The other brother soon showed symptoms of a restless and discontented disposition. One day he addressed his sister as follows; "My sister, are we always to live as if there were no other human creatures in the world? Must I deprive myself of the pleasure of associating with my fellow-beings? I will not. I will seek out the villages of men; I am determined I will go; you cannot prevent me." The girl replied: "My brother, I do not say no to what you propose; we are not forbidden the society of our fellow-mortals, but we were told to love and cherish each other, and not to suffer either pleasure or pain to separate us,
220particularly from our young and helpless brother. If we each follow our separate gratifications, it will certainly make us forget that brother whom we are both alike bound to support." The young man made no answer, but taking his bow and arrows he left the lodge, and never returned. Many moons passed over the secluded lodge after the young man's departure, and still the girl administered to the wants of her younger brother; at length, however, she also began to be weary of her solitude and of her charge. Years, which added to her strength and capability of taking care of a household, also brought with them the desire for society, which made her solitude more irksome. But in meditating on a change of life, she thought only of herself, and cruelly determined to abandon her younger brother as her elder brother had done before. One day she brought forth all the provisions which she had reserved for emergencies, and also collected together a large quantity of wood, which she placed
221near the door. She then spoke to her younger brother: "My brother! you must not stray far from the lodge; I am going in search of our brother; I shall soon return." With these words she took up her bundle, and set off for the habitations of men. She soon found them, and was so much taken up with the pleasures and amusements of society, that all affection for her brother was obliterated from her mind. She accepted proposals of marriage, and after that she never thought more of the helpless relative she had abandoned. In the meantime the elder brother had also married, and settled on the shore of the same lake which contained the bones of his parents and the habitation of his forsaken brother. As soon as the little boy had eaten all the food left for him by his sister he was obliged to pull berries and dig roots. Winter came on, and the poor child was exposed to all its rigours, as he was obliged to quit the lodge in search of food and remain without shelter. Sometimes he passed the night in the hollow of
222old trees, and ate the refuse left by the wolves on the carcasses they had devoured. This was soon his only resource, and he became so fearless of these animals, that he would sit close by them while they devoured their prey. The wolves themselves seemed to pity the forsaken brother, and always left him something. Thus he lived, as it were, on the charity of the fierce wolves until spring. As soon as the lake was free from ice, he followed his new-found friends and companions to the shores. It so happened that his brother was fishing in his canoe, a considerable distance out, when he thought he heard the cry of a child; he wondered that any one, a child particularly, could exist in so bleak a part of the shore. He listened again more attentively, and distinctly heard the cry repeated; he made for the shore as quickly as possible, and as he approached the land, he discovered and recognised his little brother, and heard him singing in a plaintive voice, "Nessya! neesya! Skyegwuh gushuh; ween ne my
223eenguniwh; ne my eenguniwh; My brother! my brother! I am turning into a wolf! I am turning into a wolf!" At the termination of his song, the little boy howled like a wolf; and the young man was still more astonished when, on getting still nearer to the shore, he perceived his poor brother half changed into a wolf. He, however, leaped on shore, and strove to catch his brother in his arms, and soothingly said, "My brother! come to me;" but the boy eluded his grasp and fled, still singing as he went, "Nees ya! neesya! Skyegwuh gushuh; ween ne my eenguniwh; ne my eenguniwh; My brother! my brother! I am turning into a wolf!" and howling at intervals. The elder brother, conscience-stricken, and feeling his fraternal affection return with double force, exclaimed, in great agony, "My brother! my brother! come to me!" but the nearer he approached the child, the more rapidly the transformation took place, until he was nearly changed into a perfect wolf; still singing and howling, and naming his brother, as he fled into the
224woods. At last the change was completed, and he exclaimed, "I am a wolf," and bounded of sight. The young man felt the bitterest remorse all the days of his life for his cruel treatment of his helpless brother; and the sister, when she heard the fate of the little brother she had deserted, and whom both she and her brother had promised to cherish and protect, wept bitterly, and never ceased to mourn till she died.
After two happy days at Mackina, we embarked at half-past eight, on Friday morning, Sep. 22d. on board the Schooner —, Captain —. I will leave these blanks, or, if the reader please, he may fill them up with the soubriquets which the Major gave to captain and craft, viz. Captain
225Lubber and the Schooner Washtub. We made only a few miles when the wind headed us; or rather, the wind not having changed, as our captain thought it had, or was sure it would, we cast anchor near old Mackina. Here we, for the first time, had a taste of the quality of our Captain and fellow-passengers. They sat in the cabin, (captain, mate, and three passengers,) drinking whiskey, and swearing at the weather, with scarce a moment's cessation from noon to sunset.
About sunset we were under way again, but the captain going below and the mate following, the schooner, left in charge of a boy, was run ashore — But why should I pursue the detail of blunders and annoyances; suffice it to say, that on Tuesday morning we arrived at Chicago, after a passage of five days from Mackina; which was as disagreeable as five days' passage, unattended by any serious accident, could well be. I will give you a brief summary of our annoyances. First for the scene. A small dirty — oh how dirty! — cabin, in which
226three women, two children, and eight men spent all the night, and, as the weather was for the most part bad, most of the day. To make the atmosphere more agreeable, a great filthy Welshman, and his more disgusting wife, amused their leisure hours (twenty-four in each day) eating toasted cheese, which they cooked at a small stove in the cabin; add to this, that either the captain, the mate, or one of the passengers, were all the while drinking new whiskey, from a demijohn, which stood in the open cabin free to all comers; so that from morning to night, and nearly from night to morning the mingled fumes of new whiskey and toasted cheese filled the cabin, not quite, however, to the exclusion of the smell of onions, which the Welshman ate to flavour his cheese. Think of being sea-sick in such a place! But enough, and too much of the schooner Washtub, Captain Lubber.
On Monday evening we were gladdened by the news that the light at Chicago was visible, but as our whiskey-drinking captain
227knew nothing of the harbour, he was obliged to lay to, off the land. In the morning I went on deck early, in hopes to see Chicago, as we were only five or six miles distant when I turned in; judge of my disappointment when I found the vessel far, far out in the lake, and the coast only visible as a blue line on the verge of the horizon. By a little cross-questioning I learned the explanation of this untoward adventure. The schooner had been left during the night in charge of the sailors, while the captain and mate were below sleeping off the effects of their whiskey; the sailors knowing nothing of navigation, allowed the vessel to run too long on one tack, and in the morning, when our drunkards made their appearance on deck, the vessel was twenty miles further from her place of destination than on the evening before. At about eleven o'clock we came again insight of Chicago. The most prominent objects in view were the lighthouse and Fort Dearborn, which stand on high land to the left of Chicago creek. These
228are the only objects which have the least elevation, all beside is a flat dreary level, with but few trees to break the eternal sameness of the scene. We landed about twelve o'clock, at the pier which the government are building. It, or rather they (for there are two of them) will extend into the lake two hundred feet, and include between them a space of about one hundred yards wide, in which is the mouth of Chicago creek. It is now shoal here, but further in there is a good depth of water, and the obstruction at the mouth will be soon removed. There were no vessels in port when we arrived, and nothing of that busy bustle about the landing-place which we had expected.
We had some difficulty in finding a person to carry our luggage to the hotel. Finally a man agreed to take it, but he carried it no further than the first tavern, as he called it, though 'twas in fact only a small grog shop. Here our gentleman threw down his load, and demanded a dollar for carrying two trunks about a hundred yards. We had no
229relief, but payed our dollar and looked round for some one to carry them to the Sagaunash Hotel, which we were told was half a mile off. Not readily finding any one, we had resolved to leave our luggage at the grog shop, and trust to our host of the Sagaunash to send for it; but just then our friend the porter, who had all the while stood by, a quiet, though apparently much amused witness of our perplexities, came forward and offered to carry it up if we would give him a dollar more. I laughed outright at the fellow's impudence, but, for his very impudence sake, I resolved to employ him at his own terms. We left him in search of a vehicle, and ourselves walked up to the Sagaunash.
About three hundred yards from the mouth of the creek there is a sort of hanging or drawbridge; we crossed this, and found ourselves in the principal business street of Chicago. Here a row of stores, generally one or one and a half stories high, and of wood, extend for half a mile or more. The
230amount of goods did not strike me; and I learned afterwards that the stock on hand was comparatively small, the demand having very much exceeded the supply this year.
At last we arrived at the Sagaunash, a large two story wooden building. Here we were very comfortably accommodated by Mr. Davis. He is not able to give much attention to his business, having just left his bed after being confined to it for six weeks with the fever of the country. We soon ascertained that the stage had left here for Ottawa this morning, and would not start again till the day after to-morrow; so we have nothing to do but while away our two days as well as we can in this great city, the New-York of the West as the good people call it.
Chicago, Wednesday, Sept. 28th. 1835.
We have passed very pleasantly our two days in the "far famed," and, I may add, "dearly bought" Chicago. We were soon at home here — the Major particularly. Chicago is very like Wall Street in NewYork; in manners and customs the identity is absolute, the difference is only in language, and even that is inconsiderable. If for "Stock," you read "Lots;" for "Morris Canal," "Kinsey's purchase;" "Harlaem rail-road," "Lots on the North Branch;" and substitute mortgage for hypothecate; the thing is done, you are "free of the Guild" of Chicago; then you may go on, speculate, speculate, speculate! Lots are constantly selling at prices constantly increasing, but terms that never vary essentially from those usually offered by the Great Colonel Chartres, viz. three ha'pence in hand and five
232pounds in promises. All this is amusing enough to lookers-on, and we are no more. At first some of the speculators had an idea that we came out to invest, and they were so eloquent in the praise of Chicago that I felt bound in honesty to undeceive them, lest such good, and I doubt not under proper circumstances, effective eloquence should waste its sweetness. I assured them that we were travellers for health and pleasure, and that we would neither buy nor sell, nor have aught to do with the mammon of unrighteousness in the City of Cities. This, no doubt, diminished our consequence materially; but to compensate us for our insignificance, we were left in peace, and allowed to make our observations quietly. Indeed, I have since fancied that our situation is very like that of persons who were admitted on the stage behind the scenes, and who, though they thus lose something of the effect of the pageant, could yet gratify curiosity by an inspection of the trap doors, the painted trees, and pasteboard houses,
233by which the regular spectators are deluded.
As I am writing only for your amusement and not to form a speculator's manual or investment hunter's guide book, I will hot fill my paper with visions of the future greatness of this great metropolis; you will find all that I could say, and much more than I would say, in the Chicago papers. To give you a slight idea of the opinions of the good people here of the future destinies of their muddy metropolis, Mr. —, a very intelligent gentleman, not very largely interested in Chicago, told me that he had no doubt it would in five years exceed the them size of Buffalo; and that in ten, no place in the West, except New Orleans, would equal it. Is not that exquisite? Do you ask what these magnificent anticipations are based upon? Listen. "Chicago," say they, "is the only natural and practicable link of communication between the Atlantic sea-board and the Mates of Indiana, Illinois, and that part of Missouri North of the Missouri river.
234It is past all doubt that the farmers on the Mississippi will prefer sending their produce up the Mississippi to the river Illinois, up the Illinois to the canal that is to be, then to Chicago, thence round by way of Mackina and Detroit to Buffalo, and thence through; the canal to New-York, rather than allow this same produce to float down the Mississippi to New Orleans." I listened to all this in silence. It may be so, thought I, "the longest way round is the surest way home," says the old proverb, and never was that proverb so illustriously illustrated as in this prodigious circuit to which the pork and flour of Missouri are condemned.
B—, who was at first very anxious that we should "take an interest in Chicago," when we said "No" decidedly, amused us with several good stories; take the following.
The steam boat J—, among other passengers, brought an Albanian, who being known as a capitalist, was soon set upon by the sellers of great bargains. B— took him to view
235certain lots in the outskirts of Chicago, which, as they were only about a mile from the landing, were held at the very moderate price of $1,875. These lots, though held at that price, and though there was no doubt they would, in a very short time, command double, B— offered to the Albanian for $1,700. The Dutchman listened to the various reasons which were given why this investment would be better than any other that ever had been made; and when B— paused, confident that his liberal offer would be promptly, and almost gratefully, accepted, the old Knickerbocker very coolly asked, "Pray, Mr. B—, if I should buy these lots, do you think I could get any interest for my money in the shape of rent?" B— was speechless. Interest? Rent? Such a question had never been heard in Chicago. The suggestion struck at the very root of the greatness of the City of Cities.
B— says that the arrival of the steam boat always raises the price of lots about 20
236per cent. They commonly fall again immediately on her departure, unless the market may be supported by some investment hunter remaining behind. But the steam boat sometimes brings not speculators, but those who have already become purchasers. A— W— told me a good story of the adventures of such an one, who arrived in Chicago this fall. The speculator, whom I shall take the liberty to call Mr. Green, arrived in the steam boat. The first object that struck his eye was the name of Kenzie on that gentleman's warehouse, "Ah!" quoth Green, "that is my lot; my lot is next to Kenzie." On landing he found that a few other lots stood in the name of Kenzie, and that his lot was a little way out of town. Having procured the necessary data, he started in search of his property. He went on foot, having been assured that it was only a short walk. The way was muddy, but he was not to be discouraged; finally, however, the mud was over his boots; this was rather annoying, and he paused, when,
237just at the nick of time, a boy came by on horseback. For a consideration, (they never do any thing in Chicago without a consideration,) the lad allowed our hero to mount. He now pressed forward, anxious to get through the morass, and wondering that his friend had not directed him to go around it; but the farther he advanced, the deeper was the mud and water, till finally it rose to his horse's belly. Not being very much accustomed to such travelling, he came to a halt, and began to debate within himself the propriety of a return, when fortune again favoured him; an Indian came along in a canoe. The distressed speculator appealed to him for a conveyance, and the Savage, for a consideration (he too had learned wisdom in the Chicago school, and would do nothing for nothing,) agreed to admit him into his canoe. Having secured the borrowed horse to a stake which rose above the waste of waters, Mr. Green stepped into the canoe and was paddled forward by the Indian. Now, at length, success crowned his
238efforts; he found his land — rich, level, all ready cleared, and — 3 feet 6 inches under water! Remember, I don't vouch for this story; indeed, the Indian canoe part of it I hardly myself believe; but that many Mr. Greens found their lots under water is past all doubt.
As I have told you a joker such as it is, at the expense of the City of Cities, I will now give you a story, which I heard at the Sagaunash, which tells to her credit, and illustrates the activity and enterprise of her citizens. Mr. — told me that one of the farmers near Chicago drove his hogs, about a hundred in number, to town, a distance of ten miles, in forty minutes; and the hogs were all in barrel the same afternoon. "Think of that, Master Brooks!" Will not that account for the price of real estate in Chicago? Will not that justify a man in paying fifteen thousand dollars for a single lot? Iam sure, if it will not, I know nothing that will.
The streets here are laid out at right angles,
239and are sixty feet or more in width. The houses generally of wood, universally without cellars, which it is impossible to dig, as you come to water two feet beneath the surface. The influx of strangers and settlers has been so very great as to advance the price of provisions to the most extravagant degree. Flour, pork, butter, &c. &c. are higher here than in New-York; of course board is very extravagant, seven dollars a week is commonly charged. The demand for labour is very great and wages excessively high; I am told that twenty four and thirty dollars a month are commonly paid for day labourers, who are found by their employers. The place has been dreadfully sickly this year, much more so than is common; though the extent of marshy ground in its vicinity must render it at all times unhealthy. In walking about the streets we met great numbers of pale, languid invalids, who seem just able to crawl forth and enjoy for a few moments the bright sun and fresh autumnal breezes. There
240are two reading-rooms and two newspapers, one, the Chicago American, very well conducted, one of the best country papers I know of, three or four taverns, and, I believe, two churches.
We took one or two long walks in the neighbourhood. The appearance of the country is very uninteresting. A wide extended flat prairie, moist even in dry weather, and converted by a slight rain into one vast expanse of black mud. It would doubtless be very fertile if it, could be drained, which I should suppose not difficult. The present population of Chicago is variously estimated from seventeen hundred to three thousand, I have no means of ascertaining it, but imagine it will not exceed two thousand five hundred. We called on Lt. A—, at the fort, to whom I had a letter; he is superintending the public works at this place, a duty, for the performance of which his talents and acquirements admirably qualify him. Here we had again an opportunity to admire the perfect neatness
241and order which characterises the military posts. I am never brought in contact with the gentlemen of the army without having those feelings of pride, which their high character and extensive acquirements never fail to create, very disagreeably alloyed by regret, and — if the truth must be told — contempt for the miserable system of so called Republican Economy, which allots to these a men, admirably qualified as they are to become our country's ornament in peace as well as her defence in war, a miserable pittance — a wretched apology for compensation, which would hardly repay a day-labourer for the most menial toil. I am no politician, still less a Political Economist — You know I despise the whole sect, from Jeremy Bentham — rest to his bones and to his pen — down through Mills and the Westminster Review folks, to the last paltry scribbler of the believe I will except Miss Martineaux though I am not sure that she will not make so great a fool of herself among the
242abolitionists as to induce me to let her go in with the rest of the set. Well, as I was going to say, when the hated word, "Political Economists," threw me into a small rage, I am no Politician; but it appears to me that the system on which the government of the United States pays for services is exactly and diametrically opposite to what it should be. Where men are paid by the job — by contract is the more genteel phrase — the amount paid should be reduced to the smallest possible sum; but where they receive salaries, the service rendered should be liberally, nay, munificently, compensated; and this, for the very obvious and common sense reason, that in the one case the individual is not, and in the other he is, to be retained in the service of the country; and of course it should be the policy of a wise government to retain the best talent and the highest order of character in its service. Now, in our particularly well-governed Republic, the paltriest mail-contractor, nay, the bearer of dispatches, the poor fetch and
243carry on whom a job is bestowed or for whom a job is made, is paid more than the whole annual allowance of a gentleman, who, after years of studious preparation, devotes his life and all his varied acquirements to the service of the country in the army or navy. I wish I had the Red book, or the Blue book, or whatever they call it; I should so like to amuse myself with a comparison of the salaries and the compensation — but, quere, would it amuse you? Doubtful. So let us proceed with something that may. We called this evening at the auction room, they were preparing for a book sale. The walls of the room were covered, nearly throughout the whole extent, with plans of towns in the vicinity. Two names amused me, viz. Romeo and Juliet. How romantic! The very names, I should suppose, would bring in a swarm of young ladies. Having these exceeding pretty names is one of the advantages which the new plan of making towns before there are any settlers on the ground has over the old way.
244The sale of town lots in these places is a great portion of the business of the auctioneers. They sell, according to circumstances, from ten dollars to five hundred a lot. You will please to understand that none of these towns, where streets, public squares, avenues places, &c., &c., &c., make such a very beautiful figure on paper have any actual and bona fide inhabitants; this does not at all interfere with the selling of the lots at a high price.
That some of these speculations will be very successful, is, I think, as perfectly certain, as that the greater number will be utterly ruinous to the first purchasers.
A Branch of the recently incorporated Bank of Illinois is to be located in Chicago, where, I am informed, banking facilities are very much wanted. This institution will, no doubt, if well managed — and the good people of Illinois have had so many lessons on the evil of ill-managed Banks, that I think they have learned wisdom from experience — be of immense service. It is
245the only Bank in the State; and as there are none in Missouri, and, owing to a constitutional provision, not likely to be any, the paper circulation of the two States will be almost exclusively in the bands of the Bank of Illinois. This circumstance ought, if proper advantage be taken of it, to be a sure foundation for a prosperous and productive Bank.
Ottawa, October 2d, 1835.
This morning at five, we took our seats in the post coach at Chicago, and left for Ottawa. It was quite dark, and we could only judge of the face of the country by the motion of the carriage. We passed over a continued plain, intersected every now and then with a soft spot of ground, where the wheels sank deeply
246into the soil. At the dawn of day we found ourselves on a wide prairie, with scarce a tree in sight. The appearance of the prairies disappointed me very much; the tall brown grass, coarse and scattered, gave to the whole a ragged appearance; the ground was low and marshy, and at short intervals we passed through what "they here call slews. I thought, at first, that these slews were rivulets, whose streams were dried up by the long drought; but I believe their true character is long narrow ponds, or rather mud holes. There is little or no water visible; here and there a small dark pool dots the surface of the soft black mud. Clumps of grass, the size of my hat, are also sprinkled around. 'Twas by the help of these clumps that we crossed these mud holes, as the carriage sank so deep we were all obliged to get out to enable the horses to drag it through.
I was highly amused to observe the manner in which two of our fellow-passengers made "their way through these slews.
247Col. D— was a yankee lawyer, very large, weighing not less than 300. He descended from the coach the first time it stopped at the edge of a slew, with a slow, cautious step; walked along the border of the black mud, examining all the way the nature of the ground; finally he selected the best crossing place, and pushed forward. Slowly and deliberately he stepped from clump to clump; trying the firmness of each with his foot before his whole weight was trusted to it; till at length success crowned his efforts, and the Colonel passed dry shod. The other passenger was Judge M—, from the South, a small neat compact figure of a man, some 5 feet 6 inches in height, and weighing perhaps a long hundred. He sprang out of the carriage — damned the mud — gave a glance up and down the stream; am then, selecting a spot where some rank grass rose above the surface, he took a short run — sprang — reached the grassy turf am sank through it, half-leg deep, into the mire For a moment he stood perfectly still
248"plante la;" finally he began tugging first at one foot then at the other, till he succeeded in dragging himself out; then he rushed forward, plunging, kicking, and floundering along, till he reached "terra firma."
Yankee prudence, and Southern impetuosity! how they shine forth, clear and distinguishable, in the least as in the most important transactions of life.
At half-past eight we stopped at a small log hut to breakfast. The public part of the establishment (for it was a sort of inn) consisted of two little rooms; in one was a table, which, when we entered, the combined exertions of a black wench, a tall strapping country girl, and the landlady (the very ugliest woman I ever saw by the by) were covering with materials for a substantial breakfast. In one corner of the other room was a straw bed, on which a poor palid wretch was extended; his shrunk features, wasted form, and the general appearance of debility, plainly indicating a victim to the fever of the country. Opposite
249the sick man's bed, another comer of the room was occupied by a bar, at which several persons were taking in poison — in other climates the seeds of disease, in this of death — in the shape of anti-fogmatics, fever killers, &c. The other end of the room was crowded with the persons and the luggage of an emigrant family; a mother sat in the corner tending her sick child, a boy often, whom the fever was burning up; around her huddled several other children; while a bigger boy, stretched on some blankets, pale and wasted away, was striving to amuse himself as well as he could, and enjoy, if that were possible, his well day.
From the contemplation of these miserable emigrants we were summoned to our breakfast. The supplies were abundant in quantity, if not very choice in quality; two luxuries, you will be surprised to hear, we could not obtain — good butter and milk; the butter was of the very worst quality, milk there was none. We had excellent coffee, tolerable pork steaks, good bread, both
250corn and wheat; the gem of the feast, however, was a large stew, which sent up fragrant incense from the centre of the table. Almost every person (our stage-driver and two wagoners were of the party) was helped to that stew. Various were the opinions given as to its component parts. One held up a scraggy bone, and proclaimed it venison; another displayed what he deemed a bit of the breast, and swore 'twas turkey; a third decided, from its exquisite flavour, that it must be the far-famed prairie hen; finally, however, the Major decided the question by producing a long leg, which could belong to no animal but a rabbit or a squirrel, (a cat, of course, we would not allow ourselves to think of). It was stewed rabbit. This favourite dish having been entirely emptied, and a mark made on the pork steaks and beef, appetite cried, "Hold, enough!" we arose from the table, and took our places in the stage.
When the six who had previously occupied the two seats were in their places,
251some one gave the word, "All right, shut the door!" "Not yet," said a man at the step "I ain't in yet, but I soon will be;" and sure enough the gentleman pushed his way into the stage. "What, no seat! oh well, I can make myself comfortably anyhow!" He placed himself very deliberately on the floor of the stage, his back braced against the door opposite that at which he had entered, and began to puff away at a huge black cigar.
The individual who had evinced such a laudable inclination to accommodate himself to circumstances, was a thin man, moderately tall, with a very red face, nose especially; he wore a light blue coat, blue mixed pantaloons, and an enormous white hat. A slight drawl, and a few peculiarities in his manner of expressing himself, convinced me that he was a Yankee; a shrewder observer than myself might probably have discovered the same thing from that disposition to take care of number one which was so remarkable a feature in his mental physiognomy.
The coolness of this modest gentleman's proceedings had thrown out the passengers for a moment; they soon recovered, and "gave tongue" on the strange animal, whom, after a severe brush, they succeeding in hounding out, and the stage, which the contest had delayed, set off.
Our ride from the Desplaines river, near which we breakfasted, to Ottawa, was rather uninteresting. The prairie became drier after we crossed the river, and the proportion of woodland rather greater, though still, I think, less than will be required by the future settlers. We passed during the day eight or ten farms. The wheat was already housed, of course we could not judge of the crop; but the Indian corn was standing, and nearly every hill blasted by the frost. The season opened this year very late, and an early frost in September cut off all the corn crop. Some of the farmers had small droves of cattle, generally of the best breeds and in capital order. A few hogs were ranging through the prairie grass; they were miserable
253animals; long shanks, huge heads, narrow flanks; the horses also were poor, but the oxen, Col. D—, who is quite an amateur agriculturalist, could never sate his eye in gazing on them or stint his tongue in their praise.
About nine this evening we arrived at Ottawa, having previously crossed the Fox River. At the tavern we saw a large fire of bitumenous coal; it is found in great abundance in this vicinity, and is, I should think, from a casual examination, of decidedly better quality than that of Pittsburgh; in fact nearly equal to Liverpool. It will be of incalculable advantage to the country, the thinness of the forests will very speedily lead to a scarcity of wood for building purposes; it is therefore all important that as little as possible should be used as fuel. The town of Ottowa was laid off by the canal commissioners in 1830, on both sides of the Illinois at its junction with the Fox River. Here we had hoped to find a steamer. — There was none, however. The shoals
254and rapids in the Illinois river a few miles (eight or ten) below this place, impede the navigation, except in very high water, and even then the larger steamers do not like to venture up lest a sudden fall should shut them in. We spent a pleasant evening in the bar room, chatting with some travellers and a few of the town folks.
Peoria, Oct. 2d.
We left Ottawa this morning at half-past five, and getting into a flat ferry-boat, were pulled across the river by means of a rope reaching from shore to shore, and running through a staple at the bow and another at the stern of the boat; then we stepped into the stage and were off. Beyond Ottawa the prairie is drier, and the land rather better timbered. We had left three passengers
255at Ottawa, so that our white-hatted friend, the cigar smoker, could now take a seat inside; he did so, and amused us all day with a history of his adventures. He came to the West from New England with a supply of wooden clocks, which he sold, according to his own account, at most exorbitant prices; then he took to watch-making, then to stage driving; but being engaged on the route between Detroit and Chicago, he soon became infected with the speculating fever, joined two other stage drivers and went out to the forks of the Vermillion to secure pre-emption rights or floats, as they are called, which it is not difficult to do if the individual has no prejudices against perjury. The floats duly secured, he returned to Chicago, sold them, and then went out again. In this way Master R— has realized three or four thousand dollars, and with this he is about to emigrate to Texas, having heard that good land is to be bought there cheap. He is also, like all the Texian land speculators, an ardent lover of liberty.
About eleven o'clock we stopped at a log house, where we were to breakfast and change horses. It was also a post office, and I was not a little amused at the manner in which the mail was assorted; the bag was emptied on the floor of the eating-room, and the master of the house, his wife, and the stage driver, all busied themselves with the packages, questioning, disputing, and scolding, all the while.
The manner in which the mail is carried in this country explains very rationally why letters so often miscarry; for my own part I wonder that any ever reach their destination. Twice since we left Chicago has the driver stopped before a post office, and received,
257once from a woman and once from a child, the answer, "Mr. — is not at home, and we can't attend to the mail now; take it on and bring it back to-morrow." This was received by the driver as quite a matter of course, and he drove off without making the slightest objection. Col. D— amused us with a story of the adventures of a mail bag that travelled in his company from Detroit M Chicago. They were a day behind, and at several post offices received the notice, "We can't attend to you; why did you not come yesterday?" Finally, they arrived at an office, where the bag was taken out and its contents poured on the floor, while the post mistress (the master was absent) busied herself in sorting the packages. Just then the stage from Chicago arrived, the driver brought in his bags, and, being in a hurry, poured the letters upon the floor. The old lady protested against this, but he would not hear reason; the packages were soon all in confusion, till the lady, utterly out of patience, threw all together; then dividing
258the mass into two equal parts, told the drivers, "There! one take one and t'other t'other! I'm sure I can't sort 'em! I dare say they will all come right some time or other."
When breakfast was over and we were summoned to take our seats, instead of the comfortable coach in which we had hitherto travelled they brought out a common ox-cart. We remonstrated, objected, all in vain; in we had to get. Do not expect me to give further account of our day's ride in that cart; I lived through it, let that suffice. We arrived at this place just at sunset, having crossed the Illinois about five miles above. Here, we learn, that a steam boat starts for St. Louis in two hours; in her we take passage to Alton.
Alton, III. Sunday, Oct. 5.
All day yesterday on the Illinois river having left Peoria about nine o'clock at night. On going on board the steam boat I was surprised to find, that forward she looked exactly like a mud-scow; scarcely any deck, and an open hold exposed to the weather; aft, there was a comfortable cabin with good births. The captain gave his boat the soubriquet of Cat Fish, from the resemblance her bow bears to the mouth of that fish. She draws very little water, and makes about six miles the hour down stream. The Illinois is a calm placid river, with little or no current, and full of sand bars. The banks are well wooded, though very low; the spring freshets overflow them far and wide. We saw, during the day, two or three flocks of paroquets; they present a most beautiful appearance when on the
260wing, their green plumage glittering in the sun beams. This morning, at 7, the captain called us on deck that we might take our first view of Alton. We had entered the Mississippi during the night, and were now about twenty miles below the mouth of the Illinois. I will not attempt a description of the Father of rivers, but rather hurry forward to Alton. You will readily imagine that I looked with great eagerness for the first glance of a place of which I had heard much, and where I hoped to find friends. The situation at first disappointed me, the land is exceedingly rough; a ledge of rocks lies to the North, and below, steep, broken hills, rise immediately from the river bank: a creek makes in just in the middle of the town, giving yet more irregularity to the surface. The landing is very good, the boat runs close alongside a rock, which forms a natural wharf; so that a short plank is only wanted to put any thing ashore. To this landing our boat approached. There were two large steamers
261fast, one from New-Orleans, the other from up the Missouri; a third was just casting off, she was bound to Galena. What an idea does the destination of these three boats and our own give of the extent of navigation! Galena, Peoria, the upper Missouri, St. Louis, and New-Orleans; not to name Pittsburg, Cincinnati, and Louisville, with which places the intercourse is free and constant. We landed at the wharf of which I have spoken. There are two large stone warehouses just opposite, and three or four are building below. Here we deposited our luggage, and went in search of our friends. On our way to the tavern we passed through the main street near half a mile; it is principally occupied by stores, some large and of stone, others smaller, and by their slight structure evidently used only as temporary make-shifts. Arrived at the tavern, we had soon the pleasure of exchanging gratulations with my dear B—. Here let us pause in our rapid journey. Here we can stop and think; a very valuable
262privilege in the journey of life. I believe I have made that reflection once before; never mind, its importance will justify the repetition.
What can be more important in this hurrying, bustling world, than to "stop and think." "I did not think — I did not think," is the oft-repeated excuse we all offer, for, our follies. 'Tis not from deliberate purpose that we go wrong, still less is it from lack of knowledge. No, 'tis want of thought. What advice, then, can be more appropriate — what caution more necessary,than that conveyed in the pithy apophthegm, "Stop and think."
When I see the young votary of fashion wasting the energies of mind and body in the chase of pleasure, I long to whisper in her ear, "Stop and think." If you would but stop and think, you would not need that any one should tell you — "Pleasure is not thus to be found; Health will be lost; Happiness will be lost; Life itself will be lost, ere pleasure is thus found" Your search, however, will, not be fruitless; care will be
263found; sorrow and late repentance; envyings and petty jealousies; strife and vexation of spirit — Yes, they will be found at every step in Folly's mad career. So of the man of pleasure; think you he knows not that wine fevers the blood, and gambling maddens the brain? that excess debilitates the body and excitement wears out the mind? Oh, he knows it well; but alas, so rapidly is he hurried along, that he cannot, or he will not, "Stop and think."
So of the merchant. The rage of accumulation possesses him; he is engrossed in winding up the speculation of yesterday, forwarding that of to-day or preparing for that of to-morrow; and he can never "Stop and think," else would he remember whose voice hath said, "When riches increase, set not your heart upon them."
Are you ready to: exclaim — "Pray, who taught you these lessons?" My friend, I learned them from a stern and gloomy, but most impressive teacher; his name is Death. I have walked by his side; I have seen him
264mark his victims; I have seen youth and beauty, wither under his icy fingers; I have seen him lay a gentle hand upon the head of age, that scarce needed his touch to fall into the grave, so frail was its hold upon mortality. I have seen him clutch at budding infancy; and though a thousand kind hands were extended to guard the precious blossom, yet hath he snapped it from the parent stem, and cast the yet unopened flower by, to wither and to die. Then have I seen him grapple with sturdy manhood in its pride of strength; and, tugging at the heart-strings with his iron grasp, drag the unwilling victim to the tomb. Yet his visitations are not always so terrible. No; his ministry is sometimes most gracious, his visit most welcome. Such it was to thee Eliza! an early death was thine; and when I think upon the cares and sorrows, the trials and temptations, which have been the fate of those thou hast left behind, I bow in grateful adoration to him
And housed thee from the storm."
266I heard a longer and a softer sigh. "Eliza, my love!" I spoke; but she who should have heard, was listening to the anthems of the blest.
I stood beside her grave; a little group of sorrowing friends were there, and in the midst our excellent pastor. He had just begun the solemn service for the dead, when, far in the distance, a strain of martial music rose; it drew near; it was a military funeral. For a moment my eye wandered from the scene immediately before me to where the pomp of war decked "the last march, of the brave." With arms reversed, with slow and solemn step and downcast eyes, the soldiers come; rank after rank passes forward; then comes the war-horse with his trappings; the coffin next, the hat and the sword upon it. How strangely all this contrasted with the white scarfs and gloves that marked the maiden's funeral! They passed by, and my attention was again recalled to the solemn service of the church; but just as the last rite
267was paid, the last prayer uttered, and we were turning away from the tomb, a roar of distant musketry told that the soldier too was at rest. — This was one of the lessons of the stern teacher, who bade me "Stop and think."
Alton, Oct. 9.
In my last I mentioned our arrival at Alton on Sunday morning. After a pleasant hour spent with our friends, we attended church in the new Presbyterian Meeting-house, built and presented to that denomination by Captain G—. It is a small, neat, stone building. Standing on high ground, at a short distance and in full view of the river it forms a very pleasing feature in the landscape, and gives it a character which cannot fail to gladden the eye of the Christian beholder.
268In the afternoon, service was performed in the Court House by an Episcopal clergyman. Those who are accustomed to connect the "vaulted roof and fretted dome," the "pealing organ and the white-robed priest," with that service, will smile at the idea of its being performed in a court house; no organ, no choir, no clerk, yet to my own somewhat Presbyterian taste, all that the service thus lost in show it more than gained in simplicity and impressiveness; the attention could now be rivetted on the sense and substance, not on the external and extrinsic adornments; and when the mind is thus fixed, the thoughts thus directed, no unprejudiced Christian can, I think, hesitate to pronounce the Liturgy of the Episcopal church the sublimest and most devotional of all uninspired compositions. This is, after all, the strong point in favour of Episcopalianism; the propriety of having different orders, as deacons, priests and bishops, I think questionable; and the necessity of Episcopal ordination, and the regular succession through
269the Romish hierarchy, something more; they never made the impression on my mind that they seem to do on those of regular churchmen. But the Liturgy — it is just what it ought to be; so simple, that "he who runneth may read;" so eloquent, so sublime, that its literary merits alone are sufficient to ensure the attention and command the admiration of the most fastidious scholar. In fact, to borrow the language of Alexander Knox, "Let only the Church of England be examined by those tests which obvious reason points out as the fairest and least fallacious, namely, the spirit in which she worships God; by the depth, the sublimity, the moral ardour, the mental calm, the unfeigned reverence, the cheerful yet humble affiance, which altogether form the yet unrivalled character of her stated devotions; let her, in a word, be seen in that truth and simplicity in which she presents herself to the father of spirits and the searcher of hearts; and what greater blessedness could be conceived of on this side heaven than to
270breathe the spirit, to be imbued with the sanctity, to attain the moral liberty, to possess the divine tranquillity, which our inestimable formularies are ever bringing before us. To this end may it be the chief ambition of the ministers of our church adequately to unveil and illustrate these invaluable treasures! May it, above all, be their object to feel for themselves what they are appointed to communicate to others! In a word, may the spirit of the Liturgy live in their hearts!"
The whole of Monday was spent by us in rambling round the town. The number of buildings in progress is very great, and many are large and substantial. We went into one store, which is of stone, three stories high, thirty feet front, and one hundred deep; alongside this the foundations of several others of the same size are laid. There is a great appearance of business here; the streets thronged with wagons from the country, bringing produce and taking away goods. I met with several individuals
271from up the country, who were laying in their fall stock of goods; one of these was from far up the Missouri.
We called on Mr. G— at the Bank, a neat stone building. It is a branch of the newly incorporated Bank of Illinois, and has just gone into operation; its friends are very sanguine of its success. Just north of the town is the State Penitentiary, a large stone building surrounded by a substantial wall; all made, as I understand, by the few convicts there confined.
The main street, which runs parallel with the river, is intersected by several cross streets; these are yet very irregular from the broken surface of the ground, but men and carts are now busily employed levelling and grading them. All has an appearance of stability, as though the men of to-day expected to be here to-morrow, which contrasts favourably with some other places. Gen. Mitchell has just left Alton, having completed the survey of a route for a rail road from this place to Springfield.
It proved on examination more favourable than had been expected, and the Company will soon open the books for subscription.
273the Hudson to the Mississippi, the trip from New-York to Alton will be but a pleasure jaunt of a few days; and the rich products of the Mississippi valley be as easily, as rapidly, and almost as cheaply conveyed to New-York as now to New-Orleans.
On Tuesday we rode out to Upper Alton, three miles from the river, and thence through the wide prairie which lies back of it. There is a college at Upper Alton, under the charge, I believe, of the Baptist church; it is in a very nourishing condition. A large building is being constructed for a female seminary in the neighbourhood. The Prairie land is dry, with a deep rich soil, the very sight of which would gladden the heart of an agriculturist. We passed several large fields of corn, that looked rich and fully ripe. The Major had planned a jaunt to Carlinville, but inexorable necessity compelled us to hurry homeward. After two more happy days at Alton, we embarked this morning on board the Tiskilwa, a steam boat which plies regularly between that
274place and St. Louis; and, bidding farewell to our dear friends, are again under way.
Postscript. After the greater portion of this book had been printed, a friend, who was looking over the sheets, said to me: "There are many things here which express only the whims and vagaries of the author, they are of no value; 'tis a pity you cannot strike them out and make the thing read more like other books." "My friend," I replied, "I will tell you a story — My uncle Thomas, who is a clergyman of the old New England school, had all his coats made with very wide tails; they were not like Quaker coats, nor indeed like any other coats but uncle Thomas's; he had worn them of the same pattern all his life, and uncle Tom is no longer young. On one occasion, when he contemplated a new coat, his sister remonstrated with him on the pattern; she urged, that if made like those commonly worn, it would be not only handsomer but more becoming. ‘Sister,’ said uncle Thomas,
275‘what you say may be very true; the new-fashioned coat may be handsomer, and it may be that I should look more genteel in it, but should I look as much like uncle Thomas? No, no. I will wear my coats as I have always worn them, and look — not handsome, not genteel — but like uncle Thomas.’ Now, my friend, all the changes you propose in my book, if there was time to make them, would doubtless render it more correct, more respectable, more refined, but it would no longer be my book; therefore I'll none of them; but as uncle Thomas did, so will I do; nor carve the skirt, nor cut off the tails of my book to make it look like other books." Reader, what say you? Will the skirts of my uncle Thomas's coat cover the nakedness of my book? Are you pleased? then I am glad; are you displeased? I am sorry. At any rate, good bye.