Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

part of the valley for a number of miles; and we have seldom observed in any part of the Western States, such luxuriant and extensive fields of Indian corn. Although it was but the beginning of July, many of the stalks of this grain were above six feet in height, and had already put forth the silky tassel, which indicates the formation of the grain. Potatoes, cucumbers, and pumpkins were here in blossom; and the mature growth of various pot herbs gave promise of an early and plenteous reward of horticultural labour.

The party proceed up the Maumee, cross the portage at Fort Wayne, and go down the Wabash. All this is travelled country, and there are many accounts of it; but Mr Schoolcraft goes on, describing the most striking scenes which his voyage presents, and telling various anecdotes and stories, which the spots he passes by suggest to him, -and the reader accompanies him always without weariness and generally with pleasure.

A frequent mistake of their Canadian boatmen, in this part of the voyage, suggests to Mr Schoolcraft the following remarks.

We here had occasion to observe the repetition of an amusing mistake of our canoemen, who are Canadian Frenchmen, and of course Roman Catholics, with respect to the public buildings erected for county purposes, at the numerous towns we have passed ;-which they never fail to admire as being most commodions chapels.*

It is a little remarkable that the emigrants from New England should so easily lose the habit of religious exercises, and, if we may so speak, the taste for these customs, which one would expect to have become fixed by the constant usage of many generations; but so it seems to be. At home, scarcely one of the many emigrants who go to people the Western Wilderness, was without his own seat in his meeting

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

“* But does not this trifling incident prove more than the mere visual aberrance of unlettered peasants ? Does it not indicate one of those traits in the character of a people which may be seized upon to mark a predominance of national customs or manners-to distinguish an American from a striking French custom? When the latter plant a colony, or found a settlement, one of the earliest and most important preliminaries regards the means of ensuring the speedy erection of a house of worship. The chapel of the cross, like the tabernacle of Judah, is first set up. Happy would it be if we were always equally attentive to this subject, in the foundation of our infant towns and settlements-we allude, more particularly, to those west of the Alleghanies. Our first public edifice is a court-house, a jail, then a school-house, perhaps an academy, where religious exercises may be occasionally held ; but a house of public worship is the result of a more mature state of the settlement. If we have sometimes been branded as litigious, it is not altogether without foundation : and, notwithstanding the very humble estimate which foreign reviewers have been pleased to make of our literary character and attainmenis, we are inclined to think ihere is still more likelihood of our obtaining the reputation of I learned, than of a pious people."

[merged small][ocr errors]

house, and scarcely one was unaccustomed to the religious usages of our land. Yet many respectable families of our yeomanry seek a new home, and gather themselves into villages and till their farms, and have their court-houses and school-houses, without any house devoted to religious meetings, and without any regular administration of religious ordinances.

There is, on page 158, an anecdote illustrative of another trait in the Yankee character.

The conversation now led to the various traits of character displayed by emigrants; whose locus natalis was thus clearly to be ascertained. Several jocose remarks on New England manners had been indulged. Some years ago, said General Taylor, Henry Clay and myself made an excursion upon the Wabasb, above Fort Harrison. On descending the river, one evening, about the time we began to think of stopping for the night, we met a soldier who had killed a fine goose with his rifle, and, demanding his price, readily paid it. We stopped, a short distance below, at the house of a Yankee emigrant, to whom we presented our game. We took tea, rather at his solicitation than from any inclination of hunger, and lodged there. On getting up very early the following morning, we were just on the point of embarking, before it occurred to us, that our entertainer might expect payment for the tea, although, as is customary with us, we presumed he would accept nothing. On inquiry, he promptly stated his charges, which were as promptly paid; but the incident afterward afforded us a subject for laughter, when reflecting how narrowly we had escaped going off without paying our bill. We supposed, in the evening, the goose would have satisfied him for the

“But is it possible, General Taylor,” replied Governor Cass, “ that Henry Clay, the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, and yourself, should think of travelling through the western country, and expect to pay your bills in geese ! ” And this was the best defence we could make for Yankee parsimony ; for it must be acknowledged, the anecdote is quite illustrative of eastern providence.

The account of the lead mines of Missouri is minute and interesting. It places within reach of all, important information respecting this source of national wealth, and—so long as wars are fashionable and are carried on as they now arethis instrument of national security. The mines have been worked for a long period, but rather by farmers than miners; and hence there has not only been a great waste of effort and of material, but a very defective system of operations has become established. Certain rules and practices are fixed and universally recognised, and they have become as obligatory as the Stannary laws of Cornwall. In smelting the ore, no fuel but wood can be used, as coal has not been discovered in the country. At no very distant period the ore must be

tea.

carried down to the Mississippi, and smelted with the coal upon its banks, as it will cost less to carry the dross of the ore to the river than coal to the mines, and the metal must go to the river at all events. These mines are national property, having been reserved in the sales of public lands; they are leased by the executive authority at a rent of one tenth of the produce, payable in lead. It is said that the leases are very eagerly sought. The country where the mines are situated is less barren than mining countries usually are; most of it is well suited to the cultivation of the cerealia. The following passage compares the produce of these mines with those of other countries.

The greatest lead mines on the globe, according to Professor Jameson, are those of Great Britain, which produce an annual quantity of 250,000 quintals. The next in point of importance are those of the several kingdoms and states of Germany. France yields 60,000 quintals; Spain 32,000 ; and Russia 10,000. Although we have estimated, from imperfect data, the quantity of lead raised from the earth in Missouri, at about 25,000 quintals per annum, yet it must appear evident, that the mineral capacities of the country are adequate to employ profitably almost any amount of labour that can be applied to them.

On the 17th of August the Commissioners met the Indian Council at Chicago, and although the Indians at first peremtorily refused to sell their lands, they were, after a negotiation of some days, induced to accede to the terms offered. The debates are recorded with great minuteness, but such readers as are interested in observing the character and habits of Indians, will not find this part of the work tedious. It is a little amusing to observe how assured the governor was throughout the negotiation, of its successful termination. He says to the Indian orators, “ I know we shall in the end conclude a bargain for the lands, and have therefore listened to what has been said without any apprehension about the result." And it was in this spirit that he seems to have talked and acted throughout the controversy. Some severe things have been said about the management of the American commissioners in conducting this affair, but Mr Schoolcraft declares,-indeed we may say, shows,—that they have little foundation. The following remarks upon some observations which certain English journalists made upon this treaty, are true, sensible, and patriotic.

The result of this treaty was hardly announced in our public journals, before it was published in England, with some severe animadversions. - The United States," observes the editor of the London Times, “ have

driven another bargain, and a hard bargain it is, with the miserable Indians. For thirty-five thousand dollars in merchandise, a little more than five thousand pounds in money, as valued by those who furnished it, and an annuity of less than two thousand pounds per annum, Goverpor Cass, wbose diplomatic talents appear on this occasion to have been highly applauded by his countrymen, has prevailed upon the helpless aborigines to surrender five millions of fertile acres, to the westward of the lakes, and equal in surface to about one fourth of Ireland. Verily, Governor Cass may be said to understand his business."

This long-enduring prejudice, and habitual propensity to vilify our country and our institutions, seems to be confined to no particular political sect in Great Britain, nor to exempt from its operation any particular measure, which, by the power of association, is calculated to call up our original sin, of thinking, and acting, and judging for ourselves. With a power to expel the Indians from a territory, which, during all our wars with Great Britain, they have only occupied as a convenient avenue to make inroads upon our frontiers, we draw them into amicable treaty on the restoration of peace, and pay them what they acknowl. edge an ample equivalent for their title. We introduce into all our treaties provisions for bettering their condition, and enlightening and imr proving their minds. We furnish them blacksmiths and teachers, implements of husbandry and stock. We pay them large annuities; we pass laws to protect them from the cupidity of traders; and we employ agents to reside among them, to ensure the punctual payment of these annuities, and the faithful observance of these laws; and attend to their numerous wants, and complaints, and distresses. If it be asked what amount of moneys we pay them, what laws we have enacted to protect their territorial rights and to preserve their morals, let our statute books furnish the reply. If it be asked what injuries we have redressed, what distresses we have relieved, let the monthly, and quarterly, and annual returns of our Iodian, and our subsistence department be examined. And yet, because we have not done all that an enlightened, virtuous, humane, and opulent nation could, might, or perhaps ought to do, all this is to pass for nothing, or, if we would believe the vituperative prints of England, to be put down to the score of ingratitude, neglect, and national depravity. Our English neighbours, in the Canadas, manage these matters in a

When they covet a piece of Indian_territory, they boldly take possession of it, in the name of the king. There is no con. sulting with the chiefs and head men of the tribe, no long and expensive treaty, no recognition of their title to the soil which is so uncerimoniously taken away, and no annuities paid out with punctilious formality. The thing is cut short “ by His Majesty's command." This single line has cancelled more Indian title in America, than the government of the United States ever have, or probably ever will purchase, with all their accumulated and accumulating wants and means. But let us, for a moment, cast our eyes upon Hiudostan, and bebold the unholy wars, the murders, and abominations, which, like a burning sirocco, have swept away the native institutions of that devoted country, aud drenched it with the blood of its simple, unoffending inhabitants. It is truly becoming, in those who have despoiled the rich inheritance of about ninety millions of Hindoos, to reproach us for paying a few scattered

different way.

bands of hunters for portions of territory which they do not want, cannot improve, and are willing to part with.

We wish this volume contained more information respecting the Michigan Territory; this portion of our country is becoming more interesting every day, and we know less of it than we should, whether we consider its importance or the facility with which it may be, and, indeed, perpetually is explored.

It is rather remarkable, that the tide of emigration, which set so strongly from the east to the west, should have rolled by the southern boundary of this peninsula without leaving scarcely a solitary deposite within its borders. Perhaps one reason for this was, that the New-Englanders, who were induced to desert the homes and graves of their fathers, were prompted by the love of change, or the hope of improving their condition, to go where the soil and climate might vary as far as possible from that they had left. There can be little doubt that, in these respects, Michigan is more like New England than any other portion of our yet unsubdued wilderness. In temperature, in the changes and general character of the seasons, and in the nature of the soil, there is a great resemblance. In parts of the territory epidemic disease occasionally prevails; but it is probably as salubrious, taken as a whole, as any unreclaimed, well watered, and heavily wooded coun

In

process of time it must give sustenance to a very large population. If one half the area of the peninsula be considered unproductive, and this is certainly a large allowance, there will remain nearly twelve millions of acres capable of cultivation; and it must not be forgotten, that those parts of this territory which are too low and flat for cultivation, are almost universally thickly wooded with forests of the most useful and necessary timber. Should any circumstances occur to throw forward upon the western country another wave of emigration, the advantages offered by this fine territory will not be again neglected. Indeed, it is now rapidly filling up, and in the common course of things, will doubtless soon support a population as dense as that of some more southern districts, which, within the memory of young men, were, as this is now, an untamed and almost unvisited wilderness.

try can be.

« НазадПродовжити »